What If…? Episode 9 Review: A Bad Show Ends on Even Worse Note

What If…? season one has been a bit of a mess since the second episode, and the finale might be the worst episode so far. Strangely paced, highlighting the worst attributes of characters, and somehow having zero stakes despite being told everything is on the line. When it became apparent what the storyline of the final episode of What If…? was going to be in episode nine, there wasn't any possible way for it to be good. It was trying to do phase one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a speed run, and it just wasn't going to work. The team-up is the reward for all of the character work you put into previous episodes or movies. The problem is, these episodes are concise, and it's hard to have any investment in them, so watching all of them team up doesn't mean anything.

What If...? Episode 10 Review: A Bad Show Ends on an Even Worse Note
WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The thing that made the episode with Star-Lord T'Challa work, arguably the only one that really worked, was that it wasn't just a different version of T'Challa running around. T'Challa was still himself, and the thing that made the episode enjoyable was seeing how he improved everyone around him. This version of T'Challa coming in to interact with Captain Carter and Dudebro Thor doesn't mean anything because we don't care enough about any of them.

The fact of the matter is this episode of What If…? should not have been the finale to season one; it should have been the finale to season two. We've already heard that they are bringing back characters like Captain Carter for season two, which is absolutely fine. Another episode to get attached to this version of Peggy is excellent, but as we mentioned in the previous review, the team-ups are a fireworks show. If no one cares why you're setting off the fireworks, then you're just blowing shit up for no reason. Some sort of hint that this version of Ultron was lurking or in the process of coming to be would have been a better way to end this season, and just ending the show without any crossing over and keeping it an anthology would have been fine. Then, the following season, after we revisit a bunch of these characters, we're going to care so much more about the team-up. It's going to mean so much more to see Peggy and Natasha bantering. It's going to matter that this version of Doctor Strange might die. It is all going to matter so much more.

The fact of the matter is that this final episode had some of the biggest stakes we've seen in the Marvel universe since perhaps the Snap and yet somehow felt utterly inconsequential. Maybe that was just dudebro Thor ruining literally everything that he touches by being the worst thing Marvel has done in a long time. The multiverse was at stake, yet it was somehow extremely boring to watch. The thing that has kneecapped this series since pretty much the word "go" is that it's boring. What If…? takes absolutely no risks whatsoever. You have the entire budget of Disney behind you and over a decade of goodwill from your fans; you can go a little wild. In fact, you can go completely off the walls because the fun of a multiverse is that you can do whatever you want, and it doesn't have to impact anything you are doing in the primary timeline. Yet instead of taking advantage of that, What If…? spent nine episodes making boring choice after boring choice, executing them poorly, only to end on a team-up that does pretty much nothing interesting in terms of a team-up. And then it's over with a post-credits scene that hints at nothing, precisely nothing but season two.

What If...? Episode 10 Review: A Bad Show Ends on an Even Worse Note
WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The thing that ended up genuinely kneecapping the Marvel Netflix series was the fact that by the time they realized that something wasn't working, primarily Iron Fist and the Elektra plot, it was too late. Both of those things were central to the plot of The Defenders, and aside from a few bright spots, the entire endeavor went out with a whimper and a legacy of a couple of good seasons of shows. There wasn't time to change anything, and all it took was one mediocre season for everyone to check out. By the time Warner Bros. realized that there were issues with Batman v Superman and the things that people didn't like, production was already on the way for Justice League. They infamously tried to course-correct mid-production to disastrous results. We already know that season two of What If…? is happening- but is there time to course-correct? There might not be; animation always takes so much longer than anyone thinks it does, and if this is what season two is going to look like, then this show is in serious trouble.

The season one finale of What If…? should have been one for the ages. This entire series could have been unique and given creatives opportunities to do literally whatever they wanted to these beloved characters with virtually no consequences. Instead, we got one great episode and performance from the late Chadwick Boseman and a bunch of different versions of characters that no one has any investment in. Perhaps the investment will come with season two if episodes are follow-ups and we have more time with these characters. Except for dudebro Thor. No more dudebro Thor.

What If...? Episode 9 "What If... The Watcher Broke His Oath?"

What If...? Episode 10 Review: A Bad Show Ends on an Even Worse Note
Review by Kaitlyn Booth

3.5/10
What If...? season one has been a bit of a mess since the second episode, and the finale might be the worst episode so far. Strangely paced, highlighting the worst attributes of characters, and somehow having zero stakes despite being told everything is on the line. 

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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