Loki recap: The mirror has two faces
Occasionally in Doctor Who, they would have a special where two or more of the Doctors met to solve some galaxy-collapsing crisis. Chaos and hilarity would ensue but until the Doctors working together would eventually put their time streams right and go their separate ways. While most of these episodes were fun larks, they were a great opportunity to examine what was essential about the Doctor amongst all of their many faces. And for much of "Lamentis", that's what this episode feels like as Loki seemingly faces off with a female version of himself. Or does he?
And while the current incarnation of the Doctor is female (and I promise I will stop talking about Doctor Who now), the Variant played by Sophia Di Martino doesn't seem to be Lady Loki, which is what I guessed last week. This episode reveals she might be playing a different character entirely. Going by the name of Sylvie and having formidable powers of enchantment, it seems most likely that she is Sylvie Lushton, otherwise known to comic readers as the Enchantress (DC Comics also has an Enchantress just to up the confusion). Though she might not be Lady Loki, she still proves to be an effective mirror for examining what makes a Loki a Loki throughout this entertaining episode.
The action picks up right after Sylvie and Loki travel through the portal and land back in the halls of the TVA. Loki seems a little disappointed to be back but, arming himself with his daggers, he tracks Sylvie through the path of destruction she's cutting through the TVA. Just as she has found the golden elevators that C-20 told her lead to the Time-Keepers, Loki and Sylvie start fighting each other, bantering as they do until Judge Renslayer shows up with two Minutemen. Facing imminent deletion, Loki opens a portal through some quick maneuvering with Sylvie's stolen TemPad. They both escape but soon find they are in an even worse situation than they left.
Pre-programmed to pick an apocalypse, the TemPad puts them on Lamentis-1, a moon that's about to be completely destroyed by the planet it orbits. Sylvie gets her hand back on the TemPad but before they can open a new portal and escape, she discovers it's out of power. And just like many people with a dead cellphone, she doesn't have a charger.
As they dodge the destruction of a collapsing planet, Loki and Sylvie bicker over their circumstance but this helps delineate how Loki and Sylvie are different from each other. Sylvie wants to fight while he wants to talk and though she tells him to shut up numerous times during the course of the episode, he keeps trying to pry information out of her. Though she hasn't revealed her name to him at this point, she very pointedly tells him that she isn't a Loki and even tries to enchant him to do her bidding, which doesn't work. Hiddleston and Di Martino have wonderful chemistry so much of this verbal sparring is great fun to watch.
Walking to a local abandoned town in search of power, Loki thinks they should pair up, but Sylvie wants nothing to do with him. She finally reveals her name to him and that the plan to destroy the TVA has been years in the making. She thinks less of him for being willing to work for them but he points out that he's just a consultant and thinks her own plan to destroy the TVA and leave a leadership vacuum is something he would never do.
Eventually, they find out from a local homesteader that the only way off the moon is the ark, an evacuation vessel that they need to catch a train for. Tickets are hard to come by since everyone wants off this moon right now but through some actual cooperation, they use their duel powers to trick their way on the train.
And just as Loki's conversations with Mobius were the highlights of the first two episodes, his conversation with Sylvie in the train's swanky bar car is the highlight of this one. Though Sylvie refuses the complimentary champagne, Loki, like a true Asgardian, starts to imbibe and loosens up enough to trust Sylvie with stories of how his beloved mother, Frigga, taught him his magic. While they both discover they were adopted, Sylvie knew she was while Loki did not. But Sylvie's memories of her mother are just like blips of a dream. In a lovely little bit of magic that recalls his mother, Loki sets off delicate fireworks in the palm of his hand and it seems to soften the air between the two of them.
Loki tries to draw Sylvie out and they get into a discussion on the nature of love and while they bat metaphors back and forth, the biggest revelation is that Loki has had lovers of both sexes and it seems Sylvie has as well. But it seems that love is a sore spot for both of them and considering their terrible task ahead, they both decide to get some rest.
But as Sylvie awakes to discover Loki serenading the entire bar with an Asgardian drinking song, she realizes his version of rest is entirely different from her own. As he sings to her (and Hiddleston has a nice voice), Sylvie sees that some of the wealthy patrons are eyeing Loki suspiciously. She accuses him of being drunk to which he responds "No, I'm just full," (I'm totally using that in the future.) and explains his terrible metaphor of love being an imaginary dagger. As the train guards storm in demanding their tickets, Loki and Sylvie start a melee and wind up getting tossed out of the train window as a result. Unfortunately, the tumble broke the TemPad and no magic can fix it. They are on a dying moon with no escape.
Sylvie explodes in frustration and Loki sobers up enough to realize he really screwed up this time. According to the history of this apocalypse, the ark never gets off the planet but Loki points out that the ark never had them on it. During the very long walk to the ark's departure point, Loki tries to get more information out about Sylvie's enchantment powers but learns something crucial about the TVA in the process. Sylvie mentioned that while she was enchanting C-20 (which we saw in the opening minutes), she discovered her mind was so messed up that she had to grab a memory from when C-20 was a regular human on Earth. Having heard from Mobius that the Time-Keepers created all the TVA workers, Loki suggests that can't be possible. Sylvie reveals that the TVA is filled with Variants just like themselves but none of them know it. As suspected, the TVA isn't all that it seems which explains even more why Sylvie is still determined to destroy it.
As they finally make it to the ark, they agree to trust each other since there is no way to make it through the chaos before them without the other's help. Faced with a similar situation to Ragnarok and witnessing the terrified crowds struggling to make it on the ark, Loki is horrified that they are going to let all these people die but the exploding planet above his head pushes aside his humanitarian concerns for now. They have to escape on that ark or they are doomed.
In a truly impressive set-piece, Loki and Sylvie run through what looks like a lost location from Blade Runner as destruction rains around them. They fight and drag each other along but as they approach the ark, it's too late. The evacuation vessel gets destroyed before their eyes and with it, their last chance of leaving. Destruction looks imminent but for someone who has escaped death as often as Loki, escape is hopefully just another trick away.