Podcast No. 0043: A little Flora, A lot of Wanda
This month on Dispodopolis, we continue our discussion about the Disney+ release of "WandaVision." We can't get enough, and we love diving deep into these episodes. It has something for everyone, and everyone in my family is truly enjoying the journey. So come with us on this adventure as we talk through the next four episodes of this iconic new series that leaves us wanting more. We expose all the wonderful things we have learned about the Marvel Universe and how WandaVision ties into this ever-expanding world.
"Episode Three: Now in Color" harkens back to a time when this was a novel and expensive concept for a sitcom to film in color. It was a hard sell initially but quickly pushed the envelope for every sitcom to make the switch. The introduction to this episode taps into the world of "The Partridge Family" and "The Brady Brunch." It even seems to steal the original feeling of being filmed on a set, with a flat straight flow through the scenes. Even the quintessential outdoor locations with faux grass, one-side fencing, and lack of depth in the horizon are tackled.
As the episode opens, Wanda and Vision are speaking with the doctor about Wanda's quickly developing pregnancy. Wanda rhetorically asks, "How did this happen?" The doctor overlooks her remark. He turns to explain to Vision how they like to use the analogy of fruit to help women understand the size of their developing baby. It is actually a good description, but the condescending delivery perpetuates women's exaggerated treatment in early sitcoms. They were sometimes the butt of the joke, with a lot of eye-rolling, but so were the men.
In this episode, we start to see some severe consistency issues begin to pop up. Herb, their neighbor, is cutting the bushes with an electric hedger, and we see his hedger start to cut through a cement wall without being able to compel himself to stop. Later, we still see Herb at the wall, but Agnes has joined him. They are stirring up doubts in Vision's mind about what is really going on, and maybe Geraldine doesn't belong here in West View. Geraldine doesn't have a home, husband, or family. They question her belonging in their world.
Geraldine shows up just as Wanda needs her. Wanda has gone into labor and has sent Vision to fetch the doctor to help with their child's delivery. Wanda initially tries to hide her pregnancy from Geraldine, and this leads to all types of trouble. A stork appears through Wanda's powers and starts to wander through the house. Wanda is doing double duty on the redirection of Geraldine's gaze to hide the fact of the stork and pregnancy. Soon Wanda goes into labor, and Geraldine stays in stride and helps her deliver the baby as if it was the plan all along. I love two items in this scene; she finally cuts up the pineapple from the first episode, and two, she hides her pregnancy with a wooden bowl, which was all the rage in the seventies. Yes, I grew up with quite a few of them.
As the episode ends and Wanda is watching over her twins, Billy and Tommy, Geraldine starts to remember things about Wanda and her past. This starts to upset Wanda, and she starts to distrust Geraldine. The next thing we know, Vision is back in the house and asking, "where is Geraldine?" We are left wandering the same thing. We see Wanda and Vision settle in for another night in front of the television with their newborn babies. As the show ends, we are whisked out of the hex and see the world outside this phenomenon. There are tents, prefabricated military pop-up buildings, and vehicles strewn across the horizon. Geraldine flies out of the hex and lands at the foot of the encampment. Numerous trucks and lights race down to the scene, and floodlights are directed upon her. Leaving us to wonder where we are and what has happened.
"Episode Four: We Interrupt this Episode," and that is exactly what we are doing. We have stepped back in time to the point when "Avengers: Endgame," ends. Chaos is all around as the world returns to its pre-snap population. People reappear where they disappeared. Everyone is confused and lost as they reconstitute back into being. Monica Rambeau, Maria Rambeau's daughter, reappears in her mother's hospital room. She is in shock, confused, and scans the room to gain understanding. Her mom isn't there, and everyone is rushing through the hospital in fear. Monica learns that five years have passed, her mom succumbed to her cancer, and the world has been living in confusion.
Next, we see Monica at the SWORD headquarters to gain some perspective and return to normalcy. We learn that Tyler Hayward is the new director, and he seems calm, concerned, and welcoming. Monica learns that SWORD is focusing on robotics, sentient beings, and nanotechnology. Space exploration has been grounded along with Monica. He sends her to New Jersey to help the FBI with a missing person case. Of course, it is New Jersey. We will be seeing a lot more of Director Hayward, who is played by Josh Stamberg. Stamberg has played in a lot of minor roles in a lot of movies. He usually plays an authoritative figure that no one wants to listen to because he always chooses poorly. As we soon find out, his role is no different in WandaVision.
Monica Rambeau finds herself in West View standing next to James Woo, an FBI agent that we have seen throughout the Antman movies. Woo is a different breed of FBI agent. He dreamed of following in Elliot Ness's footsteps. Who is Elliot Ness? He is the FBI agent that broke the prohibition-era gang's back. He ended the stronghold they held over the police and government. He was played by Kevin Costner in "The Untouchables." If I were Elliot Ness, I would be pretty excited Kevin Costner was playing me.
After Woo's backstory, Rambeau sends in a droid. The droisd is sucked into a field illuminated by the RGB (red, green,and blue) spectrum of color that produces light. Rambeau decides to get a closer look and is pulled into the hex. Immediately following this occurrence, we see a caravan of vehicles, trailers, and tents arriving at the scene. Here we are introduced to Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies. Darcy is a sarcastic astrophysicist with a lot of tools up her sleeves. Kat Derning is portraying Darcy Lewis. She is best known for her sitcom work on "2 Broke Girls." Lewis starts to interpret the type of waves that are being transmitted across the hex and brings in a television circa the 1950s to view the transmission that is being broadcasted amongst the waves. We are able to get a timeline for this episode when we realize she is watching the first episode of WandaVision.
The SWORD base's team is starting to assembly a list of identities for those popping up on the screen. There are a few missing. Those that aren't up on their radar are Dottie and Agatha. We also start to see all of the times that SWORD tried to reach out to Wanda. Most of the questions we have are being answered, while they leave some keyholes to keep you guessing how this will all end. There is a breakdown with Vision as he realizes so much is missing from his memory, and we also end with Monica Rambeau exclaiming, "it is all Wanda."
"Episode Five: On a Very Special Episode," rings true to the entirety of eighties sit-coms. It was never enough that these sitcoms made us laugh; they also wanted to touch on deep-seated issues that riddle an American family and wrap it all up in a nice tight bow in thirty minutes. Here we see the opening montage reminiscent of "Growing Pains" and "Family Ties." Two mainstays of the eighties. Both were touchy feeling shows with lots of laughs thrown into the mix. Just like their predecessors, WandaVision tackles all the challenging issues that face any family. From growing up too fast, parents drinking to get through the day, and getting a new puppy that has a horrible accident. We also start to see tension grow between Wanda and Vision as Vision starts to realize all is not good in the town. Many signs are popping up that Wanda is controlling the town, and Vision is worried she has gone too far. They end with him thinking she is intentionally avoiding conversations by manipulating the storyline. Even having Pietro, Wanda's deceased brother, arrive at the end of the episode.
This episode also jumps between the world of WandaVision and the reality that is happening outside the hex-world. Monica Rambeau is going through tests to find out how she has been affected by the hex-world. Those outside learn that six weeks ago, Wanda stole Vision's body from the SWORD building. Their top priority was regaining control of the hex-world, but they have no idea what they are dealing with in this situation. They send in tech from the eighties to control the situation and in turn make some dreadful decisions that increase the issues they will face going forward. The droid they send in starts shooting at Wanda, and Wanda takes matters into her own hands. She exits the hex-world to threaten the SWORD team and lay down the law with them. Her accent comes and goes in this situation.
"Episode Six: All New Halloween Spooktacular" is the final episode we discuss tonight, and it falls in line with the titles of many nineties episodes. As we move into the latest episode of WandaVision, we find that all the walls start to collapse, surrounding the idea of a perfect relationship and keeping secrets in the closet. All the skeletons are out, and chaos has ensued. We have also entered the world of "Malcolm in the Middle." Everyone is talking to the camera and narrating specific segments of the show. The twins, Billy and Tommy, are filming the adventure that is unfolding around them. They seem to be troubled and happy at the same time.
The family is ready for Halloween, and they are all decked out in their classic superhero outfits, but they have rebranded them. They think the costumes they are dressed in don't represent their comic book hero outfits but have been morphed to represent a Mexican wrestler and a Slovenia fortune teller. The costumes are actually pulled straight from the comic books. Wanda was introduced in 1964 as Scarlet Witch, and Vision was introduced in 1968. It was an excellent tie-in for all the Marvel Comic Book universe aficionados out there.
As the episode progresses, we watch as their world slowly unravels. Vision heads out on his own to find out what is behind the veil in West View. The further he travels from the center of the town, the more he sees how the population is frozen in time and being manipulated by mind control. He is visually upset and wants to stop the pain they are experiencing. He tries to escape the barrier. At the same time, Wanda is trying to discover whether Pietro is her brother. Wanda also starts to question if she is truly in control of any or all of what is happening.
Back at the SWORD camp, Rambeau, Woo, and Lewis have been kicked off the base and are secretly moving to discover Director Hayward's true intentions. They regroup and come up with a plan to reenter the hex-world and find out the truth of what is happening. Lewis brings out her hacking skills to get ahead of Director Hayward's game. Director Hayward at this moment has realized someone is trying to escape from the hex-world and knows it is Vision. His team runs down to assess the situation. Vision pushes through the walls surrounding the town, and as he does he starts to be ripped apart. Wanda learns of this predicament from her son Billy. Wanda unexpectedly comes to Vision's aide by extending the town's boundaries and bringing in the SWORD base and turns it into a circus. This is brilliantly simple and a great analogy of the situation. She defuses the base and saves Vision. Where do we go from here? What could be Director Hayward's next mom? Will Monica Rambeau make it back into the hex-world, and at what cost?
Before discussing "WandaVision," we ask the question, inspired by "Flora and Ulysses," the recent Disney+ release and book by Kate DiCamillo. Which animal would you like to see have a superpower and what superpower would you give them? We loved the fun and cute Disney+ family movie, "Flora and Ulysses." It isn't for everyone, but it is definitely for kids in elementary school that love animals and superheroes. The protagonist is Flora, who believes a squirrel in her backyard receives superpowers from being sucked up by a vacuum. The antagonist is an animal control catcher who has an aversion to squirrels. There is a lot of slapstick fun with the antagonist and a very hyper cat. It touches the heart as Flora uses the squirrel to bond with her dad, a comic book creator, and illustrator. Flora is also having a rough time trying to have a relationship with her mom, who is consumed with the next romance novel she is authoring. It harkens back to a time when family moves were small, calm, and lovable. Who doesn't love a happy ending and a family reunion? We highly recommend this movie for all young families that love a good family night.
We would love to hear from you and your family. If you have any comments, questions, or fun and fancy-free thoughts, email us at email@example.com. Please enjoy our latest podcast, Dispodopolis.
Images from: DisneyBlog, Marvel Studios, and Disney Plus
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