TV Review: What If Episode Nine

Episode nine is the culmination of the series, drawing on characters set up in the previous eight episodes. This means fan favourites such as Captain Carter and Star-Lord Tchalla come back for one epic battle with Ultron. 

The episode is also a culmination of an arc for the Watcher. The title of the episode, ‘What If The Watcher Broke his Oath?’ shows how desperate the Watcher has become to stop Ultron. His role in this episode echoes Nick Fury, as he builds a team of people from the multiverse to defeat Ultron.

While the Watcher never states how desperate he is to Ultron, like Nick Fury does to Loki in the Avengers. Another excellent parallel to the Avengers is the group shot of the Guardians of the Multiverse vs Ultron. 

Something that should be addressed right away is the inclusion of Gamora. Her and Iron Man were supposed to appear in an episode of their own, but it was cut due to production issues relating to the pandemic. Her inclusion in this episode was clearly meant to build off of that, and it is something that the creators could not have taken into account. 

Ultron himself is a force of destruction in the episode. He shows off a lot of power in inventive ways with the Infinity Stones, which makes the action a joy to watch. There are also some great shots, such as his entrance to the fight. It is safe to say that across episodes eight and nine, the universe where he won is significantly more interesting and makes for a better villain than the MCU version.

The evil version of Doctor Strange gets a redemptive arc in this episode, firstly by protecting the heroes from the different multiverses from Ultron (it is a great touch that Ultron doesn’t understand magic), using the powers of the monsters that Strange incorporated, and finally by watching over Killmonger and Zola at the end in their pocket dimension. This wraps up the evil Doctor Strange character as well, as while the Watcher doesn’t fix his universe it does give him a new purpose to live with. 

However, the last third of the episode is somewhat disappointing. The arrow containing Zola is shot into Ultron, causing him to collapse. Killmonger takes the Infinity Stones and amour, and then begins to fight Zola. This ending is somewhat predictable, as Killomonger didn’t feature during the fights and is a conniving character. Zola’s turn is also unsurprising as he is part of HYDRA, an offshoot of the Nazis. 

The ending aside, this episode provides a satisfying conclusion to the series, bringing together different strands of the multiverse into a cohesive whole. It advances the stories of key characters, setting up episodes for season two. The series has had some misses, however they are balanced out by strong episodes. 

By Kieran Burt

Feature image: Marvel Entertainment

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