Thought Bubble Thursdays #21 - Good Grief!

It’s been a good few months, but since I haven’t gotten the chance to talk about it yet, let’s talk about WandaVision. To those who haven’t gotten the chance to consume this wonderful television series, please take the time to do so. I promise you, you won’t regret it. And, to those that have gotten the chance to watch it, I would be happy if you could share your thoughts about it down below in the comments section. It’s a series that I feel is ripe for deep discussion, especially all of its underlying topics.

You might be thinking, “Oh, a superhero TV show? How deep can it go?” To which I would reply to you: very.

The main point that I wanted to touch on, which I feel the series effectively conveyed is how the main character, Wanda, dealt with her grief. Spoiler Alert to people who haven’t watched Avengers: Infinity War Vision, the love of Wanda’s life, died at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos. No wait, that isn’t right. Vision died at the hands of Wanda (to save everyone) but was then resurrected when Thanos reversed time, and then was killed again in front of Wanda when the Mad Titan ripped a magical cosmic McGuffin (that was keeping him alive) from his forehead.

What can I say? Comics.

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Going through loss of any kind — be it a job, a friendship or a loved one — can have overarching ramifications over one’s life. Sometimes it could lead to something positive, but other times it can lead to a downward spiral. Whatever the outcome may be, it’s the journey that truly defines and reshapes one’s character.

I’ve recently written about my own personal struggles and I immediately thought back to this series because it had a similar pervading feel. I’m trying out a “Theme of the Week” format for my posts, and this lined up perfectly.

Grief is such a powerful force. So much so, that it can change the course of human existence. But, it’s such a human construct, isn’t it? Creatures that act on instinct would just move on instantly. That’s what’s great about the human condition. It’s full of these wonderful contradictions.

Everyone deals with grief differently, and to properly discuss this series, I wanted to frame the discussion using the Five Stages of Grief (or the Kübler-Ross model).

Let’s dive in.

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We start the series with Wanda’s denial of Vision’s untimely death. Even though Wanda was snapped back to existence and almost defeated Thanos singlehandedly, her cybernetic beau unfortunately wasn’t. This was effectively conveyed in the first two episodes of the series where we see the pair in marital bliss living in what seemed like a 50’s and 60’s sitcom, with Vision inexplicably among the living.

From the jump, there’s already something fishy about Vision’s miraculous return. He didn’t have any memories of his past and Wanda was no help in providing definitive answers. They navigate all of the tropes and hijinks that sitcoms of that era had to offer, all in glorious black and white.

The setting was perfect for this stage. They were frozen in time because Wanda refused to admit that Vision was no longer. Considering the criticisms regarding Marvel’s “formulaic” approach to their films, the style with which this series was filmed is a complete 180. It might’ve turned off viewers who were anticipating the classic cinematic action pieces, but this provided an exploratory look behind the characters’ psyche.

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Cut to the 70’s and 80’s. Now in technicolor, Wanda had to wrestle with Vision’s growing suspicion about his current reality. She also had to deal with Monica Rambeau’s apparent incursion and her loosening hold of the whole town.

The way Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda) dealt with everything unraveling at the seams was just too good. Chef’s kiss. Episodes 3, 4 and 5 really showed off her versatility while not taking away from the side characters that really helped carry the show.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had times when it seemed that it’s us, alone, against the whole world. Every little tick just pissed us off and everything seemed like it’s conspiring against us. It’s hard to get out of this stage, but this is when it’s most crucial to have an understanding support system. Even when we’re on the other side of the equation, and we’ve had to deal with people being set off by the slightest things. Having empathy and just extending our understanding goes a long way.

Everyone is dealing with their own personal struggles.

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Before Vision’s demise, Wanda had already gone through a lot of loss. Her brother Pietro died at the hands of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron and their parents were pummeled to death by a rogue Stark Industries explosive. These tragedies were already a lot to bear, and Vision’s death only served as the last straw.

Now, she found herself in a world where she had dreamed twin children into existence. But, that didn’t set off any of her alarms. A happy family is what she felt she deserved, and she’d be damned if anyone is going to take it away from her.

With Vision alive and their children growing up literally before their eyes, it was only with a surprise reappearance by her all-too familiar brother that reignited her own suspicions. The show was smart to use the Fox’s X-Men version of the character instead of the MCU version because this forced Wanda to renegotiated her stance. With her reality further unraveling, her brother’s reappearance should’ve served as a sigh of relief.

Turns out it wasn’t. Episode 6 proved to be a turning point for the series and further spiraled Wanda into…

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This is the stage that’s almost always associated with grief. In fact, most people don’t recognize the other stages and just views depression and grief as one and the same.

Episodes 7 and 8 really drives this point home. It takes everything that Wanda has ever known, flips it and piles it over her. If Wanda had a weaker character, this was the stage where she would’ve broken down and refused to get back up.

We’ve all had one of those days. Some never get back up, while others bounce back eventually. An important support system and a healthy outlet are keys to ridding oneself of depression. There is no silver bullet, no miracle cure that could fix everyone’s depression. Some live their whole lives depressed without even knowing it, and it manifests in wildly different ways.

This is a topic that’s been discussed over and over again, so I won’t rehash anything. But, no matter how a person deals with it, everyone eventually needs to arrive at a realization of…

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We can’t control everything, and it would only hurt us if we try. The only thing that we can truly control is how we perceive the world around us, how we react to the things that are happening to us. Whether we choose to lay in the ground and stop trying, or we get back up and have another go, it’s all up to us.

This isn’t something that could be rushed. Never believe people who would tell you otherwise. We deal with our grief in our own way, and you should never feel ashamed if you’re taking far longer than anyone else. Not everyone operates on the same timeline.

The finale is where Wanda truly shines. Once she accepted her reality, she unleashed a potential that was far greater than what she could’ve ever imagined. Her acceptance of Vision’s death, her children’s non-existence and a destiny that she didn’t know she had put her in a path of self-actualization.

I liked how the show didn’t shy away from the consequences of her action. In the end, the real villain of the story was herself, not some rogue witch or a malevolent demonic entity. She had enthralled an entire town under spell, and there was no one else to blame but herself.

This emphasized Wanda as being a flawed human, something that the MCU almost always excels at (cough, Captain Marvel, cough). I don’t want to get to any comparison of other franchises and I just want to take this time to appreciate this masterpiece.

Even with all of its flaws, I consider WandaVision as a tour de force in storytelling. The way it was structured was almost near-perfect, and the acting was flawless. This was a great start to kick-off the MCU TV shows.

What are your thoughts on the series? If you haven't had the chance to watch it, did I persuade you to do so? Sound off in the comments below!

WandaVision is currently streaming on Disney+

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