*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode four of Loki.*
It’s funny to believe that things are getting clearer regarding Loki, but more questions are still being raised. For instance, if the Time-Keepers are fake, who is running the TVA? Also, who did Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) speak to instead of the pretend Time-Keepers? My instincts say Kang The Conqueror, as Renslayer is married to him in the comics, and would make the most sense since Jonathan Majors was rumored to appear in the series, but we won’t know for sure until likely the sixth episode. This week’s episode, titled The Nexus Event, is another fun one, taking many storytelling risks that I hope will pay off big because some may not like the show’s direction.
Remember the ending of the second episode, in which multiple timelines were activated, which essentially set the stage for a “multiverse of madness” or “infinite permutations,” as Siddhant Adlakha eloquently explained it in his review of last week’s episode? What the hell happened with that? Last week was essentially a detour to construct a bond between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) while also fleshing out this new female variant of the God of Mischief. So now we’re back in the series’ main story, progressing further from the second episode but ultimately leaving out the “multiverse of madness” set-up as unfulfilled. Granted, there are two episodes left, but it feels particularly jarring to leave out such a crucial moment in the series like that and pretend as if it never happened. So what did the TVA do during the time Sylvie and Loki were in Lamentis-1? Likely fixing the timeline, yes, but what happened? We don’t know, and we might never know.
Maybe I’ve just reawakened your memory of the second episode, and if I did, good! You might’ve forgotten about it (as did I, since I watched it eons ago through a screener), but no matter, since this episode moves the story forward along nicely, particularly in the case of Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Renslayer explains to Mobius that Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) died after getting enchanted by Sylvie, but that is a lie since she is covering up the truth about the TVA and where their “hunters” and “analysts” come from. C-20 knows that she is a variant, which compromises the entire operation of protecting the “sacred timeline,” but is the timeline really “sacred” if the fake Time-Keepers pluck humans away to manipulate them as “hunters” and “analysts”? And to what end? What is the TVA’s true goal? This is an interesting question that I hope gets answered fairly soon.
Both Owen Wilson and Wunmi Mosaku particularly shine in this episode, with Mosaku getting a profoundly emotional moment with Sylvie, in which the Variant frees her mind and makes sure she can recall her past life. B-15 has always been an extremely strict, by-the-book agent who thought her sole purpose was to serve the Time-Keepers and protect the Sacred Timeline until she realizes that the TVA’s purpose might all be a lie. She has her redemption moment by aiding Loki and Sylvie overthrow the Time-Keepers (when she previously wanted to “prune” them), but it’s still unclear what will happen to her in subsequent episodes.
Wilson also gets his time to shine with another terrific interrogation sequence with Hiddleston. Mobius seems a lot more on edge and ahead of Loki’s mischievous tactics this time around. When Loki tells him the truth about the TVA, he obviously doesn’t believe it but starts to question Renslayer when she seems vague about how exactly did C-20 die. This will prompt him to team up with Loki to help him save Sylvie, that is, until he gets “pruned.” This is the episode’s first subversive moment nobody saw coming, with Wilson being one of the show’s best parts. Where he is now is still left to be answered, but I truly hope he will come back for at least another moment (so he can at least get on that jet ski, if you know what I mean).
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is also excellent as Renslayer and continuously proves why she’s one of the best actresses working today. Her charm bodes well for Mobius, who believes she can be trusted, but underneath that façade lies a cold-blooded and frightened individual who fears the might of the Time-Keepers (or Kang, who knows!).’ powers. It’s revealed that she plucked Sylvie out of her timeline in Asgard and made her the fugitive Variant she is today–which doesn’t bode well for Sylvie once she sees Renslayer again.
The episode’s climax doesn’t reach the same level of visual mastery as its third episode and instead prefers jarring cuts to hide hunters getting slashed by swords. While Autumn Durald Arkapaw’s cinematography is always excellent, with nice shades of neon greens permeating the kingdom of the Time-Keepers, quick cuts do not bode well for me. It’s particularly disappointing to see Marvel Studios going back to their Falcon and the Winter Soldier days instead of editing movement when it feels right, not to hide grit in a shoddy way. This results in a rather emotionless action sequence featuring some pretty unconvincing CGI. Yes, I know that the Time-Keepers aren’t real, but did they have to look so…fake? Heck, if I were Loki and saw the Time-Keepers, I wouldn’t believe they were real for a second.
The most pivotal moment of the episode, Loki getting pruned by Renslayer before saying something important to Sylvie, didn’t feel as impactful as I would’ve hoped. Still, it definitely led to one of the MCU’s best post-credit scenes in recent memory. I don’t want to sound like a hype machine, but seeing Richard E. Grant as “Classic Loki” in the most incredible outfit I’ve ever seen literally made me spit out my water as I was drinking it. It’s too good to be true or, dare I say, absolutely glorious. And my anticipation for next week has skyrocketed like you wouldn’t believe. Bring it on.