The latest episode of WandaVision, “Previously On,” begins to pull back the curtain on a number of important dimensions of Wanda’s backstory and mental health. The following article may include spoilers.
A full-fledged confrontation between Wanda and Agatha comes to a head along with a procession through history where the two witches revisit moments from Wanda’s past. If we failed to have remorse for Wanda as she struggles with her grief before now, “Previously On” presents a slew of examples of her being manipulated into a certain course of action.
In this episode, we see Wanda, to some degree, victimized. Everyone around her capitalizes off of the severe emotional breakdown she has, following the loss of all the key figures in her life: her parents, her brother Pietro, and Vision – her significant other, whom we see transformed into her husband in WandaVision.
The big reveal of Agnes (aka Agatha Harkness) as, in fact, a witch with powers equal to, if not much stronger than, Wanda’s has brought higher stakes to the show. Not only does Agatha make for a genuine antagonist for Wanda and Vision, but she also facilitates Maximoff’s reliving of a series of moments that forever altered her life.
All throughout, Agatha’s lack of humanity exudes from her personality. Not only has she had hundreds of years to steep herself in the ways of evil, but at the same time, she has let loss and social neglect fester within her. In a sense, Agatha shows us what Wanda could become if she abandons genuine community. (Similarly, in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is the virtuous counter-character to Saruman.) Agatha is totally preoccupied by the desire for power.
In a fashion that takes after Scrooge’s ventures into the past with the Christmas spirits, Wanda explores painful images from previous points in her life. All the while, Agatha journeys with her, hoping to unlock the key to Maximoff’s unique power to generate life.
Meanwhile, in one particular flashback, we see some sketchy dialogue on the part of Director Hayward in which he clearly suggests ideas to Wanda – even subtly. Resurrecting Vision is one of the ideas he plants in her mind.
Again and again, “Previously On” displays how people so readily take advantage of Wanda’s mental illness. The way Wanda is treated is an example of love of use. The love of use seen in WandaVision is particularly shallow and manipulative.
The fact that it is the antagonist and a potential bad apple (Hayward) who use Wanda to get a desired end shows us that we are called to something else. We are called to, and created for, genuine communion with others in selfless charity.
This is what Wanda and all of Westview are seeking: community. The people of the town want to experience family and friendship. Even Wanda, at the end of the day, wants to be comforted by Vision and know that her children are safe.