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Athena Scalzi

Another Installment of My Thoughts On “WandaVision”

Athena ScalziSince I posted about the first three episodes of WandaVision, I have decided to post about the next three, and in the future I will post about the last three! And that’s all you get because there’s only nine episodes. So let’s just jump right back in!

Of course, SPOILER WARNING.

In my previous post, I mentioned how frustrated I was with being in the dark for so long about what the heck was happening in the show. Well, episode four fixed that up right quick! We got a look at what was going on behind the scenes of Wanda’s world.

EPISODE FOUR

I liked episode four because it didn’t show anything new in the show Wanda is putting on. Instead, it explained everything that is happening outside of that world, and gave us tons of much needed information. It was a total info dump episode, and it was about time.

I found the very beginning of episode four — when people were “blipping” back into existence because of the events of Avengers: Endgame — especially interesting. Seing people blip in and out of existence is kind of horrifying, but also kind of… neat? The sheer confusion of not only the people returning, but those that have been around the past five years, is fascinating. For blipee Monica Rambeau to learn of her mother’s death in such an abrupt way, especially after her last memory before blipping is the doctor telling her that everything was fine, is deeply saddening.

(It actually took me a minute to realize who Monica was, just because I didn’t really remember character names all that well. It was only when I saw Maria Rambeau’s picture on the wall at the S.W.O.R.D. facility that I realized she was her daughter, all grown up. I kind of forgot Captain Marvel took place in the nineties.)

Episode four was basically a bunch of side characters you forgot existed, like Thor’s Darcy Lewis and Ant-Man’s Jimmy Woo, coming together to solve the mystery that is WandaVision.

EPISODE FIVE

Episode five is a blend of the real world and “Wanda” sitcom, and I think it works way better than the episodes that were purely sitcom. In this episode we finally get to see a glimpse of how the real people of Westview feel, when Vision frees minor character “Norm” of Wanda’s brainwashing. They’re all trapped. As S.W.O.R.D. Director Tyler Hayward says, she’s taken an entire town hostage, .

Vision knows something is very wrong, and he knows now that Wanda is the cause of it. Not only does this big development happen, but not much later in the episode, Wanda comes out of her simulation and confronts the agents. It’s clear to us now that she can leave whenever she wants, and she knows what she’s doing. This is an active choice she is making to keep the town the way it is and control everyone.

This kind of puts her in a bad light, doesn’t it? We as the audience love Wanda, and care about her a lot. But this thing she’s doing is terrible, and we know it, even Vision knows it. He mentions that he believed she was doing it subconsciously at first, but now he knows that she is keeping him and everyone trapped here, and he’s mad about it. Rightfully so! He’s trying, like the S.W.O.R.D. agents, to convince her that what she is doing is wrong. These people she’s turning into her cast have lives and families and don’t deserve what is being done to them.

Monica chooses to defend her, though, claiming that she’s just handling her grief in a WILDLY unhealthy way, and that she’s not doing it to be evil. Which is probably true, but does someone doing bad things suddenly become okay because they have a reason such as grief or mental illness behind it? No. It does allow for compassion to play a role, though, when you know the reason someone is doing something bad is because they are hurting.

And at the end of episode five, Wanda’s brother Pietro joins the cast. Another dead person who Wanda loves. I like that they address the recast of Quicksilver. It’s always bothersome to me when shows change a character and act like it didn’t happen.

Of course, this only raises more questions, doesn’t it? We know Wanda stole Vision’s body from S.W.O.R.D., and is keeping him alive manually. Vision is basically a zombie just walking around. In Pietro’s case, though, it doesn’t make sense how she could bring him back from the dead. Not only is he not a machine that can be manually powered, but she doesn’t have his body even if she could literally resurrect the dead.

On the other hand, is it that far out of the question considering she alters reality to the point that she created life, aka her two sons? Did she create an entirely new Pietro instead of resurrecting the old one? If so, what matter within the “Hex” (as Darcy calls Wanda’s area of influence) is she altering to turn into living beings?

EPISODE SIX

Moving on to the sixth episode, this is where shit gets real. Vision seems to be back to acting like things are normal, and everything seems a-okay in this Halloween special. Minus the arguing between Wanda and Vision that one of the twins, Billy, mentions.

Again, the show addresses that Pietro looks different. There isn’t a super clear explanation, but we as the audience know it’s probably just because of certain contracts and rights to characters. It’ll be interesting to hear what the show comes up with as a reason.

Another interesting thing about this episode is that all the side characters in Wanda’s world seem to be more meta than before, mentioning that if Wanda wants something done differently they can change things for her, or if she wants them to act differently. Even Pietro explains his character’s role to Wanda, and says that that must be how she wants him to act. The characters seem to be shoving the fact that Wanda is controlling them in her face.

In this episode, we get a glimpse at perhaps the most horrifying aspect of the whole Hex situation. When Vision wanders to the edge of Wanda’s town perimeter, we get to see what happens to the extras of the show. Brainwashing an entire town must be hard work, so it makes sense that not everyone can be the full-of-life, fun, and quirky neighbors or side characters.

These extras are just shells of people, unspeaking, barely moving, meant to appear in the background and nothing more. One of the extras, repeatedly acting as though she is putting up Halloween decorations, is seen crying. It’s pretty horrifying.

Not long after Vision’s encounters with these seemingly soulless extras, Vision talks to Agnes, who is for some reason at the edge of town as well. He frees her of the mind control, like he did with Norm, and much like Norm she ends up freaking out and Vision puts her back into character.

Vision clearly wants to help the people of Westview, but how can he? He doesn’t even remember who he was before Westview. He doesn’t know about the Avengers. How can he be a hero to these people when he doesn’t remember that he was a hero to begin with?

Wanda then has a scene with Pietro where again he mentions that she is controlling everything, and she doesn’t deny it. He asks how she does this and she says she doesn’t know how it happened, which again makes us feel sympathy for her and wonder, is she really as in control as we previously thought?

Then, as I think we all could’ve predicted, Vision tries to go past the barrier, and can’t survive outside of the town. Because of this, Wanda expands her barrier even further, taking the entire S.W.O.R.D. base and tons of characters into her perfect little town along the way.

So not only has she turned an entire town into her little fantasy playground so Vision could live and they could have their happily ever after, but now she has expanded it even further and taken more victims than before.

This really is a bad look for Wanda! Yes, Vision was on the verge of death, but he was only like one foot outside the barrier, yet she expanded it exponentially more than what was necessary.

One thing that really stuck with me was Vision pleading for S.W.O.R.D.’s help. Though it wasn’t to help him, he was asking them to help the people inside. Vision is truly a good person, synthetic or not. Vision has always been one of my favorite characters, and this is exactly why. He’s selfless and wants to help people. He is genuinely good.

Vision’s intentions and actions are in direct conflict with Wanda’s current self. She is acting selfishly and doing cruel things to these innocent people. They wouldn’t need Vision’s help at all if Wanda hadn’t started this maniacal fantasy.

This whole situation is deeply saddening, not only because Wanda is only doing this to keep Vision alive, but because Vision is realizing the only person in the world he has ever loved is doing something very wrong and more than likely he’s going to have to stop her, which we can guess will probably re-kill him. This whole show seems like set-up for heartbreak.

As we’ve seen from the clothes Monica was wearing when she was thrown out of Westview, things that Wanda changes inside the Hex stay changed when they leave. But this doesn’t apply to Vision, since he clearly cannot exist outside of the barrier. What does this mean for the other things she’s created? What does it mean for the twins and Pietro when her world finally comes crashing down?

I complained about the first three episodes being a little too slow, but these past three episodes more than made up for it. These three episodes were so informative, exciting, and even eerie at times. I can’t wait to see what the next three hold.

Are you enjoying it so far? Do you sympathize with Wanda? Let me know what you think in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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Big Idea

The Big Idea: Michael Johnston

You know how it can feel like one day is like the next, one month like the next, and each year like every other year… until it isn’t? Well, author Michael Johnston’s about to take that to the next level in his newest novel, Silence of the Soleri.

MICHAEL JOHNSTON:

I wrote a novel inspired by the ancient Egyptian calendar. That was my big idea. I found the calendar fascinating, and I think you will too if you give me a moment to explain. I know that ancient timekeeping isn’t the usual inspiration for an epic fantasy novel. It isn’t usually the inspiration for anything. But this is different. It’s fascinating—I promise.

Let’s start with a little history.

Every year, before the annual inundation of the Nile, the star, Sirius, appeared on the horizon before sunrise. (This is called heliacal rising of Sirius, but you don’t need to remember that.) Over time, the Egyptian farmers took note of this little coincidence, and eventually, they started using the stars appearance to predict the annual event. Now, the flood was really important to the Nile Valley. The water enriched the desert soil and made the land suitable for growing crops. Without the flood to release nutrients into the soil, Egypt would starve, so they kept careful track of its appearance. They noted that Sirius rose, just prior to sunrise, every three hundred and sixty-five days. That cycle became the basis for the calendar. Simple enough, but here’s the interesting part: It didn’t work. They had twelve months with thirty days in each, which was three hundred- and sixty-days total. Are you following the math? They were five days short (six in a leap year).

I love this part.

They could have added a day here and there. We do that and it’s just confusing. They stuck with their perfect calendar of twelve perfectly equal months, and they made the extra five (or six) days a special time that existed outside of the normal calendar.

In the Amber Throne novels (Soleri and Silence of the Soleri), the Soleri calendar contains a festival that is something like the holiday they had in ancient Egypt. There are five special days that exist outside of normal calendar time. No one works or goes about their business. The world stops, and everything is put on hold. These five days exist in a place that is outside of normal time. A pause where nothing of daily importance transpires. How could it? There was no date! Think about that. Imagine having five of those days in your life. Days without names. Nothing to fill in the “date received” in your email. I love that. It’s fascinating, and I think there’s something really magical about it.

In my novel, the annual holiday isn’t timed to the rising of a star, but it is set to coincide with an annual eclipse, which is a bit more dramatic. Each year, the sky turns black as the moon eclipses the sun. The eclipse is their heliacal rising. It’s a sign that a new year has started. Now, in our world, eclipses don’t happen on a yearly schedule. This has to do with the mechanics of the earth, the moon, and the sun. But if a planet had a perfectly spherical orbit and the moon did as well and they both shared the same plane, the moon would eclipse the sun at regular intervals. Something similar happens in my book. 

The years are marked by an annual eclipse, and it’s been that way throughout recorded history. In the novels, we find out what happens when the cycle deviates. In Soleri, I explore that moment when the calendar finally stops working, and the things we thought were unmovable begin to change. That’s the moment when the story takes off. When there is no eclipse, when the very rock on which society is built vanishes, a crisis emerges and the story begins. It starts with a calendar and ends with an empire torn apart, and that was my first big idea for the novel.


Silence of the Soleri: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

 

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Uncategorized

The Tale of the Epic Journey of a Cat Who Wished to Venture Into the Great Snowy Unknown, As Told In a Photograph, This February 16, 2021

Or, as it is to become known in legend and myth: The Great Nope-ening of 2021. Or perhaps, The Cat Who Went All the Way to the Edge of the Porch and Lived to Tell the Tale. Only time will tell.

— JS

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