(Editor’s note: Welcome to our summer intern, Cara Musashi, who is currently assisting me manage and edit the short fiction and market a new book coming in October. In addition, she’s going to be sharing reviews! WELCOME CARA!)
Following the release of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has released a number of spin off shows on Disney+, the most recent of which is Loki: directed by Kate Herron, and written by Michael Waldron. As the name suggests, the story follows the ever popular God of Mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) after the events that unfolded in Endgame, leaving a previous version of Loki able to escape his imprisonment with the Tessaract in hand. While the events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would take an entire essay alone to begin to explain, I’ll do my best to shorten it down to what’s pertinent for this series.
In the first episode, we follow Loki as he escapes from the Avengers, only to find himself surrounded by strange people in military-like suits speaking of “timelines” and “Variants.” Much to the God’s displeasure — and after a rather comedic slow-mo punch to the face — he gets taken back to a mysterious place known as the “Time Variance Authority,” or “TVA” for short.The TVA is responsible for protecting what is known as the “Sacred Timeline,” making sure that everything follows the predetermined path of time with no discrepancies. The story immediately puts viewers back into the unique environment and hilarious dialogue that is the MCU.
While the comedy and sarcastic wit of Loki’s character is a comforting sight to many, given the events of Avengers: Infinity War(Spoiler: Loki dies at the hands of Thanos at the beginning of the movie). The series also touches on the more emotional aspects of the character. Something that we’ve only seen glimpses of in previous movies. This new version of Loki is saved from being reset back to his correct timeline by a TVA worker named Mobius(played by Owen Wilson). In an attempt to befriend Loki, Mobius shows him snippets of his past, and what would have been his future. Revisiting scenes from Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, as well as the aforementioned scene in Avengers: Infinity War, Loki learns that he inadvertently kills his mother, as well as sees the relationship he would have had with Thor. It’s here where we finally get to see the more fragile emotional state that Loki is in, something that leads to his compliance with the TVA.
In typical Marvel fashion, the first episode ends with a cliffhanger after we see Loki wondering what use Mobius has of him, finding out that they have been hunting down a Variant who has been killing off members of their team to steal their charges used for resetting the branched timelines. Another Variant of himself.
The next two episodes serve to further the plot of tracking down this arguably more troublesome Variant, with Loki’s help. Even the scenes that would serve to be filler keep viewers entertained as we watch Loki forced to go through paperwork and deal with things that he normally wouldn’t as a prince of Asgard. As if watching his own mother die with the knowledge of it being because of his actions, on top of watching his own death, he learns of the destruction of Asgard as seen in Thor: Ragnarok. Though he doesn’t seem to be as phased by the knowledge of this as it only serves to give him the idea of why the TVA has been unable to track down the Variant. The progression of the story continues with the humor, but also has the ability to shift seamlessly into what are more meaningful discussions about what the TVA is really aiming for: order and peace at the end time. In typical Loki fashion, he finds this idea boring, as there would be no chaos, but also brings about an interesting concept brought about by the god himself.
“That no one bad is ever truly bad. And no one good is ever truly good.” (Loki, Episode Two: The Variant, 31:19)
While it’s an obvious reference to Loki himself, it also leads to the interpretation that the TVA isn’t the righteous organization everyone perceives it to be. Like other Marvel movies in the past, Loki is just as effective in weaving in suspicion early on. Suspicions that aren’t confirmed until the third episode, after they’ve been able to locate the Variant and found out that this particular Variant of Loki is actually a female with blonde hair(played by Sophia Di Martino), who goes by the name of Sylvie. After she bombs the Sacred Timeline using the stolen synapses she’s been taking from the groups of TVA Minute Men, she opens a portal back to the TVA to complete her mission, but is followed by Loki.
The two quarrel both physically and verbally until they are cornered by other members of the TVA and Loki quickly opens a portal to get them out before they are both reset. They end up on a moon called Lamentis 1 where they are then forced to work together to find a way of escaping before it is destroyed by another planet. Sylvie and Loki continually clash in an amusing battle for superiority, though they both happen to be rather equal in terms of power. Their interactions lead to more instances of sarcastic banter, tense situations, and thrilling battles with the use of illusions. Even amidst all of the chaos and magic, there are times where all of that fades away and the audience is able to learn more about the lives of each of the characters that vary from their views on love to their families. For being variants of one another, they come from two very different backgrounds and have very different views on the world.
“How about you? You’re a prince. Must have been would-be-princesses or perhaps, another prince.”
“A bit of both. I suspect the same as you. But nothing ever…”
“Real.” (Loki, Episode Three: Lamentis, 22:16)
Despite their differences, they still manage to find some similarities and work together. However, nothing ever goes completely according to plan… The series is currently only three episodes in, but is already proving to be something unlike anything the MCU has done before. With the suspense of wondering what will be brought in from the original comics, and what is in the future of Loki and Sylvie, the continuing plot of Loki is a delightfully charming, complex, and action packed return of the God of Mischief.