Loki recap: Double trouble
Loki still has a few tricks up his sleeve but the variant pulls the most surprising trick of all.
You wouldn't think the God of Mischief would take to working in the DMV of timeline management, but Loki seems to be settling in with all the enthusiasm of your average long term office drone, meaning he's half-heartedly paying attention to the training videos while reading Mobius's magazine about jet skis. Even though he's not the most diligent student, he's a quick study, repeating back to Miss Minutes the danger of nexus event branching past redline (just the destruction of the universe as we know it). The second episode continues to be heavy on exposition, which is a little concerning since there are only six of them, but the surprise at the end of this one promises to kick the plot into high gear.
While Loki settles into the TVA, his variant is still wreaking havoc on the timeline, this time at a Ren Faire in Wisconsin in 1985. To the tune of "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler, which is having a moment since it was also in the recent Masters of the Universe: Revelation trailer, this variant enchants one of the TVA commanders, C-20 (American Honey's Sasha Lane), using her to take down the other team members before kidnapping her and a whole bunch of reset charges. Though this Loki is still cloaked, it's pretty obvious that they do not have the build of Tom Hiddleston, so that's just another part of the mystery of who this Loki is.
Mobius comes to collect Loki with news of the latest attack and tosses him a drab TVA jacket that Loki still tries to imbue with as much flair as he can, popping the collar like he's a yuppie in a John Hughes film. He might be toiling in a time bureaucracy for now but he still has the ego of a god and as B-15 updates the team on the latest attack, Loki wants to make it clear that he's the superior Loki out of all the Loki variants they have been chasing. Finding him a complete nuisance, B-15 reminds him of his place by pointing out the large VARIANT on the back of his jacket.
Mobius cuts the bickering between the two off to point out that not all the variants look like the Loki we know and love (which makes sense considering the Loki variant we saw at the Ren Faire had a different body type). It begs the question of where are all these Loki variants are coming from. The Loki we know can change shapes for long periods of time, but he essentially is the same person inside. These are variants that he isn't aware of, so are they coming from other dimensions or other time periods or from his shenanigans with the Tesseract?
Though the team treats Loki as a joke, he does have insights on his powers that they don't. He explains that illusion casting and duplication are two distinct powers, again proving his value to Mobius. The manipulation between the two continues apace, but Mobius knows how to keep his pet rabbit on task and drops a potential meeting with the Time Keepers as a carrot to entice Loki to behave.
While Loki plays at being a dutiful employee, he's not above his normal mischief, as he shows when CSI: Loki travels to the scene of the Ren Faire attack. Knowing that they only have a set amount of time to reset the timeline, Loki makes a play like he knows something about what the variant really wants (him, so they can overthrow the TVA together) and must see the Time Keepers immediately because they are in grave danger. Despite his time-wasting performance, Mobius is totally on to his games, which catches Loki off guard.
Though Mobius saw through Loki's tricks, he still makes a mess that the agent has to clean up during a meeting with Judge Renslayer. It's obvious that there is a mutual admiration between the pair (platonic on Renslayer's side but maybe something more on Mobius's), but the judge isn't sure about Loki's worth to the TVA and thinks that Mobius just has a soft spot for broken things. They argue about whether Loki can change without the Time Keepers decreeing it, and from their conversation, we learn that while Mobius is a TVA agent of long-standing, he's never met the head bosses. Everything he knows about them comes from Renslayer. So if she's hiding something about them or their true identities, he has no way of knowing.
As for Loki himself, he's still skeptical of the TVA, but he's uncharacteristically nervous when Mobius tells him this is his last chance and he needs to cooperate. Loki scoffs that he's 10 steps ahead of them, but much to his surprise, Mobius guesses correctly that he is planning to charm his way in front of the Time Keepers and take control of the TVA. If only Thor discovered his schemes this quickly.
Loki gets stuck researching the variant case files as punishment but it's not until he gets his own file that he discovers a real clue. Though he found out about his own death in the last episode, he's just as devastated when he reads about the future destruction of Asgard (the scene is also an impressive demonstration of Hiddleston's ability to cry on cue). As upset as he is, a lightbulb goes off when he notes that there was zero variance energy detected during the event since it was supposed to happen.
He runs off to find a still huffy Mobius and explains his theory that the variant has been hiding in apocalyptic events between attacks, demonstrating the idea by destroying the agent's salad. Nothing the variant did would create a timeline branch since all the evidence would be destroyed once the apocalyptic event happened. Loki wants to test the theory but since his first field trip was a disaster and he has a long history of backstabbing, Mobius isn't too keen on letting him loose on the timeline - but he eventually gives in.
They wind up in Pompeii in 79 AD (which reminded me of this great Doctor Who scene). Mobius wants to test the theory with something small but Loki doesn't do small gestures. Charging forward, he frees a cart of goats and yells in Latin to the gathering crowd (Hiddleston studied it at Cambridge) that they are all about to die and he's from the future. Mt. Vesuvius explodes on cue and as the God of Mischief delights in the destruction, Mobius sees that there is no variance energy detected.
Using naturally occurring apocalypses as their guide, they start searching the files (if only the TVA believed in computer searches) but after a long, unfruitful night, they take a break. Though Loki normally thinks everyone he meets is a gullible idiot (including his brother), he seems to be truly fascinated by the contradictions in Mobius. He questions him about his love of jet skis and why in the hell an obviously intelligent man believes three magic lizards created the TVA. Mobius points out Loki's origin story sounds just as ridiculous but Loki finds the agent's faith in the TVA hard to stomach.
Despite his pretensions, Loki is never one to accept what everyone else thinks is a common belief, so he might be right that something seems off about the TVA and the Time Keepers. Considering there was that artifact from the 31st century at the end of the pilot and Renslayer has a comic history with the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror, it's a strong possibility that the TVA is just a front for his eventual introduction into the MCU. And as some astute twitter sleuths have noted, the comic version of Kang looks a lot like the central Time Keeper in all the TVA iconography. This might be another fan theory that goes nowhere but then again, there is rarely a simple coincidence in the MCU.
Eventually, through their discussion, Mobius remembers the boy with the Kablooie candy, and while candy seems to be a new invention to Loki (poor guy), they quickly use it to pinpoint exactly where the variant might be hiding. And that's in a Roxxcart store in Haven Hills, Ala., in 2050 that's about to be hit by a hurricane.
After convincing a dubious Renslayer that he knows this is where the variant is hiding, Mobius takes Loki and the rest of the task force to the store in the middle of the approaching storm. Loki uses his magic to dry himself off from the downpour, but it's obvious pretty quickly that he's not the only one using magic here. As Mobius finds C-20 bound up in the security office, freaked out that she's revealed the location of the Time Keepers, Loki and B-15 come upon an enchanted customer who quickly reveals that the variant is indeed here but hiding by enchanting others, which Loki finds cowardly. Taking over B-15, a store clerk named Randy, and a very, very large man in quick succession, the variant argues with Loki over which of them is truly the variant and who is superior.
And while we've been wondering along with Mobius whether our Loki is willing to turn over a new leaf, he tells the variant that his work with the TVA has all been a ploy to eventually take it over, but he needs a lieutenant. The variant isn't interested in ruling the TVA, and Loki starts to understand Thor's frustration at dealing with him in the past because talking to himself is exhausting. It's still not obvious whether Loki is really trying to make a deal with the variant or trying to stall for the TVA, but he notices reset charges threaded throughout the store shelves, and that's when the variant attacks him. Loki defends himself with a vacuum cleaner, which is delightfully silly, but despite being a god, he winds up sprawled out on the floor. And that's when the variant's last enchantment breaks, and they finally step out from the shadows.
Instead of looking at another physical duplicate, Loki comes face to face with Lady Loki (Sophia Di Martino), who's about to bomb the Sacred Timeline with a whole lot of reset charges. The entire TVA freaks out as they watch the timeline branch, and Judge Renslayer heads out herself to stop the coming catastrophe. Mobius races to find Loki in the store before he can join Lady Loki and stab them all in the back. As Lady Loki opens up a portal to escape, Loki has a decision to make. Stay and help the TVA or follow Lady Loki through the portal. To Mobius's frustration, he disappears into the portal, but whether it's to create more mischief with Lady Loki or finally stop her, only he knows.
Loki (TV Series)