After a rather boring and exposition heavy first episode, Loki joins the Time Variance Authority in Episode 2 “The Variant.”
The second episode really emphasizes just how bloated the first episode was as they provide a short recap that covers all your bases. In fact, if you didn’t watch Episode 1 there is no need to since Episode 2 summarizes what actually happened in less than 90 seconds.
“The Variant” begins in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at a Renaissance Fair in 1985 as the Time Variance Authority (TVA) has tracked down the Loki variant. However, it’s another trap and the Loki variant easily takes care of the TVA minutemen.
In concept this set piece might have been entertaining, but the hand-to-hand fighting wasn’t impressive. It was worse than Season 1 of Iron Fist.
The set piece also relies on a cheap possession trick that allows the Loki variant to take over one of the officers. It keeps the variant hidden and uses one of the TVA’s own minutemen to take the rest of the squad out.
With most of the TVA disposed by their own officer, the Loki variant finishes off the last remaining officer with a sword to the gut. It was a little anti climactic and we didn’t really get to see the variant in action.
Oddly enough, the set piece features Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero, which is now completely overplayed being in the Masters of the Universe and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. It also didn’t really jive well in this scene and was a much better fit in the Masters of the Universe trailer.
From there, we get some brief exposition about what happens when a timeline red lines. To be clear “it’s when the TVA can no longer reset a nexus event.” It also leads “to the destruction of the timeline and the collapse of reality as we know it.”
However, this seems to contradict previous information that a red line would instead create a branching timeline from the sacred timeline. So, who really knows how all of this works. I doubt the people writing the show do.
Loki then attends a briefing as he and Mobius are about to deploy to 1985 Wisconsin to investigate the disappearance of the TVA squad. During this briefing Hunter B-15 mocks and emasculates Loki and also refers to him as a “cosmic mistake.”
However, the reference doesn’t make sense given the TVA believes everything is done according to the will of the Time Keepers.
Despite Loki being mocked and emasculated he throws it back and deftly corrects them about his illusion abilities, which he describes as “duplication-casting.”
From there, there is some interesting bit of writing where Mobius bribes Loki with a meeting with the Time Keepers to keep him under heel as they are about to deploy into the field and his magical abilities will once again be active.
When they actually get to the field, we get more exposition on nexus events and why you can’t show up before the attack happened. Apparently it has something to do with the timeline still changing and growing and nexus events destabilizing the time flow.
After this exposition we get some more fun dialogue with Loki weaving an interesting tale telling the TVA that they will die if they leave the tent. While the beginning of this was quite fun and classic Loki, about halfway through it begins to ramble on, and there seems no real point to it other than for Loki to get a meeting with the Time Keepers.
After the timeline is reset, the show cuts to a meeting between Mobius and Renslayer. It’s a pretty pointless scene with most of it already showcased in a featurette. If there is anything in this scene is that Renslayer gets to keep the trophies her detectives actually earned. And that she oversees at least one other detective aside from Mobius. A detective that Mobius doesn’t know.
After that Loki is made of fun of again, this time by Mobius. Apparently that’s a theme of the show so far, beat down the titular character. In fact Mobius makes a point that the variant Loki is better than Loki and is the superior Loki.
They try to soften this with Loki throwing his own insults back describing the TVA as “idiots,” but the delivery makes the insults feel flat and it’s clear Loki doesn’t even believe what he’s saying.
The show groans on with Loki searching through TVA records before they try to interject some humor with Loki stealing a juice box and ruining Mobius’ salad in order to reveal his discovery that the variant Loki is hiding in apocalypse.
Owen Wilson’s reaction in this scene was exactly how I felt, bored and even a little irritated because Loki’s explanation takes so long.
One of the few highlights of the episodes is when they do go and test Loki’s theory in Pompeii. Loki decides to try and wreak some havoc unleashing goats throughout the town to test whether variant energy would be detected. The humor comes from Hiddleston’s delivery. Although, at the same time the actual dialogue again appears to mock Loki’s previous real desire for power.
While this scene does provide some levity and humor, the green screen used to produce it is terrible. It really drops the illusion of the show.
Next, we get more library work as Loki and Mobius attempt to discover which apocalyptic event in time the variant Loki is hiding in. It’s boring.
They eventually figure out which one, get approval, and head to Roxxon’s version of Walmart, Roxxcart, in Alabama in 2050.
At Roxxcart, Loki eventually encounters the variant Loki. Again there is a bunch of possessions with Loki getting smacked around by the various people the Loki variant possesses. It’s quite unbelievable and Loki doesn’t really put up a fight despite having his own magic available to him.
Eventually, the superior Loki variant is revealed to be a female Loki played by Sophia Di Martino. She sets off a bunch of time charges and detonates a bomb on the Sacred Timeline creating a bunch of different timelines.
As the bomb goes off, we do cut to one of the other interesting scenes in the episode as a man with a large mustache looks at his monitor in bewilderment as apparent chaos takes over the Sacred Timeline.
The episode ends back at Roxxcart with Loki following the variant Loki into a time portal.
The second episode of Loki is even more boring than the first episode. There are only a few stand out spots and they aren’t very bright. Much of the episode is spent belittling or mocking Loki for no apparent reason. On top of that what we did know about the Sacred Timeline is contradicted in this episode.
- Hiddleston's acting
- Some of the dialogue
- Belittling of Loki
- Timeline contradictions