“Ouroboros” doesn’t waste any time getting the viewer back to where we left off, with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) running from his one-time allies Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). The god of mischief had just returned from the End of Time to warn the TVA of the impending doom, but as teased in the season one finale, Mobius and Hunter B-15 don’t recognize him. Loki’s haphazard plan of escape leads him to jump out of a window (for lack of a better word), survive a few death-inducing landings, and conveniently wind up in the main hub of the TVA. Scene-stealer Casey (Eugene Cordero) also doesn’t recognize our anti-hero until something strange happens, Loki disappears. His body violently contorts, vanishes, then violently reappears only to find that Casey now knows who he is. A crack in the floor (which was his fault) provides a vital clue – Loki is time traveling. Technically, time slipping, but we’ll get to that.
As all this is happening, the present TVA is dealing with the fallout from being told no more pruning, watching the timeline branch unchecked, and unexplained power surges, it is not great. Mobius and Hunter B-15 know they have to explain their “no pruning” command, but how do you tell an entire organization their mission and headmasters are…well, lies? Not to mention that since Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw – confirmed as a returning character this season) disappeared, a new judge is in play, and Mobius and Hunter B-15 are called into the War Room to justify their behavior. Judge Gamble (Liz Carr), listens intently, but General Dox (Kate Dickie) is a hard-edged devotee to the cause who doesn’t care that the time keepers were false. The other member in the war room (also possibly a general) remains asleep for most of the scene – who he is and why he is part of this isn’t explained.
Loki blinks in and out of these moments, discovering by recording that Renslayer joined up with He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors, returning this season) in the past, until he finally reunites with Mobius in the War Room. His revelation to the members that the time keepers were a lie and HWR (heretofore referred to as Kang) actually built the TVA sways Judge Gamble to uphold the order to stop pruning. General Dox, conversely, sets her sights (and army of minutemen) on Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). The unknown third member wakes up briefly – proving he isn’t dead – says nothing and I’m sure goes promptly back to sleep.
Loki tries to explain to Mobius why the TVA’s mission, albeit a lie, is important, but his friend is more concerned about the disappearing. Not only is it problematic, but it is horrifying to watch. Luckily, he knows a guy who might be able to help – meet the titular character: Ouroboros (nicknamed OB, and played by Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan). The lone employee of the Repairs and Advancements department of the TVA, this surprisingly chipper guy gives Loki’s problem a name (time-slipping), and a solution (it’s complicated). Welcome to the countdown portion of our premiere, forcing Mobius to confront his fears of being flayed alive (though honestly, who wouldn’t be afraid of that?), and driving Loki into the future for an added bit of climactic drama.
Naturally, OB’s plan succeeds and Loki’s condition is cured (maybe? We technically don’t get solid confirmation of this), but the issue of the power surges, the authoritarian general, and Sylvie remain.
It’s a good premiere. Solid, action-packed, picks up where the finale left off, everything a good premiere should be. It also provides some clues to upcoming story threads for the season. Did Judge Renslayer always know about Kang and the truth of the TVA? Is Miss Minutes (Tara Strong, set to return this season) really working with Kang? That one seems like a no-brainer since he built the TVA so it would stand to reason he created MM too. Who was on the phone? This is a tricky one because it leads to the additional question of – who was the phone call for? It seems easy to assume that since Loki arrived in the hallway then shortly after the phone began to ring it was for him, but he also travelled to the future which means whoever is on the other side had to know he’d be there at that exact moment. A far simpler conclusion would be that the call was meant for Sylvie – who was clearly trying to get out of the elevator in time for something – or, perhaps whoever pruned Loki from behind. That brings us to Sylvie.
What happened to her after she killed Kang? Is the after credits trip to 1982 alternate timeline OK following her murder of the Man at the End of Time? Given her directive to the bemused employee that he not serve her any kind of rodent, I would wager no. This exhaustive list of things she doesn’t want to eat suggests she’s been through some shit to get here. Future Sylvie is pleased to see Loki, does this mean they reunite at some point and make amends? Or, is she talking to the person behind Loki? That’s a hard nut to crack since it’s an easy trick to play when it comes to perspective. Additionally, who prunes Loki? My guess is we won’t know until we know.
Will Kang return? The teaser at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania says yes, yes he will. But which Kang will it be? Let’s not forget, the Conqueror has lived many lives and now that the timelines aren’t being branched new hims are just on the horizon.
I love how many questions we’re left with at the end of this episode, and not just obvious ones like Kang, Sylvie, and Renslayer. What’s up with Gen. Dox and Hunter X-5 (Rafael Casal)? Is he her son? Does she know about the variants because she stole her son from a timeline where she had one? I didn’t get a romantic vibe between the two of them. Though, I guess in that timeline she wasn’t Scottish? Either way, there’s clearly some crazy shit going on between those two. Will Hunter D-90 (Neil Ellice) be joining team Loki? Will OB fix the temporal loom? Did the mail carrier (Charlie Cameron) die!? I doubt we’ll find out, but it was a funny one-off dark joke.
Speaking of humor, let me end this review by saying the humor in this show is on-point! I love how it takes the time to still build the enjoyable banter between Mobius and Loki from the first season. Wilson embraces more of his usual character traits in this episode, the braggadocios confidence he displays in his interactions with OB – and to Quan’s credit he makes a fantastic straight man to Wilson’s Mobius in that scene. But yes, without gushing, Wilson and Hiddleston’s odd-couple mojo is going strong. I absolutely love the conversation between the two of them about Loki’s disappearing. And, while Mobius gets a little stuck on the “no skin” of things, OB helps make that joke work a little longer than it should.
I’m excited for episode two!