«WandaVision», Episode 7: «Breaking the Fourth Wall»
First off: this discussion of the series includes spoilers! So watch the seventh episode of «WandaVision» before you read on.
What Marvel’s currently doing with «WandaVision» is impressive. More than that, it’s smart. After all, we've had to wait over a year for new superhero fodder since «Avengers: Endgame». The temptation to try to match the epicness of said «Endgame» was undoubtedly there.
Instead, there’s «WandaVision». It’s quiet, calmly playing through the decades of sitcom history. It leaves us viewers puzzled at the start. I’m sure I’m not the only one repeatedly wondering, «What in the world?» Only in Episode 4 did the series slowly start lifting the veil on the truth, letting us look into a world that’s actually several worlds.
«Worlds» or «realities»?
Multiple, linked parallel universes – the multiverse. I’m convinced that’s where we’re headed. Even though the episode «Breaking the Fourth Wall» slows things down a bit.
Mid-2000s: «Modern Family» meets «The Office»
We’re still in the 2000s, though just by a hair’s breadth. The majority of Episode 7 imitates «Modern Family» (a terrific series, by the way), a mockumentary – that is, a fictional documentary that parodies the documentary genre itself.
«WandaVision» follows «Modern Family» to a T when it comes to breaking the fourth wall. The sitcom characters comment on what’s going on as if they were being interviewed. «Modern Family» started in 2009.
Actually, I would have expected a «Modern Family» style intro to go with it. Instead, there's something that's clearly cribbed from «The Office» – another great representative of the mockumentary genre – which has been around since 2005. At least the U.S. version.
Speaking of which.
Anyways, back to «WandaVision».
Wanda’s world is falling apart. Piece by piece. And I mean literally. Objects and electronic devices can’t seem to decide which era they belong in. Colours disappear, then reappear. Agnes, who just so happens to be visiting (not that anyone buys that anymore), realises that Wanda needs some time to herself. She’s clearly losing it.
«House of M», anyone?
Meanwhile, Vision has found Darcy at the S.W.O.R.D.-turned-circus site. Thanks to her, he finally learns what happened to him during «Avengers: Infinity War». But Darcy emphasises that his and Wanda’s love is real. Awww. And Vision realises that while he has no memory of the horrors before the Westview anomaly, for Wanda, all the trauma is barely a few weeks old. How could she not lose her mind?
And now, an ad break.
Nexus... the Nexus?
«Feeling depressed? Like the world goes on without you? Do you just want to be left alone?» asks an offscreen voice.
There’s a woman sombrely sitting on a bench.
«Ask your doctor about Nexus.»
Nexus? But the commercial’s not over yet.
«A unique antidepressant that works to anchor you back to your reality... or the reality of your choice.»
«Side effects include feeling your feelings, confronting your truth, seizing your destiny and, possibly, more depression.»
«You should not take Nexus unless your doctor has cleared you to move on with your life.»
It just keeps getting more and more absurd.
«Nexus. Because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?»
I can’t help but laugh out loud. Marvel, that was brilliant.
Based the comics, two explanations for this Nexus wonder drug come to mind.
The Nexus was first mentioned in «The Man Thing» in 1972 as the «Nexus of All Realities». It’s some sort of place or vortex resembling a dimension that connects all possible realities.
It’s not known who created the Nexus of All Realities. All we do know is that it’s the only place in the multiverse where all realities naturally intersect.
Okay, that sounds like something that could help Wanda return to her own reality. It could also be where «X-Men»-Pietro, who appeared last episode, came from. After all, «Age of Ultron»-Pietro is already dead. The same goes for Vision.
But you could also interpret the Nexus commercial completely differently. It could be a direct reference to Nexus Beings. Nexus Beings, or simply Nexus for short, are rare beings that can alter reality and, accordingly, the flow of time.
The flow of time, eh? Sound familiar?
In «Avengers: Endgame», the Ancient One warns Bruce aka Hulk that Infinity Stones are responsible for creating the flow of time. It was also an Infinity Stone that created Wanda and Vision.
In the comics, Wanda’s a Nexus. She might also be one in the MCU – unbeknownst to her. It would make sense, given she gets her powers from an Infinity Stone in the movies. This would mean Wanda has an incredibly important role to play. We know from the comics that Nexus Beings act as pillars of the multiverse, ensuring coherence and stability. The laws of physics dictate that there may never be more than one Nexus per multiverse at any given moment.
Now imagine what could happen if a Nexus went haywire.
To prevent this from happening, each Nexus is guarded by a cosmic force, the Time Variance Authority, or TVA for short. Does that ring a bell? Yup. «Loki», the Marvel series after the next. Three guesses whose bureaucratic hands Loki, God of Mischief, falls into.
Wanda’s the Nexus of «our» reality. The reality that most of the stories in the Marvel comics originate from, in any case – hence the name «Prime Reality». We actually live on Earth-616, i.e. the 616th planet. It’s reality in the multiverse in its seventh incarnation.
Getting a headache yet?
Relatively little is known about the previous six incarnations – or singularities, as the Collector in «Guardians of the Galaxy» calls them. All we really know is that our seventh incarnation (or singularity) was born out of the Big Bang. And the remains of the six other singularities turned into concentrated stones – the Infinity Stones.
Shortly after the Big Bang, the Celestials appeared. They’re ancient beings powerful enough to carry and use the Infinity Stones to create planets, stars, galaxies and life itself. Among them are the Eternals, godlike beings, Titans, who are there to protect the Celestials' creations. But one Titan interpreted this task somewhat... differently.
His name: Thanos.
By the way, we’ve already encountered Celestials in the MCU. Two, to be exact. One of them was already dead. His skull quickly became home to a mining colony: Knowhere.
The other Celestial was Ego, the living planet and Peter Quill aka Star-Lord's father.
In the comics, there was another Celestial who died on Earth millions of years ago. His death «contaminated» the primordial planet with its cosmic energies. That laid the foundation for Earth to become a breeding ground for superhuman potential – superheroes and mutants.
There you have it. In case you think that was a deep dive down the rabbit hole, I’ve only just scratched the surface.
Update: 22.02.2021, 9:45 a.m.:
Over the weekend, I heard another theory. It’s too good not to include here as an update. Thanks, Bryan!
Here it goes: the word «Nexus» could also refer to the Nexus Internet Hub from «Avengers: Age of Ultron». Ultron’s trying to get the nuclear launch codes. But there’s one hacker who’s faster than Ultron. He keeps changing the codes before Ultron can use them. Tony Stark wants to find out who this mysterious helper is, so he travels to Oslo – to the Nexus.
«A hacker who’s faster than Ultron? He could be anywhere. And as this is the centre of everything, I’m just a guy looking for a needle in the world’s biggest haystack,» says Tony Stark aka Iron Man in the Nexus Internet Hub in Oslo.
Later: «Our ally? The guy protecting the military’s nuclear codes? I found him,» Toney announces, pressing a few buttons and reactivating an AI believed to be dead.
«Hello, Dr. Banner,» says J.A.R.V.I.S.
J.A.R.V.I.S. unknowingly retreated to the Nexus shortly before his destruction by Ultron. There, he actively (but covertly) worked against the evil threat. What’s more, Vision’s consciousness, i.e. his operating system, is J.A.R.V.I.S. Tony and Bruce Banner aka Hulk made sure of that.
Who knows if Vision’s consciousness didn’t retreat into the Nexus again just before he was killed by Thanos in «Avengers: Infinity War»?
Monica Rambeau gets her superpowers
Aside from this, not that much actually happened in the seventh episode. Monica Rambeau again ventured through the barrier into the Westview anomaly. She barged in on foot after the super-vehicle failed. I thought this super-vehicle might come courtesy of Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards.
Well, I was totally wrong about that. Instead, Rambeau’s secret contact turns out to be Major Goodner. Unless Goodner just delivered the vehicle, but didn't build actually it herself. After all, it would have been a little odd to introduce the Fantastic Four on a complete side note. Alas, hope springs eternal.
On the other side of the barrier, another of my theories turns out to be true: Rambeau's DNA has been rewritten at the molecular level. She’s changing. She can suddenly see magnetic waves everywhere and is able to resist Wanda's attacks.
Photon is born.
The episode comes to an end with a big reveal, though it comes as no surprise if you’ve been reading my episode discussions.
Agatha all along
First, the twins, Tommy and Billy, disappear. Agnes was supposed to be babysitting them. Then Wanda enters Agnes’ basement. Or underground ancient vault, to be precise.
Down there, she sees this book, seemingly being held by some sort of red magic. It looks hellish. Could this have anything to do with Mephisto?
Another book that’s popular in the comics is Darkhold, the Book of Proverbs. It was created from dark matter in hell, and whoever reads the book holds the key to unspeakable power. But it simultaneously sees into the deepest recesses of the souls of those who read it, driving them mad.
Agnes, for example. Or Agatha Harkness, as it turns out.
I knew it!
To recap: In the comics, Agatha Harkness is a powerful witch who’s over thousands of years old. She’s a constant adversary of the Avengers. She’s also Wanda’s mentor ad interim, teaching her the art of chaos magic – according to comic-book Agatha, the mastery of said magic is Wanda's actual mutant power, anyway.
What's more, in the prequel to «House of M», it’s Agatha who teaches Wanda the magic she uses to create her children – who are later absorbed and killed by the diabolical Mephisto, driving Wanda mad and setting up the cataclysmic events of «House of M».
Oh, «House of M». In the comics, this is Wanda's final mental breakdown. And if Wanda’s the Nexus of reality 616, this mental breakdown would have catastrophic effects on the world.
Not to say destructive.
The first after credit scene
Cut to credits. And for once, it pays to keep watching. A short after-credit scene follows. Nothing wild. We simply see Monica Rambeau discover the entrance to Agatha's basement vault. And get caught by «X-Men»-Pietro.
What did you think of this episode? Are there any more Easter eggs I've missed? Let me know in the comments. See you next Friday for the next episode discussion. It’s getting better and better.