Marvel Studios’ latest Disney+ series begins as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki sets the MCU on a brand new path, guided by Owen Wilson’s Agent Mobius.
Spoiler Warning! This article contains spoilers for episode one of Loki. If you haven’t yet watched it, bookmark this post and return to it once you have.
Here we go! The MCU is back with another Disney+ series. Alongside it, we’ll be picking through every episode, recapping the action, pointing out the details and references and doing our very best to make sense of all the clues for what lies in store for Loki and the wider MCU.
To say this series is highly anticipated would be an understatement; Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has been a firm fan favourite since his first appearance back in 2011’s Thor. A lot has happened to the character since then, and as soon as the news of his Disney+ series broke, we’ve all been waiting to see what was next for everyone’s favourite antihero.
‘Loki’ is all about time. Time travel, time loops, time management, time branches, alternative timelines, time-out. (Joke). Things might seem complicated at this point, but then where Loki is concerned, what isn’t?
Episode 1 takes us back to 2012, after the battle of New York seen during the events of ‘Avengers: Assemble’ and revisited in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ We don’t get a full recap, but you’ll likely remember that during a scuffle in the lobby of Stark Tower, Loki ends up stealing the Tesseract and vanishing into thin air. This, in turn, creates an alternative timeline and version of Loki, a version that is known as a variant. This Variant, of course, doesn’t then get to go on to cause the death of his mother, Frigga in Thor: The Dark World, or gain redemption fighting alongside his brother in Thor: Ragnarok. More importantly, he doesn’t end up sacrificing himself and being killed by Thanos in the opening scene of Avengers: Infinity War.
Complicated? I told you it was…
Loki lands in the desert and is promptly arrested by the Time Variance Authority, a sterile, no-nonsense authority whose job is to preserve the sacred timeline, as decreed by the Timekeepers. Loki is baffled as to why they would dare to treat him with such distain. He’s poked at, beaten, stripped of his Asgardian robes and disrespected by the jobsworths of the TVA.
One of the most fun sequences is an animated film shown to Loki explaining who the TVA are and what they do, narrated by an anthropomorphic clock named ‘Miss Minutes.’ The animation is very similar to the one seen in ‘Jurassic Park’ and adds an entertaining tone to the first part of the episode.
Loki is quickly put in front of a judge, Ravonna Renslayer, to be exact (more on her later as she’s bound to be important in the future). Although found guilty, Loki is spared death when Owen Wilson’s Agent Mobius steps in. It seems that Loki IS burdened with glorious purpose, at least for the sake of helping out the TVA.
The powerful on-screen chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson could prove to be the highlight of the series. As Agent Mobius shows Loki his past on a big screen, whilst trying to get some kind of explanation out of him as to why he misbehaved, he earns Loki’s trust. Loki begins to understand that he was never born to rule but is around simply to help others realise their potential. It’s a tough pill for Loki to swallow.
There is a real vulnerability to Loki, unlike any we’ve seen before, that reveals itself as he’s shown how he inadvertently caused the death of his mother. The Loki we know is gone, and as the bravado and pomp fall away, he realises exactly who he is, admitting so for probably the first time in his life. Loki hasn’t done terrible things because he’s the God of Mischief, but because he has to – because it’s part of his illusion, “a cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.”
By the end of the scene, Wilson’s Mobius has broken Loki’s character down more successfully than anyone else has ever done before. His Identity and destiny are out in the open, no longer burdened with glorious purpose, the God of Mischief is now unburdened with self-acceptance.
Hiddleston and Wilson going toe to toe are perfect; Wilson is an actor I’ve been excited to see join the MCU since his casting was announced. He plays the part of Mobius perfectly, engaging Loki in such a way that matches his wit and charm. His character feels like it’s very underestimated, no elaborate costume, very dry and almost dull in tone, which comes across as deliberate. Loki doesn’t think very highly of him when they first meet, like he’s no match for a god, except he is. Mobius matches Loki’s charm and intelligence in a very unexpected way, and I can’t think of many actors who could pull that off as well.
There has been talk of Tom Hiddleston educating the rest of the cast and crew on all things Loki; he knows the character inside out, and it really shows here. Taking a well-known character like Loki and putting him in a show that is unlike anything we’ve seen before is a brave move, and Hiddleston pulls it off perfectly.
The episode isn’t just a long-form therapy session for Loki, though; there is an overall plot starting to unfold. Mobius responds to a different TVA situation, this time in 16th Century France. He encounters a young boy who points to a stained glass window when asked who was responsible for the atrocity he’s just witnessed. The image in the window depicts the devil, which we have already had confirmation on not being Mephisto (before anyone mentions it). There’s another situation during the episodes’ closing scene where the hooded figure seen in trailers is causing havoc, setting fire to unsuspecting TVA agents. It’s this mysterious Variant the TVA is tracking.
It’s revealed by Mobius the reason he needs Loki’s help, why he saved him from being erased. The time-travelling Variant that the TVA is trying to apprehend is, in fact… Loki.
Three Details I need to mention
- Miss Minutes telling the story of the TVA via a Pink Panther style animation was brilliant. I’m starting a petition for a spin-off show right now.
- The Infinity stones showing up and having absolutely no power inside the TVA is a masterstroke that demonstrates just how important the TVA are and how insignificant the events of phases 1-3 of the MCU are in relation to the wider universe. Things are expanding, and there is much more out there than previously thought; this moment felt like a nod to a much bigger future. The moment Loki found the drawer full of Infinity Stones, which previously had been THE go-to source of power across the galaxy, is the moment he realises everything he’d been craving all along was futile.
- The DB Cooper sequence was great fun. We’d seen it teased in previous trailers, and what seemed like it could be a pivotal moment in the series actually turned out to be nothing more than a bet. The joke, of course, was that Loki was DB Cooper, the unidentified man who, in 1971, managed to hijack a Boeing 727 whilst in mid-air, demanding $200,000, which he collected, before parachuting from the plane and disappearing.
Episode 1 of Loki more than lived up to its hype, continuing Marvel’s run of Disney+ shows spectacularly. If I were to sum it up, I’d say it’s like Marvel does Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy via Mad Men. What we get character-wise in episode 1 is very similar to WandaVision and TFATWS, in that we’re seeing familiar characters given something much more meaningful to do. Yes, they’re going to save the world (or at least a part of it), but before they do, we’re going to get to see a deep and honest look at who they are and what they’re about. Like the two previous shows that came before it, Loki is a story with Identity at its heart.