FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
Last time on Loki, the titular God of Mischief–specifically the version ripped straight from The Avengers–was removed from the Sacred Timeline and tasked with the capture of a dangerous time criminal: himself. The first episode had a lot of world building and a lot of potential, creating a lot of theories. Let’s dive in and see what the internet and I got right!
Episode 2, “The Variant,” opens with the Variant–that’s what I’m going to be calling the rogue Loki because that’s what the episode credits them as–defeating yet another TVA squad at a 1985 Renaissance faire, stealing the reset charge, but this time also taking an unconscious TVA agent with them. There’s also some kind of mind control happening, but we’ll get to that soon enough. Back at the TVA, Mobius bring Loki along with him to investigate, which goes nowhere due to Loki’s mischief. Mobius is chided by his boss, Ravonna Renslayer (Ms. Gugu Mbatha-Raw), for believing so much in such an untrustworthy character. But Loki does discover something very useful: he theorizes that anything happening before a total extinction event won’t affect the timeline because everyone present is going to die, something Mobius and Loki test out by visiting Pompeii on volcano day. Sure enough, no matter what mischief Loki does, no branching timeline is created! That suggests that the Variant could be hiding out at a location right before a disaster and the TVA would never notice. Referencing some gum the Variant gave a child in the first episode, Mobius and Loki reason that a deadly hurricane in Haven Hills, Alabama in 2050 would make sense (side note, the duo searching through future environmental disasters was a little depressing). A squad is sent to check it out, but Loki is separated from Mobius due to plot reasons, going instead with the TVA agent who trusts him the least, Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Sure enough the Variant is there, but hiding their identity by swapping bodies. The missing TVA agent from the Renn faire is also there–seemingly driven insane–but manages to get out that she told the Variant where the Time-Keepers are. Loki and the Variant have a little chat, but nothing Loki offers–like ruling the TVA together–is what the Variant wants. Then disaster strikes. I mean, more so than a hurricane that kills ten thousand people; the Variant reveals herself (Sophia De Martino), and activates all the reset charges she’d stolen, which is a lot. They apparently get sent to various points in time, because the TVA headquarters erupts into a panic when dozens–if not hundreds–of branches appear on the Sacred Timeline all at once. As the Variant escapes, Loki follows her. Where to? I guess we’ll find out next episode, but I imagine certain points in the timeline are now vulnerable with the TVA scrambling to stop multiple time disasters…
So a lot of people were right about there being a female Loki. Or at least a woman with a horned headpiece associated with Loki. My husband thinks this might be Enchantress–an Asgardian villain who has yet to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe–because the Variant has blonde hair, while the female Loki in the comics had black hair. I’m not so sure I agree, but just in case, lemme briefly go over her. Enchantress, AKA Amora, first appeared in Journey into Mystery #103 (1964) along with her henchman, Skurge the Executioner. Remember him played by Karl Urban in Thor: Ragnarok? A lot of people expected her to debut in that film, but nope! She’s a sorceress with a focus on seduction and is a schemer up there with Loki. Also worth noting is she has a sister named Lorelei who appeared in two episodes of Agents of SHIELD. So this blonde Variant could be Enchantress working some angle, but I personally think it’s more likely Loki heard that blondes have more fun and went with it. After all, the Variant was normal scheming female villain levels of seductress–you know what I mean–not dialed up to 11 like Enchantress most likely would be.
Oh, there’s also another person who went by Enchantress in the comics, but I’ll deal with Sylvie Lushton if the show goes in that direction.
We learned some interesting tidbits in this episode. I mean, beyond confirmation that gender is potentially very fluid for Loki. Turns out there are more Loki variants than any other person, and that makes sense. We also saw the reset charge in action, so I’m not so sure any more it actually destroys the splintered timeline. When the TVA sets off a charge at the ’85 faire, we see a ripple emanating from it, but we also saw that in the Gobi Desert last time. The different here is that everything the ripple touches vanishes… almost. The grass underfoot is seemingly untouched by the reset charge, as is what appears to be a tent pole. The dead TVA agents disintegrate, so only things not originally the timeline go away? Well, not quite, as several barrels disappear as well. Back at TVA headquarters, their retro displays show the branch receding back into the Sacred Timeline, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of it all. It appears that the reset charges don’t annihilate the entire timeline, so that makes the TVA potentially less monstrous. Then again, reset charges apparently can also create branches, so for the time being I’m going to go with, “a wizard did it.” Close enough!
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