Welcome to Chicago, IL. 1868 where Miss Minutes has a clandestine mission for Ms. Renslayer. Fans of classic sci-fi will appreciate the “Bootstrap Paradox” that occurs here when Renslayer provides a young Victor Timely (our Kang variant for this season) with a TVA handbook.
Meanwhile, back at the TVA, despite the mass pruning, new branches have started springing up again—causing O.B. major panic. I need to point out this seems suspect as the new branches can’t be as far along as the old branches were yet he seems equally distressed. Still, logic aside, there’s hope! Renslayer’s temp-pad has been found in Chicago 1868, then again in 1893—for those in need of a history lesson that’s the year of the Chicago World’s Fair. 1868, on the other hand, has nothing of note. Loki and Mobius jump to the significant year and are duly rewarded.
The World’s Fair gives them confirmation of Miss Minutes (a “ghost clock” in the news), confirmation of Kang’s variant, hello Victory Timely, and the lady of pursuit: Ravonna Renslayer. Victor ends up being a kind of flim-flam artist who plays “quirky” until the bill comes due, then he’s quick as a bunny in the opposite direction. Loki and Mobius, and Renslayer and Miss Minutes all give chase with Sylvie making a surprise appearance, but thanks to Loki’s intervention (fighting Sylvie to keep Victory alive) and Miss Minutes’ improvisation (the ghost clock is real, y’all!), Victor makes a safe escape to his…home? Not entirely sure what the place is, but he, Ravonna, and Miss Minutes get a little time to talk before having to high tail it again.
Long story short, Victor fucks over Ravonna because he has a thing against partnerships, Loki and Sylvie have another fight wherein she wants to kill Victor and Loki insists the TVA needs him. Miss Minutes reveals herself to be a cliché, and Ravonna is about to learn some pivotal information.
Thus far this is my least favorite episode of the second season. I didn’t hate it, but there are a number of elements that don’t exactly work in my opinion.
As I mentioned earlier, the ticking clock of the temporal loom plays out as an illogical boogieman meant to force action. Consider that until Loki brought up the issue of his time slipping, O.B. had no interest in the loom, but once it was introduced it became a monster of its own. I kind of get that the loom wouldn’t be designed to handle more than one sacred timeline since that was Kang’s plan overall, but in all his infinite wisdom he didn’t foresee this possibility? Wouldn’t have designed a backdoor of some kind? Technically, the easiest solution would be to return all the variants working in the TVA to their original branches, let the institution fall, and just create a Kang variant fighting force. Loki’s argument to Sylvie about saving the TVA loses a lot of steam if you take the destruction of the TVA to its natural conclusion. It really only hurts the TVA.
Upon second viewing, I was less annoyed by Victor’s affectation, seeing how it is largely employed as a way to lower the guards of his victims (since it immediately disappears once they call him out). But, the stutter also appears when he’s talking with Renslayer and Miss Minutes—coming and going during their first interaction—which means either he’s trying to play them or it’s a genuine stutter he’s learned to weaponize at times. Speaking of time…allow me a few minutes (excuse the pun), to discuss Miss Minutes.
What the literal fuck is up with this clock? Season 1 introduced Miss Minutes as the Jarvis equivalent at the TVA—a helpful little cartoon clock designed to fit the weird retro aesthetic while informing incoming variants of their impending fate. Suddenly, we learn she’s been working with Kang at the end of time, and that she enlists Renslayer’s help at the end of the first season. Now, in season 2, she’s a rogue A.I., operating under Kang’s instructions in order to reestablish his place as the head of the TVA.
Uh, hold the phone, could it be that this is a lie? Let’s not forget that Kang almost welcomed death at the end of last season. Instead, it’s very believable Miss Minutes is actually the one on a mission to resurrect Kang. To what end, you may ask if you’re reading this without having seen the episode—well, SPOILER, Miss Minutes fell in love with her maker. Much like many lovestruck A.I. she longs to escape her digital body and become flesh and blood. It’s clear Kang’s hinting at this potential probably never happened. Victor is outright panicked when she confesses her feelings for him, which means there’s a good chance Kang wasn’t a fan either.
No, Miss Minutes’ affection for her maker is more than likely one-sided, and her loyalty to him reads more clingy child than romantic lead. But, aside from Miss Minutes’ feelings and motives, there’s a simpler curiosity at work: Why recruit Renslayer at all? Repeatedly we have seen that Miss Minutes has a physical presence in the world around her, despite being able to make up her own plane of existence (walking on…air ground?). In this episode she hides behind objects, grabs items, sits on objects, stands on people, and even pushes Ravonna at one point in Victor’s place. My best guess would be she needs someone with a temp-pad to allow her to manifest, but then that only leads to confusion when you consider the beginning of the episode. Miss Minutes is hiding in a barn when Ravonna goes to 1868.
Why? How? Near as we know there’s no temp-pad there until Ravonna travels there, which she only does on Miss Minutes’ instruction. Yet, Miss Minutes doesn’t appear to “project” from Ravonna’s temp-pad, rather she is in the barn and calls out to the ex-judge. Leading to the problem of, if Miss Minutes can physically interact with the world around her and exist without the assistance of a temp-pad couldn’t she have just snuck into the TVA, taken a handbook, and then dropped it in young Victor’s window on her own?
Perhaps the key lies in Renslayer. My theory is that Ravonna is actually a female variant of Kang. Consider Loki—of all the variants we’ve seen of him, Sylvie is the only female, and she does not give herself any Loki adjacent name either. Loki and Kang are similar people, and my conjecture is that being able to love themselves is one—meaning Victor’s apparent instant affection for Ravonna could easily be rooted in her being his variant. This also tracks if Miss Minutes isn’t lying and the plan to resurrect Kang isn’t hers, naturally he would want to involve Ravonna. We also know, from what Loki heard, that Ravonna and Kang were partners in the past.
Lastly, I’m with Sylvie—bringing Victor to the TVA is a horrible idea. I’m predicting his “meek” shtick will wear out right quick, and he’ll slip into conqueror mode easy-peasy. Though, if Sylvie is really worried, she’s bound to show up if only to keep an eye on him.