As the God of Mischief turned to see the TVA change before his eyes, the final episode of Loki’s first (but not only!) season cruelly cut to black. The journey is over, Loki’s had his heart ripped out, and a new mega-villain has made his debut. Let’s talk about it all.
1. What is your tweet-length review of the Loki finale?
Arjuna Ramgopal: Loki is the greatest Marvel series ever, and it may be the best entry in the entire MCU.
Zach Kram: It’s amazing what can happen when a climax ventures beyond bland CGI explosions.
Miles Surrey: It’s the MCU climax I’ve always unironically wanted: a stimulating conversation delivered by ridiculously talented actors.
people in a room talking, what a concept— Andrew Gruttadaro (@andrewgrutt) July 14, 2021
Tunde St. Matthew-Daniel: Aptly titled “For All Time. Always,” the Loki finale accomplishes its glorious purpose by bringing a time-bending season of TV to a satisfying conclusion and confidently catapulting the MCU into multiversal madness.
Alison Herman: We thought we were getting the conclusion to one story; what we actually got was yet more setup for another. The god of tricksters did it again!
2. What was the best moment of the episode?
St. Matthew-Daniel: When Jonathan Majors showed up and gave the rest of the cast a night off.
Gruttadaro: Basically every line reading from Jonathan Majors. My word, what a debut.
Holmes: For a show unafraid to lean into the meta-narratives of the MCU, Kang saying, “This game is for the young, the hungry” is probably the most darkly comic. The line could easily be uttered by Kevin Feige, as he tries to usher in a new generation of younger (and probably cheaper) talent to replace his aging cadre of heroes.
Ramgopal: Amidst all the TVA and Kang reveals, it was touching and heartbreaking to see Loki and Sylvie kiss. Those characters finally get their moment, only for it to be dashed away by Sylvie choosing revenge over Loki.
Surrey: It made up most of the episode, but Jonathan Majors’s scenery-chewing as a timeline overlord was delightful, including when he was literally chewing on an apple.
Kram: Jonathan Majors was dealt a tough introductory hand, having to recite a host of expositional monologues. But in his goofy, off-kilter delivery, he proved a spellbinding villain, and I couldn’t pull my eyes away.
Herman: Loki and Sylvie making out! It’s been a long, long time since the MCU gave us a halfway compelling romance that’s actually central to the plot. You’ve assembled a critical mass of hot people; let them be hot!
3. What was your least favorite part?
Ramgopal: That it ended. I kind of wish there had been more of a post-credits scene as well, but we’re nitpicking here.
Herman: The hard pivot from wrapping up a season’s worth of plot to setting up another season’s worth of plot.
Kram: The scenes at the TVA until Loki’s return. Ravonna’s motivation still doesn’t make sense, and Mobius’s arc petered out with no payoff. What was all that foreshadowing for if not Owen Wilson on a jet ski?
Gruttadaro: The ending—both because I was sad the season was over and because I was slightly annoyed that nothing had been resolved and I’d once again been roped into watching more Marvel content.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Underneath all the time travel and variant team-ups, Loki was also a stealthy origin story for Ravonna Renslayer. That said, her final scenes with Mobius felt a bit lacking in answers compared to the rest of a very revealing finale.
Surrey: That Loki is another in a long line of Marvel properties that exist largely in service of teasing what comes next in the MCU pipeline. Loki has been the strongest of the Disney+ shows—narrowly edging out WandaVision thanks to a better finale—but the fact that it’s setting up so many movies only adds to the [Thanos voice] inevitable feeling of Marvel fatigue.
Holmes: Mobius still hasn’t been reunited with his beloved jet ski.
4. Let’s talk about the reveal of He Who Remains.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Introducing a new big bad for multiple story lines to converge on, over a span of time and across various projects, is the MCU’s secret sauce. The reveal was also a huge statement of intent for Marvel’s Disney+ series. It’s proof that Kevin Feige and Co. won’t shy away from using the TV shows to introduce or develop blockbuster film plots.
Ramgopal: Brilliant. Maybe it was not having Mephisto in WandaVision, or maybe it was skepticism that Marvel would introduce a big villain in a series before the films. But Jonathan Majors somehow blew past even the highest of expectations for Kang.
Surrey: Loved the Wizard of Oz vibes, and being referred to as “He Who Remains” is hard AF.
Gruttadaro: The first six months of this year have made it pretty clear that Phase 4 of the MCU needs a Thanos-level villain; a guy with the power to stack literal universes seems to fit the bill. Plus, if it was such a delight to see Majors play Weird Scientist Kang, imagine how fun it’ll be to see him play Angry Kang.
Holmes: The Kang reveal felt like the first big event of Phase 4. After WandaVision’s Pietro fakeout and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier pointing (but never committing) to the Thunderbolts, seeing Marvel push its chips to the center of the table on one of their TV shows was a massive relief. It also didn’t hurt that Majors delivered a performance that makes Kang as menacing and sympathetic as the best MCU villains.
Herman: It’s not great that my instinctive response to seeing an actor I like in a Marvel project is to cringe. Like Florence Pugh in Black Widow, Jonathan Majors makes for a welcome addition to Loki, and by extension the MCU. I just can’t help but mourn the stand-alone projects we’ll miss out on while Majors takes up residency on the Pinewood back lot. On the bright side, maybe more people will watch The Last Black Man in San Francisco?
Kram: Majors’s performance aside, this reveal was a microcosm of the MCU’s ongoing tension between storytelling that works to weave a complete tale by itself, and storytelling that must serve the perpetual motion machine of broader Marvel world-building. On the one hand, the introduction of a new character in the finale made for a less thematically resonant conclusion than if a Loki or Frigga variant had been manipulating the TVA all along, so I don’t think the reveal worked perfectly in isolation. On the other hand, it’s hard not to get excited for all the Kang chaos to come.
5. What would you have chosen: free will and chaos or comfort and safety?
Gruttadaro: I’m not fully convinced Loki and Sylvie even had the power to choose either? But if you’re asking me (pretty personal, by the way), let me bliss TF out while someone else pulls the strings.
Ramgopal: Free will and chaos. But I’d like to think I would have found a different way like Loki wanted to do.
Holmes: It depends on who’s guarding the sacred timeline? Kang has access to every pair of footwear in recorded history and settled on the Black uncle sandals. So for this reason alone, I’m choosing free will and chaos.
Kram: It’s a false choice! Free will and order are not mutually exclusive! Don’t fall for the trap!
Herman: I’m writing this from the armchair where I watch approximately eight hours of television a day, for my job. “Comfort” is my middle name.
Surrey: I live with a cat, so of course I choose chaos.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Honestly, Miss Minutes made the best offer to start the episode: a return to normal life with all preexisting desires granted. Throw in a password-protected TemPad and we have a deal.
6. Who was the MVP of Season 1 of Loki?
Ramgopal: Miss Minutes. She was helping pull the strings all along!
Surrey: There were so many great guest appearances—Richard E. Grant, Jonathan Majors, Alligator Loki—but Tom Hiddleston carried the show from start to finish. The emotional arc of his character was far more touching than I expected, and would’ve probably fallen apart in a lesser actor’s hands. Forget James Bond: Hiddleston was born to play the God of Mischief.
Kram: It took Chris Hemsworth a few movies to match Tom Hiddleston’s all-around energy and charisma, but Sophia Di Martino did so from the start. Their chemistry was so compelling that my favorite episode of the season—it seems like I might be alone here—was their two-hander on Lamentis.
Gruttadaro: The exposition-chewers, Owen Wilson and Jonathan Majors. The only way this show was going to work was if it could find a way to make explaining so much seem interesting. Leaning on two of Hollywood’s most charismatic actors was a smart move, and both of them were up to task.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Every lead and guest star had their episode or moment to shine, but the only answer here is Tom Hiddleston. His Loki character has earned a new lease on storytelling life and the Marvel gatekeepers won’t be pruning him away from our timelines anytime soon.
Herman: [Owen Wilson voice] Wow. I’m offended you even had to ask.
Holmes: Alligator Loki is the only answer to this question, right? Where is my Throg and Alligator Loki Disney+ spinoff?
7. Through three series, grade Marvel’s Disney+ résumé.
Gruttadaro: I’ll give it a B. (The D- for Falcon brings the average down.) The worst-case scenario here was a group of series so bad that they tanked Marvel interest altogether. And while they have come in a bit of a flurry—maybe too much so—they’ve proved themselves to be necessary, and in some ways better than what the movies can offer. The MCU winning streak continues.
Holmes: Building a cinematic universe is hard, but making a great season of TV is harder. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier were fun, if uneven, experiments. Loki proved that the MCU’s Disney+ shows can be just as exciting and vital as the movies, even when the time travel jargon got to be distracting. Unfortunately, Loki is an outlier, for now. So in closing: B-.
Kram: C when they’re being earnest, B+ when they’re being weird. (The early episodes of WandaVision were delightfully bizarre; Loki should’ve offered more time- and place-hopping before sprinting to the finish.)
St. Matthew-Daniel: Loki gets an A, WandaVision gets a B+, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gets a C+ (the Isaiah Bradley plot was a standout though).
Herman: As an expansion of valuable IP that maintains fan engagement without diluting said value? A+. As an actual creative product? B-.
Surrey: WandaVision gets a B+; The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gets a D; Loki gets an A-. I’ll try to stay cautiously optimistic that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a minor hiccup in the grand scheme of Disney+ shows, because WandaVision and Loki have (mostly) used television’s longer runway to their advantage.
Ramgopal: B+, almost entirely off the back of Loki. WandaVision was solid, but didn’t stick the landing in the finale. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had a ton of problems. Loki, though, nailed it from beginning to end.
8. The multiverse has officially arrived. Your thoughts?
Ramgopal: It’s about time!
Holmes: In the history of comic book storytelling, multiverses have been rife with immense possibility and also a doldrum for some of the most convoluted narratives in fiction. DC and Marvel soft-reboot their universes every couple of years just to handle the sheer size of infinite characters and story lines. As a moviegoer, a multiversal MCU is a fascinating experiment, but as a fan of the source material it’ll be interesting to see if the films can survive the ever-mounting complexity.
Gruttadaro: They better have Wilson on retainer to come in and explain confusing things. Practically, though, as a way to continue iterating on characters without needing much narrative rationalization, it’s a pretty smart (and cynical) move by Marvel.
Surrey: My mind keeps going back to the characters in Event Horizon inadvertently opening a portal to a hell dimension … for better or worse.
Kram: Clever deployment of time travel and multiverse scenarios might be my favorite device in all of fiction, so on a personal level, I’m thrilled. On an analytical level, I’m fascinated to see how Feige and friends balance the hardcore comic-ness of it all with entreaties to more casual movie fans; opening up the multiverse could make the expansion to space in the Infinity War saga look basic.
St. Matthew-Daniel: In the words of He Who Remains: “We just crossed the threshold.” I’m really hoping that means we finally unleashed the No Way Home trailer and all the Spider-Man variants that come with it.
Herman: No thoughts, just vibes. (My head hurts when I think about timelines too hard, so I’m just rolling with it.)
9. What is the biggest question you still have after this season?
St. Matthew-Daniel: Did unleashing Kang’s variants change only the TVA? What about the Void and the sacred MCU timeline as we know/knew it?
Ramgopal: When is Season 2 coming out and why isn’t it next week?
Holmes: When do the X-Men show up?
Herman: So is Loki falling in love with his own variant incest or what?
Gruttadaro: Do TVA guards ever get to take off their pads?
Surrey: What happened to Pillboi?!
Kram: Seriously, what about the jet ski?