The build up to our finale has been a strong one! EPISODE 5 ended with Loki and Sylvie ready to meet the man behind the curtain so to speak, having survived the void and tamed the cloud monster Alioth.
The episode picks up with the Loki credits but a twist. Instead of the familiar MCU opening, we hear “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” the song Captain America and Peggy danced to at the end of ENDGAME. Over the top of that, there are numerous MCU quotes including Sam Wilson, BLACK PANTHER, Thor, Cap, among real world famous soundbites like Neil Armstrong. This cuts to a glimpse of Loki and Sylvie standing before the Citadel of Time, with the sacred timeline spiraling around it.
Sylvie and Loki make it to the castle door and they’re hesitant to break in. Loki tries to calm her but Sylvie tells him “I was pruned before you existed, I was waiting for this moment my entire life. I just need a moment to get my head straight.”
They both enter the castle and are met by Miss Minutes. Miss Minutes makes them an offer from “He Who Remains.” Loki and Sylvie can live in the same timeline and get whatever they want to break off their quest. The TVA can do what they do, Loki and Sylvie can win the Battle of New York or kill Thanos. Sylvie can live a life not being hunted.
Being Lokis at heart, they both recognize a lying bluff when they hear it and turn down the offer. Their goal is to end the TVA and take out He Who Remains.
“We write our own destiny now.” Loki tells Miss Minutes before the animated clock leaves the Void.
We cut to Judge Renslayer who is given information by He Who Remains. “This isn’t what I asked for.”
“I know but he thinks it will be more interesting.”
We cut back to the Citadel of Time and Loki notes it looks in disrepair, dusty and beaten up. Here an elevator opens and we’re introduced to He Who Remains. A purple cloaked figure that welcomes Loki and Sylvie to his office to talk.
For simplicity we’re going to roll with a different name here. He Who Remains is a Kang variant, portrayed by Jonathan Majors, who has already been announced as playing Kang in the upcoming 3rd Ant-Man movie!
Sylvie repeatedly tries to kill Kang, who good naturedly laughs it off and uses his TemPad to dodge each attempt.
We cut back to the TVA where Mobius hits Renslayer’s office. He tries to talk her into revamping the TVA. Renslayer says “It can’t have been for nothing.” referring to all the work they’ve done.
We cut to 2018 and Fremont, Ohio with B-15 being chased by TVA Hunters. She introduces them to Renslayer’s original form, a teacher. This covers where the pen in Renslayer’s office comes from that got focus in various scenes.
Mobius and Renslayer continue talking about whether the TVA is needed even if it is a lie. Renslayer insists they did good work. Mobius wants to fix everything and give free will back. Renslayer opens a portal. Mobius attempts to stop her but is quickly subdued. She jumps through a portal saying she’s off to search for free will.
Cutting back to Kang, Loki, and Sylvie, we get an extended exposition scene with Kang explaining his perspective. He has known all things happening through all time up until this moment. He has a transcript of everything they’re saying, like Loki had to sign when he first went to the TVA.
Kang explains a variant of himself from the 31st century was one of the first to recognize the multiverse. Kang variants through time began sharing knowledge and abilities. The power corrupted them. A giant multiversal war broke out. This Kang variant was able to take power and, to save the destruction of everything, concocted the TVA to keep the timeline in control.
Loki and Sylvie ask why they’re there if everything is known. Kang tells them “You can’t get to the end until you’ve been changed by the journey.” He then begins to sew doubt into Loki and Sylvie, asking if they can really trust each other.
Kang explains the TVA is a necessary evil and that if you think he’s bad, wait until you meet the other Kang variants.
Sylvie is not impressed with the story and still wants to kill him. Loki wonders if they should at least ponder his story and the offer: that Sylvie and Loki should take over the TVA. That this Kang is old and ready to retire.
Sylvie with doubt in her mind, thinks Loki just wants to be ruler over all time. Loki tells her it’s not about that. That if Kang is correct and the multiverse opens up, untold danger can overwhelm everything.
Sylvie and Loki, preparing to fight with Loki getting to the crux of the issue: “You can’t trust and I can’t be trusted.”
During the fight between Sylvie and Loki, they each have chances to kill the other. Sylvie gets an opportunity to lunge at Kang, ready for the death blow but Loki jumps in the way. They have a moment where Loki tells her he wants no power, nor hurt Sylvie, just for her to be OK. They kiss but Sylvie, driven by her mission, her revenge, her rage, opens a portal and sends Loki to the TVA.
She quickly kills Kang who tells her “See you soon!” ominously.
Our season ends with Loki, running to find Mobius. Loki tries to explain what happened but Mobius doesn’t recognize him. “Who are you?”
Shocked, Loki looks out to see the statues of the TVA are gone, replaced by a single statue of Kang. The timeline has already changed!
We don’t get a proper stinger this time but a close up of Loki’s TVA file. It gets stamped with “Loki will return in Season 2.”
What I Liked
While some criticisms of WANDAVISION and FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER were that they felt relatively small in the greater MCU standings, Loki is ending up huge. We are now in the multiverse stage of the MCU. Rumors are surrounding how that will look in Spider-Man: No Way Home and we already know the next Dr. Strange is The Multiverse of Madness.
We get a big unveil here as well! After nearly crippling WandaVision with hype, Loki gets to be the first MCU property to play with Kang. Kang already has a confirmed role in Ant-Man 3 and based on this episode may prove to be the phase 4 Thanos-level Big Bad. The Loki/Sylvie/Kang scene was fun, three masters of manipulation trying to decide who was lying to themselves or each other. Kang had an even more deranged Willy Wonka vibe too when he was offering Sylvie and Loki control of the Citadel of Time.
I dug the opening credits. Considering this spawns the MCU multiverse, mixing MCU soundbytes in with real-world ones too is a nice touch. I’ll be honest though, when they opened with the Cap and Peggy song, my tension levels rose a bit. As a full on Cap mark, that’s the one part of the MCU I don’t want to see messed with!
We now have the doors open to easily bring in X-Men, Fantastic Four, or any other realm of characters Kevin Feige and company would want to utilize.
One final like for the season? I was pleased how quickly they got this Loki back on track with the Loki that died in INFINITY WAR. One of the highlights of the MCU for me has been Loki’s journey to becoming an unlikely hero and I was glad they embraced that fully in this series and didn’t waste time with him retracing those steps here. Wherever this Loki turns up next will be much watch viewing for me.
What I Didn’t Like
This will sound counter considering I just mentioned I liked how they opened it up to the greater MCU at large but I do wish it played into the Sylvie/Loki dynamic more; or, at the very least, we had one last glimpse of Sylvie after killing Kang to get a feel for where her character will go in future installments. So maybe slightly smaller focus instead of serving the greater MCU.
Perhaps my nitpickiest of nitpicks: I think it might have been more of a gut punch to the audience and to Loki if the final statue unveil was Sylvie instead of Kang.
They have yet to let me down but I do begin to wonder how long they can keep all of the plates they have spinning up in the air. One reason I assumed they were going smaller stakes, more confined worlds for the Disney+ shows was to keep it easier for audiences and creative alike to keep distance between Theatrical and Streaming. Between this episode and the Black Widow post-credits scene, though, that distance seems to be gone. Story-wise, spoiler-wise, sanity-wise, will they be able to juggle three-plus series a year on top of five-plus movies a year all interconnected without burning out the audience? So far, they have the track record but I do wonder…
Highly enjoyable. Groundwork laid for lots to come, top notch performances by Tom Hiddleston, Jonathan Majors, and Sophia Di Martino!
This is my start to finish favorite of the 3 Disney+ shows. I didn’t feel any wasted motions, everything served a purpose, and no real tonal misses (John Walker’s “Redemption” or washing away Wanda’s crimes for example). Looking forward to season 2!