The first season of What If…? has been a bit erratic in emotional tone, with a few lighthearted episodes in the minority amid a lot of darker worlds gone horribly wrong. Last episode featured the surprising twist of Ultron not only winning the events of Age of Ultron, but becoming aware of other worlds and then the Watcher himself. That ended with the Watcher having no choice but to act, leading to the season finale “What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?” Between this being a season finale and also having been out for a while, there will be some spoilers below.
The episode starts with a different interpretation of the opening of Winter Soldier, with Captain Carter in place of Captain America. Her big fight with Batroc on the ship gets interrupted by the Watcher, coming to recruit her. In turn, he visits Party Thor, the Kilmonger that killed Tony Stark, T’Challa Star Lord, and a Gamora that was from the episode that got pushed from Season 1 to Season 2 thanks to COVID complications. After the amusing attempt to recruit Thor, battling Ultrons on the streets of Las Vegas, the Watcher gathers everyone in a recreation of an English pub from Carter’s past that resembles one from the Captain America: The First Avenger. Here, the Dr. Strange who ran amok and wiped out his universe briefs the team on the stakes involved in fighting an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron. Things look grave, but everyone’s in.
The team adjourns to the wastes of a largely barren world to plan and feast. Kilmonger tinkers with an Ultron head Party Thor brought with him, and a few of the team trade stories of their worlds. The brash Thor indulges in a lightning display, which unfortunately attracts Ultron’s attention. After some banter, Strange provides some magical armor for everyone, and the battle commences. Thor at least manages to puzzle Ultron with his battle cry as the team springs into action. Both sides are grudgingly impressed by the other’s ability to sustain damage. Over the course of the battle, Strange opens a portal, and a horde of zombies from the episode about the MCU being overrun by them drop in.
On a desolate world, the team prepares to make a stand, and as they put their plan into motion, they’re surprised by the Black Widow who was the sole survivor from Ultron’s victory. The big plan doesn’t work, because of some variances in the multiverse, but Widow has an idea, since this is “her” Ultron. She and Carter team up for some distraction and attack, as Widow picks up the weapon of a fallen friend for one last shot. Ultron suddenly finds he has an unwanted guest, and they go to war inside Ultron’s head. Or operating system, if you prefer.
Victory provides other issues, as the team is betrayed from within. The attacker actually has a decent motivation, although it’s one that won’t work long-term, and the battle is on again. Then they have another foe to contend with, and things are looking bad. One of them comes to a realization and does something desperate, containing the newest battle. The Watcher approves of the resolution, although it’s a grim fate for one of the heroes. The rest of the team is allowed to go home, although they won’t remember these events afterward. In two sort of happy endings, the Widow who was last one standing of her world gets a new life on the Earth that lost its Avengers before the team even got together, and Carter has a surprising reunion on her world, which gives us a modified version of a familiar theme song as things end.
What I liked: It was great seeing these very different characters brought together. Party Thor’s new battle cry was entertaining. The raw power of the dark Dr. Strange is both impressive and terrifying. The way they beat Ultron was a good idea and some nice teamwork. The way to contain the final struggle was novel and clever, and allowed a fallen hero some chance at redemption. The Watcher had a great final speech with Black Widow, and I like where she ended up. They managed to tie in every episode of the season, which was nicely done. The actors who came back to voice their characters speaks well of how much they care.
What I didn’t: It was a little confusing seeing a Gamora whose story we haven’t seen yet, although that wasn’t their fault. COVID complicated everything, to put it mildly. Everyone has a favorite character, and my favorite Avenger is probably Hawkeye, who didn’t even make an appearance in any form in this one. I felt bad for the one who has to stand watch now.
I thought this was a great ending to a really nicely done season. I’ll give both the episode and the season a 4.5 out of 5. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of almost all these characters.
What If…? will return for a second season.