In WandaVision’s third episode, the devil really is in the details

It’s just a jump to the left and a step to the right for Wanda and Vision, who have time warped from the ‘50s and ‘60s to the 1970s.

The third episode picks up right where the last ended: Wanda is pregnant, but she and Vision are still trying to figure out how they ended up in their perfect suburban life together with no past memories. It’s a wackier installment than the first two episodes, but it’s also key to piecing together what might play out over the next six weeks — including what it could possibly mean for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

[With that said, here is your spoiler alert for WandaVision’s third episode.]

If the beginning of WandaVision’s third episode sets up that something isn’t right, as Vision tells Wanda when they realize how quickly she’s running through her pregnancy, it’s the end of the episode that hammers that point home. The arrival of twin boys, a reference to Age of Ultron, a necklace, and a security base just outside of Wanda’s fictional world all provide some clues as to where the series may take us, and which comics it’s pulling from.

Let’s start with Monica Rambeau. She’s an agent of S.W.O.R.D., the intelligence agency that was hinted at in the first episode, but her appearance in the episode brings more questions than answers. Is Monica watching over Wanda to ensure the Scarlet Witch doesn’t destroy reality while trapped in her own prism? Or is she trying to help Wanda escape the fake world she’s created for herself? Possibly both! Even though Wanda doesn’t recognize her, it’s Monica who helps deliver her twin boys — Tommy and Billy.

This is pretty important. Thomas and William Maximoff were originally introduced in the comics as Wanda and Vision’s children. At least, that’s what Wanda and Vision thought. Tommy and Billy were merely constructs, created via magic using her mutant abilities. In order to give her sons proper souls, Wanda used life fragments from a villain named Mephisto, who later devoured the babies to regain control of the fragmented souls embedded in their bodies.

Who is Mephisto?

For those who may not remember Ghost Rider, Mephisto is an old Marvel comic book character. In the comics, Mephisto is a demonic devil-of-sorts who has caused trouble for a number of characters, including Doctor Strange, Wanda Maximoff, and even Doctor Doom. His possible appearance could become another crux to all of WandaVision and help set up a way for Doctor Strange to appear in the show as Disney executives have previously announced.

After debuting in Vision and the Scarlet Witch in 1986, it’s not until 1989 and a storyline in West Coast Avengers that the twins die and our speculation starts. Mephisto is the person who effectively absorbs Wanda’s fictional children, leaving her in an unbelievable amount of emotional pain. (Actually, the twins were absorbed through a villain named Master Pandemonium, but he was effectively operating under the control of Mephisto, so we’ll skip over the beautiful but often frustrating intricacies of comic book story lines and try to stay on course.)

Although we have not seen Mephisto in WandaVision, having Tommy and William enter the show at a time when Wanda is creating a fictional universe for herself in a subconscious that people are trying to break through seems to suggest that Mephisto will appear. Which brings us to our next character in this Inception-like layer of intermingling alternate realities: Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes, Wanda’s next-door neighbor.

The Agatha connection

If it seems like Agnes isn’t really an innocent bystander in this situation, that’s because she probably isn’t. In the new episode, Agnes is seen wearing a very particular necklace. It’s similar to the necklace worn by Agatha Harkness in the comics. Harkness is a witch — actually portrayed as one of the original witches in the Salem Witch trials back in 1692. Although she suffers a terrible tragedy, she becomes best known for two things. The first is becoming a protector-of-sorts of Franklin Richards, son of Sue and Reed Richards, members of the Fantastic Four. Longtime fans will know where this is headed, but Agatha Harkness also played a very specific role in Wanda’s life after Mephisto absorbed her twins, and continued to do so long after.

Following the traumatic absorption of her children in the comics, Wanda has her mind wiped by Harkness in Avengers West Coast. It’s easier to erase her memory than trying to save the children by removing them from Mephisto. Grim! (Don’t worry, they return in a new form as members of the Young Avengers named Wiccan and Speed). In the comics, however, Harkness also becomes a mentor to Wanda, teaching her to harness her hex powers.

My assumption is that Frank, the husband Agnes keeps referencing in the first two episodes, is actually Mephisto. Remember her line about wanting to make her husband disappear in the second episode while Vision is performing his magic trick? In that same episode, when Wanda and Agnes’ neighbor Bev remarks, “the devil’s in the details,” Agnes jokingly replies, “that’s not the only place he is.” Mephisto is often referred to as the devil within Marvel comics. It could be nothing, but it could also be foreshadowing.

The bigger speculation is what this is all leading up to. We know that whenever Wanda realizes that’s something out of place, she has the ability to adjust her world to her liking. When she begins talking about her brother Pietro at the end of the episode, which causes Monica to slip up and ask Wanda if he was killed by Ultron, Wanda uses her powers to physically throw Monica out, back into the real world, onto S.W.O.R.D.’s base. Earlier I asked if Monica is keeping an eye on a dangerous Wanda or trying to help. It seems like Wanda is trapped inside her own subconscious, where Mephisto wants her to be, until the children start to show mutant abilities. Then, he can absorb them and their powers. Mephisto could be controlling Wanda within her own universe by letting her play out the fantasy life she wanted.

Again, this is Marvel. Specifically, this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show may be a self-contained story, but it’s playing into the bigger picture. This time around, the bigger picture is…

Doctor Strange promotional image

Image: Marvel Studios

…folks, it’s Doctor Strange

Look, not everything has to build up to Doctor Strange, but at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, things are building up to a multiverse centered around Doctor Strange. Mephisto and Doctor Strange have had multiple encounters in the comics and have played around with the multiverse narrative.

Plus, at one point in the comics, Doctor Strange literally steps into a version of hell to save the Fantastic Four from Mephisto — so if that’s not everything coming together nicely for Marvel’s next phase, I don’t know what is. I mean, one of Mephisto’s most famous storylines involves Peter Parker, and we know Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is connected to Spider-Man 3 thanks to Kevin Feige’s recent confirmation. Mephisto could be part of the connective tissue.

There’s still a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how Jimmy Woo or Darcy Lewis play into the story, although I’m operating under the assumption that Woo is an agent of S.W.O.R.D. following the events of Endgame. We don’t know what Monica’s main job is, and we don’t know what happened to Vision’s body — if anything — after Endgame. What we do know, however, is that WandaVision is setting up something bigger than Wanda’s never-ending dream. Marvel’s DNA is finally starting to poke through.

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