Let’s Talk about Loki Episode 1-1
With two Marvel television shows in the books for Disney+, we’re ready to get serious with Loki.
Marvel executives have indicated that Loki is the show that makes the most significant impact on the next year or two of the MCU.
The show’s pilot hints at an explanation. It explains the importance of maintaining universal order while preventing time travel.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s talk about Loki episode 1-1, the show that brings 2012’s God of Mischief into the year…infinity?
Not Quite Endgame
When we last saw Loki, Thanos was squishing the life out of him. No, wait, that’s not entirely accurate.
In Avengers: Endgame, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes traveled back in time to New York City circa 2012.
Loki had just gotten whomped by the Avengers in, well, The Avengers. So, the most recent Avengers movie hearkens back to the first one.
Yes, I know that’s confusing. However, it plays an essential role in establishing this new standalone Loki story.
We start with him harnessing the power of the Tesseract to teleport…anywhere but there. Hulk was still in Smash Mode, after all.
The Norse deity arrives in a Mongolian desert where confused onlookers approach him. Without missing a beat, Loki attempts to establish dominion.
He finds a pedestal so that he may tower above the underlings. Then, he states, “I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
I should mention that the name of the episode is “Glorious Purpose,” which plays into the story. It’s a deconstruction of the pre-personal growth Loki.
By Avengers: Infinity War, he’d kind of accepted that he loved Thor, even though he kept betraying the God of Thunder. The 2012 version wasn’t that evolved…which is sad.
Anyway, Loki’s attempt to conquer the Gobi Desert’s seven inhabitants fails when Hunter B-15 teleports her Time Variance Authority troops in. They take him into custody.
Actually, Loki resists. So, the hunter smacks his face while slowing his world to 1/16th speed. He feels all the pain, extending the punch’s impact by a factor of 16.
The funniest part of this idea is that Loki is probably, at best, an hour removed from the whole “PUNY GOD!” beating. Then, this happens. He’s having a bad day.
Welcome to the TVA
I won’t recount everything that happens during the comedic moments introducing the TVA.
The one thing that may (?) matter is that Loki definitely isn’t a robot. Also, he does have a ticket, unlike the unfortunate soul who gets disintegrated.
What follows next is an introduction to the Time Variance Authority (TVA), the group that has brought Loki into custody.
The vibe of this commercial is straight from Bioshock and Fallout videogames. Marvel seeds countless plot points into 60 seconds.
Too long, didn’t watch: Loki got busted by Time Cops. They fear that his variance could disrupt the timeline and lead to another multiversal war.
To be fair, that totally sounds like something the Trickster would do.
The clip also does a cheeky nod to the upcoming Dr. Strange movie by warning of potential multiversal madness.
Enter Mobius, the jaded TVA detective who travels to 1549 A.D. to investigate a series of murders in France.
Apparently, the unnamed villain, referred to as “Him,” surprised the Time Cops and killed them. It’s apparently his sixth ambush in a week.
Mobius has had no luck uncovering clues to any of these crimes. So, he’s desperate, as is Loki.
Variant L1130, AKA Loki Laufeyson, appears before Judge Ravonna Renslayer, who wants to undo his existence. Mobius intercedes as he needs the God of Mischief’s help.
Loki’s pilot features the same plot as 48 Hours, only with less Nick Nolte and more time travel.
The Start of a Buddy Cop Movie
Loki feels a bit small when he learns that three space lizards control and enforce the entire timeline.
Moreover, Mobius keeps asking him penetrating questions that he grows uncomfortable answering.
Interestingly, Mobius seems genuinely curious about what makes Loki tick. Conversely, Loki quickly deduces that he doesn’t have a good answer to that.
From Loki’s perspective, he’s only hours away from nearly enslaving New York City and claiming his throne, as is his glorious purpose in life.
Instead, he’s stuck in an unflattering jumpsuit talking to a Time Cop who thinks of him as a “pussycat.”
To Mobius, Loki is a small fish who can lead him to the big fish. And Loki takes that personally.
This entire discussion sidesteps the recent Marvel revelation that the Trickster was under Thanos’ thrall during The Avengers. I guess they’re throwing that out.
Mobius presses Loki about how killing Agent Coulson or threatening ordinary people proves anything.
In fact, he suggests that Coulson’s death directly led to the PUNY GOD beatdown.
Also, I feel the need to mention that Loki is now D.B. Cooper in the MCU. It’s canon. Make of that what you will.
The other possibly vital piece of information is that the Avengers WERE supposed to meddle with the timeline to stop Thanos. That one is TVA-approved.
At one point, Mobius recites a line of dialogue that seems to set up the entire series story arc.
“All I seek is a deeper understanding of the fearsome God of Mischief.” That feels very much like the elevator pitch that led to Loki’s TV greenlight.
The engrossing part is that Loki has no answer to the question. But he does grow irritated when he learns that he gets his mother killed. It’s very Loki, and he hates it.
The Unlikely Union
I quite like the thought process behind the moment when Loki hits rock bottom. The master of the Tesseract opens a drawer at the TVA.
Contained within are dozens of Infinity Stones. His hostage suggests that some of the TVA employees use them as paperweights.
Loki’s not the Big Bad he had believed himself to be. He is, in fact, a pussycat. Or is he?
The reveal at the end suggests that Mobius needs Loki’s help to locate Him, who is – you guessed it – Loki. That’s what they’re saying right now anyway.
Since it’s a Marvel show on Disney+, I fully expect a twist or two along the way.
Still, Loki and Mobius hunting down OP Loki seems like a standard we can all get behind.
Showrunner Michael Waldrop gets something else right. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has played the part of mischievous scamp for a decade now.
For a television show about Loki to work, the character must reveal more depth. That part begins when he watches scenes of the life his other half lived.
I don’t mean Him. I’m talking about the Loki who died at the hands of Thanos, the one whose father left him with kind words.
Loki’s ego shatters when Thanos breaks his neck. The Norse deity accepts that he’s not one of the strongest powers in the universe.
Left with nothing, he experiences an epiphany about the phrase Glorious Purpose. Oh, and he throws Hunter B-15 a beating.
Ultimately, Mobius believes he has cornered Loki, who had at least toyed with the notion of escape.
The villain acknowledges that he’s hurt people because it’s a trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.
Mobius disagrees. While he can’t promise to save the fugitive, the agent can offer the mystery and thrill of Loki hunting Loki.
Look, nobody wants Loki to have deep thoughts or grow as a character. The God of Mischief has entertained us for so long because he’s mercurial.
Still, Loki needed to address the elephant in the living room, which it did effectively. Now, we can move on to the mystery of how a variant Loki grew so powerful.
Plus, we can watch Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston fight their way through five more episodes of buddy comedy TV. We’re all here for it, right?
I’d give the pilot of Loki an A. I will say that my wife will be annoyed with me for not giving it an A+++.
She thought this pilot rivaled anything from WandaVision. I’m not there yet, but I have no meaningful criticisms of the episode, either.