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Marvel’s What If…?- Season 1 Episode 5 Review

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What If…?  is the latest Marvel Studios project to arrive on our small screens on Disney +.

The animated anthology series, created by Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia writer A.C. Bradleyand Marvel vet Bryan Andrews flips the script on the MCU as following the creation of the multiverse in Loki’s first season finale, What If…? reimagines famous events from the films in unexpected ways.

In last weeks episode of What If…?, Marvel took an extremely dark and somber turn as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) doomed the entire universe.



The dark streak continues in episode five of the animated series, as it truly leans into the more horror/gruesome tropes. Set during the events of Infinity War, episode five offers a totally difficult challenge as earths surviving heroes take on the Undead Avengers as Marvel Studios introduces us to ZOMBIES!!

The Watcher brings us to a universe where our Mighty Saviours are now the destroyers. It’s very reminiscent of The Walking Dead as these zombies are unambiguous and empty shells all wanting to do one thing to feast on flesh. 

Turning all of Earth’s mightiest Heroes into flesh-eating monsters has giving the MCU new abilities and challenges, they get to play with new styles and tones which have never been seen in a marvel project before. 

Two weeks earlier, Dr. Hank Pym journeyed into the Quantum Realm, searching for his long-lost wife. But in this universe, Janet van Dyne contracted a quantum virus that corrupted her brain. So when she finally reunited with her husband after thirty long years…”

The watcher

What If… Zombies?!

Synopsis

When The Avengers are infected by a zombie plague, surviving heroes search for a cure.

Review

The “What If…?” moment that causes Zombies is Hank Pym traveling to the Quantum Realm to rescue his wife Janet Van Dyne. Though he discovers that she’s picked up a nasty virus, which when they return runs rampant and infects the larger population. As the Avengers fall so does Bruce Banner, he falls straight through the Sanctum’s staircase with a warning that Thanos is coming. 

Bleecker Street is deserted, so Bruce is left to wander. Soon enough as seen in Infinity War he encounters members of the Black Order and, like in the film, is unable to transform back into the Hulk to fight them. 

©Marvel

Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Wong show up to fight, however alarm bells start ringing as Bruce realises that they are now Zombies. 

©Marvel

The episode then sees the surviving superheroes banding together to find a cure. The only ones who managed to save themselves  are Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Hudson Thames), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Happy (Jon Favreau), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly). 

Spider-Man is filming zombie survival videos from New York rooftops, involving Happy hilariously. Thanks to all the movies Peter has watched, his cinematic brain helps the remaining Avengers fight off Zombies and ultimately stay safe for the time being. I absolutely loves Peter’s Zombie guides.

©Marvel

As the episode proceeds, trouble and losses increase and the remaining Avengers have to find a solution to put a stop to this massacre, as Earth’s Deadliest Heroes awaken. 

The Zombie angle is certainly an interesting take and I’m thrilled that these decaying heroes still retain their powers and abilities, which make for some fun encounters. This episode also feature tons of undead horror, especially when seeing iconic characters being torn, ripped and chopped apart. The bloody consequences truly bring something new to the MCU table.

This episode truly seems pulled and inspired from Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Marvel Zombies: Resurrection comic book series.

The Zombies have Assembled and are now streaming on Disney +

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The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney +

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

June 4, 2024

Director:

Leslye Headland

Cast:

Dafne Keen, Amandla Stenberg, Jodie Turner-Smith

Plot Summary:

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Maya’s Story To Echo Through Time

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Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) & Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez) (Disney)

Here is the review of Marvel Studios’ Echo, now streaming on Disney Plus.

Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Streaming January 9 on Disney+ & Hulu. Set your Disney+ profile to TV-MA to stream. All episodes will be available on Hulu until April 9.

Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and Devery Jacobs.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Review

There is in total 5 episodes and it was available immediately and this is really amazing, allowing us to binge watch the season in 1 sitting. A big part of Echo’s storyline focuses on giving the viewer a glimpse into her ancestral history and her past with the Kingpin of crime.

Maya develops as a strong character in this story more than the Maya we met in the Hawkeye series. Alaqua Cox really delivers an exceptional performance. As always Vincent D’Onofrio plays his heart out as Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin who has been dominating our screen since the Daredevil TV Series on Netflix back in the day. We get a few surprises, even though short pieces, but it is still appreciated and I will not spoil those surprises in the hope that you will go and watch the episodes later and experience the same level of joy I experienced.

A lot of effort was done with regards to the language options. Choctaw was added as a language option on Disney Plus. I read that some of the cast learned American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with Alaqua on set and this really warms my heart. A lot of research was done on the Choctaw nation and was incorporated as part of Maya’s storyline.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Some of the less positive notes are the series was rated as meant for mature audiences only. However, the action scenes were little and not as brutal as expected if compared with the likes of the Daredevil series. Maya’s powers was also changed slightly from the comic books but it takes a positive turn closer to the end. Really looking forward to the part Maya / Echo will play later on as I feel she portrays the part of a hero very well.

I highly encourage watching the original Netflix series’ Daredevil and Hawkeye to get the background of some of the key characters in this story. I highly encourage subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read up about Maya Lopez / Echo, Wilson Fisk / Kingpin or any of your favorite Marvel characters.

There is a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, but no post-credits scene. The mid-credits feel familiar to the comic book direction.

I rate this series a 3.5 out of 5. Maya’s story will echo through the cinematic universe, as a story of bravery and strength. Sometimes all you need is a healing hand, a key theme from Marvel Studios’ Echo. I’m looking forward to more of Maya on the screen.

Watch all 5 episodes on Disney Plus now!

Echo Official Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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Doctor Who: The Giggle, A Wildly Satisfying Finale That Teases A Promising Future

Russel T. Davies’ Whoniverse-reshaping finale is a thrilling, heartwarming, chilling, and satisfying hour of telly, that never eases up.

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SPOILER’S AHEAD!

As brilliantly put by beloved Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, “That was completely nuts!” The final episode of the three 60th anniversary specials, “The Giggle” may just well be the most bonkers, yet impeccable piece of Doctor Who TV… ever. Where last weeks special “Wild Blue Yonder” saw writer Russell T. Davies deliver a masterful episode in restrained storytelling, “The Giggle” is the showrunner unleashed. Throwing epic musical numbers, eerie moments of horror, impactful social commentary, and a divisive yet satisfying final 20 minutes result in an unrelenting hour of telly, and perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

Kicking off with John Logie Baird’s invention of the television in 1925 as well as introducing audiences to “Stooky Bill” – a real puppet who could put Annabelle to shame – “The Giggle” quickly picks up where “Wild Blue Yonder” left off. In the midst of world wide carnage, the Doctor (David Tenant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) must search for answers as to why planes are falling out of the sky, and human beings are busy beating each other up on the streets, leading the two to the celestial Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), one of the most powerful beings in the universe.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Russell T. Davies is never one to shy away from delivering a script oozing with his rightful fury at current social climates. Take previous episodes like “Midnight” “The Long Game” and “Turn Left” for example all offering impactful stories with themes of human nature, the power of media, and anti-immigration prejudice respectively. Here, Russell T. Davies satirically imitates anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, and government empathy brilliantly. Some of it may be a little on the nose – such as a hilarious and obvious dig at Boris Johnson – but it more or less works in favour of poignant, and well-crafted satire.

“The Giggle’s” mad cap, and unprecedented energy is only more apparent through the episodes many tonal shifts. Under the guise of another property, this constant tonal shift would have felt jarring. But in “The Giggle” the episode pivots in-and-out of horror, comedy, musical, and drama effortlessly, adding to episodes manic and unpredictable nature.

Keeping on theme with last weeks unnerving episode, “The Giggle” is surprisingly steeped in horror. Especially for those who suffer from pupaphobia, the fear of puppets. Whether its the imagery of that “gosh darn” creepy doll, Stooky Bill, or the Toymakers endless gothic labryinth, “The Giggle” is another terrifying episode of Doctor Who, proving once again that this sci-fi show isn’t for children. No scene is scarier perhaps than the haunting scene with Stooky Bill’s wife, Stooky Sue, who’s found crying in the corner of a dark room, before creeping towards Donna chanting a horrifying rhyme. But its all played for laughs when Donna nonchalantly beats the puppet senseless.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker who stole the show. His multi-faceted, and multi-accented villain proves to be the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever faced, as well as perhaps the most entertaining. Harris’ intoxicating performance enthuses the Toymaker with fear, intelligence, and a playfulness unlike any villain we have seen before. His celestial abilities are terrifying and unparalleled, making the Master – the Doctors nemesis/best friend – look like an amateur. Through the subtle yet deeply fascinating line, “I made a jigsaw out of your history” – explaining, teasing and disregarding the recent messy Whoniverse canon with ease – the Toymaker becomes much more of a threat. Lets not forget the unexpectedly brilliant “Spice Up Your Life” musical number where the Toymaker effortlessly turns soldiers into balloons, once again proving his celestial power.

Bringing back David Tennant – the most popular actor to ever take on the role – was perhaps Davies’ wisest decision upon returning, and reviving the show. Tennant’s return doesn’t just provide a great headline for the show that would drive its viewers back after an incredibly messy past few years, but also offers a heartwarming vulnerability to a character who hasn’t stopped running, fighting, and caring for nearly two decades. The Doctor has never taken a second to grieve, or stop running. He’s lost innumerable companions, and was responsible for destroying half the universe with the Flux. A messy piece of Doctor Who canon which has now been beautifully woven into the Doctor’s character thanks to Russel T. Davies.

Davies delves into the characters vulnerability, and insecurities forcing the Doctor to question his being, and ability to save others. The line “I’m all sonic, and TARDIS, and Time lord, take that away, what am I?” is an incredibly powerful piece of character development, made all the more impactful through Tennant’s performance. The Doctor has always put himself above others, but “The Giggle”, more specifically Donna, encourages the Doctor to stop trying to sacrifice himself for others, and to instead take a second to care for himself.

With Tennant returning to the role, audiences will instantly have that connection to this version of the Doctor, making his vulnerability much more heart-wrenching, and his ending much more satisfying.

Tate was equally fantastic as she has been through all three specials. Her confident, and hilarious performance continues to prove why Donna Noble is one of the best ever Doctor Who companions, and her chemistry with Tennant is deeply infectious.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

The episode carried a lot of emotional stakes way before the title music kicked in, what with the episode forcing viewers to sit through another David Tennant regeneration. However, what was supposed to be an emotional finale, resulted in an unprecedented and incredibly exciting final 20 minutes. Davies introduced possibly the most divisive aspect of the show… well ever. We are of course talking about, Bi-generation. The idea that instead of changing faces, the Doctor instead becomes two Doctor’s. A current Doctor, and a new Doctor. This not only served as a great way to introduce Ncuti Gatwa, who instantly proved himself as an extraordinary Doctor, but also gives the 14th Doctor a satisfying arc that finally lets him rest.

Bi-generation is a fantastic concept for now, but in the future, this idea could lose all the emotional weight a regeneration used to harbour. Saying goodbye to a current incarnation of the Doctor was never easy. But, if Bi-generation is a continued element then no regeneration will be as impactful or emotional as it once was. For now, it was perfect.

All in all, “The Giggle” – and collectively all three specials – are some of the best work Doctor Who has ever put out. The final special of the 60th celebrations served as a satisfying and emotional goodbye to the modern era of Doctor Who and an exciting tease at the franchises future. It’s an undoubtedly bonkers satire, that blends horror, musical, comedy, and drama elements together to create the best and most heart-warming Doctor Who episode ever. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us Whovians.

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