The best laid plans of mice and variants often go awry…
Hunter C-20 opens up Wednesday’s episode of Loki. Her and the variant aka Sylvie have escaped for a little girl’s night…or have they? We witness Sylvie using her enchantment on the poor minute woman, invading an ancient memory in hopes of scoring intel on the Time Keepers. It works, to a point. But what happens when it doesn’t work?
We get to see Sylvie kicking some minuteman ass. She’s smart and strong, and not above using the branch sticks to kill anyone who won’t stay down. Loki arrives not long after, knives in hand, ready to confront his better (I’d say) self. I like that despite Loki not having fighting skills quite up to Sylvie’s par, he doesn’t give up. He’s a chatty fuck, which I believe is part of his strategy. What he lacks in brawn, he makes up for in brains for sure. Though, in fairness, Sylvie isn’t all brute strength either. She’s a gal with a plan, but unfortunately a man fucks it all up. Isn’t that always the way?
Seriously though, Loki’s attempt to join her, delay her chance to board the golden elevator (which would presumably take her to the Time Keepers), and ultimately result in the two of them being stranded on Lamentis-1. A doomed planet with a moon hours away from crushing it. In Loki’s defense, his action was taken as a means of preventing both of their deaths at the hands of Ravonna Renslayer. The downside? The temp-pad he used to get them there is all out of juice!
They take shelter from the falling moon debris, and Sylvie tries to enchant Loki, but it fails. The conversation that ensues establishes them as a brand new buddy-cop pair in this show. She needs him alive because he’s hidden the temp-pad, and he needs her because she’s the only one who knows how to power the thing. It’s a standard set-up.
The best things we get out of this episode are in the dialog, the action that takes place is really pointless. Nothing happens, story-wise, through action. Everything here is about what’s said, and there are some real nuggets dropped.
For one thing, we learn the variant doesn’t like to be called “variant,” nor is she partial to Loki – which suits our Loki just fine – instead, she’s picked up the alias Sylvie. We also get an idea of what makes a Loki, a Loki: independence, authority, and style. This leads Sylvie to tease Loki about his “consulting” for the TVA, while Loki points out that her grand plan to destroy the Time Keepers and just walk away isn’t exactly a very Loki thing to do. As she mentioned in the previous episode, she’s not him.
One of the more confusing scenes is when Loki asks if a neon sign can power the temp-pad and Sylvie seems to pretend it can in order to trick him into giving it to her. But then, he seems to know it won’t work and chastises her for trying to fool him. Then, to make matters even more weird, she comes back at him with how it was a stupid suggestion, telling him the temp-pad needs a massive power source to charge. Uh…what the fuck was the point? We already know these two don’t trust each other, was that really necessary? Was Loki testing her? Was she testing him? And then…were they mad at each other for testing the other???
At least the scene where they come upon the lady who won’t leave her home (Susan Gallagher) makes more sense in that it displays the different ways these two go about problem solving. This episode starts with them both going the physical route, but here we see Loki employ his magic in hopes of duping the woman into trusting him (disguised as her, I’m gonna say, dead husband – played by Alex Van). Sure, it fails, but so does Sylvie’s brute force approach. Though, again, I’m a little confused as to why Loki chooses to embody her beloved after already having spoken to the woman as himself, even if he didn’t show himself. In the end, the woman solves their problem for them, asking them what they want and giving them the information they require.
When they reach the train station it takes both of their skillsets to gain them passage on board. Once they get there we are treated to another deep dive conversation scene. Loki talks about his mother, love, and being adopted, while Sylvie talks about lacking a mother, knowing she was adopted from the start, and how she taught herself magic. It’s a lovely scene that allows these characters some depth in a short amount of time.
Why is it that villains are never allowed to have romantic attachments? Is it that having a romance would stop them from being villains? Anti-villains often get romantic relationships, mostly just to show how they either corrupt the person they love, or, how they burden that person, but in most instances the love doesn’t make it. A hero’s love story usually follows one of three paths: it helps to redeem them, it makes them a better, stronger version of the fine person they already were, or, it’s tragic motivator which then splits off into the hero either dying at the end, or being open to new love. Megamind is probably the only movie I can think of where the villain, through love, becomes a hero. Their love story is transformative. So is that the rub? Villains aren’t allowed to grow?
I mean, if you think about it, none of these Marvel series has really explored a romantic storyline. WandaVision is all about letting go, and moving on once a relationship ends (in her case via death, but the lesson could be extrapolated to fit a breakup). The Falcon and the Winter Soldier teased at Bucky’s love life a little, but never with serious intent, and Sam? Pffft. He didn’t get anyone at all. And now we have Loki where neither Loki nor Sylvie seem to have had “real” loving relationships.
At any rate, Loki’s hedonistic ways get them kicked off the train. I will say, he seems to be a better fighter drunk, though not a good knife thrower. This leads us to the low point of the episode: all hope is now lost. Loki reveals the temp-pad has been destroyed, and the planet is 100% fucked. Sylvie does reveal an interesting bit of information though, she says that the reason she didn’t indulge in her hedonistic tendencies was because she’s on a mission. Loki believes it’s the one we’ve been privy to this whole time – the destruction of the TVA – but what if it isn’t? Sylvie makes a joke earlier about having maintained a long distance relationship in her travels through apocalypses, and Loki laughs it off, but what if that was true? What if her plan is bigger than we’ve been lead to believe? What if someone is waiting for her, and if she doesn’t check in or make contact, does that mean someone’s going to come looking for her?
Possibly the biggest revelation of the episode is that the TVA isn’t made up of unique individuals hand-crafted by the Time Keepers to serve as minutemen, but rather…variants! This can’t be too much of a surprise for anyone familiar with sci-fi tropes. It’s an oldie but a goodie: you are not who you think you are. Hey…doesn’t that sound…like something someone said in a review before? Hmm…something about potatoes…I dunno, anyway…Sylvie reveals that in order to enchant Hunter C-20, she had to dig back into a memory from before the girl worked for the TVA. Loki has clearly drank the kool-aid, believing what Mobius told him about the Time Keepers creating their workforce. This could be the real reason Mobius has that jet-ski obsession.
It’s interesting to note that for a guy who revels in chaos, he seems genuinely bothered that none of the workers of the TVA know what they really are. Though, he was also the guy who didn’t get told he was adopted and it left him, bruised to say the least. It presents us with a new layer to this show because the agents of the TVA tend to treat variants as scum, while acting like they are noble one-of-a-kind god-created higher beings with purpose and duty. I’d go so far as to say a new source of potatoes eh? We are led to believe that variants are bad, no questions asked, but if the minutemen are variants then what becomes of our reliable black and white outlook!? I do enjoy how this show manages to flip the world upside down with just one line.
Aside from the fun banter between the two leads, this episode is mostly a waste. Sure, you get Snowpiercer in space, and there’s handy background details given, not to mention the variant bombshell, but mostly it’s a race-against-the-clock scenario that ends on a cliffhanger. Sylvie and Loki make it to the Ark, but it is destroyed by a falling piece of moon debris before they are ever able to board it.
So, are our heroes going to die? Will they be saved at the last minute? Given this is a show built around the concept of variants, I would almost be pleased if they legitimately killed off these two and brought in new variants to pick up the rest of the story, but, I doubt that’s where this will go. More likely, Sylvie has company coming to rescue her, and Loki will manage to talk his way into hitching a ride. I say this largely because Sylvie knows this apocalypse. She knew there was no way of getting off the planet without the temp-pad. Sure, you could argue that she might have known the general details but be unaware of the specifics (that the Ark gets destroyed), but she actually says earlier in the episode that no one makes it off the planet. EVERYONE dies. Which leads me to believe that she entertains Loki’s plans just to pass the time. She has a contingency in place. OR, I’m totally wrong and the TVA happens to track them down for a nick-of-time rescue.
Let’s see, shall we?