What/If season 1, episode 5, “What Next”, reveals a higher power that gives Anne’s plans more context, with the other characters believing they have turned the corner.
This recap for Netflix’s What/If Season 1, Episode 5, “What Next”, contains significant spoilers. We have provided extensive coverage on Mike Kelley’s neo-noir social thriller, and you can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.
What/If season 1, episode 5, “What Next”, paints a picture in the first five minutes that everything is all well; Sean (Blake Jenner) and Lisa’s (Jane Levy) marriage is back on track, Marcos and Lionel are enjoying their relationship and Angela and Todd are grasping the impending parenthood like the perfect couple. Episode 5 is about what is bubbling underneath in Anne’s (Renée Zellweger) world, while the other characters become complacent with the events yet to come.
The “everything is okay” mantra expires rather quickly in “What Next”, especially when Angela is terrifyingly bullied by Dr. Ian at work due to her rejection. Dr. Ian has the ingredients of a psychopath who is eager to destroy her career. It’s especially uneasy when Angela cannot provide evidence in her defense at the false allegations against her, but recording their conversation, which demonstrates they had a relationship.
And then there’s Marcos and Lionel, the couple who have recently embraced the promiscuous lifestyle to fulfill a hole in their relationship; Marcos experiences a breakdown in What/If episode 5, which is attributed to the fact that he’s living a serious life in career law, while his partner galivants the town with his ex seemingly innocently. I get the sense there is strength in this couple still, despite Marcos nearly drinking himself to death.
What/If episode 5, “What Next” barely touches the fringes of Maddie’s death until later on; Sean is half-heartedly upset about her overdose experience, but will there be repercussions? Well, let’s get to that…
With Lisa comfortable with her company arrangements despite it leading to her best friend Cassidy getting fired, she decides to attend Anne’s Black Tie event where key rivals enjoy an evening together. Lisa is still wary of Anne in “What Next”, but she’s trying to play her own game now her marriage is saved. We learn at the Black Tie event that Anne is not the only superpower in all this, and there is someone above her named Liam who lurks in the background and is frustrated at her investment in Lisa’s company. There’s a sense that Anne wants to be removed from her shackles from the sinister Liam. It’s noteworthy that Anne is nervous around Liam, suggesting there is an element of control.
What/If episode 5 also has Anne’s main competitor at the party, which concerns Avery. Sean also asks Anne if she can drop the plotting, and with his help, they can move on the road to success together. He does ask about Maddie, but Anne predictably brushes it off.
As What/If episode 5, “What Next” ends, Anne rings the police homicide department, explaining to them that she has a missing link between Maddie’s death and the murder in the alley in 2012. There’s trouble lurking ahead for Sean it seems.
Our coverage of What/If season 1 does not end here. You can read the recap of episode 6 by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.