‘Loki – Season 2’ Episode Four Review: “Heart of the TVA”
Warning: The Following article contains spoilers for episode four of Loki – Season 2.
This piece was published during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.
So far (and I truly mean SO FAR), Loki—Season 2 is MCU television at its best. Each moving part it intricately introduced pays off in more ways than one while also subverting many initial expectations audiences had on the series when it premiered. I honestly have no idea where the remaining two episodes will go because its ending has left the biggest jaw-drop on my face since the snap in Avengers: Infinity War (though we all knew that the heroes would come back somehow).
The episode opens at the Citadel at the End of Time, where Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) learns that she, indeed, was Kang’s (Jonathan Majors) right-hand general in the formation of the Time Variance Authority, with He Who Remains erasing her (and every other TVA employee) memories. She has no recollection of its creation and the past multiversal war, and teams up with Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) to take his latest variant down, alongside Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), who attempt to fix the Temporal Loom with Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan), Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Casey (Eugene Cordero).
Renslayer believes General Dox’s (Kate Dickie) team will join her for a revolution against Loki/Timely, but they all would rather die than bow down to her commands, except X-5 (Rafael Casal). While no outright scenes of violence are shown, directors Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s expert sense of tension-building makes their deaths feel uncomfortably gruesome, as the camera is stuck on Renslayer and X-5’s expressions of horror. It’s an old trick, but the directorial duo paints it so effectively well that we ultimately care about Dox’s sacrifice, even if her character has been the most underdeveloped of the bunch (so much for the “scoopers” attempting to make us believe she was a Sylvie variant and the show’s main villain).
While the only “horror” title in the MCU is Werewolf by Night, Benson and Moorhead’s lens have always diverted to the supernatural and having fun with gonzo horror tropes, as expressed in episodes two and four of Moon Knight. Of course, the fourth episode of the show mentioned above saw May Calamawy’s Layla fight a Heka Priest, which put a codified Zombie in the MCU as its biggest – and most terrifying – supernatural pull.
Benson and Moorhead continue to build upon atmospheric thrills as much as possible by playing with light and shadow as the TVA falls apart. This only exacerbates the feeling of dread that the two set up in the first episode, where Loki was time-slipping through the past and present versions of the TVA. And speaking of time-slipping: who pruned Loki in the first episode, ultimately saving him? Well, we have our answer, and it’s none other than…Loki himself, who, after Sylvie was stuck in an elevator hacked by Miss Minutes, took the stairs and saw the time-slipping version of himself, knowing exactly what to do to save him. I should’ve seen it coming but didn’t. It was a rather ingenious twist on screenwriters Eric Martin and Katharyn Blair’s part, reaffirming that it is all – literally and figuratively – connected.
Episode four sees a traditional “race against time” story, where Loki and the other protagonists attempt to save the Temporal Loom from collapsing in on itself. Thinking they now have Victor Timely to help, the mission should succeed. At first, everything seems to fall into place: Victor helps OB fix its Throughput Multiplier to insert it in the Temporal Loom, even if Renslayer and Miss Minutes attempt to slow them down. There’s an extended joke where Loki and Mobius argue about who will go inside the Temporal Loom now, but Timely believes he is the one who should go because he is the first who created the Temporal Loom. Makes sense.
He puts on the suit, talks about how he has to “be brave,” takes big breaths, runs towards the Loom, and – AAAAAAAAAAAAH – gets turned into spaghetti. He is dead. The Temporal Loom blows up. Loki, Mobius, and the rest have no idea what just happened. Even Sylvie, who may have believed Timely was the key to saving the TVA and was brought back by Loki to keep her branched timeline, is in disbelief. The show cuts to black. The end.
First off, there’s a fantastic running bit here. In The Infinity Saga, the MCU had a running gag where a character would lose their arm in each title. Now, it looks like The Multiverse Saga is prone to turning people into spaghetti – with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and now Loki – Season 2 going for this hyper-creative and painful death. Secondly, THAT’S HOW YOU DO A CLIFFHANGER and make the audience feel invested in what’s coming next. Remember Secret Invasion with their “Is the character dead or not” cliffhangers? Yeah, that was horrendous.
This week’s episode of Loki consistently amps up the dread and anxiety-inducing tension, knowing that time is running out and no false moves can be made. But when the opportunity to save the Temporal Loom arrives, it’s too late, and the characters’ fates are all unknown. What just happened? Did the timelines collapse on themselves? Did the MCU get reset? By blowing up the Temporal Loom, how many variants of Kang did they free? And how many characters from alternate timelines will now appear in the “Sacred Timeline”? It’s all a blur, and there will be many interpretations of the ending. But one thing’s sure: next week cannot come soon enough.
The fourth episode of Loki is now streaming on Disney+.