Most days, calling Loki Marvel’s best television entry would be an easy admission, and it still is with Loki Season 2 Episode 2. But if it fails in one aspect, it’s that, ever since the series started, the writing has seemingly forgotten how powerful Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is. He’s known as the God of mischief for a reason, and his magic and might are formidable, his wily nature matched by his intelligence, sure, but also in his conjurings and other abilities. Episode 2 allows for some of this power to be on display, a needed remedy, as Loki and Mobius (Owen Wilson) give chase to a TVA agent gone rogue.
That agent has decided that he’d rather live out his timeline now that he and the rest of the TVA realize they had their own lives outside of their bizarre, cyclical routines and were plucked out of them all to serve some unknowable higher power. The member in question, Hunter X-5/Brad (a hilarious Rafael Casal), is an actor in London during the 70s and is reticent at the idea of going easily with Loki, Mobius, and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Masaku) until they corner him, Loki using his gift for mirage. They needed him since he was the one tailing Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), who could escape due to his ventures.
We’re given a key moment once they’ve captured him, as the two look to force the information out of Brad, who is, to put it lightly, amused when Loki mentions doing it for the good of the TVA — when he says helping them because “there are lives at stake.” And, to Brad’s credit, his incredulity isn’t unwarranted considering Loki’s past transgressions, ones he admits to later on to Mobius in an effort to cheer him up. But still, as viewers who’ve watched Loki’s emotional journey since the first Thor, it’s a bruising sequence as Brad reprimands him. Brad tells Loki that he only causes damage, insinuating it’s his fault his mother died, that Loki should stop playing dress up, pretending to be a hero when he’s the villain — and a good one. In a single scene, the series gets to the core story as Loki wrestles with who he wants to be, the expectations of any and all who’ve been in his presence, his storied history, and his unwritten future.
Hiddleston is a delight in these moments, all small gestures, quivers, and quirks of the lips and steely eyes. This is the actor in his element as the character, his face only betraying his reactions in these inscrutable signs. It’s Mobius, however, who is truly affected when Brad starts hurling insults, touching a nerve. Even Loki is confounded by Mobius’s seeming disinterest in learning about his life and the timeline he was dragged from. Just as the episode reminds us of Hiddleston’s innate gifts as this character, it also proves that he and Wilson’s chemistry was no fluke, as the two converse and lightly barb in their adventures through time. Wilson is also particularly good when he reveals why he can’t quite bring himself to investigate his pre-TVA life. He’s not concerned that it was a bad one but rather that it was good because he’d struggle to forget and overcome that.
Ultimately, with Brad’s forced help, they find Sylvie, who has tried to create a new life for herself as an employee at a 1982 McDonalds. On the one hand, this allows for some fun set design as the craftspeople beautifully replicate the shades and uniforms of the fast food service in the 80s. On the other hand, despite it being set in the past, it does all ring a touch false due to how Marvel likes to merchandise everything. It’s not helped by some stalled direction by Dan DeLeeuw, which was evident in the interrogation sequences and with shots that linger far too long on slow walks and motionless moments. It needed some fine-tuning and trimming, especially following the premiere, and never felt static.
The sequence, too, filters based on just how fond the viewer is of Sylvie. She’s not uninteresting, and Di Martino delivers a strong character performance, but there are lingering issues on the decision to make her a Loki variant. Loki falling in love with himself (even one donning a different face) isn’t surprising and is very in character for the narcissistic trickster. It’s more that the series introduced the idea and then made little efforts to make her seem like a Loki in a manner that plays a little like having your cake and eating it, too. Yes, she’s a variant, but not really, so don’t think the romance is too weird.
The writing also does very little to convince that she would ultimately choose to help Loki and the TVA, even if she does harbor feelings for him. And, her doubts were right, as they realize they’ve all been set up by other TVA higher-ups such as Kate Dickie’s General Dox. Returning to the TVA, they know they’re destroying all of the variant timelines, not seeing those who inhabit them as people but as messes, they’re meant to clean up. It’s a feat of destruction slightly undercut by the very on-the-nose remark by Hunter B-15 that “those are people” as they watch the timelines disappear off their monitors. It’s a solemn moment that would’ve done better with greater patience and allowance for the viewers to take it themselves.
Loki Season 2 Episode 2 continues to feed into the disaster movie atmosphere as the characters race through time to try and stop further devastation. Each win is met with a loss. Sylvie might’ve been found — for now — but Loki, Mobius, and co. are now facing a new level of destruction as they seek to find Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) and Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) while chaos continues to infiltrate their worlds.
Loki Season 2 Episode 2
Loki Season 2 Episode 2 continues to feed into the disaster movie atmosphere as the characters race through time to try and stop further devastation. Each win is met with a loss. Sylvie might’ve been found — for now — but Loki, Mobius, and co. are now facing a new level of destruction.