‘What If?’ Season 2 Episode 2 Recap & Spoilers: Did Peter Quill Help Ego With His Expansion?


Marvel’s What If? series made a not-so-emphatic return to the small screen with an episode centered on Nebula, which can only be described as “discount Blade Runner.” To be honest, the concept of the show seemed interesting because the sheen of the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t worn off. But now that we have seen how inventive the science-fiction genre can be and how the MCU has failed to scratch its surface despite its nearly two-decade-long existence in the mainstream, it doesn’t feel interesting anymore. So, yes, maybe back in 2021, an episode about Yondu sending Peter Quill to Ego instead of making him a part of the Ravagers would’ve been interesting. However, seeing that now isn’t exciting, especially when you realize that the narrative doesn’t deviate too wildly from the story of Quill and Ego that we are familiar with.

Spoiler Alert

Thor Incapacitates Peter Quill

The story of Peter Quill that we are familiar with went something like this: Ego wanted a child with his powers in order to boost his own and help him with his Expansion, i.e., restructuring the universe in his own image. So, Ego went to different planets in different galaxies and procreated. One of them was Earth, and the offspring was Peter Quill. When he was a kid, Ego sent the Ravagers to abduct Quill and bring him to Ego. But Yondu, the leader of the Ravagers, decided to keep Quill on his team because he was aware of Ego’s evil intentions. Quill grew up thinking Yondu was his father. Due to a twist of fate, Quill did cross paths with Ego and killed him after learning that Ego was responsible for his mother’s death. Quill stopped Ego’s Expansion program and lost Yondu in the process in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Episode 2 of What If? Season 2 takes us to an alternate universe where Yondu delivered Peter to Ego. The celestial patriarchal being proceeded to sever Peter’s ties to his mother, Meredith, by turning his walkman into a ball of energy. Then, he convinced Peter to help him with his Expansion, which involves planting seedlings on every planet and then activating them when the time is right.

Quill eventually reaches Earth in 1988 and starts wreaking havoc in Manhattan. Under Project Pegasus, Peggy Carter and Howard Stark decide to respond to this threat by assembling Hank Pym (Ant-Man), Dr. Bill Foster, N’Jadaka (Black Panther), and the Winter Soldier. By the way, it’s mentioned in passing that N’Jadaka’s father helped the U.S. during “the war” and even donated some Vibranium, which was then turned into a shield, which was lost in the Arctic. So, I am guessing that in this universe, Steve Rogers is Captain America. When Peggy sees the Winter Soldier, she recognizes him as Bucky. Howard says that even though there are rumors that Bucky and the Winter Soldier are one and the same, he isn’t synonymous with Bucky anymore due to all the brainwashing. A young Wendy Lawson (who was Carol Danvers’ mentor in the reality we are familiar with) also joins the team. She has the Kree suit, and she is powering her plane with the Tesseract, something that we see her doing late in her career in Captain Marvel. The team reaches Coney Island and tries a variety of ways to subdue Quill, but none of it works. Finally, Thor makes an entry and incapacitates Peter. I have to say that everyone’s voice-acting, especially that of Michael Douglas and Chris Hemsworth, is great. I’m still not a fan of the animation, though.

Ego Becomes A Kaiju

Other than stating the obvious about Ego’s Expansion, Thor says that Peter Quill has actually destroyed Jotunheim, Asgard, and all the armies of the Nine Realms. So, Earth has to make the last stand, or else Ego will win. While Howard Stark says that they should just chuck the Seedling in the garbage disposal (much like Tony Stark did when he learned about the Infinity Stones in Endgame), Thor points out that only a celestial being can truly destroy it. Hank understands what Thor is saying: they need to get Peter Quill to destroy the Seedling before it starts to consume Earth. That sounds like an uphill battle because Quill has been heavily brainwashed by Ego, and Hope (Hank’s daughter) makes it even more difficult by freeing Quill from his prison. While the adults treated Quill like a monster, Hope talks to Quill as a kid because they are roughly the same age. When Hope understands that Quill is just trying to reconnect with his roots in Missouri, she gets him out of the facility. The adults obviously find out about it and begin discussing what they’re going to do after they find him. 

With the exception of Thor and the Winter Soldier, everyone thinks that he should be brought back to the facility, alive, and then studied. Thor and the Winter Soldier think that Quill should be killed because he’s the key to activating the Seedling. Hope forces Hank to promise her that Quill won’t be killed if she tells them where he is, and Hank agrees. In the meantime, Ego enters Earth after learning that Quill has deviated from his mission. Howard and Hope stay at the Pegasus facility. Foster, N’Jadaka, Thor, and Peggy go out into the battlefield to face Ego (a scene that is weirdly reminiscent of the battle scene in The Flash, which was actually aping the desert scene in Man of Steel). Hank and Wendy head over to Missouri to get to Peter Quill, who is visiting Meredith’s grave. Bucky is there, too, in the bushes with a sniper rifle, and he is actually acting on Karpov’s orders to kill Quill. Howard tries to convince Bucky to not kill Quill by reminding him about Steve’s sacrifice. Hank tries to convince Quill that he doesn’t have to do his father’s bidding by talking about losing a loved one. And Ego turns into a Kaiju while overwhelming Thor, N’Jadaka, Foster, and Peggy with life-sized versions of himself.

Did Peter Quill Help Ego With His Expansion?

Kaiju Ego extends his light-based tentacles and steals the Seedling, with the intention of activating it and taking over Earth. Quill agrees to join the family that’s waiting for him at Pegasus. And Bucky takes his finger off the trigger as he probably starts remembering his time with Steve Rogers. Hank and Wendy rush Quill to the battlefield. They steal the Seedling, and Quill confronts Ego. They have the same conversation about Meredith and her tumor that the adult Peter Quill had with the bearded Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Quill uses all his powers to decimate Ego. Hank hugs Quill to reassure him that he isn’t alone. The heroes return to Hank’s house for some partying. We see Wendy handing Goose (the Flerken) to Quill and Hope. The Winter Soldier isn’t there, though, and he seems to be working as a vigilante, probably in order to right his wrongs.

At the end of What If? Season 2, episode 2, Thor says that even though Ego’s body has been destroyed, his planet still exists. Since it is an extension of Ego, it has to be destroyed too, or else there’s a chance that he’ll rise again and restart his Expansion program. A “hero shot” of Peggy, N’Jadaka, Wendy, Goose, Hank, Howard, Thor, Foster, Hope, and Peter Quill heading over to Ego’s planet confirms that they are going to be the future of the Avengers in this reality. You see, this is my issue: how is this wildly different from the MCU stories that we’ve seen already? It’s pretty cookie-cutter, in my opinion. A “what if” story comes with the opportunity to truly swing for the fences. Instead, the makers of the show, under Kevin Feige’s jurisdiction, are settling for the bare minimum. Well, things can only go uphill from here.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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