As depressing as this episode managed to get this is actually the type of all-inclusive and barrier-breaking story that I happen to love since the image of Ultron breaking into the multiverse and actually challenging and dominating the Watcher of all people was horrifying, but it was also satisfying. The vision from the last episode did come true as Ultron not only bested the Avengers, but ended up annihilating most of humanity before taking his fight to other worlds, and in time, to other realities as he sensed the Watcher and went looking for him. The Watcher, as many comic fans know, is bound by his oath not to interfere, but in doing so he also has to stand by and watch fate condemn this universe to Ultron’s less than tender mercies. And armed with the Infinity Stones, which were separated from the gauntlet after a pathetically easy defeat of Thanos, there was no stopping Ultron as he went on to destroy every world and galaxy he came upon. Even Captain Marvel wasn’t enough to stop him, and she went toe to toe with Thanos at one point.
The thing is, Ultron is all intellect and doesn’t bother with morality. He seeks to put the chaos to rest and establish order in the most final method possible, which means absolute silence, annihilation at any cost. But even that wasn’t enough since Ultron wants absolute order, which means that he couldn’t stop until everything was silenced. That’s kind of funny since it does feel as though he’s orchestrating his own doom since order can’t exist without chaos and vice versa. One will always seek to emerge no matter how much the other is imposed upon reality. But getting back to the story, as Black Widow and Hawkeye are the only humans left to fight Ultron on earth, apparently, they go in search of something that could help to infiltrate and possibly shut down Ultron. There are subtle jabs that sink home such as Hawkeye losing an artificial arm and needing help and then Hawkeye losing hope as he’s just about to find the file on Arnim Zola, who could possibly slip into Ultron’s hive mind and cause a great deal of havoc. In other words, the female hero is the determined one while the men have failed and lost hope. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but the fact that Thor fell to Ultron, largely because his powers have been so reduced in the MCU, is enough to warrant an eye roll.
But in all fairness, pretty much everyone fell to Ultron, and Clint did get to sacrifice himself this time to give Natasha and the Ultron copy that was carrying Zola’s consciousness time to get away. Now all that remains is to find the hive mind and insert Zola into the system. That’s bound to be a problem however since for the first time in the season an episode did not end in a decisive manner since Ultron took the fight to the Watcher, who found that as powerful as he is, he still couldn’t dispatch the murderous robot, meaning he was forced to flee, while Ultron, who had been smacking him from one universe to another as the multiverse was laid wide open, is now free to explore and dominate as he will.
All hope isn’t lost yet, however, as Natasha and Zola are still on earth looking to find a way to upload Zola into the hive mind, and the Watcher has found another unlikely ally that was shown in a previous episode. It’s kind of a hope that the evil version of Doctor Strange won’t be his only ally, since it does feel that taking down Ultron will require a team at the very least. Many people are wondering if the What If? series will be allowed to affect the MCU overall, and while it’s a good question it also feels more than a little messy since it would be interesting, but also difficult given that new actors would be required for a lot of the roles. The advantage of animation is the fact that voice actors can take over and there’s not as much fuss about it, or at least there shouldn’t be.
With one more episode to go in this season it’s bound to come down to an all-out brawl as it feels certain that the evil version of Doctor Strange will pack a punch, but it might not be enough, even with the Watcher, since Ultron has full control of the Infinity Stones. But enlisting other realities might work, since there are likely other areas of the multiverse that haven’t been tapped yet. The finale already has the feel of something that’s going to cap off this season in a big way, and possibly leave plenty of room for a season 2.