As we head into the series finale, it feels like the best time to discuss why Loki reigns supreme over the past Marvel Disney+ series.
Loki’s Penultimate Episode Goes Where Superhero Shows Rarely Go
Kate Herron, Michael Waldron, and the creative team behind Loki have succeeded where other Marvel series — and films — have failed. Each week the episodes are filled to the brim with action and adventure, fantastical world-building, and stunning CGI and practical sequences, but none of them are employed at the detriment of the story.
Loki is a rare treat because the characters are given the room to breathe and emote on the screen. Audiences aren’t left to theorize about what may have happened during in-between scenes or made to question where vital character development is occurring off-screen. Modern filmmaking, especially for the superhero genre, prioritizes spectacle over character development. This is also why fans are often disappointed by rare moments of genuine character building because they have relied so heavily on their own headcanons. But most importantly, Loki hasn’t relied on overwrought cameos or red herrings that take away from the core of the show.
So let’s dive into the penultimate episode, “Journey into Mystery.” In the wake of Renslayer pruning Loki, Sylvie pushes for more information about the TVA and who “the man behind the curtain” is. While Renslayer ultimately does lie to Sylvie about how to get to the end of time, she does reveal where Loki, and all other pruned variants, are dumped. In a last-ditch effort to find Loki and get the information she needs to take down the TVA, Sylvie takes Renslayer’s TemPad and self-prunes.
While all of this is going on, Loki is living a waking nightmare surrounded by a legion of Loki variants. The first four that he encounters are Classic Loki, Kid Loki, Boastful Loki, and Aligator Loki from the mid-credit scene last week. They give him the rundown about the new world he’s trapped in and the ominous “sky shark” aka the Alioth that consumes variants that arrive.
Even at the end of time, Loki variants are vying for positions of power within the post-apocalyptic world. Boastful Loki betrays the location of their hideout and Mayor Loki and his army arrive to cause a little mayhem. Classic Loki, Kid Loki, Aligator Loki, and our Loki manage to escape and Loki concocts a plan to escape and get back to Sylvie. His plan? Kill the Alioth.
After self-pruning herself, Sylvie arrives at the end of time and nearly finds herself consumed by the Alioth. Fortunately, Mobius arrives in a pizza delivery car and saves the day. When Sylvie was trying to escape the Alioth, she briefly enchanted it and saw through the darkness into something. As she and Mobius drive away from the ominous dark cloud, she implores him to turn back because she thinks the only way to get the answers she seeks is to go beyond the Void at the end of time.
They head towards the Alioth and come across Loki and his newfound Loki friends. This moment was so sweet because Loki seems genuinely surprised that anyone would actively look for him, much less that Sylvie and Mobius would come for him. Sylvie, who continues to be the best Loki variant, shoots down Loki’s plan and he seems more than willing to follow her lead. Even if that means following her into the Alioth.
When was the last time you watched a show like Loki where two of the main characters spent five uninterrupted minutes talking to each other? It rarely happens because of the rush to deliver flashy high-octane moments, but “Journey into Mystery” delivered a genuinely remarkable scene between Loki and Sylvie.
They start out the scene sitting about a foot apart from each other, but by the end of the moment, they’re shoulder-to-shoulder, huddled under a blanket. They awkwardly dance around Mobius’ Nexus event, neither of them confident about feelings or carrying about another person. Sylvie lets down her guard and confesses that she doesn’t know what they’re doing, that she doesn’t have friends or anyone. Loki tries to relate with that familiar Loki bravado, because who needs anyone? They’re both so insecure because this is the first time they have someone who cares about them as much as they care about them. Loki was trying to find a way back to Sylvie and Sylvie pruned herself just to find Loki. That’s pretty serious stuff.
The scene is also monumental for Loki because the last four episodes have underlined his selfishness and a lifetime of betrayal and all of it falls away in between the quiet moments beside Sylvie. He owns up to his failures and past mistakes and vows that that isn’t who he is anymore. Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino do so much acting without even uttering a word. It’s in the subtle looks, the lingering gazes, and the little touches. More character development happens within these five minutes than in the whole of WandaVision.
From there, the Lokis and Mobius devise their plan for taking on the Alioth. Loki passes off the TemPad to Mobius so he can go back and take on the TVA. Like last week’s homage to The Last Jedi, another familiar echo of the film is delivered here: “What will you do at the TVA?” / “Burn it to the ground. Thanks for the spark.”
Loki and Sylvie head to face off with the Alioth. Loki volunteers to distract the creature long enough for Sylvie to enchant it, but it isn’t enough. Despite being completely disinterested in taking on the Alioth, Classic Loki shows up and delivers an incredible display of power. I haven’t touched on the other Lokis, but Classic Loki has such a nice arc within the confines of this episode and I can’t help but wonder if his sacrificial turn was inspired by Loki’s dedication to Sylvie. It seems to be there in the subtext. A Loki finding a cause bigger than himself that he’s willing to die for seems to be a monumental thing.
Despite believing that he did not possess Sylive’s ability of enchantment, Loki and Sylvie realize that Lokis are far more powerful than they believe themselves to be. They join hands and summon that magic and enchant the Alioth to do their bidding. The final scene of the episode is, quite literally, Loki and Sylvie journeying hand-in-hand into the mystery beyond the Void at the end of the world.
Loki has been a masterclass on how to deliver on exactly what was promised. It has been weird, progressive, and reliant solely on what makes Loki such a fun and compelling character. The penultimate episode has laid the groundwork for an awe-inspiring and satisfying finale, now all they have to do is stick the landing.