Although each episode takes on the tone and setting of a different classic sitcom, one thing has remained constant throughout the Disney+ series WandaVision: Kathryn Hahn’s show-stealing performance as Agnes, the nosey neighbor. In every new incarnation of domestic farce experienced by the Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and her husband Vision (Paul Bettany), Agnes has burst in as a chaotic, but ultimately good-hearted, force.
That is, until the end of episode seven. Realizing that her twin sons are missing, Wanda goes to investigate Agnes’s house, where she follows strange purple energy in the basement and finds an arcane tableau of candles and books. Only then does Agnes reveal her true identity. Unlike Wanda and Vision’s other neighbors, she is not a townsperson magically changed into a broad character in a sitcom alternate reality. She isn’t even called Agnes. “The names Agatha Harkness,” Agnes declares, her eyes shimmering with purple light; “Lovely to finally meet you, my dear.”
The reveal caught even longtime Marvel Comics readers like me by surprise. After all, with the exception of a witch Halloween costume she wore in episode six, Agnes has had nothing in common with comic book portrayals of Agatha. In the pages of Fantastic Four and Avengers, Agatha Harkness was a spindly, elderly woman, dressed in a blue dress and purple shawl, and never seen without her familiar, a shapeshifting black cat called Ebony. And where Agnes has been nothing but a goofy delight, Agatha declared in her initial adventure, “Humor has never been my forte.”
More importantly, Agatha Harkness, for all her interest in the dark arts, has always been an ally to superheroes, especially to Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlett Witch. The Agatha of WandaVision, as a wonderful montage set to a peppy Munsters-esque number put it, has been behind all the trouble in the series.