Loki: The Variant
June 16, 2021 8:11 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Mobius puts Loki to work, but not everyone at TVA is thrilled about the God of Mischief's presence.

The TVA gets Loki started on their team with the cruelest assignment of all -- remedial homework. Meanwhile the more problematic Variant Loki shows the ability to possess people and makes a mess of yet another team of TVA agents and this time, taking one home as a souvenir in addition to the team's reset charge. TVA!Loki gets bumped back to desk work after an apparently unhelpful visit to the scene. In the files, he makes the connection that the one place a person could avoid causing timeline ripples is an Apocalypse (e.g. Ragnarok), as any effects will be wiped out by the larger event. A field trip to Pompeii confirms the theory and now it's just a matter of finding the right apocalyptic hideout. A hurricane in 2050 seems the best bet and a team goes in. TVA!Loki has a chat with Variant!Loki via various possessed bodies, including his keeper so he can be separated from any TVA agents. In the meantime, Mobius finds the hostage from the previous attack, who reveals that she gave up the location of the Timekeepers. At the last moment, Variant!Loki finally turns up in the flesh, revealing (a) the form of Lady Loki and (b) that every confiscated reset charge is being sent throughout history to utterly scramble the Sacred Timeline. Faced with the choice of explaining the very suspicious circumstances to the TVA or giving chase, TVA!Loki follows The Variant through her portal as the home office descends into chaos.
posted by Karmakaze (109 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
There was a lot to love about this episode! The return of Miss Minutes! Loki trash talking in Latin! The utter delight of the salad metaphor!

If this was how they ended the second episode, I can't wait to see what the rest have in store.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:20 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Fyi, great episode, but that may not be Lady Loki, but the Enchantress, another Asgardian.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:23 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Wasn't Hiddleston a classics major at college? Wonder if they let him write his own lines for the Pompeii scene.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:39 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Assuming the TVA is correct that they are chasing a Loki variant, then this is Lady Loki, but I like your Enchantress theory. It would explain why the character is listed as The Variant in the credits. Lady Loki in the comics almost always has Loki's general appearance, just a little shorter with long hair and whatever one female body type the comic book artist uses. I'd been surprised to see a blonde and making this Amora makes sense, even if she is wearing Loki's hat (his casual hat, with the nubby horns). Both of them tend to have green sfx for their magic, so that's not conclusive.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:25 AM on June 16


Vulture thinks she could be the Enchantress too. Loved this episode!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:35 AM on June 16


Yeah, their interactions scream NOT Loki.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 AM on June 16


One of the Loki variant examples we saw briefly was a hulking troll-like dude, why would a short blonde woman be a problem?

I was suspecting a Lady Loki reveal and so noticed how Randy was acting somewhat femme/sultry as her puppet.

Interesting setup for Mobius as a guy who dislikes timecops being jerks and longs for the freedom to jetski.

And a Casey cameo! I hope he keeps popping up randomly. And maybe Loki brings him a book on fish.

Also Miss Minutes as an interactive hologram that annoys Loki is excellent, just awesome.
posted by emjaybee at 10:31 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


The double first Cambridge uni classics degree Latin speech we deserve

Such an unfortunately rare treat to see a scene like that performed by someone who's comfortable delivering those lines. The whole thing was infectiously joyous; both actor and character were having the time of their lives.

Coriolanus is my favourite performance of his, for similar reasons -- he really feels at home in the dialogue.
posted by myotahapea at 11:14 AM on June 16 [9 favorites]


Sophia Di Martino was fantastic in Flowers and I'm really hoping she's going to be in all the following episodes, not just pop up in the last one or two.
posted by haileris23 at 12:37 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Can't tell you how relieved I was to learn that Loki is no more interested in spending another 9 episodes playing "but what if it's Mephisto tho??" than I am. The antagonist spends most of two episodes in a cloak, mystery fulfilled, now let's do the next thing. Really enjoying this so far; best BBC show Marvel's ever made.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:05 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Totally Enchantress, the takeover power is the clue.
posted by sixswitch at 2:17 PM on June 16


but that may not be Lady Loki, but the Enchantress, another Asgardian.

I'm going with Enchantress, but in the MCU she is a Loki variant rather than another Asgardian. It lets them introduce the character without coming up with an excuse why she didn't bother showing up during Ragnarok.
posted by Gary at 2:57 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Little things, like TVA!Loki walking past an Arm&Hammer wall display; or the countdown clocks that are clearly 7-segment diodes but *still* have analog-flip animation; watching all those different actors doing their best Tom Hiddleston... it was truly a episode worth rewatching, BUT...


...who is Mobius? I mean, really. Who the hell is he? Knows Loki like the back of his hand, is a master manipulator in his own right, keeps dropping odd little gems like "You might wind up with my job", and "Loki variants can differ widely in appearance" and "Time works differently in here."

Could he be a Loki variant?
posted by Mogur at 5:27 PM on June 16 [23 favorites]


'Holding out for a Hero' is a fine song, but shame that Tina Turner's 'We Don't Need Another Hero' explicitly references Thunderdome.

Did appreciate Loki giving a psuedo-scientific/ technical background to his powers rather than hand-wavy MAGIC! That's very much not the usual case for me.
posted by porpoise at 5:52 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


The return of Miss Minutes!

I'd watch hours of Tara Strong yanking Tom Hiddleston's chain...
posted by mikelieman at 6:19 PM on June 16 [8 favorites]


FanFare: Some of us need this, y’know.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:13 PM on June 16 [10 favorites]


There's a lot of Catch Me If You Can in this show so far, which honestly makes me wish I could fancast Tom Hanks in the Owen Wilson role. Still -- entertaining! They gave us a bunch of emotion in the first episode, so I love that all Loki gave about Ragnarok here was pride that he'd figured out where the variant was hiding.

And I agree that it felt like they gave a lot of hints that this variant isn't really Loki, from "I wouldn't treat me this way" to the strangeness of her being blonde, but I also feel like the TVA would know. If they don't...well, that's awfully suspicious too.

I don't know if it's the big box Blade Runner vibe or the overall climate apocalypse, but I was a lot more unsettled by the prospective Alabama disaster then I normally am by MCU carnage.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:28 PM on June 16 [14 favorites]


I had only just gotten that Bonnie Tyler song out of my head after last week.

(I’m not complaining, though…)
posted by mbrubeck at 7:34 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I am just about 100% sure that "Holding Out For a Hero" was referencing this magnificent creation. (Especially with the role that the events of Thor: Ragnarok played in this ep.) And that, my friends, was only the beginning of the squeeing. Totally believe in the Enchantress thing, although she could also be LL, because why not? Also digging Roxxcart as the MCU's future big-box overlord, not just for the obvious pun but because Roxxon's already a substantial player in the MCU. [spoilers for other MCU shows in that link]
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:58 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


When they showed the wide shot of the hurricane hitting Alabama/Roxxcart, my 14 year old son looks at me and said, “Damn, Mom. Now THAT’S kick ass production value!!” :-)
We are both enjoying this so much!
posted by pearlybob at 8:59 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


....Yeah, these Loki's don't seem like the same Loki, I gotta say. I suppose it's fun for them to play with and saves Tom Hiddleston from going full on Orphan Black the way I was hoping....but, y'know, I wanted more Orphan Black Lokis running about.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:08 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


IMDB seems to have Sophia Di Martino just credited as "The Variant" so they might be trying to keep her identity as Lady Loki or The Enchantress ambiguous for now
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:17 AM on June 17


Totally Enchantress, the takeover power is the clue.

This isn't really a clue because Mobius said during the short briefing that different Loki variants can have different powers.
posted by Pendragon at 1:18 AM on June 17


I'm far more interested in what her plan is. So ... bombing the "sacred" timeline to recreate the multiverse, but why?

Also, leaving the gum behind seems uncharacteristically careless. So was it deliberately left behind as a breadcrumb? If so, why? She didn't seem to care much about the TVA showing up, so was it to lure the other Loki variant there? Did she want him to come with her? Which would then make it make sense that she opened a portal right in front of him as opposed to, you know, literally anywhere else.

Or is he as irrelevant to her as she claimed, and it was all in the service of, say, seeding sleeper agents in the TVA? Or, alternately, was leaving the gum behind really just a screwup on her part?
posted by kyrademon at 3:33 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I'm far more interested in what her plan is. So ... bombing the "sacred" timeline to recreate the multiverse, but why?

1. Wants to save Asgard somehow
2. Wants to create massive chaos to weaken the Timekeepers and take their power
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:08 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


So, let's talk about the TVA Archive for a bit. If you think it looks familiar, you may have seen it before.

The trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming had The Vulture swooping down that same atrium, minus the statues of The Timekeepers, in a scene that never showed up in the movie itself. Or maybe you recognize it as the Tribute Training Center from the Hunger Games sequels. Or perhaps you recall an Atlanta hotel that Will Graham stayed at the first time he and Hannibal Lector Lecktor appeared on screen, in the 1986 film Manhunter.

It's that last one that is the key. All of these were filmed at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, opened in 1985, designed by architect John Portman. Portman is responsible for many of the buildings in that neighborhood (known as Peachtree Center), including the Hyatt Regency next door, the Westin Peachtree Plaza, and the AmericasMart Trade and Convention Center.

Coincidentally, these buildings are among most of the core host buildings for DragonCon, one of the largest general fandom conventions on the U.S. east coast. It often draws comparisons to San Diego Comic Con, with the distinction that DragonCon is run by fan-volunteers not corporate sponsors, has round-the-clock scheduled events, and a strong party vibe with free flowing alcohol. And the Marriott Marquis is right at the epicenter of the fun every Labor Day weekend. Hundreds of Loki variants cosplayers have already ridden those glass elevators and walked past those balconies, year after year.

I think the crew were well aware of the Marriott Marquis' status as an annual geek Mecca, and wanted to give a hat tip to the con-goers. Why do I think this? They included a shot where you can clearly see the carpet. Marriott Carpet is a big deal at DragonCon. Maybe not so much this particular carpet (which some have nicknamed "Skidmark"), which was installed in 2015, but certainly the carpet that was used previously.

Its distinctive, recognizable pattern made it easy to recognize an unlabled cosplay photo as being a DragonCon photo, as you just needed a small portion visible to know it was from the Marriott. One year a group of cosplay propmakers decided to make uniforms in that pattern, calling it "carpet camo", only to later get a Cease-and-Desist letter from the carpet's manufacturer. So instead of selling it, the prop makers began giving their pattern away for free instead. Thus began the Cult of the Carpet, and in 2019 even the Marriott themselves have started getting in on the fun, selling cookies and cakes printed with the pre-2015 carpet pattern.

And while the current "skidmark" carpet design has never been nearly as popular, its subdued earth tones and simple stripes do fit the TVA's aesthetic much better. Having a boom shot, looking down on the archive table from above, to make some kind of Marriott carpet visible was a choice that someone made. I'd like to think it's a shout-out to my favorite con.

Now for something totally unrelated to the Marriott in any way, the external shots for the Ren Faire scenes were filmed at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. (Not sure if the scenes in the tent were or not; GA Ren Fest's jousting arena is actually an outside affair.)
posted by radwolf76 at 5:20 AM on June 17 [66 favorites]


Yeah, between the eclipse, the He-Man trailer, and this episode, (and a birthday!) it's been a big week for Bonnie Tyler.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:28 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


bombing the "sacred" timeline to recreate the multiverse, but why?

If an apocalypse is a good place for a villain to hide out, maybe a meta-apocalypse is a great place for a villain to hide out? Or maybe a good place for an army of villains to hide out?

Which would lead to the next question, "Hide out to prepare for what?"
posted by PlusDistance at 6:32 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


radwolf76, that's practically an FPP in and of itself--well done! Although not on screen, I'm pretty sure that that's the hotel that is part of the backdrop for the Wild Cards anthology book Ace in the Hole, set at a fictionalized version of the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which really was in Atlanta that year; doubtless George R.R. Martin and the other writers would have been familiar with it from DragonCon.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:46 AM on June 17 [7 favorites]


"Holding Out for a Hero" was fantastic, but having it come out of a "swordfight" at an 80's renfest was so great and so awful that 80s renfest organizers should file a class-action defamation lawsuit.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:47 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


I have to imagine that The Variant wants to eliminate the TVA's restrictions on variation. I'm still a little unclear as to the kinds of variations that they eliminate--are they only ones that have to do with time travel? The Avengers get a pass--because they return the stones? But Steve doesn't go back to leave things unaffected--why wasn't Old Steve pruned?

That inconsistency makes me think that the TVA is, as others have said here, more active in trying to shape the timeline than it lets on. Either the Variant wants to upset that, or she just wants to eliminate their restrictive, panoptic control regardless, a goal with which I generally sympathize. The idea that the Time Lizards's adherence to a single, "correct," conforming timeline (orthochrony?) because a multiverse is inevitably chaos is the authoritarian stance--that allowing for more choice and more diversity leads to disharmony, unrest, and war.

Fuck that noise.

I don't know if it's the big box Blade Runner vibe or the overall climate apocalypse, but I was a lot more unsettled by the prospective Alabama disaster then I normally am by MCU carnage.

This also hit me harder than I expected. The ordinariness of the 30-years-in-the-future changes; the persistence of the Big Box store; the idea that this was one of a series of reasonably foreseeable disasters all set in the near future that keep piling on and on; and the specificity of a Gulf Coast hurricane, with which I have some personal and family experience--it was a lot. The scene before, when they're leafing through 21st century disasters and noting how they just keep coming felt like a nod by the writers to (gestures around).
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:58 AM on June 17 [14 favorites]


Calling it now: The Variant is, indeed, a variant of Loki, but trans. The hair color doesn't indicate she's not a Loki variant, after all, my hair wasn't purple before I transitioned, and shapeshifting is a standard Loki power. What makes me think this might really be the case though is the distaste she shows when our Loki calls her "Loki." The way she say "Don't call me that." She may well decide (or have decided) that she prefers to be called "The Enchantress."

So, the people who think she's the Enchantress can be right, with her still being a Loki variant.

(counter argument: She's wearing a guy's body when she says that, and says he can call her "Randy")

(counter counter argument: Randy (or Randi) can be a woman's name, and besides, it's specifically my former name that I don't want to hear, not just any other name))
posted by Tabitha Someday at 7:22 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


I'm also thinking The Variant is a Loki variant that is female and is called The Enchantress. They only hid the name in the credits because they didn't want to spoil "Loki.. played by a female actor!". This conceit lets them borrow the funny book stories while sticking to the main Loki variant plot. I'd be disappointed if they try to unwind that; a key thing we've learned so far is they've captured and neutralized many, many Loki variants. It'd be strange if this one were a different person entirely. Also Loki being complexly gendered is canon; both in the show (on the ID it says "Genderfluid") and in Norse canon (becoming a mare, etc...).

And I'm with pykrete jungle in getting more and more suspicious of the TVA. In this week's obligatory Free Will discussion Mobius sort of shrugs off the question. But Loki clearly wins the debate and establishes that whether there's free will or not, the Timekeeper lizards definitely don't care about it.

Also I need to watch this again but at some point Loki asks what the Timekeepers do all day and is informed they are busy figuring out the end of time. Like they're not just fixing attacks on the sacred timeline; they're designing it, choosing what will happen in the future. I feel every aspect of American Comic Book Ethics means that all the good guys will be working to overthrow the Timekeepers. Our Loki in this reading is a good guy.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


The conversation with Mobius about the Timekeeper's ultimate goal may give a motive for blowing up the timeline. Their ultimate goal is to make one static timeline - no branches, no variants, no free will, just perfect order.
Loki: So, when they’re finished, what happens then?
Mobius: So are we. No more nexus events. Just order. And we meet in peace at the end of time.
From a certain perspective, the entire point of the TVA is to commit suicide by paring down to one static universe with a conclusive end. "We meet in peace at the end of time." sounds an awful lot like the way a lot of people talk about dying.

We just now got to see Marvel doing the "right goal, wrong methods" thing with Falcon and the Winter Soldier. They're fond of it. Preventing the TimeKeepers from murdering all of Reality is a pretty good motivation for forcing chaos back into the system. Our only evidence that aggressive pruning is the only way to save everything is a propaganda video. When was the last time you watched a pre-fab orientation video that was 100% true? ("This is your brain on drugs." "Threaten. Interrogate. Promise. Spy.") I'm sure "Roxxcart values you, the employee..."
Loki: [...] no one bad is ever truly bad. And no one good is ever truly good.
That statement comes right after the conversation about reducing everything to pure order. Loki's talking about the TVA as much as he is about himself with that, maybe more.

Possibly it's because I'm the sort of person a cold war era bureaucracy would have liked to "prune", but I've been more uneasy with the TVA's goals than their methods this whole time.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:36 AM on June 17 [11 favorites]


One question which was notably never addressed in the propaganda video is, "Why did the Timekeepers pick the timeline they picked to be the 'sacred' one?"

And the answer is obviously not, i.e., "This timeline is the best of all possible worlds, maximizing justice and happiness for the greatest number of people!" because *waves hands* look around. Only an idiot could possibly believe that. So they don't even try to make the argument.

So what makes this timeline special?

I wonder if it's simply that this is the timeline with the greatest potential for the Timekeepers to remain in charge.
posted by kyrademon at 7:55 AM on June 17 [22 favorites]


The next Disney+ series after this is “What If...?”, slated for August. Given the vigour with which the TVA prunes away alternate timelines, I expect we will see them again in that show.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:18 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


I initially thought she was going to send all the bombs to blow up the Timekeepers. Then we saw them show up all over the place, so now I think she’s sending them out so the minutemen all chase them down, leaving the Timekeepers less-guarded.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:16 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


I'm also thinking The Variant is a Loki variant that is female and is called The Enchantress.

These are my thoughts as well. The MCU has combined comics characters before, why not now?
posted by lovecrafty at 9:20 AM on June 17


The conversation with Mobius about the Timekeeper's ultimate goal may give a motive for blowing up the timeline. Their ultimate goal is to make one static timeline - no branches, no variants, no free will, just perfect order.

Loki: So, when they’re finished, what happens then?
Mobius: So are we. No more nexus events. Just order. And we meet in peace at the end of time.

From a certain perspective, the entire point of the TVA is to commit suicide by paring down to one static universe with a conclusive end. "We meet in peace at the end of time." sounds an awful lot like the way a lot of people talk about dying.


Yep, I was struck by this as well, especially coming on hot on the heels as it does of Mobius talking earlier about how all of existence is chaos. If existence is chaos, and the Timekeepers' ultimate goal is to remove all chaos and create perfect order, well....Mobius has got some serious cognitive dissonance going on. (Or does he? Certainly the rest of the TVA does.)

I think that's one of the most interesting things about this show, to me: while WandaVision was clearly on Wanda's side (maybe moreso than it should have been), and F&WS was clearly on the heroes' side (to the point of having the villains do pointlessly evil things lest they become too sympathetic), this show is not terribly sympathetic to Loki or the TVA. And now we The Variant, whose motivations and actual-level-of-villainy are not immediately clear. That more-neutral POV is subtly doing a lot of work to keep this show more suspenseful, so far - I don't know who's going to win in the end, because I'm not even sure who I should be rooting for. (Obviously, Loki's the protagonist, but they keep harping on how his usual role in the timeline is to lose in ways that propel other people to hero-dom.) It's a whole different level of ambiguity than you usually get from the MCU and I'm glad to see it.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:24 AM on June 17 [10 favorites]


Mobius has got some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

It's almost as if there are two sides to Mobius. And yet mysteriously only really one. Perhaps there's a twist.

You don't hire Owen Wilson just to have him be a static foil to Tom Hiddleston. I feel certain there's some depths to his character. I'll be annoyed if he was Loki All Along, but I hope for some complication along those lines.

Also worth recalling that Loki in Marvel is often nearly as evil as an evil character gets. Same in the movies, some, although they keep making him more and more sympathetic. I hope they don't redeem him any further than "necessary force of narcissistic chaos" in this show.
posted by Nelson at 10:31 AM on June 17 [31 favorites]


Could there be a Sylvie in the mix?

https://twitter.com/LA_Knight89/status/1405572816020271108

This is from a trusted source who may have had dealings with Asgard.
posted by Buntix at 10:34 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


It's almost as if there are two sides to Mobius. And yet mysteriously only really one. Perhaps there's a twist.

I'm thinking that the Judge's other agent might also be Mobius.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:36 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


It often draws comparisons to San Diego Comic Con, with the distinction that DragonCon is run by fan-volunteers not corporate sponsors...

In my experience as an SDCC volunteer and attendee, I wanted to challenge the comment that Comic-Con is run by corporate sponsors. While the non-profit Comic-Con org does have corporate sponsors and partners, these relationships appear to be strictly tied to paying for co-branded advertisements, such as the banners hanging in the downtown area, program book advertisements or the images imprinted on the event badges.

I get no sense that these corporations have any input into the operation of the convention. Some of the larger for-profit corporate comic book conventions that I have attended display clearer markers of corporate priorities (higher-cost VIP passes, advertisements on internal aisle markers, premium seating at panels, etc.) I'm looking forward to attending DragonCon in the future for a direct comparison!
posted by JDC8 at 10:57 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


That's fair. However, SDCC is also where the Movie & TV studios schedule their big announcements, premiere exclusive trailers and so on. And often times, any actors or directors up on the Hall H stage are there because they're being paid to do so out of their project's marketing budget.

For DragonCon, to get a celeb to attend, it's a case of getting in touch with their people, and saying "Hey, if they're not doing anything this Labor Day weekend, would they consider coming to party with us? Maybe do a panel or two? Get lots of good interaction with the fanbase on the Walk of Fame selling autographs, and maybe do a 30 minute session a day of fan photos with our professional photographer? The money you can make on those last two will cover your meal, hotel and bar charges."

Not to mention toy companies will crank out all kinds of SDCC limited run collectables to hawk at their dealers' booths. The last time I can recall DragonCon ever getting an exclusive collectable of any consequence was Magic: the Gathering's Nalanthi Dragon card back in 1994.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:40 AM on June 17 [4 favorites]


It's almost as if there are two sides to Mobius. And yet mysteriously only really one. Perhaps there's a twist.

Everyone knows there are two sides to every story. What this show presupposes is... maybe there isn’t.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:29 PM on June 17 [15 favorites]


I don't know why but Mobius reminds me of an extremely personable version of Michael Shannon's character in The Shape of Water. Workers for seemingly anonymous and powerful organizations working for the "greater good" by adhering to a ridiculously strict code. He is charming but his apparent belief system is a obvious MCU version of predestination. Lack of free will is of course antithesis to Loki but I think discovering the TVA would be more devastating to Sam Wilson or Steve Rogers.

I guess what I'm trying to express is that to my eyes, Mobius is the embodiment of exactly what Endgame proved to be wrong, that what happened had to happen. And if this character is the personification of everything the Avengers refuse to believe and happens to be extremely likeable in a series based on the most likeable backstabber of all time, well, maybe, just maybe, they're being a bit too obvious for their own good.
posted by M Edward at 2:27 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Mobius' superior's office had a statue that brought Doctor Doom to mind. I'd say "not to get into the weeds", but that's a lie: he seized Beyonder-level power to rewrite reality a couple of times, back in the 80's Secret Wars and the 2015-ish Secret Wars, which involved the Ultimate line getting folded into the main comic line, along with the rest of the Multiverse.

This *might* be relevant, but is more likely an Easter egg or a brainfart on my part.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:25 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]



I initially thought she was going to send all the bombs to blow up the Timekeepers.


There was that line about the kidnapped agent telling the Variant where the Timekeepers were, right?
posted by pykrete jungle at 3:49 PM on June 17


The TVA seems very much adjacent to Terry Pratchett's villains the Auditors. (With better branding.) The Auditors wanted to stop chaos (life) in its tracks, and the Timekeepers seem to want to wind it up neatly, with a good narrative line. "Good" as defined by the Timekeepers. One of these days, I hope Loki finds out what Steven Grant Rogers got away with...
posted by mersen at 4:39 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


I've seen a lot of shows / read a lot of comic or novels that have some organization that works to preserve some original time stream. It's not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. But the TVA in Loki reminds me the most of the Time Masters from the first season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow. As much as I might have enjoyed later seasons of the show, that first season was truly awful.

I hope that Loki gives some more definition for what the TVA is soon, because 'generic timecops' is not really one that I enjoy very much. Shrouding things in mystery can work for a while but if it is done too long I don't find it very enjoyable.
posted by Quonab at 5:09 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Was anyone else weirded out by the set design of the Roxxcart box store? Behind most of the action it was a bunch of ladders set up in ways that a box store would never set them up, and then suddenly it had a snowboard on the wall. The rest of the store had similarly weird things grouped together. It wasn't arranged like any box store I had ever been to. I guess maybe I have been spoiled with the set design on Superstore? It just seems strange that the same people that obviously spent so much time on the set design for the TVA would put so many nonsensical things together on shelves. I can't help but thinking that the odd set design of the store is some intentional message. I don't know what it would be, though.
posted by Quonab at 5:26 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Weirdest thing about the Roxxcart store for me was that it was a multistory building!
posted by sixswitch at 5:29 PM on June 17


I had a sudden theory that Mobius could end up being an interesting origin story for a major, classic time-traveling Marvel villain but after a bit of Googling, it's all been derailed by the fact that Kang the Conqueror is apparently already slated to be the big bad in the next Ant Man & Wasp movie, is already cast, and the actor in question has already denied he'll show up in Loki. Clearly some folks are way ahead of me. Back to the drawing board!
posted by mstokes650 at 5:37 PM on June 17


I didn't like the reference to the Timekeepers as lizards. I'm anxious to even bring this up, because there is so often pushback to any charge of antisemitism, and like most antisemitic tropes, this one is a subtle dog-whistle with enough wiggle room to make those who call it out seem oversensitive. Nevertheless, it is an antisemitic dog-whistle, and I'd appreciate it if we didn't echo its use in the show here (as some comments above have).
posted by cosmic owl at 7:28 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


Cosmic owl I guess I am ignorant of that trope...are you thinking of the lizard people conspiracy theory (because most conspiracy theories tend towards antisemitism)? There's a lot of reptilian species in scifi, I don't think they are all antisemitic.

I can't speak to the history of Marvel's use of these characters though.

(I didn't actually see the Timekeepers looking that lizardy. Maybe catfish-y?)
posted by emjaybee at 7:42 PM on June 17


Yes, I am thinking of the lizard people conspiracy theory, which also came up in another comics-based tv show involving a time agency. I'm not inclined to rewatch the episode to find the exact quote, but Loki called them lizards in the context of them having complete control over the timeline. The antisemitic subtext involves the implication that Jewish people control the world and are a separate species. So no, not any reptilian species qualifies as antisemitic, nor is being depicted as actual lizards necessary for invoking the trope. Argonians are fine.
posted by cosmic owl at 7:54 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I had a sudden theory that Mobius could end up being an interesting origin story for a major, classic time-traveling Marvel villain but after a bit of Googling, it's all been derailed by the fact that Kang the Conqueror is apparently already slated to be the big bad in the next Ant Man & Wasp movie

Don't give up quite yet, though. The judge is named Ravonna, which is the name of Kang's sometimes wife/lover/partner/nemesis.
posted by straight at 10:55 PM on June 17 [6 favorites]


> I'm far more interested in what her plan is. So ... bombing the "sacred" timeline to recreate the multiverse, but why?
In episode 1, the TVA repeatedly hammers home that there is only one timeline and everything that happens is the only course of events that will happen. And then there's:

Loki: "Hey! You ridiculous bureaucrats will not dictate how my story ends!"
Ravonna Renslayer: "It's not your story, Mr. Laufeyson. It never was."

Mobius: "You weren't born to be king, Loki. You were born to cause pain, and suffering, and death. That's how it is, that's how it was, that's how it will be. All so that others can achieve their best versions of themselves."

and the replays in the time theatre of the tragic pointlessness of Loki's remaining timeline.

So my guess is that Loki is going to play along and work with the TVA, but his real plan is learn how it all works [rot13] sb ur pna oernx bhg bs cerqrfgval naq svaq n jnl gb or gur gehr nhgube bs uvf bja fgbel. [/rot13]
Also, leaving the gum behind seems uncharacteristically careless. So was it deliberately left behind as a breadcrumb? If so, why?...
Mobius turned up the clue that the Kablooie gum/candy was only sold within a certain timespan, so when they paired it with the apocalypses-as-cover hypothesis, I guessed she might have left it as a deliberate breadcrumb to have the TVA bring our Loki to her. Then when I saw the time charges start dropping through the mini-portals, my immediate thought was Ms. Variant's plan was to blow up something temporally, so literal kablooie. Maybe Ms. Variant is a bit like the Batman (1966) Riddler in that she can't help tweaking/taunting her opponents? And like our Loki, she has to prove that she's the superior incarnation.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 2:31 AM on June 18


Regarding the identity of the antagonist, this seems pretty conclusive. Linked so you can avoid spoilers if you want.

I love all the incidental detail in this show and keep pausing to read the computer screens and paperwork. This is what was on Loki's screen when he was doing the test:
Thanos has two apples. He eats both but realises he wants more. He goes back in time 20 minutes and eats the apples again. Does this mean the apples will not have existed in the timeline he left?

a. No, because time is constantly happening.
b. The question doesn't matter because a branch cannot change another time branch.
c. Thanos would've been hungry prior because the Grandfather paradox already accounted for the change in matter before its move
(Answer b was highlighted, also I'm not 100% on the wording of answer c)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:46 AM on June 18 [8 favorites]


Following the logic of Moebius's descriptor of Loki, is Lady!Loki going to cause chaos and eventually lose in order to bring out the best in Variant!Loki? (and likewise Variant!Loki for Moebius?)
posted by kokaku at 2:57 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Weirdest thing about the Roxxcart store for me was that it was a multistory building!

In Alabama, near the Gulf Coast? Yeah, basements aren't really a thing there.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:17 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I suspect the Timekeepers have been absent and incommunicado for *a while* possible decades if not *eons*.

Ravonna (Morbius boss) has a strong vibe of someone trying to keep the company afloat when the Boss has gone AWOL.

Someone took a screenshot of the locations/times where the time disruptions happened, and I don't know the significance of those sites but I'm guessing the locations weren't picked at random - especially as Asgard is one of the locations listed.

Also I'm calling it now, 'The variant' ain't any version of Loki.

Nope.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:22 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Could there be a Sylvie in the mix?

🎵It was Sylvie all along.🎶
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:42 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Also, what's with the abrupt focus on the stains on Ravonna's sidetable? She chides Mobius for not using a coaster, to which he replies that "the rings were already there". Nevertheless, he starts using a coaster. It felt important, but maybe it was just a red herring.
posted by Mogur at 5:41 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


If this show has a focus on being trans and/or gender fluidity, I will be delighted.
posted by medusa at 7:42 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


....Yeah, these Loki's don't seem like the same Loki, I gotta say. I suppose it's fun for them to play with and saves Tom Hiddleston from going full on Orphan Black the way I was hoping....but, y'know, I wanted more Orphan Black Lokis running about.

Yeah, me too. He's one of the only people that I think could do that as well as Tatiana Maslany.

In 2007, my wife and I went to a production of Shakespeare's CYMBALINE at BAM!, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was by a British theater company, Cheek by Jowl, that was on tour in the US. The play has two characters, Posthumus and Cloton, who are very different, but physically look very similar. It's intended to be played as a double role, which is something we didn't realize.

Halfway through the second act, my wife turned to me and whispered "I think the person who is playing Posthumous is also playing Cloton". I didn't believe her, until he CHANGED CHARACTER ON STAGE in front of us. He put on a jacket and glasses and was a completely different character to the point that, even though I saw it, I didn't quite believe it.

That was Tom Hiddleston. Most incredible piece of acting I have ever seen in person. I was hoping he would do something like that as Loki; I think he still might.
posted by Xiphias Gladius at 7:53 AM on June 18 [29 favorites]


One thing that gets weird if they're going to merge Loki and Amora/Enchantress into an amalgam character is that Amora spent the bulk of her comic book existence desperately trying to sleep with Thor.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:09 AM on June 18 [8 favorites]


Also, what's with the abrupt focus on the stains on Ravonna's sidetable?

Someone has been there before. Either Mobius or...(cue dramatic music)...?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:31 AM on June 18


Other Mobius.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:48 AM on June 18


Sylvie is apparently a second, mostly unrelated Enchantress who was created by Loki.
posted by fomhar at 10:38 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I hope Mobius gets to ride a jetski.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:57 AM on June 18 [9 favorites]


I hope Mobius gets to ride a jetski.


Request granted.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on June 18 [6 favorites]


Just caught up with this, and it continues to delight (except the antisemitic dog whistle, which I too cringed at, cosmic owl--as soon as Loki said it I was like, seriously, Marvel, do you ever fucking learn?). I don't have any deep thoughts about it--I adore time travel, though it gives me a headache, so I try very hard not to have deep thoughts. Hearing someone who knows how to pronounce Latin words hurling them around was fantastic--so glad Hiddles got to use that Classics background! His discovery that Asgard was destroyed was really moving.

Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are two of my most beloved characters anywhere, and I adore Sharon Carter in the comics, so it's funny to me that Falcon and the Winter Soldier turned out to be so disappointing to me and a show about a character I never felt all that strongly about it my fave so far. Of course, there are more episodes to come and so far, the shows have all disappointed me (both Marvel and Star Wars universes) by the end of their seasons, but if they can keep this up, I'll be seriously impressed.

My major complaint so far: putting Hiddleston in these godawful clothes. He's a very fit, handsome man and those outfits are tragic, even with the popped collar in this episode. I really hope there's some improvement and we get a little more eye candy (also, it would be lovely to see Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku out of uniform, but I don't know if the TVA ever has soft pants and t-shirts down time, lol).
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:40 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Internet seems to think the lizard reference is another Easter egg for Kang. One of his variants was a reptilian species. Have no idea if that makes it any less of dog whistle.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:33 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


My major complaint so far: putting Hiddleston in these godawful clothes. He's a very fit, handsome man and those outfits are tragic, even with the popped collar in this episode.

Loki's being punished and part of that punishment is limiting his wardrobe.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:37 PM on June 18 [7 favorites]


Jet skis are pretty cool.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:28 PM on June 18


OK, so a strange things, and probably a side-effect of having a substandard brain, but in both scenes where there's Variant action, I read the person moving from body to body like an infection and the hooded figure who turns out to be probably Lady Loki (but maybe not) to be two different people, from the way it was cut. I'm not presenting that as anything other than me being an incompetent viewer, but it's rum, because I find it difficult to read it any other way even when I know it's all one person.

If you see what I mean.
posted by Grangousier at 2:37 AM on June 19


Loving this so far. Lots of laughs. Hiddleston's pretty obviously having a blast. Loki discovering a drawer full of Infinity Stones and being told "Some of the guys use them as paperweights" was just wonderful.

Question...Loki had his magic powers in the Roxxcart store. In fact, they made a distinct point of him showing it by "drying" himself off. And, he used it during his fight to grab a big, heavy thing off a shelf. I know magic doesn't work inside the TVA, or if he has his collar on, but I'm really surprised they didn't have anything to repress the magic while on a mission, too. He could have pretty easily laid-waste to the TVA team and gone off on his own. What's up with that?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:48 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


So if you like to have Easter eggs explained to you, the guys on the New Rockstars YouTube channel are very thorough. This video walks through all the dates shown as places where the time bombs were sent and what might be significant about them.
posted by emjaybee at 6:56 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I'm also hoping for Mobius to make a heroic late season jetski ride. Of course, I have to assume that someone on the Loki creative staff must be aware that to invoke jetskis in the context of a Marvel story will conjure some powerful imagery in the minds of many fans.
posted by EatTheWeek at 8:23 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I'd signed up to Disney+ to watch Wandavision, let my membership lapse, and then signed up again to watch Loki.

I was surprised though by how much I liked Falcon and the Winter Soldier! Which I binge-watched after the first Loki episode. I guess my take is different from some here. By contrast to the topical real life themes and realism of FWS, Loki seemed a bit indulgent.

Second episode is growing on me, but I think it needs to be about 15% more out of left field inspired. I get the TVA grew out of satire of the Marvel offices, and it seems like the show is very competently put together, and the developments and scenes and jokes make me think: very clever! But also that I could have come up with those myself, and can imagine a board room constructing this fiction like a crossword puzzle. It needs a little more true Loki mischief. The trailers gave that sense a bit more, being highlights and suggesting more like those.

I liked that when Loki went back to Pompeii, he releases goats, joking about them having horns as he does, but it seemed a little connect the dots. Past agricultural society--Loki--intersection: goat horns! They have theremin music playing in the TVA, and it's as if someone had a thesaurus of retro-future items.

And so this attention to detail and sense of construction will play nicely in hiding easter eggs for fans to find, but I think Thor: Ragnarok had a little more sense of gleeful anarchy, helped by Takia Waititi putting in improvised dialogue and suggestions from fans visiting the set. Hopefully Loki will go there more in future episodes.

Owen Wilson was an inspired choice for Mobius though no doubt!
posted by Schmucko at 11:23 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Are the TVA believers of Leibniz's theodicy?
Leibniz outlined his perfect world theory in his work The Monadology, stating the argument in five statements:
God has the idea of infinitely many universes.
Only one of these universes can actually exist.
God's choices are subject to the principle of sufficient reason, that is, God has reason to choose one thing or another.
God is good.
Therefore, the universe that God chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.

Maybe substitute perfect timeline theory for perfect world theory.
posted by oldnumberseven at 12:19 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


It also reminds me of the Gnostic concept of a "demiurge" who is running the world while the true God is locked away... Here we have this bureaucracy that lords it above an actual god...
posted by Schmucko at 1:36 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]


I'm also hoping for Mobius to make a heroic late season jetski ride.

Scholars of narrative structure refer to this as “Chekhov’s Jetski.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:53 PM on June 19 [26 favorites]


I think the show is telegraphing that the Lizard Overlords don't actually exist.
posted by medusa at 6:12 PM on June 19 [11 favorites]


the real time lord space lizards are the friends we made along the way ⏰ 🦎
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:39 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


I read the person moving from body to body like an infection and the hooded figure who turns out to be probably Lady Loki (but maybe not) to be two different people, from the way it was cut.

I was really confused because I assumed the Variant Loki they were hunting was shape-shifting: knocking people out and then impersonating them. But it was actually more like a disembodied spirit possessing one person's body then moving to possess someone else.

So then is Lady Loki a woman possessed by that same spirit? Is Lady Loki that spirit taking solid form? Or was Lady Loki possessing people from a distance like a puppet master? (And if so, why did the possession need to spread from person to person like that? Magic can have any rules, of course, but that seemed really weird.)
posted by straight at 3:55 AM on June 20


If it's some kind of puppetry, Lady Loki can seriously multitask.
posted by Mogur at 7:47 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


So if the variant is not-loki (enchantress?) and decided she needed loki to fulfil her evil objective she certainly can't just call him up, so how does one enlist the trickster god? Pretend to be the god and upset the (probably eviler) time lord opponents enough so they enlist the t-god for you. Now is Mobius in on it? He does seem too clever to be fooled by a fake trickster in a bad trickster in a too-clever trickster scam (scam type #37).
posted by sammyo at 8:26 AM on June 20


ooh! ooh! will somebody allow themselves to be caught in the next episode?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:57 AM on June 20


If the green control-person glow is a separate entity that can only propagate by physical contact, where did it go when its last host (The Big Guy) toppled over and we saw Lady Loki for the first time? It didn't jump to her, she was way over on the other side of the room.
posted by Mogur at 11:46 AM on June 20


I wonder why a multiverse war would even happen. The universes co-exist just fine, there’s no apparent reason there only needs to be one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:18 PM on June 20


'pity this busy monster, manunkind'

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:53 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I wonder why a multiverse war would even happen.

I'm not entirely sure the source of the story that there even was a multiverse war can be trusted at all.
posted by Grangousier at 3:39 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


maybe the TVA caused the multiverse war to establish their dominion over the sacred timeline (temporal Calvinists as it were)
posted by kokaku at 5:57 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I think the show is telegraphing that the Lizard Overlords don't actually exist.

I suspect you are correct on this. Even if they do, the imminent arrival of What If...? and Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and the apparent presence of assorted villains from McGuire/Garfield Spider-Man movies in upcoming MCU projects leads me to think within the next four episodes, the TVA will be out of commission.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:37 PM on June 20


> maybe the TVA caused the multiverse war to establish their dominion over the sacred timeline (temporal Calvinists as it were)
Appropriate, given the TVA hasn't realized that Ms. Variant is playing Calvinball with them.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 1:15 AM on June 21


Uh request? In the remainder of this thread (and going forwards). - could we just agree to use Timelords or Time Overlords instead of the other reptile based nickname.?

[Ta]
posted by Faintdreams at 7:39 AM on June 21 [5 favorites]


How about we just stick with Timekeepers?
posted by Karmakaze at 8:13 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


There’s a meme going around of the exchange between Stark and Strange:

Strange: I’ve just seen 14 million something and 5 outcomes.

Stark: How many did we win?

Strange: Quite a lot, actually, but some guys calling themselves the TVA kept pruning us and only let us have one.
posted by tilde at 8:27 AM on June 21 [9 favorites]


Tilde, link pls!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:33 AM on June 21


I wonder why a multiverse war would even happen. The universes co-exist just fine, there’s no apparent reason there only needs to be one.

I'm not entirely sure the source of the story that there even was a multiverse war can be trusted at all.

I've not yet read the most recent Secret Wars so my most recent precedent for how the Marvel multiverse functions comes from the Spider-Verse comic, which says it all counts. Anywhere and everywhere you've encountered a Marvel character, from comics to cartoons to videogames to Hostess Fruit Pie ads is considered a legitimate branch on the Marvel cosmic tree. If you see Captain America on a lunchbox, you can assume that somewhere else in that lunchbox universe is a lunchbox Red Skull who must be brought to lunchbox justice.

In this context, the MCU referring to it's version of events as "the Sacred Timeline" is a gag I like more and more the longer I think about it. Because when I was a kid reading comics in the 90s, I didn't know just how real some of those stories of cosmic collapse really were, or how near the financial abyss really was. If things had gone a little different, it's not unrealistic to picture a world where the vast multimedia Marvel U was shorn down to little more than an IP reserve for parent company Toy Biz. All these incredible stories could have wound up lost in the fading memories of weird old nerds like myself.

Such a state of affairs is difficult to imagine as the MCU project approaches year 14. Rocket Raccoon is an international film star now. The movie timeline is the only one most of the planet's Marvel fans are now aware of. It's the timeline which the rest of them now tie themselves in knots to resemble. The MCU story may well have saved every other story Marvel could hope to tell, and now it has acquired vast cosmic gravity, tugging events in other universes into similar shapes. That might well drive the inhabitants of such a timeline to consider it "Sacred," and the inhabitants of other, weaker timelines to have a common interest in protecting themselves, and their own stories as they lived them.
posted by EatTheWeek at 3:48 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Stark and Strange TVA
posted by tilde at 7:24 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


hope there's some improvement and we get a little more eye candy

Who knows, maybe we’ll get a Mobius Strip?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:05 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


What time do new episodes go live? Asking for myself so I can watch it before a friend.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:48 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


New eps go live at midnight Tue night/Wed morning, Pacific time.
posted by Pronoiac at 5:24 PM on June 22


I wonder why a multiverse war would even happen. The universes co-exist just fine, there’s no apparent reason there only needs to be one.

It's a comic book. Of course there has to be a multiverse war. Everyone has to be at war at some point or another.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:15 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


We've only got the TVA's word that there even was a multiverse war, mind you. Maybe it was big happy multiverse picnic that the Timekeepers decided to rain on.
posted by Mogur at 12:18 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept he moved on to the next universe and started conquering that one too.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:00 PM on August 15


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