What If The Watcher Broke His Oath
** Warning! This review contains spoilers for episode 9 of Marvel’s What If? Series **
We open with Captain Carter doing the Batroc mission from Captain America: Winter Soldier alongside Black Widow. She does the no-shield fight with Batroc. While she does, she sees The Watcher and he tells her she’s been chosen.
Peter Quill is saved by Star-Lord T’Challa. The Watcher chooses T’Challa as well. We are also introduced to Gamora as a survivor of Sakaar and the destroyer of Thanos. Stark is with her on Nidavellir in his Hulk Buster armor, but Watcher doesn’t want him. Iron Man fans really keep catching L’s in this show. Killmonger from the universe where he killed Stark is also chosen, which spares him from Shuri and Pepper’s plan to arrest him. Party Thor is also chosen, and Watcher has to physically pick him up from fighting Ultron bots.
The team gathers in a pub with Dr. Strange Supreme. Watcher explains to the team that they’re the Guardians of the Multiverse. Gamora has something called the Infinity Crusher to destroy the stones once they get them from Ultron. The group hangs out on a barren planet, and Strange & Carter compare the differences of their universe.
Thor makes lightning after they toast, and Galactus-looking Ultron appears. When Ultron comes to them, Thor tries to fry him with lightning. It is wildly unsuccessful. Strange makes Mjolnir multiply and bombards Ultron with them. During the fight, T’Challa manages to grab the Soul Stone off of Ultron. As the group leaves, Strange opens a portal above Ultron and drops zombie heroes on him. He clears the zombies, but has to fight with zombie Scarlet Witch!
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They arrive in the universe Ultron originally came from. Black Widow is there and intercepts the soul stone, but Captain Carter uses information from being BFFs with Widow in her universe to convince her the team is on Widow’s side. Ultron arrives and Carter & Widow each use their shields to keep Ultron off balance. The whole team is whooping Ultron, keeping him occupied.
Ultron uses the Time Stone to slow time and regain the Soul Stone. Strange uses his own time stone to counteract it, and Ultron grows to giant size. This makes Strange unleash lots of his dark energy and bring him back down. The team holds down Ultron, and the Infinity Crusher gets not just the Soul Stone, but all of Ultron’s stones and destroys them.
But unfortunately, the crusher doesn’t work as it was meant to destroy the stones from Gamora’s world and not Ultrons. Ultron is back at full strength with the stones and realizes that Doctor Strange is the key to defeating the rest of the team. Widow gets knocked miles backward, but she sees the arrow with Arnim Zola loaded on it. She asks Carter for a clear target and some time.
Widow takes her motorcycle and bow and arrow and shoots Ultron from the top of a building. Carter dives off an adjacent building to grab Ultron. She pulls Ultron’s helmet back, and the arrow hits him directly in the eye. Arnim Zola does take over the body with Ultron still inside. Ultron’s body falls to the ground.
While it’s on the ground, Killmonger gets all the stones and tries to convince the group they can use them for bringing back their own worlds and fixing them. Peggy could see Steve again, Strange could be with Christine, etc. T’Challa tries to get Killmonger to stop, but he doesn’t want to. Arnim Zola wakes up, now a stomach screen on the Vision body, to lay claim to the stones. He and Killmonger fight over the stones, and Strange realizes the goal is just to separate the stones from the body. He does that, and with The Watcher’s help, creates a pocket dimension with Killmonger & Zola trapped in battle.
Strange & Watcher chat, with Strange noting that Watcher knew exactly what would happen. Watcher says he appreciates Strange’s sacrifice, as he needs someone to watch the pocket dimension to make sure it never escapes.
The Guardians go back home, and their worlds will never know about this. They’re returned directly to where The Watcher got them. Widow has no world to go back to and confronts The Watcher about treating people like stories. She wants him to fix the world, and Watcher says no. Eventually, he relents and sends her to the world where Widow, Hulk, Thor, Stark & Barton died. Loki has Fury pinned down as Captain Marvel & Captain America fight on the Helicarrier. Widow swings in and kicks Loki off and uses the scepter to subdue him. The Watcher tells us all of these are his home,
The end credit scene is Captain Carter back on the Batroc mission. Widow gets her and brings her to what the pirates were after: The HYDRA Stomper, with someone inside.
Once we knew there was going to be a team-up for the finale, the excitement level was raised to a ten. The team-up sequence and action were fantastic, with Doctor Strange being the glue that held the team together. Captain Carter & Black Widow is the best friend duo that we need more of in season two. Party Thor was some much-needed comic relief, and the team worked well.
Even if it was predictable, it made sense to have Killmonger turn on the heroes. Just like in Black Panther, Killmonger is a villain who makes some very good points. From the second he was added to the team, we knew he’d turn on the group. While the ending of him and Zola being trapped in a pocket dimension may be unsatisfying for some, it fits within the new rules laid out in the era of the multiverse.
The Not As Good:
What does season two look like? The concept of the show has, literally, endless possibilities for where we can go now. This season had the multiversal team-up and The Watcher disobeying his oath. Do they go back to the same well next season? It may feel repetitive if the season looks the same. They’re in a tough spot between exploring new what if scenarios and following with characters that folks love, like T’Challa Star-Lord and Captain Carter.
Speaking about characters we already know, I want to know so much more about Thanos-defeating Gamora. There simply has to be an episode or two on her next season, as her inclusion when The Watcher assembled the team was odd given that other heroes we knew weren’t chosen. An episode was apparently cut from the season, and my guess is it was the Gamora one. I do wish we had seen zombie hunter Spider-Man or the two Captains from the end for our team-up.
Hayley Atwell was the star of this episode, just like in her own episode. It wasn’t a clear-cut decision though. Lake Bell brought great energy to her role as Black Widow, and Chris Hemsworth absolutely crushes it as a more comedic Thor. Still, Atwell has great range in her voice acting and is able to capture the feelings that Carter must be going through as she’s tossed through the multiverse.
What If? has all episodes available for streaming on Disney Plus.
Evan Gomes is a freelance pop culture & sports writer. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsEvanGomes, and check out his two podcasts: Crossbody of Work and The Pop Capsule Podcast.