Editor’s note:This post contains spoilers for WandaVision.
Everyone deals with grief differently. Some express their emotions openly, while others seemingly show no emotions at all. What happens, however, when a person experiences repeated trauma? How does someone cope when they are hit with wave after wave of tragedy? WandaVision showcases the perils of trying to deny and control our grief, rather than allowing God in to help soothe our hurts.
Recently concluded on Disney Plus, WandaVision takes place shortly after Avengers: Endgame. In an attempt to protect herself from the pain of Vision’s death in that movie, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) did what many do when facing grief: she built both emotional and literal walls. Garnering solace from the sitcoms she watched as a child, such as I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show, Wanda creates an alternate reality by brainwashing the entire suburban town of Westview. She even conjures a new Vision (Paul Bettany) and casts the two of them as a witty sitcom couple. The resulting “show” initially only airs in black and white, but eventually takes on color. Each episode features the fashion and colloquialisms reminiscent of particular time periods in television history.
Despite having created a picturesque suburban existence—complete with a friendly neighbor, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn)—Wanda still finds herself in a similar position to the person described in Ecclesiastes: “. . . a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.” She tries to keep Westview running smoothly, but there are obvious cracks in Wanda’s control. “On a Very Special Episode. . . ,” the fifth installment in the series, shows what happens when Vision temporarily removes Wanda’s mind control from Norm (Asif Ali), a coworker. Norm becomes frantic as he pleads for relief from the mental pain he’s experiencing. Likewise, in “The Series Finale,” the community gathers around Wanda to express their collective pain from Wanda’s control over them. She seems genuinely shocked to learn that they have been in torment—experiencing the nightmares she herself has tried to run from.
Later in Ecclesiastes, we’re told that “two are better than one” and that we should “pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Wanda did not know who to seek in her grief. As a result, her suppressed pain bled out onto those around her. She thought hiding her pain and portraying happiness would heal her wounds, but instead she only hurt herself and the community of people around her.
TC Podcast: Family (WandaVision, Minari)
Wanda’s inability to deal with her hurts also left her vulnerable to unhealthy relationships. “Breaking the Fourth Wall” reveals that Agnes’s true identity is Agatha Harkness—an evil witch set on becoming more powerful. Agatha forces Wanda to relive traumatic events in her life, including the deaths of both her parents and her twin brother Pietro. She also witnesses Vision’s deceased body being dissected for experimentation. While working through memories of the past is an important step in healing, Wanda walks through them with someone who doesn’t have her well being in mind. Agatha only wants to capitalize on Wanda’s grief in order to manipulate her into relinquishing her powers. When trying to preserve the facade of happiness, we have a tendency to push away the people who genuinely want to see us made whole and gravitate towards those who are willing to let us suffer. Agatha even blocks S.W.O.R.D agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) from helping Wanda see the error of her ways.
At one point in WandaVision, while Wanda is grieving her brother’s death, Vision tenderly replies, “But what is grief, if not love persevering?” In 2 Corinthians, Paul remarks that the Corinthian church’s sorrow over their missteps had helped produce good fruit in their lives. God gave us emotions to help us process the world around us; we are not meant to stifle our emotions but to experience them. What would have happened if the Corinthians had ignored the conviction they felt from Paul’s rebuke? Or possibly worse, what if they allowed holy conviction to turn to condemnation? Those feelings of self-inflicted shame could have kept them stuck in their sin and unable to move forward. Thankfully, their sorrow led to repentance. In WandaVision, Wanda experiences something similar. Facing her grief alongside a trusted loved one, she acknowledges her wrongdoing in Westview, eventually releasing her control over the town.
The grief of losing a loved one is a heavy experience. Wanda tried to stifle her grief, which led her to the point of almost being drowned in her pain and taking others with her. In 2 Corinthians, Paul notes that the Corinthians were able to pursue repentance only when they “became sorrowful as God intended.” Likewise, Wanda begins the journey of healing by allowing herself to grieve and say goodbye to her Westview family. By allowing ourselves to experience the emotions involved in grief, we preserve the memory of our loved ones and take courageous steps forward towards healing. God’s love is more than capable of preserving us through every season of grief as we yield to his redemptive touch.