Whereas Episode 1 of “Loki” primarily played catch up with Loki’s character development, as it saw 2012’s Loki see the entirety of his life as it played out in the Time Variance Authority’s (TVA) sacred timeline, in Episode 2, we get a better look at the variant he was recruited by Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to catch.
Spoilers: It’s a more competent, more twisted female evil version of himself (Sophia Di Martino). Just referred to as The Variant, female Loki is basically regular Loki, but her manipulation, evil and camp are turned up a bit. In my opinion, in the very few scenes we get with her in this episode, she reminds me of Thor: Ragnarok’s Hela.
Episode 2 sees Loki pouring over the Variant’s case files with Mobius, hoping Loki’s unique perspective can help them find something they missed, and their research ends up being fruitful, as Loki notices that The Variant can hide anywhere where an apocalyptic disaster is about to happen undetected, because no matter what they do, everyone is going to be wiped out anyways. Apparently The Variant has been leaving very specific candy wrappers at her crime scenes, so finding one of her finding spots was a matter of seeing where these wrappers showed up at specific apocalyptic events where they’d be out of place.
We also see Mobius get heat from his boss, Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is not a fan of him bringing Loki onboard, and it’s very clear that, despite his years of service, he’s on the hot seat, and after the conclusion of this week’s episode, he’ll likely face dire consequences.
Heavy spoilers start here.
At the conclusion of the episode, Loki encounters The Variant, who has been mind controlling other people via magic to mislead the TVA, and get her alone with Loki, and she foils him at every turn, as it’s clear that she knows him probably better than he knows himself. Earlier in the episode, it’s revealed she’s been stealing TVA reset charges, but no one knows why, and after toying with Loki, she sets them off, bombing the Sacred Timeline, most likely causing many branches to happen. The Variant escapes, but leaves a portal open just long enough for Loki to follow her, completely changing the stakes as the viewer doesn’t know for certain if Loki has changed or if he is going to serve as a sleeper agent for the TVA.
Heavy spoilers end.
Overall, Episode 2 keeps up Episode 1’s momentum, but it lacks the emotional impact that episode had, but it is clearly setting up more interesting things for Episode 3. I really like how even after seeing his fate in “Avengers: Infinity War”, we don’t know for sure what Loki’s true motivations are, or those of the Variant. And especially when the two meet, you’re never sure who is playing who, as elaborate plans are this character’s specialty.
There’s also some doubt about the TVA and if their motives are good, granted that it is run by a bunch of magical space lizards no one has ever seen, and when Loki tries to find out how it was started, that info is classified to him. Questioning institutions and revealing their ulterior, often contradictory motives has sort of been Marvel’s thing, and if Mobius’s comparison of the TVA to Asgard’s ridiculousness foreshadows anything, it might be that, like Thor’s kingdom that was built off conquest, the TVA is probably no better.
“Loki” Season 1: Episode 2 “The Variant” gets an 8.5/10