Next on the Marvel Universe menu of series is Loki which began in spectacular fashion. Episode 1 first takes us to 2012 for a quick recap of events in New York City during the “Time Heist” portion of Avenger’s: Endgame.
There is some new footage interwoven into the theatrical footage giving us a slightly different perspective of Loki acquiring the Tesseract and escaping into a black cloud portal thingy. We hear Thor calling for Loki as the Marvel comic pages turn.
Post page turn we discover that Loki teleported himself to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Having landed in some sand, Loki dusts himself off and prepares to deliver his “conqueror” speech to the natives. At the same time, several armor-clad soldier-looking people (we learn later they are called: Minutemen) appear from a portal and begin examining the Tesseract. Shortly after, their leader, who we will come to know as Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku, His House) shows up. She announces she is part of the Time Variance Authority and declares Loki a “variant” who is “under arrest” for crimes against the sacred timeline.
An astounded and arrogant Loki essentially asks, “You and what Army,” before being dispatched in one of the most comical slow-motion sequences we can recall. While placing a collar around his neck, B-15 explains to Loki that he is moving at 1/16 normal speed but feeling all the pain in real-time. Before taking Loki away, B-15 collects the Tesseract and orders the Minutemen to “reset” the timeline.
They are then transported to what appears to be an office building via portal. Loki is led to a processing center of sorts where he promptly tries to run away. We then learn that the collar is some sort of “leash” that “loops” Loki back to where he was. Loki and the Tesseract are checked in as prisoner and evidence, B-15 then leads Loki to another processing room. He threatens her before the door closes but B-15 is unbothered.
In the next room there is an antiquated smiley-faced multi-armed robot. It wants to take Loki’s clothes to which he responds, “This is fine Asgardian leather!”. The Robot’s face changes, and it responds by simply disintegrating Loki’s fine leathers. Naked, he drops through a trap door into another room where he appears fully clothed in a department of corrections looking jumpsuit. In this room he is asked to confirm and sign a stack of dot matrix printer paper that represents everything he has ever said in his life. After signing, he dropped through yet another trap door.
This entire processing sequence is funny, but it is the next room that made us chuckle out loud. We are not sure if the robot question is supposed to be funny, but it was, maybe it was the delivery. Loki appears in front of a machine where he is asked if “to his knowledge” he is not a robot, that he was in fact born an organic being, and has what one would call a “soul”. Loki is understandably confused and reluctant to walk through the machine as he wonders how many people “aren’t aware” that they are robots. He is then nonchalantly told that if he is indeed a robot, he will be melted from the inside out. But, after reassuring himself that he is not a robot, Loki walks through the machine and it produces a picture of his “temporal aura.”
This time instead of being dropped through a trap door, Loki enters the next room through what look like elevator doors. Inside there is a Minuteman, a turnstile, and another gentleman going through the same process as Loki. The Minuteman tells the first guy to get a ticket, but he responds badly, decides not to, and proceeds through to the booth ahead. When it is Loki’s turn, quips that there are only two people in line, but reluctantly gets a ticket. While in line awaiting trial, Loki, and the rest of us are given a quick crash course on the TVA by Miss Minutes, a cartoon clock known as Miss Minutes.
Turns out that there were multiple unique timelines battling for supremacy in a war that almost destroyed existence. However, before that could happen, three all knowing “Timekeepers” appeared and reorganized the multiverse into a single “sacred timeline”. To ensure its integrity, the Timekeepers protect and preserve the proper flow of time for everyone and everything in the sacred timeline. That is where the Time Variance Authority comes in. When “variants”, like Loki, veer outside of the sacred timeline they could potentially cause a “nexus event”. Nexus events could cause a timeline to branch off into madness and lead to another multiversal war. The TVA is there to fix these mistakes and set time back on its predetermined path. The variant is then left to stand trial for his or her offenses against the multiverse…so long as they have their ticket.
By the end of the presentation, the other variant has made his way to the window. When asked by the Minuteman for his ticket, the variant first claims he asked for a ticket and wasn’t given one, then he insults the Minuteman. The variant is then promptly erased as the Minuteman was not amused. Shocked, Loki scrambles for his ticket as the title card rolls.
1549, we are at a crime scene in a French church, there are dead Minutemen. We are learning that a hunter and his Minutemen were on a routine nexus event when they were ambushed, and their reset charge stolen. The scene is being investigated by an agent who we will later learn is named Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson, Bliss). Mobius’ analysis indicates the perp is probably the same who committed at least six similar acts in the past week. Conversation with a local boy confirms his suspicion as well as yields a pack of Kablooie blueberry gum which is taken for analysis. Before wrapping up, a clerk appears with Loki’s file telling Mobius he should look at it.
Back at the TVA, Loki’s trial is about to start. He is ushered by B-15 in front of judge Rovonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Motherless Brooklyn), who asks how he pleads. In defiance Loki responds by saying Gods do not plead. Then he goes on to say that he is guilty of a great deal of things, but a crime against the sacred timeline isn’t one of them. He blames the Avenger’s who actually did travel through time purposefully to change events. But we learn that what they did was supposed to happen (although we feel some elaboration is needed here), Loki’s escape however, was not. After some additional argument, Loki loses his temper and attempts to use his magic powers with comically bad results. That’s when we learn that powers don’t work at the TVA. Judge Renslayer bangs her gavel sentencing Loki to be reset. Before he can be hauled off by B-15 he is saved by Agent Mobius who claims the God of Mischief can help them.
Agent Mobius leads Loki through the corridors of the TVA revealing a vast city outside, mystified, Loki can hardly believe what he’s seeing. Mobius reassures him that what he sees is real. There is an introduction and some banter on the elevator ride, we also learn that time moves differently at the TVA. Afterwards Mobius and Loki arrive at a “Time Theater”, a room that Loki describes as a “killing-me kind” of room.
Inside the room there is table with two chairs and a device on it. The device appears to be a weird looking projector. Mobius finally gets Loki to sit down and asks for a little cooperation. After some additional prodding, Mobius gets Loki to admit that his goal is domination of the universe. This of course is because ruling is what Loki was born to do after all. In return Mobius fires up the projector with footage of Loki’s greatest hits.
This goes on for some time, but it is clear that Mobius is attempting to get into Loki’s head. By breaking down some of the horrific things Loki has done, Mobius is peeling back a psychological curtain for us to get a peek into who Loki, The God of Mischief is and why he does what he does. And maybe, for Loki to get some insight into who he thinks he is and why he does some of the things he does. There isn’t a real rise until Mobius plays footage of the events leading to the death of Loki and Thor’s mom, Frigga (Rene Ruso, Be Cool), at the hands of Dark Elves. However, they are interrupted when B-15 barges in with an emergency situation.
Unbeknownst to the Mobius and B-15, Loki has pick pocketed the former and has the control to the “Time Twister” (the device around his neck). After learning that there has been another attack on the Minutemen, Mobius walks back into the Time Theater to find it empty. Loki has used the Time Twister to teleport himself to another part of the facility. He appears near a man who we recognize as the clerk that checked Loki in and confiscated the Tesseract. Loki turns to pursue the clerk, meanwhile, B-15 and Mobius divide forces to search for the variant.
Loki catches up with the clerk, who learn is named Casey, and corners him next to a desk. Loki demands the Tesseract and threatens to gut Casey like a fish. Downside is, Casey has spent his entire life behind a desk and doesn’t know what a fish is. Loki finally convinces him to comply, but when Casey opens his desk drawer to retrieve the Tesseract, Loki is in for a surprise. Not only is the Tesseract there, but so are several other Infinity Stones which perplexes Loki as well as the rest of us. Casey goes on to explain that they get Infinity Stones often at the TVA, to the point where some of his colleagues use them as paperweights. Right then, Loki realizes how small he really is in the face of the TVA and its immense power. Up until that point, from Loki’s point of view, the Infinity Stones were the most powerful things in the universe. Yet here they sit, in some low-level clerk’s desk drawer, useless and without power. A devastated Loki asks if the TVA is the true power in the universe, we are left to wonder the same.
At the same time, B-15 shows up and Loki uses the twister to teleport himself back to the Time Theater. There he uses the project to complete the viewing of his greatest hits. It is worth noting the emotional range Tom Hiddleston gives us here, considering this is 2012 Loki, to see him react to how his story plays out is a graduate level class in acting. Loki is brought to tears, disbelief, then laughter as he sees himself redeemed and then murdered at the hands of Thanos. It is also worth noting that the film ends there, dispelling any belief that the Loki killed by Thanos wasn’t real.
B-15 turns up, and she and Loki finally go at it. At first it looks like B-15 is about to mop the floor with Loki except he gets the upper hand. Placing his Time Twister collar on B-15, he uses the remote to make her disappear. He then uses it to make her appear, disappear, and reappear several times before sending her to wherever Casey is. Taken aback by the magnitude of what he has seen and discovered, the disillusioned, powerless “God” of Mischief sits down, defeated, head in hands.
Mobius returns to the Time Theater to find Loki, broken and considerably less defiant. Loki explains that he has no choice but to hurt people because it inspires fear, which he needs because secretly he knows he is weak. After agreeing and some further discussion, Mobius reveals the TVA needs his help because the variant they are chasing is another version of Loki, which not only surprises Loki, but the rest of us as well.
We cut to Salina, Oklahoma 1858 and some Minutemen who are surveying a “Time Scene” (seems better than Crime Scene). They think it is the work of someone who has acquired a time machine and gone back to change their fortune. They decide to prune and reset the timeline before seeing someone out in the shadows. Turns out it is another ambush by our dangerous variant Loki, he sets the Minutemen on fire and steals their reset charge ending this week’s installment.