Time Goes On. Just You Wait.
***for my thoughts on episode five see previous post***
The last two Marvel Studio shows were limited series. I expected Loki to be the same. I thought episode six would end with a tease of future MCU things, but that it would also wrap up the variant Loki narrative in a cohesive manner, given us some closure, letting us go on with the day feeling satisfying and excited for future movies, but content. Instead, the ending had me wondering if it was in fact the last episode. Then the mid-credit scene announces a second season with fancy text. Maybe I should’ve payed more attention to Disney’s marketing. Maybe Marvel should’ve been more clear upfront. Either way, I’m left in flux with Loki; it’s a win for Disney+ for sure. It’s clearly the series they’ve put the most effort into, and they’ve got me. I’ll be there whenever season two drops.
I’m going to have to get use to cliffhangers. I mean, I get it for big event movies like Infinity War, but pretty much every other MCU movie or show ended as a self-contained story one could enjoy without seeing anything else. They were enhanced by being part of the larger narrative, but still watchable in isolation. I should’ve seen it coming. This TV series format is perfect for the Marvel machine, an always churning light and show production designed to keep you hooked and anxious for the next fun fix. Other TV series, other franchises, do it too. Though the Marvel & Disney combo are staking their claim for top dog. I’m a little scared. Sure, we’re having fun now, but how long until the story-telling suffers? At what point will we grow tired of the endless wait, the forever bridge to the next one? Maybe this is what we want. But who will eventually depose Kevin Fiege? Will Mickey Mouse own all our screens as we perish to time in the midst of an epic saga, of which we will never get to see its end? By the way, would you call yourself a Loki or a Sylvie or a Kang?
In this latest episode of Loki, the struggle for free will continues and the man behind the controls reveals himself at last. Jonathan Majors is credited as “He Who Remains,” but comic book readers, and those who read the casting news for future movies, know him as Kang the Conqueror. He seems to be a variant of Kang, but let's just call him Kang for simplicity.
So Sylvie and Loki meet Kang in his office at the end of time and he explains his orgin and how created and saved the mutilverse by creating the TVA. It’s not quite the climatic talky scene I asked for in my last post, but I’ll take it over a big light show. I would’ve liked to have seen Sylvie use her enchantment power on a powerful adversary like Kang and some more back and forth deception among the three. It mostly just played out as an exposition dump with Loki and Sylvie sitting back as if they were watching TV. That’s so meta... And then once they past the threshold where Kang could no longer see the future, he too sat back as Sylvie and Loki had a row, eager as the audience to see what would happen next. It was all mostly effective in keeping me attention. The Sylvie and Loki kiss worked for me, as it was inline with the established meet-cute progression, and they're narcissists. Once she pushed him out the time door, Loki gets his much needed breakdown. Hiddleston plays it perfectly. Sylvie, though, could’ve gotten more to work with (What happened to the enchantress in episode three’s opening?). She’s eager to assassinate without much of a plan. And this variation of Kang was a tad much. Jonathan Majors isn’t bad elsewhere, but here the manic mannerisms and his apple-eating confidence reminded me too much of the typical villain. It was likely a conscious choice to differentiate himself from other Kang variants. We won’t be seeing all his chops until he appears again in future season(s) and movies.
Meanwhile at the TVA, Mobius confronts Ravonna and B-15 enlightens other Minutemen with the truth. Ravonna makes it clear that she believes the lie is necessary to maintain order, while Mobius suggest they make the TVA a better place. He’s trying to appeal to Ravonna, but I miss his "burn the place down" attitude of the previous episode. After a minor spat, Ravonna leaves via the Tempad to find “free will,” and we’ll have wait to discover her goals... next time. I thought we’d see some type of revolution at the TVA, but, again, that’s for next season.
Sylvie is consistent with her principles, as she kills dictator “He Who Remains” and unleashes the multiverse. Loki was the one preaching caution and repeating the words of authoritarianism. I believe he wasn’t lying to Sylvie or looking to take the throne, but he was skirting too close to unjustified power. It’s true that we need to think before we act. But folks, maintaining an oppressive status quo, because change may lead to a worse outcome, is not justified. I worry the writers are positioning radical Sylvie as hysterical and Loki as level-headed. Now, perhaps they’re just trying to convey that a happy medium between the two is best. Their love saved them from the apocalypse at Lamentis. In season two, their coming together once again may win the day as they realize cautious revolution is the key.
In the final sequence a distraught Loki finds Mobius and babbles about the doom that has been unleashed. Mobius appears to be trying to console Loki as a friend would, but he repeats “Who are you,” as Loki sees an imposing statue of Kang. We realize that Loki is in a different timeline and Mobius has no idea who he is. It’s clever writing and a discombobulating ending to the season. It reminds me of the end of a good Twilight Zone episode or the last shot of Planet of the Apes or Agent Cooper’s final line in Twin Peaks: The Return. Now we just have to wait a year or so for some resolution. No biggie...
So was this six episode run a good ride, all in all? I think so. Episode five almost borked it, but it landed fine. It all really depended on Loki’s gradual transition from egoist to lover. Tom Hiddleston and Kate Herron accomplished that. Sophia Di Martino was a fine Sylvie, though I imagine she’ll need another season to fully come into her own. As I’ve mentioned before, when Marvel goes deep into the sci-fi wilderness, it usually agrees with me. Yeah, the cliffhanger was a bit upsetting at first watch this morning. As I’m getting to the end of this review, though, and mulling over the season, I can’t deny the magic of the world building and the charm of those damn Lokis.