They stuck the landing! Loki is officially my favourite Marvel Studios TV show yet. What a series!
In episode 6 of Loki, For All Time. Always., Loki and Sylvie have made it beyond the temporal creature known as Alioth and are faced with a citadel at the end of time. But before that, we get a surprise montage of sound clips from the MCU and real life; an audio history of the sacred timeline. All while zooming out through the cosmos to between the boundaries of two immense black holes. Then back in again, to sound and music, finally panning out from the sacred timeline - a beam of light across the sky - and onto the citadel at the end of time.
Loki and Sylvie enter the citadel and are confronted by Miss Minutes who introduces them to He Who Remains. And from here, the episode takes a bold direction for a finale. Rather than your typical, action-heavy climax, this episode of Loki focuses on confrontational dialogue and exposition. There's a lot still to explain about He Who Remains. It shouldn't work. You shouldn't be able to introduce a brand new character this late in the show, you especially shouldn't be able to get away with an enormous exposition dump in your final episode... but it's riveting.
He Who Remains is played by Jonathan Majors, previously confirmed as the MCU's Kang the Conqueror for Ant-Man and the Wasp. And this is why it works: Jonathan Majors is electric! Through the episode, He Who Remains explains that he pruned the sacred timeline to end a multiversal war between his own variants - variants of himself that terrify him. And the range that Majors displays in this one episode alone, playing just He Who Remains, absolutely makes you believe he can do amazing things with the rest of those variants - with the infinite Kangs we've yet not seen. I don't think I'd previously seen Majors in anything, but I am instantly a huge fan. The dude's got talent!
So He Who Remains explains that he pruned all other timelines, all other realities out of existence, and he paved the way, he designed the sacred timeline and everything that has happened to Loki and Sylvie, in order to lead them both here. He wants them to take over his position. He's tired, has lived for practically an eternity managing the flow of time, and he believes his successor comes in two - Loki and Sylvie. This creates the central conflict of this episode between Loki and Sylvie; Loki believes He Who Remains and thinks it must be a necessary job in order to avoid the rise of his Kang variants, but Sylvie sees a liar who has denied an entire universe of its own will, countless variants of their lives, and she has worked her whole life to end that.
Can't you see this is bigger than our experience?
Why aren't we seeing this the same way?
Because you can't trust. And I can't be trusted.
Then I guess we're in a pickle.
Loki and Sylvie fight, he to protect the universe and she to save it. He Who Remains watches on in glee, because this is the first event in a very long time that he hasn't scripted and doesn't know the outcome of. The fight is exciting and dreadfully emotional; Tom Hiddleston once again needs to be celebrated for how he plays this scene - constantly on the back foot against Sylvie, brought to tears by this because ultimately he doesn't want to hurt her. He just wants her to be okay. For the first time in his life, he has this connection with somebody else - a kind of love and self-acceptance... and isn't that beautiful? Loki couldn't really love anyone because he didn't first love himself, and now he does; he's seen himself in Sylvie, the best parts of himself reflected back and wants nothing more than for her to be okay.
Sylvie kisses Loki, with even He Who Remains shipping it, but then... Sylvie sends Loki through a time door back to the TVA and closes it behind him. None stand in her way to finish the job...
Aren't you gonna beg for your life?
HE WHO REMAINS
Um... Good. Good.
SYLVIE stabs HE WHO REMAINS through the heart.
HE WHO REMAINS
See you soon.
He Who Remains doesn't beg for his life, he doesn't fight back or try to avoid Sylvie's attack. He accepts it, gleefully even because this - not knowing the outcome - has been exciting. And he knows that ultimately an unmanaged timeline, another multiversal war, an infinite amount of Kangs fighting through time and dimensions... it all just leads back to this; the Kang who won, He Who Remains... "Reincarnation, baby."
We move from here to a beautiful shot of the timeline rupturing and branching, and then cut to the same visual back at the TVA on one of their monitors.
Loki rushes to find Mobius, to warn him of what's happened and what's coming.
It's done, Mobius. We made a terrible mistake.
We freed the timeline. We found him, beyond the storm - a citadel at the end of time. He's terrifying! He planned everything! He's seen everything, he knows everything! It's complicated, okay, but someone is coming - countless different versions of a very dangerous person and they're all set on war. We need to prepare!
Again, props to Hiddleston's acting here who seems utterly distraught and absolutely terrified. Unfortunately, Mobius and B-15 don't recognise him. Loki looks up from the balcony and instead of the statues of the timekeepers typical of the TVA, he sees a statue of Kang. This isn't the same TVA he left; this is one that Kang has already conquered!
Oof... Amazing! What a way to end a series, what a way to introduce a new villain for the MCU, just... what a show! I'm gonna do some more write-ups about this one, I think, because there's so much more to go into but... this has been not just some of the best time I've had with a Marvel Studios show, but also with the MCU at all. A phenomenal series. I've love it!