In its finale, Disney+’s Loki pulled back the curtain to reveal who’s playing with everyone else’s fates. The episode, “For All Time. Always.”, stylishly provided answers to some questions, but, as is always the case with these things, left several of them unanswered. But that’s okay, because a second season of variants, jet skis, skinny ties, and mischief has already been ordered, and, as we learned this week, there are so many other timelines to consider. Mobius may not remember what happened throughout this spirited, occasionally moving series, but The A.V. Club does. Before we close the file on Loki season one, a few staffers shared their thoughts on the show, that finale, and which Loki variant deserves to have a statue built in their honor.
Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the last two Disney+ Marvel shows, which felt satisfyingly complete, or maybe it’s just a consequence of Loki’s skimpy six-episode run, but that felt a little… abrupt, didn’t it? (To say nothing of “weirdly reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes.”) Don’t get me wrong: Jonathan Majors gave a strong, if somewhat predictable “I’m omnipotent and isn’t that quirky” performance as timeline master Kang/Immortus/Whoever. (And kudos to Marvel for having the courage to tackle a character with one of the most absurdly convoluted timelines in all of comicdom.) But the cliffhanger ending of “For All Time. Always” offers so little self-contained resolution that it threatens to render Loki little more than a prologue to either its own second season, or maybe just to that Multiverse Of Madness we’ve been hearing so much about.
Which is a shame, because I loved Loki in a way I haven’t loved either of its predecessors; the sheer energy of watching Tom Hiddleston bounce his way from apocalypse to apocalypse made this easy appointment viewing, week in and week out. I just wish the show had ended up having more of its own story to tell in the process, rather than feeling like a chunk of extremely charming connective tissue. (Also, less time-incest, please.) As to my favorite variant, I could go with the obvious, reptilian answer, but seriously: God bless this show for giving us Richard E. Grant, somehow managing to make prancing around in a bright green onesie feel simultaneously tragic, hilarious, and inspiring. Old Loki for the win.
Both WandaVision and The Falcon And The Winter Soldier lost me at certain points. The resolution to the former’s mysteries was unsatisfying, and I will go to my grave believing the rumors that the latter cut a virus storyline that would’ve been uncomfortable during COVID-19 (but also would’ve made way more sense than the absolute nothing storyline the show ended up with). Ahead of Loki, I was ready to argue that MCU stories just don’t work for me when stretched out to TV length, but that darn trickster went and tricked me. I never saw it coming! Loki is easily my favorite Marvel Studios thing since, oh, April of 2019, and it’s almost entirely because the show actually knew what story it wanted to tell and how it wanted to tell it—even if it did end up being built around setting up hooks for future Marvel stories (call me a sucker, but I love that shit).
As for which Loki is my favorite, there’s only one choice: He’s green, he’s got horns, and… oh, that doesn’t narrow it down at all. It’s Alligator Loki, and if there’s any justice in this world, Disney will merchandise him as thoroughly as it has that overrated baby from the other Disney+ show. Alligator Loki aside, I loved the gag with President Loki, who shows up to help one of the Lokis betray the other Lokis, betrays him, and then gets betrayed by his silly Mad Max goons (who also might’ve been Lokis?). Truly fantastic.
WandaVision is still way at the top for me, but Loki didn’t leave me feeling as letdown as The Falcon And The Winter Soldier did, so I’m considering this a win. However, I think that, at times, it fell into a similar TFTWS trap in terms of pacing. Like William, to me the series (especially the first few episodes) felt a lot like a prologue as well. Though I understand this was mainly due to Marvel delicately laying the Multiverse foundation, I think Loki would have benefited from starting a little bit closer to the action. For me, the highlight of the series came from the last two episodes. The meeting of the Lokis and their brawl was so funny and well-done. Since I’m not well-versed in the comics, I tend to approach most of Marvel’s on-screen offerings with a “no theorizing just vibes” attitude, so the He Who Remains/Kang reveal was a satisfying enough pay-off for me. Jonathan Majors was a delight to watch onscreen and since Sylvie made the “wrong decision,” I’m approaching the promise of some ramped up, time-wimey chaos in season two with cautious optimism.
As for my favorite variant, I’ll have to go with Sylvie. She was taken by the TVA at such a young age and then she was forced to fend for herself, jumping from apocalypse to apocalypse, for decades. I would watch a show (or at least one very special episode of Loki season 2) that highlights the kinds of adventures she got up to and the kind of people and/or variants she met along the way.
For the most part, I found Loki to be a total delight. It was certainly a step up from The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. I know that it’s essentially a setup for MCU’s big Phase 4 plans, but I’m thrilled we got six episodes of Tom Hiddleston acing Loki’s transformation from the 2012 cocky Avengers’ villain (who was delightful, don’t get me wrong) to a full-fledged hero who is inclined to see the bigger picture. The show was quite literally an immersive journey for the character. Both Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino mined Loki’s emotional depth in different but solid ways. I do wish we’d gotten more of Hiddleston and Owen Wilson together beyond the first couple of episodes.
As for the finale, I agree it seemed abrupt. I was bummed they followed TFTWS’s “let’s exposition our way out of this” route. Then again, after the hubbub about Mephisto in WandaVision, I was pleasantly surprised they actually brought in Jonathan Majors. At least he had fun doing all the talking. He was incredible, and I’m excited to see what he brings to Loki season two and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. Side note for Loki season two: Mobius needs to get a freaking jet-ski, okay? My favorite Loki, besides Hiddleston’s ,was obviously Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki. It was perfect casting. The scene of him joyously screaming “glorious purpose” at the end of episode five will be burned in my head forever.
Let me start off by saying how much I adore the music in Loki. “Loki Green Theme” has been stuck in my head for the past six weeks. Composer Natalie Holt absolutely knocked it out of the park, perfectly blending classical orchestral composition with futuristic sci-fi accents to create one of the MCU’s most memorable scores. On the topic of the finale, I’m more mixed. Obviously, it’s exciting to see Marvel set up future stories, but I wish it wasn’t at the expense of the characters on the show that is currently airing. Loki and Sylvie felt sidelined for much of this episode, and their resolution felt rushed, almost perfunctory. That being said, if Marvel insists on episode-long exposition dumps, Jonathan Majors is a worthy delivery vehicle. He’s clearly having the time of his life playing the Wizard Of Oz-esque “Man Behind The TVA Curtain.” I know virtually nothing about Kang The Conqueror, but I get the impression many different versions of him will be popping up throughout the MCU over the next few years, which is an exciting prospect. (Put Jonathan Majors in more things, please.) But the show is called Loki after all, so it’s a bit weird to see Kang steal so much narrative spotlight.
As far as my favorite Loki variant is concerned, I’ll go with the obvious but correct choice: Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Hiddleston was already one of the most consistently strong performers of the MCU, but he has completely blown me away with his work here, infusing the God Of Mischief with so much heart and humor.
I’ve made peace with each MCU story being a piece of a bigger puzzle, though I do agree with most everyone else that series creators and writers like Michael Waldron should still try to make the most of their part of that larger narrative. Loki is certainly well made, from its gorgeously off-kilter score—complete with theremin—to the anamorphic shots that captured the expanse of the TVA. The series was more consistent in its thrills and tone than TFTWS, but to quote a different Asgardian, I just think it could have been more. I never connected to the Loki/Sylvie relationship, which shifted from an interesting take on self-love into something much more prosaic by the end. The trouble might have been with Sylvie, who always felt more like a complication than a character. Or maybe, after watching Loki connect with his brother after losing their mother in the movies, I wanted him to find more of that kind of family, which is where I thought the show was going with Mobius. When Loki began to move away from Loki and Mobius’ relationship—mentorship or friendship, because Marvel would never actually give us Lokius—it began to lose me. But kudos to Jonathan Majors for his take on a great and weary Oz; if Loki had to set off a bunch of new stories, at least there’s a good chance he’ll feature prominently in them, whether as Kang, He Who Remains, or someone else.
When I first posed the question of “who’s your favorite Loki variant” to the group, I felt sure my answer would be Alligator Loki, with his toothy grin and taste for other Lokis. But even with a possibly infinite number of Gods Of Mischief, Hiddleston’s Loki remains my favorite. I may not have bought the journey he went on wholesale, but there’s no denying the growth.