The penultimate episode of Loki begins with a spinning shot that leads us through the TVA, past the decapitated head of an animatronic Time-Keeper, and into the Void. It’s a quick reminder that the once-infallible time organization—as well as the story of Loki itself—has been flipped upside down following last week’s wild episode. When we reach Loki in a strange new realm, surrounded by equally strange variants of himself and with an ominous storm looming in the distance, he understandably has some questions: “What is this place? Where are we? Who are you?”
Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki responds to Loki’s rapid-fire questions just as quickly: “This is the Void. That’s Alioth. And we’re his lunch.”
With this swift introduction to the supposed end of all time and the matter-consuming tempest that rules over it, “Journey Into Mystery” hits the ground running. And though the installment doesn’t do quite as much as last week’s episode by way of plot progression, it does what many fans have been hoping the series would do all along: it introduces a ton of Loki variants.
From President Loki to the glorious Alligator Loki, our protagonist comes face to face with nearly a dozen different versions of himself while trying to find a way back to the TVA and Sylvie. He makes quick friends with Classic Loki, Kid Loki (who wins the prize of most impressive Nexus event by killing the mighty Thor), and even Gator Loki once he accepts the fact that the helmet-wearing reptile truly is another Loki variant. But the fourth member of this motley Loki crew, Boastful Loki, only reinforces the stereotype that you simply can never trust a Loki.
After the five Lokis trade stories and sip on some Roxxiwine (and Hi-C Ecto Cooler for the young one), Boastful Loki’s plan to betray Kid Loki brings President Loki and his own crew of trickster variants to Kid Loki’s hideout. Of course, President Loki (also played by Tom Hiddleston, having a bit of villainous fun) immediately double-crosses Boastful Loki, and then his own crew double-crosses him, leading to a wild scrum. “Animals!” Classic Loki yells after quickly escaping the battle with Loki, Kid Loki, and Gator Loki. “We lie and we cheat, we cut the throats of every person who trusts us, and for what? Power. Glorious power. Glorious purpose! We cannot change. We’re broken, every version of us. Forever.”
Loki continues to explore what makes a Loki tick, with our Loki variant now seeing that whatever shape or size he comes in, he’ll always betray his allies for his own selfish gains in the end. Mischief, pain, and survival—rinse and repeat. But as Classic Loki later proves while contradicting his own self-assessment, a Loki can change if they truly want to. After Sylvie prunes herself to join Loki in the Void, they confront Alioth together so that Sylvie can enchant it, hopefully granting them a way to find out what secrets Alioth may be protecting. And against all odds, Classic Loki sacrifices himself, distracting Alioth to buy time for Loki and Sylvie. It’s an act of pure selflessness and courage—two traits not often associated with Loki.
But it’s also something more than that. As head writer Michael Waldron said himself, Loki is, among other things, “ultimately about self-love.” Beyond Loki and Sylvie’s impossibly incestual, definitely-not-awkward romance, Classic Loki’s final act is a reinforcement of that theme. A Loki’s glorious purpose is not power, but sacrifice—it just so happens that that sacrifice is always for other Lokis. And if that’s not self-love, then what is?
Mobius and the TVA
Along with the various introductions to the many shades of Loki, “Journey Into Mystery” reassures the audience that Mobius survived his pruning and being cast into the Void. Now, after a lifetime of working for the TVA, the former time cop and current Loki enthusiast has found himself a glorious new purpose of his own: burning the TVA to the ground.
After saving Sylvie from Alioth and imparting Classic Loki with the wisdom that it’s never too late to change, Mobius is on his way back to the TVA to reveal the truth about the organization. His return from the grave should be proof enough that everyone at the TVA has been fed a heap of lies. And with Hunter B-15 recently awakened to the truth of her past life before the TVA, Mobius already has himself an ally in waiting.
But this week’s episode also added to the growing mystery of Ravonna Renslayer, whose true motives and origins remain in question. While it has always seemed like Ravonna knew the truth about the TVA and the phony Time-Keepers, it appears as if even she isn’t aware of who or what created the organization. This, however, hasn’t inspired rebellion within her—instead, she’s more determined than ever to maintain the status quo. In the face of chaos or false stability, she’s resolutely chosen the latter. Although, with Mobius on his way back from the Void, her time is ironically running out.
Whoever actually created the TVA is a mystery that Loki and Sylvie may finally uncover for themselves after making it past Alioth. The strange trans-temporal entity has roots in the comics and, like Ravonna, close ties to Kang the Conqueror. (Though rather than being a love interest, Alioth is Kang’s sworn enemy.) From just a quick glimpse, it’s hard to tell what lies beyond the portal Loki and Sylvie opened after enchanting Alioth. Whether it leads to Kang’s dominion of Chronopolis or not, we’ll soon find out who’s behind Loki’s greatest mystery.
An Update on Gator Loki
Last week, I asked many questions about the mysterious reptile variant that was teased in the fourth episode’s post-credits scene. And though most of them were not answered, it couldn’t matter any less. Alligator Loki has arrived, and he did not disappoint in the slightest.
Gator Loki, it seems, cannot speak after all, but assuming the alligator whisperer Classic Loki is telling the truth, Gator Loki can pray. The feisty alligator can understand everything you say to him, too, as he’s quick to lunge at Boastful Loki after an insult, and equally swift in attacking President Loki when he threatens his friends. And while he can’t perform any magic after all, my guy will literally bite your whole damn hand off he wants to:
Do we know anything about Gator Loki’s past? No. But we do know he can drink like an Asgardian:
Of course, there’s no real guarantee at all that this animal is even a Loki. “I want that to be the next great Marvel debate,” Waldron told Marvel.com. “Is Alligator Loki really a Loki or not?” Maybe it’s just a very smart reptile, playing a long con in order to survive the Void and get free wine from a bunch of humans. Though, as Mobius observes, “that just makes him more likely to be a Loki.”
The jury’s still out on Gator Loki, but it was a stellar debut for the little guy. And as Loki said himself, it’s best not to question it.
“Journey Into Mystery,” which borrows its name from the comics that introduced Marvel’s versions of the Norse God of Thunder and his trickster brother in the 1960s, is brimming with Easter eggs. The castoff nature of the Void presented the perfect opportunity for the show to have a little fun with some nods to the comics and beyond, so for our final section this week, let’s run through a few of the highlights:
I honestly couldn’t believe it for a moment, but Loki really introduced Frog Thor, a.k.a. Throg, a.k.a. the Frog of Thunder. In a brief but prominently placed moment before Team Loki heads into Kid Loki’s palace, Frog Thor can be seen trapped in a jar, hopelessly leaping toward Mjolnir. The label on the jar reads “T365,” a reference to Thor no. 365, a story line that features a transformed Thor escaping treacherous alligators and rats after Loki did, in fact, turn him into a frog. Throg is comic books at their best, and hopefully he finds a way to escape in the finale.
While the inevitable Mad Titan gets plenty of love in this episode when Classic Loki tells the story about how he managed to survive Thanos’s wrath in Endgame, there’s also a great nod to a true deep cut from the comics: the Thanos Copter. This absurdly conspicuous form of transportation can be spotted moments before Frog Thor, and references the helicopter that Thanos hilariously used to ride in on rare occasions beginning in the late ’70s. Now that this is officially MCU canon, I only wish we could’ve seen the massive purple being majestically flying into Endgame’s final epic battle.
In a sneaky Easter egg at the beginning of the episode, a flyover shot of the Void reveals a building that looks eerily similar to the Avengers Tower. And the reason it looks so similar is because, well, it is the Avengers Tower—just a version that’s been rebranded by a company called Qeng Enterprises. In the comics, Tony Stark sells the tower to a businessman going by the alias Mr. Gryphon. Little does Stark know that the Qeng CEO is a variant of Kang the Conqueror. (He probably should’ve said the company’s name out loud or something.)
With yet another hint at Kang, Loki is all but pointing to the introduction of the time-traveling villain that Jonathan Majors is set to play in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. To add to the speculation even more: When recently speaking with Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson, Quantumania writer Jeff Loveness said that he’s “collaborated on some story stuff” with Loki’s Waldron. The Loki team could be throwing out a host of red herrings to toy with ever-thirsty Marvel theorists. But at this point, it’s just as likely that Kang makes an appearance before his official arrival in the Ant-Man sequel.
Will he be revealed as the one behind the TVA’s grand lie? Only one week to go before we find out for sure.