The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: The Power of Love Persevering on WandaVision

“I’m sorry … I’m just so tired … It’s just like this wave washing over me again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again … It’s just gonna drown me.”

WandaVision is a show about grief. It’s never pretended to be about anything else, and “Previously On” made it clear that even now—with only one episode left before the end of this story—it’s going to bravely and boldly stay true to what it is: a story of a woman’s journey through depression, trauma, and grief that’s so strong her body literally cannot contain it.

As such, the most important moment in this episode wasn’t the mid-credits teaser or Agatha’s long-awaited delivery of Wanda’s superhero name or even the moment Wanda created Vision and the entire new reality that took over the town of Westview.

All of those moments mattered—because every moment of Wanda’s journey has mattered. However, the moment that encapsulated the whole series in all its character-centric, emotionally-driven glory came when Wanda revisits a quiet moment between her and Vision in the Avengers compound soon after she came to America following the death of her brother.

In this moment, Wanda looks small and lonely and achingly human—sitting cross-legged on her bed, watching Malcolm in the Middle because sitcoms have given her comfort in some of her life’s worst moments. She’s not a superhero here. And she’s not a villain either. She’s a woman.

And she’s exhausted.

Grief is exhausting. And the way Elizabeth Olsen plays that bone-deep exhaustion as she explains to Vision what it feels like to live a life defined by loss—a life where you constantly fear the next wave that you know is coming—is so uncomfortably real that it feels difficult to watch because not a single adult alive hasn’t felt that at some point. To be human is to know loss. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a place that mattered to us, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a version of ourselves we’d finally learned to love—we’ve all known grief in some form.

Because we’ve all known love in some form.

And as Vision says, “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”

WandaVision quote

The power, insight, and truth in those few words exemplify the kind of perfect writing everyone who works with words dreams of creating once in their lifetime. And those words, coupled with the depth of humanity Paul Bettany brings to Vision’s delivery of them, get to the heart of who Vision is, who Wanda is, and why they’re the kind of soul mates most people search a lifetime for.

Vision isn’t technically a person, but his unique perspective on the universe allows him to see people for who they really are and what they really need. He’s driven by a desire to understand people, to empathize, to help. Upon first glance, he might not seem human, but he has more humanity in him than most actual humans. And similarly, upon first glance, Wanda might seem like a “weapon of mass destruction” or a witch, but her powers are activated by her humanity—by her love persevering despite her pain.

That’s the heart of this episode; that’s what it’s all about. It’s the story of love persevering. And as such, it’s the story of a woman persevering.

The waves keep coming. But she keeps standing. Even when she has no idea how she’s doing it. Even when it would be easier to let herself drown.

And it’s all because the love in her keeps persevering.

But sometimes all that love can be both a blessing and a curse. Because what do you do when the love still exists but it has nowhere to go?

That’s what happens after Wanda sees Vision’s dismembered body at S.W.O.R.D.’s headquarters. The juxtaposition of Vision’s beautifully human expression of empathy with his body being treated as spare parts by a man who could never understand him like Wanda did was haunting. And it only got worse when Wanda reached out and couldn’t feel him anymore.

The horrible pain in Olsen’s “I can’t feel you,” felt ripped from the memories of anyone who’s ever stood by the body of a deceased loved one. It’s that final acknowledgement that they’re gone—and that there’s nothing we can do about it, no matter how much we want to still be able to feel them. The helplessness and the emptiness were so visceral, but so was the tenderness and the love that refuses to leave.

The love that keeps persevering.

It’s that love that takes Wanda from that lab without burning it to the ground and guides her to Westview and that little lot on a quiet street. And it’s that love that encircles the lost dreams that lot represents—the home, the life, and the family that she and Vision never got to build.

In that moment, standing in the frame of a life she never got to fill in, Wanda grieves not just for the man she loves but for the life she never got to have and the version of herself she never got to be—a wife, a mother, a woman who finally didn’t feel like she was always in danger of drowning. And in that moment, all that love that’s left with no place to go spills out of her.

But instead of destroying everything in its path, it creates a new world—one where she can escape her pain like one of her beloved sitcoms. It creates a world where problems are solved in a half hour and no pain is so intense it can’t be laughed at by a studio audience. It creates a world where all that love has somewhere to go, someone to receive it.

Wanda’s magic is the physical manifestation of her grief—power that comes not just from pain but also from love. It’s love persevering in the most extreme fashion—creating a world where it can live and grow and drive the action.

Wanda feels so deeply and loves so strongly and grieves so intensely that her body literally cannot hold all of it anymore.

That’s what happens sometimes. When the grief is too strong, the only choice we have is to create. For so many people, that’s how we process pain when it becomes too much to carry inside. We take our grief and make something with it.

Wanda makes an entire world—or at least an entire New Jersey suburb.

That’s how strong her grief is, but that means that’s also how strong her love is.

And there’s a message in that for everyone watching—because right now, who isn’t grieving? Many are grieving loved ones. Others are grieving experiences, places, careers, and relationships. And still others are grieving versions of themselves they lost in the last year.

It’s often felt like it could drown us.

But we’re not alone. That’s the beauty of media; it makes us feel less alone. And in watching Wanda feel her grief and work through it, there’s catharsis in it for all of us who are grieving too. Because if Wanda’s story has taught us anything, it’s that television can be a powerful tool for working through our pain.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

10 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: The Power of Love Persevering on WandaVision

  1. Okay first, here are literally all the lines that had me going “oh my God, yes, this is it, this is my favorite, she did it, she NAILED IT.”

    “To be human is to know loss. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a place that mattered to us, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a version of ourselves we’d finally learned to love—we’ve all known grief in some form.”

    “The power, insight, and truth in those few words exemplify the kind of perfect writing everyone who works with words dreams of creating once in their lifetime.”

    “He’s driven by a desire to understand people, to empathize, to help. Upon first glance, he might not seem human, but he has more humanity in him than most actual humans. And similarly, upon first glance, Wanda might seem like a “weapon of mass destruction” or a witch, but her powers are activated by her humanity—by her love persevering despite her pain.”

    “The waves keep coming. But she keeps standing. Even when she has no idea how she’s doing it. Even when it would be easier to let herself drown. And it’s all because the love in her keeps persevering. But sometimes all that love can be both a blessing and a curse. Because what do you do when the love still exists but it has nowhere to go?”

    “It’s that final acknowledgement that they’re gone—and that there’s nothing we can do about it, no matter how much we want to still be able to feel them. The helplessness and the emptiness were so visceral, but so was the tenderness and the love that refuses to leave.”

    “But instead of destroying everything in its path, it creates a new world—one where she can escape her pain like one of her beloved sitcoms. It creates a world where problems are solved in a half hour and no pain is so intense it can’t be laughed at by a studio audience. It creates a world where all that love has somewhere to go, someone to receive it.”

    THE WAY THAT I HAD TO STOP MYSELF FROM JUST SCREAMING ABOUT EVERY LINE. But, God these especially are just sdkfajsdkffa. But the second one, the one I chose to highlight with my tweet because this is us, Katie. This is what it means to create in the midst of pain and darkness and confusion and crippling self-doubt. We as writers want to write the next best thing, the thing that everyone screams about and talks about. It’s such a natural feeling and it’s often in the midst of pain where I imagine we both have used our words as a means of screaming. (There is no middle of nowhere in LA I can go to scream and sob without someone seeing and worrying.) But I can come on here, I can get on Marvelous Geeks, or I can text a friend and just write. I didn’t realize it’s what we were doing until you wrote this, that it’s something we all want, especially as writers, as creators. I imagine an artist does, too when they try to find the right color to scream the very emotion that’s bursting through their whole being. A singer making sure their bridge evokes all the words from the song one more time to really hit. We’re all just releasing in our own way, through our creative outlets and you’ve captured exactly why this episode is so special. I’ve talked to so many people who were like, but the execution wasn’t done well, the emotions worked, but the execution didn’t, and I feel like that misses the very point of the fact that the execution doesn’t matter as long as the emotions are evoked.

    For a moment, most people (at least everyone with the heart because the internet is a strange and cruel place) shared stores of grief. We were all vulnerable together talking about something that hit us all differently, broke us all differently, and inspired us all differently while we collectively shared the vulnerability. And that’s what you captured with this post—why that matters, why creative outlets can be the best form of release and why words, especially in this area matter so much. The person who wrote it might not have realized just how evocative it’d be, I imagine they did their best to sum up this complicated dark emotion as best as they could, and we all connected to it because we let ourselves feel it, which is what the episode wanted us to do, it wanted us to feel, and we did so. And then you took those feelings, you put them onto paper and you left me and everyone who read/reads in awe. So thank you, friend. Thank you for writing and thank you for putting every bit of you into this.

    • I came back to this comment today because I really needed a reminder of what it is I’m doing here and why I’m doing it, and I’m just so beyond grateful to you for making me feel so loved and supported and like maybe my little words can get to the heart of big feelings we all need to feel. So thank you, my sweet friend. For this and for everything.

      I’m so happy I’m not the only one who really connected with the idea of creation as a vehicle for feelings too big to handle. That’s the most important thing I took from this episode, and it’s worked its way into my heart and hasn’t left me alone since I watched it. Creation as a means of dealing with pain, working through it, and expressing it when we can’t hold it in anymore is such a fundamental concept for me, and the bravery with which this show confronts pain and how we (especially we as women) deal with it is just astounding. I could only hope that I captured a little bit of what makes it so downright revolutionary and essential for this time in the world in particular.

  2. “The helplessness and the emptiness were so visceral, but so was the tenderness and the love that refuses to leave. The love that keeps persevering.” — I mean this right here is everything.

    Okay this week is tough to talk about the best thing. Because as I look back on the week the best thing on TV everything I watched seems to be some form of catharsis. Whether it was the mother daughter teen tension scenes on Equalizer or the many moments of movies like Nomadland or the TV shows I watched that forced us to face the complexity that isolation and grief are not evolving truths. Apparently this was also my week to cry.

    That said. Vision. Vision. Vision. I never cared about Vision or Wanda. I never cared what their fate was before Infinity War. I didn’t know that their story wrapped in this package called Wandavision would become one of the threads of the MCU that would carry the emotional weight of grief in a way nothing has come before it. We can talk about “the line” (and how I burst into tears over my morning coffee). Or the fact that Paul Bettany gives the absolutely perfect line reading of it. But truth is, the entirety of that scene, his clarity in understanding loss because he’s never experienced it gives his character a spaciousness and perspective to see the beauty of it, not just the knowledge of it. Without the context of Vision’s understanding of his own isolation I don’t know that the beauty of his ability to connect to humanity would be as resonant. His ability to connect the necessity of grief after a season of brave exploration of grief is why it hit like a ton of bricks. Coupled with the discovery that Wanda’s invention of the town is born of literally needing a container to process grief (as opposed to re-writing the past which we are initially led to believe) speaks volumes to the nuance and care this writer’s room has taken. When I think about superheroes we often talk about origin stories and within all of them is trauma. The escapism of comics is based on the escapism and rewriting of trauma. That the entire construct of Wandavision is her journey of grief and loss through television has hit on a base level to me. As the resident walking TV guide in my family as a child and as someone who at several moments in my adulthood escaped into a TV series for comfort I know that doing so was an escape to comfort. It was an escape from being on the outside looking inward. When you are an observer within your own life and the dynamics around you the unintended “otherism” becomes a coat. For me, watching Wanda process grief and discovering why Agnes is involved and knowing why Monica is fighting for Wanda gives us a triangle of grief and power that is so important in a world that seeks to have us contort to create comfort for others, especially as women.

    That’s why my pick for the best thing I saw this week on television was the marvelous Lydia West’s performance over on It’s A Sin. I was in my teens to early 20s during the rise of the AIDs pandemic. I lost a cousin from needle sharing and watched the conditions and dehumanization of people through fear, hate and ignorance unfold regularly. I am only 2 years younger than Ryan White would have been (the poster child for the “innocent AIDs victims”) as opposed to the gay man’s cancer it was positioned as back in the day. AIDs is a disease and a time period marked on my DNA. Coming of age sexually in the height of the AIDs crisis impacts your identity. Whether it’s specific scene moments, like the occasion of them all going to get tested or the fantastically thoughtful soundtrack of songs that bring me back to so many of those moments, this show takes great care with the truth and as a result what It’s A Sin does beautifully is provide us an unapologetic coming of age story. The truth of the laughter, tragedy, brutality, and love that was coming into adulthood in the 80s-90s. A group of friends by fate and happenstance. A group of people who form a chosen family. A group of people who are deeply impacted by AIDs. I loved Lydia West in Years and Years. Here she soars in a way that is nuanced, quiet and achingly pure. She is the glue to this group. She is the stitching that keeps this patchwork family together. The young woman in a group of gay men who is best friend, part den mother, part sister, always caretaker. She finds her purpose and activism through those she loves most and her love is invested in them in all ways, even at times to the sacrifice of herself. She is the container that holds the gravity of these young people’s lives. Throughout it would be easy to characterize her character Jill in a myriad of ways, especially given her absence of sexuality in a highly sexualized story. But what she proves to be is the center of dignity. The final episode of It’s A Sin gives her a set of scenes in the last 20 minutes that is a tour de force of acting and the dives into a deep pool of understanding that compassion and empathy are given, not deserved. They are earned in the agency to determine who is worth our investment of time and love as people and reinforces that dignity is deserved (and needed) most when shame has been seared into our identities with such deliberate consistency we cannot break free of it no matter how fast or far we run. Jill’s purpose from her first scene in episode 1 of It’s a Sin is to restore dignity. That it’s her last act in Episode 6 makes for a wondrous story arch and performance that makes it the best thing I saw on TV this week.

    • You have me so excited to start It’s a Sin! I can already tell I’m going to adore this character.

      And now for Vision. Your take on him and his unique perspective on grief is gorgeous, and this part in particular really got me: “His ability to connect the necessity of grief after a season of brave exploration of grief is why it hit like a ton of bricks.” Vision reminds us that grief is both brutal and beautiful and that we can’t ignore the beauty just because we want to be free of the brutality. Grief reminds us that we’re capable of love, and only someone who hasn’t had to sit with that pain can recognize the need for grief because they’re not trying to avoid it or run from it or escape it—things that I think are intrinsically human reactions to such an overpowering emotion. It’s what makes him Wanda’s perfect match and also why his death is the catalyst for all of this—the one person who helped her work through her pain is gone. She has to shoulder it all alone, and that’s too much to ask of anyone—so naturally, it explodes out of her and creates a world where she doesn’t have to process it by herself anymore. Like you said, it’s not a re-do; it’s a means of processing her feelings through a fictional world. And oh boy…that’s something I think everyone here can relate to.

      I can’t wait to see how Monica comes back into all of this in the finale, even though I am deeply unprepared for it all and deeply sad to say goodbye to this show.

  3. This is so beautiful, babe. I am so impressed by every word you wrote but these two lines really got to me “The waves keep coming. But she keeps standing. Even when she has no idea how she’s doing it. Even when it would be easier to let herself drown. And it’s all because the love in her keeps persevering.” (as did your phrasing here “In that moment, standing in the frame of a life she never got to fill in”.

    This week’s WandaVision was one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen in a while for a myriad of reasons. That recognition of the need to escape into a familiar format with certain unbreakable rules speaks to me as someone who has used it as an escape. The dedication to Wanda as a character and the journey she has been on to show us how her grief has accumulated over the years until she physically couldn’t contain it any more was brilliant and a devotion to character over plot in a way that I did not expect from the MCU (or from a lot of other shows tbh). But mostly for that scene in the Avengers compound with vision. Your opening quote for this and the simple beauty of “But what is grief, if not love persevering?” got me in a way that I was not prepared for before work on Friday morning. I’ve been in a state of pre-grief since August-ish that I’m half dealing with and half ignoring in typical Heather fashion. And that’s probably fine for now and I’m obviously glad I haven’t had to move into the next stage of the grieving process but for as much as I’ve learned to live in it, I am uncomfortable in it because it’s just too big. But this made me feel better about it. Big emotions scare the hell out of me (which is probably why I am drawn to people who naturally possess them because you remind me that I can survive them). Vision managed to reframe grief for me in a way that doesn’t lessen the pain or scale of the emotion but turns it into something more positive. It’s an honor of the love that no longer has a place to go and that’s something I don’t feel like I have to be quite as scared of. So while I don’t necessarily love the fact that writing this made me cry, I do appreciate that it and you made me feel like I could do so and sit in my feelings instead of avoiding them.

    Which brings me nicely around to my other favorite thing of the week, BTS’s Unplugged performance on MTV. From start to finish, it was a beautiful half hour of music and these 7 boys taking comfort in each other and trying to pass that on to their fans. Performance-wise, “Fix You” is pretty much perfect and I have listened to it about 50 times this week. But it was some of the smaller things that reminded me why I care about them on top of their music. It was their obvious feeling of being whole again after having to perform without Yoongi while he was recovering from shoulder surgery and the relief and joy that brought them. It was Jin noticing that Hobi looked super sad after “Fix You” and softly winking and smiling at him to make him smile. Their bond with each other is such a good example of what friendship should look like and it’s been nice to watch at a time when we’re all missing that easy closeness with other people. On top of that, it was a program that got to be experienced collectively and it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had one that felt like that, especially in a joyful way. The livetweets and Discord messages and the overwhelming feeling of love that radiated from this fanbase was its own kind of healing. I am still a little shocked at the idea that I could care about a boyband (or really any musical artist) this much again but interrogating my inner conflicts over it and being my introspective self and asking myself why these boys have just completely moved into my heart has been such a good experience even if it annoyed me that my dumb music angst decided to make a reappearance. I promise I will get around to writing that post about finding media when you need it at some point but until then, thank you for another opportunity to talk about this show and for listening to me when they are too cute not to share.

    • “Vision managed to reframe grief for me in a way that doesn’t lessen the pain or scale of the emotion but turns it into something more positive.” — Just a big ole YUP to this. But also I really resonated with what you were saying about processing grief/feelings. I told my team not so long ago that all my shelving is full for compartmentalization and I am actually left with no choice but to sit in the emotions/pain/grief until it passes through me or I am able to pass through it because I literally have no room or capacity to carry it.

      I knew you were going to talk about BTS and I loved the cover of Fix You just to hear those falsetto tracks harmonized. I think your connection to them is so pure, and there is so little in our current world that is pure, try though we all are to keep connection alive and nurtured. I am often astonished when I am so deeply invested in someone or people who I have no tangible connection to, but as you beautifully breakdown – that connection is no less real. The investment is on a human level that I think is sometimes too easily dismissed. And you know me. I am hear for anything/anywhere/anyway that invokes joy.

    • First of all, this comment makes me cry every time I read it, so that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally respond! I love you more than words and I am so proud of you for letting yourself sit for a little while with such big feelings and opening yourself up to sharing them.

      Vision is right—grief is more than just constant pain. It’s also love. It can be big and scary and it’s good to acknowledge that part of it, but it’s also something we need to let ourselves feel because it’s how we know that we’re capable of continuing to feel even when the emptiness threatens to pull us under. The way this show was able to distill such a complex, nuanced interpretation of one of the most difficult emotions to process and talk about astounds me.

      As someone who has only ever known big feelings, I love this show for giving those big feeling the spotlight. Because, like Wanda said, those feelings can feel like they’re going to drown us sometimes. (That line reading might actually be my favorite in the whole episode because she seems so sure of it, which breaks my heart but then leads so beautifully into Vision’s comfort and Wanda’s ultimate story of not being drowned.) But allowing ourselves to feel them, confront them, and work through them (and talk about them!) is the only way we can stay standing. Because by feeling the big, bad feelings, we also open ourselves up to the big, good ones and the idea that the good and bad often can’t exist without each other. The fact that this is a Marvel show about feelings never fails to make me giddy just thinking about it.

      Another thing that never fails to make me giddy is your love for BTS. Watching you embrace this part of yourself after so long has been such a joy to watch. It’s everything fandom should be and everything music should be, and I’m just so thrilled these boys are giving you joy and light and that you’re sharing that joy and light with us.

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