Loki just unleashed its most chaotic episode to date. One week after the series took a detour to the soon-to-be-destroyed Lamentis-1 to establish the relationship between Loki and Sylvie, “The Nexus Event” packed so much into its 40-odd minutes of screen time that it had the feel of a season finale. And yet, with Loki pruned and cast off into a new mystery realm and the all-powerful Time Variance Authority unraveling before our eyes, the series has set off a reset charge ahead of its penultimate episode.
“The Nexus Event” provides the payoff for all the character development in last week’s “Lamentis,” an episode that did little to move the show’s plot forward, but afforded the necessary time to craft the electric dynamic between the God and Goddess of Mischief. This week’s installment made up for lost time, though, with a rapid-fire succession of mind-blowing moments. Ravonna Renslayer accidentally allowed a young Sylvie to escape the TVA in a flashback; Loki and Sylvie fell in love (we’ll circle back on how weird this is, don’t you worry); Lady Sif made a triumphant return to the MCU just to kick Loki’s ass over and over again; the Time-Keepers were finally introduced, but only as the lie that the TVA is built on; the loyal Hunter B-15 defected from the TVA and saved the Loki variants; Mobius was pruned in heartbreaking fashion, just as he and Loki were truly becoming friends; even Loki was disintegrated into oblivion, though the show’s first post-credits scene revealed that getting pruned isn’t exactly the quick death that it once appeared to be; and not only did Loki wake up to witness a pair of Loki variants and Richard E. Grant looking like they’re ready to join Wanda Maximoff and the twins for some trick-or-treating, but he also came face-to-face with perhaps the most superior Loki variant of all: Alligator Loki.
The fourth episode also continued to explore some of the major themes of the show: trust and discovering what truly defines Loki. The latter has become a weekly discussion, with characters constantly asking the question that the series seeks to answer. “Do you think what makes a Loki a Loki is the fact that we’re destined to lose?” Sylvie asks Loki in the waning moments before Lamentis-1 is annihilated.
“No,” Loki replies. “We may lose. Sometimes painfully, but we don’t die. We survive.”
While Loki’s response may be a little cheesy, its earnestness speaks to how much our deceitful trickster god has changed. He feels genuine remorse for the way his selfishness doomed Sylvie, especially after she shares the truth about her past life on Asgard before the TVA stole it away. It’s clear that Loki has come to admire and respect Sylvie, but he’s also come to trust her too—a vulnerable act of faith he once claimed was reserved for “children and dogs.”
That trust eventually extends to Mobius as well, albeit only for a brief period of time before the analyst is pruned for turning against the TVA. For a moment, though, the quick-witted duo are finally on the same playing field, prepared to take down the TVA after discovering that all of its employees are variants who were forcibly removed from their actual lives. “You could be whoever, whatever you wanna be, even someone good,” Mobius tells Loki, seconds before he meets his fate. “I mean, just in case anyone ever told you different.”
When Loki gets pruned by Ravonna not long after, he’s quickly separated from both of his partners (whether or not he cares to define them like that). But his nascent capacity for trust, and even compassion, may soon come in handy with the mysterious new crew he’s stumbled upon.
Ravonna Renslayer and the Time-Keepers
Amid all the chaos of the fourth episode, Ravonna Renslayer emerged as the show’s true threat. Meanwhile, it seems as if the Time-Keepers have been little more than a Wizard of Oz–like cover story all along—robotic stand-ins for creatures that may or may not have even existed in the first place. These two things are inextricably related.
We know now that Ravonna’s history at the TVA—and with Sylvie—runs deep. She was the Hunter who took a young Sylvie—still going by Loki Laufeydottir then—away from Asgard. She was the one who then let her escape. In the years since that encounter, Ravonna has been promoted to judge status at the TVA; she’s the only employee we’ve seen who’s been permitted to directly interact with the omniscient Time-Keepers. She knows much more than she’s let on, and she’s clearly pulling more strings than anyone initially suspected.
But a few things still aren’t clear. What Nexus event could’ve drawn Ravonna to Sylvie in the first place? When Sylvie finally gets the chance to ask Ravonna why she kidnapped her off of the Sacred Timeline, Ravonna replies with a sinister smirk and simply says, “I don’t remember.” And while Ravonna may be the highest authority at the TVA we’re aware of at the moment, her time as a Hunter suggests that there must’ve been others above her at some point. Now, she’s seemingly the only one at the TVA who knows the truth about employees’ past lives as variants, and she went to great lengths to prevent word of it leaking once Hunter C-20 was awakened by Sylvie’s enchanted touch. Who is she working for now? What is the real purpose of the Sacred Timeline? Who, as Loki asks, created the TVA?
Did Loki Just Fall in Love With … Himself?
Short answer: yes. Yes, he did. This is Game of Thrones incest dialed up to a bizarre new level.
Perceptive as always, Mobius’s reaction to Loki’s new love interest describes this strange courtship perfectly: “Two variants of the same being, especially you, forming this kind of sick, twisted romantic relationship. That’s pure chaos. That could break reality. It’s breaking my reality right now. What an incredible, seismic narcissist!”
It’s only fitting that the first person that Loki falls in love with is none other than a variant of himself. Head writer Michael Waldron recently spoke to Marvel.com about the decision for the part-time villain to fall for his own variant. “We went back and forth for a little bit about, like do we really want to have this guy fall in love with another version of himself? Is that too crazy?” Waldron said. “But in a series that, to me, is ultimately about self-love, self-reflection, and forgiving yourself, it just felt right that that would be Loki’s first real love story.”
With a few swift kicks in the nuts from the great Asgardian warrior Lady Sif, as well as her repeated utterances of “You deserve to be alone and you always will be,” Loki finally comes to realize that he doesn’t want to be alone at all. In the time cell, he discovers that Sylvie has struck a chord in him that he didn’t even know existed, one that sets him on a course for growth—and proof that one really does have the capacity to change.
“I don’t think Loki’s relationship with himself has been very healthy,” Tom Hiddleston added in that same series of interviews with Marvel.com. “Trying to accept those aspects of himself, which he’s been on the run from, was a way of thinking about that in a really interesting way. Also, Sylvie’s not Loki. Sylvie is Sylvie. That’s interesting, too.”
Before Loki could confess his love for Sylvie, though, Ravonna pruned him. Now, the God and Goddess of Mischief are on diverging paths, with Sylvie given the chance to find out the truth about Ravonna and the TVA, and Loki bound to a strange realm that may contribute to discovering the origins of the Sacred Timeline and the TVA as well.
Just look at this elite squad. After all this time wondering how Richard E. Grant would eventually appear in his mystery role, I never expected that he’d show up looking like ... this. The Oscar nominee—in teeny-tiny yellow shorts, green tights, and all—is playing “Classic Loki,” according to his listing in the credits, and he’s fittingly wearing Loki’s classic costume from the comics, just as Wanda and Pietro Maximoff donned their old-school superhero tights in WandaVision. Accompanying Classic Loki—again, according to the credits—is “Boastful Loki” (DeObia Oparei of Game of Thrones), “Kid Loki” (Jack Veal, The End of the F***ing World), and last, but certainly not least, Alligator Loki. (I have approximately 100 questions about the existence of this reptile variant, but my God, look at that little Loki helmet planted on its scaly head.)
As the show’s first post-credits scene begins, Loki understandably wonders aloud: “Is this Hel? Am I dead?” But before Loki can investigate any further, a voice answers, as if it had been waiting for his arrival. “Not yet,” it responds. “But you will be if you don’t come with us.”
Whatever derelict world Loki just landed on, the fact that he’s not dead is a major development in understanding what pruning does to its victims. It means that other people who seemingly have bitten the dust—like Mobius—may have a chance to be revived still, but it also still begs the question: when are they on the Sacred Timeline? It seems most likely that these five Lokis don’t exist on the timeline at all, as the TVA has sent them to some sort of limbo realm that exists outside of it.
As for the motley crew that has quickly taken in another variant, it remains to be seen how each of them have arrived on this spit of land that looks like the lowest depths of Inception, or why they’ve chosen to band together. While Classic Loki is sure to be a devious trickster and Boastful Loki will probably, uh, boast, Kid Loki stands as yet another Young Avenger from the comics in what seems likely to be a setup for a Disney+ series sometime in the not-so-distant future. (As for Alligator Loki, I assume he’s just doing his own thing.) With our Loki variant’s arrival, they all may have just found their ticket out of this strange place.
After last week’s episode drew the ire of some critics for its slow pace, Loki quickly turned around not only its strongest episode to date, but one of the best that any MCU TV show has offered—and there’s still two episodes to go. Come back next week for Loki’s penultimate episode, when we’ll hopefully get some answers to the show’s slew of new questions, such as: Can Alligator Loki perform magic?