A little later than usual for the big MCU series (for let’s just say the most valid of reasons…) it’s time to take a look at Loki’s first season, a six episode run through multiple timelines that really came into its own as it progressed and ends on a really great episode despite it containing mostly one man giving exposition. Want to know more? Read on!
After stealing the Tesseract during the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), an alternate version of Loki is brought to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA), a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space and monitors the timeline. They give Loki a choice: face being erased from existence due to being a “time variant”, or help fix the timeline and stop a greater threat.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The old fashioned aesthetic of the TVA includes some really stunning pulp sci-fi backgrounds!
Loki has a lot of fun sci-fi concepts surrounding it, mostly the idea of branching timelines as a different choice is made. The version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston, naturally) we see take the Tesseract and run off in Avengers Endgame is immediately captured by an organisation called the TVA (Time Variance Authority) and told that the true Loki of the one sacred timeline didn’t do that and so this Loki was a “Variant” that must be captured and his branching timeline expunged. He meets Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) who likes her job of erasing variants a bit too much, Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who rules over the TVA for the most part, and Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), an extremely likable character who gets the idea to use Loki as an extra soldier to hunt down a dangerous variant that has been killing plenty of TVA agents and stealing the technology to wipe out timelines: Loki, from another timeline again. It’s a really great cast that make the most out of these early episodes, Loki and Mobius’s relationship being the standout, you feel he genuinely wants to like Loki and at the same time after watching his “true” self’s entire life on a film reel Loki is quick to drop the evil scheming that he still had going on.
After a few missions Loki meets the other Loki, a Loki who is female and goes by the name Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). Together they get stuck on the planet that’s just about to face its apocalypse and end up romantically involved, going from disliking each other to reluctant partners to something more quite quickly. The fact two different Lokis were about to kiss creates such an enormous wave of paradox energy that the TVA find them and arrest them both, with Mobius being blown away at the levels of ego given fact that they fell in love with what was essentially themselves. The duo manage to convince Mr. Mobius of the truth: that all the TVA are variants that have been put to work, but all this does is lead to the kindly agent getting zapped. The two Lokis do escape however and make their way into the chamber where the fabled trio of Time Keepers reside but only find what turns out to be tree robots pretending to be all-powerful… then Loki gets similarly zapped as Sylvie begins to question Renslayer on the reason for her being pruned in the first place.
Sylvie asks Loki if he’s remembered her birthday.
We then find out that when the TVA zaps someone they actually transport them to a side-dimension that’s pretty much a dumping ground for variant timelines and therefore “our” Loki is alive and well… and soon surrounded by a whole host of Loki variants, including a crocodile Loki and a version of Loki with 60s comic accurate attire (played by Richard E. Grant, oddly enough!) The Lokis travel across this space, meet up with both Mobius (who soon heads back to the TVA to confront Renslayer) and Sylvie, who eventually convinces Loki to face off against the formless guardian of the dimension in hopes to control its mind so they can find out who is at the root of the whole problem. They manage it after the Classic Loki sacrifices himself and meet He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) and it turns out to be none other than Kang the Conquerer, though beyond referring to “The Conquerer” being a past nickname he isn’t actually named, which given the amount of different Kangs in the comics with different names is on-point, frankly.
Kang reveals the one true timeline exists because back when there was a multiverse he and all the other Kangs from alternate timelines used their genius to meet each other… then began to fight with each other, causing a catastrophic war that only stopped when this Kang created the TVA to stop other timelines and therefore other Kangs from coming about. Sylvie still just sees the man responsible for ruining her life where as Loki sees him as the lesser evil, so the two fight but Loki is sent back to the TVA and Sylvie kills Kang, setting about the re-creation of a multiverse that will not only play a role in Loki Season 2 but also the up-coming “What If…?” animated show, which will feature some of these branching timelines. The end credits show us Loki approaching Mobius and Renslayer but neither recognise him, while at the same time we see Kang (in his comics outfit) as a large statue behind them…
I also have to mention how much I loved the retro vibe the TVA had, with old tube TVs, Hanna Barbara style animation and other touches, with their mascot “Miss Minutes” (voiced by Tara Strong) being particularly funny. Filled to the brim with great performances, storylines and an extremely high budget, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the series overall. The finale came shortly after an extremely awful event in my life and I was happy for an hours reprieve in such a fun and weird world.
As much as I loved it for what it was this was a good example of why they update the costumes for live action…
Honestly it’s one of those series that I can’t really think of anything that I can point out as “bad”. If I were reviewing the series episode-by-episode maybe the second episode was occasionally slow, but I really enjoyed the interactions between Loki and Mobius, so I still really enjoyed it, and oddly a few people really hated Episode 3 but I loved it, I thought it set up Loki and Sylvie’s relationship perfectly. *shrugs* different strokes and all that.
I’ll still never quite get over the level of special effects these streaming shows can achieve…
Loki’s first season was a triumph, giving WandaVision a run for its money in the imaginative and exciting weekly MCU show stakes. Full of great performances, effects and lots of amusing timeline shenanigans plus a great finale that sets up so much to come in the MCU, I can only give Loki a rating of…