WandaVision’s charming emulation of classic TV sitcoms is an unexpected and experimental choice for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first streaming series, even though Wanda and Vision’s cheery charade is clearly hiding something sinister beneath its surface. One of the more innovative uses of the sitcom format is including fake commercials between scenes in the Wanda and Vision show — commercials that may hold the key to the show’s biggest unanswered questions.
First of all, it’s bizarre that whatever “in universe” show Wanda and Vision are starring in (which is apparently viewable by characters in the MCU’s real world) has commercials in the first place. If Wanda is intentionally or even unintentionally creating this reality with her powers, why would her sitcom life need to be broken up with ad breaks? Secondly, both of the commercials shown in the show’s first two episodes directly relate to two of Wanda Maximoff’s greatest traumas.
The first episode’s commercial is for a toaster made by Stark Industries that beeps ominously when the toast is nearly done. The beeping is reminiscent of a countdown to a bomb’s explosion, referencing Wanda’s Avengers: Age of Ultron origin story: Wanda’s parents died in a bombing, and a second bomb landed in the ruins of her house but did not go off. Wanda and her twin brother Pietro were trapped by the unexploded shell and saw that the bomb, like the toaster, was created by Stark Industries.
‘WandaVision’ isn’t forthright with its secrets in the first two episodes, but there are a few throwaway details that suggest something very dark is going on.
The second commercial for a Strücker watch also hearkens back to Age of Ultron. Baron Strücker was the Hydra scientist who experimented on dozens of people in an attempt to give them powers with the Mind Stone hidden in Loki’s scepter. Every subject in the experiment died horribly except for Wanda and Pietro, who developed the superpowers of reality warping and super speed, respectively. The process for Wanda’s enhancement was painful and tied to a dark period in her life, which makes a Strücker watch emblazoned with the Hydra logo an odd choice of advert for her new reality.
The third odd thing about the commercials is that both ads star the same two actors, a man in a black suit and a vacant-eyed woman. These characters don’t appear anywhere else in these WandaVision episodes, but maintain a consistent dynamic in the two commercials. Since the rest of the people in the world of WandaVision appear to be citizens of Westview, the fact that these two exist outside of Wanda’s perceived reality is suspect, suggesting that they may have something to do with the situation Wanda and Vision have found themselves in.
And what is that situation, exactly? WandaVision isn’t forthright with its secrets in the first two episodes, but there are a few throwaway details that suggest something very dark is going on. In Episode 2, Wanda’s icy blonde neighbor Dottie says “the devil is in the details,” to which her other neighbor Agnes responds “that’s not the only place he is.” In that same episode, Agnes lets Wanda borrow her pet rabbit Señor Scratchy, aka Mr. Scratch, a 19th-century nickname for the devil.
The fact that both of these references to the devil come from Agnes is important, since there are further hints that Agnes knows more about Wanda’s presence in Westview than she lets on. When she approaches Wanda with Señor Scratchy in tow, she greets her by saying “it’s the star of the show,” possibly alluding to her knowledge that Wanda is indeed “starring” in a meta-show. Agnes then reveals that the star she was talking about was not Wanda, but Señor Scratchy the devil-rabbit.
As it so happens, the Marvel universe has a devilish villain who some have already theorized has a hand in WandaVision’s plot. Mephisto, a demonic character who rules over an alternate dimension called Hell, appeared in a comic arc with a character named Agatha Harkness and an interest in Wanda and Vision’s twin sons Billy and Tommy. Since Wanda mysteriously became pregnant at the end of episode 2, it’s possible some reimagining of that Mephisto plot is taking place just out of view.
Agatha’s role in this is still a mystery, but if Mephisto is involved in Wanda’s predicament, it would be a bummer to think that the show hasn’t dropped a bigger hint about who he might be. Except, perhaps, it already has. Maybe Mephisto is appearing in the guise of a well-dressed man whose innocuous presence centers around memories meant to torture Wanda in her pocket reality. Perhaps, like the devil has appeared before, he’s a slick salesman with a devilish glint in his eye and a place above, but not among the mortals of Westview…
Calling it now: Commercial Guy is Mephisto. Maybe it’s Commercial Lady too. Either way, it will take a while for WandaVision to confirm or refute any of this. So for now, stay tuned and don’t touch that dial!
WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.