Let’s Talk about Loki Season Two Episode One
A modest proposal to Marvel: let’s just have the Loki people create all Disney+ programming from now on.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about Loki season two, episode one, which is among the finest single MCU episodes to date.
I Don’t Know You
Before we begin, let’s appreciate the novelty of the moment. Loki has become the first MCU series on Disney+ to air a second season.
Everyone expected What If…? to claim that title, but we’re still waiting for its arrival.
Disney’s metrics suggest that Loki is the most popular MCU show on Disney+ thus far, which leads to high expectations here.
I’m happy to report that the first episode does NOT disappoint, as you can guess from the header.
In fact, I idly wondered aloud to friends whether this one episode provides more entertainment than the entire run of Secret Invasion. I think yes.
The episode starts where last season ended. Sylvie has stabbed He Who Remains and thereby created new timelines and/or universes.
Meanwhile, Sylvie kicked Loki through a Time Door. When he came out on the other side, he rushed to inform his friend, Mobius M. Mobius, about what happened.
Mobius didn’t recognize Loki at all. The presumption at the end of last season was that Sylvie had kicked Loki into an alternate reality.
That guess was wrong.
We quickly learn that Sylvie has sent Loki back in time in a way that subverts expectations.
As Loki attempts to escape the security team at the Time Variance Authority (TVA), he notices a statue of He Who Remains. It’s like 100,000 feet tall.
Loki dives out of the TVA to escape capture and possible pruning. He lands in a spacecraft that crashes into Statue Kang’s face before wrecking…into the TVA.
All this happens in front of Casey, who has no idea who Loki is. We also get a close-up view of the TVA logo.
Moments later, after Casey narcs on Loki, the Norse deity teleports uncontrollably. And we’re off.
The Politics of the TVA
Have you ever thought about how a religious leader would respond if they learned that their entire belief system was wrong?
Yeah, that’s what’s happening at the TVA right now. At the end of season one, everyone learned that they should be pruning themselves.
Ostensibly, the TVA has existed to protect the Sacred Timeline by pruning variants. That was, like, the whole point of season one.
Well, none of that proved accurate, as the three mystical figureheads at the top of the TVA turned out to be as fake as Loki’s American accent.
On Loki’s end, life has gotten pretty strange. First, he met the most powerful being in the universe.
Then, he watched Sylvie, a Loki variant, plot to kill said most powerful being. Next, she kicked Loki into a Time Door.
Once Loki returned to the TVA, nobody recognized him…until Casey did. Yes, after Casey narcs, something odd happens to Loki.
The TVA calls this Time Slipping…and stubbornly argues that what Loki’s doing is impossible at the TVA.
When the Norse deity Time Slips, he travels to the TVA timeline where Casey knows him. Also, there’s a crack in the floor…that Loki’s wreck caused.
Before Loki can piece together what’s happening, he Time Slips again. A very confused Casey watches it all happen and then reports his findings to Mobius.
Speaking of the TVA investigator, his day isn’t much better than Loki’s.
In between Jet Ski conversations with a new agent, Hunter X-5, Mobius heads to the Judges Council.
Along the way, he bumps into a different agent who *ahem* recently tried to prune him. Awkward. Mobius blames Renslayer for this turn of events, though.
Meanwhile, the council debates how to proceed in a world where their religious fervor has caused atrocities.
Mathematically, they’re worse murderers than Thanos.
There’s plenty to unpack from this episode, but I suspect the most important scene involves a meeting with Ouroboros.
Mobius and Loki reunite after a time, wherein Mobius notices that Loki is Time Slipping…and it’s gross to watch.
First, Loki interrupts the Judges Council by breaking through a wall to reveal an older wall. It’s Kang, just like the statue.
“That’s who built this place. That’s who stole your lives. That’s who’s coming back.”
At some point in the past of the TVA, an organization that claims it’s timeless and without a past, Kang/He Who Remains ruled overall all.
Loki reveals the proof and shows the Judges Council the truth. Everyone agrees to stop pruning.
Also, Hunter X-5 earns a new mission. He is to locate Sylvie and discover what transpired at the End of Time. Nobody ever believes Loki.
Left with no better options, Mobius and Loki head to Repairs and Advancement. Along the way, they discuss the flow of time a bit more.
Here’s the crux of the dialog that matters here.
Mobius: “Time doesn’t work like that here.”
Loki: “It does, it’s happening to me.”
The idea is that Loki’s Time Slipping and possibly the encounter at the End of Time have caused him to influence the TVA.
The conversation with Ouroboros reinforces this fact. Loki Time Slips into the past and thereby changes Ouroboros’ memories in the future.
At first, Ouroboros has no recollection of meeting Loki or ever building a Temporal Aura Extractor…but then he does.
The concept of time in play here is that Loki’s talking with Ouroboros in the past causes the R&A worker to remember it in the present.
I realize that’s a challenging concept, but I’m expecting more of that dynamic this year. It’s the MCU’s answer to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Time Keeps on Slipping
Despite what the Steve Miller Band once stated, Loki has no interest in flying like an eagle. He wants time to stop slipping.
To make that happen, he must enter the Temporal Loom, which is the heart of the TVA.
While there, Mobius stop the multiple branches of the Sacred Timeline from overloading the Temporal Loom.
Meanwhile, Loki must prune himself so that the Sacred Timeline can reset him.
Basically, it’s like when Scotty beams somebody up on Star Trek.
They can’t be in two places at once, so Scotty has quietly been killing old versions of Enterprise crew members for decades.
As a narcissistic survivor, Loki isn’t crazy about this idea, but he chooses to try.
Before he does, Mobius learns that if he fails with his part, his skin will get torn apart. Why does that matter? Mobius draws “S-K-I-N” on a monitor.
The next time Loki Time Slips, he sees this word on the monitor and realizes he’s in the future.
This 40-minute episode takes place over 800 years or so. Even Doctor Who would be impressed.
Loki exits the Temporal Loom to find someone with a pruning stick. He enters an abandoned corridor that’s empty and has a creepy red phone ringing.
Back in the present, Mobius does everything he can to give Loki the time he needs…and accidentally jeopardizes his own safety.
Ultimately, a deus ex machina happens when Sylvie jumps out of the elevator shaft, distracting Loki. Someone behind him prunes him.
Then, just as Mobius isn’t going to make it, Present Loki glides into the picture and knocks his friend to safety.
Honestly, this is the dumbest part of the episode if you think about it any whatsoever, but it’s soooo cool to watch!
The season premiere ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. Members of the TVA – like dozens of them – gear up for war. And their target is Sylvie.
The Judges Council has identified her as the person who can provide the answers they need. So, they’re doing what they should have done in season one.
A complete strike force intends to take her down. Based on what we learned last time, I doubt it works, though.
Sylvie can stab a Kang. She’s not afraid of a few bounty hunters.
Speaking of Sylvie, we get an after-credits scene. The year is 1982, and the location is Broxton, Oklahoma.
A suddenly liberated Sylvie notices a building up ahead, and she’s attracted to the grid. After all, she’s been on the run all her life.
Sylvie discovers industry at a McDonald’s and asks what’s good. While looking around, Sylvie realizes she’s found a home.
Her final words are, “I wanna try everything,” so she’s already a Shakira fan.
To a larger point, we’ve established a location and timeframe for Sylvie to put down roots. So, that’s where the TVA and presumably Loki are headed.
In the interim, I cannot shake the oppressive nature of this episode. It has confirmed that the TVA has unknowingly been a heel organization all along.
You can think of the place as a cult led by Kang or He Who Remains or one of the other variants.
Everything the TVA has to date has been manipulated by an evil being. Now, there’s a reckoning coming.
Oddly, Loki appears to be on the side of the angels here. As for Sylvie, well, she flat-out murdered the cult leader.
Is that a good thing? I guess we’ll find out this season. But I have concerns.
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