Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Series Finale,” the final episode of “WandaVision.”
There were a lot of things about “WandaVision” that really, really worked. But now that the series has officially come to an end, we need to talk about the one, GLARING thing that didn’t: Fietro. Because really, it should have been Pietro, actual, true Pietro, all along. At least in terms of the actor.
Yes, logically we knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was never signed onto this project; he even went so far as to outright say he wouldn’t be back in the MCU anytime soon. When Evan Peters showed up as Pietro at the end of “On A Very Special Episode,” it seemed to be a pretty clear confirmation of that fact from Marvel. Then, in “Previously On,” Agatha really drove it home, explaining exactly why she brought in “Fietro.”
“Necromancy was a non-starter since your real brother’s body is on another continent,” Agatha tells Wanda. “Not to mention full of holes.”
Okay, we get it. Pietro is dead dead. Even so, a large part of me hoped against hope that we’d still see Aaron Taylor-Johnson return. He didn’t necessarily have to be alive, just…there. Realistically, it would have better served Wanda’s story.
Wanda’s relationship with Pietro is a core part of her character. He was her other half, and when he died, it felt like she died. (As she very explicitly demonstrated for Ultron by ripping his “heart” out as Sokovia’s metropolis perished).
Wanda never got to say goodbye to her brother. He was ripped away from her in battle. It’s logical to assume she got to give him a burial, but it happened off-screen, so we don’t know for sure. At no point has it been explicitly shown that Wanda got closure. We saw in “Previously On” how Wanda’s loss of control — leading to the creation of the Hex — was fueled, at least in part, by her lingering grief for Pietro. In fact, the episode seems to make it clear that Vision reaching out to try and comfort Wanda formed the basis of their bond.
Which, even before we knew about the origins of Wanda’s and Vision’s bond, is one of the biggest reasons why the surprise appearance of “Pietro” felt so interesting. Was this going to be her chance to finally get the sense of peace, or at the very least, acceptance over her brother’s fate?
Then, plot twist, it was Evan Peters’ face staring back at us, not Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s. But ignoring the multiverse implications there (which ended up being, well, none), that could have worked given enough time and space. But “WandaVision” was a limited series. It had more time and space than its film counterparts, but it still had a story to keep moving.
So Peters only ended up being in “WandaVision” for roughly an episode and a half – a starring role in episode 6 and glorified cameos in episodes 5, 7, and 9. There was barely enough time to establish he wasn’t what he seemed, not that it matters, as Wanda seemed to suspect him from the start. She questioned where his accent went, she quizzed him on their past, and she was clearly ill at ease with him in every scene.
He mainly served to provide the audience with an excuse for Wanda to point-blank admit she has no idea how she pulled off the massive Westview illusion and mind-controlling of its entire population; that she only remembers a feeling of emptiness. And then, “The Series Finale” revealed, “Fietro” literally wasn’t anyone. He wasn’t Peter Maximoff from another dimension, meant to bring the X-Men and mutants into the MCU, or Mephisto, as so many had theorized, He was just a bit of stunt casting, anchored by a cheap joke (Ralph Bohner? Really guys? We’re better than this).
True, Pietro was never meant to be a starring character in this sitcom reality. He says as much in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular,” telling Wanda: “I’m just trying to do my part, okay? Come to town unexpectedly, create tension with the brother-in-law, stir up trouble with the rugrats, and ultimately give you grief.” A direct nod to the sitcom tropes he embodies but nothing much more.
Now, I realize the in-universe explanation for all of this is that Agatha was improvising different ways to gently screw with the illusion in order to shake Wanda out of her spiral, in order to learn exactly how powerful Wanda is, and how she’s maintaining her magic on such a massive scale. One of those ways included mind-controlling Ralph into being “Pietro.” That’s the story the writers wanted to tell, so those are the circumstances we have to accept.
Even so, it would have been nice for Wanda to have had a few genuine conversations with her brother — or “brother” in this case — which at the very least could have helped dive deeper into the show’s themes of grief and recovery than it ultimately did. After all, it was consistently made clear from the start of “WandaVision” that Wanda knows the Westview reality isn’t real. She knows that this Vision hasn’t been her Vision. Since she immediately knew “Pietro” wasn’t her Pietro, There’s even an argument to be made that he would’ve been better placed in a flashback. Unfortunately, that was studiously avoided, as he was legitimately cropped out of the Sokovian protest footage we first got a glimpse of in “Age of Ultron.”
And it definitely would have been compelling for his return to serve as a temporary form of solace before the reveal that he’s a fake.
But even without addressing Wanda’s trauma with and over Pietro through direct dialogue, it would have been more successfully implied simply by not wasting the character with joke-casting. Remember back in “Age of Ultron” when Ultron starts poking around for the backstory of the Maximoff twins? Pietro freely gives out the information, where Wanda is reserved. It’s only after she shares an unspoken moment with her brother that she contributes to the story. Their relationship is a rock for Wanda, to the point that she literally collapses in agony the second she senses Pietro’s death.
Just knowing that, seeing Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s face instead of Evan Peters would have lent “Pietro’s” appearance far more weight even if nothing else changed. Instead, the show wasted that possibility on a casting decision that encouraged viewers to spend more time speculating about what “Pietro” meant for alternate universes, or complex movie rights, than on taking in his actual connection to the actual story.
And for what it’s worth, it’s not like bringing in Taylor-Johnson would’ve been impossible. He could have been another sentient illusion created out of grief, like Vision — Wanda did after all make an entire fake reality for herself without even trying.
But we also saw multiple examples of people whose appearances were altered via magic, including Agatha herself, whose natural look is very much what you think of when you imagine a witch, but consistently changed for the corresponding decade. It would be easy, in terms of pre-established logistics, for someone of Agatha’s ability to mind-control someone and subsequently change them so they look like the real Pietro.
Bringing in “Fietro” robbed Wanda of any real confrontation of her grief over her brother (even with the zombified-Pietro jump scare). It only sowed confusion in what was happening, both for Wanda the character and the audience trying to game out what it all meant. And in the end, it was just a cheap joke. The show — and viewers — deserved better.