Tuesday, May 28, 2024

What If…? Episode 7 Gives Audiences a Well-Deserved Break

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In a much-needed return to the lighter tone that launched the season, episode seven of What If…?, introduces us to “Party Thor” and all of the chaos he brings. The episode is incredibly fun to watch and offers up a low-stress lead into the final two episodes of the season.

Odin and Baby Loki in What If...? S01E07
Odin and Baby Loki in What If…? S01E07

What If Thor Had “Only Child Syndrome”?

“What If…Thor was an Only Child?” takes place in a universe where Odin did not adopt Loki, and instead returned him to his father on Jotunheim. Uatu describes how being raised with Loki as his brother in the main MCU timeline lead to the Thor we know, and how without him, he’s a bit more reckless.

The episode takes place around the same time as Thor does, but instead of being dropped alone in the New Mexico desert, Thor and his compatriots very purposefully land in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip in order to give Earth the party of a lifetime. With Odin beginning the Odinsleep, Frigga left Thor on Asgard with explicit instructions to stay out of trouble, but he almost immediately left the realm to go wild.

On Earth, Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis detect the energy of Thor’s arrival and are convinced that aliens are invading. When their calls to S.H.I.E.L.D go ignored, the two travel to Vegas and learn that despite their initial assumption, Thor and the many other extraterrestrial lives are not trying to take over the planet, but are instead throwing a gigantic rager.

When Jane goes to confront Thor about the death of a planet that was caused by the same energy signature, he admits he was involved, but the interaction quickly devolves as the two are mutually smitten with each other. Jane is quickly pulled into Thor’s antics, and a montage of their night ensues, showing that basically, anyone who is anyone from anywhere that isn’t Earth is there; The Grandmaster, Drax, Nebula, Valkyrie, and Howard the Duck are just a sample of the characters that show up in this episode.

From left to right: Thor, Jane Foster, Nebula, and Korg in What If...? S01E07
From left to right: Thor, Jane Foster, Nebula, and Korg in What If…? S01E07

Uh, Excuse Me Sir? You’re Missing Your License to Party

After a night of partying (and hooking in Jane and Thor’s case), S.H.I.E.L.D finally decides to show up with two pieces of news: Nick Fury was knocked unconscious by Korg during the party, and said party is spreading like wildfire across the planet. Thor himself is in Paris, and it is there that he meets up with Loki, who is a full-fledged Jotun giant in this universe. Despite their not being raised together, they’re still best friends and consider themselves brothers, proving that their bond is something that transcends the multiverse.

Unfortunately for Thor, Maria Hill has used her powers as acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D to call Carol Danvers back to the planet to deal with Thor’s infectious partying, and her arrival leads to the two uppercutting each other across the planet. The battle we get between two of the most powerful characters in the MCU is great, especially because we get to see Carol’s absorption powers in action against a massive hit from Mjolnir.

In the end, Thor manages to get Carol to back off, and when Hill questions how powerful Carol really is, she plainly states that had she used the amount of power it would take to take Thor out, she would “blow a crater in this planetm” something that neither of them would want. Against Jane’s guidance, Hill and Carol decide that the only way to safely rid the planet of Thor is to take him out in the Siberian Tundra.

Thor and Giant Loki in What If...? S01E07
Thor and Giant Loki in What If…? S01E07

A Visit From A Surprise Party-Crasher

After her argument against their idea gets her kicked off of the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier, Jane finds a way to contact Heimdall, who in turn sends her to Frigga. She tells Frigga about how she thinks that Thor is in trouble, and Frigga manages to get ahold of him right before Carol’s fist (with the backup of ten nuclear bombs) hits him in the face.

When his mother questions why Thor is on Earth in the first place, he lies and tells her that he’s there on an educational cultural exchange. He is then forced to convince all of the remaining partygoers on the planet to help him clean up his mess before she arrives to verify his claim.

In the end, Thor manages to get everything in check before his mother arrives, and even Carol backs up his story. Unfortunately for him, Mjolnir was the one thing he forgot to clean up, and it being covered in party paraphernalia exposes the fact that he lied to his mother.

Regardless of everything, Thor shows up at Jane’s van in the middle of the desert with flowers and eventually asks her on a date. To be completely honest, their relationship in this installment of What If…? is the best one in the MCU, and all of their interactions were really sweet despite the relative campiness of the episode.

The episode ends with Uatu giving a whole spiel about how Jane and Thor were going to live happily ever after and all that, and it really seemed like this was going to be the tonal San Junipero of the season. But to the surprise of Thor (and Uatu, which we’ll go into later), a portal opens up, revealing a robot army with an Infinity Gem bejeweled Ultron with a red-eyed Vision inside his outer armor.

Infinity Vision-Ultron (he doesn't have a name yet but he's terrifying) in What If...? S01E07
Infinity Vision-Ultron (he doesn’t have a name yet but he’s terrifying) in What If…? S01E07

What If…? in the Final Stretch

As previously stated, this episode of What If…? is a much lighter story that follows in the footsteps of episodes that are a lot darker, and while the tonal shift is 100% welcome, it probably should have happened a bit earlier in the season. It’s clear that it needs to be where it is in regards to the season’s overarching plotline, but the show needed another pick-me-up somewhere around episodes four, five, or six.

Regardless of the tonal shifts of the season overall, this episode was really, really fun. Like how T’Challa’s inherent goodness follows him across the multiverse, Thor’s good-naturedness does as well, and his character remaining consistent within his recklessness allowed for the comedic aspects of the episode to fall into place really well. 

Carol Danvers in What If...? S01E07
Carol Danvers in What If…? S01E07

The episode also gives viewers a second alternate introduction for Carol Danvers, and seeing her and Thor throw down was also really fun to watch, not only because they’re pretty evenly matched (when Carol pulls her punches), but also because What If…? animated allowed the whole battle to be more creative. To put it plainly, seeing the two punch each other across the planet in a sort of campy way isn’t something that the live-action movies and shows could offer us.

It’s clear that this episode of What If…? is leading up to the season finale that has been teased in all of the more recent promos. The fact that Uatu is surprised at Ultron’s arrival along with Thor is a sign that he wasn’t expecting it despite his seeming omniscience. The portal Ultron comes out of looks like it’s made of something similar to the triangle shapes that appeared in episode four of What If…?, implying that this version has learned how to travel throughout the multiverse to see out his ambitions.

Images Courtesy of Marvel Studios

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