After temporarily delaying the apocalyptic effect on the timelines (but not managing to stop it entirely), the race is on to find Sylvie. But first Mobius and Loki must find out why Hunter X-5 has apparently gone off grid and into the spotlight, foregoing his mission for the sake of personal fame and success. Hunter X-5 or ‘Brad Wolfe’ isn’t exactly glad to see his old ‘friends’ but as time is literally of the essence, they’re going to have to become reaquainted in a speedy manner.
As for Sylvie, she really doesn’t want to be found and still has a cosmic chip on her shoulder and a portion of fries in hand…
Loki‘s second season had ones of those openings (reviewed here) that dared you to keep up – the kind of entry that throws you into a maelstrom and says ‘I’ll explain later, just follow me!‘ And that’s fine. Even in its first year, the show was something of a kinetic puzzle, enshrouded in an enigma and wrapped in a journey into mystery. But there’s only so long you can keep up at such a pace and by the end of the most recent episode, there’s a distinct feeling that this may be a wacky, crazy ride but that the train of thought isn’t stopping at all the stations needed. Indeed, there’s a vibe, watching Breaking Brad, the second episode of the returning show come sliding out of the gate, that you’ve somehow skipped an entire episode.
Watching Loki, it all feels like a string of those quirky asides that we see in main features and thoroughly enjoy as a break from the… well, breakneck pace. Films without those moments of connective tissue tend to flounder, but if the scales tilt the other way, all you have left is the quirk and nothing of the drama… the visual equivalent of a comedian shouting out punchlines rather than jokes…
The chase sequence through London’s West End backstreets circa 1977 is fun, with Brad (Blindspotting‘s Rafael Casal) skidding and sliding through alleyways, with the pursuing Loki and Mobius always one step ahead or behind in the game of mouse and cat. (Also, watch out for the Eternals‘ easter-egg) And, for the first time in a long while, we see Loki utilising some of the duplicate and shadow tricks we saw during his feature-film era. But context is everything. The last we saw ‘Brad ‘he was merely Hunter X-5, largely a side-character introduced to the fray in the opener and being sent to try and find Sylvie. Now he’s a famous actor and personality, glad-handing his way through society and Loki and Mobius are like some well-rounded double-act and tag-team. In short, we’ve taken a jump (forward or backward, it’s hard to tell with time-travel) and not really been given enough information. That’s often the problem with Loki, it’s always famine or feast – a infodump of chronological proportions or an agenda gone AWOL. In the beginning it was an echo of the titular star’s own confusion, but now there’s less reason to be so scattershot.
The basic premise is that the nefarious middle-management powers that be at the TVA are bombing/pruning the various strands that deviate from the main timeline. The sheer scale is hard to comprehend, not thousands, or millions or trillions but entire universes of beings simply being wiped from existence. Havign effectively failed to stop the TVA’s mass-murder, the ramshackle team are left to gaze in horror as those strands and casualties blink out of existence. It’s a somber moment which doesn’t quite match the emotional desolation ‘We lost’ ending of Avengers: Infinity War, largely because we are told the implications but – for the audience – those casualties are still unknown faces and impossible statistics.
After last week’s epilogue, we finally catch up with Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), who is working at a 1980s McDonalds and seemingly very happy to be out of the rat-race. She doesn’t welcome Loki’s arrival, seeing it as an interruption to her safe, if pedestrian existence. While it’s clear that Loki and Sylvie (who is, after all, one of his variants) still have a connection, there’s really none of that overt chemistry going on plot-wise. Loki’s basically here to find out why he saw her at the TVA in a flash-forward, which while it works for the plot seems a little bit clinical in execution and doesn’t really convey the connection they should share after the events of the first season finale. The subsequent fight at the TVA, to where Sylvie reluctantly ends up is well choreographed, but again feels like obligatory action punctuation rather than a climactic battle.
Owen Wilson’s Mobius is getting into his stride, carrying just the sort of expression of bewilderment and determination with which the audience should now be familiar. Ke Huy Quan continues to be fun as OB (short/round for Ourborous) and the show’s certainly getting their money’s worth from him as he darts to and fro and furrows his brow as he explains causal catastrophes.
Watching Loki, it all feels like a string of those quirky asides that we see in main features and thoroughly enjoy as a break from the, well, breakneck pace. Films without those moments of connective tissue tend to flounder, but if the scales tilt the other way, all you have left is the quirk and nothing of the drama… the visual equivalent of a comedian shouting out punchlines rather than jokes. It’s clear the Loki team is having fun on a huge canvas and a budget to match – essentially Legion with bigger pockets – but it needs to average out its pace and momentum and remember there’s a whole alphabet between the A-Z.
- Production Design / VFX9