WARNING: The following contains spoilers for What If…? Season 1, Episode 9
The MCU’s greatest feat is the convergence of its multiple intellectual concepts into one overall dramatic tale of good vs evil, with characters who feel true to their source material and respond emotionally with audiences who are only vaguely familiar with them. It would have been easier to create What If…? as a series of stand-alone episodes with complete creative flexibility, but the decision to weave a continuous storey fulfilled the unstated promise that each window into another universe would genuinely matter.
Many new and intriguing features of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been revealed to fans due to What If…?
“What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?” is the finest episode of the season, and it’s crucial to the MCU’s future storytelling. It brings What If…?’s story together, showcases some of the most magnificent action moments, and shifts the Marvel paradigm.
Each of the multiverses shines in their first appearances earlier in the season, but they all reach their pinnacle glory in the final episode. Star-Lord T’Challa employs deception to remove an Infinity Stone from Ultron’s body. Doctor Strange recreates Mjolnir, a one-of-a-kind godly relic, and wields it in a hailstorm of enchanted hammers. Killmonger’s analysis of Ultron’s carapace provides him with enough technical knowledge to wrench the Stones from him. Captain Carter repeatedly vaults herself at a galactic killer and rides back to terra firma on the one genuine Mjolnir, not to mention her crucial assistance to Black Widow.
Even among the heroes, one is given fair credit. When Strange Supreme, the soul devourer, destroys his cosmos and consigns himself to a life of solitary, he has no concept of redemption or service to a larger good. Despite the light-hearted atmosphere, there is a sadness evident when he serves Thor a beer behind haunted eyes. Ultron later declares Strange to be the true threat, elevating him to a level of power comparable to that of extra-dimensional beings like as the Watcher and Infinite Ultron himself.
Every episode of What If…? features memorable renditions of familiar characters in fantastic situations, but only this one is capable of bringing them all together into a satisfying whole that illustrates the sum of its parts.