Loki’s Finale Wasted on God of Mischief
The final episode of Loki has aired and the general consensus seems to be positive. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as we’ve long since passed the line of “When will Marvel falter?” They won’t apparently, it’s win after win. I genuinely liked Loki and enjoyed a lot of it, but in comparison to the two shows that came before it, WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s not as great as it could’ve been. In fact, the show’s biggest issue may have been the God of Mischief, Loki himself.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Loki Season Finale, ‘Episode 6: For All Time. Always’. Read at your own risk.
Loki actually had the best first episode of the three Disney Plus series so far. The moment he has to reckon with his future self’s fate and the fact that he’s in some way responsible for the death or misfortune of a family that loved him was powerful. It was a deeply painful and moving moment that should have shaken him to his core and been the catalyst for his change throughout the series.
Instead, it’s only lightly mentioned once or twice throughout the rest of the series. Instead, Loki finds a female version of himself and falls in love (the most Loki thing he could possibly do) and changes only because the plot demands it.
In the end, we find out that the being at the end of the timeline is He Who Remains, played by Jonathon Majors. Anyone who’s been following Marvel Cinematic Universe casting knows that Majors was cast in the third installment of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror. Major even references Kang as in one of his lines, describing the many versions of himself across the old multiverse.
He Who Remains explains that he’s originally from the 31st Century and the one in charge of putting the sacred timeline in place and guarding it so another multiverse war doesn’t break out. He’s the one who created the Time Keepers and the TVA, but he’s getting old and he’s ready to pass that responsibility onto someone new. He offers it to Sylvie and Loki, should they take it they control the TVA now. But if they decided to kill He Who Remains, which Sylvie really wants to do, all hell would break loose.
He goes on to point out that new versions of himself would come to be once again, a multiversal war would eventually start and one of his Kang variants would do the same thing he’s already done. Destroy the other timelines, create one sacred timeline and they’d just end up right back where they were.
Loki attempts to stop Sylvie, wanting to ‘think about’ what’s going to happen and what they should do. But that fight is just a ploy to take up some screen time as Sylvie sends him back to the Time Variance Authority and kills He Who Remains. We then see the Timeline start to fracture into a beautiful web of possibility…the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse is born.
The repercussions of Loki Season One will be felt for projects to come, through Spider-Man No Way Home, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Marvel’s What If…?
Did It Have To Be Loki?
The main issue I have with the Loki series is that its main goal was to establish the new multiverse and that could’ve been done with any character. The show proves it with Sylvie’s existence, by labeling her a variant solely because she was born a female. You didn’t need a trickster god getting ahold of the Tesseract or any other MacGuffin. Marvel comics are filled to the brim with other stories and characters that could’ve accomplished the same thing in a variety of ways.
Imagine a series centered around Betsy Braddock who takes the Amulet of Right instead of her brother Brian Braddock. Betsy becomes the first Captain Britain and discovers or establishes Otherworld (the center of the multiverse). Would it have been a different show? Of course, but it nonetheless would’ve got us to the point we needed to be and would have introduced a new character instead of attempting to rehash a redemption arc for one who already had a fully realized arc, it was compelling and had a satisfying end in the events of Avengers Endgame.
Loki invalidates the sacrifice he made without paying off in any meaningful way. You could attempt to argue that Agents of SHIELD did the same thing with Agent Coulson after the Avengers, but Coulson spent several seasons grappling with his fate. Coulson’s death changed him, changed those around him, and pushed the story forward. Loki’s death just made him more malleable to Mobius’ manipulation.
The best moments in Loki were unearned, they were cheap plot points that were used as cliffhangers at the end of episodes and quickly forgotten when the credits stopped rolling for the next episode.
Loki was a fine show and had it been the first of the Disney Plus series, would have set a mediocre bar. But after following Wanda’s story of pain, loss, and dealing with trauma, Sam’s journey of acceptance and legacy, and Bucky’s redemption it felt out of place and insignificant. Here’s hoping that Loki Season 2 gives the characters more time to explore their motivations and shows us those transformations instead of just telling us they happened.
Disney Plus and Marvel Studios Loki Series was directed by Kate Herron and written by Michael Waldron. It stars Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tara Strong, and more.
Feature Image Courtesy of Marvel Studios and Disney Plus.