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The Watcher, Gamora, T’Challa, Killmonger, Thor, Captain Carter, and Doctor Strange meeting in the season finale of ‘What If…?”, now streaming on Disney+ (Photo provided via @solstarsun on Twitter).  

TV Review: The season finale of “What If…?” is a strong conclusion suffering from missed potential

Last week I said that What If…? was doing what it should’ve been doing from the beginning; this week it reverses course. 

That’s not to say this episode is bad, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination. I just can’t contain my disappointment for what this series could’ve been and still could be (but probably won't be). 

Seeing all these characters together is a treat, the action is fantastic and better than some of the live-action projects, the animation is as crisp and beautiful as it's ever been and the performances are great across the board, even from the replacement actors. 

Despite all of this, the finale still feels like a forgotten branch of the MCU, like it broke off and crumbled long ago, never to be cared about again.

Spoilers for the season finale will follow, as there’s no real way to discuss this episode without bringing up its spoiler-y highs and lows. 

Let’s start with the highs. The cast does a great job this week: Hayley Attwell is amazing in her return as Captain Carter, Chris Hemsworth is a fun addition as Thor (even if he doesn’t have a lot to do), Chadwick Boseman is great in his limited role and final appearance as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan is an underutilized but fun addition and Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the de facto leader of newly-coined The Guardians of the Multiverse.

Lake Bell does a pretty good job at embodying Black Widow in this episode as well.

Strangely, the episode features Gamora (Cynthia McWilliams) from a reality we haven’t seen before; this is due to her episode being cut and moved to next season due to time restraints, hence why this season is sitting at an odd length of nine episodes. Her actress does a pretty good job, I never noticed it wasn’t Zoe Saldana, but that could just be because she doesn’t have a lot of lines, much like the majority of her co-stars. 

As for the plot, it’s not that big of a deal here. It’s an excuse to get most of the different characters we’ve seen featured in previous weeks together to fight Ultron; the excuse works. The set-up is brief, the action is well directed and stylish, Ultron’s defeat feels earned and it all looks damn good. The issues start when you go a bit deeper than the surface.

So, let’s get to the lows. This episode is massively disappointing when you think about what it could’ve been. It could’ve brought one or more of these characters into live-action, notably Captain Carter. Though this moment would’ve probably been left for the post-credits scene, which was instead left to reveal that Captain Carter and Steve Rogers will be together again in her reality. 

While this is a cool reveal, it feels hollow. We’ll most likely never see these characters again and the audience probably isn’t invested enough in these characters (that have only received about an hour of screen time at most) to care about what their lives will be like well after the credits roll. 

Because of this lack of true crossover, the series just feels unnecessary, a label it seemed to be shedding last week. Instead, it fully embraces that label, backpedaling to an immense degree. I just can’t help but to be disappointed by What If…?, regardless of the purpose of its source material. 

It’s one thing to make a one-off comic, it’s another thing to spend millions on an animated series as part of a multi-billion dollar franchise and then have it be completely pointless to the future or present of that franchise. I just can’t wrap my head around the decision-making here.

Again, this episode isn’t bad on its own, it’s just a notable case of missed potential. That’s what this series had and threw away massive potential. I can’t stress how much of a missed opportunity this series is, something Marvel somehow didn’t realize themselves. With a second season on the way, I’d just expect more of the same. 

@zachj7800

zj716018@ohio.edu

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