Like the God of Mischief himself, the second installment of Loki promised that the series has tricks up its sleeve. The episode has three fairly distinct segments with each cascading like the flow of the sacred timeline itself. While the previous episode built the backdrop of everything the series is about, Episode 2 slowly but surely pulled us away from mundane explanations of how and why the TVA does what it does into a more vibrant experience that hopefully will not backtrack anytime soon.
The first part of the episode mirrors the first episode in that it is still very dry and monotone. Unfortunately, some of the dialogue felt a bit flat and the overall output was choppy. The creators are still trying their hardest to explain what the TVA is, how it works, why it exists, how the timeline works, and who the Time Keepers are. Honestly, it is no small task this early on in MCU’s exploration of this unique corner of the universe. Interestingly, through multiple characters, it is suggested that the Time Keepers are much more accessible beings than their god-like aura would give away. We also learn that Loki variants are numerous and take countless different forms, many of which are extremely different than the Loki we know. This clearly sets the stage for many different versions of Loki to appear throughout the series. Still, it is unclear how it is possible that so many of these wild departures from traditional Loki can exist within the context and presumed integrity of the sacred timeline.
Once the episode settles into itself and begins to trust that its premise is solid, it picks up and—like Loki—starts to do some real work. Forcing the Asgardian to hone in on office work is an interesting use of time, but it definitely helps build outer layers to the character by removing him from his own comfort zone and the audience’s previously established conceptions. The middle part of the episode gave off the feel of a detective crime drama, and any genre-bending could prove to be fun as hell (especially given that Marvel has proven they can do this well in WandaVision). The dialogue and banter pick up by the second act as well, with the Loki’s salad metaphor being a highlight of how his and Mobius’ humor can blend successfully and enjoyably. Plot-wise, Loki figures out that the variant is hiding in apocalypses—catastrophic events that destroy civilizations and leave no survivors. Considering all that is left behind is total destruction, the timeline would not be affected by any variant’s actions. There’s a fairly dark tone underlying this, particularly considering that the show does not shy away from listing, and attending, dreamt-up future apocalypses rather than famous historical ones (see Pompeii). Considering there are surely disturbing things lurking within the sacred timeline and the TVA, exploring dark themes throughout this time-hopping saga could prove very rewarding.
The last block of Episode 2 is dedicated to Loki and the TVA confronting the variant in an apocalyptic event in 2050 Alabama, where a hurricane wipes out an entire town, much of which is taking shelter in a grocery store warehouse. This whole event is really well crafted in terms of the set, lighting, camerawork, music, and overall aesthetic. It leans heavily into a science fiction mystery and suspense atmosphere and couples with a smidge of horror tones. I will say it again—the Alabama scenes were incredibly well done and a very fun departure from the one-note TVA. This certainly proved that there is a lot of potential for the show, and if the series keeps it up I am very excited for what is in store.
The climax, which is the tail end of the episode, is by far the most exciting part of the past two episodes. It’s still a mystery what “Lady Loki” is planning, but there is a very dramatic sense of chaotic demise as she essentially blows apart the timeline. After what felt like non-stop and repetitive talk about whether Loki could be trusted, how he can’t be trusted, why he could be trusted, whether he can earn trust, and how he’s already lost trust, we seemingly learn that his ultimate goal at this point was to confront the Time Keepers and take over the TVA. His counterpart is not interested, and Loki ultimately proves of course that he cannot be trusted by escaping behind her. But honestly, he met a different version of himself who is also plotting some universe-shattering scheme—who could blame him?
4 Freed Pompeii Goats out of 5
Episode 2 starts off slow—and maybe a bit too slow—but it seems to decide that the TVA backdrop is well enough settled and seems to hit its stride in the remainder of the episode. The deliberately boring TVA setting can only be tolerated for so long, and the set changes this episode proved how much more fun the series can be if it embraces its flexibility in time and space. The final act is really impressive in terms of genre experimentation and artistic presentation. Between the tone departure from the TVA and the acceleration of the plot, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the general “cinematic” quality and story will be taken up a notch. And that is pretty exciting.
- I’ve really enjoyed the score and music so far in the series, but it never felt like it belonged until the end of this episode.
- Miss Minutes is either going to go big or go home at some point but I have no idea which.
- At this point, we’re all just waiting for Mobius’ big jet ski moment.