On Wednesday, we finished the third Disney+ MCU show, Loki, which follows our favorite Trickster God, Brother of Thor, on the adventures he undertakes after he steals the Tesseract back at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
This show has raving reviews, and for many people, it is their favorite of the three shows, better than WandaVision or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Which makes me think “Maybe I’m just in a different timeline” because I didn’t think this show is that good. In fact, this is my least favorite of the three shows. I am going to talk about things that I like and don’t like about the show, because it wasn’t terrible, just not great.
Warning: Long article with full spoilers.
First of all, the Time Variance Authority. I don’t know what it is about ’50s Time Travel Cops, but between this and Umbrella Academy, it really is a fun aesthetic. I don’t know what it is about the design, but I really like the bureaucracy and paperwork and suits, as they go through time and readout information from tube TVs.
Mobius is great. If you had told me last year that Owen Wilson was going to play one of my favorite characters of the year, I would have thought that half of Hollywood was going to die from Covid. But no, he’s just playing against type, in a really soft dad-like “I’m not mad I’m just disappointed” role that was fantastic. Also, his chemistry with Tom Hiddleston is palpable, based on a mutual respect of lies. The ending’s lack of recognition was definitely a little painful, but extremely predictable.
Judge Ravonna Renslayer, however, was just not interesting to watch at any point. At first she had this air of mystery along with the rest of the TVA. However, as we came to understand how the TVA works, she was still vague and confusing. She was following this blind faith, but never explained why she was so zealous about it, even when she knew it was all built on lies. Then, at the end she mentions that “Only one person gets free will. The one in charge,” and that she’s going to go “in search of free will.” Does that mean she wants to be the one in charge, and replace the Time Keepers?
Now, the idea that when the immediate world is about to end, nothing you do matters, is super cool. It makes sense that you can’t affect anything else in the world, and so it’s a blind spot. So then WHY DOES LOKI AND SYLVIE ABOUT TO KISS CHANGE THAT?? The world was about to end Rogue One style, and right before, they touch hands, and we think they’re about to kiss, and suddenly that creates a Nexus Event, something that could change the future? How?
While I’m on the topic, the Loki/Sylvie relationship is gross. The show tried to play it romantically, a couple of Chaotic Bisexuals falling for each other. But if you think about it for a second, they are essentially siblings. They have the same parents, the same genes. It’s just incest. Or, since they are the same person, to quote Mobius “…you, forming this kind of sick, twisted romantic relationship. What an incredible seismic narcissist. You fell for yourself.” It’s just weird.
It’s worth saying that Sophia Di Martino plays Sylvie wonderfully. This character who’s been on the run, with a single goal, since she was a little girl, and has learned to survive in various ends of the world. A great character, clear motivations, played fantastically.
Also, I want to mention that when they are on Lamentis, and Sylvie passes out on the train, and she wakes up to Loki singing and drinking, I think that is the closest we get to who Loki really is. No matter what we’ve seen in the MCU, he’s just a Prince, from literal paradise, and a culture that values eating, drinking, partying, and celebrating, after doing cool things that deserve to be celebrated.
Then, the great void at the end of time, with a giant smoke monsters, filled with Variant Lokis. It sounds lame, but it’s actually a really cool setting with a really cool mini-plot. Every alternate Loki is great, whether it’s “I Killed Thor” Kid Loki, “Glorious Power” Classic Loki, or “I claimed all six Infinity Stones” Boastful Loki, they were all fun. It also is a great logic in that the “pruning” never just erased people from existence, as that doesn’t make sense. So instead they are forcefully sent through time, it has a great Law of Conservation of Energy and Mass vibe to it that I really like as a worldbuilding concept.
Oh yeah, the drawer full of Infinity Stones, that was a fun moment. Really showed how separate we were from the problems we had bought into.
And finally, Kang the Conqueror. I want to mention that I TOTALLY PREDICTED KANG AS THE NEXT VILLAIN. I said that Kang would be a good “Loki-level Villain,” at the time meaning a villain similar to Loki, but it works as a villain FOR LOKI. That was cool. Pat myself on the back moment.
Now, Jonathan Majors really brought a very specific acting choice to the character, this fun, spritely character, who I’m sure was really just to paint into contrast how he’s going to play the Variant version of himself who is a maniacal dictator who rules all of time and space, for Doctor Strange (and the Multiverse of Madness) to defeat.
That does bring into a question I have though. Why did he create the Time Keepers in the first place? If he was at the end of time, picking what events get to stay in his Sacred Timeline, why does he create these puppet androids, who do the exact same thing? It’s like if the Wizard of Oz was a giant projector, and after they pulled back the curtain, you find…an actual wizard still. He really is doing the things he’s creating a persona saying he’s doing. Is it because he doesn’t want to be just a boring human-presenting person, seeming insignificant and small, but instead a tribunal of giant gold beings?
Speaking of which, why are there only humans, or human-presenting aliens here? We know that there are aliens that look green and blue and faces that look tasered, so where are they? We know that Asgardians look human, as do the upcoming alien race that is the Eternals, so maybe human is the most basic life form style there is, but there should still be SOME alien looking Variants in the TVA. Either that, or they all just follow their own timelines and behave. OR, there is a separate TVA that looks like Men in Black. What is the deal?
Anyway, back to the finale, I did like that there was very little fighting, and the fighting that did happen was more of a fight of emotions and morality/ethics, as opposed to just “who’s the better sword swinger?” Marvel has a tendency to make Act III finale fights big and ostentatious, more about the spectacle than the actual moral. Loki took the high road and not the cheap Throne Room Frienemies Fight While Boss Watches. Wait, no they did that earlier when they killed the Time Keepers. Either way, finale was good.
The finale also had an interesting thing to say about betrayal. With both the Loki/Sylvie dynamic, and the Mobius/Renslayer dynamic, the characters were allied when they had incomplete information. Then, when new truths came to light, either that the Time Keepers aren’t real or that Kang is trying to save the Multiverse, our main (male) characters change their minds on what they believe is the right thing to do, and our secondary (female) characters stick to their beliefs, not being swayed by this new information. However, both times it feels as though the secondary characters are BETRAYING the main characters, even though it’s technically the other way around. Renslayer calls this out when she says “I didn’t change. You betrayed me.” Of course, she follows this with saying that she had always supported him, “hung my neck out for you,” but it isn’t moving because we never see this. She claims to have been on his side, yet she pulls the Boss Card a few times, and mentions how in some board meeting she is really fighting to let Mobius do what he needs to. I guess since we never see her do it, just talk about it, it doesn’t feel very emotionally motivating.
Now, back to our boy Loki (our Boy Loki), the fact that he changes sides is not as compelling, for one major reason. We don’t know how long his character arc takes. For this Loki, it starts at the beginning of Thor, where him and Thor are best buds, causing trouble, hanging out, totally together. Then, Thor loses his worthiness, and Loki believes that means he should take the throne, not because he really wants it, but because that’s how hereditary monarchy works. Then, Odin basically tells him his whole life is a lie, and he doesn’t deserve anything, because “Your birthright was to die.”
So, in his grief, he goes crazy, reaches out to Thanos, and wants to take over Earth, so he can have the throne he deserves. So his “obsession” with the Throne actually only lasts as long as the time between Thor and Avengers, so like six months, in this guy’s centuries-long life. Then, how long is his adventure with the TVA? No one knows, because “time passes differently here in the TVA.” So Loki’s motivation changes from wanting to be buds, to wanting to rule Asgard, to wanting to rule Earth, to wanting to rule the TVA, to wanting to let everything stay the same in an unknown amount of time. If the part of that journey we see in Loki took months as well, then maybe it would feel earned, but it just feels rushed because my interpretation of the entire thing took maybe a week.
This article is long, so here are more things that I liked:
- Miss Minutes
- Mobius’ love of Jet Skis
- The real Norse story of Loki cutting Lady Sif’s hair
- Mobius and Loki’s study session
So there’s a lot of opinions here, and overall I don’t love the show, but it certainly has some great ideas, and sets up for very interesting problems in the future of the MCU that I’m excited to see.