‘What If…?’ introduces avid viewers of the ‘MCU‘ to vast new realities through the eyes of The Watcher, a super-sentient cosmic being who watches all that transpires across the multiverse but cannot interfere with any of the events. The eighth and penultimate episode of the show’s first season pits The Watcher against the deadliest threat the multiverse has ever seen in the form of an advanced version of Ultron.
The episode unravels the very fabric of reality and forces The Watcher to make a difficult choice. If you need some explanation about the episode’s ending, you have come to the right place. Here’s what happens at the end of ‘What If…?’ episode 8 and what it means. SPOILERS AHEAD!
What If…? Episode 8 Recap
Episode 8 titled ‘What If…Ultron Won?’ opens with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye fighting against Ultron Sentries and infiltrating a KGB archives facility in Russia. As The Watcher explains in this reality, the Avengers failed to stop Ultron from fusing with his organic body and the mind stone. Thus, Ultron decimated almost all life on Earth in his misguided quest for peace.
After that, Thanos arrives on Earth, but Ultron kills him and gains control of the assembled Infinity Stones. With the powers of the cosmic stones, Ultron learns about other planets and goes on a rampage across the universe, killing every hero who stands against him. Captain Marvel fights Ultron but is killed, and life across the universe is destroyed with no one left to stand against Ultron. The megalomaniacal AI then discovers the existence of The Watcher and the multiverse.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Natasha and Clint search through the archives to find a code capable of taking down Ultron. The Watcher contemplates intervening, but Natasha finds the file without his help. They learn that Arnim Zola’s computer-trapped consciousness is located at a HYDRA facility. With Zola’s help, the heroes try to corrupt and dismantle Ultron’s program, but Zola fails to connect with Ultron’s hive mind as it is outside comprehensible reality. Ultron attacks The Watcher, and the two engage in a duel that will likely decide the fate of the entire multiverse.
What If…? Episode 8 Ending: Does The Watcher Break His Oath?
In the episode, The Watcher reiterates that no matter what happens, he cannot interfere with the natural course of things in the universe as he has sworn an oath only to observe the events. With Ultron rising to a previously unattainable level of sentience and discovering the existence of the multiverse, The Watcher exclaims that the event is an anomaly that isn’t supposed to happen. Ultron attacks The Watcher, and their epic fight unfolds through multiple realities, with Ultron bashing The Watcher for not intervening despite numerous worlds suffering.
The Watcher is brought to his knees by Ultron’s powers but manages to land one decisive blow on his enemy that allows him to escape. The Watcher teleports to Strange Supreme’s reality, which was previously destroyed by the wizard’s own selfish desires. The Watcher and Strange Supreme both realize that the former must interfere as billions of lives across the multiverse are hanging in the balance.
The episode closes with The Watcher asking for Strange’s help. This implies The Watcher is prepared to break the oath he upheld for so long. His fight with Ultron makes him realize the fate of the multiverse is at stake. Therefore, despite initially being adamant about not intervening, The Watcher decides to break his oath. The Watcher asking for Strange’s help also hints that the cosmic being will gather heroes from across the multiverse to stop Ultron.
What Happens To Natasha? Is Clint Dead?
Over the course of the episode, we see Natasha and Clint from Ultron’s reality trying to find a way to stop the genocidal robot. However, Clint feels tired and no longer wishes to fight after all the loss he has seen. While escaping the HYDRA facility, Clint remains behind to hold off the Ultron Sentries so that Natasha can leave with Zola. In the scene, Clint, who is hanging off the edge, frees himself of Natasha’s hold and jumps towards the horde of Ultron Sentries.
This scene is particularly emotional because it is a mirror image of the scene from ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘ where Natasha sacrifices herself in a similar manner so that Clint can return with the Soul Stone. In the end, Clint dies in an explosion that takes out all the Ultron Sentries. Natasha survives and is likely to be recruited by The Watcher to stop Ultron. The scene highlights the bond between the two Avengers and also gives Natasha extra motivation to continue her fight against Ultron.