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WandaVision Episode 1 – Review

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Golden ‘Vision’ or TV dog’s dinner?

WandaVision Episode One Image
Marvel Studios

Episode one of the long-awaited WandaVision series from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus, but is it any good, here’s our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

WandaVision is the first new Marvel material since Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman: Far From Home in 2019. It’s also the first element of Phase 4 of the MCU. It was originally scheduled for release midway through 2020 but, needless to say, COVID delayed production.

Given the delay and the lack of new MCU material, anticipation around this series has inevitably been heightened. I’m sure that the episodes will be gobbled up by Marvel obsessives like Vision gobbles up…well, nothing because he’s an android.

The nine-episode series fuses the MCU with homages to iconic sitcoms from the 1950 to the present day. With Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch and Vision playing the classic sitcom couple.

Needless to say, the couple gets themselves into the usual scrapes you’d expect from a mainstream sitcom. But this all happens as the reality around them starts to crack. Consequently, Wanda becomes increasingly edgy as she realises their idyllic sitcom existence isn’t real. These cracks become bigger & bigger as the series progresses. Although the series appears to take place in the 1950s, the date on their calendar is 23 August. That would suggest it takes place immediately after the events of Avengers: Endgame in August 2023.

Easter egg hunting

Half the fun of watching the MCU canon is looking for the references to other films and TV shows. The same goes when writing this review of WandaVision episode one. The powers that be have given us plenty of Easter Eggs in this series as well. Without making this article the length of War and Peace, or more appropriately, ‘Infinity War and Peace’, we can’t cover every single one, and that would ruin the fun for viewers looking for them. But there are some whoppers in there so let’s talk about those!

As the show ends, the credits roll and we pull back to reveal that someone is watching it like an old TV show in the present. We discover that the ‘episode’ was directed by Abe Brown, who is the name of one of Peter Parker’s classmates.

The person watching the show, although we don’t see their face, is almost certainly Darcy Lewis from the Thor films, played by Kat Dennings. Formerly the star of a sitcom herself, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there was a reference to 2 Broke Girls later in the series.

The person is monitoring the show and making notes in a S.W.O.R.D. notebook. S.W.O.R.D. is the sister organisation of S.H.I.E.L.D., with specific responsibility for dealing with extraterrestrial threats. The makers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to incorporate S.W.O.R.D. in that show but were refused permission. It looks like now is the time Marvel has decided to bring S.W.O.R.D. into the MCU.

American TV cultural references

As regards the production itself, it is a love letter to classic sitcoms like Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. There are also references to Bewitched, although the references to that are even more pronounced in Episode 2. The decision to shoot in 4:3 rather than the modern standard of 16:9 to lend authenticity as sitcoms of that era pre-date widescreen.

There is a deliberate obvious canned laughter track, as has been used in sitcoms since time immemorial. This is despite the fact that there was apparently a studio audience watching filming in Georgia. I guess escaping reality to watch an alternate one is understandable in Georgia these days.

TV tropes

The commitment to the classic sitcom and TV tropes of the time is admirable. The 50’s style advert made for the ‘commercial break’ of the show featured the ToastMate 2000 made by Stark Industries. Stark Industries is Tony Stark’s company, created by his father Howard. The light on the appliance blinks red, which is the only thing in colour in the episode. This is a reference to the bomb that killed Wanda’s parents in Sokovia, which was also made by Stark Industries. The ToastMate, like the bomb and Iron Man’s suit, makes the repulsor sound as it starts up.

There is a wine bottle used at the dinner where Vision and Wanda are trying to impress his boss. The bottle is from ‘Maison du Mepris’, which is translated as ‘House of Contempt’. That is a reference to the House of M comics in which The Scarlet Witch creates an alternate reality for herself, which is the premise for WandaVision.

The show has a great supporting cast including Debra Jo Rupp, steeped in roles in hugely successful sitcoms Friends and That 70’s Show, and Kathryn Hahn. She plays Wanda and Vision’s neighbour Agnes, in another classic sitcom role of the slightly nosy, neighbourhood busybody. She is making constant jokes about her, as yet unseen, husband Ralf. Her name is an amalgamation of Agatha Harkness, who is a sorceress from the Marvel comics who assists The Scarlet Witch, Wanda’s alter ego. As the series progresses and the false reality splinters further, we may well see Agnes take on her true identity.

Sitcom or drama?

Is this supposed to work as a sitcom in its own right, or is it simply an amuse-bouche for the avalanche of MCU material coming this year? If it is the former, then I hope the scripts improve, as this was spectacularly unfunny. Although this is supposed to be a 50’s sitcom, the comedy in classic shows of that era still stands up as being funny today. Surely there was a way that some stronger jokes could have been written that would work in a contemporary sitcom, despite it being set over 60 years ago.

But for the millions of MCU fans around the world, this is manna from heaven for those starved of Marvel action. They will lap it up, no matter how deliberately hammy the acting or how weak the comedy is. It is immaculately produced, with a clear love & respect for the characters, fans and legendary comedy shows. A review of the first episode of WandaVision is tough if you’re not well versed in the world of the MCU, but we can assume that more will be revealed in the coming weeks.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10


Thank you for reading our review of WandaVision episode one. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read more about the MCU phase four HERE.

Read IMDB information about WandaVision HERE.

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10 Years Of Game Of Thrones

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Game of Thrones Emilia Clark image
HBO

Since it first aired on 17 April 2011, Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of many fans from start to finish. But, after the lacklustre and rushed ending of this epic fantasy series in 2019, we find ourselves wondering: has its legacy been completely ruined? After 10 years is it worth looking again at the legacy of Game of Thrones? After all, like the fallen Ned Stark once said: “some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word”.

Have Game of Thrones fan’s been hit too hard by the hurried and unjust ending? Are there storylines and characters within the eight seasons that make up for the less than favourable ending?

After looking back through the seasons, below are what we think are some of the best and most redeeming moments and characters within the series. These could be the reason why fans stay loyal to Game of Thrones and even get excited about future prequels or sequels. We already have next year’s Game of Thrones – House of Dragons series to expect.

WARNING: Only read on if you have watched the entire series as there are spoilers.

Sansa Stark becomes Queen of the North

We ended the series with Winterfell once again being led by a member of the House of Stark. Queen Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who regained The North as an independent Kingdom. This decision from the writers is easily the most satisfying conclusion to come out of the finale. And easily one of the best beginning to end character arcs in all Game of Thrones.

Starting out as quite an unfavourable character and the least liked Stark of the pack, mainly due to her spoiled and brattish behaviour. Sansa ended up being the character we were all rooting for. Especially when it came to regaining the north and standing her ground with Daenerys Targaryen – “What about the North”.

But it wasn’t an easy road for her to get to that point. She had to endure a lot of horrific scenes, storylines, and marriages which shaped her character from a little bird to a Queen. But as Sansa said herself, whilst talking to The Hound/Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), “Without Little Finger and Ramsey and the rest I would have stayed a little bird all my life”. We’re glad she didn’t stay a little bird and became the Queen the North.

Arya Stark kills the Night King

When it came to the death of the Night King there were only a handful of characters who could do the deed. But, if you were anything like us, we had our money firmly on Jon Snow (Kit Harington). But, it was his kick-ass little sister, Arya Stark (Masie Williams), that ended the long night. With a fatal blow to the Night King’s heart with her Valyrian Steel Dagger.


In this episode, there was hardly any dialogue, especially in the last 30 minutes, which made the whole cinematography of the final scenes so much more poignant. From the camera angles to the incredible score which was accompanied only by sound effects and the odd fighting shout of pain. It left us in suspense and just as we thought all hope was lost, as the Night King approached Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and fans started to believe that Game of Thrones was going to take another huge twist, winter was here to stay. Out came our hero from the dark, the epic shot where Arya was flying through the air will always be one of our all-time favourites.

The night before winter came

Another part of the final series that I think deserves some props, was episode two (mainly the last 30ish minutes). This episode was the calm before the storm. But it was also very well done, from this point, as a viewer we didn’t really know who was going to survive and who was going to die. Something that we were never sure with when watching Game of Thrones.

We managed to get some nice send-off scenes for most of the characters which kept the suspense alive. We saw Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) meet again, Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) finally ‘get together’ but most notably there was a comical and heart-warming meeting by the fire with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolin Christie), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).

There were jokes, Brienne got knighted and we even got a song from Podrick. Which was made into a satisfying montage for other characters around Winterfell as well.

Arya Stark and the house of Frey

The demise of the House of Frey was indeed a good and a well-justified one. Positioned over the last episode of season six and the first episode of season seven. Arya Stark used her new newly found face-swapping abilities to first bamboozle Walder Frey (David Bradley) into eating a pie. Food made from his sons and then again to become Frey to poison the rest of the house.

This was the revenge we wanted for the fallen Starks of The Red Wedding and Arya was just the person to serve it! Because the revenge plot was separated between the two seasons it almost confused us fans. When we started to watch season seven and saw that Walder Fray was still alive the quick-minded ones of us straight away realised what was happening. Yet, there was a handful of us who looked just as confused at Frey’s wife/daughter who was standing next to him. That was until Arya took Walder Frey’s face off.

Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor

Another example where the series utilises an amazing music score is in the last episode of season 10. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) finally goes all out with her vindictive evilness and blows up the Sept of Baelor. With her daughter in law Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and a host of other people she didn’t like, locked inside.

The whole scene lasts about eight minutes and also includes Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), having his tendons slit by one of Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) little birds, so he couldn’t stop the destruction which was about to happen. There was also the violent demise of Pycelle (Julian Glover), once again by Lord Varys’s little birds. Which was orchestrated by the crafty Qyburn (Anton Lesser).

Whilst this is happening a very smug Cersei watches over the chaos, with a glass of red. But, one thing Cersei didn’t account for was after the acknowledgement of his new bride’s murder, her son, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) walked himself out of the window to his death.

Battle of the B**tards

Most of the battle scenes in Game of Thrones are pretty epic, but The Battle of the B**tards was by far one of the best. Accompanied by a killer soundtrack and great sound effects this battle was both jaw-dropping and breathtaking.

From the moment Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) was killed by Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to the moment Sansa sets Bolton’s dogs on him, there was action scene after action scene that captivated all of us and also gave us the Winterfell redemption story we needed. The death of Ramsey Bolton was also the most satisfying death since that of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson).

In this section of high intercity scenes, we get to see Little Finger/ Lord Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen) do something useful for once by bringing the Vale Knights of House Arryn to save Jon Snow from dying… for a second time.

Daenerys Targaryen and the unsullied

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was a fan favourite from her first scene. But the admiration for her character grew and grew throughout the seasons. One of the most defining moments was when she visits Astapor on the search for an army to aid her in reclaiming the throne.

After meeting the hostile and pig-headed Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand), Master of Astapor, Slaver and Unsullied overseer, who taunts Daenerys, believing she didn’t know how to speak Valyrian, he agrees to sell her all 8,000 Unsullied members for one of her dragons.

As most of their communications were through his servant Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) he believed Daenerys didn’t hear all the things he was saying. Which made the end scene so much more satisfying. Once the exchange is done, she has the Unsullied whip in hand and Krazny is trying to hold on to the dragon on a chain. She speaks to the Unsullied in clear Valyrian and finally tells Krazny who she is – Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen the blood of old Valyrian.

The moment she tells the Unsullied to slay the masters and uttered the word Dracarys, will forever be the day when we truly started to see how badass she really is!

The red wedding

As horrendous as it is to watch it’s clear that the Red Wedding is still a highlight of season three and indeed the series.

Yes, we already knew by now that anything could happen in Game of Thrones. And blood and gore was a regular occurrence. But this scene took things to a new level with a blood bath no one saw coming… Not even King of the North Rob Stark.

This heart-stopping 10 minutes of cushion grabbing TV, not only saw the death of two of the most loved Starks Rob and Catelyn Stark but also the death of Rob’s wife and unborn child. As well as the betrayal of Roose Bolton a supposed friend of the Starks (Michael McElhatton) and the house of Frey.

This scene cemented for us that no one can predict what is going to happen when you play the Game of Thrones. You win or You Die, there is no middle ground.

The two most sassy characters

When it comes to Game of Thrones, I think we can all agree that the one thing they got right, time and time again was the casting. And this never rang truer than with Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). They didn’t have the biggest parts within the series, but boy, did they make their presence known. It got to the point where we were just waiting for their scenes to see what would come out of their mouths next.

Lyanna Mormont

Who’s the most impressive pre-teen in the whole of Westeros? That’s right Lyanna Mormont. Even at 10 years old I wouldn’t mess with her. Through the whole three seasons she was in, she demanded and captivated the audience. She said it how it was, and she wasn’t scared of a single thing. She came in like a warrior, back chatting Jon Snow and Sansa and acting like a total boss. Finally, she went out like a warrior taking a giant walker down with her.

Olenna Tyrell

The original, potty-mouthed grandmother Olenna Tyrell had line after line of roasting stingers. No one was safe from her sharp-tongued antics. But the one person that was firmly on her radar was Cersei Lannister. Especially after Cersei killed her family in the sept. In true Olenna style, even after she had been fatally poisoned, she still had the last word, admitting to Jamie Lannister that it was her that killed his and Cersei’s son, King Joffrey Baratheon.


There you have it, some of our favourites and redeeming scenes from Game of Thrones after 10 years, what do you think? What are your favourite scenes or storylines? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out our seven lost plot threads from Game of Thrones HERE.

Read iMDB information on Game of Thrones HERE.

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