*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode five of Loki*
The penultimate episode of Loki is now upon us, titled Journey into Mystery, which picks up smack bang after its post-credit scene revealed to us the existence of more Loki variants, with our titular character (Tom Hiddleston) now at “The Void” with Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei) and Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant). They tell Loki that a cloud-like creature named the Alioth guards “The Void” and kills everyone in their path, which prevents them from ever returning to their current timelines. This is where every individual “pruned” by the TVA ends up, and, contrary to what Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) says, they are not dead but are in the literal void of the universe before everything ends. After pruning herself, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) does not believe Alioth means the end but thinks the one controlling the TVA is hiding under the dark cloud. What follows is another great episode that fixes some of the errors it made last week while hiding plenty of fun easter eggs and references to a giant multiverse to keep you engaged.
By far, the best moment of the entire episode has to be a moment in which our Loki meets another variant of him, a President of sorts (played by Tom Hiddleston to boot), where it’s revealed that President Loki has sided with Boastful Loki to take Kid Loki’s throne (he’s king since he managed to kill his own version of Thor. Speak of the devil, the God of Thunder briefly appears…in Throg form!) but double-crosses him immediately after arriving (as expected, of course, since it’s Loki we’re talking about here!), only for his partners (other Loki variants) to double-cross the President. This leads to an excitingly kinetic action sequence brilliantly shot, once again, by Autumn Durald Arkapaw, who complements the pure visual power of a moving camera with its characters flying (or falling, with style) in and out of the frame. This time around, no quick cuts. Instead, we see every movement in a fluid and dynamic way, exactly how an action sequence of this stature should be shot.
And it doesn’t stop there: Journey into Mystery contains two more action sequences in which our protagonists have to fight the Alioth. A car chase with Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Sylvie establishes how powerful the creature is (as it disintegrates a battleship in mere seconds), and the episode’s climax borrows a key visual cue from Godzilla, with the Alioth screeching in the thunder-filled sky as he tries to destroy a projected version of Asgard. It’s been a while since an MCU project has been this visually exciting, with most films kowtowing to the same style without wanting to reinvent the wheel through a visual and aural perspective. However, Loki continuously tries something new, and its stylistic inspirations are heavily apparent (and welcomed). With the Guardians of the Galaxy pictures, Loki joins the (tiny) group of visually creative MCU titles, whose cinematography and direction try to infuse something new to the table. It’s no surprise, then, that Durald was hired as cinematographer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which will likely be another great MCU production to look forward to from a purely visual standpoint.
The acting performances also improve dramatically in this episode, where we see a more emotional (and vulnerable) side to Sylvie than we did in the previous three episodes. A great scene in which Loki bonds with Sylvie (and Mobius) adds legitimate emotional depth to a “variant” of a character that had one hell of a journey in this franchise and makes us truly care about him, in contrast with anything that happened before. That’s because the threat feels real…until we see what lurks beyond the cloud. I truly hope Sophia Di Martino is there for the long run, as the more dramatic part of the episode perfectly showcased her acting abilities. There’s lots of emotional vulnerability with Loki and Sylvie, something we haven’t seen before for Tom Hiddleston’s character. Whenever Loki had some form of emotion in previous installments, it wasn’t sincere since he was trying to fool someone. Now we seem to see legitimate sincerity with Loki and Sylvie, who finally are on the same page as they want to find out who is behind the TVA once and for all.
Wunmi Mosaku & Gugu Mbatha-Raw continue to shine as Hunter B-15 and Renslayer, respectively, with Renslayer trying to infuse some mischievous tactics, she learned from interrogating multiple Loki variants. We don’t know her legitimate goal, as she seemed unaware that the Time-Keepers were fake, which prompts a fantastic scene when Renslayer confronts B-15. I hope we’ll also see more of Mosaku & Wilson in the show’s final episode, which will likely set the stage for a grand reveal that could very well shift the MCU in a bolder direction than before. Oh, and speaking of “bold,” let’s not forget Richard E. Grant’s superb, show-stealing presence here as Classic Loki, who, in a fit of indelible courage, projects Asgard to lure Alioth away from Loki and Sylvie as they try to enchant it. Grant utilizes his signature boisterous charm to portray an older version of Loki after surviving Thanos (Josh Brolin) from Infinity War, as his powers are unfettered and more powerful than any other variant. Classic Loki is the more intelligent (and wise, if you will) version of the character, whereas our Loki is still figuring out how to navigate the brand-new multiverse.
What will happen next? Who lives beyond Alioth? Is it KANG…or someone else? Maybe another Loki (hey, I don’t believe it’s that overzealous since we’ve been told to tamper our expectations as we don’t know what to expect)? All I know is this: I haven’t been this hyped for an MCU project in a long time, and Loki‘s fifth episode sets the stage for a rousing finale, which will possibly cap off the best Disney+ series thus far. Let’s hope the climax sticks the landing for once and doesn’t jump the shark, in comparison with WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s mediocre endings.