What If…? explores different aspects of the MCU if events occurred a little bit differently from the main timeline. The most recent episode is maybe the most twisted one yet. We all know a tragic car accident sets Doctor Strange on his path to be the Sorcerer Supreme but what would happen if he lost something besides the use of his hands that night.
Stephen Strange is traveling to a fancy event to be recognized for his work as a surgeon but this particular evening, he is joined by Dr. Christine Palmer. As it happened in the proper universe, he is involved in an accident but loses his companion in the process. The good doctor then pursues the mystical arts to find a way to bring back the love of his life.
The first half of this episode of What If…? follows an all too familiar tale of hubris. We witness Strange’s desperation and the lengths he will go that lead to his dark descent. He starts losing his humanity in his pursuit. There is a very insightful and relevant line stating how love can break the heart and shatter the mind.
Things become more intriguing after the reveal of Stephen and leads to an epic duel. Visually, the battle takes full advantage of the animation medium displaying cool and creative magic effects. Someone literally has the magic beat out of them. It’s even more amusing when the Cloak of Levitation gets in on the action in more than one way.
Something we haven’t seen previously on What If…? is the involvement of the Watcher. So far, he’s been in the background as an observer but with all the magic around, his presence is detected and there’s a direct plea for him to intervene. He coldly holds his ground and leaves the universe to its dreary fate. However, we do receive a glimpse into this cosmic figure. He interestingly states in the episode how he can’t help out one universe at the expense of others. Maybe there is a point where a cataclysmic event threatens enough realities that he must step in.
Another intriguing element is how the story ties into the bigger picture. Though it is still to be seen whether this Doctor Strange story (or anything else from What If…?) will be revisited in the MCU, it does shed some light on the lore and rules of the multiverse. The concept of the “absolute point,” or an unchangeable occurrence, is featured. In addition, psychic impressions can be sensed through splinters in reality and a temporal paradox has the power to destroy worlds. As Phase Four goes further in this direction, it’s good to take note when this background information is shared.
This episode delivers the darkest episode yet and discloses important facets of the multiverse.
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