'Loki': The biggest talking points from the season finale and how it sets up a second season
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*Owen Wilson voice* Wow.
I’ve had a few issues with the finales to both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but Loki stuck the landing in a big way with its season one conclusion. In between the big reveal and the even bigger cliffhanger, there was a long, fascinating conversation that offered some tantalising hints at what’s to come in the MCU.
Let’s get into it!
Welcome to The Citadel at the End of Time
We start with one of the coolest openings to any MCU project, be it film or Disney+ series: instead of just the regular fanfare, we get audio snippets from several characters in the franchise along with some colourful visuals as we move backward and forward through time. It’s just really fun for fans of the franchise to hear familiar lines interspersed with famous quotes from the likes of Greta Thunberg, Maya Angelou, and Nelson Mandela.
Then we cut to our Loki and Sylvie, who are steeling themselves at the entrance to The Citadel. No sooner have they entered when they’re confronted by Miss Minutes. It’s clear at this point that she’s working at the behest of the man who’s in charge, and she offers the Loki’s a deal: thanks to some alterations by her boss, they can be re-inserted into the same timeline together and have everything they ever wanted, from the throne of Asgard to defeating the Avengers in the Battle of New York.
The Loki we met in episode one would have taken it, no questions asked. But the growth over the past six weeks is evident in his response: “We write our own destinies now.” And with that, it’s time for us to finally meet the man with all the answers.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is…?
And that man is… Jonathan Majors! Or more accurately, He Who Remains. Or even more accurately, if you’ve been doing your Marvel homework… Kang. The week-to-week episode drops of these MCU+ shows has lent itself to a bajillion theories about what’s really going on. But just as with WandaVision’s ‘Agatha All Along’ reveal, the simplest, most guessable explanation turns out to be the accurate one. Sort of.
Because this version of the Marvel villain is not really a villain at all. As he explains to the Loki’s – after finally getting them to sit down and stop trying to kill him – he is just one of many Kang’s in the multiverse. But while his Kang is pure of heart, the other Kang’s desired conquest, sparking a multiversal war that could have been the end of everything. Thankfully, our Kang weaponised Alioth and ended the conflict, but at a price: the isolation of the sacred timeline and the creation of the TVA.
And therein lies the gambit: the Loki’s can complete their revenge quest and slay He Who Remains and give all the TVA’s workforce their free will back, but at the risk of causing another multiversal war courtesy of Kang. Or they can become the new custodians of the sacred timeline, keeping order their way, together.
Not only is all this exposition made absolutely riveting by Majors’ delivery – and beautifully augmented by Natalie Holt’s versatile score and subtle camerawork – it’s an excellent, tricky dilemma to hang the episode on.
Loki vs. Loki, one last time
Loki and Sylvie had been on the same page for a while, and that was fun while it lasted. But they quickly find themselves on opposite sides of this decision: Sylvie doesn’t believe any of He Who Remains’ story and is intent on ending his life, potential consequences be damned. Conversely, our Loki does believe our once and future Kang, and tries to implore Sylvie to stay calm and listen to reason.
To put it another way… one Loki is unable to trust and unable to break her cycle, even though she is now off her pre-ordained path and is exercising her free will. The other Loki – our Loki – is walking a new path, in large part because he’s made genuine friends and fallen in love.
This leads to a fight sequence and an emotional kiss, except Sylvie uses it to manipulate our Loki and send him back to the TVA via TemPad with a broken heart, leaving her to kill He Who Remains and unleash the chaos of the multiverse.
It doesn’t take long for the changes to take effect. The TVA that Loki comes back to has a Mobius in it, but he doesn’t recognise Loki. More importantly, it also has a statue of Kang. Uh-oh.
More low key observations
The argument I’d heard the most against Kang showing up in Loki was that Marvel would never reveal someone so significant in a Disney+ show, and that’s exactly why I’m so glad they chose the pull the trigger here. As much as I’ve enjoyed Phase 4 of the MCU so far, 80% of it feels inconsequential to the wider story, which is a big reason why there’s excitement for the next chapter of the franchise. Introducing Majors here (he's set to appear in 2023's Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania next) instantly elevates the MCU’s Disney+ projects from enjoyable but not necessary content to must watch to understand what’s going on in the big story TV.
I love that they didn't actually say Kang’s name in this episode. Along with his halfway-friendly demeanour, the version of the character we meet here is the opposite of everything we will see once the villainous Kang’s begin their conquest, and it's gonna make their introduction that much more terrifying. It’s also a dream role for any actor, and Majors is going to kill it.
Renslayer is off on her own mission to find some answers, leaving poor Mobius to fend for himself. It’s a safe bet her road will lead to Kang, and it will be interesting to see if the MCU goes the same route as the comics — in which Kang and Renslayer are lovers — or changes their dynamic. For now, one thing is for sure: Renslayer is loyal to a fault.
Loki’s getting a second season! It will be interesting to see exactly when this will drop, but given that we’re about to see the ramifications of a multiverse in chaos in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and presumably Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, there’s every chance we’ll see Loki pop up in a post-credit scene or two before then.
If you want a non-comics assisted primer on Kang, I highly recommend checking out the excellent Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, which you can stream on Disney+. You’ll want to hit play on episodes 17-19 in season 1, and episode 22 of season 2 in particular.
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