Loki’s second episode opens with the “slightly more evil Loki variant” taking down a group of time cops, to the tune of “I need a Hero.” Foreshadowing, perhaps?
For omniscient, reality bending authoritarians, time cops seem absurdly easy to defeat. Marvel sometimes has trouble with superpower consistency, as abilities and resilience shift depending on the requirement of the scene – I suppose it’s a natural consequence of pairing a dude who’s really good at shooting arrows alongside a Norse God (and the Hulk).
Anyway, the villain seems to have completely outwitted the top minds at the Time Variance Authority, leaving it up to Loki to figure out their secret location. After a surprisingly poignant scene where Loki reads about the destruction of Asgard, he realizes that the villain is taking refuge inside disaster zones, destined to be destroyed, and thus, subject to time-meddling with no future consequences.
This leads, unfortunately, to an extraordinary amount of exposition; Loki seems to lean heavily on the old Back to the Future blackboard trope, painstakingly explaining to the audience the mechanics of time travel. It makes one yearn for the audacity of Looper, which directly told its audience to stop thinking about the logic of time travel, because there isn’t any.
But the conversation led Loki and Mobius to speculate on the nature of free will, and the existence of the sacred timeline essentially wiping out the possibility. It’s always fun seeing Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston bounce off each other; the former’s easygoing aura contradicts nicely against Loki’s maniacally insecure energy. Casting Wilson as Hiddleston’s partner was an inspired choice.
Loki, it turns out, is absolutely correct in his assumption, and using a candy bar left at the last crime scene, the two manage to track the villain to a doomed hideout in a department store, in the year 2050.
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On a side note, it feels a tad unsettling to see a Disney show casually reference the upcoming climate crisis around the corner, along with all the human suffering that it entails. We’re all just complicitly walking into the apocalypse, aren’t we?
But the show’s brief depiction of the future is actually kind of interesting – nothing much has changed. There’s still dull, dusty department stores selling the same pointless products, just with a bit of technology to brighten up the storefront. One could accuse the set designers of being unimaginative, but I think they nailed it – there are so many department stores that exist today that have remained essentially unchanged for the last thirty years.
Upon entering, Loki and Mobius are instantly separated, and Loki soon meets his more twisted self, who is borrowing bodies to lure him into her trap. Again, Loki seems to lose his ability to defend himself, but it’s quite fun to watch random actors mimic the mannerisms of Loki – although, the unveiling of the villain reveals her to be a very different Loki indeed. Not really surprising, given the hood.
And, judging from a mistake Disney appears to have made in the credits, she appears to be a completely separate character – Sylvie, known as Enchantress. She could be a combination of the Enchantress and Lady Loki characters from the comics. Whoever she is, she convinces Loki to follow her into the portal.
I’m curious to see how her story plays out – clearly, the Time-Keepers are totalitarians (or at the very least, control freaks), and Lady Loki/Sylvie might be attempting to liberate the timeline from their control freakery. Her and Loki are two self-interested characters in a world that has already decided their destiny – it’s difficult not to root for both of them.
Surely, Loki will soon be reunited with his buddy Mobius. But it will be interesting to see if he will have been changed by his encounter with his feminine counterpart, or if he’s devising his own masterplan.
Personally, I hope this is the start of a budding romance – an egomaniac falling in love with his female incarnation seems exactly like Loki’s version of “happily ever after.”