I can’t stop talking about Loki. I recently started learning how to drive (it’s going terribly, thanks for asking!), and when my driving instructor showed up wearing a Marvel T-shirt, I found myself asking if he had watched Loki yet. He had not, but when he does (and trust me, the man deserves a break), he is in for a treat. Because these first three episodes of Loki are good. So good, in fact, that “episode three” is trending on Twitter as I type these words. The world is watching, and the world is talking.
Last week’s episode ended with the “evil Loki” chased by the Time Variance Authority turning out to be a lady. Fun! Mysterious! Not that we had too much fun with this reveal, since the episode ended on a tantalising cliffhanger – with regular, good-old Tom Hiddleston Loki ditching the TVA and following Lady Loki through a time-travel portal.
Just you, me, and the end of the world
This week’s instalment picks up with Lady Loki – portrayed by Sophia Di Martino – bringing us right back to the TVA. Good Old Loki is confused and disappointed, but not for long. During a fight with Lady Loki, he steals a TemPad (a time-and-space-travelling gizmo, as I believe the scientific parlance goes) and transports them both to the year 2077, on a planet called Lamentis-1.
That turns out to be a bit of an issue, since Lamentis-1 is a moon about to be obliterated when a planet crashes into it. So now Loki and his nemesis, whose name turns out to be Sylvie (more on that in a minute), are quite literally racing against time to avert the apocalypse and/or save themselves.
Pretty clever plotline, since it forces Loki and Sylvie to work together (reluctantly at first, but less so as time goes on) despite the fact that they begin the episode hell-bent on killing each other. Did someone say buddy comedy?
So, Sylvie is the Enchantress, right? Right?
Prior to this episode, fans had a pretty strong hunch that Sylvie might turn out not to be Lady Loki at all, but rather the Enchantress, a different character from the comic books. This episode all but confirms it: the Enchantress’s name in the comic books used to be Sylvie Lushton, meaning she shares at least a first name with Di Martino’s character. They seem to have similar powers too: when Sylvie brings her hands to Loki’s neck and stares at him instantly, he asks, puzzled: “What are you doing? Are you trying to enchant me?” Coincidence? I don’t think so. There are no coincidences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Still, though, the episode stops short of a proper big reveal. At no point does Loki stare at her, bewildered, muttering something like: “You’re… the Enchantress.” At no point does Sylvie remove her horned headpiece to proclaim: “You fool! I’m not you. I’m… the Enchantress!” So, who knows? Maybe she’s not the Enchantress at all. Maybe she’s a mash-up of the Enchantress and one or several other characters. Who knows? Not me. Not yet.
Loki is ready to party
In order to avoid the apocalypse (and thus certain death), Loki and Sylvie need to use the TemPad to travel to another time and place. Easy enough, right? Well, no, because the TemPad is out of juice. They need to charge it. But of course, any old iPhone charger won’t do. They need a lot of power, and they need it now. Luckily, they soon hear about the Ark, a sort of massive train meant to serve as an evacuation vessel for the people of Lamentis-1. “Something like that would have enough juice to repower the TemPad,” Sylvie tells Loki.
Of course, sneaking onto a train that represents an entire population’s last chance at survival is no mean feat, but it’s nothing two tricksters can’t achieve if they work together. And so Loki and Sylvie board the Ark, and the plot slows down just enough to allow some bonding to happen between these two.
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Here’s how it unfolds: they’re sitting in a train car (Loki’s going backwards, despite informing Sylvie that he “can’t go backwards on a train” – me neither, Loki, I feel you, buddy). She asks him about his mother; he tells her about the Queen of Asgard. She reveals very little about herself; he reminisces about his childhood and makes fireworks appear in the palm of his hand.
This is all a little unexpected, given that these two tried to murder each other repeatedly just minutes ago, but it works. I mean, wouldn’t you bond with just about anyone if the apocalypse was nigh?
After all this emotional development, it turns out Loki is as ready to party as a freshly vaccinated, newly out of lockdown person in, say, June 2021 (location: Earth). He drinks two flutes of champagne, and next thing you know, he’s getting loaded, standing at the centre of the bar singing in Asgardian – and getting everyone else to sing along with him. (There’s a nice Thor reference, too, when Loki drains one of his many drinks, throws his glass on the ground, and promptly asks for: “Another!”)
The bar scene is also a chance for Sylvie and Loki to quiz each other about their respective love lives. “You’re a prince,” she tells him. “There must have been would-be princesses… or perhaps another prince?”
“A bit of both,” Loki replies. “I suspect the same as you.”
In other words: Loki is bisexual – which in fact makes him the first openly bisexual character in the MCU. Marvel characters rarely discuss their love lives so directly. As far as MCU reveals go, this one is pretty major. Plenty of fans have already said on social media how much this means to them, and the reception to this specific scene has been truly heartwarming. Kate Herron, the director of Loki, said in a tweet on Wednesday how important it was to her to acknowledge Loki’s bisexuality from the moment she joined the show, writing: “It is a part of who he is and who I am, too. I know this is a small step but I’m happy, and [my] heart is so full, to say that this is now Canon in [the MCU].”
So there is something fishy about the TVA
At the risk of quoting myself once again, I would like the record to show that last week, I said this: “You know how magicians distract you with one hand while they perform a trick with their other hand? That’s how I feel every time the elusive Time Keepers (whom we’ve yet to see on screen, although Loki is very keen to meet them in person) are mentioned. What’s going on there? Do they even exist?”
Turns out, I might be onto something about the TVA not having shown us all its cards just yet! While explaining her own enchantment powers to Loki, Sylvie just happens to mention a teeny-tiny TVA fact: you know how so far, everyone at the TVA has sworn they’ve worked for the organisation their entire lives? Casey in episode one didn’t know what a fish was because, he said, he’d spent his whole existence behind a desk. And Mobius in episode two told Loki he’s never been on a jet ski because it would be unbecoming of a TVA agent.
Well! According to Sylvie, none of this is exactly true. TVA agents, she says, had regular lives before they joined the authority. “I was told that everyone who works at the TVA was created by the Time Keepers,” Loki objects. “That’s ridiculous,” Sylvie scoffs. “They’re all Variants, just like us.”
What does this mean? Do the TVA agents really not know they used to have regular lives? Or are they just pretending? And why? And how? And what?
None of these questions are answered, because Loki and Sylvie fail at their mission, meaning that Lamentis-1 is about to be destroyed – and everyone on it, including them, is about to die. And the episode ends here, because, hello cliffhanger!
There are still three episodes left in Loki, so I’m going to go ahead and post that he and Sylvie aren’t actually about to meet their demise. Here’s a potentially fun theory: Sylvie just told Loki that sometimes, when she enchants someone, she has to create a fantasy from that person’s memories. Could the entire episode from the moment she tries to enchant Loki be… exactly that? A fantasy woven from Loki’s own memories? Doesn’t the apocalypse on Lamentis-1 have shades of Ragnarok? Am I completely wrong? I can’t wait to find out.