D+ means Disney used to have a higher average before absorbing Fox. Wand Division is the new math. WandaVision was supposed to be bumped it forward to 2020 to make a perfect 20/20 vision joke. Although it completed filming before the pandemic production pauses, unlike Falcon & Winter Soldier, it then got pushed back to its original 2021 slot so it wouldn’t compete with The Mandalorian’s second season. Viewers are supposed to be excited for bona fide Marvel Cinematic Universe characters appearing on a televison show instead of a movie, as if Phil Coulson, Peggy Carter, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Sif, Jasper Sitwell, Edwin Jarvis, Gideon Malick, Dr. List, & the Howling Commandos didn’t already on Agents of SHIELD & Peggy Carter. Remember when SHIELD premiered & people were mad they’d have to watch one series on free network television to fully understand the Marvel movies they paid for? Now that there’s a bunch of more directly influential series that behind a subscription service paywall, fans are excited?
Marvel Studios’ movies are sometimes described as television in cinemas since they link to form a larger story. This time it could argued that MCU’s lucky thirteenth television series is a long movie split into weekly installments. (So are these Disney+ Marvel series going to be event series? I don’t feel like making new tags for them if they’re each one & done. So this’ll just get the standard “Avengers” & like it. If renewed, we can consider making unique tags.) SPOILER warning for nine episodes of the most popular television series of the moment. You really deserve a prize if you’d made it unspoiled this far.
This is exhibit A in why the movies needed to share the limelight Tony & Steve were hogging. Elizabeth Olsen & Paul Bettany have great comedic & romantic chemistry. At least they finally got to tap into it here. Never bet against Bettany! (Although he keeps insisting Vision is purple instead of vermilion.) While Scarlet Witch & Vision had lots of development as a couple in the comics, their pairing at the start of Infinity War felt abrupt & then he died. This pairing comes off more loving than the comics, where later writers paint Vision as insensitive & Wanda as manipulative. (One of the problems with mainstream comics being open-ended is they feel the need to ruin good things to keep the drama going, so eventually you wonder if everything was toxic to begin within.) It may not be CamillaGonzo, but it’s still a better romance than Twilight.
I’m not a fan of romantic lead Vision looking like a normal Paul Bettany so much. It’d be more surreal if he didn’t blend in with his vintage sitcom surroundings. It’s not like he has a normal name to go with this disguise. Vision turning into a normal guy wasn’t part of their comics courtship. Wanda is attracted to him because he’s a Christmas-colored synthezoid. This pearl-clutching interpretation of their relationship isn’t even inadvertently satire, it’s canon. Does Scarlet Witch count as a robofucker or a monsterfucker? The Vision is more of a robot by nature yet his aesthetics don’t traditionally match. (Maybe his genitalia do?) Are robots merely a subset of monsters anyway? How much physical difference from a standard human is required before monster classification is applicable? Likewise Swamp Thing didn’t give us enough of Abby pining for her Arcimboldo Adonis, but that’s because it was unfairly nipped in the bud.
This series has excellent production values, as it should. It has more special effects shots than Avengers Endgame. That makes sense since it’s longer overall, but it also seems like Marvel Studios could’ve given Netflix a little more cash to insert Stark Tower into various Defenders series skyline scenes.
Upon seeing the trailer, I was not convinced this would be Wanda going mad with reality warping. Up until now, MCU Wanda has had Jean Grey’s powers & lack of codename. I expected this to be more of a shared hallucination fakeout of her & Vision’s programming trapped in some VR simulation rather than outright reality warping. I’m relieved to have underestimated the series!
The unimaginative title is Wanda Maximoff’s & The Vision’s shipper name. Since it’s just their names next to each other instead of merged, it’s not one of the better ones. It’s a better pun on television. Everything happening within the Westview Hex is Wanda’s vision.
Why is Wanda obsessed with old American sitcoms if she’s from the war-torn European nation of Sokovia? They probably got some reruns due to cultural imperialism, but the premise still seems a stretch. Her fixating on a specific sitcom is believable, several sitcoms across decades less so. In the penultimate episode, we learn the Maximoffs used to watch American sitcoms to practice their English. What about Britcoms? It’s implied their father has to smuggle & resell them due to Sokovian bans on Western entertainment. This flashback occurs well the collapse of the Soviet Union, & the DVDs are official US edition boxed sets not foreign editions or bootlegs though.
The first episode emphasizes Wanda is Sokovian when Elizabeth Olsen isn’t bothering to do a “European” accent anymore. Vision uses Paul Bettany’s real English accent but nobody comments on it or his national origin. Her Sokovian accent pops up later in proportion to her using her powers villainously. So a non-American or British accent is an indicator of evil? Then Quicksilver & Wanda argue about accents too. Even Agatha pokes fun at this. They may take our accents, but they’ll take our paprikash!!!
Wanda got her powers form the Mind Stone, but her powers are more like the Reality Stone (Aether) in appearance & function. (Likewise Captain Marvel was empowered by the Tesseract but doesn’t involve teleportation.) The penultimate flashback retcons that Wanda was a witch before getting an Infinity Stone power boost despite never having learned any spells. The blinking Stark toaster in the first commercial represents one of the bombs that killed Wanda’s family. She had to use a probability hex because Stark Industries didn’t make duds! That feels more like her being a mutant. If her family has a genetic predisposition to magic like DC’s Homo magi, why’d her twin wind up with a completely different superspeed power? Would it be more elegant if they were both just Inhumans? The powers Monica gains from interacting with The Hex are also unrelated.
The conceit is stretched thin. Even if you missed the commercials & promo materials, you’ll instantly know this is about Scarlet Witch & Vision emulating vintage sitcoms. This would be a great way to introduce Mojo to the MCU, but they’re not touching the X-Men rights yet. The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Legends Of Tomorrow, & DuckTales have had examples of this meta-narrative just within last year. WandaVision insists on making you sit through entire episodes for the fake shows well after it stops being novel. Just because you can replicate vintage TV doesn’t mean you have to show us everything. There is some clever writing & Vision is a surprising comic delight, but then the period accurate laugh track filmed in front of a live studio audience cancels out any resulting amusement. It gets a bit more interesting when horror intrudes. Flipping through different sitcom generations is a lovely tribute to television but doesn’t explain why Wanda doesn’t just pick one or make an amalgam. I’m not saying WandaVision doesn’t deserve credit for its period sitcom recreations, but I am saying that Legends Of Tomorrow hasn’t been getting enough praise for replicating four disparate TV series in one episode on a network budget.
While the first couple episodes are longer than those of the sitcoms being referenced, the middle episodes grow shorter are the plot heats up. The Hex sitcoms have to compete for screentime with the events outside of Westfield. So if you are more interested in televisual injokes than me, this could be annoying. This juggling combined with cliffhangers elicit the feeling that installments are incomplete.
The third episode kicks into gear after Wanda’s twins are born & she remembers Quicksilver. Wanda had the most eventful superpower pregnancy since her sometimes sister, Lorna. Her sending Monica to the cornfield was a great horror scene. (Monica’s 70’s outfit is fab.) Since when does Vision have superspeed? I might’ve been less frustrated if I’d binged the first three episodes together.
The fourth episode finally provides some context for this gimmick. It starts with a cool scene of a hospital being Unsnapped with spectacular visuals. We find out that Maria Rambeau has died in the interim, which puts a damper on her & Carol being reunited. She did found SWORD, which heightens the Peggy Carter parallels. Her daughter, Monica Rambeau, is all grown up now as an agent of SWORD, which apparently stands for ”Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division” in the MCU rather than the “World” as in the comics. She & the FBI’s Jimmy Woo are on the case of Wanda Maximoff vanishing along with the entire town of Westview, New Jersey. (This has also disappeared in our reality, not to be confused with the unincorporated community of West View within Ridgefield Park. Ditto Eastview.) Wanda’s reality warping field assimilated a conspicuous drone, Monica, & another SWORD agent. (I’m disappointed yet not surprised the sewer beekeeper wasn’t an AIM agent or Swarm.) The glimpse of Vision’s dead head was creepy. “Voodoo Child” is used despite the lack of Brother Voodoo & Black Talon.
Monica Rambeau was the first woman to use the Captain Marvel name in the comics. Since they’ve made a huge deal of Carol Danvers being Captain Marvel, that didn’t happen in the MCU. If they let her use the name, she’ll be the third woman to do so in the movieverse. Fortunately Monica has multiple monikers (Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum) to choose from. It probably doesn’t even matter which one they go with as it won’t be used in universe. Teyonah Parris had been fancast as Monica for six years, so congratulations to those nerds on bending Marvel Studios to their will!
So is Nick Fury’s space station not SWORD? Without its emphasis on space, SWORD feels just like SHIELD with a new name. Why not use Damage Control instead? Where are TV’s agents of SHIELD? Someone posited that the reason its final two seasons don’t reference The Snap is proof the series takes place in an alternate universe to the MCU. That would make #ItsAllConnected a lie, unless you consider that all bits of Marvel’s multiverse are loosely connected anyway. This person did go on to insist The Defenders series are in the MCU despite Stark Tower never being in any of the numerous NYC scenes. Even if Agents Of SHIELD isn’t canon to the MCU, it still used the same actors for crossover characters. Therefore it stands to reason that the television cast could still be introduced as the officially MCU equivalents of their characters.
No longer needing to play comic relief to Doctors Foster & Selvig, Dr. Darcy Lewis use her astrophysicist acumen to discover the town is emitting cosmic background radiation. Not only is Wanda making the town play assorted television programs, these events are being broadcast over analog airwaves like them too. That’s crazy powerful & crazy unnecessary! As the audience surrogate, Darcy is going to make “The Hex” happen! (Kat Dennings always seems funnier as herself than her roles.) Monica, Jimmy, & Darcy remind me of The Best Friends Squad from the She-Ra reboot. Not only does Jimmy Woo get a fight scene to demonstrate his secret badassery, Randall Park really learned the card trick.
“She recast Pietro?” was meta-comedy gold! Disney bought Fox just for this punchline! It was worth every penny. Then they said Kick-Ass to tie them together. I didn’t believe he was Quicksilver from another dimension, but it was a more likely fan theory than most given the title of Dr. Strange’s sequel. Agatha couldn’t use necromancy to bring the original back, but why couldn’t she use a glamour to make the impostor Quicksilver resemble the real deal?
Amnesiac Vision questioning Wanda’s reality distortion was intriguing wrinkle to their dynamic. Although he’s mad at his wife when he notices she’s manipulating things, the Vision flies off to investigate the situation like a hero because he’s worthy of Mjolnir at heart. Vision can un-whammy Westview residents by phasing his hand into their heads. How’d he know to do this? If he doesn’t remember anything from before his reanimation, why would he suspect his neighbors had been whammied to begin with?
The do the thing where they put the leads into comic accurate costumes but make them cheap & shabby! Stop trying to trick viewers into thinking that automatically makes the movie designs superior! As much as I like the texture on Vision’s standard suit, his Halloween costume emphasized that there’s already enough going on in his traffic light design before the superfluous details were added. At least the headband they finally gave Scarlet Witch looks good. The costume below that, could use some work since it’s missing the top half of her pink tights. Elizabeth Olsen says she only wanted to wear the classic costume ironically, which has lowered my estimation of her.
Prior to “Agnes,” Kathryn Hahn voiced a sensational Doc Ock. (Raise your tentacles if you’d like her to reprise the role in live action for the second Spider-Man 3 or the first Dr. Strange 2!) This adaptation is much foxier & hammier than Agatha Harkness (no relation to Jack) is generally depicted. (Was Dame Maggie Smith busy?) Since Wanda had never heard of her & she didn’t know SWORD would be able to view the hex broadcast, there isn’t an in-story reason for Agatha to compress her name.
Its only purpose was gaslighting the comics fans that suspected that’s who Hahn was playing early on. She shows how you can faithfully adapt a simple comics outfit & still make it impressive.
Why does Agatha have a bunny named Senor Scratchy (after her son?) instead of her feline familiar, Ebony? Goose can’t be the MCU’s only “feline!” Snubbing Ebony is an even greater crime against cats than what CAOS did to Salem!
“It Was Agatha All Along!” is a bop in every language! Give Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez all the awards! A motif featuring “The Devil’s Interval” is included in each song to tie them together.
It’s puzzling why Agatha is presented as an antagonist, especially since she’s not villainous in the comics. Wanda is the one holding an entire town hostage & mindcontrolling them, whereas Agatha’s been undermining that spell. Sparky was arguably never real. (She foreshadowed this years earlier.) Once she finally gets through to Wanda, she even gives her trauma counseling. She may not be as altruistic as Monica, but it’s the oddest character assassination since Dr. Cecelia Reyes, albeit much more fun. Giving Wanda an evil counterpart to battle distracts from her own accountability. There’s plenty of unused supernatural foes (Mephisto, Nightmare, Chthon, Master Pandemonium, Nicholas Scratch, Modred the Mystic, Chondu the Mystic, Black Talon, Lilith, Emerald Warlock) they could’ve used, so Agatha could’ve been a benevolent supporting character. Somebody’s gotta be the nanny for Franklin Richards now that they’re bringing the accursed FF into the MCU. (Agatha has a knack for looking out for reality warpers. If only Dr. Moira MacTaggert had asked her to babysit Proteus!)
Everybody that enters The Hex has their DNA rewritten, which seems overboard since they’re also getting new memories & clothes. Monica gets superpowers from crossing The Hex barrier thrice. Will everyone else develop lower tier mutations? Are the doing a reverse M-Day where Westview is ground zero for the dawn of Homo superior? Probably not, although it’s open-ended enough that they could revisit this. It’ll still make a good Weird NJ article.
So many people insisted Monica’s aerospace engineer would turn out to be the MCU debut of Reed Richards. I didn’t. I’m inordinately relieved to have been right about the aerospace engineer! If he appeared in the finale, it might’ve actually ruined my enjoyment. There was already enough going on without dragging in Latveria’s public enemy #1. Fans expecting Professor X & Magneto cameos also set themselves up for disappointment. (The leads teased a big cameo, so they did get viewers’ hopes up wildly speculating.)
Episode five really rubs it in that Wanda should’ve been called the Scarlet Witch by now. She doesn’t get her supranym until the end of episode seven when Agatha realizes she’s been using chaos magic. It’s about damn time! Red being the color of Wanda’s power signature & clothes was a good enough explanation for me. It’s kind of like the whole show was about course correcting her underwhelming origin in Age Of Ultron. (Swamp Thing remain the gold standard for sweeping origin revisions with a side of inhuman romance.) She’s a character whose powers never make sense no matter how hard the try to reinterpret them. Teaching Scarlet Witch magic on top of her reality warping mutation is like equipping Cyclops with a flamethrower. Now they have to play musical chairs with her parents a few times to get the full retcon experience. Let Wiccan & Speed have their Grampneato back!
I can’t believe it took this long just to get Scarlet Witch her name & iconic headband in the MCU when she simply debuted in X-Men #4 with them. (Adding historical significance to her title is a much more recent comics development.) They made this way harder than it needed to be for no reason. It didn’t take longer than a single film to explain Iron Man being called that despite his armor being composed of different metals or justify Steve Rogers being dubbed Captain America despite not earning that military rank. No wonder they haven’t found time to adapt the really Byzantine stuff like her twins being made from shards of Master Pandemonium’s soul who’s merely a fragment of Mephisto’s soul. (At least they’re less mundane than Lois’s & Clark’s twins.)
Vision’s living will stipulated he not be resurrected so he can’t be used as a zombified weapon. Nefarious yet standard Director Tyler Hayward led everyone to believe Wanda stole his body from SWORD & reanimated it. She actually just generated a brand new one from her mind like Zeus birthing Athena.
How long has SWORD had Vision’s body for? Has it been the whole five years or just recently? Surely Wakanda or Stark would’ve hung on to it? Why were they sawing it apart for Vibranium if they wanted it fully operational again? Hayward tries to goad Wanda into reanimating Vision, but why would he suppose she had that potential without having read the comics? He siphons some of her energy to bring the original Vision body back online under Project Cataract. It’s now albino like
a flagellant monk assassin the West Coast Avengers era. What a hideous surprise! It turns out the actor Bettany was excited to work with was himself!
This is a show about mortality & how comic books don’t handle it well. The entirety of Wanda’s MCU characterization is nearly all trauma & grief. Wanda hides away in the comfort of her favorite sitcoms made reality. She resurrects Vision & thinks she does likewise for Pietro just as all major comic book deaths eventually get undone. Monica has empathy for her since getting Snaptured robbed her of saying goodbye to her mom. “But what is grief if not love persisting?”
How culpable is Wanda? The Hex began as a intuitively as grief sublimation. The longer she keeps it up, however, the more villainous she becomes. She rejects all of SWORD’s attempts to interrupt her enforced hallucination. She doesn’t seem to be in a fugue state either, at least not after SWORD sends in the second drone. Once she leaves The Hex to confront them, however, she should realize that her selfish actions are wronging Westview. By leaving The Hex up, Wanda’s crimes go from accidental to deliberate. Its inhabitants are horrified that their minds have been overwritten when awoken. She’d even been inadvertently inflicting her nightmares onto them. If she retracted The Hex to just her property, her actions would be more excusable. Even if you err on the side of an extreme mental breakdown, it still seems like some action ought to be taken to prevent her from doing likewise to more civilians.
This series is filled with Schrödinger’s plot holes. I don’t know for sure if the certain elements don’t add up, or whether they just didn’t explain all the details in this intentionally disjointed narrative. If the kids were in town all along, why hide them until the twins were born? When the period details aren’t perfect, is that to show that things are spiraling out of Wanda’s control or just the props department slacking off? None of Westview’s cars have NJ plates. 90’s marquee shouldn’t have The Incredibles.
When did Agatha get to Westview? Her song shows her arriving before Wanda decolorizes the town, yet it’s implied she was attracted by the magnitude of the magic. Did Agatha already live in Westview & it was coincidental that Wanda & Vision had a plot of land next to hers? How will they explain Dr. Strange not investigating a town taken magically hostage for days?
The later episodes have characters break The Fourth Wall. (Malcolm In The Middle premiered in 2000 so it’s debatable whether it counts as a 90’s sitcom or ought to be grouped with the next decade’s batch.) This is appropriate to the sitcoms being homaged, but I worry it’ll make She-Hulk’s Post-Modernism less powerful. Or will they scrap Shulkie’s asides altogether if her show is ordered to be less high-concept for contrast?
My favorite part of “Series Finale” (which may be a misnomer) is the dueling Visions resolving their differences by discussing “the ship of Theseus.” SWORD’s Vision cannot fulfill his mission to destroy Vision because it ambiguous which is the genuine article. Hex Vision removes the original body’s memory blocks & it departs peacefully. I expected them to merge, but this is also satisfying. So Vision can survive without the Mind Stone. Now when will he regain his colors?
“There he is: The guy who almost got murdered by his own murder squad.” I keep having to remind myself that Hayward isn’t David Harbour’s character who was barely in Suicide Squad. Darcy T-bones him with a funnel cake truck! That’s my second favorite bit of the climax. Sadly Dr. Darcy disappears immediately after.
Like a living Uno reverse card, Agatha has the ability to absorb any magic directed against her & inflict its effects upon the spellcaster. Harkness wants the Scarlet Witch magic since she finds ignorant Wanda unworthy. She’s also been reading from The Darkhold, which doesn’t resemble the one from Agents Of SHIELD’s fourth season. (Does this prove they’re in different realities, or is it natural for a grand grimoire to change its shape?) What even is the point of making her WandaVision’s Big Bad if she doesn’t absorb Wanda’s & Vision’s twins into demonic Muppet arms? Wanda casts runes into The Hex which cancels out Agatha’s power-cancelling powers. Wanda mindwipes her into thinking she’s Agnes, so at least they can bring her back later.
During the climax Wanda magically manifests a Scarlet Witch costume. It’s sadly inferior to her Halloween costume. Rather than being something uniquely impressive to signify she’s more powerful than the Sorcerer Supreme, it has the same panels & textures of a standard Avengers costume. It’s a more boring take on her modern outfit. There’s still too much black like her prior supersuit, & the red is much more muted than it ought be. The tiara is too tiny!
Is Quicksilver actually Ebony in disguise? No, it’s just some actor named Ralph Bohner. That’s not anybody from the comics, which seems like a missed opportunity. He might not even be the FBI’s missing person, which is still oddly unresolved. If they weren’t going to answer that mystery, they could’ve just had the FBI ask Woo to investigate The Hex itself. This marks the return of Emma Caulfield to superheroine TV since Supergirl dropped the ball on Cameron Chase. She seemed important in the second episode & Kevin Feige had to sign off on her, so is Dottie secretly Clea? Nope, she’s just another Westview resident, even though she couldn’t be identified as such earlier.
Wanda finally takes down The Hex at the cost of colorized Vision & their twins. She mumbles a half-hearted apology to Monica, who unilaterally accepts on behalf of all the traumatized Westview citizens. Wanda doesn’t try to make amends to them. Did she truly have an epiphany? She simply flies off to a secluded cabin with The Darkhold to learn what she’s doing next time she casts a spell. (Is it still chaos magic if you can control its effects?) So this is like the third time Wanda doesn’t atone for her misdeeds. (Nobody remembers Wanda used her mind whammy on the Hulk, which made him wreck an innocent African city.) Wanda doesn’t have to face any repercussions because she’s a pretty white lady who’s sad! She’s got to rescue her sons’ souls in Doctor Strange & The Multiverse Of Madness so they can form the Young Avengers.
The finale was a bit predictable, which is not necessarily bad. Although the ride was fun, it didn’t really accomplish that much for the runtime spent. The less formulaic elements came from the episodes that were less plot meaty. With more savage cuts, this could’ve been edited into a movie or a shorter TV series. Episodes 4, 8, & 9 felt like the could’ve been stitched together into a regular theatrical release, which makes the rest feel like plate-spinning distractions. The main reason that wouldn’t work (aside from Disney wanting more content to entice subscribers) is that the MCU hadn’t front-loaded Wanda’s & Vision’s romance enough. Imagine if they were on the same side of Civil War so we could’ve seen it blossom properly! Having that attachment earlier could’ve made this even more heartbreaking. Wanda’s obsession with sitcoms could’ve been established sooner too.
Bova Milk, Auntie A’s Kitty Litter, Wonder Oats, a statue of The Whizzer (he was in Jessica Jones season two), & Grim Reaper’s mask are in the second episode’s fun animated intro. Alas, only the Agatha Harkness Easter Egg hatches & not even with her cat. Instead of tastes of things to come, they were cruel teases of what wouldn’t! This would be the ideal series to introduce many side characters that wouldn’t otherwise fit into an MCU movie. Still no Nathan Fillion as Simon “Wonder Man” Williams? Where’s Master Pandemonium, who shoots demons out of the Star-Bellied Sneech abscess in his tummy? Wonder Man & Master P would’ve fit in suitably with the acting angle. Salem’s Seven, Alkhema, Jocasta, Victor Mancha, Viv Vision, & The High Evolutionary are also not appearing. They couldn’t introduce all of them, but they probably had room to squeeze in more than just Agatha & the twins.
Although not a direct adaptation, this show parallels Marvel only caring about Ms. Maximoff when she does something catastrophically unhinged. John Byrne’s West Coast Avengers stint was all about torturing Wanda. Byrne reasoned that her probability hexes must be reshaping the past to accommodate her present. He abruptly left the book without completing this storyline because editorial wouldn’t let him do “Age of Kang.“ Suspiciously this wasn’t too long before Age of Apocalypse. Fourteen years later Bendis rehashed the Wanda going crazy arc & redid Age of Apocalypse as House of M. Marvel had to retcon away her agency to being possessed by
The Phoenix Force a vague Life Force for an quick redemption after the triple threat of “Avengers Disassembled,” House Of M, & M-Day. (See also Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. At least when bipolar Polaris has a destructive episode she doesn’t skirt the blame to external entities unless she’s objectively possessed by a sentient choker.)
There was a nifty swag box for this series. I always wonder what’s the point of making such cool promos not available to fans though. Lately they’re more elaborate than the traditional cast & crew shirt. Why not recoup costs by letting people order them? It’d be more niche, but at the same time I wonder who’s buying all the uninspired official merch that does get released for series like this. At least there’s plenty of “Agatha All Along” merch!
The rumored Marvel Legends Disney+ lineup doesn’t include Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, Darcy Lewis, or Agatha Harkness. Fix that, Hasbro! Instead we’re getting Anti-Vision. Thanks, I hate it. I wanted Wanda & Viz in their Halloween costumes instead! Maybe I’ll be able to redeem Wanda with vibrant paint like I did the last one? I supposed Monica will most likely get a toy for Captain Marvel 2, but there’s a custom now.
WandaVision was more enjoyable than I expected. (“FallonVision” is actually good too.) It certainly beats slogging through its Netflix predecessors. I’m so glad I was able to experience it firsthand instead of being spoiled months in advance by the noisy ‘Net like Stranger Things & The Mandalorian. Olsen, Bettany, & Hahn are superb! Showrunner Jac Schaeffer & director Matt Shakman made an engrossing albeit somewhat frustrating series. The formulaic & experimental halves were at odds with each other. Instead of truly furthering the MCU, it felt more concerned with catching up to what should’ve been in place earlier. It deftly juggled multiple tones though. As much as people were saying “this is when the MCU finally gets weird,” it still could’ve gotten weirder for me. It’s certainly not as surreal as Legion. (What if Aubrey Plaza played Agatha?) A genetically engineered cow nurse living in a magic mountain & a black cat that turns into a panther to devour demons isn’t too much to ask for!