Splainin to do

WandaVision theory: Video games (not sitcoms) explain how the show will end

Is Wanda secretly a game dev?

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Six episodes in, WandaVision is still cloaked in mystery.

The mechanics of Westview, dubbed "The Hex" by Darcy Lewis, are still too lofty for S.W.O.R.D. and the audience to understand, but Episode 6 did reveal some key aspects to the town to show the scale of Wanda's control. Even in the outskirts of Westview, people are strange all over — just in a different way. In fact, the best way to explain what's happening might be with video games — and that's not where the similarities end.

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When Vision reaches the edge of town near Ellis Avenue (presumably named after President Ellis,) there are still people in the town, but they're acting weird —even by WandaVision standards. They either stand still or act in a loop like human GIFs. These people are trapped, but instead of being trapped in "their own families, in better jobs" as Pietro puts in, they're trapped in the same three seconds, over and over.

Vision observes one lopping woman shed a single tear, bringing to mind images of those trapped without bodily autonomy in movies like Get Out. What started as a happy sitcom fantasyland is quickly becoming a nightmare prison for innocent civilians. But what comes next? To understand, it helps to think of the citizens of Westview as characters in a video game.

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Wanda is a Game Dev

Wanda surrounded by her own NPCs.

Marvel Entertainment

For many gamers, these people living these weird loops bring to mind one term: NPCs (short for non-player characters). Like the background characters in a video game, these people don't provide a purpose for the plot, they're basically glorified set dressing. While that's all fine when they're just villagers you pass by in Skyrim, in WandaVision, all these NPCs are real people with lives and thoughts and personalities.

In fact, every person in Westview (aside from the Vision collective family) is an NPC, just some are more active than others. So why do these NPCs on the outskirts act this way? There's a simple answer — rendering optimization.

In video game development, there's a term called occlusion culling. This is the practice of not rendering assets that aren't viewable to the player's camera in order to cut down on unnecessary work. WandaVision also involves a "camera" for the show-within-a-show, and Wanda controls Vision's location so she can focus on what's surrounding him. (This is evidenced by Wanda sending Vision to work during the weekend in Episode 5 so he'll stop asking questions.)

So it stands to reason that Wanda can focus her powers on everyone surrounding the "playable characters" and leave everyone outside those bounds trapped in limbo. This explains Wanda arguing she's not nearly powerful to control everyone in the entire town. She doesn't have to be, she just has to control the people in her immediate vicinity.

Westview Expands

The expanding Hex swallows a S.W.O.R.D. car.

Marvel Entertainment

At the end of WandaVision Episode 6, Wanda pushes the bounds of Westview to cover the surrounding area including the S.W.O.R.D. base and Darcy Lewis. While this is a last-ditch effort to save an escaping (and dying) Vision, it leaves Wanda in a quandary. She now has to control a much larger world, a world that could take an exhausting amount of power just to run on even the lowest graphics setting.

Westview is now an open-world game. That means more NPCs, and more importantly, more traumatized civilians. What started as just a strange local phenomenon is now becoming a huge volatile hostage situation that poses a threat to the entire state of New Jersey, and maybe beyond. What's more, there's going to be even more of these looped NPCs, and possibly even glitches or slowed frame rates as the Hex continues to expand.

The "video-gamification" of WandaVision may seem to come out of nowhere, but it's actually par for the course for Disney+ shows. The Mandalorian, Disney's first previous big streaming release, is basically a series of video game sidequests for better or for worse (for better, in my opinion.) It also revolutionized a new filming technique using a massive curved screen to display locations created in Unreal Engine, a popular video game development tool created by Epic Games.

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WandaVision's Future

A dazed Agnes at the edge of Westview.

Marvel Entertainment

With the NPC comparison too tempting not to make at this point, perhaps Wanda will move on from the regular TV show format and try something more fitting of her evolving domain. After covering The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Full House, then Malcolm in the Middle this episode, and looking poised to cover The Office and Modern Family in Episode 7, the logical solution is to completely ditch the television format by the time we reach the finale in Episode 9.

This doesn't mean another external-world-focused chapter like Episode 4. Instead, Wanda's open-world game will be streamed live on Twitch — or the S.W.O.R.D. equivalent. Westview is Wanda's own game of Sims and she'll drown whoever she wants in a pool by deleting the ladder. All we can hope is that Darcy Lewis can resist her control and work with Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo, and their mystery new ally to subdue Wanda into releasing her NPC hostages. It's hard to negotiate with an Avenger, and it's even harder when that Avenger is an angry mom.

WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.

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