‘What If?’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap & Spoilers: Is Irani Rael Dead?


The first episode of What If? Season 2 starts with a murder investigation that puts Nebula at the center of the conflict, where the cyborg is trying to redeem herself on planet Xandar. In this What If? Universe, Ronan, the accuser, bent on taking revenge on the worst nemesis, betrayed his master Thanos and arrived on Xandar to eliminate all life forms on the planet. Ronan, a warlord of the Kree Empire, had lost his father and other loved ones in the long conflict between the Kree and the Nova Empire, which led to his strong dislike towards his enemies. His empire, however, had signed a peace treaty with Nova Prime, Irani Rael, so as to put an end to a generation of war, which Ronan disagreed with. After killing Thanos and Gamora, Ronan tried to destroy the planet when Irani triggered the shield generator, which locked the entire planet behind a shield that was designed to last for some 50 years. In the aftermath of such an incident, Ronan was helpless and couldn’t exact his revenge on Xandarians, but the mad destroyer had been looking for ways to infiltrate the planet and destroy it at all costs.

Spoiler Alert

Why was Yondu killed?

As seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, the band of misfits had arrived on Xandar to protect the orb from falling into the wrong hands, which could bring death and destruction to the whole universe. However, the episode didn’t mention any orbs, as Thanos was long gone and, with him, went away his obsessive pursuit of the infinity stones. Therefore, in this universe, perhaps the team was never formed, and everyone went their own way. Gamora was already dead, while Yondu Udonta, being an exiled ravager, ended up becoming a small-time criminal on Xandar. Nebula, on the other hand, somehow survived Ronan’s wrath and ended up in space, where she was rescued by Irani, who brought her to her home planet and recruited her as a member of the Nova Corps.

As What If? Episode 1 began, we found out that someone had killed Yondu in cold blood, and Nebula arrived at the crime scene to investigate his death. Nebula got hold of his Yaka Arrow, inside of which she came across cryptic schematics. To find out more about it, Nebula arrived at Howard the Duck’s Night Bar, where we were introduced to several familiar faces, including Drax, Korg, Groot, and others. Nevertheless, it was Korg, the genius, who solved the mystery and informed Nebula of the schematics of Xandar’s data core, which stored the source code for the shield generator. Nebula quickly connected the dots and surmised that whoever killed Yondu was trying to steal these codes so that they could bring the shield down and pave the way for Ronan’s invasion. In short, Yondu’s killer had been working for Ronan in order to bring about doom for Xandar.

What was Nebula’s plan?

Captain Marvel’s character Yon-Rogg also made an appearance in the first episode, where Nebula enlisted the help of Ronan’s old friend to infiltrate the Xandarian mainframe core. Nebula’s end game was to download the source code on her own system and delete the original copy so that no one would be able to use it again for ulterior motives. However, before she could do so, the former Kree commander, Yon-Rogg, showed his true colors and plugged a drive into Nebula’s neck to steal the codes and use them to bring the shields down. Nebula tried to stop the culprit and swam out of the facility, where a new surprise awaited her. It was finally revealed that it was Nova Prime, Irani Rael who orchestrated the entire setup to steal the codes. In return for her loyalty, Ronan had promised her that she’d keep her position.

Why Did Irani Rael Betray Her Own People?

Five years after the total lockdown, the Xandarians started losing their minds, as communications with the outside world had been lost forever. Hundreds of different species of the universe resided on the planet and frequently moved in and out of Xandar in order to conduct their usual business. However, the protective shield had hampered all means of transportation, making these residents prisoners in their own lands. The planet was on the brink of a civil war as people were slowly losing trust in Nova Corps. Irani knew that they wouldn’t be able to survive the lockdown for long, but she had no means to bring down the shield without the source code. That was where Nebula came in, as only a cyborg could access the data core. But even though Irani’s motive to cooperate with Ronan was quite clear, I am still not sure whether the conqueror would have fulfilled his end of the bargain. The reason was that Ronan had sworn to take revenge on Xandar and all Xandarians living on it. Therefore, if he had gotten the chance to invade the planet, the bloodthirsty warlord wouldn’t have left a single soul alive. So either Irani was delusional, or she got so greedy about saving her own life that she didn’t bother thinking about the consequences of Ronan’s invasion. But Nebula, who was well aware of Ronan’s past betrayals, knew how things would end on Xandar, which was why she decided to intervene to stop the warlord at all costs.

How Did Nebula Save the Planet?

While trying to escape the corrupt Nova Corps, Nebula wrecked her entire body. Fortunately, her friends, Howie, Korg, and Groot, helped her find spare body parts that made her as good as new. She even flaunted the Yaka Arrow Controller on her head, which gave her the ability to control the arrow and use it against her enemies. Along with her team of misfits, Nebula attacked the Nova Corps headquarters to stop Irani from bringing down the shield.

In the end, it turned out that Nebula tweaked the shield codes a bit, which caused the shield to crush Ronan’s warship as it was trying to enter Xandar’s atmosphere. Nebula had her doubts about Irani’s intentions from the moment she asked Nebula to investigate Yondu’s death by any means possible. She couldn’t believe the fact that Nova Prime had literally asked her to bend the law to find the culprit. After her intricate mission failed to achieve the desired results, Irani tried to escape the building and ended up killing herself in the process. Nebula, on the other hand, had not only eliminated the threat looming over their heads but also brought down the shield so that the Xandarians could witness a new dawn.

What Will Happen Next to Nebula?

With Nova Prime dead, Nebula has no debts to pay, which may influence her decision to walk away from Nova Corps and start a new future somewhere else. She was once a cold-blooded assassin who killed people at her father’s command, but the ones in her past holding her back are long dead. By the end of What If? Episode 1, Nebula was finally able to redeem herself by saving countless lives on Xandar. She may or may not stay on the planet. Nebula has the entire universe in front of her, and she is free to go anywhere she wants. She may even find Star-Lord and Rocket on her journey ahead; however, an association between them without Gamora seems unlikely.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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