This article digs into the fourth episode of WandaVision which is titled “We Interrupt This Program.” Spoilers ensue. You have been warned.
As the title indicates, episode four breaks from manufactured reality. And personally, as dark and imperfect as reality was, it was a welcome sight. The manipulated laugh tracks, sunny days, and perfectly manicured lawns gave way to gritty conversations, rainy skies, and yellowing grass outside Westview. Maybe my relief was because reality had been teased, or because I was itchin’ for a little action, but chiefly, manipulation doesn’t sit well with me.
Wanda knows manipulation and pain. Strucker, her Stockholm Syndrome father-figure, constantly manipulated her, she lost her parents and brother, had to mercifully kill Vision and then watch him “resurrected” only to be brutally murdered. So it’s understandable she would want to control her surroundings (see our article on Episode 1), but it wasn’t clear who was responsible. In this episode’s final shot of reality, Rambeau breathlessly confirms, “It’s Wanda. It’s all Wanda.”Such is the product of pain and mental illness. She can’t suddenly be rational; she can’t magically be trusting.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” At first “wounds” sound evil and hurtful. But Solomon meant a true friend rebukes and is lovingly honest even if it’s initially painful. A while ago I spent almost a year creating an animation, but as I proudly showed it to my friend Sabana, she said, “Is this what you want to do with your life?” That response made me defensive because it hurt. Yet I realized I was fabricating a world on a screen, because I was fabricating a reality where I was recognized as a great writer and artist.
Wanda needs friends. Honest friends, not manipulated puppet neighbors. And yet, the WandaVision creators have manipulated us. We’ve grown to love and trust Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and we finally got to meet the note-taking TV watcher Darcy Lewis (Kat Denning) and the radio voice Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). Like Rambeau, we’ve seen inside the pocket-reality-dimension-thing, and outside. Because of that privilege we trust SWORD, rooting for Wanda to trust our agency friends, Rambeau, Jimmy, and Darcy.
But they are strangers and Wanda is broken. It’s not just about forgiving and moving on, she already did that. She let her guard down and made a family with Hawkeye and other Avengers and fell in love with Vision. But she lost that family because of Thanos, which is why she’s imprisoned herself in her own mind. And anyone not selected for Wanda’s reality is, “definitely not my friend,” as she says, “a stranger and an outsider,” and therefore a threat. Such is the product of pain and mental illness. She can’t suddenly be rational; she can’t magically be trusting.
I relate because I’ve put up walls (yes, I once made a pocket reality) and pushed out the very friends who could help me make a healthy recovery. Wanda trusts her surrogate Avengers family but has every reason to be wary of agencies offering help. It was the same battle Team Captain America fought against (let’s not forget Wanda and Vision were on opposing sides) when they didn’t want agency oversight. But Proverbs 27:10 says, “Better is a friend nearby than a brother far away.” In other words, when trouble strikes or you need a cup of sugar or you have to put on a magic show “for the children,” it’s okay to have family off-world because you can rely on friends and neighbors nearby.
As much as we identify with hurt and heartbroken heroes like Black Panther and Wanda and Black Widow and Cap (Marvel or America!) and Spidey, our friends are the essential Rambeaus and Darcys and Jimmys. It wasn’t until my friend Sabana wounded my pride, that I overcame chronic depression and heard God’s call on my life. Trusting, even though we may get hurt again, means breaking down our manufactured and manipulated reality. You could be overlooking the Jimmy Woo in your life (can Randall Park’s Asian Jim Halpert become friends with Wanda if they pay homage to The Office?!), or missing out on the snarky Darcy who would lovingly wound you if she can just get a cup of coffee.
And when we’ve grown and let those friends in, we can’t stop there—we need to be available for others. It’s easy to ignore or suppress mental illness, but when we do, we’ve become the far-off family who only see black and white rationale. Taking the harder road of always being available and faithfully wounding when necessary, is friendship in color and dimension. That’s seeing in WandaVision.