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What If...? Episode 2 Explained

The Watcher takes audiences on another memorable journey in Episode 2 of "What If...?" where they're treated to a story much different than Peggy Carter's in Episode 1. As the Watcher explained in the premiere episode, one choice can create a new universe, which we saw when Peggy opted to stay on the floor to watch the super-soldier experiment on Steve Rogers instead of going up into the booth. This time, the focus was on T'Challa — voiced by the late, great Chadwick Boseman, who recorded his part before his untimely death in August 2020. 

In Episode 2, the choice had a little more humor behind it. We find out immediately when the episode begins that T'Challa is Star-Lord — who in our reality is Peter Quill — after he was wrongfully kidnapped from Earth by the Ravagers. Instead of doing it himself, Yondu let Kraglin and Taserface find and take the boy, which opened the door to this new universe. Being the complete morons that they are, the men kidnapped the first boy they saw and figured it had to be him because he had "two see holes, two hear holes, and one eat hole." Instead of returning T'Challa to Wakanda, Yondu opted to keep the boy and raised him as a Ravager — who are Robin Hood-esque good guys. Kidnapping T'Challa changed the entire universe in ways we could never have imagined.

T'Challa prevents a major catastophe

Episode 2 pulls characters from several different films, including "Black Panther," "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," and "Avengers: Infinity War." Fairly quickly, we learn that T'Challa convinced Thanos to abandon his plan of murdering trillions by teaching him how to reallocate the universe's resources. Just like that, Thanos is a good guy and aids the Ravagers in their mission to steal the Embers of Genesis from the Collector.

Also aiding the group is Nebula, who rocks some wavy blonde hair and appears to be in her original Luphomoid form — something we have never seen before. She has some metal plating around her left eye, but the rest of her body seems untouched. Nebula and T'Challa have a flirty relationship, which only reminds us that there is no Nakia in this story — T'Challa's initial love interest from "Black Panther."

However, one of the biggest takeaways here is that the Guardians of the Galaxy are never formed. There's not even a new spin on the hero group, and the episode is without Gamora, Groot, and Rocket. We do get a brief scene with Drax, who bartends at an intergalactic club where T'Challa visits. It turns out everyone knows who Star-Lord is in this story, and Drax thanks him for saving his homeworld — which means his wife and daughter are still alive. Drax is still a very literal person and tells T'Challa he looks terrible in their photo together. Some things just never change.

Collectors gonna collect

The big mission in the episode is to steal the aforementioned Embers of Genesis — nutrient-rich cosmic dust that can terraform entire ecosystems. The good-natured T'Challa sees this as an opportunity to eradicate hunger across the galaxy, but the rest of the Ravager team — which includes Star-Lord superfan Korath — is terrified to go up against the Collector who keeps it in his library. Apparently, the Collector is the new Thanos in this universe after the Mad Titan "went straight." Yondu is terrified to go up against him, as are the rest of the Ravagers as they dub the heist "suicide."

With the Orb T'Challa stole from Morag earlier in their possession, Nebula and Yondu are able to get a meeting with the Collector — who is totally jacked, by the way — so they can make their way into his vault on Knowhere. The Black Order — who we initially know as the Children of Thanos from "Infinity War" — now work for the shirtless Collector in a bizarre twist. We finally meet the Collector — adorned with an eight-pack that'd make Dwayne Johnson jealous — who appears much more ruthless than the white-haired eccentric from "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The team is successful in stealing the Embers, but along the way, T'Challa discovers a Wakandan ship in the Collector's vault. He realizes his homeland is still thriving and calls out Yondu for lying to him about it being decimated. In the episode's conclusion, the new gang travels to Wakanda, where T'Challa is reunited with his family. T'Chaka, Ramonda, and Shuri are there to greet him. Okoye is also still around, with her path unchanged as she still is a member of the Dora Milaje.

The small changes made from What If...? Episode 2

T'Challa's role as Star-Lord effectively stops the Snap from ever happening, and his Knowhere heist also allows for the entire universe to be fed. That's a much bigger impact than Peggy Carter becoming a super-soldier — no offense to our new Captain. While that's the biggest takeaway from Episode 2, there are plenty of "what if" scenarios to wonder that aren't laid out for us. There really isn't a need for the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them, especially since Ronan wouldn't be looking for the Orb to serve Thanos. The Kree leader is probably off battling the Skrulls — who get a brief mention in the club scene — but he doesn't seem to be a threat in this universe.

Killmonger — who will appear in another "What If...? episode — is still out there we assume, but he hasn't arrived in Wakanda yet. It's possible he still comes to challenge the throne, because T'Challa becoming Star-Lord doesn't necessarily change his story at all. Also, in the episode's conclusion, we see that Ego has traveled to Earth on his own and meets Peter, who is mopping the floor of a Dairy Queen. This story could go anywhere, with a naive Peter much more likely to aid his planet of a father in whatever he might be up to these days.

The major ramifications of T'Challa's kidnapping is astoudning

One of the biggest things to ponder from Episode 2 are the deeper ramifications of T'Challa convincing Thanos to abort his genocidal plan. This would all boil down to timing and at what point the Mad Titan decided to go straight. If it was done before he began collecting stones, or more importantly — before he obtained the Mind Stone — it would change the entire MCU from Phase 2 and beyond. Just go with us on this one, as it might sound a little crazy.

Thanos gives Loki the Scepter — which holds the Mind Stone — so he'd have the upper hand on Earth as he sought to obtain the Tesseract — which contains the Space Stone. If Thanos gives up his plan before giving Loki the Scepter, that means the Mind Stone never makes its way to Earth. This simple change could suggest that the Avengers never form because, without Loki, the team would never come together. It's as simple as that.

If the Avengers were formed one way or another — through the threat of another foe, possibly — Tony Stark and Bruce Banner never would have gotten their hands on the Mind Stone, which would mean no Ultron and no Vision. This also means Baron Zemo is happily chowing down on some paprikash with his wife and children in Sokovia. He never would have bombed the United Nations meeting in Vienna, meaning T'Chacka is no longer in danger. No Mind Stone on Earth also means no Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. That little shiny sucker shaped the MCU more than any other stone, and if T'Challa was Star-Lord, this all might have looked very different.

As we said, this would all depend on timing, and if Thanos had already sent Loki to Earth, all these points we've made are moot. That's the point of this series, though, isn't it? We're left to ponder the question, What if? The Watcher would be so proud.