‘What If…?’ Sticks the Landing to Deliver An Epic Finale

By Janie Walenda

In true MCU fashion, “What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?” is not only a continuation of last week’s episode, but it also brings in characters from each of the previous episodes for an epic team-up.

Similar to the zombie episode, the best part of this episode is the team.  The Guardians of the Multiverse have great comedic and dramatic chemistry, and I would love to see them team up again in the future.  The initial team that the Watcher and Strange Supreme put together consists of Captain Carter, Starlord T’Challa, Killmonger and Party Thor.  I loved that while no characters from episodes three and five were part of the team, those episodes were still tied into the finale.  While Strange Supreme fights alongside the team for the episode, the Watcher steps back and does what he does best: watch.

Introducing the Guardians of the Multiverse – Killmonger, Gamora, Star-Lord, Captain Carter, and Party Thor

Strange Supreme is undoubtedly the MVP of this episode.  He serves as the Guardians’ leader and is the main powerhouse of the team.  Top moments include eating a universe-ending explosion, multiplying Mjolnir and unleashing the full power of all the creatures he absorbed in episode four.  The most interesting part of Strange Supreme is that he seems to be relatively mentally stable, as I was expecting him to go full-on evil sorcerer.

T’Challa and Thor were by far my favorite characters in this episode.  T’Challa’s dry humor coupled with Thor’s goofiness led to some of the funniest moments in the whole series.  This is due in large part to the excellent voice work done by Chadwick Boseman and Chris Hemsworth.  I wouldn’t consider them some main characters of the episode, but they still left a huge impact.

The action in this episode was some of the best seen in the MCU to date.  The biggest advantage of animation is that the characters, environments and spectacle will always blend perfectly.  This allows for high-concept moments that would otherwise have to be scrapped in live-action projects.  I especially appreciated the final set piece of Natasha and Captain Carter defeating Ultron, with its nearly black-and-white color palette.  There was also a great segment where the camera stayed glued to the soul stone on the floor while the battle raged around it.  The artistry of this series cannot be understated, and that alone is reason to be excited for season two.

The shows artistry is on full display in the climactic final battle between the Guardians and Ultron

There are other reasons to anticipate season two.  During the montage of the Watcher assembling the Guardians, it was confusing to see Gamora and Tony appear out of nowhere.  Originally, season one was going to be ten episodes, but one was cut due to production limitations caused by the pandemic.  This episode would have featured Gamora and Tony on Sakaar, with Gamora ultimately destroying Thanos.  Presumably, this episode will air as part of season two.

From the first episode of “What If…?” fans have been speculating about what characters are likely to appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”  Strange Supreme seems like a pretty obvious choice, and I hope that the Watcher, Killmonger and Zola appear by association.  It’s been all but confirmed that Hayley Atwell will return as Captain Carter, and the latest leaks show Ultron bots.

Honestly, I’m a little worried that “Multiverse of Madness” is going to bite off more than it can chew.  I haven’t even mentioned all of the rumors surrounding Wanda and her involvement in the movie.  The film just wrapped reshoots this month, which shows that it’s still very much a work in progress.

Frankly, “What If…?” has not calmed my fears surrounding the multiverse in the MCU.  While the finale doesn’t have any gaping plot holes, it doesn’t establish any rules for the multiverse.  The reveal that Ultron’s infinity stones can’t be crushed by Gamora’s machine from a different universe opens up a rabbit hole that I’m sure theorists are going to be spiraling down for months.

The inclusion of Gamora hints at an unused story arc that well most likely see in What If? season two

Finally, it’s important to me to spend some time talking about T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman.  T’Challa has been a unique character within the MCU: a compassionate and responsible leader who not only fought to protect those around him but also learned from his mistakes and did what he could to rectify them.  This episode is confirmed to be Chadwick Boseman’s final performance of the character.  Every appearance of T’Challa in this series has only cemented what a great character he is, and it’s truly heartbreaking to know we won’t see him again.  This is only amplified by the legacy and impact of Chadwick Boseman.

Ultimately, “What If…?” is an incredible nine episodes of television.  The visuals and storytelling are unmatched, and the finale brings together all of the episodes to a satisfying conclusion.

“What If…” episode nine is now streaming on Disney Plus.

Janie Walenda is a freshman Global Business major and an A&E writer for Cedars.  She enjoys musicals, movies and rereading the same books ten times.

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