Written by David Holland
It’s the conclusion of the first two-parter in “What If…” and boy is it a doozy. This episode is a culmination of everything we have seen this season. Infinite Ultron presents a threat to the entire multiverse, but he’s not the only one. When we left off last week, the Watcher decided to break his oath. Now we pick up with the consequences of that decision.
This episode opens with a recreation of the ship rescue scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which just so happens to be one of my personal favorite MCU movies. Before Captain Carter can defeat Batroc, however, she is plucked from time and space by the Watcher. Our omnipresent narrator grabs a few other familiar faces along the way, including Party Thor, T’Challa Star-Lord, and Doctor Strange from the universe he destoryed. He fills them in on the reality of their situation: Infinite Ultron isn’t just a threat to one universe, he is a threat to all of them. Their new plan is to confront him head-on, steal the Soul Stone, and use Gamorra’s Infinity Crusher to smash the Stones into nothing. When Ultron attacks, the Guardians are able to withstand his assault thanks only to Strange’s spells of protection.
The plan to use the Stone Crusher fails. With Ultron poised to overwhelm the Guardians, Carter and Widow hatch a plan involving an arrow shot that would make Hawkeye proud (if he hadn’t needlessly sacrificed himself last week). The lucky arrow that pierces Ultron’s eye just happens to contain the mind of Armin Zola himself. Ladies and gentlemen, The Goldblum is successful!
The only problem is that this plan involves putting the body controlling the Infinity Stones in the hands of a Nazi extremist. This doesn’t sit well with anyone, particularly Killmonger. Erik Stevens has his own plans for the Stones, and they are reminiscent of his plan for Wakanda’s weapons in Black Panther: use them to set their worlds right. Of course, it would be his definition of “right”. As Zola and Killmonger play Infinity Stone tug-o-war, Strange Supreme locks them in a pocket dimension, frozen in time and space forever. Each Guardian returns to their own universe, their compatriots unaware of what has transpired. Even Black Widow gets a new world, one where her counterpart died. In a post-credits scene, Captain Carter is shown the cargo of the ship Batroc hijacked – the Hydra Stomper… with someone inside!
“What If…” was an absolute blast. I know some folks were skeptical of an animated Disney+ show. I thought both the voice work and the animation of this series were incredible. Most of the episodes were captivating and some were downright crushing. The zombies were fun, Party Thor wasn’t my favorite but it was lighthearted. We got to see T’Challa again and watch Doctor Strange descend into madness. In this last installment, we got the ensemble mix that the “Avengers” films delivered so well in a compact episode. The fight scenes with Ultron were masterful, and even though the episodes are relatively short the stakes still felt high. It seems like there will be more “What If…” to come and if that is the case they have plenty of options. They could continue some of the storylines they started in this season, such as Captain Carter, or explore any number of new stories. After all, they only have to change one little thing and see what happens…
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