Written by David Holland
With much of the lore out of the way in the first episode, we can now get down to business hunting a Variant. During this hunt we are going to have to address some very important questions. What makes Variant Loki different? Where is the Variant hiding? What are the Timekeepers actually up to?
We start episode 2 right where we left off in episode 1 – with the mysterious Variant Loki. A TVA team investigating a Nexus event (that’s where something goes wrong with the timeline) is ambushed at a Renaissance Fair. Most of the team is killed and the reset charges are stolen, but this time the commanding officer is taken captive. We also get a glance at some of Variant Loki’s magic. Instead of using illusions, this Loki enchants, controls, and acts through their victims. This is our first clue that this Loki is not quite like the one we are familiar with.
Loki (our Loki – this is gonna get confusing) and Mobius spend most of the episode in a sort of buddy-cop, procedural crime, time travel arc. They start at the Renaissance Faire, following the Variant’s path. Loki attempts some mischief which Mobius sees through almost immediately, and the trail runs cold. While attempting to justify his partnership with Loki, Mobius gets more indications that the TVA is hiding something. After all, even he has never met the mysterious Timekeepers. We don’t get any definitive answers, but we have many reasons to be suspicious of the TVA, not the least of which is the fact that it is a Marvel organization with an acronym.
Desperate to redeem himself (partly so he can avoid being vaporized and partly so he can prove he is the superior version) Loki digs into some research and comes up with a theory: the Variant is hiding in apocalypses. This makes perfect sense, despite Loki’s tortured salad analogy. Any minor changes to the timeline caused by the Variant’s presence would be wiped away by the impending catastrophic event, meaning the Variant could keep returning to roughly the same point just before a disaster and hiding there.
A quick visit to Pompeii Day tests Loki’s theory and shows that he is correct – the Variant could hide in the moments before major catastrophes without being detected by the TVA. Mobius, Loki, and a TVA team track the Variant to a town in Alabama in 2050 on the verge of being wiped out by a hurricane. While the Variant and their enchanted minions stall Loki for time, we get to see the grand scheme in action. The reset charges stolen by the Variant are all sent to various locations across the world at various points in time and set off, creating dozens or hundreds of branches. Oh, and of course we get the Big Reveal:
Loki follows the Variant through a Time Door, which closes behind him and leaves Mobius swearing.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The obvious question on everyone’s mind is who exactly is the Variant? The simplest answer is that she is Loki. That’s what the TVA has told us and, despite my suspicion of anything a Marvel organization says, there has to be some reason that Mobius believes the Variant is a form of Loki. Also, there is some comic canon to back up Loki as a woman:
The helm with the broken horn is another clear visual clue that this is the right answer. But there is another possibility: Amora, the Enchantress. Enchantress is another Thor villain, an Asgardian we have yet to meet in the MCU. Smitten with Thor but spurned by him, she uses magic to, well, enchant her enemies to carry out her schemes.
Enchantress is blonde, like the Variant, a visual clue pointing toward this possibility. The Variant’s magic is also much more like that of Enchantress instead of the illusions we are used to seeing Loki use.
So which is it? We don’t know yet because we aren’t supposed to. I am still somewhat humbled by some of the irresponsible speculating I did with WandaVision, so I would like to let this play out more. Knowing the MCU, it could be a combination of the two or a third possibility altogether, and I would like to stay open-minded.
Question number two is what effect will the reset charges have on the timeline? The Variant’s plan seems to be to destroy the sacred timeline, to make it impossible for the TVA to fix the chaos she caused. Given the response at TVA HQ, it seems like she might have succeeded. If that’s the case, what does she want now? Was this just an effort to make mischief, or is there some larger plan at work to which this is only the first step?
And finally, what will our Loki (Loki Prime?) do now that he has apparently evaded the TVA’s clutches? It’s possible that he will act heroically because he has grown as a character. I think it is more likely that he will continue trying to prove his superiority over the Variant and will attempt to leverage this turn of events to his advantage. Remember, Loki Prime has seen his death at Thanos’ hands. He knows what is supposed to happen. I think from the moment he saw that on he is always seeing it in the back of his mind, and always wondering if there is a way to escape it.
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