Compared to the Marvel TV series that preceded it, the Loki series sets its thematic elements low. Rather than tackle tougher topics of grief and international politics, the tale of the villain turned anti-hero is more one of individuality and purpose. It’s not exactly the most profound of Marvel’s writings but also perfectly in their wheelhouse of engaging storytelling.
We literally get to see more dimensions of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a trickster who finds himself greatly reduced. He’d been used to being Thor’s cunning antagonist for so long that he rarely found himself without a devious scheme. He’s not ready to handle something as powerful as the TVA.
The time-keeping organization has something Loki wants but not until he finds out just how small he is in the grand design. From the first episodes, he not only witnesses his grim future but how little significance the Infinity Stones hold to the keepers of time. The most valuable gems of the universe are mere paperweights in this quantum void of a bureaucracy.
The Loki Series Keeps You Guessing
Having fallen into the TVA’s grasp after swiping the Tesseract, Loki finds himself pushed through a Doctor Who-style adventure. He’s arrested by the TVA but his nature entices the hard-working time agent of Mobius (Owen Wilson) to turn Loki into an ally. There’s a unique buddy cop angle at play.
Loki’s guidance is required for tracking down a time-variant of himself, revealed to be the female Loki of Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). The dynamic then shifts to that of a romance where Loki, fittingly, finds himself falling in love with an alternate universe version of himself. The problem is that it’s somebody who Loki can’t trust because, well, she’s still a Loki and prone to treachery.
The goals of both Loki and Sylvie, formed by their semi-truce, is that they want to figure out the secret of the elusive timekeepers. With their destinies having been torn and placed in the hands of a stuffy organization with fascistic leanings, they want to blow this case wide open on their road to total conquest.
The Loki Series Has Many Layers To Its Story
The shifting priorities of Loki is what makes this series so enthralling and keeps the writing fresh with unexpected twists. Ultimately, Loki wants to find some purpose and isn’t sure what it is yet when he is kept in the dark about so much. He’s only able to get as far as he can thanks to others suspecting all is not as it appears.
This makes the central antagonist of Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a more compelling villain for how accepting she is of the darkness. Even as a higher-up of the TVA, even she doesn’t know the full truth behind the mysterious Timekeepers. She’s curious but not quite curious enough to jump to betraying the order she serves.
Considering that the Loki series involves the warping of timelines and dimensions, there’s some wobbly time-travel logic present. There’s a lot of questioning about the logistics of variants and how the TVA is able to prevent current agents from running into themselves. The logic becomes quite flexible in the case of apocalyptic events being labeled as timeline wild cards where anything can happen.
All of that stuff is not as compelling, however, as the mounting twists of Loki’s chaotic adventure. Every revelation brings about another setback of a strange secret. Just when Loki thinks he’s found a way to the next phase of his unfocused plan, some other surprise is thrown in by the end of the episode.
The unpredictable nature may bother some fans in how the show seems to make up this twisty story one episode at a time. This structure, however, is very much in line with Loki’s unorthodox thinking, presenting a plot just chaotic enough for his trickster nature.
All that being said, it is quite frustrating when the Loki series doesn’t have much time to develop characters past their motivations. Loki has some early moments of self-discovery, but mostly resorts to his old tactics for the majority of the show.
Mobius provides an interesting opportunity for somebody to connect with, but that buddy cop dynamic seems sadly brief. Of course, Loki has some love for Sylvie, but that romance doesn’t feel it’s as reciprocated as the saga continues. Loki and Mobius have far more sexual tension, making the fandom shipping all the more understanding.
It was Kang All Along
In terms of production, the Loki series looks remarkable. Everything from the retro exaggerating of the TVA’s office environment to the neon dazzlement of another planet. The outfits are stylish, ranging from Loki’s detective-style suit to Sylvie’s dark armor ready for combat. The cartoonish hologram of Miss Minutes even has some personality to her.
The Loki series is clearly going to have a heavy impact for future Marvel projects. The cliffhanger sets up the second season (promised in the epilogue) and the fracturing of a multiverse is surely going to play a role in the Doctor Strange sequel. Then you have the introduction of possibly the next Marvel baddie — Kang the Conqueror.
Standing on its own legs, however, the Loki series on Disney+ is easily one of the better MCU TV shows to date. The characters are unique, the twists are more frequent, and the thematic core less muddied by stricter character progression. With a second season on its way, there’s also far more time left to take this anti-hero in a far grander direction than his movie presence.