Following on from my reviews of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki is up next! Just as highly anticipated as the previous shows, Loki has long been wanted by fans of the character. Sometimes a villain, sometimes a hero or antihero but always cocky and self-serving in one way or another, Loki has been a favourite of many fans since the comic books, and even more so since his introduction to the MCU. Portrayed by the devilishly handsome Tom Hiddleston, Loki’s sly and snide personality opposite his do-gooder brother Thor has actually won people over more than you would expect a character like that to do.
Loki will consist of six episodes and follow the titular character as he faces the consequence of creating an alternate timeline after stealing the Tesseract during Avengers: Endgame. He then faces the choice of erasing himself from history or helping to fix the timeline to stop yet another greater threat. Either choice is seemingly selfless but which will he choose to be the next most selfless thing he’s done since “sacrificing” himself to save Thor at the beginning of Endgame?
Episode 1: Glorious Purpose
The first episode of this series focuses on establishing what has happened – Loki has been apprehended by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) for violations against meddling with time as a “version” of himself has escaped with the Tesseract and is ready to try and cause mischief. Throughout the episode, we see flashbacks as Mobius M. Mobius (I ask you) played by Owen “WOW” Wilson, grills him on his past crimes and interrogates him as to why he seems to enjoy killing and hurting people. But we also see what looks to be a “future”, in which his adoptive parents are dying or being killed – as a result of Loki’s doing. This appears to shake Loki up and stir some human feelings within him as he finally admits that while he is a “mischievous scamp” who has done a lot of awful things, he doesn’t enjoy doing them but says he “has had to”.
It is revealed that the TVA and the self-contained universe in which Loki is now trapped and cannot use his godly magic or the Tesseract and is powerless in comparison to the TVA “Hunters”, oversees all of space and time and timelines across the galaxies. But it is not coincidental that they’ve captured Loki. For the bombshell they drop is that their Hunters are being killed – by none other than another variant of Loki.
This start to the series is a lot more of a thriller sci-fi in its vibes and tone, akin to Guardians of the Galaxy as it deals with themes in the MCU that stray beyond Earth and the realms of reality that we know. It’s a strange episode that doesn’t really go anywhere but clearly sets out the premise of the show. Loki’s naivety and his first thoughts about the TVA in which he laughs it off as if it’s a far-fetched joke resonates with us though – as we raise eyebrows at Marvel’s continuous ability to create crazy theories, exploratory plots and entire concepts to expand the its universe that are both baffling in their weirdness yet seem to make perfect sense and fit in with the rest of what we already know. Episode 2 will no doubt focus on the Loki variant that is causing all the real trouble across space and time, in which our unlikely has-to-be hero Loki has to go up against.
Episode 2: The Variant
I’ll be honest, episode 2’s many talks and theories of time travel and manipulation was rather confusing to follow. As I mentioned about the first episode, Marvel are geniuses at coming up with new branches of their universe to help explain and support new areas different shows and films cover and explore. Time travel is not a new concept to the MCU after it was a major part of Avengers: Endgame and the theoretical possibilities of going back in time were made a reality. In Loki, even more theories regarding time travel and variants of the so-called “sacred timeline” are discussed, which all that aside led to one groundbreaking plot reveal – this new variant of Loki is “female”.
Loki, being Asgardian, has special “magic powers” himself, but this mysterious new variant also has the ability to shapeshifter and possess others. After much teasing and playing like the God of Mischief Loki is, as well as self-burning the main Loki variant (who is not the original Loki – at least I don’t think so, if I’m correct… see, it’s confusing!), before revealing herself to be a female version of him. Our Loki is only slightly half-surprised, half-impressed but mostly unfazed by it all, and although news of a female Loki had been circulating the entertainment news outlets for a while leading up to the show so we all knew she was coming, it was still a very much intriguing reveal.
But, is this Disney/Marvel’s continued attempt at being on-topic/”woke” with the concept of a so-called “genderfluid” Loki that everyone has been excited about? In the comics, Loki is indeed often portrayed as such, however this is more attributed to his – or their – ability to shape shift, most notably into “Lady Loki”, who this new variant appears to be. So while Loki is of course not “genderfluid” in the real sense of the word, it is still an interesting issue to cover and one that will no doubt be continued to be delved into as the series progresses.
Episode 3: Lamentis
Episode 3 gets a little more exciting as male Loki and his female variant – called Sylvie, for some reason instead of something like Lokia – randomly arrive on a moon, Lamentis-1 which is about to be obliterated by another planet. Here they get the chance to know more about each other’s lives and bond – and bicker, of course. From the conversations they have with one another we deduce they share a lot of similarities and are like two forms of the same person who have lived parallel lives. How a female version of Loki came about is still unclear but the idea of Loki being gender fluid is, as mentioned previously, not the same as what we understand it to mean in real life. We do also get a hint of Loki’s bisexual/pansexual tendencies which is interesting – a tidbit LGBTQ fans of Marvel will lap up, but also stir up curiosity and maybe even annoyance that this has been explicitly explored or talked about up until now. And will it be in this show or in the future, or was it simply a nice line to throw in there?
Another bombshell is that TVA may in fact be the bad guys in all of this as it is revealed by Sylvie that they are also all variants… Does she know this for sure or is she talking rubbish? We will no doubt find out more about this in the next episode as well as what the two of them will do now they appear to be stranded on Lamentis. And despite me still being unsure of what my thoughts are on Loki so far and still a little confused about all this time manipulation and travel stuff, it is actually a rather captivating series, most definitely helped by Tom Hiddleston’s cheeky, arrogant charm and wit as Loki.
Episode 4: The Nexus Event
As we pass the halfway mark of Loki, things continue to pick up pace as the hunt for Loki and Sylvie comes to an end, inadvertently because apparently the two of them form a romantic bond! Yes, seriously! Well, it’s certainly implied and that gets them pinpointed and brought back into the TVA. That total weirdness aside (but let’s be honest, it wasn’t exactly hard to predict that is one way it could have gone), things get heated in a different way when they attempt to reveal the truth to Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Hunter B-15 about the fact that they are variants as well and there’s something dodgy about the TVA to say the least.
Their boss Renslayer, who first apprehended “Sylvie” as a girl but let her slip through her fingers, turns out to be a villain (okay, we kinda guessed she might be) – we just don’t know how many villains there really are yet. Is she too a variant but under someone else’s control? She threatens to “prune” Loki and Sylvie and when Mobius stands up to his friend and colleague to demand the truth, she does it to him – basically makes him disappear into thin air, so why the term “prune” is used, I’m not sure. The ensuing fight between Loki, Sylvie (with the help of Hunter B-15), Renslayer and her guards who don’t know the truth, also drops another bombshell – the almighty Time Keepers turn out to be androids! So it continues to beg the question – what is really going on and who is really behind all of this? I can tell you, that despite me still being confused by it all, this Marvel-esque version of The X Files is extremely gripping! Also, will we see more of Lady Sif? I hope so!
Episode 5: Journey into Mystery
The penultimate episode of Loki goes World of Warcraft meets Lord of the Rings as Loki realises he’s in “The Void”, a dimension at the end of time where he and everyone else who is pruned is sent to – basically seemingly every variant of Loki that has ever existed. This includes a young boy Loki, an older male version of Loki, a Black Loki, “President” Loki (finally one who looks like the original variant), and a, erm, alligator Loki. If you thought this show couldn’t get any more bizarre and confusing like me, you were wrong…
Meanwhile Renslayer very nearly tricks Sylvie into believing she’s truly on her side but Sylvie self-prunes herself (no, that’s not a dirty euphemism!) and reappears in the Void as well. It turns out Renslayer is just as clueless about the truth about the TVA and who’s behind it all as Sylvie and everyone else, but she’s still against them for some reason I don’t quite understand.
Much of the episode is a nail biting revolution against Alioth (the strange demonic, cloud-like entity), who Sylvie believes is guarding who the TVA mastermind is. It includes lots of Loki magic that even Wanda Maximoff might be impressed by (though the original Loki variant’s simple conjuring tricks are fairly tame in comparison to older Loki’s ability to seemingly recreate Asgard and Sylvie’s enchantment power).
It ends nicely with a lead into the final episode and what we can imagine will be an epic showdown with – well, we still don’t know. Who’d have thought such a weird show (especially the baffling attraction Loki and Sylvie still seem to have forwards each other) I’m still not fully sure what I think of is still proving to be pretty enjoyable?
Episode 6: For All Time. Always.
Unlike Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where it felt that so much more could have gone on, more answers could have been given and more action could have taken place, Loki made me feel that it ended on a slight anti-climax. The bizarre disappointment of who is behind the TVA – “He Who Remains” as super happy/super snide Miss Minutes calls him – left me with a bemused expression on my face. Not the usual big reveal that led to something fearsome and exciting and not your usual villain (if that’s what you could even call him), He Who Remains (very Harry Potter-esque to match a Harry Potter-esque title for the last episode) is charismatic, cocky, and just downright weird as he boasts about his tale of how he came to be and how he came to rule the timelines in order to “keep the peace”.
Meanwhile Mobius confronts Renslayer about her betrayal who instead accuses him of betraying her and before we think he tricks her into doing something or before she prunes him again or kills him, she disappears… Loki and Sylvie continue to wonder if they can trust He Who Remains and if he is telling the truth, especially when he gives them an ultimatum – kill him and risk another multiversal war or replace him in overseeing the TVA and a singular timeline. They battle it out over their difference in opinion to which he watches with interest yet without any influence or investment. They then kiss – yes, more weirdness! Ultimately, Sylvie sends Loki back to the TVA and kills He Who Remains, who happily obliges (yet would have also happily stepped aside and let them take his place, simply because he was “weary” after doing it so long – hmm…). Unfortunately, this unleashes too many complications that cannot be controlled and when Loki returns to the TVA, the others don’t recognise him – an “evil” variant of He Who Remains now appears to be in control.
While a second season of Loki is promised at the end so more of his story and the other characters can be continued, I couldn’t help but feel the show was nothing more than a chance for Marvel to simply give Tom Hiddleston more screen time, instead of actually adding much substance to its Cinematic Universe. It will be interesting to see how much of the idea of alternate timelines and variants are somehow inserted into future shows and films. Much of the show was wacky, farfetched, confusing but there were times of hilarity, intrigue and thrill. It was certainly entertaining and different but unlike other Marvel shows and films I’m not impatiently excited for the next chapter even though I will still watch it.