Figuring out how to react to the Loki season one finale feels nearly impossible. The series has without a doubt been the MCU’s weirdest and wildest entry to date, but this was just baffling. The main lingering thought after Episode 6 is simply, “What just happened?” followed shortly by, “What did I just watch?”. Aside from the content of the storyline just exploding in every direction, there was a stunning lack of quality or cohesion in the episode in terms of how the plot played out, how it was paced, and how it even fit into the rest of the series.
First, to be fair, the opening of the episode was pretty cool—having famous soundbites of the entire existing MCU play out over the opening Marvel Studios sequence was very fun and also tense and exciting. Followed by a dramatic reel of what appeared to be the entire universe squished down into a literal single line encircling the citadel at the end of time, the beginning of the finale very much delivered edge-of-your-seat anticipation.
To continue to be fair, the anticipation was well warranted in some respects. We did get a reveal that the person at the end of time, who created and controls the TVA as well as the sacred timeline, is some version of Kang the Conqueror played by Johnathon Majors. He explicitly is not directly named in the course of the episode, but we learn that there were apparently infinite Kang variants who in the distant past learned of the multiverse and began conquering them, creating a ruthless multiversal war. This Kang, however, managed to come up on top and condense everything into a single universe: the sacred timeline. He claims to know everything that has ever happened or will happen until a certain point when the sacred timeline inexplicably turns into complete chaos almost instantaneously. While he offered the two Lokis the positions of rulers of the TVA (which makes no sense), Sylvie ultimately decides to kill Kang to fulfill her glorious purpose and kicks Loki back to the TVA in the process. The version of Kang in this episode was interesting in a positive way, as he was casual, wise-cracking, and eccentric. If you did not like this Kang, though, it is almost certain we may get very different versions of Kang variants in the future. How the character will play into Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023 seems like it will be much more intricate than a standard villain introduction.
The episode was almost entirely a conversation trying to explain the impending multiverse. Honestly, that would have been generally enjoyable as a complete episode to an MCU fan if the conversation really had any conclusion to it. Instead, the episode (and season) was ultimately one giant set-up and cliff-hanger for the now-confirmed season two. Other than maybe Sylvie in terms of her quest to take down the ruler of the TVA, no storylines are resolved on any front whatsoever. The timeline is “freed” with countless branches growing, but Loki returns to a different TVA. In this one, the agents (including Mobius and B-15) either do not know they are variants, forgot they were variants, or (likely) are completely different versions/variants than the ones we got used to in the show. Moreover, there is a giant Kang statue. While due respect should be given to the twist, I was personally taken aback when Mobius did not recognize Loki; everything is left in such an unclear place and it is incredibly frustrating.
The mid-credits “scene” is a confirmation that “Loki will return in Season 2”. I would sure hope so. To be fair, Marvel has yet to do a (Disney+) multi-season series — and they clearly intended to do it in the first place — so this ending is somewhat uncharted territory. Still, it felt so unsatisfying. The end of Episode 5 felt like we were on the cusp of something profound and universe-altering. The end of the finale felt the same way. It left a lot of things to be wanted, and not nearly enough was actually established in the season as a whole at the end of the day. While there seems to now be a multiverse, it is still not persuasively established.
In terms of how the episode played out from a cinematic perspective, the episode did not feel like it fit in with the rest of the season at all. This certainly was not about Loki, and the Loki/Sylvie plot felt misplaced in the midst of the Kang revelations. Ultimately, Loki’s character development felt rushed and unpersuasive. I expected more of a twist in his intentions at the last minute to be truer to the Loki brand, but the episode seemed to suggest that he is genuinely reformed. The titular Loki looks and feels like an entirely new character, but I’m not sure it really did the work to earn it.
2.3 Teacher’s Pencils out of 5
Honestly, coming to a solid conclusion on this episode is mind-numbing. On one hand, the episode was just sort of a letdown in terms of what it gave in plot and story. It wasn’t much—while things have to be left open to a certain extent for an upcoming season, no storyline was finished or felt satisfying in any way. None of the TVA characters, for example, seemed to have really changed position at all from the viewer’s perspective by the end of the season save maybe for Ravonna who simply left. Loki and Sylvie were given extraordinary character service throughout the season, but any reward for that was removed by the total Kang story renovation. Kang’s introduction was, however, extremely exciting. I would have been plenty happy with a straight-up Kang conversation and explanation episode with or without Lokis, but even that element felt wildly unresolved. The season two bait-and-switch ultimately took away from the actual high-stakes story of the season and even the Loki story in general. The result was an episode that has so many cool implications for the future, but no reasonable place in the series.
- The Steve and Peggy love song from the end of Endgame is clearly so iconic that it can affect your entire attitude going into an unrelated MCU story (or at least it did for me with this episode).
- The character of Miss Minutes is even more confusing and out of place now, and I do not see her point.
- At the end of the day, I am still very grateful we got Kang instead of a Loki variant at the end of time.