After only two episodes together, the instantly iconic duo of Mobius and Loki is already dead. But this week on Loki, the God of Mischief quickly found a new partner to banter with and torment: Sylvie.
Beyond providing a proper introduction to Lady Loki (though, much like Val, don’t call her that), the third episode rewrites our expectations for the nascent series. With a brisk running time of 35 minutes, “Lamentis” is the shortest installment of Loki to date, and it eschews much of the exposition and plot development featured in the previous episodes to displace our two Loki variants in an entirely new setting. After disrupting Sylvie’s attack on the TVA, Loki transports the two of them to Lamentis-1, a moon in the future facing its imminent destruction by an approaching planet. (I don’t know what’s happening here in 2077, or what led to this intergalactic conflict, but I’m getting big Death Star vibes.) With Sylvie’s stolen TemPad—a TVA device that allows you to travel across time and space—running low on battery, the high stakes set at the end of last week’s episode are deferred for a more immediate need for survival.
Regardless of time or setting, the series-driving question remains the same, as Sylvie herself puts it to Loki: “What makes a Loki a Loki?” Each episode has further developed our understanding of Loki in new ways, beyond what we knew of the character when he largely served as the foil to his heroic brother Thor and the mighty Avengers. Between the fights against the TVA and the Lamentis guards attempting to prevent Loki and Sylvie from reaching the moon’s evacuation vessel, Loki and Sylvie still find plenty of time to get acquainted—both by attempting to kill each other and by engaging in casual conversation. A dialogue about love confirms Loki’s bisexuality—which he shares with his character in the comics—for the first time in the MCU. An impressive display of drinking shows that he truly is the brother of Thor. And a clunky metaphor equating love to a dagger highlights that Loki trusts others about as much as they trust him. “Love is a dagger,” Loki explains. “It’s a weapon to be wielded far away or up close. You can see yourself in it. It’s beautiful until it makes you bleed. But ultimately, when you reach for it ...”
“It isn’t real,” Sylvie concludes. “Love is an imaginary dagger? Terrible metaphor.”
But “Lamentis” also reaffirms much of what we already knew about Loki. While his drinking and singing are certainly entertaining, he jeopardizes their whole mission to recharge the TemPad by making himself the center of attention, completely disregarding Sylvie’s needs as he frivolously blows their cover. By episode’s end, it’s entirely Loki’s fault that he and Sylvie are stuck on Lamentis-1, watching their one hope for evacuation explode before their eyes.
By and large, the episode is a detour from the main conflict with the TVA in order to establish the relationship between Loki and Sylvie. In doing so, it also further explores a common theme around the ever-deceitful God of Mischief: trust. Loki has never been particularly close with anyone else, and—at least in this timeline—he’s never done anything to help anyone but himself. And yet, amid all the mischief and deceit, Loki continues to show traces of empathy and a willingness to change. He even looks a little apologetic when he realizes that he’s doomed Sylvie along with himself. If this unlikely duo of Lokis has any shot of escaping yet another apocalypse—which, of course they do, there are still three episodes left!—they’ll have to trust each other, despite that being against a Loki’s nature.
Introducing .... Sylvie?
In last week’s episode, an unfortunate error in the end credits revealed the mysterious Variant’s real name to be Sylvie ahead of schedule, immediately sparking fan theories about the Loki variant’s identity. From there, the connections were easy to make: After all, in the comics, Sylvie is a name associated with another major Thor villain, the Enchantress. Coupled with the character’s shared blond hair and tendency to, you know, enchant every person within arm’s reach, it seemed almost inevitable that the show would eventually reveal that Lady Loki was in fact the Enchantress all along. But just one episode later, it looks like the credits mistake spoiled very little, if anything at all.
Within moments of Loki and the Variant’s clumsy landing on Lamentis, she reiterates her disdain for being called “Loki.” She explains that she chose to give up the name in lieu of her alias, Sylvie, and she seems very intent on distancing herself from being just another Loki in a multiverse full of them. Perhaps most curious, though, is the fact that Sylvie has apparently been on the run from the TVA for her entire life. But Loki is still skeptical of her true identity. “Your years-in-the-making plan was to tear the place down, create the ultimate power vacuum, and then just walk away,” Loki says to Sylvie. “I’d never have done that.”
“Yeah? Well I’m not you,” Sylvie responds curtly.
Unlike Loki, who is more than happy to explain much of his life story (the guy really does love to talk, doesn’t he?), Sylvie is far more reserved about sharing any details about herself. From what little we know of her, she has about as many similarities with Loki as differences. She, too, was adopted as a child, though, unlike Loki, she always knew that. Elsewhere, she doesn’t have the vivid memories of her mother like Loki does; she delights in a bit of violence and chaos, naturally, and even adamantly claims to be more of a hedonist than our Loki protagonist, and yet she also supposedly taught herself her enchanting magic—magic that even Loki isn’t capable of, despite his derisive assessment of it in the previous episode. She’s quick to strike first, while Loki prefers a more tactful approach of deception (or, as he tells it, “diplomacy and guile”).
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Sylvie and her past. It remains to be seen whether she truly is a Loki variant or a character closer to the Enchantress from the comics. It also remains to be seen what Sylvie wants, why she wants it, and what she plans to do once she has it. But if Sylvie has been running from the TVA her whole life, then she probably knows a lot more about the TVA and the Time-Keepers than she’s letting on.
Can We Trust the TVA?
Although witnessing a variant getting obliterated for not following procedure within the opening minutes of the series was a pretty solid indicator, it’s now clear that the TVA may not be what it appears. In addition to referring to the TVA as the “oppressive time police” and “omniscient fascists,” Sylvie also drops a bombshell of a discovery on Loki: TVA employees were once regular people.
The news comes when Sylvie is explaining how her enchantment magic works by creating fantasies within her victims’ memories, and how Hunter C-20’s mind was so clouded that Sylvie had to pull a memory of hers that predated her time working for the TVA, back when she was just a regular woman who loved margaritas. “I was told that everyone that works for the TVA was created by the Time-Keepers,” Loki says to Sylvie in shock.
“That’s ridiculous,” Sylvie replies. “They’re all variants, just like us.”
As Loki observes, TVA employees don’t seem to be aware of this defining truth. Casey—the hapless desk worker who has never seen or heard of a fish before—could have been a bassmaster in his former life. Mobius might have actually owned a jet ski! Despite the blind faith that TVA workers like Mobius have placed in the Time-Keepers, they ultimately seem to know as much about the overlords and their greater plans as the newcomer Loki does. If the Time-Keepers have lied about the origins of their very own employees, what else could they have lied about?
With their secrecy and their general disregard to living beings, the TVA and the Time-Keepers were always a bit suspicious, but this episode has now completely changed the dynamics of the series. The mysterious Minuteman killer Sylvie is already a likely ally for Loki (for now at least), while the Time-Keepers are suddenly positioned to be the series’ true villains. Through three episodes, we still have yet to meet these elusive beings, or even get any real confirmation that they exist in the first place. But while the Time-Keepers are more suspicious than ever, so too is Ravonna Renslayer, the sole TVA judge we’ve been introduced to.
In a conversation between Mobius and Ravonna in the second episode, Mobius expressed doubts about the Time-Keepers, and mentioned that he had never even met them himself. Ravonna, meanwhile, is the highest authority at the TVA that we’ve seen so far, as well as the only one who seems to have interacted directly with the Time-Keepers. If there’s anybody that works at the TVA that would already know the truth about their own histories, before they began protecting the Sacred Timeline for all of eternity, it seems like it would have to be Ravonna.
Whatever secrets the TVA still holds, though, Loki and Sylvie have more pressing matters at the moment. Team Loki needs to find a way off of Lamentis before it turns to dust, whether that’s through a sneaky assist from the TVA, that badass lady that shot them both while casually awaiting her impending death, or by some other means. Meanwhile, even the TVA has bigger problems than the mischievous duo, as it still has to deal with the fallout from Sylvie’s attack on the Sacred Timeline.
With only three episodes remaining in the season, and yet another death rapidly approaching him, Loki is running out of time to prove that he can break free from an endless cycle of inevitability.