- Episode 4 (of 9), 'We Interrupt This Program'
- Written by Bobak Esfarjani and Megan McDonnell
- Directed by Matt Shakman
Spoilers for WandaVision follow.
Darkness. In flashbacks to Captain Marvel, the voice of Maria Rambeau says she can’t leave Monica; Monica talks about building a spaceship; and Carol Danvers says, “When they were handing out kids they gave her the toughest one.”
Monica Rambeau rematerializes in a hospital room – she’s returning from the ‘Blip’ that wiped out half of life in the universe when Thanos snapped his fingers. She’s sitting next to an empty bed.
Monica rushes into the corridor where other people are appearing out of thin air – there is much confusion. She says she’s looking for a patient.
Eventually a doctor recognizes her. Monica says she’d been in the room since her mother, Maria, came back from surgery – that she may have fallen asleep but no longer than 20 minutes. The doctor says Maria after her cancer came back, but Monica says that can’t be right, that the procedure went well, and her mother was due to be discharged today. The doctor says Maria died three years ago – two years after Monica disappeared.
Monica arrives at SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division) Headquarters, but her key card doesn’t let her into the building. Just as it looks like a sarcastic security guard is going to block her way, Captain Rambeau is recognized by Director Tyler Hayward, who offers to “catch her up”.
It’s three weeks after the ‘Blip’ and Monica is the first to return to work. She asks about the astronaut training program and Hayward says it’s in a dismal state – half were lost in the ‘Blip’ and half of those remaining have since lost their nerve. They’ve shifted away from manned missions to robotics, nanotech and AI – “Sentient weapons, like it says on the door”. She points out that it also says “observation and response” on that door – not “creation”. He points out that the world is not the same as when she left it, that there are a lot of threats in space. She counters that it was always dangerous – but there are also allies out there.
Hayward acknowledges that the situation is awkward – especially as Maria built SWORD, and Monica grew up there. He explains that the FBI is “in a tizzy” over a missing persons case in New Jersey, and is requesting use of an imaging drone that needs a chaperone – aka Monica. Monica questions the mission, but Hayward says she’s restricted to terrestrial missions for the time being. It’s based on her mother’s protocols in the case of “vanished personnel” returning. He says the positive to take away from it is that Maria always thought she’d come back – and that she’ll be doing him a big favor if she helps out. She says she’s good to go.
Monica arrives on the outskirts of Westview. She’s greeted by FBI agent James E Woo. He explains that he’s got a witness set up in the Witness Protection Scheme down the road in Westview and nobody can find him – in fact, none of his associates or relatives have even heard of him. To make things even weirder, the local sheriff tells them that the town of Westview doesn’t exist. Woo explains that he’s working his way through the phone numbers of the residents but up to now he’s had no response. “So you can’t reach anyone inside and everyone on the outside has some sort of selective amnesia?” asks Rambeau.
“This isn’t a missing persons case, Captain Rambeau,” Woo responds. “It’s a missing town.”
She asks why he hasn’t been inside to investigate, he replies that it “doesn’t want me to”, that nobody’s supposed to go in.
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Monica launches the drone towards the town, and wonders why only she and Woo seem to know about Westview – is it because they live outside a certain radius or because they don’t have a personal connection? The drone suddenly disappears, along with the video feed from it.
Monica walks towards the point where the drone went missing and realizes there’s an energy field surrounding the town. She touches it and is sucked through, leaving Woo alone.
24 hours later, a van drives towards Westview. Among the passengers is astrophysicist Dr Darcy Lewis, who asks about everyone’s specialities – nuclear biology, artificial intelligence and a chemical engineering. Darcy says the variety means SWORD has no idea what they’re dealing with.
They arrive at the hastily erected SWORD Response Base outside Westview.
Darcy watches as a drone pass through the energy field. She asks what data they’re getting and a SWORD officer says that’s “highly classified”, so Darcy deduces that means they can’t see anything. She also points out that it’s a “bona fide, joint, multi-service response. I’m really looking forward to the commemorative t-shirt”.
Darcy realizes there’s a colossal amount of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation coming from the town, and notices there are longer wavelengths superimposed over the noise. She runs the signal through some diagnostic equipment and says she needs an old TV – “like, not flat”.
Outside, Hayward sends a SWORD Agent Franklin (wearing a yellow protective suit) into the sewer network to try and infiltrate Westview. Woo says he’s sceptical about the mission because there’s no reason to suspect the energy field doesn’t extend underground.
Inside headquarters, Hayward hears studio audience laughter coming from the WandaVision broadcast. They’re watching the ’50s-set first episode. Darcy points out that Vision is supposed to be dead – “not blipped, dead”. When Hayward asks what’s going on, Darcy says she has no idea if it’s recorded, fabricated, in real time…all she knows is that the TV signal is entwined with radiation created by the Big Bang. “So you’re saying the universe created a sitcom starring two Avengers?” asks Woo.
At a briefing, Woo explains that the mission is getting intel on Monica Rambeau, but originally the case was about a missing person so they’re going to start there – identifying individuals within the anomaly. They start to identify Westview residents ‘starring’ in the sitcom.
Then Darcy drops her food as she spots Monica in character as Geraldine in the show. Is Monica in deep cover, playing along…? Woo asks if it’s an alternative reality, time travel, “some cockamamie social experiment…”
Darcy isn’t sure, but she does have an idea involving Wanda’s kitchen radio. “The next time she’s washing dishes, which by my count happens about once an episode, barf, we’ll shoot a signal to that little guy.” They should be able to communicate with her. Before they attempt to broadcast, an agent hands Woo a screen capture of a “retro version of a SWORD drone” that appeared in the episode – monochrome except for the red toy helicopter.
Darcy watches the episode 2 scene by the swimming pool where Wanda and Monica/Geraldine are talking with Dottie. “Wanda, Wanda, can you read me, over?” says Woo over the radio. Darcy spots something weird but says it’s nothing and assumes the mission was a failure.
Inside the sewer, Agent Franklin crosses the energy field. His protective suit turns into a beekeeper suit and he’s surrounded by bees. The wire connecting him to SWORD is severed.
He emerges from the manhole and sees Wanda and Vision.
Back at the mobile SWORD HQ, Darcy and Woo are watching the ’70s episode of the show. “Why does it keep switching time periods?” she asks. “It can’t be purely for my enjoyment, can it?” Wanda gives birth in the episode, and Monica/Geraldine makes that unexpected reference to Ultron killing Wanda’s brother, Pietro.
Woo and Darcy are taken aback because it’s the first time the sitcom has referenced reality. In the episode, Wanda tells Monica/Geraldine to leave, and the show suddenly jumps to credits. They run the video back and see that one second Monica/Geraldine is standing next to Wanda, the next she isn’t. “Someone is censoring the broadcast,” says Darcy.
An alarm sounds, warning the base that the boundary has been breached.
Back inside the sitcom episode, Wanda repeatedly asks Monica/Geraldine who she is. “Wanda, I’m just your neighbor,” says Monica/Geraldine.
“Then how could you know about Ultron?” Wanda asks.
Wanda fires up her magical powers, and tells Monica/Geraldine she’s a “stranger and an outsider, and right now you are trespassing here.” She blasts Monica/Geraldine out of the house, through multiple walls and beyond the energy field. Wanda then uses her powers to restore the house. Vision gets home and asks where Geraldine is.
Monica wakes up in the real world.
Wanda tells Vision that Geraldine had to leave, that she had to rush home. She turns around and sees Vision with dead eyes, the Mind Stone removed from his forehead. Initially shocked, she looks back and sees him as normal. “We don’t have to stay here,” he says. “We can go wherever we want.”
“No we can’t,” she replies. “This is our home. Don’t worry, darling. I have everything under control.”
As doctors treat Monica, she says: “It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda!”
Back in sitcom-land, Wanda picks up one of the twins and asks what they should watch tonight. Vision looks worried as Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ kicks in on the soundtrack. The camera returns to 4:3 and the audience applauds.
PLEASE STAND BY.
WandaVision episode 4 goes big on exposition and it comes at just the right time for the season. While the era-specific sitcom-set episodes have been lots of fun, a fourth in succession may have signalled the start of a shark jump. That ‘We Interrupt This Program’ is able to shift the focus of the series so massively proves that Marvel’s mastery of storytelling has survived the transfer to TV, with everything unfolding like clockwork. Even the use of aspect ratio is ingenious.
In fact, seeing the events of WandaVision’s ’50s, ’60s and ’70s episodes from outside Westview puts an entirely new perspective on what we’ve seen before. With Wanda and Vision little more than bit-part players, Monica Rambeau briefly becomes the show’s protagonist – until her mishap with an energy field passes the baton to familiar faces Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis. From that point on it’s business as usual in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its trademark quips, self-awareness (why were those shapes hexagonal?) and sense of spectacle. For the wider MCU, it’s also important that we get to see scenes of the ‘blipped’ returning to an unsuspecting and confused world.
But while the episode doubles down on reveals – about what’s happening outside Westview, at least – it asks just as many questions as it answers. If, as is heavily hinted, Wanda really is in control of this sitcom world, why did she take over an entire town? How did she make everyone outside forget about it? Why does everything go retro when it passes through the energy field? And what’s Vision’s status? (That shot of a zombie Vision suggests that all is not right…)
When WandaVision’s sitcom odyssey moves on to the ’80s, we’ll be tuning in with all that extra knowledge about Wanda and her world. WandaVision just elevated itself from very good to excellent.
- We now know exactly when WandaVision fits into the MCU timeline – it’s three weeks after the Avengers defeated Thanos in Endgame. This means that Wanda found her way into Westview within weeks of returning from the ‘Blip’ – while Vision technically died five years ago, for her it’s only just happened.
- The episode makes it explicit that, in the MCU, SWORD stands for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division. It’s also clear that, as in the comics, its primary focus is outer space.
- One of the TV channels screening in SWORD HQ is WHIH. The in-universe network first appeared in viral promos for Ant-Man back in 2015, when it was fronted by Christine Everhart, the news anchor played by Leslie Bibb in the Iron Man movies.
- There’s a brief cameo for Captain Marvel star Lashana Lynch as Maria ‘Photon’ Rambeau – in addition to her voice being at the start of the episode, her photo is on the wall of SWORD HQ.
- SWORD boss Tyler Hayward (played by Josh Stamberg) is a newcomer to the MCU – and as far as we can tell, he doesn’t appear in the comics either. There was, however, a Brian Hayward who was part of HYDRA’s Centipede Project in Agents of SHIELD – could the two be related?
- SHIELD agent turned FBI agent Jimmy Woo is also an MCU veteran, having turned up as Scott Lang’s parole officer in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Fresh Off the Boat star Randall Park reprises the role. As many suspected, it is Woo’s voice on the radio talking to Wanda.
- Woo says he has posters of Eliot Ness on his wall as a kid. Ness was a real-life government agent famous for bringing down Al Capone – played by Kevin Costner in The Untouchables.
- Is there any relevance to the S-57 number on the side of the SWORD drone? Vision’s first appearance in the Avengers comic came in issue #57. This probably isn’t a coincidence.
- Dr Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) was Dr Jane Foster’s assistant in Thor and Thor: The Dark World. As such she’s an expert on the Bifrost and the Nine Realms – this knowledge of multiple dimensions is presumably why SWORD brought her along for the mission. She also seems to know a fair bit about vintage TV.
- We now know that it was Darcy we saw watching the WandaVision sitcom at the end of episode 1.
- Some of the names of the Westview residents playing characters in WandaVision’s in-show sitcom have real world relevance. Sharon Davis (Mrs Hart) is also the name of WandaVision’s Supervising Art Director, while John Collins (Herb) is the show’s Art Director.
New episodes of WandaVision are available every Friday on Disney Plus.
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Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.