Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode five 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.
The streets will make you believe that the MCU is in total shambles, per a report from Variety, which was released a few days before the fifth and penultimate episode of Loki – Season 2 bowed out on our screens. There’s no denying there aren’t massive problems with the current iteration of the franchise, and The Marvels will likely be a massive box office flop. But when there are massive lows, there are also incredible highs, and this week’s episode of Loki – Season 2 reminds us just how great the MCU can be.
It might be a cop-out for screenwriter Eric Martin and directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead to visually represent timelines petering out like the snap in Avengers: Infinity War, but did it matter in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not. This episode, like many “fifth episodes” of the MCU’s limited series, pulls back the curtain on who key members of the TVA are. We already knew that Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was a schoolteacher, but what about Mobius (Owen Wilson), Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), Casey (Eugene Cordero), and O.B. (Ke Huy Quan)?
All is revealed, and there may be details that surprise you as we get to find out who they are. For instance, Casey’s real name is Frank Morris, one of the few who successfully escaped Alcatraz alongside…Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead as John and Clarence Anglin. That’s right, the directorial duo insert themselves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Alcatraz prisoners. If you’ve been following their directorial efforts beyond the MCU, the two have been starring in their own projects for quite some time, showcasing that they’re not only skillful artists behind the camera but an incredible pair in front of it too. It’s no surprise that they made that leap into the MCU and further reaffirmed their status as the two most creative directors working in that ecosystem. It’s also the best MCU cameo in ages. Good luck topping that, Deadpool 3.
Beyond that, we learn that B-15 is a pediatrician working in New York, whilst O.B. is a failed sci-fi author (he buys his own books to drum up hype…embarrassing) while simultaneously working as a physics instructor at University to pay the bills. But when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) resumes time-slipping and shows up to O.B., he not only believes in the God of Mischief’s entire story but builds a TemPad for Loki to retrieve all key members of the Time Variance Authority. However, working on that TemPad for over 19 months came with a personal cost: “I had to take a break and move out when I lost my job, and my wife left me. So what now?” Line of the year? Absolutely, and it’s not even close.
And then there’s Mobius, who turns out to be a Jet Ski salesman (a perfect union of form and function, of course) and a single dad living with his two sons. Mobius did not want to see who his “Sacred Timeline” version was, but Loki finally saw exactly who he was and even arranged his hair and suit before meeting him. It results in some of the more emotional scenes between the two, with Loki realizing that, for the first time in his life, he has people he genuinely cares for and who care for him. It’s why the bar conversation between him and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) is so heartbreaking. He doesn’t want the TVA to fall apart for obvious multiversal reasons, but also because he doesn’t want to lose his friends.
Sylvie then tells him that where they are is where they’re supposed to be, and perhaps the TVA imploding itself is a good thing. Spoiler alert: it’s not. The branches are dying, with Sylvie directly seeing her timeline evaporate (while listening to The Velvet Underground in one of the show’s most visually arresting scenes yet). Loki has to figure out how to return to the Temporal Loom before Victor Timely (Jonathan Majors) dies, and it’s too late to save the TVA. We pretty much know where the show will be going from there, but it’s still exciting to see how tightly written and visually creative it’s been so far. Not only are its performances from Hiddleston, Wilson, Martino, and Quan so great, but its directorial team elevates the material to heights that seem more emotionally textured than in the first season.
Don’t get me wrong, the first season had an incredible sense of visual style (and it probably led Ryan Coogler to hire Autumn Durald for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), but Benson/Moorhead and cinematographer Isaac Bauman refine it further, so it feels more immersive than what the show initially introduced viewers to. The aforementioned Velvet Underground sequence is the perfect example of this, or the multiple iterations where Loki time-slips and creates loops on himself. It pulls you in and never lets you go as you try to figure out exactly how Loki will get out of this mess. The good news is he finally learned to control his time-slipping. The bad news? Well, time is — literally and figuratively — running out. How will he save it?
The fifth episode of Loki – Season 2 is now available to stream on Disney+.