Reality has ended, the TVA is gone and Loki… finds himself time-tripping again, a seemingly random pull keeping him inches ahead of multiverse oblivion. Loki finds himself drawn to his ‘friends’, though in the dying moments of the cosmos, they seem to be scattered through time and living out very different lives. Loki has to convince them of who they are, were or will be and maybe helping him control his time-jumps long enough and specifically enough that he can return to the moment before everything went wrong. But will they believe him and if they do, is it even the right course of action? As the universe literally unwinds, does the God of Mischief have any answers?
It’s the end, but the moment… well, hasn’t really been prepared for. There’s still very much the feeling that while the ideas in Loki‘s two seasons to date are admirable in the sense of their undeniable sheer scale and scope, it’s somehow been the wrong story and the wrong format for the wrong character. Hiddleston obviously made a serious impact as the God of Mischief and strode with glorious purpose through an evolving arc of Marvel movies. This incarnation, though, was the less-evolved variant who hadn’t undergone the emotional growth-spurt post his Avengers defeat and was instead almost literally dropped into a world he never made. Despite a promising start and the idea of a villain having to become more heroic merely to survive his peculiar predicament, the longer the series has gone on – and certainly within this second run – he’s become a hapless, confused character buffeted along by the abstract, the extraordinary and the unlikely as much as the glorious. It was almost as if the created dilemma was more important than the character on which the marketing led. It lacked… purpose.
As usual, there’s unrelenting existential technobabble decorating the stream-of-consciousness story-telling – though delivered in style by Ke Huy Quan’s OB. The weekly format, artificially constructed around deconstruction also hasn’t helped and there’s a messy irony to the fact that Quan – the best addition to the series – won an Oscar for Everything, Everywhere, All at Once which has obviously been something of an inspiration and superior template. Yes, every entry so far has had interesting, fun moments, but it felt like it could have been streamlined and told in less than half of its running-time, still with an arthouse meets tentpole mandate but not this awkward collision of both.
There’s still very much the feeling that while the ideas in Loki‘s two seasons to date are admirable in the sense of their sheer scale and scope, it’s all been the wrong story and the wrong format for the wrong character… the longer the series has gone on – and certainly within this second run – he’s become a hapless, confused character buffeted along by the abstract, the extraordinary and the unlikely…
One of the show’s strengths has been that it has one of the most talented ensemble casts for any Marvel series to date and even faced with the bizarre they’ve taken the material and run with it, often making the little, throwaway moments more compelling than the big-screen threat. (Again, it’s a background Ke Huy Quan’s OB that quietly and comedically steals an emotional scene from Hiddleston and Wilson’s foreground angst). We’ve only had hints about Mobius’ background and he’s professed that while he doesn’t remember his life before the TVA, he doesn’t really want to know. Owen Wilson brings a confused humanity to the character that Loki finds living in suburbia and selling those beloved watercraft. Wilson downplays the usual wackiness and presents a sympathetic character who doesn’t want to be pulled out of his mundane but safe life there. (Though – frankly – his kids are so truly horrible, I’d be tempted to take the nearest portal out of there as fast as possible). We also get glimpses of the other characters in more down-to-earth lives. Wunmi Mosaku’s Hunter B15 is Verity Willis, a caring nurse (and a certain deep-dive for Loki comic fans), Eugene Cordero’s Casey is Frank, a convict escaping Alcatraz and Ke Huy Quan’s OB is A.D. Doug a struggling sci-fi author.
The production design continues to bait emmy nominations and the VFX this week are undeniably well-rendered and unsettling, the unravelling threads of reality feeling like some primal, impressionist, organic and viral threat and – as noted previously – visually even more dramatic than the Thanos ‘Snap’. It was bad enough to see Victor Timely’s fate last week, but here we go full-scale and have almost everything and every character simultaneously consumed and dispersed and coming apart at the seams… and it brings with it some of the emotional clout missing from the previous episode’s climax. The idea of a desolate Sylvie listening to Velvet Underground‘s Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, initially unaware of the reality collapsing about her and vainly reaching out to her in the timestream’s last moments is one of the memorable moments in this week’s beautifully baffling entry.
Even if it took a long time and a wayward journey to get there, next week’s finale looks suitably epic in scope, perhaps finally pulling together the threads that we’ve literally seen pulled apart: Back to the Future meets Quantum Leap by way of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (actually a reasonable description of the show to date). Whether it makes the entire season’s wayward journey worth it (especially if, as suspected, it will rewrite most of it) or just acts as a springboard for Marvel‘s future feature film aspirations, will be the ultimate question.
- Production Design / VFX10