Wanda sits on yellow couch in tears as Vision kneels beside her in his work clothes.
©Marvel Studios 2021.

WandaVision's huge line will restore your hope in 2021

Pain is part of the story

In episode 8, Vision asks a grieving Wanda, "It can't all be sorrow, can it?" 

His question, though innocent, lingers in the air for the audience. We too want a resolution. We want to see Wanda and Vision reunited without outside forces pulling them apart. And their story reflects our inner longings for respite from the tide of pain from 2020.

It can't be all pain, right?

Well, we can't avoid pain or engineer an alternate reality like Westview. Pain is part of the story.

When I had taught Language Arts to middle schoolers, I'd offer a challenge every year....

"I've got a bet for you."

::students lean in::

"If you can find one example of a narrative, a real story, that has no conflict or pain, I'll personally give you a $20 bill."

::gasps and excitement::

Some would bring cookbook excerpts the next day and shout, "Look, Mr. Hopkins!! There's no conflict in these words!"

I'd feign defeat for two seconds, and then return, "Where's the narrative? The protagonist? The storyline?" They'd pause and realize, It's isn't a story.

I offered that bet for close to a decade and no student could find an example. Now, I'm sure there may be some weird story out there with zero conflict, but...what's the fun in that? Who cheers for a hero that only has to take one step to achieve their quest?

My students realized conflict creates story. Ask any scriptwriter and they'll tell you all about the "inciting incident" which injects conflict and propels the protagonist into their journey.

Eden is always disrupted.

Likewise, our stories have pain and grief. Otherwise, we can't grow, change, become stronger.

Pain's part Wanda and Vision's story. My story. Your story. Even the life of Jesus (don't worry, I'll tie it all in). 😉

Set the scene

A key line from episode 8 of WandaVision arrested Marvel fans and writers. It's a true example of catharsis and stellar scriptwriting which reflects the times.

Here's why this key line is central to the show's storyline, and why it made such an impact on me.

Psst...what follows are some episode 8 spoilers. I promise not spoil major plot points for the show as a whole.

Up to this point, we could tell something has been amiss with Wanda. Anyone who's seen the Avengers series knows Wanda has much to grieve. But, episode 8 shows us the deeper origins of her grief.

Without spoiling key scenes in the episode, let's just say the viewer gets to walk with Wanda through some past grief.

And here's the key flashback: Wanda is watching a 90's comedy sitcom in her room when Vision materializes through her wall. He sits next to her, knowing she's having a hard time with the loss of Pietro, her brother (aka Quiksilver),  killed by Ultron.

They both watch the sitcom for a beat, when a porch collapses on the father character in the show. Vision, alarmed, asks Wanda if he's okay. 

Wanda's reply: “It's not that kind of show.” 

This line – I believe – is key foreshadowing. Like 2020, WandaVision has been filled with loss, grief, and separation....maybe, just maybe, this show (and 2021) will have a happier resolution.

And I believe this why the following line hit audiences so hard.

Wanda stares teary-eyed at Vision.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios' WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Wanda then confides in Vision about the “waves” of grief hitting her. Vision, as a synthetic being, does not know human attachment, loss, and grief. But he's concerned. His dear friend shares how the grief may "drown" her.

At first, Wanda begins to close herself to Vision's comfort and counsel. But Vision opens up about his life experiences and, that being a synthetic human, he can't feel what she's feeling.

Then, Vision lovingly challenges his friend that grief won't win in the end:

“No, it won’t. It can’t all be sorrow, can it? I’ve always been alone, so I don’t feel the lack. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never experienced loss because I’ve never had a loved one to lose. But what is grief, if not love persevering?


That final line hit so hard for several reasons:

  • Narrative Catharsis:

    We know Vision will later die at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, leaving Wanda to grieve his loss. The audience feels this tug as a beloved character shares wisdom we know is so true for him and Wanda. It's classic dramatic irony.
  • Cultural Catharsis:

    We've been through a heck of a year (to put it mildly). I've known families who've lost loved ones from COVID, lost jobs, and lost health this past year. Endurance through grief has marked life for us.
  • Personal Catharsis:

    I lost my father in June 2020 during the pandemic. He battled a strong form of lymphoma for two years. His heart and courage during the suffering showed a persevering love. It's been a long road of healing since his passing, and I've felt those "waves" Wanda spoke about.

"But what is grief, if not love persevering?"

Great question, Vision!

Since this episode, the internet has responded:

I agree with all of these tweets, especially the last one. Though there is much vexation over what "Evangelicalism" means right now to the public, I'd like to take an impassioned look at why this theme runs closely to the heart of God and, in turn, humanity.

"Familiar with pain"

Like Vision's dialogue in this scene, the Bible is candid about human sorrow and grief. It doesn't paint it away or offer Hallmark-ready slogans to dilute it — it faces it with brutal honesty.

For instance, the famous "Suffering Servant" passage of Isaiah (written centuries before the arrival of Christ) says this about God's anointed:

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

- Isaiah 53:3-5

Rather than ignoring our pain, God leans it to it with his full heart.

In fact, the Gospel writers highlight how Jesus experienced and felt grief and sorrow:

  • He weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus.
  • He prays through exhaustion and stress.
  • He feels the sting of betrayal from a close friend.
  • He pours himself out for others, only to be rejected.
  • He loves and forgives in the midst of torment.

Isaiah had nailed it so many years before: Jesus is a "man of suffering and familiar with pain."

Love Persevering

Remember my students: They discovered pain is always part of the narrative.

And this is why Vision's statement on grief is so powerful. When he said, "But what is grief, if not love persevering?" he's right.

Love is an act of perseverance.

It's charity in action

It's gripping to hope and to each other in spite of surrounding, dark forces.

Wanda and Vision's story is one of perseverance. They fight extra-terrestrial beings and powerful antagonists to keep their love intact. We may not be fighting Thanos, but we do fight through pain and suffering each day.

And like Wanda, we have a choice:

  • Give into the waves of grief.
  • Or, persevere.

I'd like to leave you with this beautiful encouragement from the Apostle Paul:

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,

always perseveres.

- 1 Corinthians 13:3-7