The fourth episode of Marvel Studios’ latest anthology series, What If…?, released this week on Disney+. You can check out my initial thoughts on episode 4 below. Be warned – spoilers after the break!
Episode four of Marvel’s What If…? explores what would happen if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands. I must admit, I was a little sceptical about how good the episode would be judging by the title, however episode four of What If…? is without out doubt, the most though provoking episode to date!
It’s been a while since I’ve watched the original Doctor Strange movie, but thankfully episode four of What If…? serves as a nice origin story refresher for the Sorcerer Supreme. The episode starts by covering pretty much everything which goes on in the movie but in typical What If…? fashion, the episode focuses on an alternate timeline where Doctor Strange attempts to manipulate time using the Eye of Agamotto. After multiple failed attempts at trying to save his girlfriend, the Ancient One splits Strange into two alternate versions and this is where the fun begins!
Altering of timelines and meddling with multiverses has rapidly gained traction within the MCU recently and episode four of What If…? emphasises the direction in which the MCU is headed. Strictly speaking, messing with time generally never works out for the best and this point is cemented in episode four. As Strange refuses to listen to the Ancient One’s comments on how his girlfriend’s death is an “absolute point” in the timeline and cannot be undone, she splits him into two versions; one Strange who accepts Palmer’s death while the other discovers how to gain power by absorbing mystical beings, becoming Doctor Strange Supreme.
Firstly, the fact that there are two variants of the same character in the same timeline is completely mind-blowing and does nothing but fuel the rumours of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield appearing in Spider-Man: No Way Home later this year. We saw multiple variants of characters in Marvel’s Loki, but none of which caused cataclysmic consequences like we saw in episode four of What If…?. Given Doctor Strange is set to appear in No Way Home later this year, episode four has provided plenty of food for thought as to what could happen in the MCU and how big a part Doctor Strange could play.
Towards the end of the episode, we see the two versions of Doctor Strange face off in what was a fairly epic final battle sequence, something I found somewhat reminiscent of a Dragon Ball Z fight scene! I really enjoyed the two Strange’s facing off, particularly with how the stunningly animated visuals complimented the action, which I felt really popped on screen. I also really liked the fact that the evil version of Strange managed to overpower the good Strange, giving the ending to the episode a dark and ominous feel.
Episode four also provides the first time we’ve seen any character interact with The Watcher. The Watcher has very much been a bystander thus far in the series, so it was neat to see him adopt a more hands on approach with Strange. Interestingly, when Strange asked The Watcher for help, he responded by saying “Interfering with time and events only leads to more destruction…”, perhaps hinting at how future MCU films Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could change the face of the MCU as we know it.
Episode four has undoubtedly been the most though provoking episode to date! Frankly, it’s going to take me a few more watches to digest everything within the episode! Fingers crossed future episodes of What If…? continue to be as captivating!
What If…? is available to stream on Disney+, with new episodes releasing every Wednesday.