DISCLAIMER: This recap of What If…?‘s second episode is rife with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Ravagers! Marvel blessed us with another episode of What If…? this week. This one’s particularly poignant because it marks dear Chadwick Boseman‘s last project before his passing. Admittedly, I got misty-eyed. It still hurts, even a year later.
This outing legitimately felt like stepping into another world. Or as if I’d done a copious amount of mushrooms. However, I enjoyed it significantly more than the pilot episode. That’s my personal bias, though — I love when Marvel gets cosmic.
Yondu kidnaps T’Challa/Star-Lord? Korath joins the Ravagers? Thanos is a good guy? While it took me a minute to adjust to this new world, I found myself delighted by it.
Ready to delve into episode two of Marvel’s What If…? Let’s get to it.
We open with the usual spiel from The Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright). This time, we’re diving headfirst into T’Challa’s story … a.k.a. Star-Lord (voiced by Boseman). Like the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy, we find our Ravager hero on Morag stealing the Orb. Korath (voiced by Djimon Hounsou) confronts T’Challa with his crew in tow.
Once T’Challa/Star-Lord removes his helmet, Korath instantly recognizes him. In fact, he’s a huge fan! Korath giddily muses whether there’s an opening on Star-Lord’s team for him. But TC/SL knocks Korath unconscious and swipes the Orb in one fell swoop. We see Yondu (voiced by Michael Rooker) is waiting for him outside. T’Challa decides to take Korath along for the ride.
Flashback time! We learn that Yondu’s lackeys inadvertently kidnapped the wrong kid. Instead of Peter Quill, they snagged T’Challa, who wandered outside of Wakanda’s boundaries. But T’Challa always harbored a thirst for adventure, and this was his ticket to it.
Back in the present, T’Challa, Yondu, Korath and Kraglin (voiced by Sean Gunn) are partying it up at the club after their success on Morag. Even Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) shows up for the festivities, but it’s okay, y’all. He’s good now! T’Challa persuaded him to abandon his destructive plan that came to fruition in Avengers: Infinity War.
Next, TC/SL encounters Drax, who’s a bartender at this club. Drax is a massive fan of Star-Lord, so he asks to snap a quick photo with him. This version of everyone’s favorite blunt Kylosian is keen on showing the picture to his wife and children. Apparently, Star-Lord saved his homeworld from the Kree invasion.
Then, T’Challa runs into Nebula (voiced by Karen Gillan), who looks quite different. She’s free of Thanos’ extensive experimentation, unlike in the main timeline. She now has blonde hair. But the biggest surprise here is a charismatic Nebula referring to T’Challa as “Cha-Cha.”
Now, Nebula needs the Ravagers’ help. She’s after the “Embers of Genesis,” nutrient-rich dust that can heal planets and terraform anything. Unfortunately, Taneleer Tivan, a.k.a. the Collector, has it.
Time for some Ocean’s Eleven heisting! But first: Knowhere.
Here’s the plan — Nebula and Yondu will distract the Collector. Meanwhile, Thanos and Korath will stage a fight to keep Proxima Midnight/the Black Order preoccupied. T’Challa will swipe the Embers of Genesis himself.
Of course, the Collector is renowned for his massive collection of interstellar relics and artifacts. Marvel plants some fun Easter eggs in this episode. T’Challa spots Cosmo the Spacedog and a captured Skrull among other beings/things.
Then, he runs into Howard the Duck. After T’Challa frees him, good ole Howard points our Star-Lord in the direction of “Cosmic Flora,” which is where the Embers of Genesis would be. Proxima Midnight eventually realizes Thanos and Korath are a diversion, so she enacts a lockdown on the premises.
Next, Howard perches atop a barstool and has a droid pour him another drink. T’Challa’s necklace lights up. At this point, T’Challa believes Wakanda is no more, so naturally, this bewilders him. The signal leads him to a “Wakandan spaceship.” T’Challa wanders inside the ship to a homing beacon from his father, T’Chaka. His dad never stopped looking for him.
Suddenly, Nebula bursts in, guns blazing. The Collector is hot on her heels with Yondu in his clutches. Nebula has betrayed the group! Nebs reveals she had a debt with the Collector, and T’Challa was her “payment.”
Thus, T’Challa and Yondu are thrown into a cell along with Thanos, Korath and Kraglin. T’Challa confronts Yondu for lying to him about Wakanda. However, our Star-Lord is carted away to the Collector. He’s placed in a box. Taneleer wants to collect T’Challa. Then, he’ll dissect TC and sell him for parts.
Meanwhile, Nebula frees the imprisoned Ravagers. Nebs and Cha-Cha planned her “betrayal” before their trip to Knowhere. It’s a triple-cross! Additionally, she grabbed the Embers of Genesis.
Later, T’Challa utilizes his necklace to break free of the box. TC flees the scene. Unfortunately, the Collector punches him with a rocky fist that he stole from the carcass of a “terribly chatty” Kronan (RIP Korg!). Then, the Collector summons more Marvel weaponry with which to fight TC.
Firstly, there’s a knife forged in dark matter from the ruler of the Dark Elves (Malekith the Accursed?). Even though he doesn’t use them, we can also see Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir in the background.
After the knife, the Collector whips out Hela’s Necrosword and helmet. It’s an MCU relic smorgasbord!
Beyond the Star-Lord/Collector duel, the Ravagers are hopping aboard their ship. Thanos offers to stay behind so he can keep the Black Order at bay. Nebula accuses him of being “crazy,” but he’s not that. He’s “mad” (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.).
Thankfully, Nebula swoops in to assist her dad. She feeds one of their foes some Embers of Genesis, and we see giant branches materialize. Nebula and Thanos rejoin the others.
Yondu helps T’Challa kick the Collector’s ass. Our fave Mary Poppins surreptitiously nicks the Collector’s arm bracelet, effectively disarming him. T’Challa and Yondu lock him up. Carina releases the other prisoners and sicks them on him.
Later, we learn that Yondu took Cosmo the Spacedog with him. T’Challa mends fences with his fake space dad.
Then, our gang heads to Wakanda. T’Challa reunites with his family therein. Let the partying commence! We see Ravagers intermingling with Wakandans for a jovial time. Sure, T’Chaka’s not too happy about Yondu abducting his kid, but it’s all good.
Meanwhile, an adult Peter Quill is sweeping the floors at Dairy Queen. Ego waltzes in even though the store is closed. He approaches Peter and asks him why he can’t spare time for his father. Ego’s eyes glow. So … this won’t end well for Quill.
What If…?‘s second episode is so damn delightful. It’s lighthearted good fun with a unique premise and originality aplenty. The voice acting isn’t quite as disjointed as it was in the pilot. Hearing Boseman’s voice again is pure joy. T’Challa is slated to appear in four episodes of What If…? and I’m excited to see what’s in store for him.
In addition, it’s evident how much love and care the creative team injected into this outing. It’s a love letter to Marvel fans with an abundance of Easter eggs ripe for devouring (figuratively). This episode is a visual feast (more food wordplay — sorry, not sorry).
New episodes of Marvel’s What If…? are available to stream every Wednesday on Disney Plus.