WandaVision Episode 7 Theories Explained: Who Is Agatha Harkness?
Well, son of a witch. The latest episode of WandaVision, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” also broke a whole lot of revelations, from Monica Rambeau’s new Spectrum-ish powers to the fact that mysterious aerospace engineer is actually terrible at making anything useful. But no reveal landed with more of a mystical whooshing sound than the one many of us have been pondering from the start: Kathryn Hahn is, in fact, playing Agatha Harkness, Marvel’s resident immortal witch who has some very weird ties to Wanda’s comic book history. Does WandaVision have the stones to turn the kid from The Haunting of Hill House into Master Pandemonium’s weird baby forearms? Time will tell, friends. Time. Will. Tell.
Until then, I’ve got some questions about “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” You’ve probably got some questions. As Vision screamed several times throughout the episode, he has some questions. Wanda has no answers, I barely have answers, but we are both wearing a robe and having a manic inconvenient weekly installment. Sorry, manic episode.
I’m fine. We’re all fine. Let’s dig in:
So It Was Agatha All Along?
It was Agatha, all along! Listen to the aggressively catchy jingle! We’ve broken down just who exactly Agatha Harkness is a few times, but a quick n’ basic refresher: She’s a witch. An extremely old witch, one who straight-up saw the city of Atlantis with her own eyes and pretty much kicked off the Salem Witch Trials. (So in Marvel canon, the fanatical bigoted men of colonial Massachusetts were kind’ve just right about all those witches, which is a can of worms I’m not opening at this juncture.) She reappeared, became a nanny for Sue Storm and Reed Richards—a.k.a. The Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four—and eventually became a mentor of sorts to Wanda Maximoff, who was struggling to control her hex powers. Then the whole thing where Wanda’s twin sons were reabsorbed into the soul of Mephisto happened, Agatha erased that memory from Wanda’s head, and years later those memories popped back up and Wanda murdered the absolute shit out of Agatha. (Also, like, 1/3 of the Avengers.)
The bigger question as it pertains to WandaVision isn’t so much who Agatha is, but what she’s doing. The show seems to be positioning her as a Big Bad of sorts, a role she’s never really played in the comics. She’s certainly manipulated, conspired, and been overall sketch, but it usually comes down to Agatha wanting what’s best for Wanda, in the end. That jaunty little jingle tells us Agatha has been both “messing up everything” and “pulling every evil string,” but what exactly does a person get out of re-writing reality into a Modern Family episode outside of a plot to get way more Emmy nominations than you deserve? As far as antagonistic motivations go, it’s not hard to deduce what’s going on inside the deviously square head of Detective Hayward. My man is a government stooge who works for the Sentient Weapons Observation and Response Division, and there is a literal Sentient Weapon walking around a small town in New Jersey. There is quite literally no small town in New Jersey the government wouldn’t nuke off the face of the Earth if it was mildly convenient.
But Agatha? It’s hard to discern why she’s even in Westview, much less why she’d orchestrate an elaborate series of sitcom homages to keep Wanda Maximoff happy. Maybe the answer is in…the spooky book.
What *Is* the Spooky Book?
You know a twist was coming once Wanda went down those steps and Agnes’ suburban home was suddenly the most expensive corner of a Spirit Halloween. There’s a lot of witch-y goodness to peep in the background, but the camera made damn sure to settle on the book sitting on a podium, radiating a menacing, Mind Stone-ish red glow. There’s been no shortage of evil, cursed books throughout literature history—the Necronomicon, De Vermis Mysteriis, that time they let Max Landis write Superman—but when it comes to Marvel, there’s really only one main Bad Book: The “Darkhold,” also known as “The Book of Sins.”
The Darkhold is one of those been-around-forever comic book items where it would take like 6,000 words to explain its various escapades, but the gist is this: Ages ago, in the dark early parts of existence, an Elder God named Chthon—basically Marvel’s Cthulu—scribbled down all his most devious spells and incantations into an indestructible tome and dropped it on Earth like the saucy bitch who lives for drama that he is. Over eons, it passed from hand to hand like a supremely parasitic baton, corrupting anyone who read it but also garnering a devoted, extremely cult-ish legion of followers known as Darkholders. At one point, Dracula tried to steal it from the Vatican. It’s important that as many people as possible know that.
In the comics, both Agatha Harkness and Wanda play a role in the series The Darkhold: Tales from the Book of Sins. Issue #6 actually opens with Agatha reading a prophecy from its pages: “A child born of no man and of a woman marked by sin; daughter becomes mother; then will the dark return begin.” Comic book Agatha makes it clear that this ominous-ass prophecy from a demon book is referring to Wanda Maximoff. And, I mean, WandaVision features not one, but two children born of no man, from a woman marked by the sins of her HYDRA origin story. I’m not…entirely ready to declare this Disney+ television series is going to end with an Eldritch abomination bursting up from beneath a Wawa, but I just really can’t shake that idea that Agatha is more like a Medium Bad in the shadow of a yet-revealed Big Bad.
Where *Are* the Twins?
At this point, all the specific theorizing in the world doesn’t mean as much as the question of just how weird WandaVision wants to get with it in its final two episodes. WandaVision isn’t directly adapting any comic book story; it’s largely original, pulling bits and pieces from various Avengers and Avengers West Coast runs, House of M, and Tom King’s Vision. But I truly cannot stress enough how hard there has never been a combination of Agatha Harkness + Tommy and Billy Maximoff that didn’t end in deeply unsettling horror wonkery and tragic death. One second, Tommy and Billy were munching on PB&J’s and watching Yo Gabba Gabba—a television show they are comically too old for—and the next, Wanda is wandering Agatha Harkness’ basement dungeon calling for her children.
Where are the twins? Look, I know it’s basically become a running joke that if a character has a pulse and at least 3 seconds of screentime, somebody’s gonna’ suggest he or she is Mephisto. I get it. But also…I still haven’t NOT ruled out Mephisto showing up. (We’re gonna’ be like four episodes into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and I’ll still be like “Baron Zemo is something the devil would call himself, I think.”) The show is obviously fast-forwarding to Billy and Tommy’s deep-into-the-future roles as the superheroes Wiccan and Speed, but there’s just no forgetting that origin story. Wanda pulled these tykes from the devil’s soul, the devil took them back, and it was all very. fucking. weird. “Breaking the Fourth Wall” ends with Wanda walking through the most gateway to hell-ass hallway imaginable, spotting a demonic-looking book, and calling for her kids. If that doesn’t reek of sulfur, I don’t know what does.
So Is Evan Peters Actually Playing Master Pandemonium??
There is no evidence to support this, no. But, like, imagine?
The latest installment in the sci-fi franchise is due in theaters this December.
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