The most recent episode of What If… ? is certainly the most casual and light episode to date which is sure to please the select group of fans who have been complaining that the episodes have consistently been overly tragic. Exploring Thor and Midgard’s fate had he not grown up with Loki as a brother ends up as a fun romp with little more to offer outside of its own bubble…until that phenomenal ending.
Turns out, having Loki as his adopted brother was the element that prevents Thor from becoming the aptly nicknamed “Party Thor”, or a full-on raging frat bro throwing wild and destructive parties across the cosmos. Not only has Thor himself been remixed, but his influence seems to have spread across the Nine Realms and beyond, as countless other major and minor characters make appearances at these legendary parties as party animals in their own right.
This episode is notable for having virtually all of its characters voiced by the original actors, though there are too many to specifically mention. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor feels like the Thor: Ragnarok version of the character, but with some added frat boy persona and devoid of any semblance of seriousness or responsibility. Ironically, Loki taking the Jotunheim throne still has the two ending up as “brothers from another mother.” He becomes the most laidback and seemingly least motivated with glorious purpose iteration of the character the MCU has given us. Tom Hiddleston’s performance is integral to pulling it off.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is arguably the main character of the episode as her actions drive the plot. Thor and Jane Foster’s kindling romance is highlighted throughout the episode, but it’s her ultimate resolve to stop the alien invasion from destroying the planet that truly pulls the strings with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s involvement. Kat Dennings’ Darcy is true to character and the voice work is perfectly corny to match her. Seth Green’s Howard the Duck’s three-ish lines landed so well that they are some of the most memorable lines of the entire episode.
The result is a quirky alien invasion story that sees S.H.I.E.L.D. under the acting leadership of Maria Hill – due to Fury being incapacitated from a Korg party foul – responding to the very real threat of Thor’s planetary party destroying many parts of Earth, if not the entire planet. This is the vessel through which Alexandra Daniels’ Captain Marvel makes her true debut in What If… ? (apart from her very brief cameo in Episode 3). From this, we get epic showdowns between powerhouse Carol Danvers and the God of Thunder. The two are a solid duo and the matchup is no doubt another example of the series having fun with which characters they would want to see go up against one another.
Still, the plot is ultimately a classic teenager throws a party while parents are out of town, then finds out mom is coming home, and frantically tries to clean up the mess. Of course, said teenager somehow succeeds at the very last minute. Frigga still figures out that Thor was not studying as part of cultural exchange, but nevertheless, the classic comedy trope is all over this episode.
At the end of the day, Episode 7 is arguably a throwaway episode but not necessarily in a bad way. The writers and actors clearly had fun with it, and it was a lighthearted as well as a rose-colored view of what alternate timelines can provide. It also took incredible advantage of the talent available to create a melting pot of MCU characters in the form of a big party. Even Nebula needs a night to drink her family issues away.
The Watcher goes out of his way to acknowledge that this timeline’s story is an example of a simple happy ending. That is, until, the exciting final few seconds that feel like a classic post-credits scene setting up the “big bad” for an eventual crossover showdown. Here, we see what appears to be Vision as Ultron with a sentry army coming through some type of portal. Not just that, he also seems to possess all six Infinity Stones.
Almost certainly, this is something the Watcher might feel the need to address sooner rather than later considering that he seems to be completely caught off guard at Vision-Ultron’s arrival. Also, there are only two episodes left in this season. Given what What If… ? has either already provided or teased it can provide, a culmination of the entire season into an overarching crux will surely, and hopefully, be something worth waiting for.