Warning: The most major spoilers ahead for WandaVision’s eighth episode, “Previously On.”
This time last week, I had never watched WandaVision. Then everyone started making “It Was Agatha All Along” jokes on Twitter and I wanted to laugh too. So I raced through the first seven WandaVision episodes faster than Faux MCU Quicksilver (X-Men universe's Evan Peters) on a sugar high. This decision left me on the verge of tears in the wee hours of Friday, February 26, like every other diehard WandaVision fan. The culprit: penultimate season 1 episode “Previously On” and the gutting fate of Vision (Paul Bettany).
The original Vision — killed by Thaos (Josh Brolin) in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War — is brought back to “life” by Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg), the newest director of shadowy organization S.W.O.R.D. But, Vision 2.0 isn’t colorful, darling Vision anymore — he is a chilling white, lacking the Mind Stone (for obvious, Thanos-related reasons), and seemingly totally controlled by S.W.O.R.D. Wanda never “stole” Vision’s corpse, as S.W.O.R.D. has claimed throughout WandaVision. Vision’s body has been in S.W.O.R.D. custody all along and is now a zombie super weapon.
This is a devastating development for WandaVision hero Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and sure to throw one final, awful wrench in the upcoming season 1 finale. At least previous WandaVision episodes and decades of Marvel comic lore can help us prepare for an unavoidable showdown between Wanda, White Vision, and “Real” Vision (who is actually a new recreation of Vision, born of Wanda’s immense powers and grief).
Sixth episode “All-New Halloween Spooktacular” starts putting together the pieces of Hayward’s plan for Vision’s corpse, which S.W.O.R.D. apparently obtained after the events of Infinity War. While snooping around secret S.W.O.R.D. files, Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) finds “classified weapons intel” pertaining to Cataract, an operation “for Hayward’s eyes only.” Darcy gives her ally FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) access to the project information. In the next episode, Jimmy tells Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) that Cataract’s purpose wasn’t to “decommission” Vision, as Hayward claimed — Hayward wanted to bring Vision “back online” as his personal sentient weapon.
“Previously On,” explains how Hayward achieves his goal. In the flashback portion of the episode, Wanda — who vanished from existence due to Thanos’ snap five years prior — goes to S.W.O.R.D. headquarters to demand a funeral for Vision. She is denied and instead sees his limbs strewn around a S.W.O.R.D. laboratory like an experiment. Wanda then flees to Westview, where we learn Vision bought them a plot of land at some point. There, Wanda creates the Westview of WandaVision through her own magic (which, we learn in “Previously On,” was “amplified” by the same infinity stone that made Vision). That same magic creates a drone during WandaVision season 1 that S.W.O.R.D. ends up with by the end of “Previously On.” S.W.O.R.D. uses the magic in the drone — which, again, is tied to the now-destroyed Mind Stone — to bring Vision’s corpse back to life.
The scheme works, closing “Previous On” with a glimpse of an icy white Vision. This visual is a direct nod to the 1980s Avengers West Coast “Vision Quest” story by John Byrne. In this Marvel comics arc, Vision is similarly destroyed (albeit due to a different catastrophe). He is reassembled, but left without the humanity that Wanda loves so much. Hence the colorless skin of White Vision. As The Wrap writes, White Vision and “Real” Vision eventually fight in the the original comics. It seems inevitable that a similar fate will befall the MCU's take on these characters in next week’s finale. As we saw in previous episode “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” “Real” Vision is currently rushing home to Wanda after realizing the full extent of what Westview is.
Wanda Maximoff was forced to kill Vision and then watch him be brought back to life by Thanos… for the express purpose of his murder once again, right in front of her eyes. Wanda was snapped out of existence and returned only to be faced with the horror of processing Vision’s double death. Next week, she will be confronted by the reanimated body of her dead lover, who now lacks all the emotion and wonder that made her love him — that helped her move on from the deaths of her brother (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), mother (Ilana Kohanchi), and father (Sweetbitter's Daniyar). And that White Vision will probably battle the “Real” Vision she created just to survive in her barren, lonely world.
Yeah, Wanda deserves the break that a finale will bring.