In the penultimate episode directed again by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Loki Season 2 Episode 5 establishes that this is a story of the power of friendship. No, really. And, depending on how your mileage varies, that’s an element that will either grant the remaining episode more thematic power or, conversely, rob it of its momentum. I find myself somewhere in the middle. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is an inherently fascinating character no matter his iteration and, within the MCU, has long been one of the studio’s most well-developed and performed. This Loki is a deeply lonely creature—one who has traveled seeking validation, vengeance, and a sense of home. An inscrutable, impulsive god with daddy issues and a surprising instinct for goodness. It makes sense that in the series, Loki, having discovered a found family at the TVA, wouldn’t want to lose it and would be driven by it. But to assume the power to save the day because of it? That’s a bit of a leap.
The problem is that we haven’t spent as much time with the supporting characters such as B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), OB (Ke Huy Quan), or Casey (Eugene Cordero) as we have with Mobius (Owen Wilson) or Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino.) Heck, we only met OB in Episode 1 of this season. So the friendship is an interesting angle in theory, but clumsy in execution. Even his wanting to save Mobius and Sylvie would’ve been enough, along with his desire to protect the TVA since it is what gave him a sense of home, tucked away in space and time. That, or we needed greater development of his sense of camaraderie with the other characters—something that would’ve been great considering all that Mosaku, Quan, and Cordero already bring to their portrayals.
But even if the final moments of Loki realizing he can control his time slipping due to his emotional pull on his friends don’t land with the desired impact, the rest of the episode builds an eerie and isolating atmosphere. “Science/Fiction,” for the most part, plays with unsettling visuals—from special effects to strong set design—to create a world that is slowly tearing itself to bits. Loki awakens alone from the TVA time loom’s seeming destruction in Episode 4. As he continues to time slip through the empty corridors of the TVA he’s eventually pulled into the real-life timelines of his friends. Casey is an escaped inmate, B-15 a doctor, OB a scientist-turned-wannabe science-fiction writer, and Mobius a tired, single dad of two. It’s all so ordinary compared to the TVA and he, a bit selfishly, believes that he needs all of them to be together to save the timelines that are unspooling on themselves.
In a subtly broken performance from Hiddleston, Loki’s selfishness comes through in his justifications to Sylvie, as he tries to explain why he’s right in plucking Mobius and co., from their actual homes. They deserve the choice, he argues. She points out something was stripped from them when they were originally taken from their timelines in the first place. Maybe all of them needed to be together to save the TVA, to save everyone, but Loki’s motives are self-centered yet understandable. He’s such a wonderful, morally dipped-in-gray character, maintaining that tug on his morality and his inability to fully, at first, see the damage he could do by ensnaring them in his plot.
Loki Season 2 Episode 5 excels in tone and atmosphere with one glaring moment outside Mobius’s home. Green screen is poorly married into the scene rendering the artificial background screaming of desktop screensaver. That said, the remainder of the episode visually encapsulates Loki’s struggle, from the empty halls of the TVA to OB’s makeshift observatory, which is a recreation of his basement office in the TVA but now with wide windows reminiscent of He Who Remains’s hiding spot. That mood is further aided by the score from Natalie Holt who continues to be a bright spot in an overall strong series. Her compositions set the series apart with eerie soundscapes that give the TVA and its inhabitants an otherworldly feeling.
Loki Season 2 Episode 5 might not completely earn its emotional ending, but it comes close. There’s just enough longing in Hiddleston’s performance and visual isolation that makes us try and believe that the power of friendship amongst this ragtag group is enough to save the day or, at least, offer Loki a key to attempt it. Benson and Moorehead continue to deliver impactful direction that hones in on the unease of the series and the science fiction elements that make it one of the most distinct MCU properties.
Loki Season 2 Episode 5 is out now on Disney+.
Loki Season 2 Episode 5
In the penultimate episode directed again by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Loki Season 2 Episode 5 establishes that this is a story of the power of friendship. Depending on how your mileage varies, that’s an element that will either grant the remaining episode more thematic power or, conversely, rob it of its momentum.