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How WandaVision is setting up Monica Rambeau’s superpowers

Episode six reveals that once you leave Westview, you’re never the same.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision.
Marvel Studios
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Spoilers follow for WandaVision episode six.

WandaVision’s sixth episode showed what happens when you put a Band-Aid over a bullet wound in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The wound gets even bigger, cosmic radiation grows, superpowers emerge, and the problems multiply exponentially.

At the end of episode five, Vision was pretty close to cracking this entire saga. He put together the pieces that Wanda was manipulating the town of Westview with her power (though maybe not all on her own accord). So the synthezoid confronted her, and just as the two were about to clash, her brother Pietro — played by Evan Peters and not Aaron Taylor-Johnson, in an intriguing shake-up — interrupted the scene.

In episode six — which channeled the early 2000s sitcom Malcolm in the Middle — all of episode five’s brewing conflicts and possible multiverse wrinkles were washed away.

The episode opens with everyone seemingly forgetting what happened. Pietro is crashing on the couch, and Wanda and Vision are celebrating Halloween in their vintage comic book costumes. Wanda’s twin boys are now 12ish, the perfect age to play Malcolm-esque narrators who consistently break the fourth wall.

But there are also a few eyebrow-raising lines, including a very pointed mention of “kickass” — the name of the superhero franchise that Taylor-Johnson, who played Pietro in the MCU, also appeared in.

Despite the fact that everyone appears to have been “reset” for the beginning of the episode (which is in keeping with the way most sitcoms are more episodic than sequential), Vision knows something is wrong and tries to venture out beyond Wanda’s hex to a disastrous result.

Meanwhile, outside Westview and the hex, S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward is really not being stealthy about assuming the role of WandaVision’s big bad. He keeps escalating the situation, making the case that Wanda is a threat that must be eliminated because S.W.O.R.D. can’t control her. Anyone who’s watched this far into WandaVision, as well as the show’s “real-world” heroes — Darcy, Agent Woo, and Monica Rambeau — know better.

Hayward expels the trio from the S.W.O.R.D. base, but they manage to sneak their way back in and hack into its computer system. They find out that Hayward has been tracking Vision the entire time and has a secret side project called “Project Cataract.”

But in addition to Hayward becoming the trigger-happy, scheming villain he was so clearly shaping up to be, this episode also brought some weightier, maybe less obviously foreshadowed reveals.

WandaVision seems to be telling Monica Rambeau’s superhero origin story

Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in WandaVision
Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in WandaVision.

In episode five, we knew that Monica’s medical scans were coming up abnormal after getting zapped out of Wanda’s Westview sitcom, possibly hinting that her DNA and cells have been altered. The sixth episode confirmed as much. Darcy, while hacking into the S.W.O.R.D. system, found Monica’s medical scans and learned that her cells were being rewritten at “a molecular level.” The reason, she surmised, was that Monica passed through the Westview forcefield twice — once when she walked into it and once when she was zapped back out — which ostensibly rewrote the cells in her body.

This is a huge clue for comic book readers because it seems like Marvel could very well be laying the foundation for Monica to manifest superpowers of her own — passing through Wanda’s hex field is not unlike a radioactive spider biting Peter Parker or gamma rays turning Bruce Banner into the Hulk. In Marvel’s comics, Monica gets powers after being exposed to and bombarded by cosmic energy.

Monica being zapped in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16.
John Romita/Marvel

After absorbing this energy into her body, Monica has the power to transform herself into various energy forms. These energy forms allow her to shoot energy bolts, but they also allow her to zip along at superspeed, including light speed:

Monica Rambeau.
Kenneth Rocafort/Marvel

Acquiring powers that involve manipulating light and energy by appearing on Wanda’s television show (which in its very existence involves transmitting and broadcasting images and sound), and by passing through a hex field that is emitting cosmic microwave background radiation (“a colossal amount of CMBR” is how Darcy described it in episode four), conveniently aligns with the comics.

The nifty little loophole here is that, for now, Monica is the only character who has passed through the hex field twice. That would help explain why she would be the only Westview “resident” to end up with powers, so long as none of the others pass through the field a second time.

We’re learning more about Wanda’s reality-warping powers

The “oh my god” moment of episode six comes in its last 10 minutes. Wanda’s boys, Tommy and Billy, start manifesting their own superpowers. Tommy has Pietro’s superspeed, and Billy seems to have Wanda’s telepathy. Billy realizes that Vision has tried to leave Wanda’s hex and is now dying because he apparently can’t live beyond its boundaries (the visual effects when Vision steps outside the field look a lot like the dusting from Thanos’s Avengers: Infinity War snap).

Billy tells Wanda about the escaping and dying Vision. Then, with a power surge, Wanda increases the radius of the hex to swallow up almost all of the S.W.O.R.D. base and plunging everyone except for Monica, Agent Woo, and Hayward into her sitcom reality. Darcy, who’s been separated from her pals, is plunged into the hex field, too.

What stands out to me is that when Vision tried to “leave” the hex, he encountered Agnes, who was acting abnormally. He guessed that the farther away that Westview residents are from Wanda, the less control she has over them. He did his little mind zap on her — the same one he used on his coworker in episode five — and she snapped out of her character, telling Vision about his past as an Avenger and asking him to help her.

It’s a curveball moment, and not just because, until now, Agnes has seemed to function as Wanda’s deus ex machina and as a reference to a comic book witch named Agatha Harkness who has a past with Wanda. It feels extra significant because Vision still seems to have no recollection of his past and no idea of who the Avengers are, which hints that this isn’t the same Vision, or at least it isn’t the same consciousness, as the one we know from the movies.

The other intriguing thing about Wanda’s power surge and episode six’s cliffhanger is how closely it mirrors House of M.

House of M is a 2005 Marvel comic book event in which Wanda creates her own fantasy reality while the Avengers and the X-Men weigh how to stop her as her powers pose a global cataclysmic threat. In House of M, when Wanda is confronted about what she’s doing, she lashes out by using her powers even more and drawing more people into her fantasy world. That’s a lot like what’s happening on WandaVision, with S.W.O.R.D. threatening to disrupt her reality and Wanda retaliating by bringing everyone else into the hex. Unlike House of M, the only heroes left outside of Westview who can help Wanda and save her from herself — barring a take-your-breath-away cameo from an Avenger or two —appear to be Monica and Agent Woo.