Loki: Glorious Purpose
June 9, 2021 7:12 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Endgame time travel shenanigans left a dangling thread in the form of a spare Loki. The Time Variance Authority finds that trimming that thread is more complicated than expected, and the spare Loki finds out there's such a thing as the Time Variance Authority.

An alternative version of Loki is captured by the Time Variance Authority after escaping 2012 New York to the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Being brought to the TVA headquarters, he is judged by Ravonna Renslayer who labels him a rogue variant that must return to his original place in The Sacred Timeline. TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius intervenes before sentencing is carried out, taking Loki to a Time Theatre where he reviews Loki's past misdeeds and questions Loki's love of killing and hurting people. Loki claims that his actions serve to "free" his would-be subjects from their own aimless freedom, which Mobius doubts. Loki surreptitiously steals TVA tech, hoping to use it to escape, but soon gives up when he realizes that the TVA's power greatly exceeds his own. Loki returns to the Time Theatre, and views a future recording of his life in the sacred timeline, in which he sees his adoptive parents, Frigga and Odin, die,[a], his newfound bond with his brother, Thor, and his ultimate death at the hand of Mad Titan Thanos.[b] He realizes that his cruelty and mischief will ultimately not lead to his own ascendence, and agrees to work with Mobius to protect the Sacred Timeline from a rogue variant of himself.
posted by Karmakaze (89 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was so much fun. I love how it makes literal the horror of the cross-media adaptation process, and the straightjacket of fandom expectations. If we get to meet the Timekeepers, I hope one of them is just Kevin Feige.
posted by EatTheWeek at 7:22 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


This was fun all the way through and really plays to Wilson and Hiddleston's strengths. The sarcastic dialogue delivered with Wilson's trademark "aw, shucks" style delivers layers that play off well with Loki always looking for an angle. I could (and will) watch hours of Mobius being slightly patronizing to Loki's over the top delivery.

In spite of what the episode summary says, I don't believe for an instant that Loki has had a true change of heart. Loki has found power beyond what he thought existed. He's going to look for a way to capitalize on that. In fact, I fully expect Loki working an angle and Mobius bringing him in to be part of why there's a rogue Loki floating around. I suspect the evil variant is spawned from the variant starring in this show. The initial comments about burning down the TVA and the end scene literally involving that were a bit on the nose.
posted by bfranklin at 7:31 AM on June 9 [18 favorites]


I liked everything about this except Hiddleston's performance. To me he gave the impression of being bored with the character--and after all this time who could blame him? But it's only the first episode, maybe he just needs time to settle in.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:32 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Some pause button notes: Loki's gender is noted on their paperwork as "fluid" and eye color as "blue". The blue is notable because, in the comics, Loki has green eyes and there is a popular fan theory that his blue eyes in Avengers was a hint that he was at least partially under the influence of the mind stone, as a blue overlay was the sfx used to show mind control in that film. Nope, they're just not making Hiddleston wear contacts. I doubt we'll see Lady!Loki in this miniseries, but it is notable that they are carrying over that Loki is cannon genderfluid in the comics (and, arguably, the original myths).
posted by Karmakaze at 7:45 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


well, at least as of this episode the Endgame writers' argument (that they wrote it as a closed time loop) is the canon winner after all, over the directors' (that they're creating time branches/pockets/forks/whathaveyou).

and at the same time, extremely noting the very very obvious reference to the Dr Strange upcoming sequel (Multiverse of Madness) as well.

i'm enjoying the aesthetics to be sure. Very Kirby-esque space Marvel. Loki himself, I'm not particularly here for, but I can appreciate the performance.
posted by cendawanita at 8:26 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I am once again floored at the staggering production values and amount of background prop jokes.

I want an art book of pretty much everything because I am digging the 50's / 60's asthetic
posted by Faintdreams at 8:51 AM on June 9 [19 favorites]


I'm not seeing nearly enough appreciation for the kitten. There's a TVA kitten! I'm sure it is a Very Good Kitten, and not at all complicit in (what I assume are) the TVA's atrocities.

Also: I really like how the pilot depicts the TVA as a *horrifying* totalitarian theocracy that works hard to cloak itself in the trappings of democratic/liberal state bureaucracies. There's paperwork, and a judiciary, and police! Even a cute mascot! It's just that all of it is in the service of something utterly appalling.

My favorite bit of "show, don't tell" is the dude who got vaporized for not showing his ticket. Why did the guard feel he could do that? Probably because he knew he wouldn't get punished. And the *reason* he knew he wouldn't get punished is probably that accused Variants are nearly always executed ("reset") anyway, so it just doesn't matter.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 9:07 AM on June 9 [18 favorites]


I'm sure it is a Very Good Kitten

Or flerken. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:22 AM on June 9 [22 favorites]


Pillboi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by pjsky at 11:31 AM on June 9 [65 favorites]


Loki is canon genderfluid in the comics (and, arguably, the original myths).

Well, in the original myths he turned himself into a mare to seduce the stallion Svaðilfari and become the mother of Sleipnir, Odin's 8-legged steed. Sure, we can't interrogate Snorri Sturluson about his understanding of gender in 13th century Iceland, but I think it's safe to say that whatever mythological Loki is it's not cisgender.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:39 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


There's an interesting article about how Hiddleston had to channel various aspects of his role to produce the Avengers-era Loki as opposed to the Thor: Ragnarok-era Loki.

I also need an art book of all the set design and costuming. RIP, that fine Asgardian leather!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:15 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Welp, this is fun and awesome so far. This buddy cop(?) pairing is gonna be fun.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:42 PM on June 9


Interesting how Agents of Shield and a living Phil Coulson isn’t mentioned.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:44 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I'm really enjoying this so far.

The production values here are amazing. Did they hire some of the same sets and props designers from FX's Legion?
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 1:47 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Glorious retro-futurism, the one I grew up devouring.
posted by porpoise at 2:02 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Interesting how Agents of Shield and a living Phil Coulson isn’t mentioned.

But that was clearly an anti-Chronicom gate they made Loki walk through in the TVA, so I'm still getting my hopes up for a return of Enoch.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:31 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Let me be the Nth to love the production design - so many posters and so much paperwork.

Are the interiors The Barbican, The Royal Festival Hall or both at the same time mixed with a dash of Gilliam's Brazil?

Tonally all over the place but they had to catch this Loki up with what the viewer knows about Loki and his journey to being less-of-a-villain.

If you rewind you can watch the pickpocketing of the collar controller take place, very deft.

I enjoyed Wandavision and TFaTWS more in the earlier episodes before The Franchise needed it's setups, but even if this tapers off as well, it was a glorious begining.
posted by farlo at 2:49 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Agreed with everyone above on the production design and art direction - and the extraordinary power wielded in an "aw shucks" kind of way fits right in with mid-century America. A polite, but deadly insistence on a Right Way Things Should Go, and the certitude that it's done with humility, even when it isn't, actually. It's the story we like to tell ourselves of the beat cops in the FBI who uncover the worldly, sophisticated, English-accented double agents like Kim Philby.

I also was wondering if the idea was that this Loki ends up being the killer, but that seems almost too pat, and maybe even a bit cruel to an audience that has enjoyed seeing a Loki move in fits and starts towards redemption.
posted by pykrete jungle at 4:24 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Also, the idea that multiple timelines inevitably leads to time wars and thus must be "pruned" has to be peak deterministic bad-guy, right? We never get to see the results of a "reset charge" in this episode, but "charge" seems to suggest that "pruning" is like demolition. If that's so, each TVA pruning kills twice as many people as Thanos.
posted by pykrete jungle at 4:31 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Tonally all over the place but they had to catch this Loki up with what the viewer knows about Loki and his journey to being less-of-a-villain.

Or, maybe catch up viewers who haven’t watched every MCU movie?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I am so down for this show, even if time-travel hypotheses and the arguing they generate make me kinda tired.

Pillboi!
posted by PussKillian at 5:19 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


So I'm gonna guess all the TVA employees are variants, albeit not dangerous ones?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:22 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


"Big metaphor guy, love it! Makes you sound super smart." was just an all time burn with perfect delivery
posted by jason_steakums at 6:03 PM on June 9 [28 favorites]


Huh. And here I thought the worst things the TVA did were burn coal and promulgate exclusive supply agreements that prohibit net metering.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:29 PM on June 9 [17 favorites]


I liked how much this referenced British sci-fi TV series (and yes, Gilliam and maybe Hitchhiker's and also some British comic books, but the TVA designs seem to pull from the original comics which were clearly Judge Dredd inspired) without trying to push any of that too hard. It was just there and it worked.

I was 100% ready to be mad the score was evoking all this BBC Radiophonic Workshop stuff and it not be by a woman but it's Natalie Holt so that's pretty cool. They know what they're doing.

I'm not a huge fan of villain redemption but Hiddleston's Loki is fun and I haven't hated how he basically became the Wile E. Coyote of the MCU. I hope he continues to be his chaotic and kind of inept self because that's fun. I didn't think I'd like this as much as I did but I'm 100% sold.
posted by edencosmic at 6:29 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Possibly the biggest gut puncher here wasn't just that the Tesseract and Infinity Stones are useless there, but having it pointed out to Loki that all his life purpose was to be an evil jerk and leading the Avengers to improve themselves.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:53 PM on June 9 [19 favorites]






The thing about Variant Loki is that he doesn't have a destiny. So whatever SacredTimeline Loki was "for" doesn't apply to him.
posted by emjaybee at 7:15 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


For future reference, which one of those space lizards is Time Baby?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:28 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


At 34:10, there’s a variant that looks very much like Peggy Carter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I don't know when Owen Wilson turned into Vintage Dabney Coleman but I'm loving it.
posted by range at 7:34 PM on June 9 [22 favorites]


That DB Cooper bit was brilliant, you know it's just the tip of the iceberg of Loki and Thor pranking humans for thousands of years and leaving mysterious stories in their wake as a minor side effect of their petty rivalries.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:45 PM on June 9 [32 favorites]


We loved it here - it seemed to nicely set up the miniseries. Have been avoiding any and all materials about the show, so seeing Wunmi Mosaku was a terrific surprise. Also loving all of the retro-future visuals. We're leaving off nth-degree dissection of everything, though - most of our pet Wandavision theories came to naught. Quite a few thumbs up here at Casa Quinby.
posted by jquinby at 8:04 PM on June 9


My assumption is that it’s something like the Agent of Asgard comics plot line, where one version of Loki decides he prefers mischief to actual evil, and an older version of him chose evil, and they engage in a kind of strategic, distanced tug of war over his own future.
posted by tautological at 8:32 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


(Also DB Cooper was a delightful bit, kudos, writers.)
posted by tautological at 8:33 PM on June 9


Crazy good. It draws on its influences so hard yet nothing seemed derivative. The dialogue between Loki and Moebius was some really excellent writing, and the juxtaposition of a good ‘ol boy just doing his job and asking questions vs “IM A GOD!”

Having to sign an extra page for every statement he made questioning how they had a transcript of everything he’d ever said, out-Gilliamed Gilliam.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:44 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


There's so much metatext here WRT the MCU's relationship to the comics that it's making this aging fanboy giddy. See, the "sacred timeline" is something that comics have been toying with on the DC side for a while, and somewhat with Marvel with the latest version of Secret Wars. The general feeling seems to be that having a multiverse with different versions of the characters is just too complicated and there should be only one Superman or whatever. This usually ends up making things more complicated than they were before, though, and I suspect that this series will end up doing something similar; for beings of such an insane degree of power (Infinity Stones as paperweights?), they sure do have a big problem with a guy that doesn't even have his magic powers to fall back on. If the ultimate rationale for having a trickster god or spirit is to turn their foes' intentions back on them, then it would be great if the TVA ultimately became the cause of the multiverse.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:57 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


The upcoming Dr Strange is based on the existence of a multiverse. The only that can happen is of the this TVA fails/changes dramatically to allow for more choice. So, yes the two Loki's will end up working together to reform TVA.
posted by asra at 9:22 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


> We never get to see the results of a "reset charge" in this episode, but "charge" seems to suggest that "pruning" is like demolition.

I'd agree, based on the infodump cartoon. It looked like the forked timeline was burned.


I'm not sure if the TVA has a staggering amount of power or if things like magic and the Infinity Stones have lost all theirs. (Or both?)

Considering that there will be a What If series, and the Multiverse of Madness and the different Spider-Man actors appearing in the next movie, there's a chance the TVA is negated by the end of the series. (On preview: or, asra might be right too.)
posted by Pronoiac at 9:39 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


This was fun. Loved the retro future aesthetic -- amber CRT are a weakness of mine. It's like the fashion sense of Mad Men without the problematic racism and sexism of the era.

Loki's trans/fluid gender was explored a little more in Ragnarok season 2. The actor playing Loki looks exactly like a young Hiddleston and (spoiler for a thousand year old mythology) gives birth to the Midgard serpent in the show. Maybe season 3 will include the eight legged steed and other legends.
posted by autopilot at 3:55 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


My feelings on the inclusion of Josta Soda are strong and diverse.

On one hand, it's great that it's getting any love and attention at all, seeing as it's the only discontinued soft drink beverage with a cult following that's apparently doomed to never get its own comeback like Pepsi Clear, Mefi's Own Pepsi Blue, or Surge did. (I mean for crying out loud, they even brought Vault back... but I'mabouttostartrantingsoI'llstopnow)

On the other hand, if there was ever going to be a MCU/Josta connection, by all rights they should have brought it back to market as an advertising tie-in with the release of Black Panther. There's a panther RIGHT IN THE LOGO! The whole schtick of the soda is energy from an exotic plant based source! The branding synergy would have been exquisite! But as their original tagline said, "Coulda, woulda, shoulda."

Though that tagline does make it an appropo drink of choice for Agent Mobius.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:11 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Oh, yeah, Josta. Hoping very much that it's brought back as a promo tie-in, in which case I will hoard as much as I possibly can.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:45 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, if there was ever going to be a MCU/Josta connection, by all rights they should have brought it back to market as an advertising tie-in with the release of Black Panther.

Considering the importance of BP to at least the USA black community, it was extremely wise that a discontinued soda was not used as an advertising tie-in. It had absolutely no place there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


as everyone knows guarana comes from South America while Black Panther is from Africa so unless the film is set in Gondwanaland it wouldn't make sense

Knoxville looks great in this show, BTW.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:45 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge fan of villain redemption but Hiddleston's Loki is fun and I haven't hated how he basically became the Wile E. Coyote of the MCU. I hope he continues to be his chaotic and kind of inept self because that's fun. I didn't think I'd like this as much as I did but I'm 100% sold.

There is still evidence that Loki was acting under some duress in Avengers, if not the actual sort of mind control Hawkeye experienced. And by Asgardian standards, he didn't actually do much worse than what Thor did in his first movie (there was a significant frost giant body count thanks to his little stunt, and at that point in his character development he also seemed to think of humans as not much more than playthings.) You can easily read that he sabotaged the invasion (not out of morality, mind, just to get TF away from Thanos.)

My soft spot for Loki has a bit more to do with my general annoyance with moderns fiction's need to shoehorn pantheons into good and evil factions in a really atextual way. Loki in the Eddas isn't really any worse than the other gods until just before Ragnarok, at which point the other gods were going around murdering his children.
The famous "gave birth to a horse" thing came because Odin ordered him to interfere in a bet to keep from having to pay his bills. Odin then yoinks the baby to be his steed. Hela was not evil, just depressed and the ultimate protogoth. (Hades, if you move over to Greek myth, was borderline nice and not remotely a Satan analog.) So I'm pretty much open to any recontextualization that brings us into something more complex than "all gods must be shoehorned into a Heaven vs. Hell paradigm."
posted by Karmakaze at 6:26 AM on June 10 [14 favorites]


the two Loki's will end up working together to reform TVA
My speculation: There's only one Variant Loki, when he discovers that the TVA is sinister he burns it down, just as he said he would. That's what leads to Multiverse of Madness and No Way Home.
posted by Horkus at 8:10 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


So basically a Loki variant (or several) wants the power of the TVA and is working on stealing the reset charges to.... erase parts of the Sacred Timeline to create branches aka Madness (waves at Doc Strange and Wanda), so in all the chaos he can come in and take power?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on June 10


I hope if there's a bar in the TVA, they carry Zima.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:09 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I like the portals that TVA uses. They're very specifically not holes or openings, they're solid-looking slabs. It's like they manifest a closed door and walk through it while still closed. Gratuitously weird in a good way.

I also like how part of the TVA aesthetic is slight haze in the air as if it was populated by casual smokers. It's a good finishing touch to the retro look.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:09 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I hope if there's a bar in the TVA, they carry Zima.

I'd heard all the cases had been sent to Year 2258.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:47 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I think it's a mild (but only mild!) shame that Plot Will Happen (to set up next movies etc), as opposed to Loki just spending a season in a kafka bureaucracy comedy.
posted by Drastic at 11:06 AM on June 10 [12 favorites]


aw dip! what's a fish?

i am loving the whole kafkaesque vibe same feeling I got when I first watched "Brazil".
posted by alchemist at 12:12 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I'm not a Marvel person at all*, and it was entirely the Loki character which brought me to this. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, largely thanks to the Hiddleston/Wilson dynamic and Loki's character shadings at the end of the episode. It felt like Hiddleston's stage acting chops really contributed to those meatier scenes. If the rest continues to be this character-driven I've got high hopes.

I don't want to spoil for anyone, but I read some casting details elsewhere, and I'll simply say that one upcoming casting decision is such absolute fucking *chef's kiss* perfection I was shocked into speechlessness over it. Can't wait to see this play out on screen.

More Very Good Kitten and Wunmi Mosaku, please.

*and don't get me started on their pronunciation of every. single. Icelandic word in these films (even the Asgardians! Their own fucking language! #*%!$@). It's like taking an icepick to the middle ear. I think I actually threw something when Thor said 'Niðavellir' in that one film. At least here the mangling of 'Laufeysson' had some narrative logic.
posted by myotahapea at 12:21 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Agent Mobius (who is looking a lot blonder than I expected--awk, never mind I didn't catch that there wasn't an R in his name so I was expecting somebody else) never confirmed that Coulson is dead. He only agreed with Loki and said something like "it looked that way" or "so it seemed" or something when Loki said he killed Phil.

The thing I didn't get from the Miss Minute cartoon was the explanation of what happens to deviants. After explaining how the deviant time branch needs to be reset/pruned back, she said something about (again I'm paraphrasing here) there is no place for the deviant on the sacred timeline. That doesn't make sense to me. If the timeline is sacred then the person who deviated must have a role in the future. And if that person is reset, then essentially that means the person is wiped and put back on the correct path. But that isn't what seems to happen. Instead the deviant is just pulled in for a hearing, found guilty and exploded (or killed for not having a ticket). By doing that, the TVA is corrupting the timeline. That's if take their words at face value. If instead somehow the deviant is a duplicate, that's a whole different ball game and it should have been explained in a different manner.

Oh well, time bureau bureaucrats and enforcers screwing up the timeline is nothing new in recent TV superhero adaptations. The Umbrella Academy has been beating this drum throughout its entire run, and the Legends of Tomorrow crew has proudly given up on trying to correct history and instead has embraced the philosophy of messing up history for the better. It's a shame Loki can't pop over to the House of Mystery. I suspect he and Constantine would have a lot to commiserate about together right now.
posted by sardonyx at 7:20 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I believe the deviant has split from the sacred original, making two people, one of whom continues on the sacred timeline. The deviant other, meanwhile, gets tidily asploded.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:15 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Wow. I think I'd enjoy this just for the space-age props, but Loki watching his future greatest-hits reel was very predictable, very necessary, and really very good. I have not been looking forward to seeing the characters who were reset in Endgame, but this episode did a great job of quick-marching Loki through his personal issues.

What sold it for me was how clearly Loki did not enjoy watching himself be awful. And the tension between his Avengers-era opinion that freedom is terrible, and what appears to be a deeply-felt loathing of predestination applied to him personally. And, the promise that he will get to choose again whether to be a villain or not, with stakes higher than infinity stones. (Which are clutter in a front-desk guy's drawer, hee!) The TVA feels like a dystopian bureaucracy, so if Loki decides to blow it up, that might be fine too.
posted by mersen at 8:24 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I enjoyed very much. Loki's despair was wonderful. The "timekeepers" in the cartoon looked a bit like celestials, but maybe not. I'm pretty well versed in the Marvel comics canon and can't recall anything like the TVA. Let the cat and mouse games begin.
posted by vrakatar at 9:56 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty well versed in the Marvel comics canon and can't recall anything like the TVA.

I'm not familiar with them but the Time Variance Authority and Timer-Keepers are from Thor comics originally. They appear in a handful of Fantastic Four and She-Hulk comics later on. Though from reading the entries it looks like the MCU is doing the right thing and borrowing the good ideas without feeling obligated to stick to the source material.
posted by Gary at 11:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty well versed in the Marvel comics canon and can't recall anything like the TVA.

It was created by Walt Simonson during his Thor run. The meta-joke was that all the TVA agents in the comics looked like Mark Gruenwald, who was the editor in charge of maintaining continuity between comics at Marvel.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:10 AM on June 11 [17 favorites]


They prune the timeline but I don't think they're perfect at it. I assumed there were a lot of timelines they missed that they just tried to not interact with. The charges only work for the first hour or something after a timeline is formed, and we don't know what happens further out than that.
posted by fomhar at 8:12 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I loved it. They had me at the midcentury-modern set designs but they absolutely nailed it with that cartoon--I collect a lot of mid-mod stuff and I adore the animation style back then, and I could pick out all these wonderful images they've lifted from existing sources. The windows in the hallway that Loki and Mobius were walking through that looked out over the "magic" reminded me a lot of the outer ring of the Buzludzha Monument. The production design team really did their homework.

Then they threw in Pillboi! And the queen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. With her and Wunmi Mosaku in it, I honestly don't know if I care all that much what else happens, I'll just bask in their presence. Normally, I'm not the biggest Owen Wilson fan, but I found him really engaging here--I don't know if it's playing opposite an actor like Hiddleston or what, but I really, really liked him here. Which feels weird, since I usually run from his projects. And the DB Cooper stuff was sublime.

Of course, I'm just shallow enough that one of the things that made me happiest here was just seeing my faves again in the clips taken from previous films. I miss you, Steve and Nat! Marvel never really gave us any true Avengers being a team, being friends (five minutes in that hot garbage fest Age of Ultron while you're enduring Tony's rape jokes doesn't count), and I resent the hell out of them for that, but at least we'll get a little more with Thor, even if a lot of the other characters I loved most are dead or "variants." ::sob! oh Heimdall:: Being an MCU fan really sucks, but at least here I get a few more glimpses of a few characters I loved.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:04 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


They prune the timeline but I don't think they're perfect at it. I assumed there were a lot of timelines they missed that they just tried to not interact with. The charges only work for the first hour or something after a timeline is formed, and we don't know what happens further out than that.

I heard there was one timeline they did such a poor job of pruning that a whole Edward Norton Hulk movie made it out
posted by EatTheWeek at 1:26 PM on June 11 [23 favorites]


that was awesomesauce

what would david graeber say about the tva?
posted by lalochezia at 7:52 PM on June 11


Loved it! I’m so happy that the MCU is back to getting weird after the aggressive normality of Falcon and Winter Soldier. I loved that variant Loki was still the power-mad egotist of Avengers and not the cuddly anti-hero of Ragnarok. And the production design reminded me I have to go back to Control and play the DLC.

I was going to staunchly avoid theorizing, because either you’re right and you’re disappointed you weren’t surprised or you’re wrong and you’re disappointed you were wrong, but I do want to throw one thing out there: The little girl in the church, when asked who killed the minutemen, pointed to an image of the devil with big horns. When we saw Avengers Loki in the Time Theater, he was wearing his big horn helmet. Then Mobius reveals the dangerous variant they’re hunting is Loki. All adds up. But then the figure who sets fire to the minutemen in Oklahoma doesn’t have horns, and we never see their face, even though we’ve supposedly just been told who the bad guy is. Whoever that figure in the field is, I don’t think it’s evil Loki.
posted by ejs at 8:06 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this since I watched (haven't rewatched, but man did that episode leave an impression), but I now think the reset charge completely obliterates the variant timeline and everyone in it. The way that Mobius interacted with the French kid and told him to go wait outside...that really seemed to me that he knew that kid was about to be destroyed, and Mobius didn't want to face the weight of that.

I really hope they keep this up and stick the landing.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:56 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The Umbrella Academy has been beating this drum throughout its entire run

Yeah, I also thought the TVA was extremely inspired by the look of the Time Cops or whatever they are in that show. (As others have noted, it's also easy to pick out Brazil as a common ancestor of both.)
posted by whir at 11:28 PM on June 11


I now think the reset charge completely obliterates the variant timeline and everyone in it

When they collect Loki from Mongolia and set the charge, we don't see in detail what it does, but Loki does as he's being taken through the door and he's obviously appalled.
posted by Grangousier at 1:43 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Loki bursts out of the gate, ready to play
The only slow-ish bit is the necessary recapping of the time heist from Avengers: Endgame, in which
Oh FFS, it is one minute and four seconds of mostly previously seen footage to set up the opening and how our central character got to be where he was. I gather the writer typist would have preferred we just start with Loki lying in a desert, being gawked at by some passing Mongolians. That would have been faster, you see.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:03 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


When I first saw that the TVA was going to be mid-century modern/retro-futurism, I was like "hey, no fair, The Umbrella Academy just did that like six months ago!" But then I thought, it's probably pretty hard to go in any other direction--unless you get really self-serious and ethereal, you gotta have doors and buildings and chairs and stuff, and not many other design aesthetics that are specifically a mish-mash of past, present and future.
posted by skewed at 7:35 PM on June 12


Retro futurism is a good choice, but they could have done steampunk also.
posted by bq at 12:31 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the current score is in the comics but in the 90s (?) comics, the TVA was in control of about 1/3 of the known timelines. Various versions of Kang the Conqueror controlled another third of the timelines as they fought each other and the Avengers and Kang's far-future self Immortus in various schemes to become the one supreme Kang who ruled over all timelines. I forget who ruled the other third or if it was a mystery (it might have been a timeline-consuming time blob called Alioth that Kang sealed off from eating the other timelines?)
posted by straight at 4:43 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I thought this waffled quite a bit but was also more immediately compelling than The Falcon and etc. so let's see where it goes!
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:46 PM on June 13


I liked this, but between this TVA, the Umbrella Academy's Commission and the setting of the Good Place, we've sure been getting a lot of supernatural judicial bureaucracy on TV lately. I feel like the novelty of it may be wearing thin.
posted by automatronic at 8:09 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


We have a judicial kink.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:36 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]




The most astonishing thing to me about this is how well Owen Wilson holds his own. Loki is a character built to upstage everyone on screen and Tom Hiddleston is a fantastic actor (go watch The Night Manager). Also Wilson's half just doing an Agent Coulson shtick, so to see him make that his own and be effective on screen is great. Also really enjoyed Wunmi Mosaku as chief cop. Hiddleston disappointed a bit... it's like Loki should always be a character on the side of a show, not the star. Curious if they'll make that work better in coming episodes.

The production design was beautiful but I'm with the side that's getting a bit tired of these tropes. It's distinctive but also a little derivative. For me I kept thinking of Legion and the mood inside the Divison 3 headquarters and Summerland. Brazil obviously is referenced. Also a bit of a hint of the video game Control and its connection to the SCP Foundation, which itself was borrowing from the bureaucracy parts of Half Life. All great source material and lovingly remixed and innovated upon and it looks great but it also looks a little too much like previous things.

FWIW the cinematographer is Autumn Durald who has no other connection to MCU stuff. I really do love the lighting and mood of the shots in the show.

One point that confused me; why Aix-en-Provence in 1549? You could have gone literally anywhere in Middle Ages Europe and gotten the same effect. Nothing specific happens that year in the city. At first I thought maybe the young woman the timecops met was Jeanne d'Arc. But wrong city, wrong century. And wrong premise; the whole point of the TVA is they don't alter the timeline. Maybe they just picked an arbitrary place and time and it has no particular meaning at all! BTW, the stained glass window depicting the enemy was supposed to be Loki, not Mephisto

I appreciate all the comments above about how sinister the TVA is. I'm such a milquetoast American / student of time travel plots that I just totally accepted the story. "We're here to keep the timeline intact and you can thank us for that". I mean, the Legends of Tomorrow are the good guys, right? (Wrong franchise) But as Mr. Excellent says the way the cop vaporized someone for not having his ticket definitely establishes that all the bureaucratic procedure is a paper thin cover.
posted by Nelson at 9:00 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


While we’re mentioning location titles and dates, Salina is in northeast Oklahoma and so would’ve been in Indian Territory (in the Cherokee Nation, I think) clear through to statehood in 1907. Oklahoma wasn’t a place in 1858; the Oklahoma Territory only contained the central/western part of the current state and wasn’t established until 1890.

With that Oklahoma History Nitpick out of the way, I’m off to make more TVA jokes.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:11 AM on June 14


I haven't seen the Umbrella Academy or many of the other time bureaucracy shows, but Nelson, I was also pretty accepting of the TVA being good, or at least, neutral. It's probably because if I were transported to a fantasy land/sf world outside time, this is the kind of place I would end up working for, so I end up identifying with Casey, or with the woman at the Afterlife Waiting Room in Beetlejuice.
posted by PussKillian at 10:09 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I heard there was one timeline they did such a poor job of pruning that a whole Edward Norton Hulk movie made it out

The First Rule of Hulk Club is "You DO NOT TALK about Hulk Club".
posted by radwolf76 at 4:58 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I felt this was a solid start, and I had a lot of fun. Multiple timelines and all their weirdness are some of my favorite narratives, regardless, so that and already liking Loki means the bar is low for me. So after general exhaustion with the MCU since Ultron, I'm cautiously having fun.

Points I especially liked:
-the courtroom looks like some of the Baptist churches I grew up in (symbolism a bit on the nose, but made me laugh)
-Loki seeing the guy get vaporized and immediately panicking about his own ticket
-everything conspiring against him (a humbling effect; not even gods have power in the face of ultimate bureaucracy)
-"Tell me where it is or I'll gut you like a fish, Casey." "What's a fish?!"
-the Infinity Stones as paperweights being the thing to convince him of the power imbalance
-mini therapy session, even if (in the end) Loki plays along and is briefly, emotionally honest to save his own hide
posted by lesser weasel at 6:03 AM on June 15


Having to sign an extra page for every statement he made questioning how they had a transcript of everything he’d ever said, out-Gilliamed Gilliam.


I felt like the stack of paper wasn't nearly tall enough for everything Loki's ever said, particularly - as is mentioned - given how much he likes talking.

I got slight Federal Beareau of Control vibes from the TVA - similar "dull office filled with people doing paperwork about extraordinary events" kind of thing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:43 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


I felt like the stack of paper wasn't nearly tall enough for everything Loki's ever said, particularly - as is mentioned - given how much he likes talking.

You may have a point here, though, presumably it's only Loki's lines, not everybody else's, like a cue-script. A stack of only Hamlet's lines would be, you know, a little bit shorter than the complete Hamlet play.

Thinking about that stack makes me wonder though... Just the things he's said? what about the things he's written down? Do those count? Texts? Internet searches? Social media posts? The average MeFite's status would be several feet high. Imagine Stephen King's pile!
posted by wabbittwax at 2:54 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


I felt like the stack of paper wasn't nearly tall enough for everything Loki's ever said

They probably fiddled with the margins, font and line spacing.
posted by skewed at 7:13 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Perhaps stock phrases could be represented by numbers - for example, "I am Loki of Asgard, kneel before me, puny mortal!" could be #3,458a. I'm sure he repeats himself a lot. That would save a lot of paper.
posted by Grangousier at 7:36 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


So I'm gonna guess all the TVA employees are variants, albeit not dangerous ones? - jenfullmoon
Pillboi! And the queen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Wunmi Mosaku(!) - kitten kaboodle


A non dangerous Pillboi variant, huh.

I agree with the Dabney Coleman vibe Mobius gives off.
posted by tilde at 7:43 AM on June 17


On the topic of “It could have been a steampunk aesthetic” — I’m getting flashbacks of reading the Difference Engine and the Kinocard movies and keypunch calculations.

Seeing the theatre display being squares that push up and down, it nearly is 3D kinocarding, like the colors and action pushing the screen out to make it 3D like those little toys you get a Spencer’s (or Target, now) that’s a nail bed you push “up” on to show something in more than a plane.
posted by tilde at 7:51 AM on June 17


so was the “hi there” in the explanatory cartoon meant as a reference to Eddie the Shipboard Computer or am I reading too far into this
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:47 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


"I know you! You're that criminal with the blue box!"

Well...
posted by Grangousier at 9:08 AM on July 13


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