REVIEW: ‘What If…?’ Episode 9

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What If Episode 9 - But Why Tho

What If…? Episode 9 weaves together plot points from the previous installments to deliver an explosive season finale. “What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath?” picks up in the aftermath of the previous episode, with Uatu the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) and Doctor Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch) assembling a team of heroes to halt Ultron’s destruction of the Multiverse. The “Guardians of the Multiverse” include Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell); T’Challa/Star-Lord (Chadwick Boseman); Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), who is now the king of Wakanda in his universe; Thor (Chris Hemsworth); and a version of Gamora who slew her father Thanos.

Longtime Marvel fans will know that despite his insistence on upholding his sacred oath, the Watcher often helps out the heroes of the Marvel Universe when the stakes are dire—and nothing screams “dire” like a malevolent artificial intelligence hellbent on wiping out everything that ever existed. Showrunner A.C. Bradley, who also penned the episode, has often referred to Uatu as the ultimate Marvel fan. A speech between the Watcher and the post-apocalyptic Black Widow (Lake Bell) reinforces this line of thinking. “You, your stories…they are everything to me,” Uatu tells Widow. Later, in a closing montage, he calls these stories his “home” and makes a new vow to protect them no matter what. Stories can inspire people, for better or worse. In Uatu’s case, these stories inspired him to save all of reality.

Said stories also pick up from the ending of previous episodes, showcasing where the characters currently are in their journeys. T’Challa stops Ego the Living Planet from using his son Peter Quill to conquer the galaxy. Peggy has adapted to modern life, working with S.H.I.E.L.D. Killmonger is seconds away from having his reign of Wakanda usurped. Even the Marvel zombies return, as Strange pulls them from their dimension to try and stop Ultron. The one dangling thread is the appearance of Gamora; supposedly, she would have appeared in an episode that was pushed back to the second season due to COVID-19 concerns. While I understand production methods have changed in the past year and a half, I feel Gamora’s appearance would have made more of an impact had we seen the said episode.

Another big draw of What If…? Episode 9 is the interplay between the different heroes. Peggy and Strange have both lost the person they loved most in the world. Peggy formed a bond with the Widow of her world and does the same with the post-apocalyptic Black Widow. T’Challa still considers Killmonger to be his cousin even though they come from different realities. Their various skills come in handy while battling Ultron, with director Bryan Andrews combining various powersets for some visually impressive fight scenes. Strange’s spells help the heroes survive and provide an edge against Ultron—he even casts a duplication spell on Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, leading to Ultron being pummeled by a literal storm of hammers. Peggy and Widow both use their respective shields to keep the murderous machine off balance. And Gamora turns out to have the ultimate edge in the battle, as she’s found a way to potentially destroy the Infinity Stones. Each actor returns to bring their character to life, which adds a bittersweet note to the finale as this was Boseman’s last performance in the MCU prior to his passing.

What If…? Episode 9 unites heroes from across the Multiverse in an action-packed finale, which also serves as somewhat of a metatext on the impact the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had on its fanbase. When the series returns for Season 2, I hope to see more alternate takes on the stories we love, and admittedly slightly longer or differently paced episodes to help all of those stories have an impact.

Season 1 of What If…? is available to stream on Disney+.

What If...? Episode 9
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

What If…? Episode 9 unites heroes from across the Multiverse in an action-packed finale, which also serves as somewhat of a metatext on the impact the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had on its fanbase. When the series returns for Season 2, I hope to see more alternate takes on the stories we love, and admittedly slightly longer or differently paced episodes to help all of those stories have an impact.