Ooh, that was a lot all at once. And I have to admit... I did not love this episode on first viewing. Things... certain things seemed to be happening a little too quickly. We're on episode 4, two episodes still to go, and we get some big, BIG shifts this episode. Dropping into it below the spoiler warning...
So, second viewing, my expectations now managed, I really did have a lot of fun this episode. Not that I didn't the first time around, and there are still things that I think are enormous shifts at this point in the story. I mean... think about it, we last saw Loki and Mobius together before Loki disappeared through the time door with Sylvie in RoxxCart in episode 2. In episode 3, we didn't catch up with the TVA agents at all. And now in episode 4, Mobius and Hunter B-15 are both going to quickly switch allegiances and assist the two Loki variants. Now, in episode 2 we did see Loki tugging at the threads of Mobius' beliefs pertaining to the TVA, and he himself questions the Time-Keepers to an extent. We also do see Sylvie enchant Hunter B-15. But is it just me, or did their relatively quick shifts in allegiance not feel all that believable? They should be starting to question the TVA, absolutely, but this is somewhere they've spent presumably a very long time working and believing in; does it really make a ton of sense how quickly they both turned sides and actually helped the Lokis, knowing full well those Lokis plans were to tear down this institution and possibly cause uncountable casualties of their friends and colleagues along the way? I just wish there'd been a little more there, before the shift. Mobius' change I would say is the more believable, as he's been a Loki stan since episode 1, but Hunter B-15... I could've used a little more before she burst in to save both Lokis in the nick of time and threw Sylvie her machete, literally a weapon that would be used to kill B-15's colleagues...
Anyway... Apart from that, I really loved this episode. It moves at a mile a minute, with reveal-after-reveal, twist-after-twist and cameo-after-cameo. It's a lot! And it's so good!
We start by meeting the Time-Keepers. Didn't expect that so soon. I was absolutely expecting that they'd be revealed to be a myth or fake in some sense, but I thought an actual reveal of them would come later... maybe at the end of one episode, to be shown as fake in the finale. This is the beginning of episode 4 and we've gotten a quick glimpse of them as Renslayer goes to confront them, presumably to discuss the fact that they've now misplaced two Lokis.
Back on Lamentis-1, Loki and Sylvie bond over mutual feelings at the end of the world. They question whether it is a Loki's place to lose, and Loki tries to reassure Sylvie. He tells her how impressive she is and, in doing so, how impressive the Loki spirit truly is; it's tenacious, unrelenting even against having been killed a dozen times. This admiration between the two of them seems to trigger a nexus event - puzzling, because it's the end of a world and all events here should presumably be wiped from the timeline, but this happens. And it's no small blip; whatever has happened here, this admiration, love or self-assurance and respect the two of them have found is a huge nexus-level event. This leads to their being found and brought back in by the TVA.
Loki and Sylvie are held separately, and Loki is thrown into a time cell which seems to loop an event from Loki's past. In this case we get a cameo from Jaimie Alexander reprising her role as Lady Sif. She has essentially one line which she repeats across numerous loops, slapping and punching Loki in the face, and kneeing him in the groin. She's confronting him for having cut her hair as a prank, and she is telling him that he will always be alone. The cycle does wear Loki down and he yields finally with an admission that he is a narcissist, desperate not to be alone so he lashes out with cruel humour, but it isn't funny. Loki seems to realise that his narcissism and use of cruel humour pushes people away, and that this is not something he truly wants but it is a defense mechanism.
Loki tells Mobius that the TVA are lying to him, and in the meantime Hunter B-15 confronts Sylvie about her enchantment and essentially learns the same thing. They both resolve to help Loki and Sylvie. Mobius' resolve to help Loki and defy the so-called "sacred timeline" and the authority of the TVA also gives us this wonderful line, retracting practically everything Mobius has told Loki about his intended path:
You could be whoever, whatever you wanna be, even someone good. I mean, just in case anyone ever told you different.
We love Mobius, which makes what happens next truly impactful. Loki and Mobius are confronted by Renslayer and a group of TVA hunters. Renslayer knows about Mobius' defiance, and Mobius knows that Renslayer knows...
You know where I'd go if I could go anywhere? Wherever it is I'm really from, and wherever I had a life before the TVA came along? Maybe I had a jet ski. That's what I'd like to do. Just riding around on my jet ski.
As Mobius is pruned from existence, not for the first time this episode we get a glimpse of Tom Hiddleston's amazing range as an actor; his expressions were on point when discussing Loki's love for Sylvie, and they're on point here as he witnesses his friend being erased. It has been, more than once, genuinely painful to watch Tom Hiddleston's facial expressions because he delivers on the emotional impact of these scenes with such conviction!
Finally, Loki and Sylvie are reunited and taken to meet their end under the observation of the Time-Keepers. Sylvie asks what exactly her nexus event was that had her brought in by the TVA as a child, and Renslayer simply responds that she doesn't remember. And oh my god, while we're talking about emotive acting, Sophia Di Martino is incredible as Sylvie here too!
Renslayer calls for Loki and Sylvie to be pruned, but - just in the nick of time - Hunter B-15 arrives with Sylvie's machete and a fight breaks out in the chamber of the Time-Keepers. Choreography is a little weak, but Hiddleston sells Loki's admiration for Sylvie with constant glances to ensure she's doing okay. Really he needs to be paying more attention to the guys he's fighting; Sylvie proves herself to be the more capable combatant here, she's been running and fighting all her life.
Finally, Loki and Sylvie stand the victors. The Time-Keepers attempt to bargain, but Sylvie will have none of it. She beheads the central, and seemingly most important one only to find... they're robots; mindless androids. This is the end of her journey, and it's a lie; the Time-Keepers are not in-fact the TVA's highest authority, just a ruse.
In the final moments of the episode, Loki begins to explain to Sylvie how he feels about her, and probably about how their connection seems to have caused that nexus event which started the episode.
Not another pep talk, please.
No, I have to tell you something. We will figure this out.
How do you know that?
Because, uh... Well, back on Lamentis... This is new for me. Um...
LOKI places his hands on SYLVIE's shoulders.
What is it?
Then... Loki... gets... pruned! Guys, it's episode 4! The title character just got killed off with two whole episodes still to go! What is this show?!
Renslayer rises and gets into a brief scrap with Sylvie. Sylvie threatens Renslayer and insists that she will tell her everything.
And the credits roll. Wow!
So, yeah, that was a lot... That was exciting. I'm loving the way that Loki and Sylvie's relationship has evolved, and how the show constantly manages to be surprising and theatrical. Just can't wait for episode 5 now!
A countdown for the next episode can be found... Oh wait, there's more!
In the first post credits scene of the series, Loki awakes in a mysterious location. He's questioning whether or not he's died, whether or not he's in Hel. Then a voice that is unfamiliar to the MCU, but a very distinctive one which many will recognise instantly, reassures Loki...
Not yet. But you will be unless you come with us.
Standing over Loki, in the remains of a post-apocalyptic New York are...
Classic Loki in a comic book silver age accurate, goofy-looking costume played by Richard E. Grant,
Kid Loki played by Jack Veal,
Boastful Loki played by Deobia Oparei,
And an alligator held by Kid Loki which... is probably also a Loki! It's a Loki-gator!
So excited to see what these guys are all about next week. Countdown to episode 5 right here!