Loki: For All Time. Always.
July 14, 2021 12:02 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The clock is ticking in the season finale which finds Loki and Sylvie on a date with destiny.
posted by Pronoiac (131 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
(I've only just seen this entry, and not watched anything yet - I have to do a bunch of morning stuff first - but I'd been vaguely wondering what the title was going to be. I saw this and thought "Oh, yes. Of course it is!" As someone given to wild conjectures over the series, I suspect there will be a lot of that. For someone of my advancing age, I'm embarrassingly excited about this. Trying to keep it cool in real life, but frothing internally.)
posted by Grangousier at 12:41 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


AHHHHHHHH
posted by hototogisu at 12:46 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


The only after-credits sequence: a note Loki’s getting a second season.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:51 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


It had looked like Kang would be the big bad of the next MCU phase. This finale means: multiverse ahoy, retcons and rewriting galore, opening so many cans of worms, and this villain might be nothing like the others who will come along with the same face.

Also, that's a nice "damn dirty apes" final moment, there.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:56 AM on July 14 [11 favorites]


VINDICATION!

excuse me while I go scream forever
posted by dogheart at 12:59 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA
posted by cendawanita at 1:00 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Why didn't Sylvie try to enchant The One Who Remains? (Is he Kang? In my youthful Marvel comics reading days I never read his storylines--"Kang the Conquerer" of internet speculation just reminded me of "Ming the Merciless" and it seemed possible Asian stereotyping, but this is a Black guy...) It could be, as we've been told, that those with strong minds resist her enchantment. But she and Loki together just enchanted Alioth.

This seemed more like a theater piece. It was welcome not to have the standard Marvel denouement: confrontation where energy beams shoot out, quips are made, trick revealed, and good guy wins.

The dialogue seemed evocative of themes of the Forever Wars: replace a dictator and sow chaos, is that a good choice? Or, replace a dictator and more sprout up to fill the vacuum...

Also something seems to be missing... They go back to the timeline to find the real Ravonna (to convince the other TVA grunts), but the focus on Loki and Sylvie shifts to the side that we previously know Loki largely in relation with his brother Thor, and it seems odd he doesn't try to contact the Thor of any timeline--though Classic Loki misses him, and we get a gag in Throg.
posted by Schmucko at 1:19 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Overall I'm happy because I'm fully on board for multiverse shenanigans. There was a lot of exposition and setup in this episode. If this was a limited series like Wandavision it might be a letdown, but as a season one cliffhanger and setup for a few movies it worked for me.

This finale means: multiverse ahoy, retcons and rewriting galore

It was a meme when the Eternals trailer came out that if they were protecting Earth so much how come they didn't do anything about Thanos. I'm curious if Marvel has put them in a different timeline. Similarly, when they eventually bring in the X-Men you plop them on a different Earth so you don't have to retcon things but still leave the door open for the inevitable Secret Wars crossover.
posted by Gary at 1:34 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


This seemed more like a theater piece. It was welcome not to have the standard Marvel denouement: confrontation where energy beams shoot out, quips are made, trick revealed, and good guy wins.

Agreed, very nice to have something besides and energy beams finale. I love that the multiverse is born in a scene that could be staged as black box if you wanted, incredible. I've only read a couple of Kang stories, but I love the idea of a supervillain who seems as confused and uncertain as the reader as to what his whole deal is at any given time. Congratulations to Jonathan Majors on however many characters this Kang turns out to be.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:53 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I really liked this finale but I expected an open ending as soon as I heard there was a second season.

Let the Multiverse of Madness begin!!
posted by Pendragon at 2:04 AM on July 14


it seems odd he doesn't try to contact the Thor of any timeline

It doesn't seem odd to me that our Loki goes to find his friend Mobius, who just went to the TVA to burn it to the ground. Mobius would be the one would know the most about the situation. Except for the fact that with the death of He Who Remains, the TVA seems to be rewritten and nobody knows Loki. DUN DUN DUN....
posted by Pendragon at 2:09 AM on July 14


I cannot believe they went there but I was very glad they did.

I was still hoping for Doom when they opened the door, but that was a lot of fun. Haven’t seen a finale hold the network hostage like that since season one of Sherlock.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:19 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


The castle (and world) is kintsugi.
posted by Grangousier at 3:32 AM on July 14 [29 favorites]


Congratulations to Jonathan Majors on however many characters this Kang turns out to be.

He had so much fun with this Kang, I'm sure he'll be even more fun playing multiple different Kangs fighting each other. The finale was a pretty skillful set-up for a new, complex MCU, and the semi-resolution of Sylki was nice, but while Loki clearly has evolved in the Feelings department it was disappointingly out of character to see the God of Mischief simultaneously refuse a throne but still take the side of stultifying bureaucracy and the murder of millions of pruned innocents, instead of being himself and siding with chaotic freedom and multiple universes, even to "think about it for a minute."

Instead of shoving our timeline's Loki away, and thus absolving him of any agency in/responsibility for the entire next phase of the MCU, here's a much more interesting finale: Loki stops Sylvie to "think about it for a minute," they smooch, gaze into one another's eyes, go over the options (mass murder and order vs freedom and chaos), then simultaneously say "Ok, we thought about it," then both turn and stab TVA Kang in the heart, together.

The Lokis justifying that move to Dr. Strange/Captain Marvel/the Avengers on the big screen (after a whiz-bang battle, natch) would have been a helluva scene.

Also: SORT OF VINDICATION!
posted by mediareport at 4:43 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


Just finished here's my initial thoughts.

That was perfect. They sticked the THE FUCK out of that landing. They introduced Kang, but not Kang with the varient device they've been teaching us for the past five episodes! The final "big battle" was not a spectacle, but rather intensely character driven, which let more emotion weight to the ending.

Finally, everything narrative school of thought demanded that Mobius get his jet ski at the end of this and he didn't and it makes perfect sense and puts the emotional stakes even higher.

This is easily the best Marvel series yet and it has been a sheer blast. Imma need to rewatch it at some point.

So fucking good!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:30 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


Where is Dr. Strange?

'cause I have a lot of questions about his 1 in 14 million chances of beating Thanos. 'Cause did those odds involve just defeating Thanos or did they include dealing with Kang too? Like maybe he didn't investigate Wanda because he knew the "good guys" might need her for Kang?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Dr. Strange evaluated the chances with the TVA and He Who Remains in charge of the timeline so maybe he didn't have to include Kang ?
posted by Pendragon at 7:05 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


So it's 9am CST, I guess we all stayed up late or got up early? What a bunch of nerds.

(And so were some of the trailer scenes with Loki on a throne from next season?? Or totally fake??)
posted by emjaybee at 7:06 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Either those scenes were cut like the "Throg beats up Loki" footage from the time theater in episode one. Or even better they only shot them to put in the trailer to fuck with us :D.
posted by invisible_al at 7:22 AM on July 14


One advantage to the way they've done variants is that it allows for recasting as actors age or are unavailable. Need a seen with Thor and Chris Hemsworth is not around? Get his brother, or someone else entirely. (Ultimate stunt casting -- Hiddleston originally read for Thor before he was cast as Loki...) I really really hope that Disney hears the complaints about the total "tell don't show" of Loki being genderfluid along with the Smurfette Principle and cast a few more female or androgynous Loki's as we extend the multiverse into the films and season two.

Marvel has been known to manipulate trailers. There's an scene in the public trailers for Black Widow with a key element changed to prevent spoiling a plot twist.

It would have needlessly extended the episode, so I see why they didn't do it, but a proper trickster would have taken the nickel tour, learned all the secret backdoors then stabbed Kang.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:35 AM on July 14


(Is he Kang? In my youthful Marvel comics reading days I never read his storylines--"Kang the Conquerer" of internet speculation just reminded me of "Ming the Merciless" and it seemed possible Asian stereotyping, but this is a Black guy...)

If it makes you feel better about this, I'm pretty sure Kang was never coded as Asian. He was drawn as a white (well, technically blue) guy from the future in his comics appearances from the first. He did pose as a Pharaoh for a while but even that was explained as a white guy who time-traveled to ancient Egypt send set himself up as king.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:43 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Also, Jon Majors as Kang going to be amazing, he stole almost every scene he was in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


Well, that has to be one of the most satisfying sort-of endings of television I've seen in a while. This conclusion managed to both completely subvert my expectations while still making narrative sense, staying true to the characters while also opening a world of possibilities. This is the sort of thing I watch television for.

If someone had told me I would get this much satisfaction out of watching our two leads sit quietly side-by-side with teacups at their elbows listening to a completely new character monologuing at length about his existence from behind a desk during the final episode of a too-short run I would have been deeply sceptical ... and yet, here we are. Jonathan Majors was fucking brilliant. I enjoyed him in Lovecraft Country but this was on an entire other level from that performance.

I have no idea what's going to happen next, and I want S2 to start *yesterday*.
posted by myotahapea at 8:20 AM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I have the strong feeling that we’re not going to see Loki Season 2 until after we get Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is scheduled to be released in February, 2023.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:00 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


In a review of Episode 5, Camestros Felapton wrote:
We are nearly at the end and this is still a hard show to sum up. It still rests more on charm, super actors and great visuals rather than big themes or narrative momentum but it really doesn’t need any more than that. There is rarely a misstep and Hiddleston, Di Martino and Wilson all have great chemistry
It's a been a fun ride, the actors are wonderful, and the showrunners have thrown us lots of shiny fanservice, but after each episode, I can't help notice the logic holes. They don't disrupt my enjoyment of the show, but I can't deny that the plot requires a hefty dose of disbelief (or idiocy on the part of the characters) to hang together.

A few examples:

— "He's a liar"/"Maybe he's telling the truth" -- If only one of them had the power to get inside someone's head and experience using that ability for interrogation. Sure, there are reasons it might not work, but better than acting as though they had no other way of validating his claims but their intuition.

— We've seen other TVA employees get pruned. If all it takes to escape the Void is a TemPad, why is Mobius the only one ever to return?

— For that matter, the notion that all TVA employees are variants -- given enough time, you'd think more folks would notice the familiar faces.

I really did enjoy the show. I just wish the writing was smarter.
posted by cheshyre at 9:01 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I also enjoyed this a lot but it felt more like it was from the Doctor Who universe than the Marvel one, or at least it owed a big exaggerated wink to that franchise.
posted by Stanczyk at 9:08 AM on July 14 [9 favorites]


It’s a small thing, but I loved the detail of how Loki and Sylvie’s synced movements reflected their united purpose when they first arrive at the Timekeeper's fortress. Their blade handling has a coordination that reminded me of this observation from Ragnarok, and when they sit their posture and weapon placement is identical.

This narrative brought the story to the point where the idea of Lokis running the TVA -- a theory I couldn't get behind when it was floated in past episode discussions -- seemed to make perfect sense, and it was both awful and beautifully logical that this unforseen possibility was the wedge that split their unity. It's not surprising that our Loki would consider it, given all he's seen during this series (and his likely belief that he could find a more benevolent way of doing it), and equally unsurprising that Sylvie would reject it outright, for the same reasons.

I really appreciated that they both questioned, yet ultimately believed each others' motives were genuine. Loki telling Sylvie that the only thing he cares about is her being okay [ALL THE FEELS], and her knowing he means it. Her kissing him with real emotion, and their sharing a moment of total connection. And it doesn't matter. In the end all the character growth and emotional bonding wasn't enough to overcome their lived experiences. "You can't trust, and I can't be trusted."

And Jesus ... Loki sat there after Sylvie boots him back to the TVA. Hiddleston somehow makes his face look about a thousand years old, silently conveying the weight of everything he's just lost. That push-in shot was devastating.
posted by myotahapea at 9:22 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


So it's 9am CST, I guess we all stayed up late or got up early? What a bunch of nerds.

Ever heard of timelines timezones ? It aired at 09:00 AM here in the Netherlands. Hardly had to get up early for that.
posted by Pendragon at 10:17 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


We've seen other TVA employees get pruned. If all it takes to escape the Void is a TemPad, why is Mobius the only one ever to return?

Because not all TVA employees have a TemPad ? And when they get pruned they usually, like Mobius, get their TemPad taken from them ? And even if they keep their TemPad, Alioth is there to eat them ?
posted by Pendragon at 10:23 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


In the end all the character growth and emotional bonding wasn't enough to overcome their lived experiences.

The most striking thing is that Loki grew and matured because he got a glimpse of his future, and from that growth he gained a friend and potential relationship, perhaps for the first time in his life.

Yet he lost both because of his new found, and probably situational, desire to do the right thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


I stayed up late to watch each episode the moment it dropped at 12am PDT Wednesday morning, which usually meant I was up until 2 or 3. I regret nothing.

Well, I regret that the second half of the soundtrack isn't due until later this month.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:56 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I have been following the conversations here as I've watched the show but I've been hesitant to comment, as 1) I don't know anything about the comics and 2) by the time I'd watch an episode anything I might have wanted to say had already been said. I'm (relatively) early this time - but I've only got three thoughts:

Except for the fact that with the death of He Who Remains, the TVA seems to be rewritten and nobody knows Loki. DUN DUN DUN....

1) Is that what happened? Or did Loki end up in a different timeline than the one he came from? Genuine question here.

2) I was/am casually on the Loki/Sylvie train, but man that kiss was not earned.

3) I suspect I am a minority of one in this, but I thought Jonathan Majors' performance was terrible. I mean, mid-sentence dead-air, chaotic, unanchored inflections, community-theater levels of terrible, and I am not looking forward to having to watch him in more Marvel stuff. What a massive disappointment.
posted by tzikeh at 1:01 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


Wait, does that mean Sylvie deliberately pushed him to a different timeline?
posted by fullerine at 1:02 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Heck yeah they stuck the fucken landing!
posted by ominous_paws at 1:06 PM on July 14


Also did NOT think it would be good if the big bad was the introduction of a new overarching villain and am so very glad to be wrong
posted by ominous_paws at 1:07 PM on July 14


I’ve also never read a single Marvel comic, and felt very left-in-the-dark by the finale.

I liked He-Who-Apparently-Has-Another-Name-Not-Mentioned-In-The-Episode’s performance but it was done a massive disservice by the audio mixing - he was so quiet compared to the Lokis that I assumed he was another illusion until well into his backstory monologue.

Overall, this was an odd adaptation of The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.
posted by lazugod at 1:21 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


2) I was/am casually on the Loki/Sylvie train, but man that kiss was not earned.

He gave her puppy dog eyes for three episodes, so she kissed him as a distraction. Then she pushed him into another timeline so she could murder Kang. I might need to watch again but I never got the sense that the feelings were mutual. Or at least, not nearly on the same level.
posted by Gary at 1:31 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


1) Is that what happened? Or did Loki end up in a different timeline than the one he came from? Genuine question here.

I think the TVA exists in a sort of pocket dimension outside of the timelines so there is only one TVA, but I could be wrong.
posted by Pendragon at 1:39 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I think I would have enjoyed the finale much more if I was at least aware of the basics of Kang's position in the lore. Watching it, I felt meh. After reading a summary of the Kang storylines, I could see how people would love it. Hearing "I was born in the 31st century..." is going to play very differently between the two groups.

Ravonna Renslayer being a big part of the comics Kang storylines was also kinda intriguing. Wish they had dropped more hints about that in the episodes. She was obviously connected to the top in some way, but it just came across as someone bounding up the career ladder. And not a more intimate, tighter connection that might have played a key role in the formation of the whole thing.

I think this might be the first time the MCU left the non-readers out of the loop.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:52 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Possibly. He came across (to me, anyway) as just another bully, belittling the heros and laughing at their sacrifice. Negan is why I quit Walking Dead. Will Kang be why I quit Loki?
posted by Mogur at 3:13 PM on July 14


Couple things upon my second watch:

1) Ravonna in her first scene in this episode talks with Ms Minutes, and is angry that the files she asked for are not what Ms Minutes gives her. Ms Minutes also explicitly says "he wanted you to see this" and then vanishes, so Ms Minutes knows about He Who Remains (and apparently always has, so.. yeah). I mean, we are shown this with her greeting Loki and Sylvie in the entrance to the Citadel, but there is way more going on with Ms Minutes. Also, this sets up the link between Kang/He Who Remains and Ravonna Renslayer, setting up all kinds of possible story lines.

2) He Who Remains, just after the point where the cross the "threshold" to where he no longer knows what will happen, tells Loki and Sylvie "the timeline is already splitting", so while they are having their sword acrobatics, the other universes are forming, hence when Sylvie shoved Loki through the portal, he ends up at some other random TVA. While it is in a pocket dimension or something where time and magic and everything else works differently, where/whenever the TVA is has to be attached to a specific timeline. Hence, timelines start to split and form new universes, new TVAs.

3) At the end, when Loki goes running through the TVA looking for Mobius, he runs up to a clock and the camera does a full 360 around him then you see a group of the Minutemen go running by and hear one of them saying "Copy that, headed to the Armory". That's Eugene Cordero, aka Casey, in full Minutemen armor, so you are already given a clue this isn't the same TVA. His IMDB listing for that episode even lists him as Casey/Hunter K-5E.

4) When we see Hunter B-15 and Mobius in front of the Timeline screen, we know that is our Mobius because his suit is all rumpled and he's got a bit of a 5-o'clock shaddow. The next time we see a Mobius as Loki finds him in the Archives, he's clean shaven and his suit isn't rumpled. These subtle clues are so amazing and detail oriented and just make me have to love the show runners for this, because they made sure those details were in there.

5) The fact that He Who Remains actually was using Aliath and it's ability to consume time and space to end the first multiverse war was genius. It makes the scenery in Episode 5 make so much more sense, because a ton of the supposed Easter Eggs and fan service wasn't that. The Void where everything was being pruned was alternate universes/timelines where other Kangs existed and he banished them to the Void for Aliath to consume. Remember, he's a liar, so his story can't be taken at full face value, however every good liar knows you have to seed a lie with some semblence of the truth, otherwise it isn't believable. We know he "won" the multiverse war, but his motive was likely not peace. It was destruction of his foes (all alternate Kangs and their universes), and ultimate control of everything. He just rationalized it as "good" after he won and spent an eternity pruning any possible new universes/timelines that might grow to oppose his control.
posted by daq at 3:40 PM on July 14 [18 favorites]


That's Eugene Cordero, aka Casey

AKA Pillboi
posted by axiom at 4:04 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


That's Eugene Cordero, aka Casey

AKA Pillboi


AKA the guy who's had enough of the slap ass.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:21 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Bold of the season finale to spend so much time on exposition. Yawn.

There was so much speculation about Mephisto being the Big Bad in WandaVision, which was very far wrong, and when it turned out to be Agatha All Along, I knew the show was in good hands. You don't introduce the real villain in the finale... and have them be a character we've never met before.

Loki ran headlong into that problem and I felt nothing about anything. They didn't get me to care enough about Loki/Sylvie, even though that blanket moment was nice last week. And we all knew that the multiverse of madness was coming, so all that stuff that Kang said (I only know he's Kang because he was long ago cast in the next Ant-Man film) didn't really constitute much of a dramatic question. Sylvie was always going to be the one that recreated the Multiverse.

Moebius not knowing Loki should have hit like a freight train. But it hit like a wet sponge for me. After setting up their relationship in the first couple of episodes, they were separated for half the season.

For me, this is the least successful of the Marvel/Disney+ shows, even though it was the one I was most excited about to begin with.
posted by crossoverman at 5:12 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Remember how the Wandavision finale came out and we were all mad because it was full of silly action movie stuff and big explosions and fights and an aerial light show? This sure wasn't that. I found myself kinda missing those fireworks, TBH. This was just so wordy. Almost thoughtful! Then again all the actiony stuff in previous Loki episodes wasn't so great. I'm not quite sure whether I liked the episode or not. Need to reflect.

I am pretty sure I don't like where this version of Hiddleston Loki ended up. A romantic fool who's willing to sacrifice himself to save the multiverse and who only cares about the happiness of his crush? I miss evil scheming Loki who was cleverer and more self-centered than everyone around him.

Agreed with the other folks who've said if you don't know what a Kang is from the comic books this episode doesn't quite land. I'm pretty baffled now, but I appreciate they're laying the groundwork for things to come.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I think this might be the first time the MCU left the non-readers out of the loop.

Well, maybe not the first time, but, yeah, that’s exactly how I feel about this finale, especially after reading this thread and seeing so much fuckyeahtheystuckthelanding!!!!

Honestly, if you have no fucking clue who this Kang is (and I don’t) the finale is utterly senseless and kind of a big fizzle. And, after reading through this thread, I still have no clue who Kang is, why they matter, and wtf do they have to do with this finale.

I’m happy the comics fans got their service, but, as much as I really liked the series up to this point, this finale kind of makes me regret getting invested in it.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:04 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I liked this! Didn't know what the hell I was watching, not having any idea who Kang is, and it was more than just a little like the Architect scene from Matrix Reloaded but still, good fun, letting us feel the stakes of just what kind of a job our many heroes have in front of them in order to make this problem something you can solve with punching! And now whenever Sylvie pops up in a movie two-to-four years from now, that'll be cheer-worthy.

This sounds sarcastic even as I'm writing it, but come on, we know how the MCU operates by now, and this set us up for a lot of good times to be had down the road.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:39 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Natalie Holt makes a damn fine soundtrack
posted by lalochezia at 8:12 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Also, Jon Majors as Kang going to be amazing, he stole almost every scene he was in.

I've really enjoyed him in everything I've seen him in.
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Honestly, if you have no fucking clue who this Kang is (and I don’t) the finale is utterly senseless and kind of a big fizzle.

I didn't know anything going in but he monologued his entire backstory for half the episode.
posted by octothorpe at 8:40 PM on July 14 [20 favorites]


- daq makes some great catches above.

- I'm not understanding what people aren't understanding about Kang. Guy in 31st century invents time machine; because it lets him visit alternate histories, he meets different versions of himself; some of them are assholes; they have a war; the guy who Loki and Sylvie meet is the one who won, and is pretty sure that the TVA is the only way to avoid infinite and eternal war. Maybe he's right, maybe he's just a megalomaniac. Where's the confusion?

- I thought that Majors was fine. The whole point of Kang was that he was, as he said, extremely old and had been manipulating events for quite some time, and so he was probably more than a little eccentric because of various paradoxes and whatnot. He sort of reminds me about how the Wizard of Oz was clearly getting a bit stir-crazy cooped up in his big room in Emerald City.

- So what's Sylvie going to do now?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:45 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


A couple of random thoughts:

• From a philosophical perspective, I find it interesting that the show treats the branching multiverse as emblematic of free will, and a single-timeline universe as antithetical to free will. From what I understand, debate on the philosophy of quantum mechanics has mostly raised the opposite argument. That is, some critics of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics argue that it leaves no room for free will (and therefore argue that the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is, if not implausible, at least depressing). If every time you are confronted with a choice between two options, you pick both options and both resulting realities exist in parallel, then do you ever really have any choice? (For a discussion of this argument from a pro-many-worlds perspective, see Box 4.1 in Section 4.8 of David Wallace’s The Emergent Multiverse, and the citations referenced there.) So it’s interesting that the MCU multiverse, which is explicitly based on many-worlds quantum mechanics (albeit of course a cartoonish version thereof), treats restoring the branching multiverse as a means of achieving free will.

• Random video game recommendation: for folks who enjoyed the setting of the TVA—a covert agency based in a mysterious enormous building existing outside of space and time (and having a cool retrofuturistic vibe), protecting the world against metaphysical threats—check out Control. The TVA and its building remind me of the Bureau and the Oldest House.
posted by Syllepsis at 9:15 PM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Count me in with the crew that found the Kang stuff pretty blah. Though most MCU villains bore me to tears, so I guess this was nothing new.

The only thing I liked was the end, when Loki learns he's been deposited in a branched timeline. The thing that has me excited is that Moebius didn't recognize Loki -- not that Moebius hasn't met him in this timeline, but that he literally didn't recognize that famously troublesome variant that the TVA was constantly pruning. So something big has changed with Lokis, as well as with the multiverse?
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:36 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Kang vs Immortus!
posted by vrakatar at 11:55 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I'm finding it interesting how much people's expectations of what a Season Finale is are playing into the reactions, both positive and negative.

The true mastermind unveiled. A second antagonist begins enacting a plan. Exposition heavy revelation of backstory. Normal level of physical combat for a typical episode, no upgrade to a massive battle sequence. The central relationship takes a leap forward and then a stumble back. Twist at the end that alters the direction of the story.

I feel like that's pretty much exactly what you would expect of a mid-season pivot episode. Maybe right before a monthlong break. Like, episode 6 of 12 or so -- which it presumably is.

But because the break between episodes 6 and 7 might be a year (or more), it seems to be striking people as very odd and unusual, whether they're finding it innovative (A talky finale rather than a big fight! Such a refreshing change!) or clunky (The villain introduced at the last minute? Why do I even care about this guy?)

Anyway, I thought that was interesting.
posted by kyrademon at 3:18 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


But it's not a mid-season pivot, it's the end of the season. And this is effectively Marvel's first ongoing series, since WandaVision and F&WS are both one-and-done shows. So what you need is a compelling reason to return next season, not next week. I'm going to need something more than "they don't remember Loki" to get me back. In the meantime, a lot of Phase 4 is going to play out. I was hoping to see Loki and Sylvie in one or more of the films, but I can't really see that happening now.
posted by crossoverman at 3:26 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I'm not understanding what people aren't understanding about Kang.

Kang's not difficult to understand. The problem is: for a lot of us going in, we don't know anything about him. There's been no hints and no foreshadowing. It's just some guy who suddenly appears in a broken castle. Goes on this long monologue and we don't even know if he's telling the truth.

Majors's performance kinda works against the character. Not only do we not know if he's telling the truth, but this laconic easy going guy doesn't come across at all as someone powerful enough to essentially run the universe.

If you already know the character, then I could see how that casual conversation would be powerful. Or if we had a ton of foreshadowing about the nightmarish villain who killed zillions in time wars. About a heartless dictator who controls time to the point of suffocation. And then we get laid-back friendly guy who really just wants to talk, then that would have been good too.

But he's just dropped out of the blue without any sign of significance or hint of his backstory beyond what he tells us. That's what bugged me.

On a positive note, I can see how this character could be a good villain. One with better motives than Thanos. And I'm sure the future movies will flesh things out enough that it will retroactively make this finale seem much better to me.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:02 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]


I thought it was appropriately Kafkaesque that Loki struggled against a vast bureaucracy all the way to the end of time, only to end up right where he started with any progress he had made erased.

I personally preferred this ending to the big fight scene endings of the other two series. I feel like the main two options are fighting and talking. Is there another option for ending something without a big fight scene? I can understand people not liking this version of a talk-focused ending.

Introducing Kang in the last episode is unconventional, I guess. Like, the Thanos introduction at the end of Avengers is not part of the story of that movie since he comes in after the conflict is resolved. But since so much of this show is exposing layer after layer of the TVA and its deception, it seems pretty appropriate to have an introduction in this episode. The whole setup was going to a mysterious place to find out who is behind it all.
posted by snofoam at 4:15 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


yoooo I loved how talky this was, and even if this were the end of the series I would have been extremely into that last shot as an ending. Arguably even more so if that were the actual ending, even.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:18 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


like that was a Twilight Zone ending you guys
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:32 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


So what's Sylvie going to do now?

Like Inigo Montoya, she's going to become the next Dread Pirate Roberts.

like that was a Twilight Zone ending you guys

My spouse referred to Sophie shoving him through the portal as "sending Loki to the cornfield"
posted by Foosnark at 4:58 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


My problem isn't that it was a talk-based ending. I'm very glad it was. I personally love lore-dumps and exposition monologues. I wish WandaVision had ended similarly.

It's just that it felt disconnected from everything that came before. The joy of a good twist comes from how it seems obvious in retrospect.

The show itself illustrated this well. Kang, with all the baggage and lore about him, comes out of nowhere. But the ultimate ending of weird timeline shenanigans with TVA & Loki does feel natural. The show dropped many warnings of dire things happening if unrestricted branching occurs.

Plus, most viewers understand time travel / mirror universe / multiverse tropes well. Getting dropped into the goatee universe, where your friends no longer know you, is a big part of that. It's a good example of a twist that fits.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:28 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I thought everyone nailed their micro-expressions, honestly: halfway through Kang's backstory, I pinpointed the moment when I knew Loki believed him. His crestfallen look when he tried to convince Sylvie with the sword at this throat--she can't trust, and he can't be trusted. Her look of an empty victory, when she got what she had been fighting towards her whole life, and then felt no relief when Kang was dead. Loki's back-to-back heartbreak and betrayal of being pushed away (emotionally and literally) and then not being recognized.

This episode was great. The plot honestly could have been whatever and I still would have liked it, but I'm a sucker for branching timelines and multiverses. After all the explosions and fighting and yelling in the main Marvel movies, the underlying conflict and world felt calmly sinister by comparison. I'm very much looking forward to season 2.
posted by lesser weasel at 5:36 AM on July 15 [10 favorites]


Thinking of the complaints about the fight blocking in a previous episode, this one reminded me that Loki is much more fun to watch when he has his teleportation and other magic to work with. His whole style is built on misdirection and making him fight like a straight brawler doesn't work.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:54 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I don't know Kang from the next comic-book villain with a silly name. But my impression of He Who Remains was that I like this guy and definitely shouldn't. I look forward to seeing his variants.

I also really liked the shot where Kang slides his time-travel device across the desk for the Lokis to claim, but from the camera angle it looks like it's still on his hand.

Sylvie booting Loki out was the right thing to do, on several levels. Loki's upbringing is working against him: putting Loki on the throne may be the wrong thing to do - but even at his best, the prince of Asgard is going to think that someone should be in charge. Classic Loki made the same choice in the Void, where there was no reason to have a hierarchy at all. Also, it puts someone who just heard Kang's whole monologue back into the universe (ish). Probably good to have a backup when you murder the guy who claims to be holding reality together.
posted by mersen at 6:24 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Personally I was actually entirely okay with Kang’s introduction: I have long thought most MCU movies (and superhero movies and indeed action movies in general) crumple in the final reel, when we just get twenty minutes of CGI energy beams and explosions and usually a pillar of light going up into the sky for whatever reason. To wind up the story with our central character, their counterpart/reflection/alternate version, and the Man Behind the Curtain just sitting at a table and talking was effective.

I’m not too worried about introducing an overarching nemesis at the very end of another narrative. Because of time travel shenanigans, the Loki we see in this show picks up his story on the same day as the Battle of New York in The Avengers. There was no Fanfare in 2012, but it’s not hard to find online discussions from then of what an absolute disaster it was to squeeze the introduction of Thanos into a post-credits scene and clearly this is a character who will never be accepted by casual viewers.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:51 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Because I grew up at a time that the season finale was often a cliffhanger I think I'm okay with that, although I found myself checking how many minutes were left during the monologuing and realizing it wasn't going to wrap up the plot well.

I do think there was an emotional disconnect for the audience that doesn't know who Kang is (I'm in that group.) I'm still thinking about it structurally, but I think it's because it is exposition and monologuing, and because he's so ineffective at showing who and what he is.

There's a bit of doubt that this? This is the guy who is the TVA? Because he doesn't show the qualities I would have expected. I personally would have been helped by:

- more of a brutalist/TVA vibe in his castle. It has weight but doesn't really speak the same visual language. I'd've put a few TVA artifacts on his desk (I need to rewatch, maybe they were there, but not obviously enough for me.) I don't understand why the graphics of the multiverse war weren't more Miss Minutes/TVA-like.

- some demonstration of his abilities like, I don't know, Alioth shows up un-enchanted and he pets him or he spins the duo through an actual multiverse apocalypse (which could have set Sylvie's rage off neatly) or something, like I may not have the solution but the artistic choice to have him talk with the little animated graphics didn't work for me, even if it was meant as a banality of evil leadership kind of thing. Possibly because of the castle and the multiverse view window.

- the thing that bothered me most intensely in that scene though is that neither Loki nor Sylvie seemed to be tempted sheerly by the amount of chaos potential in unleashing the multiverse war and they are God of Mischief, no?

I liked the Loki/Sylvie interplay and the fight even if a bit of the blocking was blocky, and it rang true to me throughout, but I would have liked them to deal both with the personal relationship Trust issues and the human-like Free Will issues AND be gods hell bent on their godspheres. I felt like I got that in ep 5 with the raising of Asgard against the soaring musical themes and the stronger than we realize, and then here in ep 6 it's like...so this is just an Avengers level story?

I did love Hiddleston's face when he got whammed back into the timeline. And the wrong timeline hook works for me.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:25 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I saw this in the first few comments, maybe someone else already pointed it out but if you look at the wiki for Kang...

An alternate version of him known as "He Who Remains" appeared in the Loki (2021) episode "For All Time. Always.".

Also Jonathan Majors can really tear up a scene. I love him. I want to hang out with him.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:45 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I watched this last night and wanted some time before deciding what i really think of the finale.

*Is is some sort of writerly meta-joke that the season ended up being, essentially blah blah blah "it's the friends we make along the way!" ?

*I didn't love Majors' Kang. Up to this point Loki's major foil has been Anthony Hopkins' Odin. the All-father has (almost) always been able to put Loki in his place, until he couldn't. Kang did NOT come across as someone who could cow the god of mischief with some backstory and a temp-pad

*Loki's arc was a letdown. In the first episodes he is out of the neck harness and roaming the TVA looking for answers and threatening to burn the place down. That Loki would have looked Kang in the eye and thought "oh, the object of this game is to out-do all of the other you's in the multiverse and end up ruler of everything? Game On!" what did Moebius or Sylvie do to that Loki?

*I greatly enjoyed the show, in general. the FX were top-notch for TV. I get that it has basically been a set-up for the next phase of MCU, I'm just not certain they have done their title character justice.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:09 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


And this is effectively Marvel's first ongoing series

/cries in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I feel like the main two options are fighting and talking. Is there another option for ending something without a big fight scene?

An alternative to fighting is nice, but talking's not enough. I want to find out what the hell is going on. Six episodes is more than enough time to introduce some mysteries, bounce the characters off each other in various combinations, then come to some sort of a conclusion. One of the reasons I like these limited series is the hope that they'll tell a story more completely than the usual American episodic TV eternal story treadmill. Instead we got, "Oh, shit, renewed? Cancel the ending and punt everybody off on a tangent."
posted by The Tensor at 9:21 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


We've already mentally woven together Loki with Lovecraft Country over here. It's too late to change our minds.
posted by jquinby at 9:24 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I want to find out what the hell is going on.

Renslayer and Hunter B-15 both got seriously shortchanged in this not-finale. They both went through major existential crises where their entire histories and purpose were overturned. How tragic! That could have been a lot more interesting than it turned out to be. I think the Hunter B-15 who found the truth was just entirely dropped, right, and maybe replaced with the alternate timeline where Moebius doesn't know Loki? Renslayer at least gets a little dialog about how "it all has to mean something afterall" and then charges off through a portal to who knows where. Both totally loose ends left open, like the writers really didn't have any idea what to do with those characters so they left it entirely open. Which is not a terrible strategy for a season 2 but sure is dissatisfying.

Is Hiddles fully committed to a season 2? I'm sure he likes cashing the checks but he doesn't seem like the kind of actor who would tie himself down to a single TV series and do nothing else. Then again 6 hours of production a year doesn't require a full time commitment the way a traditional 26 episode season would.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I was so braced for a pew pew finale and it didn't happen!

I think Kang laid his history out well enough. I haven't read the comics, but I'm Online Enough to have picked up most of the info about him and all his various guises, but I tend to get a little tuned out when it comes to triple backflip time shenanigans and don't try to follow all the loops. Either way, I understood what he was about, and don't mind the ambiguity about his being a liar or not because that ambiguity has to be there anyway. I'm interested in the idea that there was no winning solution here, and it all came down to the individual Lokis and their individual drives. I don't think a pair of Loks ruling the timeline would have been great (even if I like these two particular Lokis a lot) but uh multidimensional timeline warfare is no bueno either.

So anyway, I think this is the best resolution of the three D+ shows at this point, and I'm interested to see what's next.
posted by PussKillian at 9:33 AM on July 15


The Loki/Sylvie/He-Who-Remains confrontation at the end was just a mess, storywise. HWR vaguely sketched out his backstory and the supposed stakes, but we know he's a liar on a grand scale, and I'm still not clear on the stakes—is the TVA culling whole timelines (along with everybody in them, right?) supposed to be better or worse than a multiversal war of all against all? Or does the war also involve culling timelines? I wanted L+S to stop for a minute and ask more questions—they're smart and should have understood they were making a truly momentous choice, and there was plenty of time to hash things out in the Office at the End of the Universe.

And this doesn't even address the question of whether Loki or Sylvie can be trusted to run the TVA, or whatever it mutates into if it stops chasing down variants. I'm having a hard time getting enthusiastic for replacing one supervillain with another as the leader of the genocidal time cops. (I'm not yet convinced that Loki's face-turn is real and lasting.)
posted by The Tensor at 10:32 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Ugh, after thinking this over I am disappointed that they went for the conventional Smurfette heterosexual romance angle. With all the interesting directions this could have gone, they chose the most boring.
posted by medusa at 11:04 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


more of a brutalist/TVA vibe in his castle. It has weight but doesn't really speak the same visual language. I'd've put a few TVA artifacts on his desk (I need to rewatch, maybe they were there, but not obviously enough for me.) I don't understand why the graphics of the multiverse war weren't more Miss Minutes/TVA-like.

To me, it makes sense that the all-powerful mastermind would have his own aesthetic, while choosing to put his mindless bureaucratic cogs into an environment designed for paper pushing.
posted by snofoam at 11:39 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


So...he is essentially a super smart human with time travel tech? He is someone capable of deceiving 2 Loki's? And we get all of this fun info via dialogues ? Sorry, but that wasn't a very good introduction.
posted by asra at 12:45 PM on July 15


It would be interesting to be able to watch what's coming up without knowing anything about Kang, and just see He Who Remains as a cosmic Wonka, which is how he came across, rather than being aware of all the other Kangs we're about to see. After all, this is the end of the beginning of everything else rather than the end of this series.

(There was a comment on the Guardian post about this episode which suggested that twelve episodes have been shot, which would make this the mid-season break as suggested above. Mind you, the commenter got Mark Ruffalo's name fantastically wrong, attributing the gen to him, so it was almost certainly a wind-up.)

I think the key line is "We're all villains here". And they are - there's not a single character in the show who would technically be categorised as a hero, yet none of them are really evil. They've all done bad things, but that's because they're all controlled, not by the TVA, but by their roles and by the aims (the "glorious purpose") that the roles imbue them with. At the end, for all her talk of free will, Sylvie had no options at all other than fulfilling her Glorious Purpose, while Loki (having finally been unburdened of his) could see that there might be more options available. In finally succeeding, she failed utterly. But ultimately, perhaps a shattered multiverse can be put together again better.

What it's pointing to, for me, is that Loki and Sylvie will be back there in many, many viewing hours, and this time they'll have an alternative way of taming the Multiverse that doesn't involve fascism. That's the suggestion.

I'm a happy boy anyway. Mileages vary.
posted by Grangousier at 3:39 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Then again 6 hours of production a year doesn't require a full time commitment the way a traditional 26 episode season would.

As a British actor, Hiddleston may find six episodes per year intuitively obvious as just about the right number.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:07 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I am on Team Never Read The Comics For Decades, Had No Idea What Was Going On Here. HIs name is "He Who Remembers," or Kang, or both? Did they even SAY "Kang" in this for us idiot noobs? I didn't enjoy this and was confused as heck.

What I did get out of it:
* Ravonna and Hunter B-12 (or whatever her bingo number is....) are barely in it. Why did we go find Ravonna's timeline original and do nothing with it?
* IT WAS MISS MINUTES ALL ALONG and boy, was she ever creepy.
* Miss Minutes offering you all you ever wanted was the scariest, creepiest, most obviously wrong thing ever.
* Do I believe any of what this guy is saying?
* You know, I kind of agree that this Loki is watered down from his original schemer self. I kind of feel like he's not doing all that much? HE is being the voice of reason?...Huh.
* Sylvie really isn't into the idea of getting romantic with him, is she? Nope.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:30 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I never read Avengers' comics, so I'm only familiar with Kang as name and image, so seeing the notKang was just fine. Perhaps it's crucial to realize that this is not Kang, but a variant of him and that Kang will be someone different, though obviously planned by the same actor.

It's surprising and interesting to see so many people are dissatisfied with the finale when I'm totally in love with it. It was great experience in my book and not what I expected in totally wonderful ways.

Who knows what season 2 will bring?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 PM on July 15 [8 favorites]


I'm actually confused about what the shot of the Kang statue means: does it mean Loki's universe's timeline got rewritten, or does it mean Loki got sent to a different universe?
posted by polymodus at 6:14 PM on July 15


Most are saying Loki is in a different timeline!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


While I agree that our Loki has become ordinary and passive compared with his former trickster self, maybe Loki staying smug and self-aggrandizing would have have grated on us, would have tired us out by its relentlessness. At least we saw it in alternate forms. Episode 5 was definitely the most fun.
posted by Schmucko at 6:51 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


One of the things that made the first two episodes very very dark for me was how completely ruthless the "evil variant" (Sylvie) was. Hostages, mind control, mass murder killing one of the TVA teams by setting them on fire - that is some seriously chilling vicious shit. And then the story plays out in a way that Sylvie becomes the audience's manic pixie dream girl with Loki as some kind of tortured honorable romantic hero, even though all those people she murdered were variants just like her. She clearly knows the TVA is staffed with mind-wiped variants, at least during the show if not before the start of its events, and yet at no point does she go "oh, shit, I murdered a bunch of innocent people exactly the way I'm mad at the TVA for trying to kill me."

So I really liked the "GROW UP, GROW UP, SYLVIE" part reminding us that no one gets to hold too much of a moral high ground here. It's not at all a direct analogue, but it had the same satisfying punch as the "cerulean monologue" in the Devil Wears Prada. I would have been happy to see more of a reaction from Sylvie when she's called out.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 7:02 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


This talk of explodey versus talky endings sort of overlooks the fact that WandaVision actually combined both and was stronger for it. There was lots of fighting, sure, but how did Vision deal with Vision in the end? Talking. And how did Wanda deal with Agatha in the end? Well, it was with magic, but it was the runes and it was a neat reveal based on something set up episodes before. There was a lot of CGI in the WandaVision finale, but that's not what resolved that story.

Talky conflicts with moral dilemmas can work. In fact, this series structurally suggests this is where the show is headed - given that a lot of the conflict in this series was settled via complex/convoluted conversations. Loki v Moebius. Moebius v Renslayer. Loki v Sylvie. It's just a hard ask for viewers to care about Loki & Sylvie v Someone We've Never Seen Before and 20+ minutes of exposition.

Besides, we knew the multiverse was coming. We knew the choice that was going to be made. So there was no real conflict there.
posted by crossoverman at 7:06 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I don't think it was talky enough. All kinds of time loop philosophical issues that would have been fun to cycle through, but kissy kissy, stabby stabby. My thought was not trouble understanding the end but it seemed lame enough that I was sure there must be another episode I'd missed. Fine with a second season but from the aficionados discussion above I just hope Kang gets to be blue some of the time.
posted by sammyo at 8:38 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


oh, shit, I murdered a bunch of innocent people exactly the way I'm mad at the TVA for trying to kill me.

But, they started it? Sylvie has been hunted for her whole life, and the TVA agents were doing the hunting. They're also protecting the organization that put a hit out on her entire existence. Basically anything she did to the TVA counts as self-defense in my book. Sylvie never convinced me she was a villain at all this season, not even after killing He Who Remains (I'm reserving judgment until we see how she deals with what results).
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:32 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Besides, we knew the multiverse was coming. We knew the choice that was going to be made. So there was no real conflict there.

And yet Loki wrestled with what to do and fought Sylvie over it, so we weren’t sure how the multiverse would come about.

Because Loki and Sylvie ruling together would not been a walk in the park.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 PM on July 15


more of a brutalist/TVA vibe in his castle. It has weight but doesn't really speak the same visual language. I'd've put a few TVA artifacts on his desk (I need to rewatch, maybe they were there, but not obviously enough for me.) I don't understand why the graphics of the multiverse war weren't more Miss Minutes/TVA-like.

To me, it makes sense that the all-powerful mastermind would have his own aesthetic, while choosing to put his mindless bureaucratic cogs into an environment designed for paper pushing.


You know, now that y'all mention it, I wonder if there's anything to how we saw the figure in Kang's Tiny Desk Re-enactment carrying one of those pruning rods from the beginning of his story - that is, allegedly well before Alioth's discovery and capture or the formation of the TVA.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:57 PM on July 15


I loved all the Kang stuff, it's the Loki stuff that disappointed me.

First, Kang. They don't use the name but He Who Remains says he's been known as a conqueror and in the comics he's always known as Kang the Conqueror.

But! In the comics, there are a bunch of Kangs running amok in the timelines conquering things and fighting each other and frequently there will be one who claims to be the Kang who is somehow preeminent. But there is also Immortus, who is supposedly Kang's future self who has grown weary of conquering and is less obviously a villain. Kang will typically directly fight the Avengers but Immortus is typically doing stuff to manipulate things behind the scenes. Kang is usually portrayed as determined to never become Immortus.

So I think the character we see here is actually Immortus. Immortus wears a robe instead of the jumpsuit seen on the statue at the end, which is what Kang usually wears. I don't think you need to know any of that to appreciate the character, but it helps highlight some important bits:

He Who Remains is tired. He defeated all his rivals and set up a system to keep them from ever existing to threaten him. (Maybe one timeline at peace is better than infinite timelines at war, but destroying all the timelines save his own seems more like winning a total war than preventing one.) But now he wants Loki/Sylvie to either run the TVA for him or at least put him out of his misery. At worst it will unleash a bunch of Kangs waging cross-timeline war, but eventually one of them will create a TVA to prune the others and become He Who Remains.
posted by straight at 1:19 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


So I think the whole story of He Who Remains is pretty cool and a great setup for Majors to show up as several different versions of a time-traveling villain. I just don't see how it's a Loki story. He doesn't do anything clever or treacherous or surprising. I'm not sure how the story would be different if it were about a variant Black Widow or Ant-Man plucked out of their timelines to chase and fall in love with a rogue gender-swapped version of themselves. I don't feel like this series delivered any of what made Loki such a great character in the movies and made me excited about him getting his own show.

When people say they would like the climax of a Marvel story to be something besides a big CGI fight, they don't mean they want to see the protagonist sit slack-jawed listening to the villain explain the plot.

When Loki says Sylvie can't trust him, it's not like how Thor can't trust him because of his long history of betrayal. It's just that she hardly knows him because he hasn't really done anything except defend himself in a bunch of fistfights in the short time they've been together.

When Sylvie says, "But I'm not you," before kicking Loki through the portal, is that supposed to be a reveal that she's not really a Loki variant? If she is a variant, what sort is she? Is she a frost giant? Did Odin in her timeline happen upon and adopt a blue baby girl after defeating Laufey?
posted by straight at 1:48 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Jonathan Majors was definitely channelling Brad Pitt’s eat-while-acting charisma buff.
posted by sixswitch at 3:45 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Why did we go find Ravonna's timeline original and do nothing with it?

To show the other Hunters that they were all Variants that had been pulled out of their timelines. B-15 was using the one TVA member that was guaranteed to not be working with her as the example.
posted by haileris23 at 5:59 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


But, they started it? Sylvie has been hunted for her whole life

Which life? The TVA would have known her entire original timeline, where she perhaps grew up to be the worst world destroyer across many timelines.
posted by sammyo at 6:49 AM on July 16


One of the things that made the first two episodes very very dark for me was how completely ruthless the "evil variant" (Sylvie) was. Hostages, mind control, mass murder killing one of the TVA teams by setting them on fire - that is some seriously chilling vicious shit. And then the story plays out in a way that Sylvie becomes the audience's manic pixie dream girl with Loki as some kind of tortured honorable romantic hero, even though all those people she murdered were variants just like her. She clearly knows the TVA is staffed with mind-wiped variants, at least during the show if not before the start of its events, and yet at no point does she go "oh, shit, I murdered a bunch of innocent people exactly the way I'm mad at the TVA for trying to kill me."

I have a bit of a problem with that argument; whether or not, or to what degree, the TVA agents had agency of their own, I think that Sylvie was entitled to defend herself. If you want to put it on someone, put it on Renslayer for continuing to throw entire teams into a meatgrinder, or whoever (I can't remember if it was Renslayer or someone else) thought it would be a good idea to kidnap a child and either turn her into an agent or send her to face the big smoke-dragon. Kang may not be the worst Kang, but if the best thing that the guy who knows (or knew) how everything would turn out could do is yell "grow up", I wouldn't have blamed her for twisting the blade.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:53 AM on July 16


Well, I did not like this ending, and wished they'd had just stopped with the cliffhanger of episode 5. Jonathan Majors frog-like performance was kinda boring and having the villain munching an apple is overdone at this point. Questions like: what is Miss Minutes, what was the Lamentis nexus event, where actually is the TVA? get left hanging like it's an episode of Lost.

The best enjoyment I pulled from this episode is spotting what other movies it's ripping off. Obviously Matrix Revolutions with the man in the office delivering a long boring monologue at the protagonist. There's also Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with the old guy asking the newcomer to take over the business. Kangs animated exposition figurines are just mini versions of the Man of Steel ones. Having the second in command slip out through a portal on a new mission is straight off Dr Strange. Burtons Planet of the Apes worked very well for the TVA.

The opening credits were cool though, having voiceovers from all the MCU properties to hint at someone watching over it all.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 6:59 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Watched this and then went back and rewatched Thor (2011). I have many thoughts but my newest theory is that Loki is not actually that good of a liar, Thor is just extremely gullible. No one ever believes any of Loki’s lies except for Thor. He lies a lot in this series but it never goes anywhere because no one believes him. Loki’s schemes in Thor (2011) only ever come to fruition because Thor is oblivious and will eagerly blunder along with even the most obvious of machinations.

Loki, Prince of Lies Lying to My Brother Who Will Believe Anything
posted by brook horse at 10:15 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


I have many thoughts but my newest theory is that Loki is not actually that good of a liar, Thor is just extremely gullible.

Yeah, Thor: Ragnorak makes a point of showing that Thor is no longer that gullible, and he managed to outsmart Loki.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:05 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


For clarity's sake, I'm not meaning to argue with self-defense - Sylvie made practical choices to survive in the face of people trying to kill her. (Although I maintain that killing people by setting them on fire is distinctly torturous evil shit.) I do think it's interesting for the scene that she accuses Kang/HWR of being more of a villain since he caused her to be pruned/hunted, when he also justifies his actions as making practical choices to survive. In his case, it's even technically arguable that his choices are less villainous than hers (if we take his story at face value.) She was defending herself at the cost of many lives of others - he (thinks he) was finding the only way for the world to survive. There's a very messed up trolley problem in here somewhere. And then she makes a choice that affects everyone in the universe based on her own beliefs in a very gray area. Stabbing Kang looks a lot more like it was motivated by revenge than self-defense or altruism, despite the brief nod to free will. So I was glad to see a beat acknowledging that we don't get to have moral clarity here.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 11:28 AM on July 16


Loki even says how gullible Asgardians are at one point, so yeah. Absent mind control, he isn't a real supervillain anyway. God of Mischief, however, is a fun job. His little act pretending to be Odin and putting on a memorial play about himself was high comedy. And he didn't use that time to start a war or take revenge, just ate grapes and enjoyed the bullshitting of it all.

His reinvention here as "confused former villain dealing with chaos" is way more interesting than some grimdark return to being eeeeevil.
posted by emjaybee at 11:28 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Ragnorak

This would be a waterproof, hooded jacket that brings about the destruction of the gods?
posted by Grangousier at 11:39 AM on July 16 [16 favorites]


As someone with only a passing notion of who Kang is, I thought this was a great episode. Really of all the MCU series, this can actually stand alone. Unlike Wandavision or Falcon&Winter Soldier, this pretty much sums up all you need to know about Loki in the first episode and then thats it. You don’t need to watch over a decade of movies to get up to speed on what is going on. If you have, there’s a ton of bonuses in here for you.

I think ending the season with the creation of the multiverse is also setting up the MCU for both the What if…? animated series, Dr Strange 2, and Spider-Man 3 (although I don’t know if the three Spider-Men reunion that people have see being filmed was for Dr Strange or Spider-man 3).
posted by mrzarquon at 12:11 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Yeah, like, I would totally be here for complicated schemes and plots. But that’s not actually what “mischief” is about. He’s not the god of carefully planned tactical manipulation, he’s the god of Causing Problems on Purpose.
posted by brook horse at 12:16 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


I'm glad that it will be back for a second season, but I generally am hoping more finality in a "limited-run series" or whatever they are calling these things. I'd like to have something self-contained which could be the only season. I also want that from movies, but I don't get it there, either, so no use complaining too much.

So I guess Season 2 will give us more backstory from Sylvie (parentage, etc.), Renslayer and Hunter B-15. That could be good. But in retrospect it seems like all that was seeded only for the purposes of establishing sequel material, which is one of the things about the MCU that I found tiresome, and was hoping they'd get away from with this.

Still, this jumped to the front of my queue ahead of other things that I think are probably better, but have been languishing for a year or more, so they probably understand more about what I want to watch than I do.
posted by skewed at 12:59 PM on July 16


No one ever believes any of Loki’s lies except for Thor.

Laufey might disagree if he were still alive.

Loki certainly fooled me the first time I saw Thor into thinking his goal was patricide rather than genocide. His true plan was both less treacherous and more evil than everyone thought.
posted by straight at 1:47 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Compared to the movies, Variant Loki is basically a kitty
posted by polymodus at 3:18 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


That's fair, though I hesitate to conceptualize Laufey as a character so much as convenient plot glue.

I also realized in watching that movie that our hero Thor was also going to commit genocide, he just didn't have an effective plan for it? So, that puts is in a weird position re: who is considered evil and in need of a redemption arc.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by brook horse at 3:18 PM on July 16


Jonathan Majors gave me a take on Kang I absolutely did not expect and wow that was cool. Absolutely great performance. Love the concept.

Also, sorry I wasn't in with this sooner, but if you haven't heard it before: may I present the greatest Marvel fandom musical triumph: Everybody's Kang the Conqueror by Ookla the Mok.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:37 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Thor was just gonna go kill (he would say "smite") however many Frost Giants would make him feel like a big man who had taught them a lesson for daring to invade Asgard (and daring to disrupt his coronation). It was bad and why he was declared unworthy and banished, but hardly comparable to Loki's intent to completely wipe out the entire realm of Frost Giants so that there was no enemy race Loki was related to anymore. But, yes, Thor very explicitly needed a redemption arc.
posted by straight at 8:40 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


And dang, I just don't get why people don't like that first Thor movie. Hiddleston and Hopkins ("But you're not. King.") and Hemsworth are so perfect. Portman and Skarsgård and Dennings are charming. Agent Coulson's competence/befuddlement is great. The writing is good, both the silly fish-out-of-water stuff on Earth and the Shakespearean scene-chewing in Asgard ("My first command cannot be to undo the Allfather's last.")

The stakes are so different from other superhero movies. Thor's not saving the world or New York, just a little town in New Mexico and getting Jane's research back and sacrificing the chance to rejoin her to save his enemies from genocide.

There are so many good scenes like where Loki appears, dressed in perfect Midgardian version of his Loki garb, convinces Thor that Odin is dead and his banishment is permanent so smoothly that Thor thanks him, and can't resist trying and failing to lift Mjolnir.
posted by straight at 10:23 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


Agreed! I liked Thor 1 a lot, and wish that Branagh had just gone ahead and cast himself as Fandral already
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:31 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Killboi?

> That's Eugene Cordero, aka Casey, in full Minutemen armor … His IMDB listing for that episode even lists him as Casey/Hunter K-5E.
posted by D.Billy at 4:57 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


My wife, who cares not for the MCU and has seen maybe two of the movies, really enjoyed the first episode of Loki, so wants to see the rest and now we’re rewatching the series.

Also: the oil field scene nexus was triggered by Sylvie bringing back an “early 31st century” time machine.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:22 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Also: the oil field scene nexus was triggered by Sylvie bringing back an “early 31st century” time machine.

Nope, subtitles say "Early third millennium". And it wasn't a time machine.
posted by Pendragon at 8:00 AM on July 17


In a nearby timeline, Kang made the cover of Ebony magazine.
posted by mediareport at 12:19 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Everybody's Kang the Conqueror by Ookla the Mok

lol

Cause Kang is the world's worst supervillain
He's also the second-worst supervillain
His plans include traveling back in time
To compete against himself for slots three through ninety-nine

posted by mediareport at 12:36 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]




Equating Slyvie with such a caricature is wildly messed up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


I gather that Hiddleston loves playing Loki so hopefully he'll be on board as long as they'll have him.
posted by The otter lady at 5:28 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize that was Kang, who I have only the slightest familiarity with, but I gasped at the statue because there was just one and it was a clear sign that Things Had Gone Wrong.

I loved the actor playing him, other than the apple eating.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:10 PM on July 19


I really loved Johnathan Majors in this episode, but I'm crushed that Kang the Conqueror (and Disney) seems to have basically cancelled Lovecraft Country: Supremacy. I really wanted to see that reality of the Black republic on the Mississippi.
posted by eustatic at 3:43 PM on July 20


But Lovecraft Country is HBO, not Disney?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:09 AM on July 21


I told you it was too late to change our minds and I meant it.
posted by jquinby at 6:46 AM on July 21


I just wondered how a war between timelines works under the MCU time travel rules. Any time you alter the past it branches off a new timeline, leaving the original one unchanged. So in any war between timelines, surely if you go in and change history in the enemy timeline, you just create a new branch. The people within the previous version have no need or incentive to respond.

E.g. if Nazis go back in time to assassinate Winston Churchill as a baby in our timeline, we are unaffected, they just get a new branch where the Nazis do better in WW2. I suppose out of altruism we might respond by going back and killing Hitler as a baby there, but that doesn't fix the timeline where the Nazis are triumphant, it just creates a new branched timeline with neither Hitler nor Churchill.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:26 AM on July 21


It’s probably like Thanos coming from one timeline to another in Endgame. Imagine if he came only 50 years earlier, he could take over everything on Earth.

What about the rest of that universe is the question. There’s probably key points in any timeline that would make that universe easier to take over. Hit those points first!

Creating branches? No problem, just more to take over! Perfect for any control freak.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:51 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The Assembled episode on Loki is up now (watch the trailer!) and it's pretty good. Would love to see some of Hiddleston's "Loki Lectures" about the character.

Still trying to put out into the world that I need a 400-page art book with all the set design, costuming, and storyboards.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:07 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


All 13 Marvel TV Shows Releasing After Loki (& When)
What If...? - August 11, 2021
Hawkeye - Late 2021
Ms. Marvel - Late 2021
Moon Knight - 2022
She-Hulk - 2022
Secret Invasion - 2022
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special - Holiday 2022
I Am Groot
Ironheart
Armor Wars
Untitled Wakanda Series
Okoye Spinoff
Echo Spinoff
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:13 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Here's my take on why this Loki seems... Lesser Than the movie Loki. Part of his whole deal is taking advantage of situations and people for his own amusement or to further whatever his agenda happens to be in that moment. He's had thousands of years of living on Asgard with Asgardians (and the other 9 realm-ians) and he knows his way around all of that, instinctively. Like a flerken, he can use all that experience to always land on his feet.
The TVA however, pretty quickly proves to be much more powerful a bureaucracy and there's new lore and mythology and rules. I think he's figuring out how to play in this new world and getting a good read on everything. It's hard to land on your feet when the ground is constantly shifting and even if it's there, also maybe meaningless?

Can't wait for season 2.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:34 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Here's my take on why this Loki seems... Lesser Than the movie Loki. Part of his whole deal is taking advantage of situations and people for his own amusement or to further whatever his agenda happens to be in that moment. He's had thousands of years of living on Asgard with Asgardians (and the other 9 realm-ians) and he knows his way around all of that, instinctively. Like a flerken, he can use all that experience to always land on his feet.
The TVA however, pretty quickly proves to be much more powerful a bureaucracy and there's new lore and mythology and rules.


Even the TVA stuff was fun for me because we had Loki grabbing the time switchy thing and doing mischief as a consultant. I can pinpoint the moment where I stopped enjoying the series so much and it wasn't actually Sylvie so much as Loki -- but after Loki meets Sylvie, he stops scheming and starts getting thrown around by the plot. I'm extremely on-board with the slighly goofy, chaos-first, lesser-evil Loki from Thor Ragnorak who keeps getting his ass beat. That's fun! But I want him to have a bit of an agenda, and "determinedly follow around this person I just met, who is also me" is not enough of an agenda to satisfy. The promised chaos at the series' end is enough to keep me around, but I didn't have an amazing time in the second half of the season.
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:49 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]




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