Disclaimer: Spoilers included. Also, much of what is included here is my own personal opinion on the ending. I don’t claim that this opinion is authoritative or the best. Please let me know if you have a different opinion.
Overall, season 1 of Marvel’s Loki television show was enjoyable.
The Loki series takes place after the events of the film Avengers: Endgame, in which an alternate version of Loki creates a new timeline, diverging from the events of The Avengers (2012). The season sets up the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).
What I Liked:
The show centers around Loki, Marvel’s most entertaining villain. And indeed the show is a lot of fun as we see the God of Mischief butt heads with a fitting foil: the TVA (Time Variance Authority), the most powerful bureaucracy in existence. The TVA is so powerful that their employees treat the infinity stones as if they are mere objects to store in a desk along with paperclips and pencil erasers.
Owen Wilson is one of the TVA’s bureaucrats. He’s cool and collected in contrast to Loki’s brash and hot headed manner. Owen takes Loki under his wing and explains the TVA’s purpose: to protect the one true sacred timeline from the threat of multiversal war. This is accomplished by pruning people called ‘variants’ from the timeline.
The employees at the TVA are all told that three lizard-like beings (called Time Keepers) created the TVA with the purpose of protecting and guiding the sacred timeline.
The show is an interesting mix of sci-fi, fantasy, police procedural, and 1970s retro style.
I ended up binge watching the whole season in one night because each episode kept me intrigued about what was going to happen next.
Where the Show Lost Me:
Unfortunately, much of the build up that kept me intrigued ultimately left me confused with the reveal at the end of the season’s final episode, episode 6.
By episode 3 we get our “aha!” moment when one of the time variants, a female version of Loki named, “Sylvie,” reveals that the agents of the TVA are actually brainwashed variants from Earth who got their memories wiped by the TVA.
Once it was revealed that the employees of the TVA were deceived, the audience was left to wonder about the real motives of the powerful time agency. By episode 4, Sylvie beheads one of the Time Keepers, only to find out it was just a lifeless machine. It is revealed that there is a true mastermind behind the TVA pulling the strings of the organization in secrecy.
Classic Loki and Sylvie end up at the Void at the End of Time, figuring that the clandestine mastermind of the TVA would be hiding at the end of the known timeline. There they find a world of Loki variants. Instead of cooperating with each other to escape the Void, this motley collection of Lokis fight with one another endlessly and stab each other in the back—as Lokis are known to do. However, a small band of Lokis cooperate with Classic Loki and Sylvie to help our two protagonists escape the Void and arrive at the Citadel at the End of Time. There they finally find the mastermind behind the TVA, He Who Remains, a person who is revealed to be…
JONATHAN MAJORS, who was officially cast as KANG THE CONQUEROR in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Devout comic book fans and Marvel movie fans may enjoy this easter egg. It’s a cool set up for Ant Man. But for people who are not as familiar with all the comics or every movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this could definitely be unclear. Kang the Conqueror only gave his background story in this episode, but not his name.
Maybe Kang the Conqueror will play a bigger role in season 2, but it would have been nice to see him more involved throughout season 1, so there would be more payoff when he was revealed as the big bad in the end.
Not only that, but He Who Remains says he actually wants to protect the timeline from multiversal war, just as the TVA originally explains. So…why all the cloak and dagger? Why the need for the animatronic space lizards? In fact, when the memories of the TVA employees get wiped and reset, they have a new statue of He Who Remains. At the end, it seems to me there wasn’t much reason to hide that Kang was pulling the strings. But maybe something will be revealed in season 2 that may explain this?
For me, I would have preferred it if the big bad was a Loki variant. There’s literally a whole world full of them. There’s a kid Loki. There’s even a freaking alligator Loki who gets a lot of screen time. The antagonist at the end could have considered him or herself, “The Ultimate Loki.”
This Loki could have bragged that they were a variant who found a way to do what our Classic Loki originally wanted to do, but failed to do: control reality. This would have created a legitimate reason to hide the original mastermind behind the TVA. A Loki variant would want to trick the other Lokis and destroy them so he or she could rise above them all and become the ultimate Loki. And this is indeed a theme the show even alluded to when they showed Classic Loki being insecure about the existence of other more powerful Lokis.
I know that this is just the first season, and perhaps its purpose is to set up something more interesting in season 2, along with other Marvel movies. I am definitely open to watching season 2 because most of season 1 was pretty good.
I will also admit that keeping all the various Marvel plot lines tied together is probably a very difficult feat. Writers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe have to constantly balance satisfying their more active fans who keep up with every comic and movie, along with viewers who are less active, and are simply dipping in for the occasional show or movie.
If you have a different view on the ending, feel free to comment.
WHO IS THE VILLAIN IN THE LOKI FINALE? EPISODE 6, EXPLAINED [SPOILERS!] (Inverse, 7-14-21)