WHAT IF…? S1E9 “What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?”

Previously on What If… as an alternate reality version of Ultron (voiced by Ross Marquand and dubbed Infinity Ultron) began his conquest of the multiverse using the power of the Infinity Stones, Uatu the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) broke his sacred oath of non-interference and with the Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch) by his side began gathering recruits for his Guardians of the Multiverse team.

The Watcher-First up is “the soldier lost in time” Captain Carter (Haley Atwell) in midst of the fighting off Batroc who has taken over the Lemurian Star, just like in the sacred timeline as seen in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

-As teased by the end of T’Challa Star-Lord episode, Ego had discovered his son Peter Quill at a Dairy Queen in Missouri and began using him as a battery to begin the expansion. Thanks to a timely arrival of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) manages to rescue Quill before Uatu subsequently recruits T’Challa.

-The next recruit is Gamora (Cynthia McWilliams), but one from a reality not seen before in the series thus far. Apparently, this version of Gamora is not only a survivor of Sakaar but has already killed her father Thanos. It explains why she’s wearing his armor armor and brandishing his double-edged sword from Avengers: Endgame. The Watcher recruits Gamora right as she along with Tony Stark and Eitri are melting down the Infinity Gauntlet.

-Just as it looks like Pepper Potts and Shuri have taken back Wakanda and are about to dethrone Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), this world’s Black Panther is likewise plucked from his reality.

-The final recruit is Thor the Party Prince (Chris Hemsworth) who is already in the midst of battle with the Ultron drones in his universe.

Uatu gathers the Guardians of the Multiverse in a safe haven made to resemble a pub from Captain Carter’s memories. While chowing down on some alternate universe Chinese food, they devise a plan to retrieve the Stones from Ultron and destroy them using the Infinity Crusher, a tool from Gamora’s universe to break each Stone into nothing. Definitely much safer than wishing the Stones away and losing your arm in the process as Thanos can attest.

The WatcherThe Guardians of the Multiverse teleport to a universe with no intelligence life in order to attract Ultron’s attention. Gamora voices her doubts about Killmonger as she spies him examining an Ultron drone head the Party Prince brought with him from his world. Chekhov’s gun anyone?

Right before Ultron arrives, Strange Supreme enchants his teammates with a protection spell. T’Challa manages to steal the Soul Stone thanks to an illusion of a swarm of Mjolnir hammers cast by a combination of Strange Supreme and the Party Prince. Strange opens a portal to summon a horde of zombies, specifically Scarlet Witch, to keep Infinity Ultron occupied before the team depart to Ultron’s home universe. There they encounter Black Widow (Lake Bell) who although initially distrustful of the alternate reality heroes is convinced by Captain Carter that they are on the same side.

However, it seems not even the zombie Scarlet Witch is enough to deter Ultron Infinity as he makes his way to his home dimension and destroys the Earth. But lest ye forget, the Strange Supreme possesses his reality’s Time Stone in the form of the Eye of Agamotto and uses it reverse the destruction. And for those playing at home, pondering how the Infinity Stones can function in different universes, never far What If… producer and head writer A.C. Bradley explains via Twitter.

The Guardians and Ultron play hot potato with the Soul Stone until finally, the team manages to pin him down allowing Gamora to use the Infinity Crusher. But it’s all for naught, as the Infinity Crusher was only designed to destroy the Infinity Stones of its original universe.

All seems lost, until Widow realizes that they have one more ace up their sleeve in the form of the arrow containing the Arnim Zola virus. With the help of Captain Carter who exposes Ultron’s eye, Widow takes the shot and hits the mark. The Zola HYDRA algorithm destroys the Ultron AI and we finally get a happy ending. But wait, remember that Chekhov’s gun? Killmonger pulls a Loki and uses the Ultron Sentry head to take possession of the Ultron armor and the Infinity Stones.

Is THIS your king?

Killmonger tries to convince his former comrades to join him so they can fix their respective worlds but unsurprisingly they refuse. Right as Killmonger is about to destroy them, the body of Ultron rises now possessed by Arnim Zola and sporting his stomach face (something comic fans have been waiting over a decade to see onscreen when the character was first introduced in the MCU).

The Stones are stuck in midair as Killmonger and Zola are deadlocked. The Strange Supreme has an epiphany and traps the two villains in a pocket dimension. With nothing but time on hands, the Strange Supreme somewhat begrudgingly volunteers to keep watch over the pocket dimension prison, earning Uatu the Watcher’s gratitude.

The WatcherThe Watcher sends the Guardians of the Multiverse home to their respective dimension homes. With nothing return to and The Watcher unable to fix her world, Widow refuses to be sent home. Instead, The Watcher sends Widow to a world that lost its Black Widow i.e. the alternate reality from the “What If…The World Lost its Mightiest Heroes?” episode. One well placed kick to the face and Widow takes down Loki and saves the day.

And thus the first season of What If… comes to a close with The Watcher vowing to protect the multiverse to the end.

The Watcher

BUT WAIT! You didn’t really expect a Marvel Studios animated series to end without some midcredits scene did you? Back aboard the Lemurian Star in Captain Carter’s reality, Batroc is soundly defeated by the timely intervention of this world’s Black Widow. Having defeated the pirates, Captain Carter discovers what they were really after—the HYDRA Stomper armor with “someone” still inside.

We’ll have to see what other alternate reality stories we’ll visit in Season 2. In the meantime, check out some of the What If… scenarios that Avery Kaplan, Therese Lacson, and myself came up with.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Captain Carter makes a reference to Black Widow’s father Ivan Romanoff as well as her surrogate father Alexei Shostakov played by David Harbour in the Black Widow film, which incidentally is now available to stream on Disney+.
  • As concept art by Josh Nizzi revealed, Arnim Zola was at one point going to be in the Ant-Man film sporting the iconic stomach face look from the comics.

New episodes of What If…? are available for streaming Wednesdays on Disney+.