Scott Hardie | February 7, 2021
I should have started this discussion a few weeks ago when the show was starting. We could have discussed some of its mysteries before it started answering its own questions. Still, it has plenty left.

What do you think of the show so far? It's hard to form much of an opinion until we know where it's going, because it starts off so weird. I read somewhere that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a much more straightforward action-adventure series and was planned to premiere first, but delays in the films caused it to be moved back, which resulted in the first Marvel Studios show being the very weird WandaVision. There's no way that Marvel could have wanted this one to go first. But the show is a hit, judging from how much discussion there is about it online, so I'm glad that people are digging it, and I assume that I'm not the only TC author who's watching it.

Any predictions about where this is going? I can make a few, but I'll hold off until others have a chance to say.

One thing that I haven't seen mentioned online yet: In the last episode, Jimmy Woo referred to "Captain Marvel." I wasn't aware that anyone in-universe called her that name. I thought it was just a nickname that Nick Fury tried to give her in her own movie, set thirty years ago, that no one else would know. It's quite a stretch to think that Fury would have talked about her to people at S.H.I.E.L.D. with that nickname and Woo would have picked it up that way. Did I miss something?

Samir Mehta | February 7, 2021
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Erik Bates | February 9, 2021
I just started watching over the weekend. Watched the first episode and thought it was pretty good. Quirky, and I'm interested to see where it goes. I've managed to avoid spoilers.

Matthew Preston | February 9, 2021
SPOILERS AHEAD (AKA, Erik - stop reading):

Scott - Your explanation about delays makes sense. I had commented to myself recently that this was a bizarre show to begin the Marvel television universe with, and I had my doubts. I've been pleasantly surprised and am enjoying it immensely so far. I think you mentioned after this show was announced, something along the lines of, "Is this something that any of us even wanted to see?" My answer was "nope" at the time, but I'm glad to see they are taking this seriously (as in, not just camp, but a planned story arc).

Samir - You and I are in agreement on just about everything here. I also expect this as a one-season show. Because of the multiverse being introduced on a large scale, I fully expect the end of this season to be the narrative bridge into the next Dr. Strange movie (which Wanda is in). The multiverse opens up infinite story-telling possibilities, one or more of which I think they'll take advantage of. Things like:
- The Westview "Hex" is actually already in a different multiverse, thus negating any real canon.
- Pietro is from the X-Men multiverse, brought into ours, meaning that everything from the Fox movies becomes canon (sort of). If the rumors are true about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield being in the next Spider-man film, the possibilities are endless here.

I could also see something completely different happening and that Evan Peters is just a neat cameo to tease the inevitable inclusion of Fox mutants. Regardless, as the last 10 years of Marvel films showed, Kevin Feige and folks are continuing episodic story-telling with a plan up front of how things will go (the exact opposite of the Star Wars universe - although The Mandalorian is making up for lost opportunities).

Erik Bates | February 17, 2021
Finally caught up through the Halloween episode. I was very torn from the first episode, but based on what I had heard, I decided to push on. I'm just happy that the sitcom vibe had a purpose.

Samir, I had to do a little cursory digging to understand what you meant by Phase 4. I'm a Marvel fan, to be sure, but didn't realize that Phase 4 was a thing! In reality, though, I tend to be the type that doesn't look for deeper meaning or subplots in shows, and just enjoy most of them at a surface level. I honestly think I have a little attention deficit issues that just doesn't allow my brain to process much more.

That being said, I enjoy reading about the subplots and nuance (so thanks to all of you!), because I also despise having nuance force fed to me by the shows themselves.

Did any of that make sense?

Scott Hardie | February 19, 2021
Spoilers from episode 7, out today.................

On the MCU leveraging existing stories to tell others: Yes, I appreciate the cleverness of their world-building. Occasionally there's a downside when existing characters like Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, and Darcy Lewis all wind up working together (really? are there so few people in the world that the ones we know keep running into each other?), but the efficiency makes some of these stories possible to tell.

On this being a one-season show: Yes, I expect all of the MCU shows (except the anthology series What If) to be single-season shows. They will probably all have their own beginning-middle-ending structure, with hooks to connect them to the rest of the MCU, and that's a good thing; stories should go somewhere instead of spinning their wheels forever. I intend to think of each MCU show as just another MCU movie, chopped into 25-minute segments. I'm sure that if any of them turn out to be an especially big hit and there's another good story to tell with the characters, Disney will produce a second season, but I don't expect this to happen.

On the area outside the Hex being distorted reality too: I hadn't noticed that tonal change. It's certainly possible. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

On Pietro being from the Fox universe: I'm really glad that this turned out to be a fake-out. It was hinted last week when the guy acted like a jerk (nothing like the Fox character) and knew things he shouldn't, and confirmed this week. I like my universes separate. Make a multiverse, sure, and even cast recognized actors in the same "parts" as a joke, but keep the walls between them intact. (That is to say, if Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield appear as alternate-universe Spider-Men in the next film, they're just other versions of the character, not necessarily *the* versions that we saw in five films.) I don't usually have patience for fan arguments over canonicity in fictional universes, but the idea of mixing these film universes bothers me. I think part of it is that I love the Marvel Studios films because they're so consistently excellent, and the Fox and Sony films are very much not. :-\

On Erik making sense: Yes, you did. :-) You shouldn't need to know about Marvel's future plans to enjoy its current releases. Speaking of which...

Tragic Comedy notwithstanding, I really need to stop reading about this show online, and future MCU shows. There are just too many spoilers. I never read about episodes before I get a chance to watch them (Friday morning is a minefield online), but I have been reading reviews and fan discussion after each episode, and they predict way too many things correctly for me to get full enjoyment out of the show. I got nothing out of the Agatha Harkness reveal, for instance, because I'd seen it predicted dozens of times; on my own I would not have guessed that, even though I could tell that Agnes was off.

So on that note, I'm not going to make any predictions. I'm just going to keep enjoying what Marvel Studios is serving up as it comes, because they're on fire.

Is this a great rebuke to the Netflix shows or what? Many of them were so bloated, spinning their wheels as they tried to pad out 6-7 episodes' worth of plot over the contractually-obligated 13 episodes each season. This show is much tighter and economic, even with the offbeat early episodes that were more about world-building and establishing a tone, and I expect the other MCU shows to be the same way. I read somewhere that Markus and McFeely (screenwriters of Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame) faced an increasingly daunting amount of material to cover in each film, and so they set a ground rule for themselves that every scene had to advance multiple story lines and sub-plots, because there wasn't a minute of screen time to waste. This sensibility feels like it has been absorbed into the house brand as the MCU has grown with endless crossovers and cross-pollinating of characters from each others' stories. Keeping up with the ever-growing MCU feels like watching one of those crazy team juggling acts where they just keep tossing more and more and more objects into the air without dropping any.

Erik Bates | February 22, 2021
I got nothing out of the Agatha Harkness reveal because, as Pam and I both said to each other when it was revealed, "Who's that? Should we know her?"

That aside, I love Kathryn Hahn, mostly from her bit part in Parks and Rec.

Scott Hardie | February 27, 2021
Here's a fun article about the show's songwriters. I love that "Agatha All Along" song!

And the Times also has a pretty good piece by the TV critic who points out how a show about a woman burying her loneliness and grief by disappearing into comforting television shows is accidentally a pretty good metaphor for 2020/2021.

It's a really minor thing, but I love the makeup change on Kathryn Hahn in the final scene of episode 8. She looks like a different person. It's crazy how transformative makeup can be.

Matthew Preston | February 28, 2021
While I am also a fan of the "Agatha All Along" song, I'm confused here. It turns out that it wasn't Agatha all along... Wanda really was conjuring everything, but Agatha noticed and wanted to discover her power? Don't get me wrong, it's a great finishing story arc for this narrative, but it doesn't seem like Agatha was controlling things, rather just incognito and along for the ride. What am I missing?

Samir Mehta | February 28, 2021
[hidden by request]

Matthew Preston | February 28, 2021
Oh yeah, that makes a lot more sense. Rewatching that scene after your comment, Samir, clears it up. Thanks!

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