Don't Call Me By Your Name
*** spoilers for 'Lamentis' episode three of Loki ahead ***
***for my thoughts on the first two, see the previous post***
Previously on Loki, our titular anti-hero finally stood face-to-face with the elusive "Variant." Before unveiling her 'true' face though, she spoke through the body of an enchanted host. Tom Hiddleston's Loki mistakenly assumed another version of himself would go by the same name. When called 'Loki,' the Variant scoffed in disgust and instead suggested 'Randy,' the name of the body she currently occupied. This was our first clue that her version of 'Loki' has had a traumatic history with identity. In episode three she makes it clear that the idea of being labeled 'a Loki' is detestable to her. She says, "that's not who I am anymore. I'm Sylvie now."
We've seen Sylvie embody both male and female hosts through enchantment, and now reveals she traded her given name for one that fits. A trans allegory can be seen in Sylvie's story, though I wouldn't say it's 100% what the writers intended. In contradiction, Sylvia calls her name an alias, which implies it's an alternative not a replacement for 'Loki.' I doubt upcoming episodes will reveal that Sylvie was raised as a boy before transitioning. I suspect the series isn't too concerned with trans themes. If it were perhaps it would have the courage to have Hiddleston's Loki more readily play with gender. The show has only has alluded to his gender-fluidity in the background: listing his sex as "Fluid," in TVA paperwork. Episode three, Lamentis, is more about a 'clash of the sexes.'
As Sylvie and Loki traverse the apocalypse on Lamentis-1, their journey plays out like a typical meet cute. It's the kind of story you see in hetero romantic-comedies, where the complementary personalities of star-crossed lovers help them grow as people while also moving along the plot. You know, they each have something the other needs. Loki is the lighthearted mischievous scamp, and Sylvie is the serious one with the plan. It's nice to see that their differences do sometimes divert from standard gender roles. Sylvie tends to achieve her goals by force (she literally violates people's body), while Loki prefers deception. (Speaking of gender, when Sylvie fought at the TVA, she tied her hair back with a hair tie, a detail that can be seen in solidarity with Birds of Prey, another project helmed by a woman featuring a hair tie moment.) It's actually great writing from Bisha K. Ali, but its focus on man vs woman does betray its potential queerness. Imagine if Loki were on an adventure with another male version of himself. Sure it'd be a lot more masturbatory, but it'd also be queerer. This episode did canonize Loki as bisexual after all.
Within a conversation on the meaning of love, Loki tells Sylvie that's he's dated both men and women. He suspects the same of her, and she doesn't deny it. Yet she only speaks of a mysterious postman in her past. Both concede that their trysts never amounted to 'real' love. Acknowledging that the protagonist is queer is a first for an MCU property. Knowing both Loki and Sylvie are bi makes them much more relatable to me and many other queer fans, I'm sure. It's nice and makes me feel accepted and keeps me more engaged with their story. But those few lines are a tiny treat. Until I see a fully realized queer romance, I won't be giving Disney any brownie points. At least Kate Herron is aware of this sentiment:
From the moment I joined @LokiOfficial it was very important to me, and my goal, to acknowledge Loki was bisexual. It is a part of who he is and who I am too. I know this is a small step but I’m happy, and heart is so full, to say that this is now Canon in #mcu #Loki 💗💜💙 pic.twitter.com/lz3KJbewx8— Kate Herron (@iamkateherron) June 23, 2021
I got a feeling the creators behind Loki pushed for more gayness in the series. But like most of Hollywood, the Disney Time-Keepers would rather take it slow with queer representation. They've got conservative fans to ease and the censors of other countries to please. The gay is coming, though. This fall the The Eternals is supposed to have Marvel's first gay kiss. We'll see how that plays out. They've teased more queer characters coming down the Marvel time line, too. It's a shame Loki isn't a lot gayer. I mean, it's a show about variants. That's just another word for queer.
Everyone is gay! I mean.. they're all variants. That was the big reveal this week. On their way to the escape ship Sylvie tells Loki that everyone working at the TVA is a variant plucked from a pruned timeline. But they don't know it. Mobius is going to freak out.
The final sequence was one of those uninterrupted long shots of Sylvie and Loki fighting their way to the ark just in time to see it blow up. The long takes are becoming all too common now. Nevertheless, it's impressive and works to keeps the tension high. They're at a low point in the rom-com arc: after gaining each other's trust, they're faced with hopelessness as they witness their only means of escape crumble. True to their characters, Sylvie walk away dejected as Loki stands frozen thinking hard on a fix. Cut to credits.
I hear the next two episodes are going to be wild, so I'm expecting another cold-open that gets me questioning reality. This week's opening had me thinking Sasha Lane's character (C-20) and Sylvie were pals before the TVA... until the enchantment reveal. I'd like more discombobulation please. Surely next episode we'll be seeing the consequences of the multiverse explosion Sylvie started. Though I really didn't mind spending time away from that cliff hanger, since Sophia Di Martino with Tom Hiddleston are a blast to watch.
Once again the humor is excellent in this episode. Has someone made a gif of Loki conjuring a quill and paper to jot down Sylvie's "love is hate" line yet? Who hurt you, Sylvie? Apparently, she spent her entire life running from the "omniscient fascists" (as she puts it, succinctly) Loki works for. It feels like the writers are pointing out Loki's class and male privilege in comparison to Sylvie. (There could be better class commentary. They tried a bit by including poor denizens getting left behind as the rich took the train, but that was just background. Loki is a space prince, so I'm not expecting much.) When Loki complains about never having to walk so much in his life, she mocks, "That's a pretty good life." I sense a scary Sylvie flashback upcoming in a future episode.
On last thing I should've mentioned last time. The score is phenomenal. Marvel movies are known for forgettable scores. Loki and WandaVision are exceptions, which I hope foretell better music moving forward.
That's it. See ya next time.
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