What If…?’s seventh episode follows what would happen if Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) were never brothers. What follows is a loose retelling of 2011’s Thor that quickly turns into something quite different and unexpected, with an ending that teases a multiversal crossover.
The series continues its drought of quality for the second consecutive week, putting out a mid-tier, mostly inconsequential episode similar to that of the premiere. While it’s certainly better than the last episode, in almost every way, it still lacks a real punch (while ironically throwing many punches). The only real thing of note here is that the ending seems to be implying that the series will be bringing all the previous episodes’ universes together, which is really the only thing that makes this episode worth watching.
Despite that, the main cast is really great here, even if there are a few notable actors missing from their roles. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor here is similar to his portrayal in Thor: Ragnarok, it’s just that the character’s stupidity and machismo are turned up to 11. Natalie Portman is also a delight in the episode, unexpectedly returning to play Jane Foster, who’s the real protagonist this week. Captain Marvel also features heavily this week, not voiced by Brie Larson, but by Alexandra Daniels, a relatively unknown actress. Daniels gives a performance on par with Larson’s, it’s arguably even better at times.
The rest of the cast is mostly underutilized, especially in the cases of Samuel L. Jackson and Jeff Goldblum, who are relegated to being nothing more than glorified cut-away gags. The cast list in the intro makes the episode seem stacked with MCU talent, but don’t be fooled, the majority are used for one or two lines at best. It’s a strange choice that feels like a true waste of the actors’ and audience’s time.
The animation is stellar, as always. This episode is often more colorful than the others, possibly because of its lighter subject matter. Previous episodes have focused more on darker and more bleak realities, while this week is mostly comedic (even if the jokes don’t really land). It’s a stark change in tone that doesn’t feel out of place, but also dramatically lessens the impact of anything in the episode that could’ve been interesting.
For instance, the fights between Thor and Captain Marvel are visually beautiful and striking, but lack any real impact because they just don’t matter. Both characters are admittedly pulling their punches and it shows. It’s a real shame when these fights could’ve been some of the best the MCU has seen in terms of sheer power and the near equality in each of the character’s respective power levels.
All that being said, this episode of What If…? isn’t bad, it’s just another missed opportunity for the series. It’s an episode worth a watch for the ending alone, with no real benefit it could have from a rewatch. It’s blah TV at its finest, existing with no real ambition as to what it really wants to do. The episode isn’t engaging, but it’s not boring either, it just exists. The last two episodes have a lot to do in the coming weeks to course correct, otherwise this series could just be seen by fans as a middling bust, despite its highs.
At this point the series is reaching a point where it’s giving audiences the good stuff and the bad stuff in almost equal quantities, which is something it’ll really need to work on in the future, not just with the remainder of this season, but with the already announced second season in the works.