Loki opens with the titular character escaping from 2012’s Avengers film, only to be captured by a strike team from the Time Variance Authority (TVA). After apprehending Loki, they “reset” the timeline with a grenade-sized charge and escort him to TVA headquarters to be judged (and possibly erased from existence). The first episode starts with both Loki and the viewers in the dark about who these people are and why they seem hell-bent on destroying his “glorious purpose”. This is, until our favorite character, Miss Minutes explodes onto the scene to deliver some seriously needed exposition. From the scene-stealing animated clock, Loki learns of a great multiversal time war fought by the Time Keepers, who now work diligently with the TVA to ensure that the Sacred Timeline (assumed to be the only timeline) is not destroyed by branched realities and the variants who cause them.
After nearly being erased, Loki is spared by Mobius M. Mobius, the TVA senior agent played by Owen Wilson. Mobius pleads to Gugu M’Batha-Raw‘s Judge Ravonna Renslayer, asking to use 2012 Loki to capture a rogue Loki variant who is attempting to destroy the Sacred Timeline. Our Loki’s first interactions with Mobius are poignant and set the tone of the series by exploring Loki’s life: His past, present, and future. Loki witnessed a future that was no longer his own, yet still filled him with regret. When shown the death of his beloved mother, he begrudgingly agrees to, albeit with his own flair.
The chemistry between Wilson’s Mobius and Hiddleston’s Loki is one of the driving forces behind the show and it never feels forced. Loki’s relationship with Mobius is reflective of his relationship with Thor. In particular, Loki shares a deep camaraderie and security with each of them, which is often punctuated by their moments of exasperation in response to Loki’s childish antics. Eventually, the rogue Loki variant proves to be a worthy opponent. Despite a few close calls, they continually evade TVA capture. The opening scene of the second brings one of the most exciting fights of the series, which is saying a lot because Loki is filled with well-choreographed fight scenes in almost every episode. Using his intuition as a Loki, our 2012 Loki deduces that the rogue variant must be using fixed disasters in time to hide, since minor changes during an apocalyptic event would have no effect on the outcome, leaving the sacred timeline intact and avoiding the attention of the TVA. The use of fixed disasters is a clever trick that slipped by Mobius and the other timeline experts at the TVA. It even felt like a slap in the face for some viewers because of how obvious it should have been. Using a specific candy left by the rogue variant, our heroes track the variant to a major storm disaster in 2050 Alabama. Here, the characters and audience are both shocked to discover this variant, played by Sophia Di Martino, looks nothing like our usual Loki. She hates even using the name Loki and has taken on the name Sylvie instead.
Faced with a last-second ultimatum to stay with the TVA or follow Sylvie, Loki impulsively follows Sylvie through a portal as she tosses reset charges throughout the timeline to distract the TVA. Emerging from the portal, Loki realizes Sylvie’s plan to kill the Time Keepers. The panic of the TVA oozes off the screen as they rush to stop the irreparable damage of multiple erroneous resets at once, becoming a significant turning point of the series. Despite Sylvie’s plan, Loki’s intervention distracts her enough that the TVA are able to regain the upper hand. In another quick escape, Loki quickly sends himself and Sylvie to another apocalypse: Lamentis 2077, where a moon rapidly approaches its end.
Lamentis’s atmosphere shines brilliantly purple, reminiscent of Vormir in Avengers: Endgame. The use of color gives the planet a mysterious melancholic glow, evoking the somber mood of the doomed civilization. Without zero charge on their teleportation device, Loki and Sylvie are seemingly trapped in the apocalypse for good. As they look for salvation, Sylvie and Loki begin to bond and Loki learns that the TVA workers are unknowing variant themselves, one of the most shocking twists of any Marvel Disney+ show so far. It had been clear from the beginning that there was something strange about the TVA but it seemed unthinkable to imagine that the variant hunters would themselves be variants. The twist is made satisfying by the intertwined emotions of shock, irony, and betrayal.
Using their combined Loki trickery, the Loki and Sylvie sneak onto a train heading to an escape ship. Unfortunately, Loki gets kicked out of the train after becoming drunk and their teleportation device breaks altogether. In a moment of hopelessness and vulnerability, Sylvie opens up to Loki about her past. As they begin to bond, they create a powerful temporal divergence that alerts the TVA to their time coordinates and both are promptly arrested.
In their respective holding chambers, Loki and Sylvie both cause disruptions that are significant enough to earn a shared audience in front of the Time Keepers. As always, a fight ensues and a well-placed throw beheads one of the Time Keepers, revealing them to be androids created by something/someone far more nefarious behind the scenes. Judge Ravonna takes advantage of the heroes’ confusion to quickly “prune” Loki out of time. Sylvie overtakes Ravonna, but overall the cliffhanger ending felt predictable because .it was easy to guess that Loki would be pruned. However, the result is still used clever because it forces the story into two separate directions: Sylvie is forced to confront her past with the TVA, and Loki is gone yet again, never to return. Oh, wait.
Loki awakens in a purgatory “New York” surrounded by a group of Loki variants: Classic Loki (Richard Grant), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei), and Alligator Loki. Classic Loki and Kid Loki’s costumes felt pulled straight from the comics. Grant’s costume, in particular, felt divorced from reality: vibrant green-and-yellow spandex, a large horned helmet, and a long flowing cape. The variant Lokis informs our Loki that he is in the Void, where all pruned individuals go. Here, survival comes only by avoiding Alioth, a black dragon-like cloud that looms in the background of the Void, reminding viewers that death is always present in the MCU. Our Loki follows the variants to their hideout, hoping they can help him return to the TVA to rescue Sylvie. Meanwhile, at the TVA, Sylvie studies the Void, realizes Loki is alive, and prunes herself to rescue him.
As Sylvie enters the Void, she’s quickly found by Mobius (who was previously pruned after learning he was a variant). Sylvie uses her enchantment powers on Alioth and realizes that Alioth is simply protecting the entrance to the puppeteer at the end of time. Running into the Loki squad, Sylvie explains her vision to them. Classic Loki distracts Alioth with one of the most striking visual CGI spectacles in the show by magically recreating Asgard. The sight of Asgard and the selfless sacrifice of Classic Loki gives Loki and Sylvie the strength to enchant Alioth together. In a haunting scene, Alioth collapses opening a portal to a castle. Sylvie and Loki rush forward into another cliffhanger ending to meet their destiny, with the sacrifice of Classic Loki setting the tone for the finale.
Loki is airing one last Wednesday on Disney+. Look for the finale tomorrow!.