Loki Series Review: A brilliant series that prepares you for Marvel’s next phase
Loki is far ahead in terms of storytelling complexity and magnitude, compared to WandaVision which, by itself, set a new benchmark.
"Now, reality can be whatever I want," said Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. The power Thanos held over the elements is akin to Marvel’s decisions over its content. Loki is MCU’s best series yet, and while it feels like a story that perhaps is only indulgence and not really necessary (like the Black Widow film, for instance), it goes on to show its sense of purpose. "No resurrections this time," said Thanos after executing Loki, making a reference to how the god of mischief had ‘died’ twice earlier. With Loki though, it appears that resurrection is always in the offing.
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Director: Kate Herron
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Hulk's rage in Avengers: Endgame caused Loki to steal the Tesseract from New York in 2012. While the fate of Loki is left to our imagination in that film, the very first scene of Loki shows that he has created a new timeline and become a ‘time-variant’. Loki, like us, learns of new terms like ‘Nexus event’, ‘Sacred timeline’, ‘Pruning’… thanks to his introduction to the Time Variance Authority (TVA), an organisation that exists outside of time and space, and monitors the timeline. Loki, along with the audience, learns of how the TVA works—over two episodes—to prevent a ‘multiversal war’ between different timelines, and also how his magic is useless in the TVA, just like the Infinity Stones that employees use as paperweights. Knowing about his death in the future, Loki teams up with TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) to find a timeline-jumping killer.
Loki is far ahead in terms of storytelling complexity and magnitude, compared to WandaVision which, by itself, set a new benchmark. The series format allows to flesh out a whole bunch of new characters and explain the complex workings of an entire timeline. Considering that this Loki hasn't yet gone through the events of Thor: The Dark World or Thor: Ragnarok, which reformed his previously villainous character, our titular character responds to his arc with shock and surprise. He even gets a taste of his own medicine when he meets his other variants, especially Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). The series encapsulates the journey of our ego-filled megalomaniacal anti-hero who finally bows down to the power of time when he knows that he has been a mere puppet and ends up choosing free will over a fake haven.
The makers have also designed each episode to stand apart from each other in terms of style, appeal and even mood, with most of these decisions working in favour of the series. Attention to detail has always been MCU's forte, and the series is laced with many easter eggs and comic book references. For that reason and many more, episode five, Journey into Mystery, is my pick of the lot. When Loki and Sylvie's journey takes them to Void at the end of time which TVA uses more as a trash bin, that's where we also find the many gems of the series. The wasteland is shown to have everything from the Thanos-copter (yes, the comic book character used to terrorise our planet from a bright yellow helicopter), the helmet of Yellojacket (Ant-Man's adversary), a bunker with Hindi letterings on the door, a buried Mjolnir and a Frog Thor, known in the comics as Throg, inside a glass bottle similar to Thor in the first Avengers film when he was dropped from the sky by Loki in a glass chamber. We also see different variants of Loki including Alligator Loki who the internet endearingly calls Croki. The series also pays homage to famous films like Wizard of Oz and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Over the years, Tom Hiddleston has proved his mettle playing this character, and this series offers him a larger, deserved canvas in which to express himself. As a man left to fend for himself in an unknown world without his powers, the Loki in this series is as human as the character has ever been. He has other powerful qualities though—wit and cunning among them—that he has been hated and loved for.
There are many moving backstories. Sylvie's story of being abducted as a child and Morbius' jet ski visions, however, don't really hit you as much as they should. The series does make up for it by introducing us to its main villain in the last episode who goes by the name of He Who Remains, a villain with many monikers, one of which is revered by comic book fans.
Marvel has always had its way of tweaking its content in a manner that helps it join into the bigger picture. In keeping with that tradition, Loki's season finale opens a pandora's box that will soon introduce us to the aforementioned villain in his wildest form in the upcoming films. On the whole, Loki is Marvel's biggest step forward in integrating the storyline of its series with the MCU. It is the best series to come out of Marvel's stable so far, and widens the horizons for many upcoming films, especially for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If I had to quote Thanos to summarise my response to Loki, the series, I would have to say, “It does put a smile on my face.”