Written by David Holland
Now that we have met Sylvie, the Variant, we finally get to spend some time with her. Last week it seemed like “Loki” was on its way to becoming a procedural buddy-cop show, but in this episode Mobius took a back seat and it was all about pairing the god of mischief with… the other god of mischief, all to try to escape a world that is about to suffer total destruction.
Loki chased Sylvie through a doorway at the end of last episode and now we finally get to know where they went – TVA Headquarters itself! There’s still some discussion online about whether or not she should be called “Loki” (which she clearly doesn’t like), but the biggest difference between the two seems to be her skill at combat. She singlehandedly infiltrates TVA without her magic, but Loki interrupts, pulling her into a TemPad doorway to one of the many apocalypses in which she hid. The pair find themselves on Lamentis-1, a moon which is about to collide with a planet where none will survive.
Loki and Sylvie are forced to team up. Loki won’t return the TemPad that he stole from her during their fight, which needs to be charged anyway. This leaves the pair spending most of the episode looking for a power source and trying not to die in a world-destroying catastrophe. They work together to trick their way onto a train headed for The Ark, an escape designed to give the moon’s super wealthy a way to abandon their dying world to its fate while they blast away into space.
The train scene is the most compelling of the episode. With a moment to catch their breath, Loki and Sylvie talk about their upbringing, what it was like to learn that they were adopted, and how their respective magics work. Loki shares that Frigga, his mother, taught him his illusion magic while Sylvie describes how she taught herself enchantment (more on this below). The conversation turns to love: Sylvie says “Love is hate” to Loki’s scorn, and they both admit to a string of casual but unserious flings (We also learn that Loki is bisexual in this scene. It’s quite understated and matter-of-fact). Later, while drunk, Loki says “Love is a dagger – it’s a weapon to be wielded far away or up close” although the metaphor falls apart when the dagger is simply an illusion. Discovered as frauds and thrown from the train, Loki and Sylvie attempt to reach the Ark on their own, now planning to pilot it away from Lamentis-1 instead of simply stealing its power. That plan falls apart when a chunk of planet smashes into the Ark and destroys it, leaving the pair stranded and looking up at what they thought was their last hope.
What Does It All Mean?
We’re now at the halfway point of the six-episode series. The immediate question is how Loki and Sylvie make it off Lamentis-1. After that, we still need to see the effect that Sylvie’s reset charges had on the timeline. Has the TVA recovered from her attack, or is it still in chaos? Obviously she’s not done yet, so what is her next step? She might want to destroy the TVA itself, or at least the Timekeepers, and that’s a goal Loki could easily join in on. What would this mean for his partnership with Mobius, who we learn in this episode is also a variant, just like all of the other TVA workers? This episode was pretty light on TVA, so I imagine we will be returning to them soon.
In big picture terms it seems pretty clear that we are setting up for a more complex multiverse in Phase 4. As I’ve said before, we know that the multiverse is supposed to play a bigger role in the upcoming “Doctor Strange” and “Spider-Man” movies, and it looks like this series is going to give us a canonical reason for why that multiverse can exist. The TVA has spent its existence guarding a single timeline, but we seem to be headed toward an upsetting of that system in which multiple timelines can exist. This is where things can get really fun in comic book lore because an alternate Earth gives you a great place to ask “What ifs” without having to deal with consequences, like “What if Apocalypse took over the Earth?” or “What if the Marvel Civil War never happened?” or “What if everyone in the Marvel universe were animals?”
A multiverse gives you freedom not just to have heroes team up with different heroes but also to team up with (or fight) other versions of themselves. This storytelling trope has actually been used to create some cool arcs in the Arrowverse, so it would be neat to see Marvel run with it.
I’ll conclude with my most far-fetched question: Was this entire episode an illusion? Shortly after arriving on Lamentis-1, Sylvie attempts to enchant Loki and appears to fail. Her magic, just like Loki’s, didn’t work in the TVA but now that they are no longer there, it should function again. Loki says it won’t work because his mind is too strong and the story simply continues from there. But maybe everything from that point is an elaborate illusion designed by Sylvie to draw information out of Loki or to disable him. After all, the episode started inside an enchantment, with Sylvie interrogating the TVA guard from episode 2. Why show us that and spend time explaining how Sylvie’s magic works only to take it off the table entirely? Then again, it’s more likely that I’m overthinking everything because WandaVision just ruined me.
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