Through most of WandaVision, Wanda was being positioned as a sympathetic villain, but now it’s entirely possible Scarlet Witch created the Hex to protect both Westview and the nexus it guards. The series finds Scarlet Witch living with her husband, Vision, in the perfect, sitcom-inspired town of Westview, New Jersey. She has a perfect, old-fashioned nuclear family, with Wanda as a happy homemaker and mother taking care of her twin boys, Billy and Tommy, while Vision works.
However, anyone who has seen Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame knows something is badly amiss, for Vision died during the events of the former and should not be alive. Wanda’s sitcom bubble is an alternate reality she’s created in her devastating grief over his loss and all the other losses she’s suffered in her life, a delusion that subconsciously became real thanks to her being a powerful, reality-warping sorceress. While Wanda lives her happy life, others in the town she controls are in pain, ripped out of their own lives and forced to play-act in Wanda’s sitcom delusion under the grip of strong mind control.
Yet the latest episode, episode 7, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” revealed Scarlet Witch isn’t actually the one behind the goings-on of Westview at all, at least, not entirely. Hints that she may not be fully in control or the one to blame started to creep into the narrative in recent episodes, and episode 7 revealed it’s actually their neighbor, Agnes, a.k.a. the witch Agatha Harkness, who has been messing with things all along. It puts everything in a new light, and with the big reveal, it suddenly becomes possible that Wanda is not Westview’s jailer but its protector.
At the end of episode 5, “On a Very Special Episode…,” Wanda and Vision finally get into their first real fight, spurred by Vision’s frustrations over feeling as though his wife is keeping secrets from him. As Vision finally vents and yells that he’s scared because he can’t remember his life before Westview or who he was, Wanda is finally pushed to confess what she’s been hiding: she can’t remember, either. At least, she can’t remember exactly how Westview started. Though she seems to have at least some foggy memories of her life before Westview, she has no memory of the Hex being created or how it all happened.
What’s more, Wanda argued with Vision that there was no possible way she’s powerful enough to control the minds and day-to-day activities of the thousands of residents inside Scarlet Witch’s magic Hex barrier, or why the neighborhood has no children. Despite her formidable abilities, she’s certain she does not yet have the abilities to accomplish all of that. It was the first indication that though Wanda may be controlling parts of Westview, she’s not controlling all of it, and she may not actually be the one terrorizing the town.
The genius of WandaVision is how cleverly it’s written, with so much of the dialogue holding layers of meaning. For that reason, the conversation between SWORD director Tyler Hayward and Monica Rambeau in episode 5 could actually be the entire key to understanding Wanda’s motivations. Despite being pulled into Wanda’s Hex and then forcefully banished after mentioning Pietro, Monica Rambeau insists that the reason she survived being blasted through the Hex by Wanda is that Wanda chose to protect her – had Scarlet Witch wanted Monica to be hurt, or even to kill her, she would have. When Hayward argues that Wanda is holding thousands of people hostage, Monica counters by saying, “And it could have been thousands more if she hadn’t put up her own quarantine. Listen, I don’t believe this is a premeditated act of aggression.” At the time, that line came across as nothing more than a woman responding with sympathy to Wanda’s grief and with a belief in the goodness of the former Avenger. Now, however, it may mean much more.
To date, there hasn’t yet been an explanation directly given as to why Wanda refuses to leave the Westview bubble. It’s been assumed by audiences her refusal to leave is because she knows that if they cross the safe boundaries of the Hex, Vision will die again. However, it’s never explicitly stated that’s the reason why. It’s true Wanda says, “Trust me, you don’t want to know” when he asks what’s beyond the barriers of Westview, but it’s entirely possible that keeping Vision alive is merely an incidental bonus of the Hex but not the main reason for its creation. It could very well be that Wanda either knows or senses they can’t leave Westview for a different reason entirely, one Monica already stumbled upon without realizing it: Wanda is serving as a protector to the people of Westview and her Hex bubble is the only thing containing something much worse, likely related to Agatha. Every time she snaps at the idea of leaving Westview, it’s not because she doesn’t want her world to be torn apart, but because she subconsciously knows she’s the only thing keeping the world at large from being torn apart.
Episode 7’s fake commercial for a depression drug called “Nexus” got Marvel theorists working overtime as the idea of a nexus ties directly to Scarlet Witch in two ways: One, in the comics, Scarlet Witch is what’s considered a Nexus Being, a rare, powerful being with the ability to warp and alter time and reality. They are incredibly powerful beings but also incredibly dangerous, as their abilities have the potential to literally break the multiverse. Two, it could also refer to the Nexus of All Realities, a powerfully mystical spot where the walls between worlds are thin and passage between realities is possible. There are other additional portals in the comics, each one with its own guardian assigned to protect it and ensure that nothing too dangerous or destructive crosses over into other worlds.
Marvel Studios, however, hasn’t been overly concerned with exact faithfulness to the comics, choosing instead to adapt pieces of storylines to capture their spirit rather than paint-by-number adaptations of comic book elements. It would be entirely in line with MCU protocol to merge the concept of Nexus Beings and portal guardians into one kind of entity – an entity that Scarlet Witch may very well prove to be. The current speculation is that Westview is an MCU nexus point offering a deep well of magical energies. Scarlet Witch using her vast powers to protect the nexus, rather than being the villain, is right in line with the ideas first generated in the comics. What’s more, it would be more in character with Wanda’s nature.
Though it was revealed that Agatha Harkness is behind it all, it doesn’t entirely remove Wanda’s agency. She’s still plenty powerful, powerful enough to expand the Hex bubble and transform people within its walls into sitcom characters. However, with the previous episode showing that magical tendrils appear to be absorbing and transferring magical energy into Agatha’s basement – and the mysterious book it holds – it seems increasingly clear that Agatha is sucking up magical energy from the town. Whether she’s siphoning it from the townspeople or the potential nexus, Agatha has entrenched herself in Westview for a reason.
Though it’s unclear exactly how the Westview sitcom bubble started, it’s Agatha who has been pulling the strings. She seemingly overpowered Wanda in her basement, zapping Wanda with mystical purple energy, but Wanda is still mighty powerful. It could be a situation in which each witch is equally powerful and thus canceling each other out: Agatha has created the sitcom world to try to keep Wanda docile, but Wanda is too powerful to fully subdue. Conversely, Wanda couldn’t fully defeat Agatha Harkness without putting the people of Westview in danger, so she compromised by throwing up the Westview Hex to trap and contain Agatha. In essence, they may be having a magical Mexican standoff, with neither witch fully strong enough to go through the other. Thus, they’re at a stalemate.
This silent battle of sorcery could very well explain why mind control hurts the people of Westview, as well. Historically, Wanda’s mind control and illusion casting powers have left her targets deeply emotionally shaken, but there have been no indications that it hurts. However, if two powerful witches were magically fighting for dominance over the town, that tug-of-war could very well be playing out in the heads of the townspeople. It would also explain the glitches that are appearing around Westview – as each witch expends more energy, their focus and powers start to waver.
Though WandaVision seems to be borrowing heavily from the “House of M” storyline in the comics, in which Wanda has a mental breakdown after the loss of her children, it’s never sat quite right with a number of people. Wanda has historically been treated unfairly in the comics, often painted as an emotional, unstable liability. It would be a disservice to her character to continue that in the MCU. Wanda not being able to handle her grief and turning into a villain who essentially tortures people who get what she wants would be not only out of character but also deeply disrespectful to the character growth she’s had in the movies.
Wanda being a hero, however, would do her character justice and reframe her in the context of having the strength and agency she’s often shorted in the comics. What’s more, it would make more sense given a conversation she has with the twins in WandaVision when their pet dog, Sparky, is killed. Wanda realizes the boys are about to age themselves up to escape their grief. Immediately, she stops it. “Do not age yourselves up. The urge to run from this feeling is powerful,” she tells her boys. “I know.” When they ask her to bring Sparky back, she explains to them, “There are rules in life. We can’t rush aging just because it’s convenient…and we can’t reverse death, no matter how sad it makes us. Some things are forever.” Though it could be read as a moment of parental hypocrisy, her words aren’t the words of a woman who can’t handle feeling pain and won’t accept Vision’s death. Rather, they are the words of a woman who is deeply grieving for everything she has lost but who understands and accepts that certain things can’t be undone.
In that light, Wanda being a hero of the story, rather than the villain, makes more sense. There are still a number of mysteries to be solved and questions to be answered in WandaVision, not the least of which is how exactly the Westview Hex barrier started. But with Agatha Harkness revealed to be pulling the strings, it just may turn out that Wanda has been serving as the world’s protector and not its enemy the entire time without the audience, or Wanda herself, fully being aware of it.