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Loki meets his variant in a time-bending, apocalyptic second episode

By Brian Silliman
Loki (Loki and B-15)

Loki scoffs at some of the things he learns in the first two episodes of the series named after him, but they’re really not all that crazy. Yes, the TVA (Time Variance Authority) was created by the Time-Keepers, who are three giant lizards (or something), but where exactly does Loki come from? He was born to a giant of Jotunheim, he was raised in a realm called Asgard by Odin, and so forth and so on. Are three lizards ruling time any weirder than that? 

“Existence is chaos, nothing makes sense, so we try to make some sense of it,” Mobius says to him. Loki is spending the second episode of Loki, now streaming on Disney+, trying to do just that. He may also be helping to hunt down the wayward variant, be out for himself, be trying to take down the Time-Keepers, we don’t know. The only one who can really scam Loki is Loki. 

***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be major spoilers for Episode 2 of Loki. If you have not watched yet, run from that volcano, run, run for your life, and do not blink.***

In “The Variant” (Directed by Kate Herron, written by Elissa Karasik) the other Loki that the TVA is after remains at large, kicking things off by taking out a team at a Renaissance Faire in Oshkosh and kidnapping Agent C-20 (Sasha Lane). Back at the TVA itself, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ignores lectures from Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) while he flips through a jet ski magazine, which belongs to Mobius (Owen Wilson). 

Mobius has a lead, so he wants to head to Oshkosh. It turns out the TVA has pruned a lot of Lokis, and as he says, “no two are alike.” By the end of the episode, we definitely see what he means. 

Loki says he’ll play nice if an audience with the Time-Keepers can be put on the table, but who knows what kind of Russian nesting doll set of lies this is a part of. On the scene in Oshkosh, Loki talks. Even though he says that his power has always been listening (“My teeth were sharp, but my ears even sharper”) he talks a whole lot, saying that he senses a scheme. Mobius doesn’t buy it (his ears are sharp too) so they prune the joint and the timeline is reset. 

Mobius then has to meet with Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the judge we met in the premiere. This character first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1965, in Avengers #23. She eventually had ties to Kang the Conquerer, set to join the MCU in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

She is not happy about any of this, and says that Loki, any Loki, is just an evil lying scourge. Mobius counters, “Sometimes you get tired of playing the same part. Is that possible?” 

Can Loki change? We’ve seen him change in the MCU, so we know it’s possible. It takes a couple of movies for him to change, so who knows how many episodes of television it will take. Timey-wimey madness helps, though.

Loki (TVA Team)

In case it is important in a later episode, Ravonna has a pen that says, “Franklin D. Roosevelt High School.” We’re including that because you never know, that pen could turn out to be a legendary weapon. 

Loki and Mobius then go for an extended banter spree, with Mobius claiming that Loki is just a scared little boy. He also laughs at the idea of a Loki double-cross, because Loki is “history’s most reliable liar.” Loki ends up seeing paperwork on the destruction of Asgard (seen in Thor: Ragnarok), and this gives him an idea, which he demonstrates for Mobius by ruining a salad. 

The variant could be hiding in apocalypses because they could travel to right before the apocalyptic event and do whatever they wanted. The timeline would not branch because it is getting destroyed anyway. He proves that he’s right (something he loves being) with a trip to Pompeii in 79 AD. He screams for the masses to dance while they can, and right on cue, Vesuvius erupts in the distance. Mobius detects zero variance and no branching. 

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After more discussion, banter, and chemistry for days (Mobius has a particularly funny set of lines about how the 1990’s jet ski is perfect), they deduce from a bit of “Kablooie” candy left behind at one of the variant’s crime scenes that the apocalypse they are hiding in must be Earth sometime between 2047 and 2051. They sift through a lot of future catastrophic Earth events (we have troubles ahead, and farewell to the Swallow), but eventually decide to focus on a hurricane in 2050 Alabama. 

Mobius, Loki, B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), and a team head there, to a “Roxxcart” superstore, which may be an offshoot of the often-used Marvel corporation Roxxon Oil. People are hiding from the hurricane in the store, so in they go. B-15 insists that Loki goes with her. 

He does, and they come across a guy who Loki believes is the variant. B-15 touches him, there’s some green Loki magic, and the variant changes into B-15. This little bit of Loki sorcery is a bit different from similar tricks we’ve seen before, and he explained the difference to everyone earlier in the episode. 

Loki (Loki and Mobius)

Now it’s Loki vs. Loki (“Me, I presume?”) and the variant changes bodies a few times. They banter with each other, argue about who is the superior Loki, and even do some signature Loki gestures to one another. Who knows what our Loki’s true plans are, here he says that he’s going to overthrow the timekeepers and wants the variant to be his lieutenant. Is this true? Who the Hel knows. 

As this happens, the rest of the team finds C-20, who mumbles that she “gave it away.” She told them how to find the Time-Keepers. 

Variant Loki is now kicking our Loki in the body of a large man. “I would never treat me like this,” our Loki says, before the big body drops, variant Loki appears in the black hood we’ve seen before. The hood comes down, and…

…It’s a female Loki, aka Lady Loki, played by Sophia Di Martino. “This isn’t about you,” she says. Though nothing outright states that she’s Lady Loki, her horned headpiece screams that she is. There’s a lot of precedence for this from Marvel Comics — Lady Loki appears in a Thor comic in 2008 and she continues to pop up in unexpected places. 

Here, she has more than one pruning device from the TVA. The store is revealed to be full of them. Every one has a TVA time-door device attached too, so they all activate and drop through the newly opened gates. Everyone back at the TVA freaks out, reporting a “000” and that someone is bombing the sacred timeline. Lady Loki waves and leaves through a time door, and even though Mobius screams for Loki to stay, he follows her before the door shuts. 

History’s most reliable liars have done it again. At one point in the episode, we see a flipbook of Lokis, the timelines are full of them. Mobius was probably right, in that sometimes they do get tired of playing the same part. 

Loki streams on Disney+ every Wednesday.