So…uh…who created the TVA???
That question and more were posed on Wednesday’s episode of Loki. A pretty juicy follow up to what, in my opinion, was a meh third episode. But, boy, did they more than make up for that!
As Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) await the end, we get to see a brief glimpse of how Sylvie came to be at odds with the TVA. A young girl (Cailey Fleming) with brown hair is playing when a portal opens up behind her and none other than a young Hunter Ravonna appears to accuse her of crimes against the sacred timeline. The confused little girl is quickly grabbed by two other Hunters. But Sylvie proves, even as a child, she’s no easily subdued variant. She lifts Ravonna’s temp-pad as she escapes capture and disappears through a portal.
We come back to the end of the previous episode where the moon is quickly falling. Know what else is quickly falling? Loki! The god of mischief is quite smitten with his female counterpart, going so far as to compliment her and assure her that no, what makes a Loki a Loki isn’t a legacy of failure, but rather one of survival. “We may lose,” he concedes, “But we never die.” It’s a sweet moment made even sweeter by their unconscious handholding, and it saves their lives. How? Because for some reason their interest in one another sparks an unusual Nexus event – one unique enough for the TVA to pinpoint their location.
Rescue is…a double edged sword. On the bright side, they are no longer doomed to be crushed by a crumbling moon, on the down side, they’ve got their old TVA neckwear on and are hauled off to separate Time Theaters for interrogation. Mobius is weirdly hurt by what he sees as Loki’s betrayal, and Loki doesn’t exactly express remorse. It’s a funny exchange when Loki informs Mobius that backstabbing is par for the course on Earth, while Mobius quips he doesn’t need a “prince” telling him how the real world works. Then, Mobius sticks Loki in a Time Cell (honestly, these people just jam the word “time” in front of everything).
Before he does this though, he allows Loki a final statement – “The TVA is lying to you.” Our trickster warns, and Mobius just throws him in the cell. This bothered me because if you were to hear that someone is lying to you, wouldn’t you, at the very least, ask about what? I mean, it’s not just Mobius that doesn’t follow up – when he tells Hunter B-15 what Loki said, she also doesn’t ask the obvious question: about what? Granted, B-15 is having her own mini-meltdown thanks to the memories Sylvie dipped into when briefly enchanting her at the Roxxcart, but still!
Anyway, the Time Cell replays a particular moment in the prisoner’s life – in Loki’s case a moment where Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) kneed him in the balls and punched him for cutting her hair. As she engages in physical retribution, she also throws in some verbal abuse for good measure, calling Thor’s adopted brother many names before concluding that he’s “alone, and you always will be”. We’re not sure how many rounds of this he endures, but by the time Mobius returns to chat, Loki is clearly feeling the weight of his former actions.
Now, in the meantime, Mobius has gone to see Ravonna about interrogating Sylvie only to discover his boss does not want that to happen. He’s confused. She tries to explain she’s doing it to protect him, while adding that he hasn’t exactly been in control of his own Loki variant, but Loki’s words are burning their way into his brain. What is the TVA lying about? He brings up Hunter C-20 again, who, we found out earlier in the episode was killed due to “insanity”, and Ravonna sticks to her story. She sends him off to talk to his Loki variant, and he decides to give the imp god a listen.
Loki and Mobius face off, similar to their first encounter with Loki pretending not to care and Mobius baiting him into revealing more than he means to – in this case by using Sylvie against him. Mobius realizes that Loki likes Sylvie, and begins to genuinely wonder if his “sick, twisted” feelings for her are what caused the Nexus event on Lamentis. Not long after, Loki reveals the big twist: “You’re all variants!” Mobius isn’t keen on believing him, but he has sense enough to drop by Ravonna’s office a second time under the guise of closing out his case in order to steal her temp-pad and investigate the murky death of C-20 for himself. Turns out, Loki wasn’t lying.
A weird exchange happens in the Time Cell – Mobius asks Loki if he really believes he deserves to be alone. He also asks if Loki really cares for Sylvie – hinting that Loki’s connection to the lady trickster might be enough to bring down the TVA. Umm…how? Come to think of it, why was the Nexus event they caused on Lamentis so strange? Mobius does manage to give Loki a small gift before parting, telling the god of mischief that he can be good if he wants to be (this reminds me a lot of how Thor finally broke through to his brother in Ragnarok). Sadly, by the time Mobius and Loki are ready to leave the Time Cell Ravonna has realized what he’s done…and she prunes him.
Loki and Sylvie are both taken, by Ravonna personally, to the Time Keepers to be pruned. Now, Sylvie hasn’t been ignored in this episode – she got her own visit from Hunter B-15. The time-cop hasn’t been feeling right, as previously mentioned, and she goes to the source to get the facts. Odd that she would believe anything a variant says, but since Sylvie allows her a second viewing of the memories uncovered during enchantment, B-15 is a lot more open to hearing this prisoner out. It goes a long way to explaining why later, when Loki and Sylvie are presented to the Time Keepers as lambs for slaughter, B-15 shows up and helps them break free of their bonds.
The fight that ensues is quite entertaining. A little funny that Loki seems to fight best with a blade in his hands, when he could just as easily take one of the pruning sticks from the cops he’s fighting and use that as a sword (the non-pruning end is actually sharpened to a lethal point). Hell, that’s what Sylvie does once she throws the blade B-15 throws to her, to Loki. Sylvie finally succeeds in knocking Ravonna out, but her sense of accomplishment is short lived when she decapitates one of the Time Keepers only to discover it’s an android. The fuck!?
Allow me a moment to be highly amused by what I was convinced was the other two Time Keepers laughing when their third lost his head. I think it might have been an involuntary sound caused by their shared neural network being disrupted, but it really did sound like laughter, which I thought was amazing. These two assholes didn’t even care that their triad had been violently ended, nope, they were just giggling at the rolling head.
Sylvie wasn’t laughing though, neither was Loki. He’s the one who asks the question that started this review – who created the TVA??? It’s a valid ask, but one he won’t get an answer to – at least not anytime soon I should think. As Loki takes a moment to finally try and confess his feelings for Sylvie (I’m fairly certain they are extremely confused given his difficulty putting them into words and possibly one-sided considering her more than blank stare reaction to his impending confession), Ravonna prunes him from behind – not a sex thing! I had to…
Sylvie appears sincerely wounded by her male counterpart’s sudden departure, but she doesn’t do the rash thing and simply prune Ravonna back. No, she gains the upper hand in a successful bid to hold Ravonna at prune-point and demand answers.
Loki, the after credits reveals, isn’t dead. Instead, he’s being rescued by three other versions of himself, well, four if you count the lizard. There’s Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), and Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei) – who looks more like Thor with his golden hammer. Is this where all pruned people go? Is there an in-between that allows for survival so long as the victim is aware enough to act quickly? Does that mean Mobius could come back?
Gotta love the questions this show inspires. I’m looking forward to the answers.