***Spoiler alert for Marvel's What If...***
The first two episodes of Marvel's What If... were upbeat and a great introduction to the concept. Then things took a dark turn. We watched most of the original Avengers get completely wrecked. Then we watched a universe get destroyed by Dr. Strange. Then we watched another universe get destroyed by zombies. The most recent episode saw Killmonger save Tony Stark and I thought maybe we were going to get an episode that wasn't a total kick in the gut. Nope... Not even close. It's not that I think What if... is bad, far from it. It's great, but it needs a pacing adjustment.
Captain Carter's story mirroring Captain America's was a fun twist on the familiar. I think it was a perfect place to ease the audience into the multiverse. Seeing Peggy Carter get super powers and still have to struggle to finally be taken seriously was a healthy dose of reality in a show about an alien watching super heroes. It's also nice to know that even without super powers, Steve Rodgers finds a way to get on the front lines. Plus, I liked that Howard Stark managed to use the Tesseract to build Mark 0 Iron Man armor (No idea if that's what it's really called, but that's what I've been referring to it as).
Then we got T'challa in space! Everything about this episode was awesome. It was a masterful blend of heartwarming and hilarious. This is exactly what I want to see in this show. Bartender Drax! Well-adjusted Nebula! Howard. The. Duck. Awesome... Freakin' Fantastic! Sure, it ends with the implication that Ego would succeed in his plan to become one with everything, but I think The Happy Ravagers would find a way to stop him. It's not nearly as bad as the implication three episodes later.
The spiral down begins with the Earth's mightiest heroes all getting killed before being able to unite. Iron Man; poisoned. Thor; shot. Hawkeye; embolism. Hulk; exploded... Super gross. By the time Black Widow dies, we're given two huge clues as to the true malice behind all the deaths. Hank Pym, but as Yellow Jacket. One by one the Avengers fall before being able to assemble against Loki and his army. Unfortunately, in this timeline, Loki's army is an Asgardian one in response to Thor's death. Needless to say, Loki doesn't just go home when Thor is avenged. Sure, there's hope in the Captains, Marvel and America, but everyone else is still dead. Bummer. Although...
It wasn't as much as the start to finish bummer that was the Doctor Strange episode. I immediately saw the change in the universe and knew what it meant to see Christine in the car with Stephen. It was bad enough seeing her die over and over knowing the Strange couldn't save her, but then... The lengths he goes to, the depths he sinks to, the destruction and pain he brings to himself and the entire universe. He's left with nothing but an empty pocket of space to exist in, begging for forgiveness.
At this point, I was ready for a pick-me-up. Seeing Dr. Strange destroy everything was emotional and beautiful in its tragedy, which would have been a good time for a metaphysical pallet cleanser. Instead, we got zombies. Don't get me wrong. I loved the comic Marvel Zombies. I even enjoyed this episode. Marvel has done a few different zombie stories and this was a take I hadn't seen before. I hoped against hope that this one would end without the universe being devoured, but no. Uatu(The Watcher) implies everyone got ate (That's how most of the Marvel Zombie stories end so at least it wasn't surprising).
In episode six, (the latest one as of writing) Killmonger lives up to his name and manages to murder his way into being Black Panther while betraying everyone close to him. It was a double punch because not only was the episode just a downer, I wanted to see Killmonger be a good guy and affect change through social, economic and political means instead of through violence. I was hoping the What if... was, 'What If... N'Jadaka was taken to Wakanda instead of being left behind?' How would his experiences change Wakanda and the rest of the world for the good? Instead, he just takes a faster, more brutal route to being Black Panther.
Let me be clear, the writing and animation are stellar, and I could even enjoy all of these stories in the same season. My only gripe is that there's been so much darkness in a row. Switch the order of these around a little and things could have a rhythm of up and down. What we have instead is a roller-coaster that started going up, brought us to a peak, and has been descending ever since. Let's hope the last four episodes are a little more cheery. What do you think? Am I just imagining things or is What If... depressing? Let me know what you think in the comments and Stay Sound.