Welcome to our continuing episode-by-episode examination of Loki. As always, there are spoilers ahead.
Writing Opposite of Cool is a weird mix of love and assessment, investment and detachment. It usually involves an attempt to accurately view a given thing while standing eyeball-deep in the middle of it. Film adaptations need to be assessed on their own merits, but when it comes to Marvel, my own intimate familiarity with the source material makes comparison between print and film versions unavoidable. I’m almost always fighting the urge to deal with the show I wish I was watching instead of the show in front of me. It’s possible I’d like Loki a lot more if I were coming at it without any prior knowledge…though let’s allow that without prior knowledge, I probably wouldn’t be watching it in the first place.
I have a friend who started watching Loki before I did, while I was still toiling away on Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Like a lot of people who watch these Marvel movies and shows, she doesn’t read comics. She had questions.
The first was, Should it even be possible for a mortal agency like the TVA to capture a god like Loki? I’m not sure the TVA quite qualifies as a mortal agency, but sure, I think it’d be possible to capture this particular god if he didn’t see his captors coming and / or he fatally underestimated their capabilities. Essentially, they could do it if they surprised him and got lucky. But understand, capturing Loki wouldn’t be the problem; it’s keeping him that would prove the real difficulty.
The second question was, How could the TVA design technology sufficient to thwart Loki’s powers? This is kind of tricky. In the comics, at least, the only real ‘powers’ possessed by Loki are those native to his species.In the Norse myths, Loki does a great deal of shape-shifting, changing into birds and fish and the like. There’s a lot of shape-shifting in general among the figures of Norse … Continue reading As the child of frost giants, Loki is untouched by frost and cold. Like his Asgardian cousins, he is immortal,Technically, the Asgardians aren’t immortal, they’re just extremely long-lived; they eat golden apples to extend their life-span. Seriously! See Neil Gaiman’s ‘The … Continue reading and immune to all earthly ailment. By human standards, Loki is immensely strong and durable, but he’s physically normal (at best) by Asgardian or frost giant standards. His strength and durability are less powers, in other words, than they are just traits of his species. Where Loki ruins the curve is his intelligence and knowledge of sorcery. I can buy that magic wouldn’t work in the halls of the TVA, but Loki’s real ‘power’ lies in how clever and charismatic and shockingly unburdened by decency he is. He’s the God of Trickery, the ultimate master of scams and schemes and confidence games. He practically invented lying, and what he didn’t invent, he most certainly perfected. So unless the TVA utilized something that could affect Loki’s mind, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for keeping him in check.
The third question — the one to which all the other questions were really leading — was What is a god, anyway?
And that…that’s a goddamn good question.
If I’m not mistaken, the official line from the MCU is that the gods of Asgard aren’t gods aren’t all, but are instead some species of jumped-up alien. In Thor: The Dark World (2013), Odin (Anthony Hopkins) bluntly states: “We are not gods. We’re born. We live. We die. Just as humans do.” I’ve speculated at length in earlier entries of Opposite of Cool as to why Marvel Studios elected to go this route, so I won’t rehash it here; but suffice to say that this relegation of Asgard to the realms of the mundane is drastically different from the comics. The Aesir of the comics aren’t simply more powerful and longer-lived than their human counterparts; they exist on a different plane altogether, elevated not just in prowess, but also in their concerns and outlook. Everything about them is different.
It may be easier for us to describe the gods by what they’re not: not human, not normal, not mundane. They’re something else. Something other.
If we can skim the surface of theology for a moment — and if you’ll pardon the blasphemous pretension that we can possibly gain some clarity about pagan figures of myth from the Bible — there’s an idea about holiness that I believe I ran across in Robert Alter’s translation of the Hebrew Bible.Specifically, The Five Books of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I was unable to find evidence of the specific idea I was searching for there;. I was, however, able to find some echoes of it at Christianity.com in an article entitled ‘What is Holiness? How Can We Be Holy?’:
Holiness is a word that can make us feel uneasy. It seems lofty, threatening, alien. We instinctively sense that God’s holiness has dangerous overtones.
The Hebrew word for “holiness” is qōdes, a word that highlights the realm of the sacred in contrast to everything common and profane. The adjective qādôš, “holy,” refers to God and what belongs to him.
Even more to the point, expounding on the same idea, there’s ‘Biblical Concepts of Holiness’ from The JPS Torah Commentary by Baruch A. Levine, which I found at MyJewishLearning.com:
Holiness is difficult to define or to describe; it is a mysterious quality. Of what does holiness consist? In the simplest terms, the “holy” is different from the profane or the ordinary. It is “other,” as the phenomologists define it. The “holy” is also powerful or numinous. The presence of holiness may inspire awe, or strike fear, evoke amazement.
For most of the people reading this, the word holiness denotes a quality of moral purity…but that’s a later gloss. The meaning that we’re dealing with for our purposes is as Professor Levine defines it: a state of being that encompasses the sacred, indescribable qualities associated with God, distinct from the everyday profane world of matter.
The idea of beings who live their immortal lives on an elevated plane fundamentally alien to mortal men runs all through Thor creator (adaptor?) Jack Kirby’s work. Kirby also created the Eternals (adapted for yet another Marvel film slated for release in November 2021), and Galactus and the Silver Surfer, as well as the New Gods for DC. All of these characters are bigger than life — small wasn’t in Jack Kirby’s vocabulary. Anthony Hopkins may have elected to play Odin “like a human being,”Hopkins: “I just play Odin like a human being, with maybe a little more dimension. I grow a beard, look hopefully impressive, and keep it as real as possible.” From the … Continue reading but in Kirby’s hands, Odin is a near-omnipotent pillar of creation, the All-Father of Asgard: massive, regal, and all-powerful. There’s nothing even sort of ‘normal’ about him.
The gods even speak differently, with Thor co-creator Stan Lee employing a sort of King James / Shakespeare-lite style of archaic English for the immortals.As with all things Stan Lee, I suspect he employed this device with one foot in sincerity and the other in parody. Realistically, it makes no sense at all for Norse and Greek gods to speak in this majestic, highly stylized English, but A) realism was never the point, and B) the practice winds up serving the same function that having nobles speak in poetry and commoners speak prose serves in Shakespeare: it sets the gods apart. Even their speech is elevated.
What is a god, anyway? The answer: not us.
Which leaves our God of Mischief (and us, watching him) in kind of a weird place. Because while Loki often refers to himself as a god in this series, he’s consistently portrayed as a more or less ordinary dude. There’s none of the majesty or grandeur we find in the comics; certainly nothing different from the profane or ordinary. Instead of awe and fear and wonder, there’s this lusterless space filled with whatever Marvel Studios is aiming for with this character: slapstick combo w/ medium diet rom-com, hold the gravitas.
Our episode opens in Asgard…but not the Asgard with which we’re familiar. This is the Asgard of Sylvie’s past. She’s a little girl, playing with miniature dragon figures and a toy longship when a TVA dimension door opens. In strides Hunter A-23 — the once and future Ravonna — and three TVA goons. “There’s our Variant,” says Ravonna. “On the authority of the Time Keepers, I hereby arrest you for crimes against the Sacred Timeline.” The TVA apprehend the girl and hustle her through the door, leaving a reset charge behind.
Young Sylvie is put through the same TVA process we saw Loki put through in episode 1. She’s brought before the judge, but instead of an intervening Mobius, Sylvie makes her own luck. She bites Ravonna, stamps hard on her foot, and steals her TemPad. Before anyone can do much of anything other than make eye contact with her — you get the feeling faces are being burned into memory — Sylvie has opened up her own dimension door and disappeared through it.
Ravonna recollects all this in the present, before gathering herself to appear before the Time Keepers in their ever-so-misty throne room. We’re not privy to Ravonna’s conversation with the Time Keepers, but we see her exit from the chamber, looking upset. Mobius asks if she’s okay. She says she’s not; appearing before the Time Keepers is a jarring experience in the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances.
“But they can’t blame you,” says Mobius.
“They can, and they do,” says Ravonna. She points out that one dangerous variant nearly breached the chamber with the Time Keepers before escaping with another variant that Ravonna herself gave permission to Mobius to keep around. No bueno.
Mobius concedes the point, and the difficulty of keeping the Sacred Timeline stable, but says if the Time Keepers want him to find Loki and Sylvie, he needs access to Hunter C-20.
Ravonna says access is impossible.
“Look,” says Mobius, “when we found her, she kept saying, ‘It’s real, it’s real.’ Over and over. I need to find out what that meant, and what else she saw when she was with the Variant.”
Ravonna tells Mobius that C-20 is dead. Mobius is surprised, says he doesn’t get it. C-20 seemed fine when last he saw her. Ravonna tells him C-20’s decline after her rescue was steep, and that nobody knows about her death; they don’t want people to panic.
“Every moment those variants are out there, we’re all in danger,” Ravonna tells him. “Find them.”
Back on Lamentis, Loki has found Sylvie, who’s chosen a quiet(er) spot away from the main city to watch the end of the world.
“I’m sorry,” he says, sitting next to her.
“I remember Asgard,” Sylvie tells Loki. “Not much, but I remember. My home, my people, my life. The universe wants to break free, so it manifests chaos. Like me being born the Goddess of Mischief. And as soon as that created a big enough detour from the Sacred Timeline, the TVA showed up, erased my reality, took me prisoner.”
I was under the impression that the TVA reset charges only affected offending objects and people within a given vicinity. That’s how we’ve seen them work up to this point, so I’m not sure what to think about Sylvie’s statement. It’s possible she’s just mistaken, though you wouldn’t think she’d still be laboring under any misconceptions on this score. She’s had ample opportunity to test and observe the effects of the TVA’s reset charges; she may well know more about what they can and can’t do than the Hunters who usually carry them. She might be lying, though that seems unlikely; I can’t think of any character in the MCU who’s ever lied without making it transparently obvious that they were doing so, and in any case, there wouldn’t seem to be much point to lying in this particular time and circumstance. So Sylvie may know something we don’t, or it may be that the showrunners are playing fast and loose with the effects of the reset charges. In the comics at least, the TVA doesn’t have the power to just up and erase whole swathes of reality. Do they have that power in this show? Who knows?
Sylvie relates her escape from the TVA as a child, and how she ran for a long time. “Everywhere and everywhen I went caused a Nexus Event, sent up a smoke flare. Because I’m not supposed to exist. Until eventually I figured out where to hide. And so that’s where I grew up. At the ends of a thousand worlds. And now…that’s where I’ll die.”
Credit where it’s due: the special effects of the dying planet in the purple sky above Lamentis is spectacular, awesome in scale and scope. They did a really good job here.
Loki and Sylvie reach for one another, one last fleeting connection at the end of the world…and back at the TVA, a red line on a monitor begins branching from the main timeline. The two Lokis are but moments from dying along with Lamentis when they’re found and rescued / apprehended by the TVA.
I’ve got questions. While I really like the idea of love and kindness and comfort between two versions of the same God of Mischief causing a major Nexus Event, I’m curious as to how this works. I thought the whole point of hiding in an apocalypse was that nothing one did would matter, because there’s no possible change to the timeline (and again, this is less objection on my part than just curiosity). Along the same lines, if you’re the TVA, why not just let the two Lokis perish on Lamentis? Problem solved. I could buy the idea the TVA has to know what caused the Nexus Event, or that the independent Mobius saves Loki and Sylvie for reasons of his own, but we’re not given much indication one way or the other. As always with the MCU, it’s hard to discern the purposeful from the overlooked or simply mishandled.
Loki and Sylvie are separated at the TVA, each taken to a different chamber. Mobius accompanies Loki, the pair hurling recriminations at each other; there are evidently some hurt feelings here. Before Loki is forced through yet another dimension door — this one, as we’ll soon see, a punishing time loop — Loki tells Mobius that the TVA is lying to him.
The pocket dimension Loki is forced into is a small sliver of Asgard. While he’s getting his bearings, an angry Sif (Jaime Alexander) enters stage right, holding a lock of her own (badly) cut hair.You can read the mythic version of how Loki cut off Sif’s hair in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, ‘The Treasures of the Gods.’ She’s very angry, and has every right to be. She calls him a conniving, craven, pathetic worm, and gives him a convincing smack across the face. “I hope you know you deserve to be alone and you always will be,” she tells him. He’s protesting against the efficacy of the TVA’s punishment when she gives him a brutal knee to the crotch and then punches him before storming off. Ouch. No problem, says Loki; when this happened in real life, he picked himself up, took a nice hot bath, had a glass of wine, and never thought about any of it again. He’s quickly disabused of that option, as every 20 seconds or so after one encounter ends, another angry Sif appears, saying the same words and going through the same actions. Again…ouch.
Meanwhile, back in what passes for reality at the TVA, Mobius pays a visit to Ravonna’s office, requesting to interview Sylvie while Loki ‘marinates’ in the Time Cell. Ravonna tells him to just stick with his Loki and figure out what caused the Nexus spike. Nobody gets to speak with Sylvie; she’s just too dangerous.
Mobius runs across Hunter B-15 in the halls outside Ravonna’s office. She asks if Loki said anything to Mobius, and Mobius tells her that Loki said the TVA was lying to him. Something in that answer seems to click with B-15, who’s even more tightly wound than usual, but she doesn’t share her concerns with Mobius.
In the Time Cell, Loki admits to yet another angry version of Sif that he knows he’s a horrible person. He’s a narcissist who craves attention and is scared of being alone. Sif foregoes the knee to the nuts and the punch in the face this time around, but delivers the more devastating blow: “You are alone and you always will be.” It’s like a curse.
Mobius retrieves Loki from the Time Cell, and begins asking him about Sylvie. A curious feature about Loki: so far, the heart of every episode has been a two-party conversation. It was Mobius’ interrogation of Loki in the first episode, their conversation in the cafeteria in the second episode, Loki and Sylvie on the train in the third episode, and now this scene.
“So you’re, what? Partners?” asks Mobius.
“Absolutely not,” says Loki. “She’s difficult and irritating, and she tries to hit me all the time. No. Not partners, no.”
“Yeah, I guess you don’t do partners…unless, of course, it benefits you and you intend to betray them at some point.”
“It was a means to an end, Mobius. Welcome to the real world. Down there, we’re awful to one another to get what we want.”
“Now I gotta have a prince tell me how the real world works? Why don’t you just tell me what caused the Nexus Event on Lamentis?”
Loki has neither the desire nor much incentive to tell Mobius anything of the sort…until Mobius plays the Sif / Time Cell card. Loki gives Mobius a transparent tale of purest bullshit, about how he and Sylvie have been partners from the start. The plan is proceeding nicely, and that when Sylvie has played her part, Loki will dispose of her.
“Well, we saved you the trouble there,” says Mobius. “She’s already been pruned.” Mobius tells Loki his own tall tale of B-15 eliminating Sylvie.
“Good riddance,” says Loki, struggling to maintain a poker face.
Mobius laughs. “Look at your eyes. You like her. Does she like you?”
“Was she pruned?”
“I mean, no wonder you have no clue what caused the Nexus Event on Lamentis. Both of you are just swooning over each other…”
“Mobius, tell me the truth…”
“It’s the apocalypse. Two variants of the same being, especially you, forming this kind of sick, twisted romantic relationship. That’s pure chaos. That could break reality. It’s breaking my reality right now. What a [sic] incredible seismic narcissist. You fell for yourself.”
“Her name was Sylvie.”
“Ah. Sylvie. Lovely. How do you spell that? Is that with an I-E or just an I?”
“Is she alive?” Loki shouts.
“For now,” says Mobius.
Loki sighs with relief. “Mobius, listen, if what Sylvie told me about this place is true, it affects all of us. You’re all variants. Everyone who works at the TVA. The Time Keepers didn’t create you. They kidnapped you from the timeline and erased your memories. Memories she can access through enchantment. So before this, you had a past. Maybe you had a family, a life.”
There’s a long silence. “Nice try,” says Mobius, but you can see the words have hit home. “That was good. You two…what a pair! Gosh! Unbelievable. Wherever you go, it’s just death, destruction, the literal ends of worlds! Well, I’m gonna have to close this case now, ’cause I don’t need you anymore. Yeah, or as you might say, our interests are no longer aligned.”
Two guards enter to push Loki into the Time Cell again. “You know,” says Loki, “of all the liars in this place — and there are a great many — you’re the biggest.”
“Why? ‘Cause I lied about your girlfriend?”
“Oh, no. That I can respect. I mean the lies you tell yourself.”
It’s a well-written scene, so far as it goes — all these ‘heart of the episode’ scenes have been good, at least on the surface. My problem here is that we’ve got a trickster god who only ever seems to be the victim of tricks, who can’t seem to tell a decent lie to save his life (literally, in this case). Virtually every single time we’ve ever seen Loki in the MCU, someone’s gotten over on him. The Black Widow, Tony Stark, the Hulk, dark elves, Sylvie, and now Mobius. In every case, Loki’s been revealed as a chump; a stumbling, gullible mark who’s too busy sneering about his own superiority to even notice that he’s getting fleeced. Mobius is able to both lie at will and see right through any lie told to him by the God of Lies. Loki should be the best liar, bar none, mortal or immortal, to ever draw breath. It should be all but impossible to detect his lies, or to put a lie past him. And Loki, of all people, getting indignant over the sanctity of the truth at the end of this scene? Again: what are we doing here?
Following her enchantment at the hands of Sylvie back in episode 2, we find Hunter B-15 is increasingly shaken over what I presume are the resurgent memories of her old, pre-TVA life. She grants herself an audience with the captive Sylvie. “Come with me,” B-15 tells her, opening a dimension door and disappearing through it. An intrigued Sylvie follows her through.
Meanwhile, in Ravonna’s office, she and Mobius are having a quiet drink, celebrating what looks like the end of the Variant Loki case.
“If you could go anywhere, anytime, where would it be?” asks Ravonna.
“I can go anywhere, anytime.”
“You know what I mean.”
A long pause, then Mobius says, “Why wouldn’t you let me interrogate Sylvie?”
Ravonna says she couldn’t take the chance on Sylvie escaping. Mobius tells her Sylvie wouldn’t have escaped. Ravonna points out that Loki escaped during Mobius’s first interview, and presses again for where Mobius would go given all of time and space from which to choose.
“I like being here now, with you, doing the work,” says Mobius. Maybe Mobius is a Loki variant. He’s certainly better at being Loki-like than Loki is.
“Fine,” says Ravonna. “I received word from the Time Keepers. They want to personally oversee the variants’ pruning, and they want you there too.” Certainly nothing ominous about that.
“It’s about time,” says Mobius. “Great.” Another pause. “When did you first notice what was going on with C-20?”
Ravonna does a whole lot of deflecting. C-20 was fine, and then she wasn’t. That’s the story. “C-20, the Variant…all these questions. What are you getting at?”
Mobius says he doesn’t know, just that something seems a little off. Let’s recognize again that Owen Wilson has an inordinate gift for sounding like he means something other than what he’s precisely saying. He brings a deep ambivalence to every role I’ve ever seen him play, like all his characters suffer unresolvable internal conflicts about every situation they find themselves in.
Ravonna switches gears, tells Mobius the truth is that the Sylvie scares her, and she didn’t want to see anything happen to Mobius. C-20 had lost her mind, wasn’t even able to form words at the end. She just didn’t want to see that happen to Mobius. She adds some more about friendship and the fight for the Sacred Timeline. It’s a good speech, says Mobius. He makes some noise of his own about being her favorite analyst, and when he asks where she’s going to put her latest trophy — Sylvie’s sword — he takes advantage of Ravonna’s distraction to pocket her TVA terminal, exchanging it for his own.
The dimension door Hunter B-15 and Sylvie step through leads back to the Roxxcart in Haven Hills. B-15 asks Sylvie what she did to her. Sylvie tells her that she showed B-15 her life before the TVA. B-15 wants to believe it’s a trick, a deception, but no; Sylvie tells her she can’t create memories (though if she could, how would you ever know, and why would you have any reason to believe her one way or the other?). B-15 asks Sylvie to show her. Sylvie does. “I looked happy,” says B-15, weeping. I wish we could’ve seen some of these memories — I think it would’ve been more effective — but I guess we’ll have to take B-15’s word for it.
“What now?” asks B-15. What now, gentle reader, is maybe we ask why Sylvie has killed upwards of two or three dozen TVA agents instead of un-enchanting them. Even discounting the multiple murders, this memory restoration thing seems pretty effective, and had she played her cards right, Sylvie could’ve placed several of her own sleeper agents inside the TVA to devastating effect, or just had them accompany her on her Time Keeper assault. All kinds of ways a proper Goddess of Mischief could’ve gotten her thing on.
Mobius has made his way to the TVA’s file section to take a surreptitious look at Ravonna’s terminal. He finds a video file with a lucid and very much alive C-20 talking about her memories from before her time with the TVA — that’s what was real — and realizing that she, along with everyone else at the TVA, is a variant. “I’m ending this,” says a woman’s voice. The voice is revealed to belong to Ravonna, her face appearing in the video before it ends.
Realizing that everything he thought was true is a lie, Mobius’s next stop is the Time Cell to retrieve Loki. He tells Loki that he thinks the Nexus Event that he and Sylvie caused could bring the whole TVA down. Mobius asks Loki if he swears that Sylvie didn’t implant the memories in C-20. Not that Loki would know any better than Mobius, but Loki says he believes Sylvie. Mobius is rightly less than totally re-assured. “So I just have to trust the word of two Lokis?”
“How about the word of a friend?” says Loki. Good God.
“You were right about the TVA,” says Mobius. “You were right from the beginning. And if you want to save her, you need to trust me. Can we do that?”
Mobius tells Loki he can be whoever and whatever he wants to be, even someone good. I’m not sure that’s true — the very idea that gods and goddesses of mischief exist at all would strongly suggest otherwise — but it’s kind of Mobius to say so.
Ravonna and a squad of TVA thugs are waiting for Mobius and Loki when they emerge from the Time Cell. “I think you have something of mine,” says Ravonna.
“You know where I’d go, if I could go anywhere?” Mobius says after handing the terminal back. “Wherever it is I’m really from. Yeah, wherever I had a life before the TVA came along. Maybe I had a jet ski. That’s what I’d like to do. Just riding around on my jet ski.”
“Prune him,” says Ravonna, and her chief thug dials up his nightlight glowstick and does exactly that. Mobius disintegrates in a nimbus of sparks and light. The thugs march Loki off to the chamber of the Time Keepers.
Ravonna goes to retrieve Sylvie, who’s waiting patiently, her hair still wet from the rain at Haven Hills in 2050. B-15 is nowhere in evidence.
“Who was in here with her?” asks Ravonna. Told it was B-15, she orders an alert put out; B-15 too has been compromised by the Variant.
Sylvie’s marched out of her chamber, and joined with Loki outside the corridor to the elevator leading to the Time Keepers’ sanctum. Riding in the elevator, Sylvie asks Ravonna, the former A-23, if she remembers her.
“I do,” says Ravonna. “What do you want to say to me, Variant?”
“What was my Nexus Event? Why did you bring me in?”
“What does it matter?”
“It was enough to take my life from me, lead to all of this. It must’ve been important. So what was it?”
“I don’t remember,” says Ravonna. It’s as good a time as any to begin asking why Ravonna, who at the very least knows the full truth about the origin of the TVA’s agents, is so committed to the Time Keepers’ cause.
The elevator doors open, and Ravonna ushers Loki and Sylvie into the throne room of the Time Keepers…and sure enough, Loki wasn’t wrong; the Time Keepers do have a kind of funktastic space lizard thing going. “Gracious Time Keepers,” announces Ravonna, “as promised: the Variants.”
“After all your struggle,” says Space Lizard #1, “at last you’ve arrived before us.”
“What do you have to say for yourselves before you meet your end, Variants?” says Space Lizard #2.
“Is that the only reason you brought us here?” says Loki. “To kill us? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been killed, so go ahead. Do your worst.”
“You and your bravado are no threat to us, Variant,” says Space Lizard #3.
Sylvie tells them she doesn’t think they believe that. “I think you’re scared.” She tries walking toward the Time Keepers, but Ravonna has her on the time loop leash.
Space Lizard #1 tells Sylvie she’s wrong, and nothing but a cosmic disappointment. “Delete them,” he tells Ravonna.
Nothing left to say and nothing left to lose, Sylvie again starts making her way to the Time Keepers, only to be kept at bay by Ravonna and her time leash…at first. Enter Hunter B-15 through the elevator behind Ravonna with her own time leash remote control, which she uses to dismantle Loki and Sylvie’s collars altogether. “For all time,” says B-15. “Always.” She tosses Sylvie her sword, swiped from Ravonna’s office, and it’s on. B-15 goes down early, so it’s Sylvie and Loki vs. four TVA space lizard bodyguards. Sylvie, the better fighter, dispatches her two opponents early, and begins fighting with Ravonna. She knocks out Ravonna with a punch to the face as Loki finally dispatches his opponents.
With no one still standing between them and Sylvie and Loki, the Time Keepers try stalling. “You’re a child of the Time Keepers too, Sylvie,” says Space Lizard #1. “We can talk.”
Sylvie thinks otherwise, and throws the sword Loki’s given back to her through the throat of Space Lizard #1, decapitating him. The Time Keepers just laugh, and then shut down. The head that rolls down the stairs to land at Loki’s feet is the head of a robot, still sparking where the sword went through the neck.
“Fake,” says Sylvie in wonder, picking the head up and examining it. “Mindless androids.”
“It never stops,” says a tired, frustrated Loki. “Then who created the TVA?”
“I thought this was it,” says Sylvie, throwing the robot head aside.
Given a moment to spare, when they’re not in mortal danger from time-traveling thugs or the end of the world, Loki tries to put words to his feelings. “Sylvie, I have to tell you something. We will figure this out.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because…back on Lamentis…this is new for me. Um…”
“What? What is it?” she says. Loki touches her shoulders, drawing closer to her…but before he can say or do any more, he’s disintegrated, pruned from behind by a revived Ravonna. Sylvie quickly disarms her and threatens her with the business end of the glowstick.
“You’re going to tell me,” says Sylvie. “Everything,”
Cue credits to Brenda Lee’s ‘If You Love Me (Really Love Me).’ We need to give it up for whoever picked the music for these ending credits scenes, because they fucking nailed it. I’m guessing Music Supervisor Dave Jordan…? He has a long resume that includes most Marvel-related projects — including the Netflix projects — and about a hundred others besides.
But wait…! There’s a post (mid?) credits scene! An apparently not-dead or reduced to atoms Loki awakens to some ruined urban landscape. “Am I dead?” he wonders aloud.
“Not yet,” says a voice, “but you will be if you don’t come with us.”
Loki sits up to see a quartet of figures studying him. At least two of them are variant Lokis. One — played by Richard Grant! — is a classic-looking Jack Kirby Loki. Another looks to me like a version of Kid Loki. The kid is holding a caiman — sort of a little alligator — sporting a little Loki helmet. Not sure what’s up with that. And there’s one more fellow wielding a hammer built out of what looks like a large wrench. The hammer would argue for a Thor variant, but the look of him, what he’s wearing and holding, might argue for Phastos, an Eternal. If so, that’d be another extremely deep cut for this show; Phastos is legit obscure.
I’ll admit, I’m intrigued. Kid Loki and Richard Grant. Who wouldn’t find that interesting?
But for the very end, not a lot of comic-related errata this go-round.
- Kid Loki, a younger and somewhat better-intentioned incarnation of the trickster god, made his first appearance in Thor #617 (Jan 2011), courtesy of Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry. Much of Loki’s character development since this point has involved Loki trying to find a way to gain a greater level of control over his own destiny. If you’re the God of Mischief, Lies, and Tricks, is that all you’re allowed to be? Or is it possible to be something more, to call your own shots and decide your own course? The jury’s still out.
- Phastos the Eternal is an inventor and weapons-maker. He’s sort of the Tony Stark of the gods, if you will, minus the armor. The Eternals are a race of god-like immortals, created by the enigmatic space-spanning Celestials. Strange side-note: in the comics, Thanos is an Eternal. He’s from a different offshoot of Eternals than Phastos — a different branch of the family, if you will — but an Eternal all the same. Phastos made his first appearance in Eternals #1 (Oct 1985) by Peter Gillis, Sal Buscema, and Al Gordon.
- Nothing to do with comic books, but I couldn’t help noting the similarities between Loki and Sylvie’s fight in the Time Keepers’ throne room and Rey and Kylo Ren’s fight in another throne room from The Last Jedi (2017).
And there it is. Fire away with any comments, questions, or corrections. We’ll see you next episode!
|↑1||In the Norse myths, Loki does a great deal of shape-shifting, changing into birds and fish and the like. There’s a lot of shape-shifting in general among the figures of Norse mythology. For our purposes, I’m largely restricting my explanations to the Marvel Comics character.|
|↑2||Technically, the Asgardians aren’t immortal, they’re just extremely long-lived; they eat golden apples to extend their life-span. Seriously! See Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Apples of Immortality,’ Norse Mythology, p. 179.|
|↑3||Specifically, The Five Books of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.|
|↑4||Hopkins: “I just play Odin like a human being, with maybe a little more dimension. I grow a beard, look hopefully impressive, and keep it as real as possible.” From the production notes of Thor: The Dark World.|
|↑5||As with all things Stan Lee, I suspect he employed this device with one foot in sincerity and the other in parody.|
|↑6||You can read the mythic version of how Loki cut off Sif’s hair in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, ‘The Treasures of the Gods.’|