After multiple episodes that ended on rather down-beat or outright brutal endings, it was nice to see a change of pace in Marvel’s What If… series. The latest episode What If… Thor Was an Only Child isn’t the best episode of the series up to this point but it is the most whimsical, with enough cameos to qualify as an Avengers event. While there are genuinely funny moments in the episode; overall, I felt there wasn’t enough oomph to this episode, at least until the final ten seconds of it.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read this if you haven’t watched the episode.
The main divergence in this timeline is that Thor, son of Odin, did not grow up with Loki as his adopted brother. Instead, Odin returned Loki to Laufey of the Frost Giants, meaning Thor became an only child. The end result of this turn in events being that Thor doesn’t have the life experiences learned from his time with Loki, becoming a care-free and irresponsible prince (similar in some ways to who he was at the beginning of the first Thor film). With his father deep in the Odinsleep to restore himself and Frigga visiting her sisters on another world, Thor is left alone on Asgard, which to this version of Thor means only one thing: time to have an epic party on the planet of Midgard.
The number of cameos in this episode were astounding, even more so than the episode where T’Challa became Star-Lord. Surtur (the fire giant from Thor: Ragnarok), the Grandmaster (also from the same film), Korg, Skurge, Yondu, Nebula, Mantis, even a fully Frost Giant version of Loki (who in this timeline is much happier and still becomes honorary brothers with Thor) all make an appearance. Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis also make an appearance, with Jane getting far more to do in this episode than she did in pretty much the entirety of her two appearances in the Thor franchise.
One of my main complaints with Jane Foster up to this point (and this is in spite of Natalie Portman doing the best she could with the material given to her) is that she is just there to be Thor’s love interest. In this episode of What If…, Jane is given far more agency, even though she does still fall in love with Thor. Instead of being a lovelorn scientist who spends most of the movie making puppy-dog eyes with Thor, Jane instead spends a good portion of the episode trying to get Thor to stop wrecking Earth during his massive party, even going so far as to reach out to Frigga to come get her errant child.
Side Note: the fact that the arrival of Frigga is enough to get all of Thor’s party guests to straighten up and fix the world they just wrecked is hilarious. As someone who grew up with a strong mother, I understand that existential dread of their mother when she is coming to discipline them.
The last ten seconds of the episode are a kick in the gut compared to the previous events, though. Based on this, I can say that the last two episodes of What If… are going to be highly interesting. After Thor returns to Earth to arrange a date with Jane (to a planet where everyone is a unicorn, no less), we see a mysterious portal open and Ultron drones step through. They are led by what appears to be Ultron with all six of the Infinity Stones embedded in is chassis, until the face portion opens to reveal Vision with the Mind Stone and glowing red eyes. The gravity of the situation is hammered home when Uatu shares his disbelief that this occurred, clearly not seeing this moment coming. If the Watcher didn’t know this was going to happen, it means something serious is about to go down. My gut feeling since the first episode is that Uatu is going to have to intervene at some point to protect the multiverse from some massive threat. In the final moments of this episode, I think the threat to the multiverse just showed itself to be an Infinity-empowered Ultron in Vision’s body.