Spoilers follow for the most recent episode of WandaVision, “On a Very Special Episode…”
Episode 5 of WandaVision propelled its puzzlebox story forward, filling in some important plot details (yes, Wanda really did steal Vision’s body) and continuing to blur the lines between the sitcom bubble and the outside world. And, as the Disney+ show has done every week, it also packed in a bunch of references to classic television and Marvel comics.
Each installment of WandaVision has paid homage to different sitcoms, and the ways in which American television reflected cultural changes as society moved through the decades. Previous influences have included The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, and The Brady Bunch.
This week, which brought Westview into the 1980s, appeared to be riffing on several family sitcoms of that era, including Family Matters, Growing Pains and Full House, with its hand-drawn title sequence, Urkel-esque suspender-heavy fashion, and pair of cutesy twins who appear to be growing up before our very eyes. (The twins were, of course, played on Full House by Elizabeth Olsen’s real-life sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley).
Sparky the dog:
The shortlived family canine appeared to draw on a subplot from a Vision comic by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, in which the character moves to the suburbs with his own family of synthezoids and a dog named, you guessed it, Sparky.
While any mention of mutants or the X-Men in the MCU was previously forbidden, this episode truly went there with the surprise appearance of Pietro, albeit the “recast” mutant version played by Evan Peters in the X-Men franchise, rather than the enhanced human played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the MCU.
His arrival was foreshadowed at the beginning of the episode, when Vision mentioned that he had been reading The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin: Darwin famously originated the theory of evolution, and in the X-Men films, mutants represent the next stage of human evolution.
While the previous mid-episode commercial breaks have contained pretty coded allusions to Wanda’s backstory and the wider Infinity Saga, this week’s was an overt reference to the mission in Lagos where an accident involving Wanda’s powers led to several people’s deaths (Hayward even mentioned it just a couple of minutes prior). The transparent nature of this segment definitely seems to suggest that Wanda’s perfect television mask is slipping, and that the real world is edging in on her reality.
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Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues.
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