The following article reflects on Episode 8 of WandaVision which it titled “Previously On.” Spoilers ensue. You have been warned.
What is grief if not love persevering?
The cellar door has been opened, we have descended with Wanda into the darkness soaked depths. And in the vine strewn lair below we encounter revelation. The cartoonishly caricatured Agnes has been our unseen tormentor all along, carefully working to unravel Wanda and discover the mystery of her power. And so we join the two of them as they walk back through Wanda’s memories: war torn Sokovia and the death of her parents, experimentation in a Hydra lab, the tear stained aftermath of both Pietro and Vision’s deaths. We do not arrive fully at answers, uncovering yet more mysteries. But like Wanda we learn much by journeying backwards.Wanda’s story is inseparably one of both love and loss, woven together. What hurts us and what holds us together.
The only way forward is back
This episode of Wandavision brings the subtext of the show into clearer focus: the bubbling grief and rage that has haunted all of Westview, yet never spoken or acknowledged. But now, powerless within Agatha’s rune painted lair, Wanda must name the source of her pain. The intentional sitcom facade that she hid behind has been forcefully peeled away. It’s no longer the story of the Neighborhood Watch and the lady’s association, trick or treating, and new puppies. Now we see the grief-wrought underpinnings of Wanda’s world.
And yet not all is darkness in the depths. In the midst of her pain, Wanda is also reminded of the great loves of her life. In one of the most poignant and powerfully emotional moments in recent television, Vision observes “What is love if not grief persevering?” What has seemed to be an endless descent into grief is re-narrated. Wanda’s story is inseparably one of both love and loss, woven together. What hurts us and what holds us together.
The broken pieces of you are starting to add up
Like Wanda each of us is written with an indelible record of love and grief. Marked by our trauma and pain, marked by our joy and our connections. Our history is the long road to becoming who we are. But to become a whole being, we have to face that reality, remember that history.
WandaVision has been a story of rejecting grief, rejecting history, rejecting pain. And yet it is that very denial that compounds and spreads throughout the story. Wanda’s denial of her own pain becomes a saccharine hellish illusion, for herself and her neighbors. It is easier not to hurt but it is not better.We only truly meet ourselves when we can bear both our loves and our scars together.
During this season of Lent, Christians reflect on mortality. On death and pain and suffering. On the limitations of our lives. And yet like Wanda, we find love and hope wrapped up together. Lent points us towards Easter and Resurrection. And in those visions of new life we find scars transfigured, not erased but somehow made new and beautiful. In John 20, the resurrected Christ meets His disciples and the proof of His identity is His wounds, the very marks of crucifixion. When we first glimpse Jesus in the vision of Revelation 4 and 5 He is called the slaughtered lamb, His pain and His death still visible to the world. Jesus, the image of humanity perfected, carried His scars even into his glory.
We only truly meet ourselves when we can bear both our loves and our scars together. We don’t yet know where Wanda’s journey is leading her. But what we have learned along the road thus far is that denial is not progress, it won’t lead us into the future. To become the person she needs to be, the hero and the human, will require accepting herself, love and grief and all.