Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead deliver an explosive and visually thrilling premiere in Loki Season 2 Episode 1. Lean, confident, and pulsating with a refreshing peculiarity, everything from the didactic, rhythmic dialogue, to the careening camera movement, to the performances from Tom Hiddleston and especially newcomer to the series, Ke Huy Quan, triumphs. Loki is back at the Time Variance Authority (TVA) after his run-in with Kang the Conqueror and is reasonably unsettled. This is made worse once he realizes he’s returned to a version of the TVA where Morbius doesn’t know him and he must race to return to his timeline as the multiverse erupts.
It’s a testament to the firm writing and direction that the premiere doesn’t swing off the rails with the amount of plot it barrels through. This is aided by the fact that while there’s an abundance of plot it remains concise in how the story is depicted. Loki returns to the wrong timeline and is pulled in the other direction back to the correct one, his body being spliced between eras as he, along with Mobius and Quan’s O.B., try to figure out how to stop it. The way the story devolves into mounting mayhem is an exercise in layered tension. Our characters are pushed into increasingly dire situations as O.B. realizes the problem is with the loom of time itself, something that could shake the entire foundation of the TVA and ultimately destroy it.
The energy possesses the frenzy of a high-stakes penultimate episode where characters have moments to face off against a proposed threat before everything is lost. By dropping us straight into the action, Loki Season 2 Episode 1 refuses to allow us moments to breathe, instead zipping through the honeycomb hallways of the TVA, either as the TVA members chase Loki, or tracking Loki and Mobius as they travel the depths of the institution to O.B.’s office. The direction by filmmaker duo Benson and Moorehead is superb and electric, zipping with unrefined energy that imbues the episode with its slightly manic pacing.
This energy is mimicked beautifully by Quan who storms in and steals the show with his earnest delivery pacing and pondering Loki’s “time slipping.” Charismatic and dripping with specificity to the character that has actors such as Hiddleston and Owen Wilson matching his cadence, he’s the MVP of the episode, easily slipping into the role and fitting the world. O.B.’s office, too, is a production highlight, with the contrast of spheres and cubes, the top part of Quan’s costume matching the color of the ceiling, and the bottom blending into the floors as a way to create a greater sense of time and place in a space deliberately removed from time and era.
That production design is a large part of why Loki is one of the only (if not the only) interesting things Marvel has made in ages. Loki approaches the production design with a clarity of vision and purpose. Yes, there’s an abundance of greens in this world due to Loki’s magic that spools and unravels in greens and his eyes that flash when he wields such magic (and of course Norse Mythology lore where his eyes are green). But the green also acts as a way to visualize the mounting sickness of the TVA, the virus of doubt that’s implanted itself in the minds of those such as Hunter B-15 once she realized that all of the TVA members had real lives on the timeline before being plucked to work as mindless drones.
The premiere packs an assured emotional punch as Loki’s fear of Kang and realization of his influence on the TVA seeps through Hiddleston’s voice while pleading with Mobius to hear him and understand the threat He Who Remains poses. There’s a sinister darkness that has always threaded its way throughout Loki, with ideas such as “pruning” and the AI Miss Minutes playing with that eeriness. Episode 1 leans into it.
Loki Season 2 Episode 1 is a riveting premiere that refuses to reign in its vast impulses. Weaving in and out of time, stretched taut like Loki’s contorted body when he time slips, the MCU should take note of Benson and Moorehead’s work and inject some of this mayhem into their future projects. Episode 1 shows some life behind the eyes of the studio, and it’s one of the best pieces of storytelling Marvel has done in quite a long time.
Loki Season 2 Episode 1
Weaving in and out of time, stretched taut like Loki’s contorted body when he time slips, the MCU should take note of Benson and Moorehead’s work and inject some of this mayhem into their future projects.