TV Review: ‘What If …?’ Episode 2

by Erik Amaya

While the first episode of What If…? laid down the premise in the most straightforward way possible, the second episode takes things to new heights by expanding a “What If?” question out to the galactic scale. The result: a more complex episode with a lot of the premiere’s charm.

This time, The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) asks “What If T’Challa Was Kidnapped By The Ravagers?” and lands in a universe utterly changed by the incompetence of Yondu’s (Micheal Rooker) crew. Although, it is fair to say T’Challa (voiced one last time by the late Chadwick Boseman) makes a clear choice to alter his fate. So instead of Peter Quill, the Prince of Wakanda becomes Star-Lord. It’s a post he takes in a different direction as a sort of intergalactic Robin Hood who also seeds peace and compassion where ever he goes.

And where the first episode excelled in illustrating how the change of one person would alter the events of a specific Marvel story, this one goes for a much grander scale as T’Challa’s adventures turn Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) into the ultimate fanboy, The Collector into a legitimate threat, and Thanos into, well … a different sort of Titan. Beyond the Easter Egg and comedy value of those alterations, they very much speak to T’Challa as a character. His very presence is transformative. And though he is far less bound by Wakandan custom in his Star-Lord guise, he is still a man with a deep sense of justice. He’s just willing to use elaborate schemes to get there. Though conceived and written long before Boseman’s passing, we sense this episode will only become more poignant as the years wear on and the Marvel Cinematic Universe lacks T’Challa’s presence.

The animation continues to thrill with all of the Guardians of the Galaxy iconography adapted well into What If…?‘s house style. It does lead to some interesting design changes like Nebula’s (Karen Gillan) hair and a more buff Collector. It also makes Howard the Duck seem more at home in the MCU … not that we expect that to be followed up on any time soon.

All that said, this episode does feature a pretty strong sequel hook. But considering Boseman’s passing, we’re just as happy to see this as T’Challa’s farewell, secure in the knowledge he’s doing great things in another universe. Yes, even if it means ours is a poorer reality for his absence.

What If…? streams Wednesdays on Disney+

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