Warning: spoilers ahead for episode 8 of Marvel series What If…?
Episode 8 of Marvel series What If…?, the penultimate episode of the season on Disney Plus, imagines what would have happened if the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron had transpired differently.
Instead of being beaten by the Avengers, Ultron becomes an all-powerful and seemingly unstoppable being, complete with all six of the Infinity Stones.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, Black Widow (Lake Bell) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) set off on a mission to try and find a way to stop Ultron in his tracks, turning to a sketchy individual for assistance.
Meanwhile, the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), who up until this point has remained mostly in the shadows, inches towards breaking his oath to always watch and never intervene.
An encounter with Doctor Strange at the very end of the episode hints that next week’s finale is going to be a show-stopping conclusion, with the shows heroes and villains potentially experiencing the full force of the multiverse.
Can Ultron be stopped now that he has the Infinity Stones?
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers manage to prevent Ultron from merging his mind with a synthetic body made from vibranium, who eventually became the heroic Vision.
However, in the second to last episode of What If…? season one, Ultron achieves his aim, taking on a deadly form and causing utter annihilation across the universe.
Ultron – who has the Mind Stone embedded in his forehead – comes face to face with Thanos, who has the five other Infinity Stones in the Infinity Gauntlet.
Ultron slices Thanos in half like he’s a piece of bread, taking control of all six of the Infinity Stones and creating drones to help him obliterate everything in his path, an act which he believes will foster peace.
With Ultron in possession of the Infinity Stones and boasting an insatiable desire for power, can he be stopped?
Black Widow and Hawkeye seek help from Marvel villain
Despite many of Marvel’s greatest heroes dying at Ultron’s hands – including Tony Stark, who suffers yet another devastating death in the MCU – Black Widow and Hawkeye manage to survive, escaping Ultron’s many menacing drones.
The pair pore over an archive of KGB files while the Watcher keeps a close eye on them, the intergalactic being barely able to resist intervening as he urges Clint to find the document that they need to defeat Ultron.
Fortunately, just as Clint is about to give up, Natasha finds the file, which points them towards a Hydra base in Siberia.
The former agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. head straight there to find former Hydra scientist Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), who uploaded his brain to data banks before his death in the 1970s.
Fans in tears over heartbreaking Avengers: Endgame throwback
After convincing Zola to help them in their fight against Ultron, Natasha and Clint successfully manage to upload Zola’s consciousness into one of Ultron’s drones, while fighting off a horde of the robots.
As they try to escape the former Hydra compound, Clint is saved from a fatal fall by Natasha, who catches his arm in the nick of time.
However, Clint decides that for him, enough is enough, and he doesn’t want to fight anymore.
Sacrificing himself, he falls into the swarm of droids, in a moment reminiscent of Avengers: Endgame when Clint was the one forced to watch Natasha fall to her death on Vormir while in pursuit of the Soul Stone.
What If…? viewers were left in tears by the heartbreaking Endgame parallel.
‘Killing Tony Stark again was bad enough, but when they did the Clint and Natasha Endgame scene but with the roles reversed? That is where they went too far,’ one person tweeted.
‘Marvel thinks they’re slick with that parallel to Endgame but they’re not and I’m going to fight them,’ another upset fan said.
What does ending mean as Watcher meets evil Doctor Strange?
In the latest episode of What If…? the Watcher becomes increasingly desperate to intervene with the events unfolding.
As Ultron gains more power, the villain is able to sense the Watcher’s presence, resulting in him discovering the Watcher’s secret hideout, much to his horror and disbelief.
The Watcher and Ultron face off in an explosive battle, enabling Ultron to gain access to the multiverse and see everything happening at once.
The Watcher flees to safety, escaping to the purple orb where viewers last saw the evil version of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), after he caused the destruction of his own universe.
Doctor Strange asks the Watcher whether he’s finally ready to break his oath, as the Watcher replies: ‘I see now. I need your help.’
This could mean that in next week’s season finale of What If…?, viewers will witness the Watcher team up with Doctor Strange in an effort to take down Ultron, despite his previous promise never to get involved in anything he sees.
What If…? is available to watch on Disney Plus with new episodes released on Wednesdays.