TV Review: What If Episode Five

This week in Marvel’s anthology TV show, we are introduced to its version of zombies. A virus from the quantum realm infects humanity, and only a few of our heroes are left standing.

This episode is a blast to watch, with even more intense moments to it. However, it does not live up to last weeks addition.

This episode is another dark installment to the Marvel Universe, something which is welcome. This stops the trope that the heroes always win at the end of the day, which after over twenty mainline Marvel films, is a breath of fresh air.

Many of our favourite heroes are taken over and instead use their powers for evil. The episode positions itself as taking place when the Black Order are invading New York, something which happens at the start of Infinity War. It adds an extra layer of tension, as the audience knows Thanos is coming. 

The characters we follow in this episode are well chosen. Bruce Banner starts off the episode, however it quickly shows a new team of heroes to follow, including Bucky Barnes, Okoye, Sharon Carter, Hope Van Dyne Spiderman and Happy Hogan. Each of them gets a moment to shine, with there being an emotional scene with Spiderman and Hope later in the episode. This is similar to the scene in Infinity War with Thor and Rocket, as it is Spiderman recounting what he has lost. It hits just as hard. 

Other notable characters make their debut as zombies. Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye and Wanda (just to name a few). Captain America has a exhilarating fight scene with Bucky, which pays off with him taking Cap’s shield. Meanwhile, Wanda has a key role in the episode’s climax.

The episode also features a few non-zombie cameos, such as Black Panther Vision, and the head of Ant Man. These characters are well chosen and add to the story in a meaningful way. 

Episode four of What If is liberal with its death, which is a compliment. By the end of the episode, only Spiderman, Ant Man’s head and Black Panther survive. This episode is quite gory in places, with Hope exploding people from the inside. This only further differentiates it from the mainline films, which is a key selling point of the show.

The most meaningful death is Vision’s, sacrificing himself to atone for his sins. He is secretly feeding people to Wanda, as he cannot bring himself to kill her. 

Overall, this was a very enjoyable episode, ending on an ominous but somewhat hopeful note. Marvel proves it can make the zombie apocalypse story interesting and enjoyable, despite it being a genre that is full of cliches and predictable tropes. 

What If…? is available to stream on Disney+

By Kieran Burt

Feature image: Marvel Entertainment

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