The first season of What If? mostly functioned as an anthology show and then haphazardly tried to connect everything together to form the Guardians of the Multiverse. Season 2 of the show is not only reliant on characters established in Season 1, but it also has Strange Supreme forming a link between some of the episodes, as if the lack of a cohesive plot is what made the first season so unenjoyable. The fifth episode of Season 2 showed Captain Peggy Carter being pulled through a portal by Wanda-Merlin and Nick Fury. And in the sixth episode, we saw Strange Supreme meeting with Kahhori, who said that he had been looking for her for a long time. Episode 8 of What If? Season 2 furthers these connections while imagining a world where the Avengers exist in the year 1602.
Peggy Carter finds Steve Rogers
The plot is centered around the kingdom on Earth that’s being ruled by Hela. Her ministry includes Thor, Wanda-Merlin, Nick Fury, Loki, and Happy Hogan. This particular universe is plagued with rifts in space that keep destroying everything that they hold dear, and they are actually inching towards oblivion. Fury and Wanda-Merlin have apparently kidnapped Peggy from her timeline and employed her in this one because they believe that she is the one who can solve this issue. However, when she fails to save Hela from being sucked into the rift, Thor orders everyone to arrest Peggy, thereby forcing her to go on the run. It’s unclear why neither Thor nor Loki does anything substantial to help out Hela. They are gods. Later on, we do learn that Loki has misplaced Mjölnir, and maybe that’s why he is unable to fly. Well, this version of Hogan has his Hulk powers, but he doesn’t use them.
Anyway, Hela is gone, and Thor picks up her scepter, which seems to have the Time Stone in it, and becomes the king of the kingdom. The Watcher confronts Peggy and advises her to take his hand and return to her universe because the one she is in is doomed to die. Peggy says that she can’t let that happen and decides to eavesdrop on the conversation between Thor, Wanda-Merlin, Happy, and Fury to see where their heads are at. She sees that even though Thor wants to arrest her, Wanda-Merlin is still hopeful that she is the key to the universe’s survival. She thinks that Peggy is going to find another person who is suffering from time displacement, and that’s going to stop the rifts from destroying everything. Based on that information, Peggy goes to Stark and asks him to make a contraption that will match the energy of the time-displaced person, called the forerunner, with the energy of the rips and send them back to their original universe. Stark says that the only thing that can power such a contraption is the Time Stone in Thor’s scepter, and they’ve to steal it. And, in order to steal it, they need thieves, i.e., Steve Rogers, Bucky, and Scott Lang. Peggy stops this trio from robbing Loki and convinces them to join her mission to save this universe.
A Rift Appears in Thor’s Court
Margaret (1602’s Peggy) is apparently dead, and Peggy’s Steve is missing after the altercation with the Red Room. So, of course, this iteration of Rogers and Peggy begins to generate romantic feelings for each other amidst this bizarre situation. That’s when they are attacked by Happy and a bunch of Yellowjackets, i.e., the army that Darren Cross was planning to build in Ant-Man with the Pym Particles. Lang can be seen using his Ant-Man suit to fight back while the rest of the heroes take on the Yellowjackets, who are regular-sized. Much like the Asgardian conundrum, I am confused about the existence of shrinking capabilities in 1602. It has to be magic, because that kind of technology didn’t exist back then.
Since What If? Season 2, episode 8, refuses to clarify this aspect of the show, and I think it’s pointless to worry too much about it. We even see the Destroyer make an appearance, and because that thing is technically unbeatable, Peggy accepts her defeat, which allows the rest of the heroes to run away from there and work on the heist with Stark. Red Skull has a cameo as an executioner, I suppose. Peggy comes across Banner, who is imprisoned with an iron mask on his face. That can be a reference to the film The Man in the Iron Mask, right? Maybe. Peggy does the most obvious thing. He irks Banner, and he Hulks out, and then she breaks out of the prison by riding on Banner’s back. Once everyone is together—Peggy, Steve, Bucky, Lang, Stark, and Banner—they infiltrate Thor’s castle and wait for the opportune moment to steal the Time Stone from the God of Thunder’s scepter, insert it in Stark’s device, and fix everything. However, they are forced to improvise as a rift opens right inside Thor’s castle, and it seems to be the one that’ll destroy the universe.
How Did Peggy stop the 1602 universe from collapsing?
At the end of What If? Season 2, episode 8, the protagonists fight Thor’s army while Wanda-Merlin keeps the rift from expanding and killing everyone. Peggy tries to get the Time Stone from Thor, but Thor fights back with his Wakandan sword. When Wanda-Merlin realizes that Peggy is on the correct track, she uses some of her powers to hold back Thor. Fury takes the scepter and gives it to Stark. He inserts the Time Stone into his cubical contraption, and Peggy inserts her hands into the box. An Iron Man-like glove forms around her left hand, which has the stone at the center of it. As she is about to be struck down by Thor, Peggy uses the Time Stone, and that brings everything to a halt and reveals the forerunner, i.e., Steve Rogers. He says that, a long time ago, he and his fellow Avengers engaged in a battle with Thanos. While trying to attack his Infinity Gauntlet, Rogers hit the Time Stone, and that somehow created this 1602 universe or sent him to the 1602 timeline. Thor seemingly confirms this theory. Even though Peggy doesn’t want to lose Rogers again, she is forced to erase all the time-displaced people from existence. When she pushes the Time Stone again, it vanishes, along with everyone else in the court. Even the rift vanishes, which means that the 1602 timeline is safe. And while all that is fine and great, I am confused.
Did the Time Stone send all the Avengers back in time? Or did Steve’s actions merely create this universe? If that’s the case, then hitting the Time Stone should have erased (or, as the Time Variance Authority likes to say, “pruned”) everything. Since the universe is intact, I think Steve hitting the Time Stone only brought him and those around him into this timeline. If Steve was the only one who was time-displaced, he would’ve been the only one who would have disappeared. As we see everyone disappearing, I think he pulled the characters of the episode into this timeline, and Peggy simply sent them back to where they were originally from. The characters’ shoddy memory could’ve been an after-effect of the Time Stone or we can assume that they were stuck in this 1602 universe for so long that they forgot their original identities and assumed the ones that this new destiny had in store for them. Either way, the lack of explanation is perplexing, especially since Marvel is known for their descriptive and expository scenes.
Peggy is unaffected by the reversal of this event because she isn’t tethered to the Time Stone. Of course, she is heartbroken after losing Steve twice in a matter of hours. She expects The Watcher to take her back to her timeline. However, instead of the omnipresent narrator, Strange Supreme visits Peggy, and he tells her that he has quite the story to share with her. It’s safe to assume that Strange is trying to get Dr. Christine Palmer back again. He has probably recruited Kahhori, who is one of the most powerful magic users in the multiverse. And now he is about to get Peggy to side with him. Now, if Strange is going up against The Watcher, it’ll definitely be difficult for Peggy to pick a side. Given how righteous Peggy is, I guess she is going to come up with a solution that will harm no one and benefit everyone. Well, that doubt will be clarified in the next few hours as the last episode of Season 2 drops tomorrow. So, let’s wait and watch what Strange is up to.