Well, Phase 4 is officially set up. We’re now in a multiverse!
We’re going to delve deep into spoilers, as this is the last episode of Season 1 of “Loki” (Note: Season 2 was confirmed this episode).
After defeating Alioth at the Void at the End of Time last episode, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) arrive at the Citadel at the End of Time, where they meet the man behind the curtain of the TVA, He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). Essentially, He Who Remains was a scientist from the 31st century who discovered alternate universes, and there was multiversal peace for a time, though that came to an end when evil variants of himself attempted to conquer all timelines. This forced He Who Remains to create the TVA to prune all timelines but one, in fear that an untamed multiverse would create more evil versions of himself. He says that some versions of himself were conquerors, so I’m guessing he was Kang the Conqueror from the comics, given how not-so-subtle Marvel usually is with these reveals.
He Who Remains gives Sylvie and Loki two choices: kill him and allow the multiverse to be restored, risking another multiversal war, or take his place as head of the TVA. Sylvie wants to kill him, but Loki doesn’t, fearing the consequences of making the wrong choice. They fight, but Slvie deceives Loki and ends up killing He Who Remains, freeing the multiverse up for whatever weird stuff Marvel has planned for the rest of Phase 4.
It also signifies the end of Loki’s character arc for Season 1, as he finally learns to fight and live for the wellbeing of a person other than himself, finally realizing all he really wanted was companionship, not power or some throne. Sylvie, however, is not him, and is unable to break free of her need for revenge.
While all this happens, Mobius (Owen Wilson) confronts Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is trying to keep the TVA together, despite the fact that it’s been revealed as being built on false pretenses and is irreparably broken. Mobius doesn’t win his confrontation physically, but he pushes Renslayer over the edge to leave the TVA, in search of “free will”. She’ll probably come back in Season 2 a much different person.
At the end of the episode, Loki is at the TVA and tries to talk to Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), but they don’t recognize him, and the statues of the Timekeepers have been replaced by a statue of He Who Remains, suggesting he’s either in a different universe, or that the timeline has changed.
As a whole, this is not a bad finale, but it could have benefitted from being developed over the course of two episodes. We barely get to meet He Who Remains, and the episode wastes too much time trying to make him funny that his memorable dilemma feels just too condensed. The Citadel at the End of Time is a mesmerizing location, but both Lokis barely do anything there, and as a result, the finale mostly deflates rather than builds up to a satisfying climax.
I do like the fact that we have a multiverse now, and Marvel will surely capitalize off of it in other projects (Spiderverse?), but Episode 6 just feels like it ended incomplete, in the middle of a sentence, rather than at the end of one chapter of a larger story, and it’s mostly because, while Loki gets a satisfying end to his Season 1 arc, I don’t think the same can be said of Mobius and Hunter B-15, who should have to step up and make something of the TVA, but regressed into something else, as did Sylvie, who was built up all season as the superior version of Loki, but this episode proves that is far from the case.
“Loki” Season 1: Episode 6 “For All Time. Always” gets an 8/10