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What You Need to Know Before Watching ‘Loki’ Season 2

Before the MCU’s most popular streaming series returns to Disney+, refresh your memory about where the show and Marvel’s Multiverse Saga stand

Disney/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

When Loki premiered in June 2021, the post–Infinity Saga era of the MCU was in the midst of a nebulous transition. Only two series had debuted on Disney+ before it, and one of them—WandaVision—had showcased the tremendous potential of Marvel Studios’ nascent shift to the TV medium. (The other one, not so much.) At that point, president Kevin Feige had yet to announce the studio’s storytelling direction, and the future of the MCU seemed uncharacteristically uncertain.

A little more than a year after Loki welcomed its viewers to its time-hopping adventure through the multiverse, Feige announced the new title of Marvel’s still-ongoing cinematic era: the Multiverse Saga. Although the multiverse had appeared in small ways in several films before Loki, the TV series starring Tom Hiddleston’s beloved God of Mischief effectively launched the MCU’s latest interconnected narrative with its strange, fantastic journey through time and alternate realities. On Thursday night, Loki finally returns for a second season.

After a lengthy hiatus for the viewers at home, the new season finds Loki back at the Time Variance Authority in the face of an even greater multiversal threat and with even more reason to have trust issues. Like Loki’s terrific first run, the second season—a first for a live-action MCU series—will again feature six episodes, though the series is coming back with some changes to its creative leadership. Series creator Michael Waldron remains an executive producer, but Eric Martin—who wrote Season 1’s fourth episode (“The Nexus Event”) and cowrote the finale (“For All Time. Always.”) with Waldron—is replacing him as head writer. Former director Kate Herron is also out, while Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead are stepping in to lead the new directing team. The filmmaking duo, who previously helmed a pair of Moon Knight episodes, will be joined by additional directors Dan Deleeuw and Kasra Farahani.

There’s a lot to catch up on and remember ahead of Loki’s return. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happened in the MCU and with Marvel Studios since the first season, where the series left off, and where Season 2 is headed.

The Multiverse Saga, Superhero Fatigue, and Jonathan Majors

A lot has changed for Marvel Studios since Loki’s Season 1 finale, which aired in July 2021. As the studio’s two-pronged release strategy drives a steady supply of movies and TV series, MCU content is arriving at a faster rate than ever, and audiences are progressively losing interest as Marvel sacrifices quality control in favor of increased output. Gone are the days when an MCU project was a must-see event.

February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was meant to be a pivotal setup for the Multiverse Saga, including Loki’s second season and the first leg of its culminating two-part big-screen event, 2026’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. But the film wound up being a massive disappointment, falling well short of its reported $600 million break-even point, with a $476 million finish at the global box office. Quantumania remains one of the worst-reviewed films in MCU history, a creative low point that spelled trouble for the rest of Marvel Studios’ multiyear road map. Most recently, Secret Invasion became one of the studio’s worst-performing series, in terms of both critical response and viewership numbers.

While it feels a bit too dramatic to say that the Disney-owned powerhouse studio truly “needs” anything right now, there’s certainly some extra pressure on Loki to get Marvel Studios back on track and deliver another hit season. If Loki can’t get fans to buy back into the Multiverse Saga, I’m not sure what can.

As Loki’s second season starts, a member of its cast, and maybe the most important actor in the Multiverse Saga, is making negative headlines that have nothing to do with the show. Jonathan Majors, who made his MCU debut as He Who Remains in the season finale of Loki, is currently awaiting trial for misdemeanor charges of harassment and assault after being arrested in New York in March following a report that he had assaulted his then girlfriend. In a Rolling Stone investigation of Majors published in June, multiple sources who knew Majors said that he had a history of abusive behavior. Majors has denied all the accounts in the Rolling Stone piece and has pleaded not guilty in his impending criminal trial. Marvel Studios has remained silent, even as Majors has been dropped from his management company, ad campaigns, and future projects.

Given the developing situation—Majors’s next hearing will likely take place during the second season—it would be surprising if the studio hasn’t seriously considered recasting Majors. It’s obviously too late for that to happen in time for Loki, though it’s possible his screen time could be trimmed.

A Recap of Loki Season 1

The first season of Loki can be boiled down to a single question: “What makes a Loki tick?”

A number of characters ask each other—and themselves—this question throughout the series’ first six episodes, as Loki recasts one of the more prolific foils in the history of the MCU as the hero of its story. After Loki is captured in the pilot for diverging from his predetermined path on the Sacred Timeline, Mobius (Owen Wilson) enlists him to serve in the TVA in order to better understand the God of Mischief as the TVA hunts another variant Loki—the “superior” Loki, who has renamed herself Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). Although the Asgardian starts the series as the same backstabbing villain who fought against the Avengers in New York City and lost, Loki is forced to reckon with his nefarious nature and all of the tragedies he caused—and would have continued to cause—in a life destined to end at the hands of Thanos without fulfilling any glorious purpose.

By the end of the season, it’s unclear what makes Loki tick, even to Loki himself. When he and Sylvie finally arrive at the Citadel at the End of Time to confront the man who established the TVA, He Who Remains, the two Lokis are given a choice: They can kill He Who Remains and tear down the TVA as they know it, risking the start of another Multiversal War between alternate realities, or they can take on the top job themselves and run the TVA together. While Sylvie is hell-bent on exacting revenge on the TVA for stealing her life from her, Loki wants to at least stop and consider the latter option, resulting in a stalemate that turns Sylvie against him. “You can’t trust, and I can’t be trusted,” Loki concludes.

With the fate of the multiverse hanging in the balance, Sylvie sends Loki back to the TVA and plunges her sword into the chest of He Who Remains. By the time Loki finds Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), the damage has already been done. Mobius and Hunter B-15 don’t even remember who Loki is, and although the TVA appears unchanged at first glance, Loki soon realizes that Sylvie’s choice has altered the course of its history. While the former man in charge opted to lead in the shadows, behind the efficient guise of the leadership trio known as the Time-Keepers, his replacement—an apparently more narcissistic He Who Remains variant—prefers that all of his subordinates know who their true founder is:

Screenshot via Disney+

The first season ends on this cruel cliff-hanger, leaving plenty of lingering questions. What happened to the TVA? What will Sylvie do now? Are the other He Who Remains variants as bad as the one Loki and Sylvie meet claimed? Has Loki really changed?

Season 2 will provide answers to these questions and others soon enough. And, of course, another project has already filled in some details since the Season 1 finale. As much as I wish we could all just move past it, we need to talk about …

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Loki’s first-season finale served as the perfect teaser for the Multiverse Saga’s central villain, Kang the Conqueror—and it never even mentioned his name. That honor fell to a movie that reintroduced the iconic character in earnest on the big screen: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

As mentioned above, Quantumania was a bit of a disaster. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the Ant-Man trilogy happens to set up the remainder of the Multiverse Saga.

In Loki, Sylvie killed He Who Remains, eliminating the one person who was keeping his more destructive variants at bay by creating the TVA. Quantumania provides our first look at those variants, starting with the most fearsome of them all, Kang, who was exiled by his multiversal counterparts. Although the film ostensibly belongs to Ant-Man and the Wasp, introducing Kang is its primary objective.

In one scene midway through Quantumania, the villain tells Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) of his origins and why he was exiled to the Quantum Realm. “My variants throughout the multiverse play with time like children,” Kang says. “But I saw how it ends. I saw their chaos, spreading across realities. Universes colliding. Endless incursions. I saw the multiverse, and it was dying—all because of them. So I took control.”

Kang’s call to action mirrors the path that led He Who Remains to establish the TVA, as each variant foresaw how their other variants’ Multiversal War would lead to the end of everything. Quantumania makes the Conqueror out to be the apex variant of all the multitudes He Who Remains warned Sylvie and Loki of.

And yet, by the end of the film, Kang is defeated by … supersized ants and a giant floating head with tiny legs.

Screenshot via Disney+

After this truly ridiculous outcome, Kang is then defeated again by no more than Ant-Man—the minor Avenger nobody knows—and the Wasp. Although Kang is clearly not actually killed in the final battle, as the heroes seem to believe, it will be much harder to take him, or any of his variants, as a serious threat again after this showing. (Next time there’s a big battle against Kang, why not just send in the ants?)

At the end of Quantumania, there are two post-credits scenes relevant to Loki, the second of which is a full-fledged teaser for the show’s upcoming season. The first stinger shows an assembly of the so-called Council of Kangs, as Kang’s many variants gather to discuss their plans after hearing that the “exiled one” is gone. (As uncomfortable as it is to have one version of Majors appear in Loki, let’s not forget that Marvel Studios has an entire army of variants played by Majors waiting to be deployed sometime in the future.) There’s a particular focus on three of them—Immortus, Rama-Tut, and the Centurion—as they begin to plot against the heroes of Earth.

The second stinger focuses on another Kang variant, Victor Timely, an industrialist and inventor living in the early 1900s. The scene finds Timely presenting his theory of time and relativity while Loki and Mobius, appropriately dressed in old-timey attire, watch from the audience. Despite the fact that Mobius didn’t even remember Loki at the end of Loki’s season finale, here we find them working together again, searching for another elusive variant. Except instead of a Loki, they’re now pursuing another Master of Time.

Although Marvel Studios seems to be limiting its use of Majors in its promotions for the second season as the studio waits out his trial, it’s clear that Timely will play an important role in the episodes to come as Loki continues to wrestle with the fallout of his and Sylvie’s confrontation with He Who Remains. (The Hollywood Reporter wrote in September that Majors appears in about half of the season’s episodes.) As the MCU ramps up to The Kang Dynasty, Timely may not be the only Kang variant we’ll see in Loki.

What to Expect in Loki Season 2

Screenshot via Marvel Studios

“I’ve been pulled through time,” Loki says in the trailer for Season 2. “Between the past and present. If what I saw is true, there is nothing that stands between this world and utter destruction.”

In the first six episodes of Loki, the God of Mischief travels as far back into the past as the destruction of Pompeii and far enough into the future to visit a place called the Citadel at the End of Time. In Season 2, Loki’s time travels will take him to new eras and destinations, including the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and, apparently, even a 1980s McDonald’s. But it also appears that time itself will be pulling him apart as he experiences what is known at the TVA as “time-slipping.”

To deal with this strange phenomenon, Loki and Mobius recruit the help of the TVA’s resident tech expert, O.B., played by Ke Huy Quan. The actor headlines the new additions to the Loki cast as he continues his Hollywood comeback after winning Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All at Once and appearing in a recurring role in Disney+’s American Born Chinese earlier this year. As executive producer Kevin Wright told Entertainment Weekly, Quan’s new character works in the TVA’s repairs and advancement department. “His job is basically every piece of tech, every computer, everything that is running at the TVA,” he explained. “He either designed it or he fixes it and keeps it running.”

The next six episodes will also be a chance to see if Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has managed to find that “free will” she left the TVA in search of and what Sylvie has decided to do with herself now that she has fulfilled her only goal of killing whoever created the TVA. (Based on the teasers, her first instinct appears to have been to get a job at McDonald’s, for whatever reason.) But above all else, Season 2 will provide another opportunity for Marvel Studios to explore Loki more than a decade after Hiddleston first appeared in the role in 2011’s Thor. The character has evolved to be much more than the God of Thunder’s jealous younger brother, who wanted nothing more than to rule over Asgard and Earth. And his growth is ongoing. “Loki has always been a villain,” Wright said in a featurette previewing the upcoming season. “What we want to explore is also Loki finding what heroism really looks like.”

Beginning with the Season 2 premiere on Thursday, I’ll be recapping Loki every week as the Asgardian makes yet another comeback. Let’s hope Alligator Loki will once again grace the screen alongside him.