Warning: SPOILERS ahead for WandaVision episode 8!
Agatha Harkness’ (Kathryn Hahn) mother makes her debut in WandaVision episode 8, and the woman has a compelling connection to Scarlet Witch. Though Agatha only refers to the fellow witch as “mother,” the character is listed as Evanora Harkness in the episode’s credits. Played by Kate Forbes, Evanora serves as the leader of a witch coven residing in 1693 Salem. When Agatha crosses the line with her use of Dark Magic, Evanora exhibits her version of the Salem Witch Trials. Her actions then set off a chain of events allowing Agatha to be a dangerous foe for Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) in the present timeline.
Episode 8, titled “Previously On,” additionally focuses on Agatha pushing Wanda to confront her past as she demands answers on how the Avenger is controlling Westview. Despite pulling some strings, Agatha is having trouble understanding Wanda’s magical capabilities. The witch forces Wanda to relive key moments from her past to uncover the truth surrounding the grief-stricken woman’s powers. By diving into her past, WandaVision retcons Scarlet Witch’s origins by confirming she had powers from a very young age.
“Previously On” unearths several major answers regarding Wanda’s motivations in creating the Hex around Westview. The episode also expands the lore of the key characters in focus by exploring backstories. Though viewers nailed the prediction of Agnes truly being Agatha, it was important to get a glimpse of her past. In doing so, WandaVision introduced enthralling elements into the MCU and yet another powerful witch in the form of Evanora.
Evanora only appears in one scene, but the woman is given a chance to showcase her immense powers as a witch. After Agatha is dragged through the woods by fellow witches, she’s secured to a wooden post. Evanora uses a spell to produce energy handcuffs to suppress her daughter’s ability to escape. The coven accuses Agatha of betraying the others by using Dark Magic and stealing detrimental knowledge. As a consequence of her actions, the witches attempt to execute her. Unlike the red and purple energy beams used by Scarlet Witch and Agatha, the coven’s magic is blue.
At first, it seems Agatha is in great pain as the energy beams hit her body. Her own power then reverses the beams, sucking the power from the coven members. Evanora then joins in by tapping into her blue magic in an effort to kill Agatha and save her coven with some sort of Avada Kedavra spell. The coven’s collective powers, however, are no match for Agatha’s potential. The spells end up being less powerful than Dark Magic, allowing Agatha to kill every coven member, including her own mother. Evanora’s decision to execute her own daughter mirrors Karl Mordo’s stance on eliminating rogue sorcerers in Doctor Strange. Like the coven leader, Mordo sets out to protect magic use that he deems acceptable. In doing so, he ends up turning on his own allies.
Evanora Harkness isn’t a direct character from Marvel Comics, indicating the name was created for WandaVision. In fact, Agatha’s comic book arc doesn’t include a motherly figure. The show’s depiction of the powerful witch has already taken liberties in terms of an origin story. Unlike WandaVision, which suggests Agatha’s life began a short time before the Salem Witch Trials, the comic book version was around centuries before the sinking of Atlantis. With her age, a mother would be a distant memory seeing as she didn’t come to play in Agatha’s various arcs as an ancient witch.
That said, Evanora shares similarities with Zhered-Na, a sorceress from Atlantis known for practicing White Magic. Her physical appearance in the comics is strikingly similar to Evanora’s look in WandaVision. The character also possessed a mystical book called the Tome of Zhered-Na, which held her magical scrolls. The mention of Agatha’s stolen knowledge could be a link to Evanora’s book and the artifacts kept in Agatha’s basement. Evanora may also be a clever nod to The Wicked Witch of the East, who shared the same name in Oz the Great and Powerful. An Easter egg connected to the particular movie was revealed ahead of the WandaVision premiere.
Instead of accusing Agatha of being a witch, she’s set to be executed for using Dark Magic. This, of course, is a much different take on the history surrounding the real Salem Witch Trials. In that era, people were prosecuted and sentenced to death in Salem, Massachusetts, after being accused of using witchcraft in the early 1690s. The coven in focus aren’t presented as evil, but instead, they’re a group of women monitoring the type of magic being used. Again, this links the existence of Zhered-Na in the comics and her penchant for being a protector and guardian with her use of White Magic.
Seeing as Evanora acts as the coven’s leader, Agatha was presumably raised under her care to embrace her powers as a witch. The coven clearly had a strict set of laws to abide by, with death being the most serious punishment for breaking the rules. When Agatha drains the life from the other witches, she essentially eradicates the coven. All that Agatha held onto was her mother’s brooch. It’s unclear if she took the object as some kind of reminder of her past or a symbol of her power as the last surviving coven member.
When Agatha begins turning the tables on the coven by reversing their energy beams, Evanora has no choice but to step in. While trying to save her fellow witches, the leader uses her own magic to try to eliminate her daughter once and for all. Evanora realizes Agatha is stronger after sucking the power from the rest of the coven, so she takes her own magic up a few notches. By tapping into those elevated levels, a blue crown-like headdress appears on Evanora. The crown is made from transparent blue energy, but it connects to Scarlet Witch’s classic look.
WandaVision previously paid tribute to Wanda’s comic book costume in episode 6. Olsen’s character was dressed in a red leotard while donning a cape, opera gloves, and a crown-like headpiece. The Halloween costume was meant to mirror Scarlet Witch’s original appearance in Marvel Comics. A silhouette of the same costume is seen when Wanda unearthed her latent powers during a flashback in episode 8. Wanda’s Halloween costume could have been a recreation of the image she saw during the HYDRA experimentation. While Wanda hasn’t made the full transformation into that version of Scarlet Witch, it seems like the MCU is trying to present crown headdresses as symbols of great power among witches. It will be interesting to see if Wand gets her own crown by the end of WandaVision.