At the end of the third episode of Loki, Loki and Sylvie watch helplessly as their only ticket off of Lamentis-1 is destroyed before their eyes. With time running out before the moon meets its inescapable destruction, Loki’s fate is all but sealed, as the God of Mischief faces what will be (at least) his fourth tragic death to date.
Of course, we all know that Loki and Sylvie will be perfectly fine. Loki is a master of escaping death, and has succeeded in doing so every time. (OK, not every time, but two out of three is pretty damn good.) But once the God and Goddess of Mischief find a way off of Lamentis-1, an even greater threat awaits them in the Time Variance Authority, which is ready to go to war after Sylvie drew first blood with her bombing of the Sacred Timeline.
The conclusion of the third episode also marks the show’s midpoint, and that means it’s time for some questions. Fair warning: We’re about to dive into theories and potential spoilers that may or may not end up coming to fruition on Loki, and given that we’re dealing with a show all about time travel, alternate universes, and omniscient, facist space lizards, things are about to get weird. With that said, let’s jump right into my biggest remaining questions heading into the second half of the season.
How did the variant become Sylvie?
This week’s installment of Loki gave us a proper introduction to Loki “Sylvie” Laufeydottir, the mischievous Loki variant who had been hunting down Minutemen and gathering reset charges to attack the Sacred Timeline. But we still know very little about our protagonist’s new traveling companion.
After an unfortunate error in the end credits of the second episode, it seemed as if Sophia Di Martino’s character would soon be revealed as the Enchantress, another major Thor villain from the comics, instead of Lady Loki. But in “Lamentis,” that theory was quickly disproved when Sylvie explained to Loki that she gave up their shared name in hopes of starting life anew. Like Loki, Sylvie was adopted, and is a gifted sorceress with a love for violence and chaos. At some point in her life, though, she must’ve done something that strayed from her predetermined path on the Sacred Timeline, drawing the ire of the TVA. Sylvie tells Loki that she’s spent her entire life running from the all-powerful organization of time cops, culminating in her plot to bomb the Sacred Timeline and confront the Time-Keepers—a plot that she likely would’ve seen through had Loki not intervened. Despite the fact that Sylvie has all but confirmed that she’s Lady Loki, though, the alias she’s selected still can’t be a mere coincidence. For now, the most likely scenario is that Sylvie is some sort of combination of Lady Loki and the Enchantress.
In the comics, Sylvie Lushton is a teenage girl from Broxton, Oklahoma, which happens to be the town that Thor decides to relocate the new Asgard next to after Ragnarok brings the destruction of the original. Sylvie suddenly wakes up with powers one day and moves to New York to play superhero, modeling her new persona on the Asgardian Amora, the original Enchantress. Though she didn’t know it then, Sylvie gained her new magical abilities from Loki, who thought it’d be fun to create a human who believed themself to be an Asgardian. While those comic book origins are already vastly different from what we’ve seen of Sylvie on Loki, it’s possible that she became a character similar to the Enchantress once her life was permanently altered by meeting the TVA.
On Thursday, Marvel released a brief featurette on the introduction of Sylvie, and in it, we get a glimpse of what appears to be a young Sylvie being brought into the TVA. Since we’ve seen what happens to most poor souls who enter the TVA, young Sylvie must’ve somehow escaped being “pruned,” and began her lifelong quest to destroy the very beings who stole her life away from her. For a lone child to have successfully lived a life on the run from interdimensional time cops would be pretty impressive, however, so it could be that Sylvie had a magical mentor helping guide her through the years. This would present the perfect opportunity to bring in the original Enchantress as her teacher, or perhaps an older Loki variant potentially played by the yet-to-be-introduced Richard E. Grant. After all, given how complicated Sylvie’s enchanting process sounds, could she really have learned all that on her own?
Will we meet other Loki variants?
Heading into the series, one of the most intriguing prospects of the reality-bending nature of Loki was knowing that our favorite God of Mischief could potentially meet the many versions of himself that have existed across his long life in the pages of Marvel’s comic books. Beyond meeting Sylvie, the only real taste we’ve had of other Lokis so far came through a series of holograms during Mobius’s Loki lesson in the second episode. With half of the season remaining, there’s still plenty of time for us to see more of them.
Beyond the teased President Loki (which might just be our Loki wearing different clothes), two potential candidates who could appear are Kid Loki and King Loki. Kid Loki is a young version of the character who was reborn without any memory of the countless crimes he’d committed in his former life, so he tries to turn a new leaf and become a hero with his second chance. King Loki, on the other hand, is a much older, more sinister iteration who travels across time to manipulate events and outcomes in the future. With the aforementioned Grant’s role still a mystery, it’d make sense if Loki has been keeping it secret in order for a big reveal down the line, whether as an older Loki variant or as one of the equally mysterious Time-Keepers. Given how different Loki and Sylvie look from each other, there really are endless possibilities for Loki variants.
Perhaps the more important question surrounding Loki is what his fate will be in the MCU after the conclusion of the show. With Loki rumored to be a limited series, these six episodes could mark the end of Tom Hiddleston’s decade-plus run as the Asgardian trickster; perhaps Di Martino’s Sylvie is being lined up as his successor. It’s still too early to tell what could happen by season’s end, though, so we’ll have to circle back to this one three episodes from now.
Who are the Time-Keepers?
Aside from their portrayals in Miss Minutes’s animated introduction to the TVA and the various statues and murals of them spread throughout the TVA building, we haven’t gotten the chance to see the Time-Keepers yet. Of all the TVA employees we’ve met, the only one who seems to have even interacted with them is Ravonna Renslayer.
And yet, the Time-Keepers are supposedly the gatekeepers of the multiverse, as well as the creators of the Sacred Timeline, the TVA, and all of its employees. Though, as Sylvie reveals to Loki on Lamentis-1, that last one isn’t exactly true—in reality, the Time-Keepers have been plucking variants and turning them into workers, rather than actually creating them. If Loki was misled about that, what else is a lie?
One of the prevailing theories about the Time-Keepers is that one of the three members could be a prominent villain from the comics: Kang the Conqueror. Now, before we turn this all into a wild Mephisto hunt again (which, mind you, is totally what’s happening right now), it’s important to note that Kang is already set to appear in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, with Jonathan Majors cast in the role. So, unlike the devil Mephisto, we know that Kang will arrive in the MCU in the near future—it’s just a matter of when.
In the comics, Kang is a genius from a future alternate reality of Earth who travels across time and space to conquer, well, pretty much everything. His very existence, of course, does not go over well with the Time-Keepers, who are determined to keep the timeline of the multiverse intact. Along with his many bouts with the Avengers, Kang also comes into conflict with the Time-Keepers themselves, even (seemingly) killing them during the Avengers Forever story line in the late ’90s.
Between his comic book ties to the Time-Keepers, the fact that he kind of looks like one of them, and his time-traveling nature, Kang is the perfect candidate for the fan theorizing that has become ingrained in these MCU TV shows’ DNA. But one of the more intriguing elements of this theory is the fact that he has close ties with another character who’s already been introduced in Loki, which brings me to my next question ...
Is Ravonna Renslayer hiding something?
Of all the TVA employees we’ve met so far, Ravonna is the one to look out for in the second half of the season. As a judge for the TVA, she’s the highest-ranking member we’ve been introduced to, and as I mentioned earlier, she’s the only one who seems to have met the Time-Keepers. That alone should be enough to fuel suspicion, especially after the revelation that TVA employees were once variants like Loki and Sylvie before they had their memories wiped and started working for the TVA. But Ravonna’s origins in the comics raise even more questions about how her character will translate to Loki, because in the source material, her love interest is none other than the Master of Time himself: Kang the Conqueror.
While it seems more likely that Marvel would want to save Kang’s MCU debut for the big screen, it also doesn’t feel like a mere coincidence that Ravonna’s introduction has arrived ahead of Quantumania. In the comics, Ravonna isn’t an employee for the TVA, but rather a 40th century princess of the kingdom of Carelius on an alternate reality of Earth. When Kang comes to conquer her father’s kingdom, Ravonna catches his eye, and though she rejects him at first, she eventually falls in love with Kang and even sacrifices her life for him. (She also comes back to life, naturally, seeks revenge on Kang for not saving her when he had the chance, and becomes a badass space pirate, too. Ravonna Renslayer, a.k.a. the Terminatrix, is a complicated woman, to say the least.)
Nearly everything we’ve seen of Ravonna on Loki has been different from her character in the comics so far, but there’s still plenty we don’t know about her and her past. She very well could have a different agenda within her role at the TVA, or be a part of whatever conspiracy may be brewing among the Time-Keepers.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gugu Mbatha-Raw seemed to indicate that her character would play a much bigger role in the series moving forward. “There’s a lot of secrets,” she teased. “There’s betrayal. There’s lots of layers of Renslayer to come.”
What is the TVA, really?
Now that Loki has learned the truth about the TVA’s amnesiac employees, everything about the time-keeping organization comes into question. Why have people like Mobius or Casey been selected to work for the most powerful bureaucracy in the entire multiverse? Was Mobius just some dude in the ’90s who loved jet skis? If Sylvie had already passed through the TVA before, then how come nobody seems to remember her? Is the TVA actually built to prevent some sort of multiversal war, or is there another cosmic motive at play? Does the TVA exist within the Quantum Realm, and if not, where is it, exactly? Is Miss Minutes just an animated variant from an old Disney theme park who didn’t make the cut?
What all of these questions really boil down to is this: What is the TVA? As Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson speculated on her Still Watching: Loki podcast last week, it’s possible that TVA employees like Mobius have gained awareness of their true existence before and then gotten rebooted because of it, like a host stuck in a simulation on Westworld. This could explain that interaction between Mobius and Ravonna when he was teasing her about all the items in her office that must’ve been from her “side analyst,” and how he forgot that he’d accidentally left water rings on her furniture. Even if the whole mind-wiping thing is a one-time deal, it’s clear that Sylvie’s TVA revelation in Episode 3 is the first of many.
How will Loki set up the rest of the MCU?
For better or for worse, it’s nearly impossible to watch an MCU TV show or movie without wondering how its events will bleed into the rest of the vast, interconnected web of stories that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has helped create over the past decade. In Loki’s case, Feige described the series to Empire as being “tremendously important,” and said that it would potentially “have more impact on the MCU than any of the shows thus far.” By the end of the series premiere alone, it was already clear why.
The multiverse is the next big thing for the MCU as it moves further into Phase 4, with the aforementioned Quantumania expected to dive into alternate universes, along with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Everything from the TVA, the Time-Keepers, and the Sacred Timeline expands the scope of the MCU further than ever before; Loki set the tone from the jump by letting you know that the Infinity Stones were a thing of the past. Sylvie’s attack on the Sacred Timeline brought the multiverse to the brink of another epic war. If the Time-Keepers really did create the Sacred Timeline to tidy up the multiverse and prevent another war of such scale, then the events of Loki could end up unraveling all of their work and the multiverse itself, allowing realities to begin colliding into each other again.
After our guy Loki inevitably finds an escape off of the forsaken rock known as Lamentis-1, he might just be the key to spreading chaos across the rest of the MCU for years to come. Sounds like a pretty glorious purpose.