How ‘WandaVision’ Embraced Red Herrings to Play Us Like a Fiddle
The article contains spoilers for the final episode of WandaVision. Only continue reading at your own risk of getting spoiled on the show’s main revelations.
We’ve been spending the last few weeks speculating on what may be the big reveals throughout WandaVision. Marvel Studios’ first attempt at long-term storytelling got released during some difficult times. We haven’t had a new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for over a year, and the character of Wanda Maximoff has an extensive and confusing comic book history. She has close ties to the multiverse, demons, and mutants. Add the purchase of 20th Century Fox to the equation, and you have a recipe of unimaginable expectation. SWORD’s involvement just added to the pile that would skyrocket what we believe may happen. In the end, some theories have turned out to be true while others haven’t. It is something that director Matt Shakman hinted at in an interview before the finale release:
But there are some things that people have talked about that won’t add up to anything. That’s the joy of looking at something with so much care and love. I’m happy it has inspired so much passion.
There are a lot of Easter eggs throughout the episodes. Even early on, the animated intro alludes to Wanda’s midwife, Bova Ayrshire. David Payton‘s character references Herbert Wyndham, also known as the High Evolutionary. He was involved with the twins’ birth, as he lived in Wundagore Mountain: which was their original birthplace before it became Sokovia in the MCU. As you can see, Wanda’s origin is convoluted and the perfect showcase of how much speculation is possible based on small details. The animated intro even included the helmet of Eric Williams’ Reaper costume. He had an essential role in Tom King‘s The Vision run. Yet, even with this tease, he was nowhere to be seen in the show. The series is filled to the brim with secrets that reference the many comic influences.
So, how come many theories didn’t quite pan out? The drawback of a mystery-based series based on a character introduced in 1964 is that we’ve seen almost everything. We had seen Wanda give birth to demon spawn, meet a witch that was part of New Salem, recreated all of reality, and had a romantic relationship with a synthezoid. Wanda has pretty much gone through every crazy concept one can imagine, and this series had to draw the line on what to focus on. It raises the question of how you keep comic readers on their toes as the story unravels every week? Well, you make them believe that they already solved it all.
A recent interview highlights what the show was all about. Early on, Agatha, still in disguise as Agnes, makes a big fuss about Dottie. Emma Caulfield played the character that seemed to have some connection to what was happening. The show goes out of its way with wordings like the devil, nightmare, demons, and so much more. It creates the connection to Mephisto or Nightmare, who are well-known Marvel antagonists. Her casting was due to her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It made her a perfect candidate to make an automatic supernatural connection. It pushed more towards the existence of a Witch coven and the set-up for the popular Marvel villain Mephisto to make his appearance. It was the perfect storm, and Caulfield confirmed that her casting was purely a red herring.
It was impossible for people to not be disappointed! I’m trying not to feel disingenuous, but knowing full well [their theories were] just so far removed from the truth. That’s tough, being the red herring. Again, I hope no one eggs my house.
Her character’s revelation doesn’t come until the final episode, where we find out that she is just a resident of Westview named Sarah Proctor. All she wants is to see her daughter again. Yet, her character’s name leaves more questions open, as Sarah Procter is the same woman who got famously accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Even as the show officially ended, we still have many questions that they purposely put out there. Most of the details are Red Herrings hidden like Easter eggs. It’s what makes the casting of Evan Peters one of the main discussion points right now. They are deliberate to keep us second-guessing, and it certainly worked.
No one else could’ve been a fake Pietro because there are only two actors we would believe taking on that role. The expectations of this plot exist purely on a meta-level due to our expectations. He was a Red Herring just like Dottie was. It is understandable that it isn’t for everyone and that people will be upset about it. Sadly, some of these hints were so prominent that they created false expectations because they overplayed their hands at times. At the same time, if it didn’t upset us, would it still be as shocking of a twist? Still, nothing is truly definite within the MCU, as everything is always in a state of constant flux. We only saw the intro to how this story might unfold, and who knows what the Darkhold may unleash upon the world.