Vision vs. White Vision on Wandavision

Things We Saw Today: “The Ship of Theseus” Scene From WandaVision’s Finale Has Perfect Memes

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***Spoilers for the WandaVision finale***

One of the best moments in the WandaVision finale came when Wanda’s Vision took on the “evil” version of himself, White Vision, ultimately making White Vision pause with a philosophical thought experiment called “The Ship of Theseus.” Not only was this scene wonderfully rendered and played by Paul Bettany (as both Visions), but it has sparked a host of appreciative memes on social media.

I predicted that we’d be seeing a lot of Vision-on-Vision action in the finale, and this was somewhat the case: the two spend a while duking it out. They’re evenly matched in terms of powers and strength, however, so that neither can get the upper hand. While White Vision is driven only by his programmed directive to destroy Vision, Vision has the emotions and experience of his time with Wanda and their children fueling him. Thus he will do everything in his capacity to save them, and he soon realizes the key to stopping White Vision isn’t through violence, but by undertaking the most Vision-y of tasks—processing and thinking and theorizing.

“You are familiar with the thought experiment ‘The Ship of Theseus’ in the field of identity metaphysics?” Vision asks. “Naturally,” White Vision returns. And then they’re off, debating back and forth instead of punching each other. By the scene’s end, White Vision, memories restored, flies off since they are now agreed that he is also “Vision,” whom he has been tasking with destroying. Vision essentially defused White Vision with an old-school dose of the metaphysics of identity.

“The Ship of Theseus” is an ancient thought experiment, pondered throughout the centuries by names you might recognize like Plato, Plutarch, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes. The question at hand is whether an object (in this case the theoretical ship of the mythic hero Theseus) that has had all of its components replaced remains the same object as the original. Hobbes later added to the experiment by asking if the original materials were then used to build a second ship, which, if any, would be the original ship of Theseus?

The brilliance of this scene on WandaVision was wide-ranging. First of all, it introduced millions of people to a many-centuries-old paradox and turned an explosive confrontation into a philosophical logic-off. Secondly, it was a hard swerve away from the bombastic final fight scenes we’ve come to expect from the MCU. Wanda and Agatha’s airborne witchy battle throwing magical energy balls at each other fit that mold. But this was something new.

The Vision vs. Vision mind games were a way to resolve the conflict that was also perfectly in character. As it turns out, the inspiration here appears to come directly from the comics:

And fans really loved this different approach to a superhero/villain showdown.

Of course, on social media, the “Ship of Theseus” memes were quick to multiply.

This scene was so quintessentially Vision that it rang true and struck all the right notes. It’s difficult to imagine many other characters in the MCU pulling this off. If you want to further explore the complexities of the Ship of Theseus conundrum and how it’s debated on the show, I recommend this explainer from Josh St. Clair at Men’s Health. St. Clair starts out by observing that most WandaVision viewers “likely weren’t expecting two floating Visions to hold seminar on ancient Greek philosophy.”

Yet perhaps we should have expected such a turn from the Vision(s). I won’t make this mistake again, and it’s hard not to see how future battles will disappoint after this salvo.

This logic-based showdown will always be a standout moment from WandaVision for me and one of my favorite takeaways from the series. The other? You guessed it, that line from episode eight. Now, what if there were some way to combine them that even Vision would approve …

(image: Disney+/Marvel Studios)

Here are some other things we saw today:

  • No thoughts, only these pictures of Steven Yeun:
  • Author Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is coming to Netflix soon with Shadow and Bone! Which Grishaverse character are you, based on your sign? (via The Portalist)
  • Our forever favorite Cinderella, Brandy, has joined a new ABC sitcom coming from Scandal vet Zahir McGhee. (via Entertainment Weekly)
  • Speaking of WandaVision, lots of new merch is coming. (via Entertainment Weekly)
  • Pepe Le Pew will not be in Space Jam. (via The Hollywood Reporter)
  • The Star Trek: Voyager documentary Indiegogo campaign is moving at warp speed! (via Comicbook.com)

And finally:

What did you see out there today?


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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.