Loki Season 1 Review

Rating:

Loki Season 1 Arrives In the Nick of Time

Main Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Created By: Michael Waldron

Loki:I’m gonna burn this place to the ground.
Mobius:I’ll show you where my desk is. You can start there.

“Glorious Purpose” (Season1, Episode 1)

Loki is one of Marvel’s most ambitious projects. The show uses time travel chicanery to bring back one of the MCU’s most popular characters and set up its next big story arc: The Multiverse. Will Loki find its glorious purpose or should he have stayed dead? Let’s find out.

The Good

For All Time. Always.

Miss Minutes: [instructional video] “Welcome to the Time Variance Authority. I’m Miss Minutes, and it’s my job to catch you up before you stand trial for your crimes. So let’s not waste another minute. Settle in, sharpen your pencils, and check this out.”

“Glorious Purpose” (Loki Season1, Episode 1)

Loki Season 1 is heavily intertwined with time travel, so it’s a good thing we have a group to regulate the temporal mishaps: The Time Variance Authority.

Loki escaped his predetermined fate thanks to the Avengers’ time heist in Avengers: Endgame. He doesn’t get far before being captured by the Time Variance Authority, an organization dedicated to preserving the proper flow of time.

Viewers learn that time travel creates branching timelines, which in turn, create a multiverse. The various universes became aware of each other and waged war, only ending when the Time-Keepers rose to power and destroyed the other timelines. They created a predetermined “Sacred Timeline” and formed the TVA to prevent branches from being created.

The TVA is led by Judge Renslayer (Mbatha-Raw), a no-nonsense leader and the link between the TVA and the Time-Keepers. Her favorite employee, Agent Mobius (Wilson), recruits Loki to help with a dangerous case. The other significant member of the TVA is Miss Minutes, a mascot voiced by Tara Strong. She gives exposition and sometimes acts as a messenger for the Time-Keepers.

Buddy Cop

Loki: “I’d never stab anyone in the back! That’s such a boring form of betrayal.”
Mobius: “Loki, I’ve studied every moment of your entire life. You have literally stabbed people in the back, like, fifty times!” 
Loki:Well, I’d never do it again, because it got old!

The Variant” (Loki Season 1, Episode 2)

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier recently explored the buddy cop genre, but Loki‘s first season also gets in on the action with the duo of Loki and Agent Mobius.

This Loki is from the end of The Avengers, before he went through his character development. He is still arrogant, deceitful, and villainous. He quickly discovers that his actions resulted in his mother’s death, Asgard’s destruction, and his death at Thanos’ hands. Loki reluctantly works with the TVA while scheming to destroy them from within.

Agent Mobius is a by-the-book TVA operative who acts like a goofball when not on a mission. He fanboys over Loki being D.B. Cooper, daydreams about getting to drive a jet ski, and snarks about Loki’s screw-ups. Despite acting silly, Agent Mobius won’t hesitate to call Loki out on his BS and is portrayed as a competent agent.

Loki and Mobius’ relationship begins troubled as Loki constantly tries to kill Mobius while Mobius uses time travel tech to screw with Loki. They quickly bond thanks to Mobius knowing all of Loki’s insecurities and forcing him through three movies worth of character development in only a few episodes.

Constants and Variables

Sylvie: [talking through an enchanted victim] “So you’re the fool the TVA brought in to hunt me down.
Loki:Me, I presume?
Sylvie:Please, if anyone’s anyone, you’re me.

The Variant” (Loki Season 1, Episode 2)

The TVA does a lot to maintain the Sacred Timeline, but their primary goal is destroying the things that cause them to branch off: variants.

Variants are the result of a character doing something that goes against the Sacred Timeline. It could be a big variance like killing someone you weren’t supposed to or surviving something that should have killed you. It could also be something petty like being born the wrong gender or species.

The most prominent Variant in Loki Season One is Sylvie, a female incarnation of Loki. She was abducted by the TVA for an unknown variance but managed to escape. She grew up constantly on the run, only able to find hiding spaces during apocalyptic events. Sylvie became obsessed with destroying the TVA and reluctantly works with Loki to bring them down. Despite being a Loki Variant, Sylvie is primarily based on the second Enchantress from Young Avengers.

Several more incarnations of Loki are introduced throughout season one. These include Kid Loki (Jack Veal), an evil President Loki (Hiddleston), a Silver Age-themed Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), and the internet’s favorite: Alligator Loki.

The variants are a double-edged sword for writers. If used sparingly or in specialized roles, they can be entertaining looks into how the characters could have developed. If overused or mishandled, they will become obnoxious cameos or one-off jokes. At worst, variants are an easy “Get-Out-Of-Death-Free” card since there will always be a branching timeline where the character survived.

The Bad

Time for Set-Up

The Villain:If you think I’m evil… Well, just wait until you meet my Variants.

“For All Time. Always.” (Loki Season 1, Episode 6)

Loki Season One borrows a lot from other films and shows in the franchise. Unfortunately, they borrowed the love for clunky set-up from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The first three episodes are the biggest offenders. The first features several info dumps on how the TVA operates and Loki’s many, many hang-ups. The second builds up Sylvie’s threat and explores how she has eluded the TVA. The third brings the plot to a stop so Loki and Sylvie can bond over an otherwise inconsequential adventure.

The latter half of season one fixes the problem by focusing on the skeletons in the TVA’s closet, Loki and Sylvie’s relationship, and both sides conspiring to outwit the other. The final episode brings the problem back, but in a more complicated manner.

The final episode has the villain (unnamed to avoid spoilers) explaining various facets of the TVA and what will happen if the Multiverse is brought back. It is excellently acted and features convincing arguments from all sides, but is still mostly set-up for Phase 4 instead of a finale to Loki‘s first season. Even worse, it’s a foregone conclusion because Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness and What If? are both on the docket.

The Verdict

Loki Season One features a colorful cast, excellent buddy cop antics, and more temporal variants than you could shake a Time Stone at. The plot occasionally takes a backseat to setting up future series, but that only drags the show down a little. Loki‘s first season is worth your time.

Image: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. (c) Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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