Spoilers below for the latest episode of WandaVision, so be warned!
After spending its first five episodes going from the '50s to the '80s, WandaVision officially blazed through the 1990s with its latest episode, "All New Halloween Spooktacular!" Even beyond all the big twisty moments that speak to developments in the overall MCU, the episode was pretty awesome for how much it embraced the small-town Halloween spirit, while also delivering more truly chilling moments within Westview. (I'm more than a teensy bit haunted the children who showed up just to be frozen in place.) The spot-on set design came courtesy of industry vet Mark Worthington, who worked on the first five seasons of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story, and all five seasons' standout Halloween episodes.
Even beyond American Horror Story and his work on the first season of Scream Queens, WandaVision's production designer Mark Worthington is also well-known for showcasing his talent on the acclaimed series premieres for series such as Lost, The Umbrella Academy, Watchmen, Star Trek: Discovery and more. For a horror fan like myself, Worthington's work on Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's AHS will always be a treasure, considering how memorable and detailed that show's settings and aesthetics were, particularly during the early years. When I spoke with him ahead of "All-New Halloween Spectacular!" debuting on Disney+, I asked if his years on the macabre FX hit were good practice when it came to crafting the MCU show's sixth episode, and he told me:
Wow, that is going deep. You've been watching the Horror Story. Yes, Ryan Murphy is obsessed with Halloween. It is his favorite holiday. We always did Halloween every year in some fashion or another. We literally would have four months of Halloween as we were filming different parts of Halloween episodes. It was insane. Pumpkins all over the office, and that kind of thing. So yeah, absolutely. And Kathy Orlando, the decorator on [WandaVision], was a shopper and assistant decorator on Horror Story, and so she was with us when we were doing all of Halloween. So we were both like, 'OK, we've got this.'
Having Worthington re-team with Kathy Orlando on WandaVision is a match made in heaven – or perhaps it only looks like heaven, but is actually an existential comic book hellscape birthed from magical grief. Whatever the case may be, the duo have crafted some of the most intensely studied visuals in recent TV history, made all the more enjoyable given showrunner Jac Schaeffer's creative choices in honoring television history. And the MCU's first (but hopefully not last) "Halloween Spooktacular" initially gave fans the best-case scenario for a Westview celebration with its Town Square Scare, but those good vibes quickly gave way to suburban nightmares as Vision ventured further out toward and through the Hex's first perimeter.
Mark Worthington did point out that American Horror Story's version of Halloween is on a different part of the trick-or-treat spectrum from how WandaVision's holiday fest was designed. In his words:
And the fun of this Halloween is, a Ryan Murphy Halloween is a very different animal, which is much more sort of refined and designed, and he has a very different sensibility. And [WandaVision] is much more middle-American Halloween, which was really fun to go all out with that with the inflatable stuff and all the crazy kind of kooky and tacky [decorations]. That's fun.
There was certainly nothing tacky about that one teary-eyed woman trying unsuccessfully to get her decorations put up, which makes me wonder how all those people on the outskirts of town got their decorations put up. In any case, the overall imagery took me back to the Halloweens of my childhood, which I can only assume did not involve synthezoids or brainwashed neighbors.
Will we get a Christmas episode from WandaVision before all is said and done, or will this be the MCU series' lone holiday venture on Disney+? Find out over the course of the next three Fridays, and have fun theorizing just how important it was for Quicksilver to have called the ever-mysterious Billy and Tommy "demon spawn."