Vision encounters an idyllic suburban horror hellscape toward the edge of town -- and Agnes?
We saw glimpses of it in the teasers, but this week gave us Vision's first real attempt at figuring out this reality he's living in, and it turns out things are pretty horrifying in Westview.
At the same time, Pietro's arrival -- looking all X-Men's Evan Peters to boot -- only raises more questions as to just who and what he is, why he looks the way he does and what he does or doesn't know about what's going on.
As the sitcom reality continues to suffer at the edges (literally), Agnes was reduced to a single harrowing scene that exposed a little more about her role in this whole play, while a pivotal scene with Herb positioned him closer to Agnes than we expected.
Oh, and we once again got a fake commercial. But unlike previous ones, even this one seemed broken and twisted, like some kind of horror pastiche. We get that the theme of the episode was Halloween, but the horror was so very real in so many places.
The ad was a typical '90s claymation advertisement, with a "cool" shark offering up a cup of yoghurt to a starving kid on a deserted island. But then we got to watch as he struggled to open it until he ultimately died, yoghurt still sealed. "The snack for survivors," read the slogan.
This is so atypical for the fake ads we've seen so far this season. The couple that's appeared in all of them was nowhere to be seen. And unlike all of their ads, this is an ad that would never have aired on television like this in any format. Why did we get a "bizarro" version of a commercial (to steal from another superhero universe)?
Clearly there are plots to these episodes where the players know their roles. But increasingly, Wanda is having difficulty getting Vision to slot properly into his place. This week, she came out and said so when he told her he wouldn't be going trick-or-treating with the kids.
"No, that's not what you're supposed to--" Wanda said, before correcting herself to fit more proper sitcom dialogue. "You didn't tell me you had other plans." It's interesting that she tries to stay in character even in this scene.
And yet, Vision is completely off-script and remains that way throughout the episode. And he's not the only one. Last time we saw Herb go off-script, he was trying to tell Vision that everyone was trapped (we're assuming).
This time, after revealing to Wanda that Vision wasn't on duty that night as part of the neighborhood watch, he asked her, "Is there something I can do for you, Wanda? Do you want something changed."
This is a Herb who's at least somewhat aware that this is all a show, he's an actor in the show and something has gone wrong. But does Herb have the power to change something if she wanted it? It was an odd question, but one that was proof he's definitely aware of who's in control here.
Pietro seemed to flit in and out of whatever his role is supposed to be, but more than anyone we've seen yet on this show, he knows exactly what's going on and is unapologetic in talking about it.
At another point, he pointedly asks her about everything that's going on, picking up on a note Vision made before that there were no kids in Westview. Suddenly, for Halloween, there are a ton. So Pietro asks her where they've been all this time.
"No need to traumatize beyond the occasional holiday episode cameo, right?" he asks, wondering if she's kept them asleep in their beds all this time. He even went so far as to ask her how she did this, with an earnestness that really makes you wonder if he is who he says he is.
Unfortunately, Wanda admits she has no idea how she created Westview, or even if she did. She tells him she only remembers feeling so alone. So was she in her right mind when she broke into S.W.O.R.D. and stole Vision's body? Did she wake up suddenly in Westview like everyone else? Maybe she did a number on her own mind.
At one point during their conversation, Wanda got a different glimpse of Pietro, seeing him shot up as he'd died on the street in "Age of Ultron." And yet, this is not that version of Pietro. Or is it? Is the difference just cosmetic?
Certainly his personality as displayed in this episode, and his first appearance, is in line with the "X-Men" version of the character, which is nothing like the "Avengers" Pietro. But Wanda is still very confused and put off by him.
It's interesting, though, that he was in the fake opening credits as a main character (along with Agnes, finally) if she really knows so little about who he is or how he came to be here. Did she put him in those credits? Is she not as in control of this as even she thinks?
She even went so far as to try and test him about a childhood memory they shared, but he called her out on it (without answering her question). They both questioned what happened to their Sokovian accents.
Pietro's explanation for why he's there is only that he remembers getting shot on the street for no reason and then he heard her calling him. But did she? He seems to have the memories of her brother and the personality of the "X-Men," but how is that possible?
The creepiest moments of the episode came upon finding out just what Vision was really up to after he lied and told Wanda he was going out as part of the neighborhood watch. Instead, he headed for the outskirts of Westview, to the very edge of town near Wanda's perimeter.
Here, we apparently learned that there is a limit to just how much Wanda can control at one time. Pietro was impressed with what she could do -- it is a monumental expansion of her powers -- but she can't do everything.
Like some awful "Matrix" glitch, the people closer to the edge of the town were either stuck in a minor action loop or frozen altogether. The woman moving back and forth to hang up a Halloween decoration with a tear running down her cheek was absolutely heartbreaking.
It was a painful reminder that these are real people trapped in a living hell for which they apparently have some awareness underneath the sitcom facade on the outside -- as evidenced by Norm's outburst last week. It's an incredible cruelty, and one that's even worse for these people.
And yet, they are participating in Halloween, so Wanda was able to at least get them this far into the process. Perhaps they are so far in the background that a repeating motion, like an old cartoon, is enough. But these are real lives she's toying with.
We've been questioning if Agnes has been somehow in on the whole plot from the beginning, as she's one of the few citizens still unidentified on the outside and she was the one who stopped Herb from making Vision aware of what was going on.
And yet, Agnes appears to be just as much a victim as everyone else in town -- or she's playing her role to the hilt. We do have to wonder why she drove to the edge of town. Was she perhaps trying to escape?
If she is not a resident of Westview, and someone who infiltrated the town early on, perhaps a part of her knew she had to get out. And yet, she was completely flummoxed by the sight of Vision when he pulled her out of Wanda's control temporarily.
She recognized him immediately, and proved her awareness of what's going on outside by telling him that he's dead (asking if she was dead, too). But then she started shouting "Dead!" at him repeatedly until he put her back in Wanda's thrall.
Agnes was frozen on the edge of town until he reset her, and yet no one in town goes that far. So we still have questions as to who she is and what she was trying to do there, but she definitely appears to be not fully in control of herself, as we thought a possibility.
There's no reason to be subtle about it. We kind of knew it already, and he definitely solidified it when he shot a missile at Wanda without telling anyone. This week, he apparently decided he didn't need the geek squad anymore booting Darcy, Jimmy and Monica out.
Luckily, Jimmy and Monica seemed completely prepared for it (may have even antagonized him into doing it), as they quickly turned the tables and were able to get back inside to infiltrate the military outpost.
It was there that Darcy began to learn that Hayward had his own agenda. We have absolutely no idea what that is just yet, but it has everything to do with Vision. Maybe he wants the synthezoid for a weapon. Since Vision is technically dead and didn't want to be resurrected anymore, Hayward may think it's okay to think of him as a tool now, rather than a sentient being.
Maybe he doesn't care. He does suck.
What we do know is that he's tracking Vision specifically within the Hex. At one point, the screen said [Acquiring Asset]. This was just before Vision forced his way through the perimeter. Is he the asset? If so, how would Hayward know he was coming out?
What the hell was happening with Vision on the outside? We could understand Wanda wanting to pull him in, but why was he literally disintegrating as he was being pulled in? And what did his son Billy mean that he was dying? We can understand Vision being dead outside, but why would he disintegrate altogether?
Does it have to do with the actual molecular changes that happen when people move into and out of the Hex. Darcy pointed out that Monica -- having gone in and out twice now -- has been rewritten on a molecular level. But Darcy spoke in the present when she told her, "It's changing you."
What does that mean for Vision, Pietro, Wanda, really anyone inside the Hex? They've all been changed on the molecular level at least once. Are they changing, too? And if so, into what? How will Monica change from this? Is she going to develop superpowers?
The question becomes even more meaningful in the next few moments after Wanda finds out that Vision is outside the perimeter and dying. For one thing, she seems to know the one thing she can do right then and there that can save him.
If Vision can't survive outside of Westview, then Wanda just has to bring Westview to him. And the only way to do that for sure is to simply expand the perimeter. Wanda may not know how she made all of this in the first place, if she even did, but she is in complete control of its perimeter.
But if we thought she was struggling to maintain control on the perimeter of the town, how is she possibly going to manage all these new additions. While Hayward managed to get in a car and escape, his entire base was swallowed up.
Jimmy and Monica had already headed out to meet a liaison Monica says can help her get back inside to try and reach Wanda on a personal level, but poor Darcy stayed behind and wound up also absorbed into the expanding Westview.
The military base became an elaborate carnival, with the agents now trapped on the inside as carnival workers and clowns. We also saw a car dealership go retro and a helicopter transform into a hot air balloon.
These aren't just cosmetic differences to fit the current era of the sitcom reality, Wanda changed them into something harmless, a much more fundamental change than any other character or location appears to have undergone. Was that intentional?
We know she knows the base was out there, so it would make sense she didn't want to bring in a military base of any era, so instead made this change. But how will she manage it? Or perhaps the perimeter didn't change size, but rather moved to encompass Vision, and the rest.
If so, that would mean parts of Westview on the opposite end of town have suddenly been freed. It remains to be seen if that's the direction things went, but at the end of the episode, the perimeter appeared to still be expanding, making this situation more volatile and dangerous than ever.
Marvel comic fans know just how powerful Wanda has been at times there -- "no more mutants" -- but there has been no indication he MCU counterpart could come close to those power levels. Is she leveling up?
"WandaVision" is heading into the new millennium, and who knows where else, next Friday on Disney+.