Marvel's animated trending series, "What If...?" Season 2, hits a strikingly emotive note in its fifth episode, What If... Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper? This episode, streaming now on Disney+, not only addresses the cliffhanger from Season 1 but also delves into the intricate web of alternate realities with a gripping narrative that marries action with heart-wrenching drama.
The episode opens with a flashback to the Battle of New York, showcasing the dynamic duo of Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Black Widow (Lake Bell) in action. Their synergy is palpable and sets the stage for the tumultuous events to follow. The narrative cleverly plays with continuity, as we see these familiar characters in refreshingly different circumstances. This deviation from the established Marvel timeline is a testament to the show's creative freedom, making every moment unpredictable and exciting.
The heart of the episode lies in the revelation of the HYDRA Stomper, containing none other than Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton), who is unrecognizable to Peggy Carter due to decades of being under Hydra's influence. This twist adds a layer of personal conflict for Captain Carter, propelling the episode into a mix of high-octane action and emotional depth.
The fight scenes are well-executed, combining Marvel's signature action choreography with a sense of urgency and emotional stakes.
A standout aspect of this episode is its exploration of the characters' relationships. Peggy's interaction with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) highlights the complexities of trust and duty in a world of espionage. Meanwhile, the inclusion of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as Secretary of State adds a layer of political intrigue and connects to the larger Marvel universe in a clever way.
The episode's climax in Sokovia is a visual and narrative spectacle. The eerie, deserted American suburbia, complete with unsettling animatronics, adds a layer of surrealism to the show. This setting not only serves as an engaging backdrop for the action but also raises questions about the KGB's motives and methods, deepening the episode's thematic richness.
Narratively, the episode shines in its final act. The emotional dialogue between Steve and Peggy, underscored by the song "It's Been a Long, Long Time," is a poignant moment that resonates with fans of the franchise. This nod to "Avengers: Endgame" is a fine example of fan service done right.
The episode concludes with a tantalizing setup for future episodes, leaving viewers eager for more. The Watcher's (Jeffrey Wright) narration adds an omniscient perspective to the unfolding drama, reminding viewers of the vastness of the Marvel multiverse.
In summary, What If... Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper? is a standout episode that skillfully balances action, emotion, and intrigue. Its ability to weave a compelling story within an alternate reality, while staying true to the essence of its characters, is a testament to the creative prowess of Marvel's storytelling. This episode is a must-watch for fans and newcomers alike, as it expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe in thrilling new directions.