My whole life I have everything from Marvel Studios because I am a die-hard fan. This means I would eat anything that Kevin Feige serves me but given the fact that I am a film and television graduate, I usually tend to look at the motion picture in a different view. Not just the side that I enjoy and love, but whenever I can, I always try to find elements that were not properly developed.
With Marvel Studios’ first show, I figured it’s best if I were to try and look at a show from a different perspective. Because there are going to be a lot of stories, video essays, and reviews online praising the show for doing A-B-C, I decide that I should look at why even if A was good, lacked this and that.
Vague? When it comes to a narrative in motion picture storytelling, there are different forms to follow but the four main ones are linear, non-linear, quest, and viewpoint narrative. The main one that can be picked up in WandaVision, is non-linear narrative.
According to Master Class, non-linear narrative presents the events of the story out of order, employing flashbacks and other literary devices to shift the chronology of a story. This means that a story may fracture its timeline or make thematic connections, to emphasise the emotional mindset of a personal narrative.
In the first two episodes of WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff’s events are presented out of order. They are filled with scenarios that range from her and Vision’s anniversary, Vision’s time at work, Wanda attempting to cook, and the pair having guests over. The second episode also did the same thing with the council meeting that vision attended, a tea party Wanda went to and the magic show that they attended.
This affected the building of suspense throughout the show, leaving viewers with questions of how this is going to end or the resolution. There was also a shift of different sitcoms from the past, employing a type of narration that interweaves storylines that span decades and only occasionally overlap.
This is how Marvel Studios presented narrative in this show, to keep the story running smoothly and to allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow. However, with the premier episodes of this show, it is kind of impossible to follow the story. To shorten the rambling, let me jump into this analysis by explaining this with the following elements.
Characters from the show
Wanda is clearly aware of what is happening around her hence she is omitting or canceling disturbances. Which is confusing when you look at it because there were instances where a voice was coming out of the speakers trying to speak to her, asking her who might be doing all of this.
In the show, it is heavily implied that Wanda is creating this environment to live out a fantasy where she can be happy as per a scene where she sees a bee-man coming out of a drainage pipe system from the middle of the road. A moment that she was quick to redo. Her reaction to that and rewriting/recreating those last few moments for a different takeaway to that, implies that this is her doing.
When you take the random sounds that she keeps on getting from speakers which disturbs some of the scenarios that she is in, the frequent jam of the characters or repetition of some dialogue lines. This suggests a lot that the show did not delve into.
The Setting of the show
If you look at it, the shows that WandaVision is replicating or emulating, aired over 50 years ago before Wanda and Pietro were even born, probably before their parents were born. Take ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, it initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961, to June 1, 1966. Then there is the Brady Bunch show and another sitcom titled ‘Bewitched’ which had its final episode March 25, 1972 after airing on ABC from September 17, 1964.
Unless the show plans on addressing why these specific sitcoms were thrown in the mix, why Wanda found herself not replicating only sitcoms that aired in the last two decades only in relation to her age group. Irrespective of whether both (Wanda and Pietro) grew up with those classic shows on TV airing as classic reruns.
With the Duffer Brother’s Stranger Things and Petty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman 1984, the comic book movie/television world has become obsessed with nostalgia and passing it as artistic without advancing it or making it serve a real purpose. At least Stranger Things tries into doing this, WandaVision gives you an idea that this is nostalgia yet, you will tune in onto that nostalgia until the episode ends leaving you agitated.
Plot the show is centered around
The second episode barely advanced the plot, it continued that nostalgia trip, and judging by those two episodes, it feels like they are more interested in creating exactly that, rather than delivering a Wanda plot.
Generic television shows are crafted in a clear way Three-Act structure way, beginning-middle-end every single episode needs to depict this. You are not writing a telenovela or a soapie where plot lingers onto the rest of the season.
One might wonder, what is the point of breaking the formula? The House of M plot — which is what the show seems to be slightly tapping from — saw her creating this happy world. A world where everything had a good happier reality. So if they haven’t given us a clear indication of:
- What is causing this creation of hers (Wanda)?
- Who is watching and monitoring her?
- Is it an ordinary town that was turned into this perfect world by Wanda?
- Was the point to only tell unique stories each episode, setting the premise on a bubblegum being stuck inside Vision or Wanda attempting to cook?
It makes no sense to drag these scenarios over nine episodes, instead of giving a leeway during each episode. The idea of starting a show on the first episode, in this world and the second episode being the same thing, a replicated world and you finish both episodes, in the same way, is quite diabolical.
The narrative conflict from the show
Conflict in a story can be explained as a struggle between opposing forces and creates and drives the plot. This was somehow there on the show, but not quite clear. More time was spent stretching moments and scenarios that could have been shortened.
Vision’s bubble gum situation lasted way too long, as good, funny, and hilarious as it was, it felt went on for far too long. The show used bubblegum in this case as a part of mise-en-scène that drives a lingering conflict of vision revealing some of his abilities and Wanda trying to fix that because it was raising some eyebrows from the audience at that magic show.
Conflict in narrative lets characters confront certain forces, there was no adrenaline rush during that particular scene. The main conflict of the show will obviously be highlighted later on in the seasons, but at the moment it seems like the plot is being driven by smaller and silly elements that fail to advance the story and set a clear path from the get-go.
The Script Lab sees Resolution in motion picture writing as closure. The audience has seen Wanda’s journey, all the shenanigans that she experienced in the first episode and the second one. This ranged from hosting dinners that were messy to performing at a talent flair, and the resolution to that was rewriting everything.
All the hiccups on the story in the first episode when guests experienced that ‘statis’ moment, which ended up with the guests leaving. The audience still wanted reassurance that all was well, that the characters have changed, and a glimpse of their future which seemed to have teased a far more interesting plot.
I have to say, there was a twist and confrontation when Wanda and Vision heard a weird disturbing sound and decided to go outside on the street. This twist and new confrontation is the result of the plot and subplot main culmination — basically, the conflicts of the plot and sub-plot colliding.
Overall Remark of the first two episodes
Was the point to only recreate sitcoms from the past with nothing new for two episodes straight?? Because this is good for nostalgia and everything was knitted to perfection. The humour, the dialogue, storylines, all those elements matched up together, and nothing was cringe. So yes, they perfected that.
The show stands a good chance of turning into something insanely good hence the premise, and knowing Marvel Studios, delivering climax is one of the story elements that they have nailed for the last 12 years.
Or should I assess the whole season as a one solid storyline with one plot? But then established plotlines are derailing from that plotline. There are still various classic themes that are yet to be tapped over the next coming episodes. But going into them, at least the next two (episode 3 and episode 4), we need to prepare ourselves for them to end in a similar grounded way.
And that means this show, is not for you if you are used to a clear structure about shows that get to be adapted based on cinematic universe characters. I will be writing a follow-up article at the end of the series to see if it was wise to judge it based on the first two episodes that only set the premise.