Loki delivered an entirely different kind of season finale with “For All Time. Always.” Instead of treating it as a convergence of plotlines in a race to the finish line, Loki slowed it down and delivered a more thought-provoking finale. Off the heels of the penultimate episode, Loki and Sylvie venture into the end of time.
Loki’s Season Finale is Just the Beginning of the Story
After a brief Miss Minutes jump-scare that hints at “The One Who Remains” Loki and Sylvie make their way through the ominous castle and encounter a stranger. Cloaked in purple and casually snacking on a green apple, the character felt reminiscent of the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. There was all of this build-up to someone sinister operating behind the scenes, but it was a man as flesh and bone as Loki and Sylvie. But there’s more there than meets the eye.
In 2020, rumors first began to swirl that Jonathan Majors had been cast as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and now we have all of the confirmation that we need. While Kang is an eleventh-hour introduction to Loki, Kate Herron and the writer’s room made it work extremely well. Rather than pitting Loki and Sylvie against Kang in a flashy CGI-filled battle, the true fight was cerebral.
The past five episodes built up Loki’s character development, teaching him how to trust others and even how to allow himself to love and be loved. But we, as an audience, may have underestimated that Sylvie was not experiencing the same development. She was still deeply damaged by what the TVA did to her. Sylvie was open to love, but she was not ready to love. Her singular focus was to destroy the TVA and, by extension, kill Kang. Whatever emotional connection she formed with Loki between Lamentis and the Void was not enough to make her deviate from her plan.
Loki tries his best to convince her not to kill Kang and free the timeline, but his pleas fail to get through to her. But within this devastating moment, we see that Loki has — at long last — grown as a character. He recognizes that no matter what he does, he can never be trusted, but he has become someone willing to make sacrifices for others. At the start of the season, Loki would have jumped at the opportunity to kill Kang and take the throne, but he has evolved to a point where he sees the larger picture.
Just when Loki thinks that he has finally gotten through to Sylvie, she kisses him. It’s the culmination of four episodes of holding hands, longing looks, and cuddling under a blanket — and it hurt. While I have no doubt that there were genuine emotions behind Sylvie’s kiss, it was tragically a Judas kiss. As Sylvie withdrew, she pushed Loki through a time portal and finished what she set out to do. She kills Kang and unleashes the timelines with devastating effects.
Ultimately, the finale serves as an infodump, providing the necessary context about where Marvel’s Phase 4 is headed with the Multiverse, but it also lays the groundwork for the next stage of Loki’s story. I credit the series’ writers for making this work. Unlike WandaVision that undercut the heart of its own story, in favor of setting up the next phase, Loki stayed focused on Loki and Sylvie’s story. While I don’t want to speculate too far ahead, the episode felt like it was setting up a plotline where Sylvie and Loki will fight to find their way back to each other, but with higher stakes next time. Next season, I hope that we see Sylvie get the same character development that Loki did, as she grapples with the weight and fallout of the choice she made.
While Loki’s final moments may be perceived as nihilistic, the caveat that there is at least one more season planned makes the ending of “For All Time. Always” on par with some of the best cliffhangers in the past decade. Loki has not only been betrayed by love, but he has been forced into a timeline where the only other person he trusted doesn’t even know him. It’s tragic, yes, but it also leaves audiences on the edge of their seats ready for season two’s airdate to be released. The verdict on whether or not Loki truly sticks the landing will have to be delayed until the series comes to a true end.
Out of the three Marvel series that Disney+ has delivered this year, Loki ranks at the top. It remained consistently weird and unexpected, even with the introduction of Kang. Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino were spectacular co-stars, creating the kind of connection that Loki has been in need of. Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, and Jonathan Majors each delivered incredible performances that appear to be far from complete.
Kate Herron’s directorial vision, in tandem with the incredible writer’s room, created a rare and remarkable story in an otherwise predictable Marvel Universe. In addition to Natalie Holt’s epic compositions, Loki’s production designer Kasra Farahani created an inspired aesthetic for the series that will hopefully persevere into season two. Loki managed to capture the essence of the muted tones of a mid-century corporate office and merge it with the larger-than-life and out-of-this-world vibes that we have only previously seen in Guardians of the Galaxy and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.
If this had been the series finale, this review would be very different. Loki’s arc is far from complete and the story that has unfolded over the past six weeks is nowhere near the end. “For All Time. Always” is just the beginning.