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‘What If’ Season 1 Episode 1: “What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?” — RECAP

‘What If’ Season 1 Episode 1: “What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?” — RECAP

The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) begins by telling us time, space, and reality are prisms of endless possibilities, and he will be our guide to these alternate realities.

On Earth, June 1943, Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton) is being prepped to become a super-soldier. Instead of going up to the booth, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) decides to watch the process on the main floor, thus changing the timeline. While watching, she notices a man has a detonator in his hand. Part of the lab is blown up. The man attempts to steal the serum, and Steve hops out of the machine to stop him but is shot. Peggy pulls out her gun and shoots the man, stopping him in his tracks. Howard Stark points out that they are losing power. Colonel Flynn (Bradley Whitford) orders Steve or Howard to jump in, but Steve can’t and Howard is more of the buttons man. Flynn isn’t happy about losing money for this, so Peggy decides to jump into the machine. Peggy comes out of the machine stronger and taller.

Flynn is beyond upset that Peggy ended up with all of the serum. He refuses to allow her to go to the front lines and has her blood drawn in hopes of getting the serum to make actual “super soldiers.” Later on, Steve plants into Peggy’s head that she could be the one to save the world and beat Hitler.

Howard Stark and Peggy inform Flynn of the recent movements of Hitler’s Supernatural Science division called Hydra. Hydra was located in Norway and acquired an object called the Tesseract. Howard and Peggy want to stop the travels of Hydra and get the Tesseract, but Flynn doesn’t care and continues to demean Peggy. Later, Howard meets Peggy at a bar with a plan, a suit, and a shield for her to use in combat. Peggy attacks the Tesseract escort single-handedly and acquires the Tesseract from Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). She takes the Tesseract to Flynn and demands that she be promoted to the title of captain because she is more useful out in the field. Howard takes the Tesseract and builds something for Steve to join in the war.

Peggy breaks into the prison that holds the 107th and Bucky Barnes. The troops break out but are overwhelmed with oncoming shots. Steve appears in Hydra Stomper robot gear that is powered by the Tesseract. He and Peggy work together to take out the enemy troops. The two go on multiple missions together while Flynn lies to the president about it being all his idea.

Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull (Ross Marquand), is visited by one of Hitler’s men to be given a message and summoned. Red Skull informs them that he is a god and will summon his true champion through the stars. He shoots the messenger and tells him that Hydra will rise. Red Skull’s men chant, “Hail Hydra.”

Peggy and Steve share a drink at the bar. Steve asks her how it feels to have the serum. Peggy says it is no different, but she is seen differently and respected. Steve doesn’t get that and feels that he is just seen as a kid in a metal suit. Peggy states that he is her hero. Steve tells her that she is his hero, too. The two lean in to kiss but are disrupted by Howard Stark banging the window and telling them that Bucky stole a jeep.

Peggy informs Bucky that their intel says the head of Hydra is on the train that they are monitoring. Steve flies in to slow down the train while Peggy and the rest of the crew zip-line to the top of the train. Bucky almost falls off but is caught and pulled up by Peggy. Steve goes into one of the cars but finds explosives. He warns Peggy, but the explosives go off. The rest of the crew hops off before the explosion can reach them. The train falls down a cliff.

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Flynn argues with Howard about his indestructible Hydra Stomper while losing it. Peggy visits Arnim Zola to get information out of him and informs her crew and Flynn about Red Skull’s plans for world domination and annihilation of the population by unleashing an interdimensional force. Flynn points out that the location where Red Skull is would need the Hydra Stomper to get close. Peggy rallies the men to stop Hydra. 

Peggy and the crew fight their way to the castle. She and Howard separate from the rest of the crew to check out one of the entrances. Bucky’s crew finds Steve. Peggy and Howard run in to find Red Skull bringing out his interdimensional champion. This monster with tentacles snatches up Red Skull and crushes him. Howard isn’t ready for it. Steve has the crew put him back in the Hydra Stomper and fuel it from the generator. Peggy notices that the monster’s tentacles are growing at a fast rate. Howard needs to get to the controls to attempt to reverse the suction.  Howard somehow reverses the suction, and Steve and the crew join the party and attack the monster. The monster unleashes a scream that terrorizes everyone’s ears except for Peggy and Steve. Peggy has Steve take the crew out of danger. 

Howard can’t close the portal because the monster is holding it open. Peggy pushes the monster back in. Steve comes to help, but his suit runs out of juice. He gets out and calls out to Peggy, but she says she has to end this. Steve reminds her that she owes him a dance. She makes a date for Saturday night. He and Howard watch as Peggy is sucked into the portal and a blast goes off as it closes. 

A powered generator opens up a portal that Peggy jumps through, with pieces of tentacles. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) asks her to put down her sword. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) points out that she is Captain Carter. Peggy asks where Steve is and is informed that the war ended almost 70 years ago. Nick asks her if she will be okay. Peggy states that of course, she will be; they won the war.

The Watcher tells the audience that her choice gave the multiverse a new hero. As the Watcher, he observes all that transpires but cannot and will not interfere.

When the trailers for this show came out, I was quite excited about it. Right after the amazing ending of Loki, I was ready for the stories of other multiverses. In this case, I didn’t get the thrill that I usually have for Marvel shows. I understand that this changes the lives of many people such as Bucky Barnes, who will not be the Winter Soldier, but this episode as a starter for the series is just okay. Peggy can clearly hold her own and is a hero in her own right. This is her origin story as Captain Carter (not Captain America), and I wonder how it affects the rest of the multiverse. Hopefully, things pick up. 

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