More Thoughts On Loki: Episodes 4-6
Posted on July 15, 2021 Posted by Athena Scalzi 18 Comments
I didn’t think that this post would be the last of its kind, as I expected there to be episodes 7-9, like with WandaVision, but alas, season one of Loki ends with just six episodes. I’m going to assume that season two will also have six episodes, but I guess we’ll see when it gets here.
Anyways, I’m obligated to offer you an OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING, so here it is! Let’s get into it.
(Also: A link to the write-up for the first three episodes, in case you missed it.)
I just want to start off by saying that I know an enemies-to-lovers trope when I see when one, and BOY FUCKING HOWDY did I see one in episodes three and four. And I thought I had to be wrong. There was no way that they would actually make Loki and Sylvie have feelings for each other, right? And yet I couldn’t stop analyzing every moment they had together that just seemed so typical enemies-to-lover. I convinced myself I was overthinking it, and that I was reading the signs wrong, BUT I WASN’T.
All that banter? All that fighting? All that opening up to each other? Working together? It was so obvious all along and I felt like I was the only one that could see it. But I never in a million years expected the writers to actually like, make it happen.
Is there a lot, and I mean a lot, of discourse surrounding this decision? Yes, absolutely. But no matter how you feel about it, you can’t deny that Loki liking Loki is completely in character. It’s so on brand for him to like someone who is essentially him, right? Even Mobius said that his “demented crush” on her makes sense because he’s a huge narcissist who thinks he’s the greatest thing ever, so how could he not fall for someone who is just like him, and is in fact basically him!
It’s also not even close to the weirdest thing Loki has done if you read any mythology. Now that’s some fucked up shit. So maybe Loki liking Loki isn’t like, the biggest deal ever. Feel about it how you will, but I’m just glad that Loki finally felt love for someone, even if it is a bit odd.
Of course, this only made Sylvie’s betrayal all the more painful in episode six, when she kissed him, not out of love or passion, but to distract him so she could access the TemPad and yeet him into another reality.
But, that’s enough of the romance talk for now (though I could honestly talk about it for a lot longer). Let’s talk about the actual plot and story.
As I have mentioned before, time travel and multiverses are so totally not my cup of tea. All this “void at the end of time” and “multiverse war” stuff is honestly beyond me. I don’t understand it, can’t conceptualize it, and therefore don’t really like it.
Generally I try not to fault whatever movie or show I’m watching that uses time travel or multiverses because I assume that it’s not the movie that’s stupid, it’s me. Maybe Loki makes perfect sense with all its time branching and a monster that eats time and space, it just doesn’t make sense to me specifically. I’m the one who doesn’t get it, so I can’t fault it for being a bad show, right?
But honestly, the whole idea of some dude from the 31st century somehow weaponizing Alioth (which was very unclear on the how) and becoming the grandmaster of all time and space is in fact kind of… stupid. I think the “villain reveal” was underwhelming, and that He Who Remains was largely uninteresting. Miss Minutes is a much scarier antagonist than He Who Remains.
Personally, I’m more interested in Loki for pretty much everything other than the plot. The story is by far the least interesting thing about the show. The characters and their interactions with each other are more entertaining and enjoyable to watch than anything that has to do with the story. Plus, the visuals, use of color, and cinematography overall are incredible. So there’s a lot more to Loki than this whole TVA thing, which is good for me considering I’m not a fan of the concept.
There’s obviously a lot more that I could talk about, like all the Loki variants at the end of time, Hunter B-15, Renslayer, the Time Keepers being androids, but honestly none of it sticks me as much as Loki and Sylvie. Of course, they’re the main characters, so that makes sense, but for me it goes beyond them just because the main focus of the show.
I’ve always been overly invested in Loki in particular, invested in his relationship with his brother and father, invested in his schemes and plots, invested in his MULTIPLE DEATHS (goddammit Marvel). But now I get to be invested in a part of him that has never been seen before: his romantic life. We get to see him go through feelings and emotions that have never been shown to us before, and get to see a side of him that’s different from the conniving trickster we’ve known for the past decade. And it’s wonderful.
Loki has given us so much in so few episodes, and I can’t wait for season two.
What did you think of the finale? How do you feel about Loki and Sylvie? Do you think Renslayer is a bad person? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
I think the plot machinations (and the Meaning for the Wider MCU) threaten to overwhelm the charms of this story. This is in contrast to BLACK WIDOW, where the character interaction occupied a much larger portion of the audience mindspace. This is OK for me, since I’m an old (very old) DC fanboy who’s quite comfortable with multiple earths and multiple, alternative time lines.
However, I missed a lot of the fun of the Loki character, who seemed to get a lot more serious as he took on what seems to be a standard hero’s journey. Here’s to him having more fun, more hijinks and more mischief in season two, and less standard heroics….
The redeeming aspect of this finale is how well it uses the character beats to offset a LOT of MCU table-setting. Conscientious comics readers are used to enduring a couple of wonky issues here and there to set up what will (hopefully!) be a nice payoff, and I have a hard time not thinking of the MCU Disney episodes as issues in a limited series while the cinematic universe is the ongoing title.
Loki has been my favorite of the three Disney+ MCU series by a pretty comfortable margin, and like you said, a big part of that is the aesthetic of the show has been very much my jam. Its gorgeous cinematography and creative production design choices go a long way. The performances are great too, especially Loki and Sylvie.
I will say that I feel pretty much the opposite way that you do about the timey-wimey plot mechanics, and I’m geeking out about the implications of all the multiverse shenanigans going into Phase 4 and beyond. But I think the show balanced that pretty well with telling a coherent first season arc, and set up the next season in some pretty satisfying ways.
And I have to say that one of my favorite parts was the musical score. The composer really knocked it out of the park.
I usually enjoy time travel parts, know nothing about the characters except from movies (no comics). I was loving the story and characters until the very abrupt and confusing end. Loki does need more like this to show he has true depth.
“you can’t deny that Loki liking Loki is completely in character” – is that what happened? I don’t think so.
Loki grew up and spent centuries in a family that loved him, albeit imperfectly (and his problems recognizing that). He grew up in a stable, yes weird but stable, society of powerful beings who generally had an ethos of watching out for each other. After being captured by the TVA, he’s seen what his actions can cause (murder of his mother, his own meaningless death) and spent hours/days/weeks being verbally and physically abused by the Lady Syf. That’s who “our” Loki is. That’s why this Loki was finally able to call Moebius a friend and mean it.
Sylvie was grabbed from Asgard at a very young age, and spent all her life fleeing those who are trying to destroy her. She never had anyone to support her, never had anyone she could rely on. She is a different person than Loki.
Yes, they’re both Loki variants, but they’re different people. They see parts of themselves in each other, but doesn’t that happen in most lovers?
I hated S1E6 for Leftover Annoying Guy. It was a complete letdown for what was an interesting build-up. Just a huge, boring infodump, without any rhyme or reason. It’s the most I’ve disliked a final episode since How I Met Your Mother (which can never be exceeded for awfulness).
Watching Hiddleston act… it’s just a joy. The scene with Syf, that’s old school theater geek improv stuff. I’d love to hear how they were directed there. Did they give them an outline and just let them run with it? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Loki and Sylvie – I’m fascinated by the questions the writers have answered about nature versus nurture there. With all the Loki, boy Loki who killed Thor, Old Man Diapers Loki who can’t resist a Glorious Purpose, President Loki… because 1000% there would be a President Loki. I loved that action, because the rock-star body language reminded me so much of Bono. Alligator Loki will bite you – it’s all he’s got.
Loki knows love because he loves his family. The jealousy, the rage, the feelings of unfairness all grow out of that love. He knows his family loves him, because he got to see the life he didn’t get to have. Sitting with his father as he leaves the mortal realm. Feeling the pain of his mother’s death, thought it never happened to him. Watching his own murder and his brother’s sobbing over him, broken-hearted. He’s been put through so much in such a short period of time, which is what happens when we need to wash the villain in his own tears.
And then we have poor Sylvie, who has fulfilled her purpose. Her Glorious Purpose. And what a purpose it is – to set all the universes free and damn the consequences. Now she just has to live with them and figure out who she is.
But I disagree that her kissing him was just a trick. She’s very smart. She can kiss a man and mean it while also plotting how to get him out of her way without killing him and pulling a little slight of hand. The fact that she didn’t kiss-knife him shows some warmth of feeling, at least.
I bet they could only do 6 eps/season because this CAST… not cheap.
I think this plotline is a lot better for those who read the comics–I know, it shouldn’t be necessary to have read them to really like this story, but He That Remains is only one of his names (and he’s not the same as the character of that name in the comics). He’s more commonly called Immortus, and those “even more evil” versions of him are Kang the Conqueror, a long-time time-traveling nemesis of the Avengers. Another clue was that Kang is in love with a character named Ravenna Renslayer, and… well, we saw her.
Overall not the best ending to a season, but at least we get another one to see how it all goes from here.
Mr. Johnson has it right. They just introduced and set up the the main bad guy thread that will run through all of the upcoming Marvel movies. The next Spider-Man has multiple versions of Spidey in it. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. The thread that will run through those movies started here.
My one useful thought is that with all the alternate timelines sprouting, “What If…?” is much more relevant to the MCU that it seemed when it was first announced.
I really enjoyed Loki Season 1, but it was really Sylvie, and the TVA, origin story. As a rule I dislike origin stories because they are so hard to make entertaining. Loki had TWO origin stories. And Sylvie’s was more of an unintended consequence of He Who Remains setting up the TVA then wanting to retire. Men In Black – the first movie – did a much better job with Agent Kay – Tommy Lee Jones – helping found the MIB then wanting to retire and Agent Jay – Will Smith – being the replacement.
I prefer narratives that leap into a good plot ( looking at you Collapsing Empire ) and then fill in the backstory instead of the origin itself being the plot.
But I think the difference between MCU movies, and series, the movies are self contained because they are usually in theater with all the pros , and cons, of theaters.
While MCU series are like intermissions in a Brandon Sanderson Tome, filling in information but not wholly able to stand by themselves and often requires finishing the story arc ( in this case Kang the Conqueror ) to see its full implications. Steaming series can also be more subtle, and nuanced, since I can rewatch it immediately, pause it, and on Disney + even group watch it.
Rereading this post, one of the reasons Collapsing Empire works for me is the story taking place at the end of the arc, with the origin being explored only with response the the crisis.
Just have to drop in to mention this explainer on Kang the Conqueror
So I was pleased to see that all of the hints dropped until this point actually paid off, if you were a comics fan. I suspected we were getting Kang and Immortus and we did. If you don’t know comics, then it worked fine because, as usual, you don’t NEED to know the material that the MCU is drawing on, but it’s an extra layer of icing on the cake if you do. They know what they’re doing in that regard.
I enjoyed that episode 5, in particular, just went full-on bonkers. Seeing Richard Grant as Classic Loki and watching him go through a character arc in just one episode was a delight. Alligator Loki. PERIOD.
Watching Loki gain real, actual friends and then lose all of them at the end of the episode is kind of heart-breaking and Hiddleston sells it. Mobius’ question “Who are you?” was a gut punch. Seeing the statues now looked like Kang? NOT GOOD. Our new Big Bad has arrived (sorry, Mephisto, go pound sand, thankfully).
Personally, I love that the MCU shows allow the actors and characters a chance to breathe and explore them better. Loki (the series) certainly didn’t overstay it’s welcome (something many people criticize about many streaming shows). Given that the entirety of the second act of the final episode was basically ‘Loki and Sylvie get a marketing pitch from a man at the end of time’, it was pretty interesting to watch. This is one reason I thought WandaVision worked as well as it did…it gave Wanda a chance to really grieve, something characters in action movies never really get to do (and female characters even less so).
How will this all play out? No idea, though I expect it will be pretty fun to watch. I’ve been on-board with the MCU from day one and while there have been missteps, it still delights me to see characters I still love being given their day in the sun. I eagerly await the MCU to give us a Fantastic Four with a budget and that emulates the family and fun of the original material.
It’s Disney, there will be some other twist near the end. Something to build next season off of.
I was kind of hoping the head of the TVA would be whoever/whatever is behind Miss Minutes. Miss Minutes is more than an AI – she gave Judge Renslayer totally different files than what she asked for.
We still don’t know how TVA agents are selected and why just those people. I hope season 2 addresses this.
+1K to WizarDru’s comment –
“I enjoyed that episode 5, in particular, just went full-on bonkers. Seeing Richard Grant as Classic Loki and watching him go through a character arc in just one episode was a delight. Alligator Loki. PERIOD.”
Grant does bonkers very very well. The commitment shown just by putting on that suit…
On top of that, I’m a big fan of time travel and alternate universes, so this whole series was just my thing.
I got into the show because I’m a fan of Loki from Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Norse myths, rather than from a Marvel comics background. I enjoyed this, including the preachery speech from The Dude In Purple in episode 6. I generally find the episodes to be really short, so I’m definitely wanting more. Also, shout out to Owen Wilson who is amaaaaazing in his role. The Loki/Sylvie thing kind of gives me the creeps but it also seems par for the Loki course.
I largely agree with your take, Athena. I also tuned into Loki because I like dramatic villainous type characters. E.g. Megamind, Ursula, Richard III, and Jareth. And the only thing I like better than a card carrying villain is a story where the dramatic and often queer coded ‘bad guy’ has to stop and be a bit honest with themself about motivations and goals.
Though I also don’t want a story that I have to take too seriously.
I also am not a fan of most time travel. And multiverses. Because most of them fall apart if the story goes on too long or the exceptions make me go, “What, really?”
I think Loki might be going in a direction of tying back in to everything else where I might stop watching. Maybe. Mostly Marvel is fine because even though the producers want me to sit down to every course of an endless meal I can still treat it like a salad bar. I come in, grab the dishes I want, and the chefs have no idea that lil’ ol’ me is not consuming all the carefully balanced courses in proscribed order.
I think that the show runner people are working to tie Loki in to the rest of upcoming movies and other shows in a way that pushes harder for me to watch all the things. So, I see that as a downside. It is all feeling a big “Lost” like with big promise and that the payoff won’t be able to make good on.
Eh. The look is pretty and the music is nice, though not as listenable on its own. And so far I can watch it without knowing more than what I’ve seen in memes about Ultron, Infinity, or Endgame.