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The episode opens with a child version of Sylvie in her timeline’s version of Asgard, while she innocently plays with her toys, but the TVA interrupts her life and arrests her all while resetting Sylvie’s timeline in the process. We get to see Ravonna Rennslayer in her Minutemen days before she was promoted to judge. Back to the future, we go to Mobius who wants to talk to C-20, but Rennslayer informs him that C-20 is dead and she explains that she lost her mind implying that she had a psychotic episode that led to suicide. Back on Lamentis-1, Loki and Sylvie are facing certain death waiting for the apocalypse to claim them and they have a heart to heart. Sylvie believes that the universe wants to break free of the timeline and Loki talks about how they are survivors. As they are bracing for their final moments, portals open behind them and they are back in the TVA’s custody again. Loki and Sylvie are separated, but Mobius continues to stick with Loki to interrogate him. In the interrogation, Mobius deduces that Loki has a crush on Sylvie and in a bout of frustration Loki blurts out that everyone who works for the TVA is a variant. Mobius just thinks that Loki is being difficult, so he throws Loki in a time-loop cell with Lady Sif, a reference to an unseen moment when he cut off her hair and when she discovered it, she gave him a swift pummeling and told him that he would always be alone. Meanwhile, B-15 is curious about what Sylvie has to say and she allows Sylvie to show her memories. After the memories are revealed to B-15, Sylvie tells her that they are the same, meaning they are both variants. Eventually, Mobious finds footage of C-20’s interrogation and discovers that C-20 realizes that she’s a variant and that Rennslayer was present for the questioning. Mobius goes to retrieve Loki from his cell only to be greeted by Rennslayer and a team of Minutemen, which leads to Mobius getting pruned. Barely able to register the shock and heartbreak, Loki is reunited with Sylvie and they are taken up the golden elevator to meet the Timekeepers. After a tussle, Sylvie manages to decapitate one only to learn that they are all robots and only to watch Loki get pruned in front of her. In the post-credits scene, Loki is on the ground trying to figure out where he is but looks around to see four variants of himself (Classic Loki, Boastful Loki, Kid Loki, and Gator Loki), beckoning him to follow them for they are all in danger.
One thing in this episode that restored my hope, was when Mobius takes back his initial assessment of Loki and says that he can be anyone he wants to be. When Mobius and Loki first meet, it was clear that Mobius had an agenda to prove to Loki that all he could be was a villain. However, when Mobius left the room, stopped narrating Loki’s life, and stopped telling him what he could be, it was Loki who looked at his life and felt the catalyst for change through what he witnessed. It actually makes me think of a teacher in the past who tried to dissuade me from pursuing my interest in animation. This teacher took on a similar role to Mobius as he told me what he knew what I would and wouldn’t like. For a while, I was confused, wondering how this person could know more about me than I know about myself and I believed that teacher. It took me a little longer than Loki, but eventually, I had my own revelation and I knew that I could pursue what I wanted, even though it didn’t fit my teacher’s idea of what they wanted me to be. It was satisfying to see Mobius not only change his idea about Loki but to also realize that he was someone outside of the system of the TVA and that he has free will as well.
We open back in the TVA, with the camera making a rotating shot all the way to the golden elevators, and then the camera flies over what appears to be a desolated New York. We watch Loki and his variants walk away with a giant beast named Alioth cloaked in smoke looming in the distance. Sylvie temporarily has Rennslayer hostage, but a team of minutemen shows up, so Sylvie makes a quick decision to prune herself, once she figures out that pruning doesn’t kill you. It merely transports you and she is transported onto a school bus, but when she’s only seconds away from being gobbled up by Alioth, Mobius rescues her in a getaway car. Meanwhile, several other Loki variants find Loki and his current group, including President Loki. After a tussle and Kid Loki casting an illusion, Loki and his initial variant group escape the fight. Soon after Loki and Sylvie are reunited and Sylvie suggests a plan to enchant Alioth to see what it knows or what it’s hiding. When the going gets tough, Classic Loki casts an illusion of Asgard to distract Alioth and he ends up getting consumed, but his sacrifice gave Loki and Sylvie the time needed to enchant Alioth. Once enchanted, Loki and Sylvie opened up a gate to show a castle beyond the void and they start to approach it.
As I looked at episode 5 and waited for the finale, I was not sure about who the man was behind the curtain in regards to the TVA. I saw that some people thought it was King Loki orchestrating everything. He could have been capturing Lokis specifically so that he could maintain rule and not have other variations of himself get in the way. After looking at some theories and having a revelation of what should have been obvious, it was strange to not see loads of variants that were not Lokis. I mean, the place where variants are dumped is filled with Lokis, but maybe that’s just the survivor nature of the Loki characters and any other variants had already been gobbled up by Alioth, like those poor sailors. Yet, when this episode ends, we know that we’re one step closer to seeing who’s behind it all. If it’s King Loki, then this is a very personal journey because Loki would ultimately have to face himself and it would be a really intimate means of overcoming and it could arguably have a sense of finality to the series. However, if it’s Kang the Conquerer as has also been enthusiastically rumored, then that opens a very challenging can of worms. Considering that the Multiverse of Madness is a thing, viewers know that something crazy is going to set a spark for chaos in the multiverse, or even a multiversal war. The question is, would we be able to meet Kang in the last episode and get a good feel for him without everything feeling rushed?
Episode 6: For All Time. Always.
We start with audio samples from all over the MCU, flying across the universe until we get to Sylvie and Loki standing at the front door of the black castle at the end of time, or the Citadel. Once they enter, Ms. Minutes appears out of nowhere with the makings of nightmare fuel and she says that He Who Remains is there. She tries to persuade Loki and Sylvie to make a deal, but they deny her saying that they will write their own destiny so she disappears. We move to Rennslayer’s office and Ms. Minutes appears there to provide Rennslayer some information. She refers to a “he” but Rennslayer doesn’t even know who “he” is, and when she inquires Ms. Minutes just vanishes. Loki and Sylvie go further into the Citadel and find three statues with the fourth one destroyed. A door opens and we see who appears to be Kang. He invites them to speak in his office, but after Sylvie attempts to off him, he teleports all over the place and goes to his office ahead of them. Back at the TVA, Mobius confronts Rennslayer and lets her know that he is aware of her variant origins. We also get to see B-15 at a high school with the then-principal version of Rennslayer. Back at the TVA, Mobius tries to prevent Rennslayer’s escape, but she disarms him, says that she’s going to find free will, and walks through a portal. When we go back to Loki, Sylvie, and Kang we learn that Kang already knew they were coming. He also talked about how he discovered variants of himself that sought to conquer the multiverse and it led to all-out war. However, he found Alioth and used the beast along with the creation of the TVA to end the multiversal war, manage variants, and prevent branches on the timeline. Kang reveals that he no longer has the youth or energy to manage the timeline, so he offers the role to Loki and Sylvie all confessing that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen after he makes the offer. Loki and Sylvie fight over the truth of Kang’s words, but Sylvie beats Loki by sending him to the TVA and kills Kang, leading to a rapid offshoot of branches on the timeline. Loki finds Mobius and B-15 at the TVA, but neither Mobius nor B-15 knows who Loki is and Loki’s confusion fades when he looks up horrified to see a statue of Kang in place of the Time Keepers signaling that he’s in the wrong version of the TVA.
First of all, this was so exciting and the introduction of the episode got me incredibly hyped! All those sound clips of Marvel characters’ one-liners and that ship, which is frustratingly familiar, made my anticipation soar. The Citadel was wonderfully foreboding and all the streaks of gold made me think of ichor, which is the fluid that flows like blood in a god’s veins as if whoever is behind it all is really exposed and they can easily be cut. Whoever it is, is like a god and if you can make a god bleed, then that really starts to upset compliance with that god’s rule. When Loki and Sylvie waited for those doors to open, I really didn’t know what to expect and I would have been satisfied with King Loki, Kang, or whoever, but when I saw Kang, I thought “Okay Marvel, we’re playing with the big boys now!” What I really appreciated about this episode, was that Johnathan Majors was given the space to really feel out Kang. The big fear was that if Kang was the big bad behind everything, then his introduction would likely be too rushed, but Majors really let us sink our teeth into not only who this version of Kang was, but who he could be. I felt just as frustrated and angered as Loki and Sylvie did because yes he did ultimately mess up their lives and notions of free will for themselves, but he says that he did it for the sake of the balance of the universe. It could be that Kang wanted to die because he wanted to have a narcissistic team of himself fighting over the multiverse, but I’m inclined to believe that this version of himself really did want to protect the universe, even if his methods were cutthroat. I know I wouldn’t want to be the one in that Citadel making decisions for all time.
In addition, there could be a worry that the focus will leave Loki and be almost entirely on Kang, but maybe that’s kind of the point. I think Loki is supposed to realize and keep in mind that it’s not all about him. He can be different and he can be good, even in the face of adversity. It may mean that he will do good and possibly crucify himself without anyone knowing he’s the hero or without anyone caring that he’s the hero. Like he said in the last episode, the entire balance of the multiverse is bigger than his experience.
All in all, I love what this series has given us viewers and I’m excited to see where things go for season 2. Now, that there’s a confirmed multiverse, literally anything is possible! I’m excited to see how Marvel plays with that notion and I’m excited to see how Loki grows, how Sylvie grows, and the adventures they’ll get into across the multiverse as they try to stop Kang. What are some of your favorite parts and what are you excited for in the next season?