The premiere episode of WandaVision, the first of Marvel‘s new series for Disney Plus, is a throwback to midcentury sitcoms about women with magical powers … who still stay in the lines of conventional gender and societal roles. Almost.
Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are the new couple in town. She’s a chipper housewife without a wedding ring or anniversary, and he brings home the bacon by working hard at Computational Services Inc. on “computational forms” related to who-knows-what. Although Vision can remember absolutely everything, somehow neither he nor Wanda can recall why there’s a heart drawn on the day’s date on the calendar, and their sitcom-y efforts to figure it out without talking to each other honestly about their apparent memory lapse drives all of the episode’s action.
As soon as Vision heads off to the office, Wanda receives a visit from neighbor-on-her-right, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn). Agnes starts with a Welcome Wagon gift but quickly becomes the “best friend” when she finds out Wanda hasn’t planned a way to celebrate the “special occasion” marked on the calendar. With a ladies’ magazine in hand, Agnes helps Wanda plan the perfect romantic evening for what might be (?) an anniversary.
Meanwhile, Vision finds out at work that the heart on the calendar was an abbreviation for his boss’s name. Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed) and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp) are coming to dinner! And the success of the meal will directly impact Vision’s career in computational forms.
Vision calls Wanda on the phone, and after an unnecessarily cryptic conversation, they mistakenly think they’re on the same page and all is well.
It’s no surprise to the viewer that Wanda greets Vision and their important guests later with candlelight and a negligee. And there’s no food in the house beyond a single chocolate-dipped strawberry because Vision doesn’t eat! (Doesn’t Wanda, though?) While the duo clumsily tap-dances their way through the transition from romance to business dinner, Wanda snaps herself into a new outfit. However, she needs to call Agnes back for help with getting dinner on.
Vision entertains his boss and Mrs. Hart with a ukulele singalong while Wanda flies pots and pans and ingredients around the kitchen in a botched attempt to use her magic to cook a four-course meal (instead of just snapping one into existence). After scorching her chicken, then turning it into a basket of eggs, and flying her lobsters out the window, Wanda decides to serve a simple dinner of steak and eggs. Which she cooks by snapping, at last.
As soon as the food is magically on the table, the evening takes a breath and the company enjoys a toast. They sit down to eat, and Mrs. Hart asks a rapid-fire series of simple questions about their origins and story that neither Wanda nor Vision seem to know the answers to. Where did they come from? How long have they been married?
As they freeze with the discomfort of their confusion, Mr. Hart begins choking on his food. Mrs. Hart waves it off, trapped in a loop of telling him with a laugh to “stop.” Wanda finally acts when Mr. Hart falls to the floor, telling Vision to help him. Vision crouches by his boss and reaches through his throat to extract the steak caught there.
As soon as the boss is saved, he pops up to declare that it’s time to go, and the Harts depart with cheer. Mr. Hart tells Vision how proud he is of him and that they’ll be talking about a promotion in the morning. Mrs. Hart admires the lobster she discovers affixed to the outside of the front door when they open it, mistaking it for an eccentric door knocker. (Wanda and Vision have explained all of the evening’s odd moments away by saying Wanda is “European.”)
Once they’re alone, Wanda and Vision reflect lightly on their lack of a story and decide that that date can be their anniversary. Wanda magics them wedding rings, and they curl up on the sofa.
And then someone at a modern control panel adjusts the screen as their credits roll.
Notable in this mostly-black and white episode of WandaVision are two bursts of color: A flashing red light on a Stark Industries toaster featured in an ad within the sitcom, and the full-color conclusion with someone monitoring or controlling what we’ve just witnessed.
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