As we mentioned in our review of the first episode, 'Loki' seems to be taking its cues from two completely distinctive sources - one is sci-fi comedy, vaguely moving along the lines of 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' and to a lesser extent, 'Doctor Who'. The other source features much more prominently in this week's episode.
It's the cop show. More specifically, the odd-couple cop show.
The odd-couple cop show features a straight-laced, by-the-book cop and then you've got the wild, devil-may-care maverick cop. 'Starsky and Hutch', for example, frequently had this dynamic and even starred Owen Wilson in the movie adaptation. Walter Hill's '48 Hrs.' is a little closer to 'Loki', in that you've got a cop and a boxed crook trying to work together to solve a crime. From the very get-go of this week's episode, titled 'The Variant', Loki is trying to worm his way into Mobius' good graces so that he'll be able to get an audience with the Timekeepers. It's effectively Loki's last roll of the dice, because he should by all accounts be dead. As Hunter B-15, played by Wunmi Mosaku, delightfully points out to Loki, he's "a cosmic mistake".
Loki discovers that the Variant they're seeking - him, after all - is utilising a quirk in the Sacred Timeline to hide out and plan his scheme. Essentially, the Variant travels to apocalypses, does whatever he pleases, ambushes the TVA goons and steals their charges, and the timeline never deviates because everything's wiped out anyway. This is demonstrated in a little scene where Loki and Mobius decide to visit Pompeii right before the volcano explodes, with Tom Hiddleston rattling off some Latin to underline his classical acting training. From there, they need to find out which apocalypses the Variant is hiding out in because, as Mobius correctly points out, there are literally thousands of them.
It's pretty ingenious stuff, when you think about it, and quite satirical too. Apocalypses are bread-and-butter stuff in blockbuster movies, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no different. Ragnarok, the subject of 'Thor: Ragnarok', gets used as an analogy with salt shakers and a salad. That the show is so casually using them speaks to how playful it all is, and more to the point, how it's so clearly moving aside some of the conventions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here in 'Loki', it doesn't matter if they go to 79AD or 1985, but we're still in it because, as Owen Wilson puts it, "it's actually kind of cool."
With Loki's theory about the variant proven, the TVA sets off for an apocalypse in Alabama in 2055, and sure enough, encounter the variant right away. Intriguingly, the variant hides in plain sight by transferring their essence from person to person, controlling them for a period of time and then dumping them out and moving on. This is central to what Loki is all about, that he uses people and then discards them when they're no longer of us to him. While the protagonist version of Loki seems to be at least aware of this as a negative, the variant is completely detached from humanity and views them as practical meat puppets. When Loki confronts the variant, there's a tense stand-off before it devolves into a gritty fight involving a hoover, and the variant - sans taking people over - is revealed as a blonde American woman.
In reality, that's Sophia DiMartino, who's actually English, and was in stuff like 'Flowers' opposite Olivia Colman, and more recently had a role in Danny Boyle's 'Yesterday'. As she angrily tells our Loki, all of what's going on isn't about him - but he's got to find out what she's up to, and follows her into the timedoor, leaving Mobius holding the bag with the TVA. Like any good cop show, however, we know this is all part of Loki's plan and that the double-cross isn't actually a double-cross.
- Bonnie Tyler's 'Holding Out For A Hero' seems to be having a moment lately, what with the new 'He-Man' trailer using it as well. Well-deserved, because it's a CLASSIC.
- More of Eugene Cordero, please.
- Gotta love the idea of setting a whole sequence in an anachronistic Renaissance Faire, but at the same time, the whole concept seems so silly and strange. Americans, honestly.
- The whole conversation between Loki and Mobius about belief structures was pretty in-depth for a funny, light show about a time-travelling comic-book villain, but it weirdly works?