So I’m watching Disney+ series, Loki and the second episode is about to become available any minute, yet I haven’t posted a review.
The series, what it seems to be tackling, and what if delivered in the first episode gave me a lot of things to write about, and I’ve started, scrapped, and re-started this review several times.
It’s too much.
So, first, let me sum up: Fun! Funny!
Some more details would be nice, and I’ll try to do that in a reasonable word count below. I must warn you: *After this there be SPOILER!
So turn back now if you don’t want to be spoiled.
First, want to say that I’ve enjoyed the way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has handled the elements of Norse Mythology they’ve used for the Thor and the Avengers movies. Often when American producers delve into mythology they go the cookie cutter route of portraying the leader of the gods as the Good Guy, kind and wise and so forth, one of the other gods as the Bad Guy (usually a take on the Devil), and the other gods are mostly sorted into the two camps of the good gods and the bad gods.
Therefore, Odin is the leader of the good gods, Loki is the equivalent of the devil, and Thor is the loyal son of the leader of the good gods.
If you’ve actually read Norse mythology, you know that this isn’t how things are. Odin in wily and is not above cheating another supernatural being out of an agreed upon payment for a large job, just to get one example.
Some of the most interesting of the Norse stories involve Loki very cleverly getting Thor or the other Asgardians out of trouble that their carelessness or arrogance get them into.
Particularly in the move Thor: Ragnarok we saw that Odin has definitely not always be a "good guy" and that when push came to shove, Loki will do the right thing.
It is true that Loki is often portrayed as a master of deception, and clearly he’s never going to be a Knight in Shining Armor, but the way he’s been portrayed in the movies by Tom Hiddleston over the last decade or so has always given us moments where you feel for the guy.
In Avengers: Infinity War Loki died trying to kill Thanos and save the remnant of Asgard’s population. In the next Avengers movie, End Game the surviving heroes pull of a series of Time Heists to get the Infinity Stones (which Thanos destroyed after using them to kill half the population of the universe). And during one part of that heist they jumped into a portion of the very first Avengers movie, but things don’t go according to play, and the Loki of that time period (who had been captured and was in restraints) grabs the Space Stone (aka the Tesseract) and escapes.
Thus messing up both the plans of the heroes (who later in the movie put all the stolen stones back into the place and time they had come from).
The series picks up moments after that Loki vanished. He finds himself in the Gobi desert. Some kind of portals open up and heavily armed people come out, incapacitate him, make some comments about the broken timeline, then set something called a "reset charge" and take the captures Loki through the portal.
Loki has been arrested by the Time Variance Authority (TVA). The TVA appeared in a lot of Marvel comic books over the years. They are, essentially, an extra-dimensional time police. And look for events that break what they call "the sacred timeline," they find the person who caused the change in history, (who they call "variants") they prone the branching timeline, and bring the Variant back to their extradimension city/giant burueacracy to be tried and then erased from reality.
Most of this is explained in a very cute orientation video that Loki is forced to watch early in the first episode.
Pruning the branches from the timeline isn’t always as easy as the opening scene of the episode makes it appear. And the viewers learn that there is someone who is ambushing the crews of heavily armed time agents, killing them, and stealing the reset charge.
But much of this episode involved Loki trying to figure out how to get out of this predicament. One of the best recurring bits is he keeps making his grand eloquent speeches about how he is the God of Mischief and to be feared, and absolutely none of the bored looking pencil pushers he keeps meeting even bats an eye.
One time agent, Agent Mobius, wants to spare Loki from immediate erasure because he thinks Loki might be able to help them with the new problem. Mobius is played by Owen Wilson, and he seems to be the perfect foil to Hiddleston’s Loki in this episode.
Mobius tries to explain how in the main timeline, Loki did not escape, and he is destined to go on to inadvertently cause his mothers death (Thor: The Dark World), and die by Thanos’ hand without ever achieving the glory he’s always believed was his. The title of the first episdoe, "Glorious Purpose" is a phrase Loki used in the first Avengers movie when he began his attempt to conquer the world.
Hiddleston isn’t limited to generating laughs. There’s a point in the episode where he tries to escape, and winds up hiding out in the room Mobius had been briefing him in earlier. He watches those parts of his future Mobius told him about that he didn’t want to believe. The look on his face when he sees his mother’s death, and then later is own was just heart wrenching.
Loki realizes that he is powerless in that place, that the infinity stones are also powerless, and that the glorious purpose he always believed was is is just a pile of bitter ashes.
Before the episode ends, we see one of the groups of time agents get ambushed and killed, and we see a mysterious cloaked figure take the reset charge.
Presumably Mobius is about to try to pit Loki’s wiles and scheming against the mysterious cloaked figure. How will that work?
I’m really looking forward to finding out!
Some reviews you may find useful:
Loki Finds His “Glorious Purpose”
Review: Loki Episode 1, Glorious Purpose (Disney+)
What is the TVA, the Time Variance Authority in Marvel’s ‘Loki’?