What If…? episode 4 takes place amid the events of the origins of Doctor Strange. The tragic car crash that crippled Stephen Strange proceeds differently. Rather than damaging his hands, his girlfriend Christine Palmer is killed in the crash.
What If…? Episode 4 SPOILERS
As The Watcher describes this scenario, Strange didn’t lose his hands but his heart. The story of Strange proceeds similarly to how the rest of the film progressed. Strange still learns the mystics arts and meets the likes of The Ancient One and Wong.
A brief montage reveals how the same events occur. Strange learned the magic of the Time Stone and uses it to defeat Dormammu. Having saved the world, Strange still finds himself longing for Christine.
Despite Wong’s warnings, Strange finds himself so grief-stricken that he uses the Time Stone to rewrite time. He travels back to the evening where he and Christine went for a drive. Keeping his actions in mind, Steven tries to signal better on the road to avoid a crash.
This tactic doesn’t work though. Another car still hits them and Christine still dies. Strange then uses the Time Stone again to change history. But the car still crashes and Christine still dies.
No matter how many times Strange travels back and tries to change the events, the result is always the same. He takes a different route and the car still crashes. He avoids the destination entirely to go out for pizza with Christine but she is killed by a robber.
After so many attempts, Strange is approached by The Ancient One. She tells Stephen that it’s impossible to change this event because it is an absolute point in time that can’t be altered. Steven does not accept this and departs before The Ancient One can stop him from using the stone again.
What If…? episode 4 continues with Strange traveling to the library of the one who developed the Time Stone. He sifts through the literature to find a way to change an absolute point in time. The answer he arrives at is that he needs to absorb the powers of the Dark Dimension to give him enough power.
Using summoning spells, Strange slowly starts bringing dark creatures forth and absorbing their magical powers. The creatures grow larger and darker, giving Strange more power. He starts becoming a darker being as well.
While Strange absorbs the darkness, The Watcher appears and narrates. He states how he could interfere and prevent Strange from going down this dark path. He decides not to, however, as his interference could endanger other realities. Besides, Strange wouldn’t listen.
Strange’s practice in the dark arts starts affecting this timeline, turning the world into a decaying reality of darkness. The Ancient One reveals, however, that there is more than one Doctor Strange. In fact, there’s more than one timeline.
Doctor Strange Variants
In order to save this reality, The Ancient One created two timelines on top of each other. In one world, Stephen got over the death of Christine. In the other, the one we’ve been following thus far, Stephen did not recover and grew dark.
When the good Doctor Strange learns of this and prepares for battle. Wong gives him a protection spell and sends him on his way. The two Doctor Stranges meet and they engage in magical combat.
Eventually, the evil Doctor Strange defeats the good Doctor Strange and absorbs the last power entity into his being. Strange, now fully mutated and powerful with his new powers, use his magic to permanently revive Christine.
While he succeeds, Strange’s new look frightens Christine. More importantly, Strange’s entire universe is melting away into nothing. This includes Christine who begins to fade into black.
While Strange tries to find a solution, The Watcher finally makes his presence known. Strange begs for help and The Watcher refuses, declaring that he is not a god and neither is Strange. He leaves Strange to watch his world end.
The darkness closes in and despite Strange’s attempts to hold it back, he can’t. Trying to protect himself and Christine in a protective orb, he watches helplessly as a frightened Christine fades into nothing. Saddened and angered, Strange can do nothing now.
The camera pans out as the darkness closes in around Strange. Soon, his universe is destroyed and wiped from existence.
After last week’s Avengers mystery, Earth’s mightiest heroes never had the chance to assemble, but at least it ended on a good note with Captain Marvel showing up. Same with What If…? Captain Carter episode and with Starlord T’Challa. What If…? episode 4 ended with a tragedy.