Warning: Minor spoilers for Wandavision Episode 1: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” are in play.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe came back to the masses through last weekend’s premiere of the first two episodes of WandaVision. A nine-episode odyssey into the psyche of Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda, also known as Scarlet Witch, various episodes of domestic sitcom bliss are intruded on by strange happenings that indicate not all is what it seems in the idyllic town of Westview. However, it looks like there are smaller moments that we probably should be paying attention to, or at least keeping note of for future reference, as WandaVision star and sitcom icon Debra Jo Rupp has hinted at one such scene potentially hiding right under our noses.
I was able to speak with Ms. Rupp during a press day for Disney and Marvel’s first sitcom in the MCU, and our WandaVision chat took us through some rather interesting subject matter. In between the discussions of Marvel privacy policies and how Kitty Forman from That ‘70s Show could be a fantastic villain, there was a special question I had to ask. So before I get into the answer, here’s the background on what was asked, and why it’s important.
Episode 1, entitled “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” has a moment where right after a toast between Wanda, Vision, and The Harts, Debra Jo Rupp’s Mrs. Hart is seated by Paul Bettany’s android in disguise. What’s potentially strange about this moment is the fact that he doesn’t pull out his own wife’s chair afterwards, and that’s where the questions started forming among myself and my fellow CinemaBlend puzzlers. When asked about the moment, Rupp laid out the following minefield of a comment:
I will say, for the particular chair moment, and I’m only speaking for the chair moment, I feel like that moment was put in to cover something else happening at the time. That’s what I think happened. … Honestly, if I knew, I’d probably slip. But I have this recollection that it was to mask something else that was happening at the time. So maybe you should rewind.
Now surely, it feels a bit weird that WandaVision, in the height of its Dick Van Dyke-inspired madness, wouldn’t show Vision pulling out a chair for his own wife. But if it was just that particular detail on display, we could obviously just write it off as a matter of sensible stage blocking. However, after taking Debra Jo Rupp’s suggestion and rewinding back to that scene, her comments continue to fuel the fires of speculation.
Jumping to time code 17:59 in “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” we see Paul Bettany start to pull out the chair for Ms. Rupp in a wide shot. However, there’s a rather interesting choice made in a split second after that moment, as we cut to a closeup of Elizabeth Olsen taking her seat, with Debra Jo Rupp being assisted off to the side. It’s in that moment that we do not see Bettany’s Vision occupying the frame at all, until we switch back to a wide shot that sees him returning to his own chair.
Yes, it might sound like splitting hairs, but consider the following thoughts. First, this is the moment that WandaVision launches into a scene that cascades into the first huge pivot point for the series’ balance between creepy and comedic tones. Second, and more importantly, we’ve already been encouraged to keep a close eye on what the series has to offer us. A comment about The Devil being “in the details” in Episode 2, “Don’t Touch That Dial,” has been feeding the fires that have fans feeling Mephisto might be the source of all of this madness.
Marvel Studios and its creators like to lay out breadcrumbs throughout their projects, and with WandaVision telling an entire story in nine episodes, there’s plenty of room to break bigger breadcrumbs into smaller, more deliberate morsels of connection. Of course, this could all be bunk, and Debra Jo Rupp could be playing a long con with this journalist and his wits. But surely she wouldn’t do that, would she? Would an actor admitting they want to play a villain be that devious? I guess we’ll have to heed the warnings of WandaVision’s second episode title, and leave our hands off of those dials for the time being.