What if...? Episode 9

What If…? Episode 9 breakdown & hidden references

What If…? provided us with some new and unique stories exploring Marvel’s multiverse after the events of Loki. The series had an interesting ending along with some interesting easter eggs and hidden details.

Season 1 has concluded, but this doesn’t mean this is the end. More multiversal goodies are on the way with season 2 given the green light of approval. With that said, here’s a full breakdown of What If…? Episode 9.

Guardians of the Multiverse Assemble

The guardians of the Multiverse
The Guardians of the Multiverse by @elilusionista.cl

The episode starts off in an identical fashion to 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but of course this being What If…? Captain Carter takes Steve Rogers place. The opening scene walks fans through S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission of rescuing hostages from a H.Y.D.R.A ship with the appearance of a familiar face, Batroc the Leaper.

We are then taken to Missouri in Peter Quill‘s hometown with Peter working at Dairy Queen. This is the same location shown in the 2nd installment of Guardians of the Galaxy. Unaware of his true power, Quill is abducted by his father Ego before variant Star Lord T’Challa comes to the rescue.

Gamora‘s dedicated episode of What If…? was scrapped from season 1. However, we do get a little taste as to who this variant of Gamora actually is. This variant is a survivor of Sakaar, a slave planet owned by the Grandmaster as seen in Thor:Ragnarok. She becomes known as one of the survivors alongside Tony Stark after killing the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. During Tony and Gamora’s bit of the episode, Tony Stark mentions “putting a suit of armor around the world”. This of course being a nod to Avengers: Age of Ultron when Tony failed to save the universe and nearly brought about it’s demise. It’s important to mention that Gamora is also taking after her father by using his armor and his sword to assert her dominance.

The season finale brings all pieces of the puzzle together and gives us some more familiar faces. We see Shuri and Pepper Potts working alongside the Dora Milaje. This alternate reality connects back to episode 7 leaving us on yet another cliffhanger as to what Killmonger’s plans are. We can safely assume that he wants to liberate his people to the rest of the world.

Later on in the episode we visit a previously used MCU location from Marvel’s The Avengers – Germany, where Loki launches his first attack on Earth. Only in this case it’s Thor, the God of Thunder, taking on several Ultron bots.

The Watcher doing his best Nick Fury impression

The watcher
The Watcher (Marvel)

As the story unfolds, Peggy reminisces about her long lost love Steve Rogers, similar to one of his scenes in Avengers: Endgame. This of course is in reference to the “time heist” when Steve and Tony travel to the 1970s for more Pym particles.

Before Uatu the Watcher makes his presence felt, Killmonger stares into an Ultron bot headpiece clearly foreshadowing his betrayal of the Guardians of the Multiverse. This episode marks the debut of the Infinity Stone crusher via Gamora. The Infinity Stone crusher is a weapon that solely exists in the MCU with no connection or existence in Marvel Comics.

The short dialogue between Captain Carter and Doctor Strange showed us Peggy becoming aware that she is just one of infinite variants in the multiverse. Stephen and Peggy both have a strong connection as they’ve both lost their loved one in their home universe.

One of Killmonger’s solo shots leaves us with a hint of his future betrayal. The only person that trusts him is Thor but the God of Thunder then goes on to say that he “trusts everyone.” This of course lines up perfectly with his solo episode where he’s an only child while Loki remains a Frost Giant. Loki is given an alternate origin story without Odin which prevents him from becoming the God of Mischief. Loki never becoming the God of Mischief allows Thor to have trust in others as he’s never been stabbed in the back by his brother.

Infinite Ultron appears

Ultron Infinity Stones
Ultron with the Infinity Stones (@ajdesigns0220)

Ultron makes his presence known appearing identical to the planet-consuming villain Galactus before finally reverting to his regular form. Thor attempts to attack saying “VIVA LAS VEGAS!” quote referring to.the famous city of lights and maybe even a call back to his famous “BRING ME THANOS” line from Avengers: Infinity War.

The variant of the former Russian spy Natasha Romanoff debuts a shield of her own, repping white and red which are signature Russian colors. However, they’re also the colors worn by her father Alexei Shostakov – The Red Guardian. The shield also has a star resembling even more of her fathers uniform.

Ultron and Doctor Strange both use their own time stones in the same universe debunking the misconception that Infinity Stones only work in their own universe. As Ultron begins to expand, Doctor Strange seems to unleash a multiversal monster known as Shuma Gorath to upstage Ultron’s big trick.

After failing to destroy the stones, we get a parallel shot from 2012’s The Avengers showcasing the Guardians of the Multiverse.

Natasha Romanoff pays tribute to the fallen Clint Barton giving us an iconic shot of Ultron’s demise with a virus of Dr. Zola ending his objective permanently.

The Guardians of the Multiverse win

After the squad succeeds, Erik Stevens then betrays the team. He attempts to persuade them but fails leading to a short battle between him and the newly formed Dr. Zola. Ultron and Zola pay the ultimate price by being placed in a pocket dimension via Uatu the Watcher, similar to Doctor Strange’s temporary punishment in episode 4.

Peggy Carter reminiscing about her partner Steve Rogers shows us that even though she lives as a hero, she still wishes she could go back. The only thing keeping her in check is the life of heroism. The same could be said for Captain America.

When Natasha finally gets her happy ending, she is taken to the helicarrier in a world lacking S.H.I.E.L.D.S. best agent. She claims it’s a mess, following up with a grin. This is a subtle nod to Avengers: Age of Ultron where Natasha says, I’m always cleaning up after you boys.”

Natasha is shown to be the backbone of the Avengers, and this scene shows no contrast to that. Towards the episode’s conclusion, Loki is defeated by Natasha Romanoff with the tesseract scepter used to brainwash Erik Selvig in the first Avengers movie.

The post credit scene displays one final look at the H.Y.D.R.A. Stomper, a suit crafted by Howard Stark and worn by Steve Rogers back in episode 1. This ending has an obvious significance to possibly setting up Captain Carter’s return in What If…? season 2, but only time will tell what will come next.

As always, thanks for reading.