Loki SN 2 Ep 1-4
Be prepared for more sci-fi thrills, mind-bending time paradoxes and a few pleasing cast additions as one of the most popular Disney+ MCU spinoffs rolls out its second season.
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Let’s get this right out of the way: yes, you will absolutely need to have watched season one of “Loki” in order to make sense of the second outing for one of the most popular Disney+ MCU spinoffs.
Heck, I did watch the last season and still had trouble getting back into the groove, despite a pretty decent recap at the start of the first episode. If you’ve the time and inclination, you might even want to indulge in a rewatch of the first season before you tackle No. 2.
Where we’re at: Loki, the Norse god of mischief played by Tom Hiddleston, was presumed killed by Thanos but a variant, or renegade version of him on the time stream, still lives. He was captured by the Time Variance Authority or TVA, sort of an intergalactic time cop bureaucracy.
Normally they “prune” (destroy) such rebels but instead Loki was recruited to help track down a multitude of other Loki variants. This included Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), a female Loki with whom he has been playing an ongoing game of one-upmanship-slash-flirtation, and yes it’s meant to be exactly as weird as it sounds.
At the end of season one (I already gave you a spoiler warning, but here’s another), Loki and Sylvie journeyed to the end of time and encountered He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), a mysterious figure who controls the TVA. Sylvie killed him, despite his warning this would unleash a million variants of himself that would explode the branching timelines beyond anyone’s ability to control.
(Majors subsequently played Kang the Conqueror in the third Ant-Man movie, and it seems clear now — at least to me — that this was one of those variants.)
As season 2 opens, there is indeed a massive branching of variant timelines beyond the TVA’s ability to handle. The “Time Loom” — a massive device floating in the ether that weaves the different timelines together — is in danger of being overwhelmed and unleashing an apocalyptic event that will wipe out, well… everything there is.
There are opposing factions within the TVA about the morality of pruning alternate timelines. Some, like Sylvie, see these as legitimate existences and destroying them is no different than murdering trillions of sentient beings. Others, like the militaristic General Dox (newcomer Katie Dickie), will do anything to find a fix.
Another pleasing new face is O.B., the TVA’s chief engineer/fixit guy played by Ke Huy Quan. With his chirpy voice and naive sort of social awkwardness, it’s basically a variation on his character from “EEAAO” — but far less annoying.
They also encounter a TVA hunter, Brad (Rafael Casal), who abandoned his post in order to live out life as a movie star in one of the variant timelines. He’s a bit of an ass but has a way of seeing things clearly, as in this observation to Loki:
“Stop trying to be a hero. You're a villain. You're good at it. Do that.”
Mobius, the chief TVA agent played by Owen Wilson, recruits Loki and, eventually, Sylvie to assist in saving the Time Loom. Look for more bromance bonding with Loki and key lime pie interludes. Also back is B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), the chief of security and main glue gal.
They spend much of their time searching for/opposing Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the former TVA boss who’s now gone rogue herself. Her sidekick is Miss Minutes (Tara Strong), an A.I. clock with a honey-dipped Southern drawl that makes her seem less mercenary than she is.
The first four episodes are all Disney+ is allowing critics to see right now, but it’s certainly enough to get a flavor of what season two is all about. It’s much faster-paced than season 1, and quite thrilling in a confusing sort of way. At some point you have to just go with all the weird gizmos and time paradoxes and not worry about everything making sense.
Majors does indeed show up again, not as He Who Remains but as a 19th century inventor/con-man named Victor Timely. He wears a Frederick Douglas hairdo and outfit, speaking in halting cadences and generally weirding everyone out. Much of the story arc through episodes 1-4 is figuring out what level of malevolence he truly represents.
I enjoyed the hell out of “Loki” SN 2 even as I admit having trouble following the narrative. But Hiddleston is still a charming scamp as Loki, not yet fully decided where he fits on the morality scale. Wilson is a hoot as the resident comic relief who also gets to grapple a little with whether to explore his own life pre-TVA.
I’d liken the experience of watching this season to “The Maltese Falcon.” You’re hard-pressed to pinpoint all the lines of causality and there may be moments where you feel totally lost. But the atmosphere and characters are so enjoyable to be around, you just don’t mind that much.