‘Loki’ Episode One Review: A Glorious Entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
*Warning: this article contains mild spoilers for Loki*
For those that were disappointed in WandaVision’s faux ambitions, which started as a Twilight Zone/Twin Peaks-esque mindbender and progressively stopped to tell a more standard, risk-free story, Loki could very well be what you’re looking for. The show’s first episode is exposition-heavy and doesn’t try to do too much, too quickly (compared to WandaVision). Instead, director Kate Herron and writer Michael Waldron are in the process of establishing an unpretentious and fun entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) being the show’s central figure.
The show picks up smack-bang after a variant of Loki picks up the Tesseract, following the events of Avengers: Endgame. There’s even a recap of the events from Endgame to remind audiences how exactly it happened. Loki lands in the Gobi Desert and is quickly intercepted by Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) of the Time Variance Authority for disrupting the “sacred timeline.” The first episode follows Loki in his adventure with the TVA, without realizing that picking up the Tesseract was not meant to happen. The “sacred timeline” is there to prevent Nexus (did you pay attention to one of the commercials from WandaVision?) events from happening. If left unchecked, these events could “branch off into madness” and lead to another multiversal war, as aptly narrated by the TVA’s mascot, Miss Minutes (Tara Strong). Already, seeds are starting to plant for the “multiverse of madness.” It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be another Far From Home or WandaVision fake-out (let’s be honest here, bringing Evan Peters’ Quicksilver to play some random dude was absolutely wasted potential and far worse than the Mandarin reveal in Iron Man 3, which made sense in the film’s context ). We’re going to see how Loki’s effects from veering off his preestablished timeline will disrupt the Timekeepers’ “scared timeline,” and I’m all here for it.
Some may say that Marvel can’t go past a contrived formula and will exemplify this argument by presenting “multiverse” examples from Far From Home and WandaVision. Those arguments are valid, yes, but one could say that Feige et al. were simply “teasing” the appearance of a multiverse in the mind of audiences, and now it looks like Loki will crack the timeline wide open for the multiverse to indeed happen…for real this time. Obviously, this is just one episode we’re talking about here, but it’s early hints with Miss Minutes’ vintage exposition-dump on the TVA’s purpose, aestheticized in the vein of a Hanna Barbera cartoon already set up how a “multiverse of madness” can happen. It’s already making me hyped for the rest of the series, knowing that the possibilities in Marvel’s sandbox are endless.
Tom Hiddleston continues to shine as Loki, and he’s particularly great here with Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius, who interrogates him on his past failures as a “God of mischief” who aspires to become a King. The episode is essentially a highlight reel on Loki, with one added bit in which it is revealed that the God of mischief himself was…D.B. Cooper. It’s wicked fun when the frame opens up to an IMAX-like aspect ratio for one brief second, likely teasing the show’s large scale in subsequent episodes.
Some might not like the “conversational” aspect of the episode, filled with sitting and talking, walking, and talking, one person sitting while the other is standing and talking—you get the gist. However, whenever a show starts, its plot is usually established through long exposition-heavy sequences. Thankfully, Herron & Waldron make them amazingly fun, using classic animation to explain the TVA or having Mobius interrogate Loki to figure out his endgame. The interrogation scene is the best bit of the episode, with a great mix of natural laugh-oud-loud comedy and quieter, dramatic moments when the Loki variant sees his fate at the hands of the mighty Thanos (Josh Brolin). The episode takes its time to establish what the TVA is and what it does before getting into its main story—without trying to tease what’s to come too hard.
That’s done only in the episode’s last moments, in which Mobius tells Loki that they are looking for a particularly evil variant… another Loki. What does that mean? Could it be a different Loki than Hiddleston’s? Are the timelines screwed? All these questions are extremely valid and will hopefully be answered sooner rather than later, with Loki already setting up a fantastic detective story which, if consistently good, could very well be another “glorious” entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ll admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to Loki that much, but its first episode already has me hooked for more. And that, my friends, is glorious enough.
The first episode of Loki will premiere June 9th on Disney+