‘Loki – Season 2’ Episode Three Review: ‘1893’
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for episode three of Loki – Season 2.
This piece was published during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the show being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Three episodes into Loki – Season 2, and we have another excellent episode, though with significant flaws. One of them is the elephant in the room: Jonathan Majors. While Majors brilliantly portrayed He Who Remains and his variants of Kang the Conqueror in the first season of Loki and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, respectively, the latest Kang variant, Victor Timely, sees the actor at his worst. Of course, his presence is quite uncomfortable due to his recent (and ongoing) legal troubles, but even if you completely separate the art from the artist, his performance doesn’t work.
He seems to draw from many inspirations: the mad scientist, the Vaudeville performer, and splashes of He Who Remains and Kang the Conqueror to foreshadow the character’s upcoming appearances in future MCU titles. Yet, none of these facets feed the character compellingly. Instead, his performance always feels stilted and unimpressively irritating. It’s unclear if more variants of the character will show up this season (though the rumor mill seems to indicate that he will), but so far, his latest (and potentially last) appearance in the MCU is not starting well.
There’s also the inclusion of Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) here, whose arc doesn’t progress naturally. At first, her path slowly hints at being more sinister when she convinces Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to drop a copy of the TVA Guidebook to a young Timely so he can craft his inventions (including a prototype of the Temporal Loom). Then, and inexplicably, she double-crosses Renslayer and admits to having a deep, bordering on obsessive, love for He Who Remains. Then, she discusses how He Who Remains never made her human, which jarringly shifts the tone in discombobulating ways. That moment feels terribly out of place and is quickly brushed off once Renslayer arrives at the end of time with Miss Minutes, about to reveal a dark secret to her.
This episode was integral to the story because it continues setting up Kang as the MCU’s greatest formidable foe yet and teases the partnership between him and Renslayer, who becomes Kang’s wife in the comics. There’s a hint of love between the two characters, but it’s too early for this specific arc to solidify itself. However, one will imagine Renslayer and Kang partnering up in the latter iterations of The Multiverse Saga. It’s not a matter of if but when even if Majors may get replaced once the show finishes its run and the actor’s strike ends.
But what works in this episode is how writer/director Kasra Farahani (who is also the show’s production designer, another Marvel Studios below-the-line veteran taking the director’s chair, with Dan DeLeeuw last week) and co-writers Eric Martin and Jason O’Leary develop the core character arcs between Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Mobius (Owen Wilson), Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and Renslayer.
Loki and Mobius are on the hunt for Renslayer at the beginning of the episode until the God of Mischief sees a variant of He Who Remains and is petrified (as was teased in the post-credits scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania). That’s where the episode starts moving, as it’s a consistent chase between Timely/Renslayer and Loki/Mobius/Sylvie. The dynamics between Loki, Mobius, and the former TVA judge are to die for, with Mbatha-Raw giving another impressive turn as Renslayer and balancing the dynamics between Loki and Mobius.
Di Martino also gets more to do as Sylvie here, on a determined mission to kill another variant of Kang. We get a not-so-subtle callback from the first season’s finale, where Loki pondered whether or not He Who Remains was lying and that more of him would arrive, while Sylvie was immediately ready to kill him. She suddenly shows up in the heat of a chase with a sword to do the same thing she did to another variant. But here lies the problem: Loki and Mobius need Kang’s aura to save the Temporal Loom and the TVA. However, Sylvie doesn’t trust him since the past variant was controlling the minds of every single employee of the Time Variance Authority.
Again, it’s still unclear whether or not Timely knows he is an actual variant of Kang the Conqueror and is just playing the TVA’s game and has a hidden agenda. Hell, in his lab, he has a prototype of the same spaceship chair he repaired with Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Part of me thinks he’s been waiting for this moment to have access to the TVA and enact his plan. While that specific plan remains in flux, as all individual variants of Kang have different ideologies, all I know is that he really shouldn’t be trusted. And now they’re waltzing him into where he’s been dreaming of going. What can possibly go wrong, right???
In any event, it’ll be interesting to see in which direction Loki – Season 2 takes place. Despite the flaws, it’s a far more exciting series than some of Marvel’s most recent outputs (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 innocent) and is a technical thrill. Shout-out to composer Natalie Holt, who once again pushes her envelope to craft a different musical palette than what was established in past episodes and continues to prove why she’s one of the best film/TV composers working today. Glorious, as one would say.
The third episode of Loki – Season 2 is now available to stream on Disney+.