TV Review: What If Episode Eight

This week’s episode of What If focuses on Ultron winning the fight between the Avengers, taking over the universe and then starting his conquest of the multiverse. It is a great start to a two-part finale. 

The Watcher – excellently voiced in an excellent way by Jeffrey Wright – has had his character develop across the series, and that is starting to come full circle. He started off refusing to intervene in the worlds he saw, for fear of what his effect might be.

No matter how dark and awful the things he saw, he was bound by an oath of non-intervention. Over the course of the series he has come close to breaking that oath, and now he is going to, forced by Ultron. This is strong character development, as it is done subtly in the moment, but looking back, it is clear how the character has changed. 

Ultron is a much better villain in the show than in the MCU. His current reign truly is lasting an Age, unlike the short timespan in the film. He looks more threatening, especially when he gets the cape.

Having Vision’s look in the Ultron armour is great, as it reminds viewers that Vision is partly a product of Ultron and almost became Ultron. The action between him and the Watcher is great, because it brought high stakes to the show, something that the other episodes have been lacking. 

This episode also spends a lot of time with Hawkeye, showing his powers and his relationship with Black Widow. This means that his death in the episode is meaningful and effective for the audience. Black Widow doesn’t get as big a focus as Hawkeye, but hopefully next week Widow will get a bigger role.

It is amazing to see Doctor Zola return in the episode. His monologue in the Captain America Winter Soldier is one of the creepiest elements, so it was funny to see it reframed in this episode. Black Widow is right to be untrustworthy about his intentions, which isn’t surprising because the last time she saw him Widow nearly got killed. 

Zola’s intentions seem to be genuine, however that could change at any point. At the end of the episode, the Watcher turns to a shady character too, in the evil Doctor Strange. While he seems to have repented on his sins, the audience cannot be sure of his intentions. This adds some interesting tension to how Black Widow and the Watcher will solve their crisis, as they are both turning to shady characters in order to defeat Ultron. 

Overall, this episode delivers a strong plot and character development, with high stakes. It provides an excellent set up for the finale, which Marvel will surely pull off. This episode ranks highly compared to the others, but it doesn’t have the emotion provided by episode four. 

What If…? is available to stream on Disney+

By Kieran Burt

Feature image: Marvel Entertainment

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