What Does Hayward Want With Vision?


Six episodes in and WandaVision continues to aggressively beef in the borscht of anyone looking to discover what the hell is actually happening in Westview. “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” might’ve been the series’ most obvious case of “a lot happening without anything…actually happening.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a blast. I’m never going to log on to Mojo’s internet and pretend Paul Bettany seductively growling “chili con carne” while wearing a comics-accurate Vision costume isn’t compelling television.

Maybe it’s just impatience creeping in. Maybe it’s anxiety over the fact this mystery machine has entered its final stretch but still seems to be flooring the hell out of it. Maybe I just really want to know where Herb (David Payton) got such an authentic-looking Frankenstein’s monster costume in a small New Jersey neighborhood that might also be the product of traumatized witch magic. Maybe I just want Herb to be okay. Protect Herb at all costs.

Mostly, though, I just have a lot of questions! As do you, probably! Let’s dig into “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”

So Hayward is Kind of Dick, Huh?

WandaVision Episode 6
Image via Disney+

This passive-aggressive-manager-at-a-Baskin-Robbins-ass bish really called his secret evil project “CATARACT” because it has to do with Vision. WandaVision is a crossover now because this guy is clearly about to become the Joker.

So, yeah, woof, what a wildly brash heel turn from Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg), who swung this episode from a vaguely antagonistic boss straight into telling Monica (Teyonah Parris) it’s Good, Actually that she missed her mother dying of cancer and abandoning Darcy (Kat Dennings) to get sucked into the expanding Westview Anamoly. Due to the nature of WandaVision‘s overall wonkery, we’ve been ping-ponging pretty much every week between who the actual Big Bad is going to be. M.O.D.O.K.? Mephisto? Just like, real-life comedic actress Kathryn Hahn?? But Hayward offers something we don’t get enough of in the MCU, a human antagonist that just doesn’t think it’s super chill we share the Earth with beings who could vaporize half of America with an ill-timed sneeze but takes that mistrust way too far.

One of the only concrete revelations of “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” is that Wayward is very interested in Vision, who you may recall S.W.O.R.D. had gutted and strung up like a gaming PC at their facility just nine-ish days ago. Darcy finds a file marked “Cataract” hidden in Wayward’s private data, and for anyone not particularly well-versed in ophthalmology, a cataract “is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye…with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.” My dog has cataracts. It mostly just makes him bonk his head into walls. That is kind’ve what happens with Vision here, except he bonks his whole body against the boundaries of Westview, which literally tears his Vibranium shell apart pulling him back in. Wayward’s response is interesting because it’s kind of not a response at all. Instead, he looks fascinated and manages to say, “He really does want out, doesn’t he?”

That is absolutely not what a person says when they are there to de-escalate and/or understand the situation. “He really does want out, doesn’t he?” is what, like, Egghead says after trapping Ant-Man in an empty milk bottle. If you were, I don’t know, the director of a government entity called Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, it’s probably how you’d respond to the sentient weapon you’re observing if you knew way, way more about the situation than you let on. This leads us to:

Is Wanda Really the Only One Behind All This?

Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision
Image via Disney+

I mean, if you believe what Wanda says — and that is an entirely different conversation — she doesn’t even know how she started the Westview Anomaly in the first place. “I only remember feeling completely alone,” she tells her equally sus brother. “Empty. Just endless nothingness.” 

The idea of a grief so cavernous it swallows your thoughts, blanketing things like happiness and hope and positivity to the point where you’re not much more than a synthezoid without a Mind Stone, is a real concept. It’s entirely believable that Wanda, who has experienced nothing but loss after loss ever since a Nazi-adjacent organization gave her superpowers, acted mindlessly out of heartbreak. On the other hand, because this is the MCU, it’s also entirely possible what she’s describing is literally “a witch took over my brain and made me do Happy Days cosplay.” Both options are on the table.

Unlike last week’s game of “she” vagueness, Agnes comes right out and tells Vision: “No one leaves. Wanda won’t even let us think about it.” But what we are not prepared to do at this juncture is trust a damn word Agnes says. True, Wanda clearly has control over the Westview anomaly; you might have noticed the subtle moment when she wills it to expand and turns a helicopter into a hot air balloon. But there’s another player involved. The show has been hinting toward it every single episode. And there’s one quick one from Episode 6 I keep returning to, an answer from Pietro as to why he doesn’t look like Aaron Taylor-Johnson: “If I found Shangri-La, I wouldn’t want to be reminded of the past, either.”

The idea of Shangri-La is an oasis you discover, not one you create. More and more, it feels like Westview isn’t something Wanda manifested, but it is a perfect scenario she’s taking full advantage of. That leaves someone or something else to pull the strings, and part of that deal is keeping Wanda happy. I mean, just look at what happened the second Wanda seemed unsatisfied:

WandaVision Episode 6
Image via Disney+

Herb…is……..Mephisto? We’ll workshop it.

Is Pietro Really Pietro? And If So, Which Pietro Is Pietro?

Evan Peters in WandaVision
Image via Disney+

Despite the dreams of an instant multiverse dancing in our heads, Evan Peters did not, in fact, start this episode with “I’m here from another universe. We can say ‘fuck’ there. Michael Fassbender is my dad.” For now, WandaVision is rolling with the idea that not only is this the same Quicksilver who died in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but he’s also extremely aware of what Wanda is doing and understands he’s playing a sitcom trope.

“I’m just trying to do my part, okay?” he says. “Come to town unexpectedly, create tension with the brother-in-law, stir up trouble with the rugrats, ultimately give you grief. I mean, that’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”

This is the first time the Westview Anomaly delivered an order slightly off from the way Wanda requested it. She called out into the ether for her long-lost brother, and the void delivered Pietro with the wrong face. With childhood memories that don’t “exactly” line up hers. With less of an “it’s a literal miracle I’m alive right now” vibe, and more “I’m going to suspiciously pepper you with questions” effect. Roughly 75% of Peters’ dialogue in episode 6 is a low-key interrogation, delivered lightly, like a hostage negotiator. How did you do all this, Wanda? It’s not psychotic at all, Wanda. I’d probably just ignore the lack of Sokovian accent, Wanda.

Is Pietro…Pietro? I don’t buy it. Well, not exactlyWandaVision is a show about bringing back the dead; the impossibility of it, but also the Pet Sematary-ish idea that anything that could conceivably come back wouldn’t be what you lost. It’s also a show that makes it worth it to explore the background. Look at the screen set up at Westview’s Town Square Scare. It’s playing George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead, a movie about barricading the damn door when a familiar face crawls its way out of the ground.

WandaVision Episodes 1 through 6 are now available to stream on Disney+. A new episode of WandaVision airs Friday, February 19. For more, check out our recap of Episode 6.

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Coming 2022.

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