"What If..." Episodes 5-9

Episode 5: What if...Zombies

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Jon Favreau, Danai Gurira, Emily VanCamp, David Dastmalachian, Hudson Thames, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor

While I know more of the episodes of this show are probably based on a specific comic or series of comics somewhere, the only ones I know for sure are Captain Carter and this, which as you might suspect is written by the guy who wrote The Walking Dead.
Chrissy: Which makes Danai/Okoye's presence in this episode particularly hilarious.
Diandra: Ha. Yeah. She almost kept me watching that show past the point where it had become tedious. As far as I was concerned, she was the best character.
Chrissy: Oh, that's just fact.

We start with a shot of the stars from Earth. Something streaks through space like a comet. It turns out to be The Hulk and we are recreating the scene at the beginning of Infinity War where he was sent to Earth to warn that Thanos was coming.
Chrissy: And Doctor Strange proved just how selective his list of "known threats" is.
Diandra: You would remember that.
This time, though, there is nobody in the Sanctum when he crashes through the ceiling. Well, nobody human. The cloak is watching him like a pervert while he searches for some clothes to wear now that he's back in Bruce Banner form.
Chrissy: Yeah, the cloak likes to watch.
Diandra: .............
Chrissy: What?
Diandra: Oh, that was all you were going to say? Okay, moving on.
Emilio: Well, sometimes it likes to participate...

He steps outside to find the streets just as deserted. He asks out loud if he's already too late. A beam touches down, leaving a couple of Thanos' minions and he tries to Hulk out, but has about as much success as he did in the original version. Ebony Maw starts spewing about being honored to be a victim of Thanos or...whatever. A portal forms behind his head and the Iron Man gauntlet blasts him. Bruce is happy to see Tony, Stephen and Wong step out of the portal until they start slaughtering the minions and...uh...eating them. Bruce is like 'uh...guys? Um...' And we finally push in on what is left of Tony's decayed zombie face.
Chrissy: Have fun with the nightmares, kids!

Stephen and Wong also look up, Wong still chewing, and Bruce starts backing away like 'um, I'll just...leave now...' Thanos' minions get up to join them because I guess the virus has a really fast turn around time and Tony starts powering up the blaster on his suit. The cloak flies in, grabs him by the leg and flings him aside. Stephen starts doing...something...and it grabs his hand and starts slinging him around too.
Emilio: Question: is that actually Benedict?
Diandra: I would think it would have been easy enough to get both Benedicts to do a couple minutes of grunting and snarling between lines from other episodes, but I usually assume that zombie noises are just layered FX that don't require the actual actor.
Chrissy: Not that she would know anyway because she's apparently terrible with voices.
Diandra: Is this about the "Simpsons" thing again?
Chrissy: Yes. You made fun of fans who didn't recognize Benedict was in something until they saw his name in the credits and then you did EXACTLY THAT.
Diandra: I assume they were referring to things where you could see his face. Which is insane. I didn't recognize Stephen Fry in the next "Simpsons" episode either and I have listened to both of those guys read dozens of hours of audiobooks, so...yeah, apparently I am terrible at recognizing voices.

Bruce starts running, but a portal forms in front of him and Wong sticks his head through it and snaps at him. But he can't quite reach because the other end of the portal is back where everyone else is and the cloak is hanging on to both him and Stephen. It spins Wong and somehow causes the portal to snap on his neck, beheading him. Because I guess everyone knew how to do that BUT Stephen. Conveniently. While the cloak is still playing with Stephen, Bruce tries to run again, but gets magicked in place by the minions, who along with Tony start bearing down on him. He starts chanting "don't eat me"...
Chrissy: That's not what you said last time.
Diandra: [grumbling]
...and is rescued when a flock of...something swarms in and strips them down to skeletons. All of them. Hope blows up to normal size and blasts Tony's head off, which a giant ant proceeds to eat. Bruce moans that this is gross and he's definitely going to vomit now.
Chrissy: Meanwhile, Diandra is eating right now.
Diandra: [coughs and puts down sandwich] Yeah, sorry.
Chrissy: Is it just because it's animated or...
Diandra: No, I think years of watching "CSI", "Bones" and "The Walking Dead" while eating has given me an iron stomach.
Emilio: That and she did say she was faking all of her freakouts during "Lord of the Rings" for entertainment value at some point.
Diandra: Jesus, you really do remember these things. I am so sorry.

Hope tells Bruce to go with the giant ants because he'll be safe with them. He's like 'what the fuck? Also, who the fuck?' She says they're all that's left. Spider-Man swoops in suddenly to pick him up and he starts chanting "don't eat me" again.
Emilio: Not usually the words I hear.
Diandra: If I weren't hungry, I would be throwing this sandwich at you right now, Emilio. Can we just put a moratorium on "eat me" jokes right now?
Chrissy and Emilio simultaneously: No.
Peter is like 'relax, I'm still human. I'm here to segue us into an explanation of what happened while you were off playing gladiator on a garbage planet.' And continuing with my terrible record of recognizing voices...if I hadn't just typed out the cast list at the beginning of this episode, I would totally believe that was actually Tom Holland because this is the best impression of somebody not in this series yet.

The Watcher explains that this tragedy "sprang from a place of love and hope." It's been two weeks on this world since Hank Pym went into the Quantum Realm to retrieve his wife. We see the animated version of that scene, but when he locates Janet she is zombified. Or, as the Watcher calls it, she "contracted a quantum virus that corrupted her brain." I guess the Quantum Realm is as good a place as any for a zombie virus to originate. Most zombie movies get really hand wavey about where it comes from. Hope and Scott meet the pod coming out of the Quantum Time Tunnel and Hope's reflexes are fast enough to dodge her zombified father as he staggers out. Scott is...not so fast.
Chrissy: Oh, look, we're recreating the scene from Titanic.

Things very quickly progressed from there according to pretty much every zombie movie ever. The Avengers tried to respond, but that went south pretty much instantly as Hank in ant form bit Captain America. And once the superpowered started becoming zombies...

Peter makes another one of his home movies, titled How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. He zooms in on Happy, who is wearing a shirt that says "I'm not single, I'm saving myself for Thor."
Chrissy: Oh, honey. Get in line.
He holds up a sign that says "step #1: long sleeves" and complains about the shirt he was given. Peter is like 'no, it's cool man. You can't even see it. [snicker snicker].' Kurt, the Slavic guy from Ant Man comes through a door pretending to be a zombie and bites a very unamused Happy's arm while Peter explains that the virus is passed through saliva, so...not exposing any skin helps. Kurt takes out a packet of ketchup and squirts it all over Happy.
Emilio: At least he got the right packet this time. Last time he grabbed mayonnaise by accident and it looked...like a very different kind of film.
Diandra: In other news...we'll have him in this, but not in the next actual "Ant Man" movie? Really?
Chrissy: But we will have the woman who spoke at an antivaxer rally.
Diandra: Yeah, I think that happened after they were mostly finished filming.

Step 2, Peter says, is hygiene, because zombies are attracted to the smell of human flesh. So the less pheromones you give off the better.
Chrissy: So smear yourself with rotting corpse goop like they did in "Walking Dead" to mask it.
Diandra: Ew, no.
They sneak up on a shower where Bucky, who Peter dubs "silent but deadly" just grabs Kurt by the neck with his metal arm and notes that he just has to squeeze. Peter is like OKAY, ease up there big fella. Chrissy: And I do mean BIG.

Sharon Carter has step three, which is that you always have to aim for the head. He shoots her in the forehead with a plunger dart (or whatever those are called). And it turns out Peter has been playing this video for Bruce as a sort of "orientation" and is interrupted right here by Okoye. She introduces herself to Bruce. He notes that she picked a "hell of a time" to visit the states. She says her king went missing a few weeks ago when the Avengers failed that mission. Did I mention he was there instead of Hulk? She says they just got a beacon that gives them hope.

Hope, Okoye, Bruce, Peter, Bucky and Sharon watch a holographic display as Okoye says another survivor camp thinks they've made progress with a cure. Bucky says yeah, but the location of the beacon was corrupted so they can't trace it. Sharon says it looks like SHIELD's first base of operations in New Jersey. Which makes sense because they would actually have the equipment needed to make a cure. Over in the corner, Happy groans "just when you think things couldn't get any worse...we gotta go to Jersey."

Fun fact: I once got so frustrated with my car's navigation system that I yelled "fuck you" at it. It paused for a few seconds of consideration, then loaded maps for New Jersey and prompted me for more details. Mad props to whoever programmed it to respond that way.

To add insult to injury, Happy drives the shrunken Ant Man van with everybody in it to Grand Central, grumbling about how he's STILL the chauffer even in an apocalypse. A zombie crouches in front of the van and they explode it by expanding to normal size. Inside, Okoye orders Bruce, Hope and Peter to see if they can hotwire the train on track seven. Peter asks if they don't get any horror movies in Wakanda because generally splitting up the team is a BAD idea. She fires back that they don't need horror movies because they have American reality TV. "Boom goes the dynamite," Kurt laughs. He goes with that group and Okoye says the rest of them will guard the perimeter.

We go with the ones trying to jack the train. Kurt has no luck just hotwiring it. Bruce bemoans that they are "locked out of the gear box". Hope miniaturizes to try jump starting from inside the engine. She realizes they need someone to push them. Or, like...make a giant slingshot. Peter is like 'GREAT, A REASON FOR ME TO BE HERE' and webs the front of the train to tow it.

Meanwhile, something with wings is stalking the others, who are split in two different parts of the station. Happy, who apparently inherited one of Tony's gauntlets, blasts the shit out of a flock of birds before sheepishly realizing it's just birds. And then someone spears him with some sort of arrow attached to a long rope and drags him into the darkness. Sharon yelps into the comms that they have a man down and starts to say who she's pretty sure got Happy when she is also hit with an arrow. Zombie Clint staggers out of the darkness and she's like 'yep, it's Hawkeye.' Zombie Sam flies at Okoye and Bucky and Okoye just jumps on his back to grapple with him like the badass she is. Except he flies under a low walkway and she has to jump before she can do anything.

Happy, newly zombified, staggers out and blasts at a pinned Sharon a couple times, but he has the aim of a Storm Trooper.
Chrissy: Oh, now we're gonna switch fandom references?
Emilio: That is just as universal as redshirts.
When he gets close enough, Sharon grabs his hand and redirects the blaster into his face. Except Clint is still there, along with a bunch of random zombies who were probably train passengers when they were turned.

Bucky shoots at Sam, who swoops down on him, disarming him. Well, not...you know what I mean. Okoye leaps in and slices Zombie Sam in half.
Chrissy: Because you do NOT mess with Michonne.
Diandra: Yeah, Danai is a zombie killing badass in any universe.
Bucky blinks at Sam's splattered remains and Okoye flatly apologizes for killing his friend. Bucky is like 'actually...I'm good.'

Sharon frees herself of the arrow, steals the gauntlet from Happy and runs.

Peter yells at the rest of the group to disengage the break when he tells them. And a zombie horde appears behind him. He yelps as one lunges toward him, but Stephen's cloak swoops in to slap them all back. The horde surrounds the train and one reaches in for Kurt. Hope reappears and knocks it back, miniaturizing and flying through several zombies, exploding them.

The three remaining members of the other group arrive just as they get the train started. The cloak grabs Peter and flies through one of the windows and they mow down all the zombies on the tracks.

Sometime later, Peter comes into the car where everyone else is gathered wearing the cloak on top of his Spider-Man costume. Hope says it's a good look for him. Or at least he'll "grow into it."
Emilio: Maybe he'll let me try it in this universe...
Diandra: No.
Chrissy: Is this a preview of what the two of you roleplaying through "No Way Home" is going to look like?
Emilio: Probably.

Sharon is in the back of the train when there's a thump on the roof. She still has the gauntlet and activates it as something falls through into the car.

From the next car, Bucky hears her scream and runs to find Zombie Steve already chewing on her. Steve snarls and charges him, shield deflecting Bucky's bullets. Sharon lumbers back in zombie state and Hope arrives to help Bucky, miniaturizing and flying directly into her mouth. Bucky manages to get the shield off Steve and use it to cut him in half and send both parts tumbling out onto the tracks. "Sorry pal, guess this is the end of the line," he says.
Chrissy: SNORT. Sorry, that was terrible.
Diandra: No arguments here.
He turns to face Sharon, who explodes as Hope blows back to full size. Okoye, Peter and the cloak arrive and she moans that she's covered in Sharon. Okoye offers Peter's hand sanitizer. Then Bruce arrives and points out that she has a cut visible through a tear in her uniform. But even though everyone has been turning, like, IMMEDIATELY, I'm sure it will take her longer.

She sits and Bruce checks her heart rate and temperature, both of which are...not good. She says they know what to do then. Okoye is hesitant because they could be SO close to the cure. Hope thinks that's too big a risk. Peter thinks anyone who has seen a zombie movie knows that the biggest key to survival is hope.
Emilio: Well...being a really good shot doesn't hurt.
And, you know...it IS her name. Hope laughs and asks how he does it. He says he's in the AV club, so he sees a lot of movies. She says no, not the movie references, how does he stay so damn positive after everything that has happened? He suggests he's had a lot of practice. His parents, Uncle Ben, Tony...Happy...
Chrissy: Oh, so we do remember Uncle Ben is a thing in this universe.
Diandra: I think they made a vague reference to "everything" Aunt May had been through in one of the other movies already, so I just figured we were starting after all that shit because everyone knew we didn't want to see exactly the same story play out for the third time in the last two decades.

He quotes his currently deceased (probably due to zombies) Aunt May as saying that if they don't "keep smiling when they can't" then they might as well be dead too. They would want their loved ones to continue on without them. Hope smiles at him fondly and Bruce pats his shoulder like a proud father figure. Kurt interrupts this moment to tell them the train is running out of fuel. Bruce asks how close they are to the camp they were trying to reach. Kurt is like 'er...closer than we were before?' Also, there's a horde of zombies outside that we'll have to get through. Bucky and Okoye both immediately conclude that there is no way they're making it through that. Hope says they can make it OVER them though. And if she's dying already, she might as well go out helping them hopefully fix this mess she created by trying to rescue her mother.

Cue the sappy music while she goes giant, blasting through the roof of the train. She carries them through the zombie horde, stomping and kicking at them along the way, but also picking up a few that crawl up her legs. She sets them down on the other side of the wall of the facility and tells Peter to smile for her before she collapses and is swarmed with zombies.
Emilio: And she couldn't go back to normal size first so now everyone's going to have to deal with a giant zombie.

The group all take a moment to acknowledge her sacrifice. Then Bucky asks why the zombies aren't climbing the fence. Peter notices there's a big hole in the fence, so they wouldn't even have to climb to get past it, but they're all just staying outside the perimeter for some reason. Kurt starts muttering about Baba Yaga again, whose presence he says he can feel. Bruce asks who that is, so Kurt can exposit that she's a witch who haunts sacred burial grounds. Vision appears suddenly, startling them, and Bruce hugs him, babbling about how great it is to see a familiar face that hasn't been half eaten. Vision says yeah, the zombies don't bother androids.

Vision takes them into the compound while expositing that his mind stone is the reason the zombies are staying clear. It emits some sort of frequency they don't like. Bruce wonders if this means the zombie infection is "some kind of encephalopathy." Peter translates that to mean "brain stuff".
Chrissy: Like the "science stuff" Howard was doing in the first episode, presumably.
Vision says something about the virus affecting the limbic system and that he's been using the discovery about the mind stone to try to develop a way to reverse the disease. Something about targeted exposure. Probably to the affected area of the brain. Okoye asks if he was successful at all. From somewhere, Scott calls that they can see that for themselves. Everyone tries to figure out where he is and he mutters that nobody can see him and he messed up his entrance. Vision spins a chair near him to reveal...Scott's disembodied head in a jar.
Chrissy: There is something to be said about the animation making some things in this series less terrifying than they would otherwise be.
Diandra: Yeah, that's also why Howard the Duck worked in this show better than either of the movies he was wedged into before. The real life version of him is just disturbing.
Chrissy: There you go again, comparing something out of a horror movie to an anthropomorphic duck.
Diandra: They are equally nightmare inducing.

Scott cheerfully responds to their shocked expressions by joking that he lost a lot of weight and he's glad they noticed but "won't let it go to my head." Everyone stares in blank horror and he apologizes for his automatic bad dad joke response to trauma. He says it drives...er...drove Hank crazy and he really misses the old guy and would give anything to "get chewed out by" him again.
Emilio: And no, I don't have an off switch.
Diandra: Obviously.
Vision is like BACK TO THE POINT HERE. I cured him. Which mean, theoretically he can cure the disease in general. Bruce suggests they just need access to a satellite network and they could broadcast the signal all over the world. Vision is like 'eh...technically, but humans aren't capable of tech that advanced yet.' Okoye thinks they have it in Wakanda, which thanks to their shielding is still protected from this outside bullshit.

Bucky says he's gonna search the perimeter and see if he can find some sort of "transport". Vision calls cryptically after him that he "will not find what you are looking for." Bucky leaves anyway. Bruce checks the security logs of the compound and says they aren't the first to respond to Vision's signal. Peter asks where the others are then.

Bucky finds a room with a pile of clothing and...Zombie Wanda. He goes to shoot, but T'Challa's voice tells him not to because he will just piss her off. Bucky finds T'Challa on a gurney, a bandage wrapped around the stump that is left of his right leg. T'Challa says they have to get out of here.

Vision is just telling Bruce that he really wishes they hadn't found this place when Bucky and T'Challa hobble in. T'Challa says this place is a trap. Okoye runs to him and he explains that Vision captured him in San Francisco. Bucky adds that he's been keeping T'Challa alive to "feed his zombie bride".
Chrissy: So for everyone who thought her behavior in WandaVision was horrifyingly extreme...apparently it could have been FAR worse.
Vision says as bad as it seems, he swears his actions were "born of logic". "Well, in Vision's defense," Scott says, ".........I've got nothing." Peter is piecing it together though. He tried to cure BOTH Wanda and Scott and while he was successful with Scott to some degree, it didn't work on Wanda. Vision says her powers make her resistant to treatment somehow. All he could do is contain her. Which only works as long as he feeds her. Okoye notes that he could have killed her, but this is where his relationship to her comes in: he couldn't bring himself to do that. Bruce is like 'so you just camped out and started luring people in like lambs to slaughter then.' Okoye decides he must pay for his crimes RIGHT NOW and raises her spear. The whole facility seems to wobble and Vision is like 'good job. You pissed her off. Did I mention she hasn't fed for several days now?'

Kurt is, of course, the first human Wanda finds when she blasts open the doors to the control room. She drags him in with magic and Scott jokes that she is a "man eater."
Chrissy: You know, we could always put a muzzle on you.
Wanda levitates into the room and Bucky tries to shoot at her. She throws one of the big metal doors she just blasted out at him. It misses and hits Scott's chair, nearly sending him to the floor. The cloak catches him and apparently decides this is where it is most useful now: acting as Scott's body. Peter tangles Wanda in his webs and Okoye throws her spear at her. Bruce begs Vision to help them get out of here. Wanda deflects the spear, breaks the webs and roars angrily. Vision is like 'yeah, that's probably a good idea.' He blasts a hole in the wall and they all scramble out. Okoye is the last and she doesn't quite make it before Wanda catches her with magic. She and T'Challa meet eyes and she says "Wakanda Forever" before she is yanked back.

Vision lasers the entire perimeter of the building, sinking it underground, and directs what's left of the group to the Quinjet in the nearby hangar. Bruce asks if he's coming with them. Vision says no, he still can't bring himself to leave her. Then he yanks the mind stone out of his own head, screaming, and sending a blast of energy outward.
Chrissy: Wait, so...he didn't need HER to destroy it in "Infinity War"? They put her through that for shits and giggles?
Diandra: I mean...obviously they're making shit up as they go along, so. It's possible he couldn't do that in the universe we know and it's equally possible that this just never occurred to the writers until now.

With the mind stone no longer keeping the horde at bay, the zombies start staggering past the broken fence. The rubble that used to be the compound levitates and Wanda emerges from it, snarling. Bucky cocks his gun and growls at the others to run. They do, with Peter supporting T'Challa now. But Wanda is briefly distracted by Vision's body, which she crouches over. Bucky shoots and the bullets just stop in midair in front of her. She flicks them back into Cap's shield. Then she catches him with her energy beam and holds him for a second before apparently deciding she doesn't want him and flinging him away. She chases Bruce instead, catching up just as he's opening the door of the hangar and biting his arm. The arm and part of his face turns green and he flings her away, thanking Hulk for actually coming through and saving his life.

T'Challa works at getting the plane running. Bruce offers to buy the group time before the approaching horde closes in. Peter says no, they are NOT leaving him behind because he is NOT going to lose another friend today. Bruce just hands him the Mind Stone Vision ripped out and tells him to avenge them. He runs out into the horde, yelling at Hulk the whole way that NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO COME OUT. He disappears under the zombies for a few seconds, then Hulk bursts out, flinging zombies and roaring. The horde parts and Wanda charges at him. The jet starts up and the group flies off as Hulk and Wanda fight below. Scott happily cheers that they did it and Peter bemoans the fact that NONE OF THEM have ever watched a horror movie and keep doing the opposite of what you're supposed to. Don't say that. Ever.

As they're flying past the gate, the now fully zombified Hope gets up and catches the tail of the jet. T'Challa activates thrusters, blasting them in her face and they break free. She angrily throws a zombie after them, which bounces off the fuselage harmlessly. Peter consoles a stricken Scott, telling him Hope gave her life so they could get to the cure. Scott gets misty eyed as he says Hope saved him twice. Uh...when was the other time?
Chrissy: Probably in a movie you didn't recap.

As they approach the Wakanda border, Peter mopily notes that Tony asked him to join the Avengers only a year ago. He turned down the offer. And now they're all dead and he isn't.
Chrissy: It's called survivor's guilt, kid.
And then T'Challa tells him about how the Wakandans view death, unknowingly giving viewers a very meta catharsis. Death is not the end, he says. "They are still with us, as long as we do not forget them." Scott is like 'technically, I'm an Avenger, so we're not all dead.'
Emilio: It counts if nobody is alive to say I'm not, right?

Peter cheerfully notes that once they get the Mind Stone to Wakanda, they should be able to work on saving the world. We pan out from the plane and push in past the borders of Wakanda, where bodies are scratching at the wall to get out and the Watcher is like 'yeah...humans are always optimistic.' Somewhere inside the border is a zombified Thanos, wielding the Infinity gauntlet.
Chrissy: Yep, let's just crush that small hope of a happy ending.
Diandra: Is anyone here still watching "The Walking Dead?
Chrissy: No, everyone I knew who was quit when they beat Glenn to death.
Emilio: I never watched it.
Diandra: Oh, right. I forgot you don't watch horror shit. Anyway, I'm wondering how much of this is a preview of what the finale of that show is going to look like.
Chrissy: Yeah, I quit watching because I realized it was just going to go on and on in bleak little circles forever until everybody died.
Diandra: Yeah, all zombie stories are generally really good at exploring human nature, but they just can't end any other way.
Chrissy: Well...World War Z started, like, ten years after the survivors had won the zombie war.
Diandra: Right. And then the movie was completely different because how the hell do you film that book? As crazy as it would have been, the original pitch for "The Walking Dead" where the virus turns out to have been created by aliens to decimate the human population and make their invasion easier would at least have had an endgame to work toward. And that could have worked here too where we already know aliens exist and some of them pose potential threats. But whatever.

Episode 6: What if Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? (AKA: What if We Kept Killing Tony?)

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Michael B. Jordan, Jon Favreau, Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Andy Serkis, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, John Kani, Leslie Bibb and Mick Wingert (doing an impression of Robert Downey Jr.)

Welcome to the first of the two lowest rated episodes of this series. The only purpose they really serve is to introduce variants of our familiar characters before we get to the main plot that uses all of them. I mean...technically all the episodes are just introducing variants that form the team in the last episode, but some of them are better than others. I will probably power through these next couple episodes at a faster clip than usual.

We replay the entire opening of Iron Man up until the Stark Industries bomb lands next to Tony. At which point, Killmonger appears and casually picks it up and tosses it so it explodes harmlessly in the air before shooting a few terrorists. He tells Tony that the Ten Rings are sending reinforcements and they need to go.

The Watcher talks about how heroes are "forged in darkness", "shaped in battle" and "defined by sacrifice" over a few clips of the character arc we saw Tony go through in the MCU, which was just nullified by having him rescued. In this universe, Tony was saved, but Iron Man never came to be and Navy Seal Killmonger was named chief security officer of Stark Industries.

At a press conference, Christine, the reporter from the first movie who made a brief appearance in the Doctor Strange episode of this show that was NOT AT ALL CONFUSING is the only one asking why Killmonger was anywhere near Tony's convoy given that his unit was 400 clicks away. Killmonger says he caught wind of the plans to assassinate Tony while he was working under cover with Ten Rings. And by the way, Obediah Stane paid the assassins and Killmonger just uploaded all the proof to the internet. Happy punches out Obediah.

And now that we've nullified the entire rest of that first movie...

Tony hires Killmonger in Obediah's place. He thinks this is perfect because they'll "be like Butch and Sundance!" Pepper has to remind him of how that movie ended.

Rhodey does some recon on Killmonger and gives it to Pepper, whose job it is to make sure Tony doesn't bumble into relationships with people who will take advantage of him. MIT, Annapolis, Navy Seals ghost squad assassin. Pepper is worried about the fact that Killmonger doesn't seem to have any agenda. He doesn't want anything from Tony. Which is weird because EVERYBODY ELSE does.

And this segues into Tony showing Killmonger all his toys. I would regret that wording, but I'm powering through this episode faster than usual and I don't think Chrissy is going to notice. Killmonger picks up a weapon that Tony describes as a miniature version of Jericho (at least he's hoping it will be) and one of the robots takes it from him. They sort of bond a little over the fact that both of their fathers were killed. Which leads to philosophizing over weapons and Killmonger's idea for an automated drone that would eliminate the need for human soldiers in combat, which he couldn't get to work because he's not an engineer. Tony is like WHAT A COINCIDENCE THAT I DON'T FIND AT ALL SUSPECT. And they start building what looks like the thing Obediah used at the end of that first movie, except it's fully automated because JARVIS. Somehow.

The first effort collapses like a puppet cut from its strings immediately, which Tony still counts as a success because it didn't explode. In their next brainstorm, he says it needs another source of power and hey, maybe if he could make a miniature version of the arc reactor..........nah, that's a dumb idea that would never work. Killmonger offers vibranium, which Tony thinks his dad turned the last of into a glorified frisbee (Ultron's words). Killmonger says they can get more, actually, but they will need to go through that weirdo Andy Serkis played. Tony and Killmonger concoct a plan to do that that won't look like they're funding an arms dealer and send Rhodey to talk to him. And this is what is happening when Black Panther attacks, picking off all of Klaue's men like it's a cakewalk before just taking Rhodey's gun away and says he's going to take the vibranium back now. And Killmonger kills him with a "sonic taser" before lecturing Rhodey about wearing "the uniform of our oppressors." Rhodey says it's easier to change the system if you're PART of it. Killmonger says he would rather burn the whole thing down.
Emilio: Bernie bro says what?
Diandra: Yeah.
He kills Rhodey and makes it look like he died in a firefight.

The plot kind of loses coherence after that. The Wakandans blame western imperialists in general and Stark Industries specifically for the death of their crown prince. Tony reveals that JARVIS recorded the entire incident in Wakanda, so he knows what Killmonger really did. He sets the successfully finished Iron Drone on Killmonger and Killmonger defeats it and stabs him with a Dora Milaje spear he got from Klaue. He convinces General Ross that this was retaliation from Wakanda and he had nothing to do with it and wipes JARVIS' records so he doesn't contradict him again. The military considers this an act of war and seizes all of Stark Industries weaponry, giving Killmonger the green light to make a whole army of those drones. "Congratulations, lieutenant. You just invented 21st century warfare."

And then we recreate the whole part where Killmonger kills Klaue and drags his body into Wakanda. But now he has to infiltrate himself in a different manner. He does this by double crossing: telling the Wakandans exactly what is coming and suggesting the best way to stop the drones is to just....let them into Wakanda. Because the force shields will cut them off from JARVIS. Which is exactly what happens. Until Killmonger pushes some kind of remote button that starts the drones up again and claims Tony must have built in some sort of back up because he was evil.

Queen Ramonda leads the Wakandan army, teasing us with the possibility of seeing Angela Bassett be a badass warrior. And Killmonger rides a rhino through the drone army like an avenging angel before fighting alongside perpetual badass Okoye on the ground. They win and Ramonda declares victory "for T'Challa!"

Killmonger goes through the ceremony to become the Black Panther. On the ancestral plane, instead of his father he sees T'Challa, who asks if it was all worth it. Killmonger thinks he did what was necessary. He got revenge, not only for his father but for every black person who suffered oppression "while you just sat back and watched." And now he has the power to fix everything. T'Challa says he STOLE his power and unearned power can be "a very volatile force" that will catch up to him either in the living world or the next.

Meanwhile, Ross is launching a massive attack on Wakanda. Pepper asks if he might be going overboard in his offensive against a country "most Americans can't find on a map."
Chrissy: Hey, if the military limited their attention to just countries Americans can find on a map, that would limit them to...uh...America.
Emilio: And Canada and Mexico.
Diandra: Eh...even those are debatable.

Pepper escapes to Tony's office, where she finds Shuri, inexplicably voiced as if she is a small child. Shuri has somehow uncovered the evidence that Killmonger killed Tony AND T'Challa, so "it appears we have a common enemy" and she thinks they can prove it to their respective governments.

We end with the Watcher rambling about how heroes never really die and they inspire others to continue the fight.
Chrissy: Yeah, that was...something.
Diandra: Yeah, there's a reason it's the second lowest rated episode of the series. I'm not even sure it has much connection to the last episode. Although, when I think about it I wonder if the problem is that it is trying to tell two stories at once and not really focusing on the interesting part of either one. It starts with What If Iron Man Never Was and then turns into What If Killmonger Killed T'Challa and Won and then...stops.
Chrissy: Presumably, Shuri takes over the Black Panther role once they do defeat Killmonger, but yeah. It stops before it ever really gets to defeating him.
Emilio: It needed to be a full movie, not a twenty minute episode.
Diandra: Probably. Although I don't know that that would have been any better. I would liken it to a Harry Turtledove story I read about the decision that shaped the religious maps of the Middle East and how it could easily have gone differently. The entire story was focused on that one decision (which didn't necessarily make for the most exciting story) and left how it changed EVERYTHING ELSE in the rest of history to the reader's imagination.
Chrissy: They kind of did that with the Avengers episode too. Stopped just before whatever team they could put together after most of the original members died could rally to defeat Loki's attempted takeover.
Diandra: True. I guess that's the thing about Alt History. Often, it can really only give a glimpse of a much larger picture and brings up more questions than it answers.

Anyway. From the second lowest rated episode that I kind of jogged through fast to the lowest rated that I could almost skip entirely.

Episode 7: What if Thor Were an Only Child? (AKA This One's Just Filler)

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Frank Grillo, Taika Waititi, Karen Gillan, Jaimie Alexander, Seth Green, Alexandra Daniels, Rachel House.

So...everyone who was in any Thor movie plus some Avengers guys, Nebula and Howard the Duck for some damn reason. Yeah, I'm going to get through this one as quickly as possible.

We're back at the beginning of the first Thor movie, except Jane and Darcy are alone in the desert trying to contact SHIELD because they're getting data that suggests an alien invasion. The bifrost streaks right past them and touches down in the middle of Vegas, where Thor announces that the "party prince" has arrived.

The Watcher explains that relationships can define a hero even more than battles. In this case, Thor was shaped by his relationship to Loki. But in another universe, Odin decided NOT to take in Loki as some sort of bargaining chip.

In this universe, Odin goes into his Odinsleep naturally and Frigga runs off to "celebrate the solstice" with her sister, leaving Thor in charge. She tells him to behave and conduct himself like the king he will one day be and NO PARTIES. Once she's gone, Thor tells his little merry band that they are going to defy her by going to the most backwater planet possible so Heimdall won't see and break up the party that they are definitely having.
Chrissy: Uh...isn't Earth, like, the Asgardians favorite planet or something? There's gotta be a reason they keep meddling in human affairs.
Diandra: Pretty sure you're not supposed to be thinking. Stop it.

Back to the party in Vegas. Jane and Darcy arrive and Jane identifies Thor as the first "alien" to arrive. She is distracted by the fact that he looks like...uh...a god and not whatever bug like creature she expected an alien to look like. Darcy describes him as beach body Ken and "old school Abercrombie catalogue." Jane says yeah, I'm gonna go make first contact. Darcy notes that half the Vegas strip already beat her to that. If she wants to make first contact with an alien, all she's left with is that loser over there. She points to Howard the Duck, who makes a snide comment back.

Thor gets a bunch of Skrulls to "do me", by which he of course means shapeshift into his likeness.
Chrissy: And now, really, do me. I have some fantasies I want to reenact here.
Jane approaches and asks if he was responsible for Alpha Star Icarus dying a year and a half ago because she picked up the same freak anomaly activity then that preceded his arrival on Earth now. She also calls him Thunder Boy, which I might use from now on. Thor remembers Alpha Star as a party so wild they lost Fandral for three days and found him curled up with a baby goat in a barn. "I named him Gary," Fandral squeals.
Chrissy: And according to the rituals of some worlds, we might be married now.
Jane tries to get Thor to focus on the fact that he killed a planet. Thor is distracted by the "magic light box" she's holding, aka an iPad and how she must be a GENIUS to make one of these. She's like 'uh...okay...I do have several Phds, but...whatever.' And then he goes right to flirting, commenting on her lovely eyes. "It's like watching the birth of two stars on the edge of the galaxy." We go from this to Howard the Duck inviting Darcy to get some appetizers since it's happy hour. Oof. I know I didn't like Darcy until very recently when she became less obnoxious, but inflicting Howard the Duck on her just seems cruel.

We fast forward through the night with the Grandmaster playing DJ, Nebula and Korg playing craps, Jane and Thor getting tattoos together and Darcy and Howard the Duck being married by an Elvis impersonator. Chrissy: Okay, never let Darcy drink. She is clearly incapable of making good choices when inebriated.

Morning. Jane wakes up somewhere in the Asgard palace when both her cell and the landline ring. Rumlow bangs on the door, yelling that SHIELD needs to talk to her RIGHT NOW. She looks at all the assorted Asgardians and Rocket for some reason snoring in different parts of the suite and cautiously opens the door. Rumlow steps aside so Maria Hill can "request" as acting director of SHIELD that she come with them. Jane looks at Darcy surrounded by agents further down the hall and asks if this can wait. Hill barks that as Jane was the first to warn them of the extraterrestrial threat, she gets to be their best hope of defeating it.
Emilio: Oh, you mean the thing she was trying to tell you about when you wouldn't take her calls?
Jane isn't so sure anymore that the Asgardian himbo can really be considered a "threat" per se. Hill says yeah, well, she is the director because some big pile of talking rocks body slammed Nick Fury during that party and he's still unconscious, so they KIND OF ARE NOW.

Behind Jane, Thor wakes up and starts asking about food and gushing over the "cute little rabbit" (Rocket) in the sink. Maria is NOT amused and also not taking no for an answer.

So Jane and Darcy are taken aboard the Quinjet, where Coulson announces that they're getting reports of spontaneous parties breaking out all over the world. And Thor, having started it, has fucked off to Paris now because one of his buddies wanted some crepes. Rumlow returns with a suitcase he announces has their "last resort". Not liking the sound of that, Jane protests that this is the planet's first contact with aliens and they should be setting a TONE for diplomatic relations. Because nobody wants to be in the Terran Empire universe.
Chrissy: This is a "Star Trek" thing again, isn't it?
Emilio: Yep.
Chrissy: Goddamn it.
Diandra: Hey, I can't help it if a 50 year franchise covering hundreds of hours of television and several movies has a wealth of material that applies to just about everything in science fiction.
Emilio: And what it doesn't cover, "Doctor Who" can.
Diandra: Exactly.

Hill says actually, this isn't first contact and opens the case to reveal the pager Carol left with Fury. She pushes the button to send her the signal and announces that it's "done".

Loki, who is somehow not a runt in this universe, crashes Thor's party in Paris with a few other frost giants. And the fact that they are close friends and refer to each other as brothers kind of begs the question of how, exactly, this is significantly different. Their ridiculous banter is interrupted when Carol arrives to demand that Thor clean this shit up and leave the planet in some semblance of the condition it was in when he found it. He tells her to "buzz off" and she punches him a few hundred yards. He gets back up and mutters that there's a Midguardian word for women like her: "party pooper. There, I said it." She rolls her eyes, says "this one's for Fury" and punches him into the stratosphere. Mjolnir comes back to knock her into a building, preceding him. She goes full mom, telling him she's going to count to three and he WILL put the hammer down by the time she's finished. He uses it to kick up a dust storm instead and when it has enough momentum he slams her all the way to Stonehenge, where she nearly causes one of the rocks to tip over. He follows and she warns him against doing anything that might destroy...whatever this is. "I don't know what these are. No one does." He taps one of the stones and the whole thing collapses like dominoes.

She punches him all the way to Monument Valley and they continue fighting. Chris Hemsworth makes some truly bizarre noises in the middle of it. After he's down, she yanks him up by the hair and throws him and they continue fighting mid-air all the way across the Pacific.

They end up back in Paris and he pins her with Mjolnir, declaring that she needs a time out. "My mother punished me with time-outs all the time, but I never learned a thing. But maybe they'll work on you."

So she ends up with Hill, who is confused as to why she couldn't handle Thunder Boy because Fury said "your punch was equal to ten nuclear bombs" and her cat can devour whole armies. Darcy derails the conversation by asking what the cat's name is and launching into a whole "Top Gun" reference. Carol is like ANYWAY, if she used her full strength, she would "blow a crater in this planet" and that idiot is not worth that much fallout. "What about South Dakota," Darcy blurts. "Or North Dakota?"
Chrissy: Honestly, no one would miss them. Though if you really want to avoid any people at all, look at a political map and aim for any big red areas west of the Dakotas because they're mostly unpopulated.

Jane gets a call from Thor just then and she steps away to take it. She asks if he really did destroy that Alpha Star planet. He says first of all, it was more of a meteor and it was already breaking when he found it. Nobody got hurt. Hill calls her back and she announces that she has to go and distractedly says "love you...uh...I mean...bye."

Darcy is still on the blowing up one of the Dakotas idea. Hill says it isn't an entirely terrible idea because they could set off a bomb in the Mojave and it wouldn't cause too much damage. Carol offers Siberia as an alternative. Jane defensively says Thor may not be the brightest crayon, but this seems over the top as a solution. Hill thanks her for her opinion and bundles her and Darcy up and returns them to Vegas and Howard the Duck.
Chrissy: Really pushing our tolerance of Howard the Duck, aren't they?
Diandra: They might be hoping they can try for another movie. Or they know that this is all he's ever gonna get and they're making as much use of him as they can.

Jane tries to call Thor. Loki answers and smarmily flirts with her and makes kissing noises and then drops the phone that is the size of one of his fingernails and it shatters on the pavement. Darcy notes that this is the point in movies where somebody calls the frat boy's mother. Jane latches on to that. If there's a Thor and a Loki, there must be an Odin and a Frigga.
Chrissy: Frig and Freya, but go on.
Diandra: Meh, nobody could tell them apart. That's why they actually started to merge them into one all purpose goddess before Christianity took over and everyone stopped worshipping them altogether.

We skim over some further acts of vandalism. Sutur accidentally whacks the Statue of Liberty's torch arm off.
Emilio: And here's where the Weeping Angels would be useful.
The frost giants put facial hair on the Mount Rushmore faces, which...I mean...Mount Rushmore is already an act of vandalism, so that's hardly the worst thing they could have done. And Thor is getting ready to use the Sydney opera house as a slide when Carol catches up to him and throws him into a Siberian mountain.

Jane and Darcy hijack satellites and amplify them to broadcast a signal into space. That signal is just Jane yelling "HEIMDALL". After a pause, the bifrost beams her away. She lands on Asgard for approximately two seconds and Heimdall beams her directly to wherever Frigga is.

Hill isn't taking any chances and orders nukes to be fired. Before they can push the button however, a hologram of Frigga appears in front of Thor and demands to know JUST WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING YOUNG MAN. He's like 'nothing! I'm not on Midgard! I'm in my room on Asgard!' and a polar bear wanders by roaring to punctuate that. Carol giggles. Thor fumbles some story about a cultural exchange on Earth with his "study group". Frigga says cool, then you won't mind if I come over there to verify things. The hologram disappears and Hill snorts that they can stand down. The situation is obviously going to be handled. They watch as Thor begs Carol to help him. She huffs that he should "start in the corners and clean your way outward."

Thor returns to the group to find the frost giants turning the St. Louis arch into a giant slingshot. Thor begs Loki to help clean the mess up because mommy is coming. Loki points out that she's not HIS mother and he and the rest of the frost giants just...leave Thor to handle it by himself. Thor announces that the party is over and "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay."
Emilio [singing]: Closing time!
Diandra: [continuing]: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end!
Chrissy: Oh, thanks. I wanted that song in my head for the next week.
He tries to get anybody to help him clean up, but they all scatter like '....not it.' Then he says his mother is coming and she's PISSED.

So everyone scrambles to put things back in order and by the time Frigga arrives, Thor is pretending to give a lecture to his "study group" in Florence. She just stares at him incredulously. Carol flies in to give Thor "the information you requested on human civilizations." She hands him one of the magic boxes and says she loaded some documentaries and PBS specials and NPR podcasts and she'll call him next week to "discuss". This convinces Frigga, who thanks Captain Marvel for helping "educate" her son. She prompts Thor to leave and he summons Mjolnir, yelping as it comes to him covered in graffiti, Mardi Gras beads and somebody's boxers.

And we go to sometime later with Thor bringing Jane some flowers and grudgingly thanking her for doing the "right thing" and asking her on a date. "And before you answer, let me say that I know a whole planet full of unicorns." She says yes and he makes dopey heart eyes.

The Watcher concludes that yep, this was the break from all the dark bullshit with a happily ever after ending. We'll return to our regularly scheduled apocalypse next week. Or...um...now. An army of Ultron bots suddenly beams down in front of Thor. They part and we see Ultron himself, with Vision behind his metal faceplate. And he has the Infinity Gauntlet.
Chrissy: So how much of that did you actually do?
Diandra: About three pages. I think I got the gist.
Emilio: That actually might be more than you needed.
Chrissy: But similar to the last episode, this probably brings up more questions about what happens AFTER this episode than the actual episode. Or it would anyway if they hadn't just brought the Ultron thing into it.
Diandra: Yeah, because this is another universe where the Avengers are not a thing, isn't it? Because Loki is a different character who has no reason to attack Earth and prompt them to form to fight him.
Chrissy: They can still form for other reasons, but if they hadn't before this point they'd basically be too late to really work effectively.
Diandra: And obviously this is the comics version of Ultron and he has the Infinity Stones, so he replaces Thanos.
Emilio: So the happy fluff story is really masking the fact that this universe is doomed because they are not prepared.
Chrissy: Well...on the other hand...obviously they have Carol.
Diandra: Who has no reason to be held back, yeah. I'm growing to like this alternative.

Episode 8: What if Ultron Won?

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Jeremy Renner, Lake Bell (impersonating Scarlet Johansson), Toby Jones, Ross Marquand (taking a break from being Hugo Weaving's replacement to do an impression of James Spader, apparently), Josh Keaton (impersonating Chris Evans), Mick Wingert (impersonating Robert Downey Jr.), Alexandra Daniels (as Brie Larson)

Yeesh. That's...quite the cast list there. Okay.

We begin with the Watcher talking about how we've seen this before. Apocalypse, yadda yadda. But this one is more heartbreaking for him than the others.
Chrissy: This one? Really? You just told us about everyone being slaughtered because a guy lost his daughter, a zombie apocalypse brought about if the daughter lived and tried to find her long lost mother and a sorcerer destroying an entire universe to try to resurrect his dead girlfriend.
Diandra: Yeah, that's...a high bar.

Natasha rides a motorcycle toward a post apocalyptic city while snow falls. At least we hope it's snow. She is being chased by some Ultron robot drone things. More of them fly over the city toward her and she announces that they have ninety seconds. Somewhere nearby, Purple Arrow starts a timer and shoots out the Ultron bots following her. Then he starts picking off the flying ones as she makes them chase her through the city.

One of the flying bots spots him and several of them land, but he has an invisible cloak now, so he just sneaks up on the first one and picks them all off. Once the last three (which he shoots all at once) are down, another half dozen appear overhead. Nat says they have thirty seconds now "until their signals reconnect with the hive." She is knocked off her bike by a bot and takes down three bots with what looks like electrified nunchucks. She announces that they have eighteen seconds left and where is Clint at?

Clint is getting his arm blown off. Because apparently in this universe he has a Winter Soldier arm. Or maybe he IS the Winter Soldier because the bots push him off the building and he survives. Though that gives the bots the advantage and they are only stopped from finishing him off by Nat ripping in on her bike and using the wheels to knock both their heads off. She holds out his ripped off arm to him and he growls "don't say it." "What, need a hand," she asks. Nah, puns aren't really her "style".
Emilio: She says even though she just said it anyway.
She says they must be slowing down because they came within seconds of the sentry bots alerting the hive to their location. They start walking toward the snow covered remains of St. Basil's Cathedral as he asks if she really thinks Russia has the secret to taking down Ultron. She thinks Russia is all about secrets.

The Watcher takes us on a flashback to Tony saying he wanted to create a suit of armor around the planet and using the mind stone to make Ultron. Ultron spent, like, two minutes on the Internet and decided the human race was a cancer that needed to be wiped out, which...I mean...valid. He tried to create an "organic" body and the Avengers hijacked it, put JARVIS' consciousness into it and Frakensteined Vision into existence. But in this universe, the Avengers probably weren't even there to stop Ultron from committing global genocide.

Still in flashback, Clint and Nat take the jet to try to take out satellites. A beaten down Tony reminds Ultron in Vision's body that he created him for purposes of PEACE. Ultron says that's evolution for you and sends a blast of electromagnetic energy throughout whatever facility they're in and gives the signal to launch all the nukes. Clint and Nat watch them streak past from the sky and create little mushroom clouds all over the surface of the planet and conclude that they are too late.

The Watcher is like 'no, we're not finished telling the story yet. Hang on.' Ultron sighs happily while he surveys the wasteland he has made of the world. And then Thanos steps out of a portal behind him. Ultron takes one look at the Infinity Gauntlet (already sporting all the other stones) and lasers Thanos in half before he can speak, which explains why Josh Brolin isn't in the credits for this episode. He takes the stones from the gauntlet and mounts them into a new suit he creates on the spot. He monotones that he can see everything now, including all the "worlds beyond my own." He creates an army of drone bots with a wave of the hand and announces he is going to "bring about peace in our time."

He creates a death ball ship and jumps it to Asgard, which he destroys by sending down an "Independence Day" like one beam powerful enough to blast everything from the palace outward. He goes to The Sovereign while the Guardians are there and blasts it. Then he destroys Sakaar and explodes Ego. He meets resistance when he gets to Xandar in the form of Carol Danvers, who calls him Skynet and says the "killer robot movie" really doesn't need a sequel.
Chrissy: Especially if they're going to make the hero of the resistance a secret killer robot or something stupid like that.
Diandra: Hmm, yeah. The good news is that that movie exists in its own timeline that can be completely ignored.
She drives him down into the core of the planet and he just...detonates the whole thing from there.

Standing on a chunk of rock in the middle of space, he retracts his faceplate from his Vision face and notes that "it" is finally done. The Watcher comes back in to tell us that once he completed his "mission" to bring peace to the universe (by destroying all life in it), he started to...break. Because what is a machine that no longer has a purpose since it hit the end of its programming? And now he gets to spend the rest of eternity alone. Ultron looks around and asks who said that. The Watcher obliviously continues blathering about him attaining a higher level of consciousness and becoming aware of...wait a minute why is he looking at me? FUCK! The Watcher yelps and swipes the image of Ultron in that universe from his view panel that looks a lot like the Mirror Dimension. And now we know why scenes are shown on shards of glass in the opening credits. He says to no one in particular (or us, I guess) that he has seen all that has, can or ever will happen, but "what the hell is this?" Ultron's voice whispers "I will find you" from somewhere along the walls of mirrors and he shudders and says he cannot imagine the horror that would follow THAT being unleashed on the multiverse. He shakes himself and notes that that MACHINE is not invincible, no matter what he thinks, so there is still hope. "One last hope."

And we're back on Earth with Clint and Nat.
Chrissy: Oh God, we're doomed.
They enter the KGB archives warehouse and Clint asks as they navigate the many...many stacks if the Russians ever heard of PDF. She says hard copy is both harder to steal and easier to destroy, so they kept it old school for a very good reason. He asks where they start then. She grabs a random box and invites him to do the same.

Several dozens of boxes later, she finds Red Guardian's shield and asks if Clint thinks it's her color. He snaps at her to stop trying to make this fun because "my will to live is flatlining here." The Watcher is hovering as he goes to another box and notes that he's SO CLOSE to the answer, which we zoom in on right in the next box containing a folder marked Arnim Zola. The Watcher notes that he can intervene and help them find it, thus saving the multiverse. Ultron's voice hisses from down the corridor and he starts urging Clint on like a sport's fan watching a television. Yes, right there! That box! You're getting warmer! Clint barely glances in the box and slides it back, moaning that this is a pointless exercise. The Watcher yelps as he flops to the floor in defeat. He babbles that Clint is HUMAN and therefore should be stubborn enough to not give up like this. Nat exposits that they need an AI that can combat Ultron's code (explaining why Zola would be the answer, I guess) and Clint says it's not here. "The Death Star plans are not in the main computer."
Emilio: Probably not, but they kept getting stolen so obviously they weren't any more secure.
Diandra: Can trust you to know the "Star Wars" shit.

Nat assures him they'll find the answer eventually and Clint says yeah, when? When they're 90? Neither of them sees the Watcher gesturing frantically at the box and yelping that it's RIGHT THERE. Nat acknowledges that Clint is "frustrated" and Clint says no, he's "tired" and not seeing much point to this as there's nothing left to still be fighting to save. Nat says Ultron has taken control of all the digital pathways, but she is basing her optimism on finding something "more analog". She pulls the box he just put back and finds the folder on Zola, laughing that Clint is gonna feel real stupid for giving up just when he was about to find the answer.

The Watcher goes back to his hall of mirrors, satisfied that the humans did it and "there's still hope." And then Ultron breaks through one wall, blasts him in the chest and looks around at all the other universes he can cleanse. The Watcher says he doesn't have to do this and Ultron is like 'are you kidding? It's my whole thing!'

Back on Earth, Clint asks Nat if they're sure this bunker thing in Sibera is where they're supposed to be because the scans are showing nothing. Nat fills in some backstory for anyone still confused: Arnim Zola was a HYDRA scientist who infiltrated SHIELD very early and uploaded his brain to some data banks before he died. They're in the facility from Civil War, which she says is where they kept a copy to "supervise" the Russian super soldier program. "You sure you wanna put all our eggs in such a morally questionable basket?" She reminds him that she was once just as big a risk. He shrugs and helps her punch keys. Zola comes on the screen and identifies them both by full names: Natasha Alianova Romanoff and Clinton Francis Barton. She's like 'dude...Francis? Really?' He mutters that it's a family thing and he was named after his Mee Maw.
Chrissy: Okay, cool. Just one follow up question. Mee Maw?
Diandra: Apparently Clint is part southern boy. Which might explain the name Clinton too.

Zola is blithering about how they must have many questions about him. Nat is like 'nah, I've actually met you before. You just don't remember.' She says they need his help. He's like....really? A SHIELD agent is asking a HYDRA agent for help? Clint says both those agencies are gone along with pretty much everybody. Nat says everyone was killed by an AI named Ultron. Zola says right, so...you probably want me to get inside him and rewrite his code or something. Why do you think I would help you? Clint says because he's the last copy of his own program on Earth and he has a bottle of water he's just ITCHING to pour on his server. Zola caves.

Nat calls the Avengers Tower and orders a pizza with gluten free crust. Ultron snaps that he's identifying her position and she hangs up and tells Clint they have two minutes. He pulls an arrow and warns Zola that he might feel a "little poke. Or not. I don't really get how you work."
Chrissy: [snort] Little poke. You know, if you have to give that warning, it's probably best to just quit while you're ahead.
Emilio: And adding that you don't even know if he will feel it is a weird self-own.
He sticks the arrowhead in the headphone jack or something and it starts glowing green as data is uploaded directly into it. Nat explains that Ultron is "off world", so they will have to upload Zola via drone link. Once they catch a sentry drone. Zola chortles that this won't be his first "genocidal megalomaniac".

Once they have his data uploaded to the arrow, they burn the facility. Ultron bots are drawn in by the flames and Clint shoots the nearest one in the eye with the arrow, which starts uploading data. Nat leaps in with the Red Guardian shield to prevent the other drones from stopping it and drags the drone back behind a secure door with Clint. The other drones bash at the door and Clint says they have 90 seconds to find out if that upload worked. Zola's voice comes from the bot, saying they had 52 seconds, actually, and he's done. Nat shoots the bots legs off. Zola yelps and asks what the hell she did THAT for. Clint is like 'because we don't trust you. Duh.' "Your team building instincts need work," Zola pronounces. He initiates a hive link, then says the hive mind is out of range. One of the bots blasts through the door and they run, Nat carrying Zolabot on her back.

Clint shoots some sort of glass ceiling arrow that holds back the bots flying up the tower they're scaling. This works for a while, but one gets an arm through and shoots him. Nat catches him as he falls. Zolabot blasts the hand. Then the ceiling thing fails and Clint says "I told you. I don't wanna fight anymore" and lets go of her hand, intentionally mirroring her sacrifice for him in "Endgame". He shoots some sort of major explosive arrow as he's falling toward the bots and Nat and Zolabot barely escape the resulting fireball. She collapses to her knees and Zolabot urges her to get going because more sentries will be coming. She snarls that she doesn't understand why he wasn't able to connect to the hive. He says his diagnostic says the sentries are "rigged for interstellar communication", which suggests that Ultron is beyond the observable universe somewhere.

We go back to Ultron and The Watcher mid-fight in the hall of mirrors. The Watcher encases him in some sort of bubble and sends him off somewhere. He says out loud to no one that this should NOT be possible. Ultron steps out of a shard behind him and says anything is possible in the multiverse, actually. He sends the Watcher flying through a shard into one of the universes, crash landing on a world whose vegetation Ultron sweeps away in a second before chastising him for just watching all those people on all those worlds suffer. The Watcher bleats that he swore an OATH to not interfere with "natural order". Ultron says he IS the natural order and he will bring peace to all those worlds and the Watcher will not stop him. The Watcher manifests some sort of armored outfit and they fight, crashing through several universal shards through worlds. At one point, Ultron seems to become Galactus and tries to swallow the entire planet The Watcher is on.
Diandra: And before you ask, no I don't really know anything about Galactus other than the planet eating giant thing.
Chrissy: So you only know him because of the puzzle game then.
Diandra: Yes. I think he was probably somewhere in the Infinity War comic, but I couldn't understand much of that and the MCU quit after Infinity Gauntlet and went a completely different direction so I gave up trying.

They wind on a world where Steve Rogers is taking the oath of office for president, which is broadcasting on all the screens in Times Square. Nobody is watching that anymore as all their phones are out taking pictures of these aliens that just crashed into the street. Ultron asks if it isn't more fun ("and to be honest, a lot less creepy") participating than just sitting up there WATCHING all those universes play out. He pins the Watcher down and every time he punches him, their surroundings and the people in them change. They stop on a barren wasteland of snow and ice, with what looks like the New York skyline in the background. Ultron says boundaries mean nothing to beings like them. "I didn't evolve by staying inside the lines." He grabs The Watcher's head and the Watcher screams as gold cracks seem to form in his skull. He gathers energy in his...gauntlet, I think...and punches Ultron away before disappearing in a literal flash. Ultron chortles that it doesn't matter what he does anymore because he can see everything from that hall of mirrors and NO ONE CAN STOP HIM.

The Watcher apparently retreats to the bubble that is all that is left of that universe Doctor Strange destroyed. Dark Variant Stephen steps out of the shadows, all the creatures he consumed flashing around him and blinking a third eye in his forehead. The Watcher explains that he is out of options.
Chrissy: Uh...clearly.
Stephen asks if he's ready to break that oath of his then. "You want me to say it," The Watcher hisses. Stephen says yep. The Watcher grumbles that he's about to do this and says "I see now. I need your help."

And the credits start with the other surprise credit of this series. And since this episode is basically building up to the next one, let's just go right into it.

Episode 9: What if the Watcher Broke His Oath?

Starring (in random order): Jeffrey Wright, Haley Atwell, Lake Bell (as Scarlet Johansson), Frank Grillo, Georges St. Pierre, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hiddleston, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mick Wingert (as Tony Stark and yes I just instinctively typed that instead of Robert Downey Jr. and I'm sticking with it).

Not mentioned here for some reason: Cynthia Kaye McWilliams (as Zoe Saldana), Ozioma Akagha (as Letitia Wright I guess) and Ross Marquand (still as James Spader)

I guess we gave up on withholding surprise appearances for the end credits, so most of us will be wondering why we're in the back half of the episode and some of those people still haven't shown up.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, all previous episodes of this series are basically setting up this one. We begin by going back to the universe of the first episode, where Captain Carter is doing the plot from the beginning of "The Winter Soldier" with the French pirates. Natasha is still on the mission and they seem to have the same friendship with possible low-key sexual tension that Nat and Cap had in the main universe. They plan the mission to take the ship, which Peggy ends by telling Nat "I've got the shield, you've got the sword."
Chrissy: What? Nat is the top?
Emilio: Yes.
Chrissy: Yeah, I realized that was probably obvious as I was saying it. Apparently the similarities between Peggy and Steve aren't limited to superhero stuff.
Diandra: I seem to remember discussing at some point - probably when you were bringing this up with Tony as well - that they can't ALL be subs.
Chrissy: Who said Natasha was?
Diandra: ..............oh.

Once they break away from the rest of the team to start gearing up, Nat launches into the "let's get you a date" part of that movie's banter. She says Bernard in accounting has been asking about Peggy. Peggy fires back that "nothing good has ever followed the phrase 'Bernard in accounting'." Nat says she would be into it if his name was Steve. Peggy is like 'I'm just going to jump out of this plane to avoid any more of your sass.'

We go through her crashing the ship and fighting with Bartoc's goons and then fighting with Bartoc until she just freezes and asks if Bartoc can see the giant human-ish creature hovering over them. The Watcher identifies her as Captain Carter, the soldier lost in time and says "you have been chosen."

Smash to the universe of episode two, where spaceships are surrounding the Dairy Queen Peter Quill was working at while Ego is sending godlight through him or whatever that is and telling him to relax and stop screaming because "it'll all be over in a thousand years or so." Star Lord T'Challa flies in, grabs Peter and tags Ego with an explosive charge, flying a safe distance while the whole Dairy Queen goes up in flames. T'Challa takes off his face plate and tells Peter to stay here while they finish this fight. Peter says yeah, sure, he can stay with the "giant baby-man cape dude." T'Challa looks over his shoulder in confusion at whatever Peter is seeing, which is, of course, the Watcher. "Star Lord T'Challa, leader of the Ravagers and lost prince of Wakanda. You have been chosen."

And then we're on that Dwarf forge planet and Eitri is making the Infinity Gauntlet for...Tony? Who is asking Gamora how this is going to help put a suit of armor around Earth.
Chrissy: What episode was this?
Diandra: I...would assume the third one since they started doing them in order, but...uh...
The Watcher shows up and announces that Gamora, the "survivor of Sakaar and destroyer of Thanos" has been chosen.
Diandra: Yeah, that just brings up more questions than it answers.

We skip Doctor Strange because we already know how he's involved from the last episode and the zombies episode because there's probably no one left alive in that one. Which brings us to episode six where Shuri is telling Pepper that Killmonger should be tried for murder under Wakandan law first before the Americans get a crack at him as they lead a team of Dora Milaje toward the palace. Presumably. In the ruins of the palace, The Watcher finds Killmonger, who he identifies as "Erik Stevens, Tony Stark's former protege and killer" and takes him before the team can get to him.

Episode seven, which ended with Ultron invading, sees frat boy Thor fighting bots while bitching that he was ABOUT to go out on a date with Jane before they RUINED EVERYTHING. He is too distracted fighting to see The Watcher or hear his spiel about being chosen, so the Watcher just scoops him up and he screams...

And continues screaming all the way through the transition to the five "chosen" ones standing in a pub somewhere. Peggy recognizes it and smiles at a picture of Steve on the wall. Stephen appears behind the bar and says yeah, he read about it in her biography. Thor totters over and asks if Stephen can give him a beer. Stephen does and he slams down the head of one of the bots he was still holding so he can drink it. Erik sidles closer to that while the others ask who the hell Stephen is and what they're doing here. The lights flicker and The Watcher appears in the middle of the room. "Come on, get a new trick, man," T'Challa says. The Watcher is like AS I WAS SAYING, you all have been chosen for a mission. A very dangerous and very important one that will determine whether life as you know it continues to exist. Initially, he was looking for ONE hero, but he realizes now this job needs a team.
Emilio: Yeah, that's usually how it works in comics.
A specific combination of skills and experiences.
Chrissy: And Frat Boy Thor for some reason.

Peggy says so he "kidnapped" them from "across the galaxy" so they could... "save the universe," Gamora finishes. Stephen and The Watcher both answer that no, it's more like they were chosen across universes to save ALL of them. The Watcher dubs them The Guardians of the Multiverse. The dramatic fanfare concludes and Thor finishes gulping his beer and says Loki put them up to this, right? This sounds like him. Anyway, he's going to go back to Jane now. Stephen tries to warn him from going out the door of the pub, but Thor ignores him and steps out, nearly falling into what looks like a wormhole. He drags himself back in and tries to get his heart back into a normal rhythm while Peggy is like 'okay, sure. What do you need us to do exactly?'

Mission debrief. The Watcher says all their worlds (all the worlds period, really) are either already under Ultron's attack or will be soon.
Chrissy: Except Stephen's since he already destroyed it himself and remind me why we're trusting him here again?
Diandra: Because he LEARNED HIS LESSON.
By the way, Ultron is an AI in an enhanced synthetic body wielding all the Infinity Stones. Stephen takes over the explanation of what the Infinity Stones are...again. T'Challa brags that he's "stolen more from worse" so he can totally get this. Erik is like 'you? Stealing? Man, you really are a completely different T'Challa, aren't you?' ANYWAY, Stephen says they think the way to stop Ultron is to separate him from the stones. Peggy points out the biggest obstacle in doing that: they don't know where in the multiverse he is. T'Challa adds that he's protected by an army of killer robots. Gamora adds that he's armed with all the Infinity Stones. "I never said it would be EASY," the Watcher says defensively. Erik says it's not just difficult, it's a "suicide mission."

Thor, possibly not really paying attention at all, asks if there's a Chinese place that can do interdimensional delivery.
Emilio: He can't think on an empty stomach.
Chrissy: He can barely think on a full one.
Stephen and the Watcher stare at him and Stephen mutters "you picked them."

We go to them eating Chinese food while trying to come up with some sort of a plan. T'Challa says they need to distract Ultron. Thor says "I'm not one to brag, but I've been told that I excel in attracting unwanted attention." He accidentally blasts one of the lights with a bolt of lightning from Mjolnir. Gamora hauls out a device she calls the Infinity Crusher, which will disintigrate the stones once they have them.
Chrissy: Gee, if only we had had that, like, four movies ago.
We flash back to The Watcher and Stephen now for some reason as the Watcher confirms that yep, he picked them.
Chrissy: Yeah, still. Some of them are clearly just wild cards.

Peggy concludes that the plan is to get the Soul Stone specifically and get it to Gamora. She will use it to create a whole other universe that can be folded on top of no wait, that's the comics. Here the plan is for her to use the McGuffin to destroy it. Thor asks her to slow down because "there's a few people in the room that don't understand. Not me, I get it. But for them, maybe repeat it."
Emilio: Yeah, that only works when you have a lot more people in the room.
The Watcher says they're ready and sends them to...

...a cliff ledge somewhere. Stephen casts shields all around them. Gamora asks if this place is safe. Stephen says yeah, there's not enough intelligent life on this planet to attract Ultron.
Chrissy: You'll have to be more specific, because I'm pretty sure "not enough intelligent life" could apply to Earth or Asgard.
He yelps as his hand turns into a bunch of tentacles and crouches over it, panting until it goes back to normal. Peggy is like 'so...what happened to you?' He just non answers that love happened to him. She asks if he knew the Captain Carter in his universe. He says no, in his universe, Steve Rogers got the serum and became Captain America.
Chrissy: And then Stephen killed both of them along with EVERYONE ELSE.

Erik is off to the side messing with the Ultron bot head. Gamora asks Thor if he trusts that guy. Thor shrugs that he trusts everyone.
Emilio: Yeah, that's...kind of the problem.
Diandra: Well, sure I'll send money to this prince in Nigeria who needs help! Derp derp derp.
He spews some Asgardian thing about feasting before the fight tomorrow and Stephen is like 'yeah, sure, we have nothing better to do yet.' He conjures a tray full of a variety of drinks and says a "wise sorcerer once told me that to face death is part of the plan. To face death is to conquer one's greatest fear of the unknown...of nothingless space, of the end of all ends. The senseless nothing and the vast opening of infinity to your..." Everyone is looking at him like 'dude, you can shut up now.'
Chrissy: You really know how to light up a room, don't you?
Diandra: I have been told I do, actually. When I leave it. Which I now realize wasn't a compliment.

T'Challa puts an arm around him and says he's done enough. He takes over this toast that has gone off the rails and finishes it with "to the Guardians of the Multiverse!" Thor gets excited and blasts lightning from his hammer and yes, Chrissy, I knew I was phrasing that wrong as I said it.
Chrissy: I was just going to say, there are ways of treating that so it doesn't happen prematurely.
Ultron's giant face appears in the sky like 'oh, look, this planet ISN'T uninhabited.' Stephen mutters that they just screwed their chance of waiting until they were READY to get his attention. "In my defense, I did warn you" about the unwanted attention thing, Thor says. Stephen glares at him. The cloak taps his shoulder and points behind him at the portal or whatever opening in the sky for Ultron to come down. He announces that he's going to perform a "non-compliant" spell. Shields form everywhere on the ground and around the guardians. Thor yelps and Stephen says "yeah, you might feel it." Peggy laughs and calls it fantastic. Then she calls for the Watcher, who opens some other portal on the cliff. Erik puts on his Black Panther mask and he and Gamora jump through.

Thor decides he can handle the still approaching Ultron himself and, over Peggy's objections because this is NOT the PLAN, swaggers to the edge of the cliff and blasts Ultron with a bolt of lightning while yelling "viva, Las Vegas!" The remaining three members of the group stare at him like 'god, why do we need this guy again?' Ultron just casually catches the lightning energy and flicks it aside, noting that that was certainly a...unique battle cry. Four of the stones on his armor activate and the ground beneath the guardians crumbles, along with the entire cliff. Ultron sighs that that was too easy and starts to leave.
Emilio: Yeah, once you get used to killing whole planets full of people, killing a couple super weirdoes just doesn't do it for you anymore.
Chrissy: I'm starting to understand why you keep playing bad guys.

The pile of rubble explodes outward to reveal everyone in their protective magic bubbles except Stephen who apparently doesn't need one anymore. He warns the others that this won't last long and casts a spell to multiply the hammer as Thor throws it at Ultron. While he's being pelted by hammers, Peggy jumps on T'Challa's back and asks if he's sure about this. He says nope, activates the Star Lord helmet and jets toward Ultron. Peggy lets go as they get closer and Stephen throws an extra spell at her shield before she impacts Ultron. She catches a ride on one of the hammers back to the ground. T'Challa lands on Ultron's back and gets flung into a far mountain. Stephen makes all the hammers surround Ultron like a cocoon, which Thor electrifies.

Peggy catches up to T'Challa as he lands and asks if he got it. T'Challa chortles something about Yondu and sticky fingers and holds out the soul stone. They return to the others as Ultron breaks out of the hammers and Stephen sends some dragon heads to breathe fire on him. "What," Thor splutters. "You've been hiding that the entire time?" Ultron says in a bored voice that this has been "delightful", but now "it's time for me to bring out some of my own toys."
Chrissy: Not that I don't have faith in your ability to finish me off, but I really don't have faith in your ability to finish me off.
He looks down and realizes that somebody stole his soul stone. He blasts away the dragons and Stephen just chuckles and opens a portal over his head to the universe of episode five. Zombies fall out, led by Zombies Cap, Clint and Sam. Apparently taken from before they were destroyed.

Stephen proudly announces that that should keep Ultron busy for a while. Thor says yeah, great idea. "I love zombies!" Stephen says oh, it's not the zombies he was going for. They all run through the portal before Ultron blasts the massive pile of zombies away and is left with Zombie Wanda. She blasts him for a while, but then looks confused when he's still standing. He apparently explodes the entire planet. Or something.

"Blimey bloody bollocks," Peggy yells as the blast sends her ricocheting along walls of the portal tunnel. Because I guess we really do have to keep hammering home just how very BRITISH she is. She falls out in front of Gamora and Killmonger and Gamora is like 'oh, look who finally made it. Yay.' They are in some version of Times Square. The three guys land more gracefully behind her because all of them have some flight capabilities and Stephen asks if they're ready. Peggy tosses the soul stone to Gamora, but Nat suddenly intercepts on her motorcycle, snatching it. And now we know which universe we're in. Everyone aims weapons or shields or whatever at Nat except Peggy, who yells at them to stand down because she RECOGNIZES this woman. Nat growls that she's supposed to be the last person on this planet, so who the fuck are they? Peggy says they're from another universe. Or, like, six. And they're all here to stop Ultron. She spews a couple details about Nat to prove she knows her and says she's the one woman "I trust to have my six." And in her universe anyway, she is one of only three people Nat trusts. Nat uncocks her gun and acknowledges that they must be close. Peggy says the modern term, as she understands it, is BFF.
Emilio: I've also heard "friends with benefits." Don't know what that means.
Diandra: And lo a ship was launched.

Luckily, Ultron waited until they finished this little catch up to appear through a portal. He beams the stone AND Natasha toward him. Thor hammers his arm off, cutting the tie, and Stephen portals Nat safely to the ground, covering her in protection spells. Black Panther Erik catches the stone and starts running toward Gamora. Ultron blasts him before he can get far and the stone falls to the ground. Peggy and Gamora both run for it and Ultron blasts them, activating their protection shields. "I can destroy galaxies with a thought," Ultron whines. "Why won't you DIE?!" He sends out a blast that lights up the entire planet and when it retracts somehow Stephen grabs the collected energy of the blast or something and just...casually swallows it, his eyes flaming for a second. Ultron channels us all as he says "wait...what?"
Chrissy: Yeah, he's just showing off at this point.
Diandra: Hey, it took a LONG time to work myself up to being able to take that! Yes, I know how that sounded!

Star Lord T'Challa tackles Ultron and blasts him repeatedly with both guns until Ultron chucks him away again. He knocks Thor and Gamora away from the soul stone and starts running for it. Nat, catching on quickly, grabs her shield and slings it at Ultron repeatedly. Peggy joins her with her own shield from the other side.
Emilio: Y'know, a lot of guys would consider getting double teamed by two hot chicks fantasy fulfillment.
Ultron keeps running for the soul stone, but now all seven heroes are surrounding him. They all take turns bashing him with weapons, shields and bolts of energy until he apparently decides to activate the time stone and freeze them all while he plucks up the soul stone. He goes to put it back on his suit when a tentacle grabs his arm. It is, of course, attached to Stephen where his right hand should be. He is outside the time bubble and the Eye of Agomotto around his neck activates and opens, shattering the time bubble.
Chrissy: Well, why didn't you say you were into tentacles?
Diandra: When was that ever a secret?
Say hello to this gif again.
Ultron shakes him loose and somehow grows to giant size. Stephen screams and massive tentacles burst out of him and shoot past a dazed Peggy to wrap around Ultron, somehow taking him back down to normal size. Somewhere in the confusion, Gamora gets hold of the soul stone. Thor blasts Ultron again, yelling "Vegas!" because hey, I guess that's his thing now. And Stephen, who is back in full demonic form, um...gets some sort of rune under Ultron that all four limbs are secured to like a pagan sacrifice ritual or something. Complete with chains that Peggy, Thor, Nat and Erik grab onto to hold him still.
Chrissy: Okay, dude. We need to talk about this later.

Gamora gets the stone into her machine, which crawls to the pinned Ultron like a spider and rips the rest of the stones from the suit. There's a massive explosion and when the dust settles Thor is like 'did we win? We totally won, right?' T'Challa mutters that it doesn't feel over yet.
Chrissy: That's because you've still got a good ten minutes left.
Ultron's voice comes from the sky like the voice of God, chortling that the Watcher should have warned them while they form their own version of the hero circle from The Avengers. He says each universe is just slightly different, making all the Infinity Stones unique. Gamora realizes what he's getting at. "The crusher was designed to destroy the stones on my world, not his."

Ultron levitates out of the crater they blasted him into, all stones glowing, and Peggy yelps for them to brace. He blasts a laser and Peggy grunts as all their protective shields activate. Ultron realizes Stephen is the key then. "If I destroy you, you all fail." He starts blasting in Stephen's direction and Stephen's eyes glow and everyone else's protective shields start breaking down under the sustained power. Nat's Red Guardian shield flies away and Peggy shuffles over to get them both behind her shield before they are both sent flying. Nat lands next to her bike and spots the one lone arrow with Zola's upload laying next to it. She drives the motorcycle over to Peggy and says she has an idea but "I need distance and a clear target." Peggy gives her the slogan from her universe: "I've got the shield, you've got the sword."
Emilio: We'll have time for that later, hopefully.
Chrissy: We really do know each other if you know about the "sword".
Emilio: Is it made of black leather in your universe too?
Diandra: Okay, I'm just going to stop you before this slides completely into fanfiction here.
Nat says actually, it's not so much a sword as a virus dipped arrow, but that's cute.
Chrissy: I'm not familiar with that one. What is "virus" code for in your universe?
Diandra: STOP IT.

Everyone is grunting and straining to hold Ultron back as Peggy and Nat get into position in surrounding buildings. Nat preps the arrow and drives the bike right off a building, growling "this one's for you, Clint," before firing. Peggy launches herself at Ultron at the same time, landing on his back and yanking the faceplate up so the arrow can go right in his eye. The energy blast is disrupted and Gamora, Thor, T'Challa and Stephen all collapse, their shields having nearly given out by that point anyway. Peggy lands on her shield. Nat falls off the bike and through the window into one of the office buildings. Ultron rips the arrow out, but it's too late. Zola's voice chuckles that this is MUCH better than his human body. Ultron asks who the HELL just said that.
Chrissy: I am inside you. Just don't fight it and it shouldn't hurt as much.
Diandra: [loud groan]

We get something like the scene in Age of Ultron where representations of Zola and Ultron argue over who is in control of the body they are both in. Ultron demands to know Zola's objective. Zola says it USED to be the domination of HYDRA, but since Ultron fucked that up, he'll settle for killing him. He sends green tentacles into the representation of Ultron and we go back to the ground as the body still hovering in midair has some sort of seizure, goes limp and falls to the ground.
Chrissy: I would ask if it was good for you, but...
Diandra: [makes random loud noises to cut Chrissy off] No. Bad Chrissy.
Emilio: Isn't she always?

Nat has somehow returned to the group already and helps Thor up, asking if he's okay. He asks if someone can explain what just happened. Nat says she gave Ultron a nasty virus. Erik holds up the bot head he's apparently still carrying somehow and Ultron's suit sort of...flies to him, reforming around him WITH all the Infinity Stones. He turns to the others, who are like 'oh, great, we're not done.' T'Challa asks his cousin what the hell he thinks he's doing. Erik says the Watcher "owes us this." He thinks they could fix themselves and their worlds with the stones. Save T'Challa and Thor's homes, get Peggy back with her "fella", undo all the shit Stephen did. Everyone kind of freezes like 'well.........uh............' T'Challa limps forward and asks him to hand the stones over. Erik says he's sorry "it has to end this way" and sends a blast of energy straight up, activating everyone's protective shields again. And then Ultron's Vision body with Zola's face peeking out of the gaping hole in the middle stands up and says 'excuse me, but that's my armor you're using there.' He magics the stones right off him. Erik reaches to stop them from going to him and they get stuck hovering in the air halfway between as they fight over them.

Stephen realizes suddenly that they weren't actually meant to win this fight. They were just supposed to separate the stones from Ultron's body. He levitates and while Michael Giacchino's Doctor Strange theme plays he forms something like a mirror dimension cage around both Erik and Ultron and the Watcher appears to...grab it maybe and everything goes white.

Peggy, T'Challa, Thor, Gamora and Nat all blink as everything goes quiet and still. Nat looks at Clint's bow in relief. Peggy smiles at her.

Somewhere, Stephen holds a miniature globe containing Ultron and Erik locked in battle as he accuses The Watcher of knowing every single thing that would happen including that the stone crusher thing would fail and Killmonger would betray them.
Chrissy: Oh, because NOBODY could have predicted Killmonger would do that.
Diandra: Except everybody who knew him, yeah.
The Watcher says yep, and he saw Stephen's sacrifice. Stephen is like 'my what now?' "That would imply I had something to lose." The Watcher says someone needs to keep an eye on that "pocket dimension" and make sure they don't escape and Stephen has been volunteered. Stephen is like 'yeah, sure, it's not like I have anything better to do in my solitary bubble that is all that's left of my universe.' "What are friends for?"

The rest of the team returns to that pub, where the Watcher tells them the multiverse owes them all the gratitude, but "your worlds will never know this victory." The door to the pub opens on a bright light and he says they can walk through and return to their own worlds at the exact moment they left them. Thor, T'Challa and Gamora go through immediately without further question. Peggy hesitates, looking at the photo of Steve on the wall and then back at The Watcher. The Watcher notes that she'd rather return to a different moment of her timeline. "Haven't I earned my happy ending," she asks. The Watcher says that world at that particular time needs her. Peggy looks at Nat, who nods, smiles a bit and walks through.

And then Nat says 'yeah, I'm not going back to that hellhole and you can't make me.' "You won, but I lost." The Watcher starts the "I cannot interfere" excuse and she snaps that she KNOWS. She accuses him of treating them like they are just characters in stories, not real people. She asks if he made popcorn while he watched Ultron destroy her entire world. The Watcher says no, their stories are everything to him. She orders him to fix her world then. He says he can't. She says she's not walking through that door then. The Watcher shrugs that the door is just a metaphor and changes their whole surroundings. Except instead of her post apocalyptic world, we're on the SHIELD helicarrier with fighter planes all around and Captain America fighting...uh...Loki variants? Maybe? Captain Marvel flies past, blasting through an invading ship while the Avengers fanfare plays. Nat asks where they are. The Watcher says this world lost their Black Widow. She's like 'that explains the mess' and thanks him.

Turns out this is the world from the third episode where Hank killed most of the would-be Avengers. Loki pins Fury to the deck with the scepter and gloats that his second tier Avengers have put up quite a fight, but it's time for him to give up "all your secrets." Nat leap kicks him aside and picks up the dropped scepter while he splutters about her being dead. She says funny, he's supposed to be dead too and touches the scepter to his chest. His eyes go black.
Chrissy: Oh, look, another thing nobody thought to try in the main universe that might have saved a lot of time and people.
Fury gets up and declares that she's not his Natasha, but she has her "spirit", so he's just gonna roll with this.

In conclusion, the Watcher babbles about "all creatures searching for a place to belong" while we montage over the others returning to their worlds. "As for me, I am the Watcher. The Multiverse, every single world, every story is my home, and I will protect it to the end."
Chrissy: Where some asshole will build a citadel and try to appoint a couple Loki variants the keepers of time.

Oh, we're actually getting a mid credit scene in the animated show. I guess when we were doing that montage of everyone returning to their worlds, Peggy was absent, so it should be a surprise that we return to her world mid-Bartoc fight. Bartoc knocks her down and stands over her gloating until the Natasha of this world shocks him unconscious and smirks at Peggy. "Don't tell me he was your type," she jokes. Peggy jumps up and throws her arms around Nat, gushing about how happy she is to see her. Nat asks if she took a blow to the head or something. Peggy says yeah, actually. A few times. Nat tells her to shake it off because she's figured out what the pirates are after. They go down to some sort of storage area and Nat tells Peggy to brace herself for this. Peggy is like 'oh, this is definitely not going to be the strangest thing I've seen today.' She peers through a viewer slit and finds the Hydra Stomper surrounded by machines. Nat says yeah, and there's someone inside it. Peggy's eyes light up and we fade to black.
Emilio: [groan] Because we just HAVE to get the two of them back together. Thanks, Disney.
Diandra: Yeah, even if it undoes everything they said about how time travel works, the writers will FIND A WAY to get Steve and Peggy together again.

Diandra: So I just realized that Gamora was from the episode that was cut from the series. I think they said it was another light one like Thor's and the only one, apparently, where Tony Stark didn't die.
Emilio: That makes sense. That would be why we didn't recognize it.
Diandra: And since the way animation works made it impossible to change the last episode so late in the game it means that confusing artifact was kept in.
Chrissy: So that episode was probably based on the run of comics that the "Gamora totally pegged Tony" scene came from, right?
Diandra: Of course you would remember that part.
Chrissy: Well, what else happened in that comic?
Diandra: ...............point taken. But I just tried to look it up and there really isn't anything much about the comic beyond "Tony thinks he's Captain Kirk flirting with an alien chick and she puts him in his place", but I found a couple articles about the "What If" episode needing to be cut because this is where COVID had an impact on this series. They couldn't finish it in time, so it was pushed to season two. Also, apparently it involves Valkyrie, which makes sense because The Watcher said something about Sakaar. And I'm finding it sort of alarming that I never noticed the references to an omitted episode until now.
Emilio: Eh. That's not really surprising. You tend to roll with things and not ask questions until you get to the recap.
Chrissy: Where you ask WAY too many questions and we have to remind you you're not SUPPOSED TO BE THINKING THIS IS A DUMB ACTION MOVIE. By the way, AGAIN with the Star Trek references? At this rate, you're going to HAVE to recap those movies.
Diandra: I've got how many hours of Marvel that I've basically committed to now and you want to give me more work?
Chrissy: How about we make a deal. If you can get through the next couple (which is what did we say? "Shang Chi" and "Hawkeye"?) without making any references to "Star Trek" then I'll stop bugging you about it.
Diandra: ........challenge accepted.
Chrissy: Wait...did you say at the end of the "Loki" recap that you weren't going to do full recaps of those?
Diandra: Too late! I already agreed to the terms.
Chrissy: I really hate you sometimes.