The first three episodes of What If…? have given us some really intriguing glances into the realms of endless possibility that exist within Marvel’s multiverse; with pretty action-focused episodes, demonstrating the changes that occur when a different person takes on a specific mantle (Peggy Carter becoming a super soldier instead of Steve Rogers or T’Challa becoming Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill) or the whodunnit-style structure of last week’s episode, with the Earth losing its Avengers before they even get a chance to come together.

This week’s episode, though it does feature its fair share of action, feels far more introspective in many ways, focusing on the effect of a devastating loss on the MCU’s Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange. In this universe, Christine Palmer, Strange’s on/off partner, is with Strange in the car on the fateful night of his crash. It’s fatal for her – and losing Christine drives Strange to seek out a way to bring her back, which of course leads him down the familiar mystic path – albeit with far different consequences.

It’s a lot darker in tone – and even visually too – than the prior episodes, with some particularly effective sequences that drive home what the devastating loss does to Strange. The soundtrack is absolutely perfect – in its softer moments, there are some truly beautiful themes – and the comic book-style visuals again impress, with some excellent stylistic touches.

There’s a lot of the mind-bending, reality altering sequences that’ll be familiar to fans of the Sorcerer Supreme’s adventures – with the animated format allowing for some really wild bursts of colour and style, but it’s in the quieter moments that the episode truly excels.

Some genuine surprises occur as the events play out and it’s a surprisingly poignant, affecting story – with the performances being absolutely perfect too; Benedict Cumberbatch is particularly impressive in this episode, with his Stephen Strange being taken to far different places than we’ve seen before.

It’s another great reminder that the What If…? format allows for endless possibilities, but perhaps it’s the first episode to really showcase that the show will be able to explore some unusual and heartfelt subject matter, alongside its more traditionally superheroic tales. For me, it’s the best episode yet – and I can’t wait to see where next week’s episode takes us.

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