What If…? Episode 8 recap: No more waiting in the wings

Ultron in Marvel Studios' WHAT IF...? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Ultron in Marvel Studios' WHAT IF...? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

In What If…? Episode 8, the multiverse comes under threat from a villain even stronger than Thanos. Can the Avengers save the day again? Are the Avengers even alive?

The Disney Plus show has been building up to this moment the whole season. We’ve seen multiple universes, some with their own heroes, others where heroes became villains.

In What If… Ultron Won?, we encounter an Earth where one being transcends the boundaries of their planet and even their universe.

All the while, the Watcher stays back, keeping an eye on things but never interfering. He’s taken an oath, after all. But this new villain will have the Watcher questioning everything he believes.

What If…? Episode 8 – Rise of Ultron

In the MCU, the Avengers banded together to defeat Ultron. Their victory was mainly possible because they managed to stop Ultron’s transfer into Vision.

But in What If…? Episode 8, the Watcher informs us of a universe where things turned out differently. On this Earth, Ultron successfully transferred his consciousness into the vibranium Android with the mind stone.

This gave Ultron immense power. He fought the Avengers and won and began annihilating the people of Earth—his ultimate goal to make “peace in our time.”

In the process, Ultron killed his creator, Tony Stark, and overtook the internet. In the end, only two Avengers remained: Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye.

The pair use all their skills to survive against Ultron’s hordes. Especially since Natasha has a lead—the key to defeating Ultron is among the KGB files in a huge warehouse.

Having destroyed almost all humans on Earth, Ultron believed he would be satisfied. But then Thanos arrived, with the rest of the infinity stones.

All that power in the palm of his hand, and Ultron slices the Mad Titan in half with the mind stone.

This is the Ultron we saw at the end of the previous episode. But how did he get to another universe?

What If…? Episode 8 – The Watcher

With the infinity stones in his grasp, Ultron learns that there are other planets besides Earth in What If…? Episode 8. How can Ultron maintain peace in his time if there are other planets that could threaten Earth at any time?

So, Ultron takes the fight to other planets. He wipes out Asgard first. Then the Sovereign, even as the Guardians of the Galaxy try to protect it. Xandar, Sakaar, even Ego, all fall to Ultron. Not even Captain Marvel can defeat Ultron.

The Watcher sees all this and notifies us, the audience, of his findings. Of how Ultron, having destroyed almost every being in his universe feels deflated, instead of elated.

Why? Because Ultron has achieved his goal. What does he do now?

But as the Watcher tells us what’s running through Ultron’s mind, the android realizes he’s not alone. He turns, and he sees the Watcher, hidden away in his own realm. Ultron now knows that there is a multiverse out there.

The Watcher has a plan. Well, he has hope. Black Widow and Hawkeye scour the files in the massive storage room. It’s not like they have anything else to do.

Just as they’re closing in on the file that the Watcher believes will save everyone, Hawkeye gives up. Fortunately, Black Widow doesn’t. She finds the file for Arnim Zola and where they can find him. I love that Widow also finds the shield that once belonged to her father, Red Guardian.

Fans of the MCU will recognize their destination. This Siberian facility is the same one where the Winter Soldiers were created. Also, where Iron Man and Captain America had their big falling out in Captain America: Civil War.

Arnim Zola’s intelligence is in a computer in this facility—this will be the last surviving version of him, Widow and Hawkeye inform him.

But Zola is important for their plan. No matter how much they threaten, Hawkeye and Widow need Zola to align with them for once.

What If…? Episode 8 – Asking for help

Zola will be downloaded into one of Hawkeye’s arrows, which he’ll shoot into an Ultron sentry.

Since all the Ultron robots are connected to the hive mind, Zola will be able to infect all the robots and even Ultron himself.

Sounds like a great plan, except when the sentries arrive in What If…? Episode 8, the arrow only manages to infect one Ultron robot. Zola isn’t able to reach the hive mind.

Widow, Hawkeye and the Zola-bot try to escape the hordes, but Hawkeye has to sacrifice himself. How did this plan not work?

According to Zola, it’s because the Ultron hive mind isn’t anywhere near the known universe. So, where is Ultron?

Ultron’s busy breaking into the Watcher’s watchtower. This is nothing the Watcher is prepared for, and Ultron successfully breaks in.

What ensues is a fight between the Watcher and Ultron. They break through multiple universes, the Watcher barely able to hold his own.

Ultron is powerful, resourceful, and he refuses to back down. He’s ready to consume universes if it means getting the Watcher. Galactus has nothing on this Ultron.

When the Watcher finally gets a breather, he manages to create a suit of armor for himself. This helps keep Ultron at bay for a while but not long.

They crash on another Earth and continue fighting—each punch from Ultron takes the Watcher through another universe, then another. Ultron wants to destroy them all, and he won’t let the Watcher stand in his way.

As Ultron gloats at his imminent victory, the Watcher manages to escape. Where does he find himself? In none other than the universe that the evil Doctor Strange destroyed.

This Doctor Strange was the first to notice the Watcher, and he’s been patiently waiting for the omnipotent being to come to him.

The Watcher has never needed to do this, but the Ultron situation is dire. With the entire multiverse at risk, the Watcher must do something he never imagined he’d do—he asks Doctor Strange for help.

Final Thoughts – What If…? Episode 8 sets up a grand season finale

What If…? Episode 8 may not have been the most exciting of the episodes, but it upped the stakes a thousand-fold.

We’ve seen so many alternate universes, and now we learn that they’ve been tied to each other this whole time.

I imagine the finale will see the Watcher and Doctor Strange gathering heroes from all these universes to fight Ultron. Will it be enough, though? I would love to find out.

What did you think of What If…? Episode 8? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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What did you think of What If…? Episode 8? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

What If…? is streaming on Disney Plus.