TV Review: ‘What If…?’ Episode 9

by Erik Amaya

Okay, just about all of our issues and concerns have been addressed in the What If…? season finale.

Picking up on last week’s cliffhanger, this episode does a pretty good job tying threads together and paying off some pretty unexpected things. It ever revises our reticence to accept the darkness in previous episodes, which is a remarkable thing. And though it still feels away in its far-off branch of the Mutliverse, we’re fairly happy with the results.

The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) and Dark Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) assemble a “Guardians of the Multiverse” comprised of some of the characters we’ve seen throughout the season: Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Star-Lord T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), King Killmonger (Micheal B. Jordan), and Party Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Also joining them is a Gamora (voiced by Cynthia McWilliams) who managed to kill Thanos and destroy her universe’s Infinity Stones. Their mission is to stop the Ultron’s (Ross Marquand) rampage across the Multiverse. The seeds of trouble are immediate, though, from Killmonger’s instant affinity for an Ultron drone to Dark Strange’s demonic qualities. Nonetheless, the group must bond quickly if they are to have any hope in stopping the Ultron threat.

Although, stopping may not ultimately be the main goal…

As with any of the Marvel team-ups, the real delight is in seeing personalities like Party Thor and Dark Strange either mesh or clash. It’s interesting, then, that the group more or less stays on mission with even Party Thor’s careless energy proving useful. Of course, one can’t help but wonder if the team was able to stay on-mission because there was no Tony Stark quipping and nicknaming everyone. Also, we imagine Captain Carter’s superior leadership ability proved invaluable — this is probably why Ultron sought to destroy her above any of the others in the final battle.

In fact, while there wasn’t much tension in regard to Ultron, the individual character moments proved to be the big thrill of the episode, from Killmonger’s turnabout to Strange’s ultimate decision. And, also, that sweet mid-credits stinger warmed out hearts.

Once again, Lake Bell stands out as Black Widow. She captures the character so well while also giving her just enough warmth to convey why she would be the best friend of Hawkeye, Steve, or Peggy depending on the universe. We’re glad The Watcher felt he could bend his vow enough to place her in a reality where she would be not only useful, but be able to nurture that warmth. Combined with the stinger, it means the season ends on a more hopeful note to balance out the darkness of earlier episodes.

Which brings us to The Watcher. Though he is seemingly back to his watching ways, his encounter with the heroes of the Multiverse and his final chat with Natasha suggest he will be less likely to sit back and observe the next time something truly terrible comes into something he’s watching. And if What If…? intersects with the live-action MCU in no other way, we’ll be happy to see a Watcher inclined to help in some future Marvel Studios production.

%d bloggers like this: