This story contains spoilers for all of WandaVision.
Within minutes of WandaVision’s finale dropping on Disney+ this morning, my Twitter timeline began to fill with questions about what the ending meant. After a few hours, YouTubers started posting breakdowns of what viewers might have missed. New comments flooded subreddits about how the story serves the Marvel Cinematic Universe, adding to the cascade of online discussion that’s happened every weekend, like clockwork, around the show.
WandaVision, as a streaming series tied to a massive franchise that rolled out an episode a week, turned out to be the closest thing to appointment viewing that the overcrowded television landscape has had in a while. The show wasn’t just must-see; it was also must-discuss TV. Fans watched not only to keep up with the story, but also—and perhaps more importantly—to be able to take part in the intense theorizing, meme-making, and Easter egg–hunting that tended to start even before an episode ended.
Watercooler shows such as The X-Files and Lost have been around for ages, but they began as blank slates—not as parts of massive existing universes that viewers could reference. Other programs in recent years have certainly bred a form of interactivity: True Detective, Game of Thrones, and Westworld come to mind as dramas that sparked collective, real-time theorizing. But while the creators of those series pushed back against such show-solving, WandaVision’s masterminds seemed to deliberately encourage fans to take screenshots, make GIFs, and analyze what they saw for hints into the plot. Early episodes—filmed and told in different sitcom styles—featured fake commercials that spurred viewers to figure out how the advertised products connected with Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and the Marvel films in which she appeared. The conspicuous casting of respected comedic actor Kathryn Hahn in the relatively small supporting role of Agnes galvanized viewers into guessing who Agnes might be. The name sounded suspiciously like the Marvel character Agatha Harkness—and lo and behold, she turned out to be the witch Agatha, all along. The cast teased major cameos; Paul Bettany, who stars as Vision, cheekily gave interviews all season about working with an actor he’d never worked with before, driving speculation about which A-lister across the MCU would show up to spar with him. The acting partner, it turned out, was himself.