Written by David Holland
I have said before that the multiverse is a nearly infinite well for comic books to return to for interesting storylines with few consequences to their
sacred canonical timelines. In this episode of Loki, we really explore the implications of that multiverse, and what it means for different versions of a character whose defining characteristic seems to be losing to work together.
Loki… okay after only the first word I realize that’s not specific enough. For the sake of clarity, this week let’s call our protagonist “Loki Prime”. Loki Prime spends the first part of the episode just trying to survive. In the words of Richard Grant’s “Classic Loki”: Don’t die. That’s the plan. They are stuck in the Void, a point at the end of time where nothing that happens matters and a giant storm-like creature named Alioth consumes any living being.
Loki Prime teams up with Classic Loki, Boastful Loki, Alligator Loki, and Kid Loki, the last of which is the leader of the group. After all, the reason he was pruned is that he successfully kills Thor, a boast which momentarily shuts up Loki Prime.
Meanwhile, Sylvie looks for answers while interrogating Judge Renslayer. The Judge pretends to want answers just like Sylvie, but instead stalls until backup can arrive. Renslayer may be in the dark, but she continues to toe the party line. Sylvie prunes herself only to arrive at the Void, be chased by Alioth, and end up rescued by an old friend: Mobius. Later in the episode, Renslayer emphasizes her commitment to the TVA and
law and order stability by interrogating Hunter B-15. The Hunter helped Sylvie expose the fake Timekeepers in the previous episode and is now held captive. Renslayer seems committed to keeping the TVA in power, hoping to find the founders of the TVA and keep them safe.
Loki Prime learns the history of each of his compatriots until they are ambushed by… other Lokis. Since selfish ambition is a defining characteristic of all Lokis, a fight naturally ensues. Classic, Alligator, Kid, and Prime escape together and formulate a plan to take on Alioth. The plan only works when the group meets up with Mobius and Sylvie. Mobius takes the TemPad back to the TVA in an effort to take the organization down himself. Loki Prime and Sylvie plan to move forward, Sylvie’s goal being to enchant Alioth. Her magic nearly fails, and they are saved only when Classic Loki sacrifices himself after creating a giant illusion that distracts the beast. Working together, Sylvie and Loki Prime successfully enchant Alioth, whose storm cloud parts revealing the path to a creepy building where we assume the answers lie.
What Does It Means?
To quote Doctor Strange, “We’re in the endgame now.” But seriously, we have a few questions left to answer and a few implications to examine for the MCU as a whole.
First, who is in charge of the TVA? Unlike my series on WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I have not done a ton of primary source research on the TVA in the comics canon, so I don’t even know the “right” answer to this question. From what I can tell, the TVA are a powerful but rarely seen force in the Marvel comics universe. One possible answer to this question are the Watchers, a race of all-knowing beings who observe all of time and space. But the Watchers observe a strict vow not to intervene in time and space. The TVA obviously does not share this vow, so I think the Watchers are out. The TVA, as Loki observed in the first episode, might be the most powerful force in the universe. If that’s the case, we could be looking at Eternals, gods, Celestials, or something on that level. Obviously the answer to this question will be a central part of the final episode of the series.
There’s big questions left to be answered about Loki’s place in the MCU. Tom Hiddleston has been a part of this cinematic universe since 2011. Many of the other actors who helped anchor Phase 1 have moved on from the MCU and while Loki isn’t usually a hero, he has become a beloved staple in this world. I’m sure if he wanted to, Hiddleston could continue playing the part for years to come, expanding the God of Mischief’s role beyond Thor-centered movies. On the other hand, maybe after next week we learn that Loki’s role in this story has come to an end. In taking down the TVA he might carry out one final act of chaos before riding off into the sunset. Or perhaps there is room in the MCU for another Loki, some other Variant who can take up the mantle of God of Mischief.
As I have been saying all along, Loki could also have implications for the wider MCU. I have been disappointed before when a Disney+ show didn’t, for example, open up the MCU to the existence of mutants or the Fantastic Four. But the previous MCU TV shows have shown that they can have profound impact on the universe and on the culture. In an age when appointment TV seems to be dying off, WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki have shown that MCU TV shows can be just as important as the movies. So maybe the fan theory is true. Maybe the actions taken by Loki Prime and Sylvie next week bring down the TVA and open the door to Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda rescuing her children from a parallel universe, and Peter Parker discovering the Spider-Verse. Or maybe the God of Mischief has simply pulled off one more illusion.
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