The fabric of reality is about to spiral out of control. Agent Mobius returns to Management of Temporary Change to reveal to his colleagues the shocking truth about the origins of UVI – unless, of course, the ruthless Judge Rensleier stops him. Meanwhile, the god of deception Loki and his beloved, the enchantress double Sylvia approach the gloomy castle on the banks of the river of time. He longs for answers, she for retribution. But, perhaps, the mysterious owner of the castle will offer them a different, even more tempting goal.
We analyze the finale of the first season of “Loki” in all details: from the fate of individual characters to how the events of the series will affect the MCU Marvel… You’ve been warned!
Resistance is futile
Marvel has such a tradition. If the finale is necessarily a spectacular battle with flights and explosions against the backdrop of rapidly changing computer backdrops. This was the case in Wanda / Vision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and even Black Widow. But Loki, as befits a trickster series, goes against the rules. No more flights and explosions! Instead of a spectacular battle – a half-hour conversation over a cup of tea (two cubes of sugar each) in a single interior. But this half hour is fundamentally changing the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Strictly speaking, the final of “Loki” can hardly be called the final. Heroes do not defeat villains or restore justice. No one sacrifices himself for the sake of his comrades (this quota was closed by Richard E. Grant in the last episode). The romantic line does not lead to “they lived happily ever after.” Agent Mobius never gets his coveted scooter. Oh no, everything is just beginning!
To some extent, this is even annoying. According to all the norms of Hollywood drama, the protagonist must grow above himself and get rid of illusions in order to finally gain control over his own life. Indeed, Loki grows: overcomes his ambition, learns emotional openness, finds friends and loved ones. But where is the promised control?
In the first episode, the (anti) hero learns that his destiny is to serve as a catalyst for other people’s exploits. Since then, they manage to take him to the service in the UVI, arrest, release, discredit, save and offer a new job. In the course of the plot, Loki is not allowed to show activity, he always remains “a flea on the back of a dragon”, according to the apt expression of one of the characters. This is not a heroic, but a tragicomic role. In the hands of another actor, she could easily turn out to be faded, but Tom Hiddleston works wonders with her: he squeezes the maximum sincerity and pathos out of his sad jester, revels in his despair.
Loki would be happy to independently decide his fate, but circumstances turn out to be stronger over and over again, be it a cosmic catastrophe, a soulless bureaucratic machine or a broken heart of a girl. It is Sylvia who ultimately turns out to be the main character of “Loki”: she directs the course of history, makes cunning plans and faces moral dilemmas. If the show had focused on her point of view from the beginning, it would have been much more logical, emotional and consistent … and much less interesting.
The final episode once again reminds us that Loki (at least its first season) is not the classic Campbell story of the hero’s journey, but a postmodern battle between the characters and the author. As omnipotent as Thanos is, he can be defeated, even if you have to travel back in time to do so. And how to cope with someone who outlined your destiny in advance, prepared your evolution and prescribed you two equally bad ending options? Rebel as much as you want – the script is already finished and approved by the producer.
On the meta level, this can be even more annoying. Those who at least occasionally follow the news about new releases of Marvel know perfectly well that next spring “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” awaits them. So, the outcome of “Loki” was obvious from the very start of the series. Just as in 2018, the effect of the “shocking” ending of “Infinity War” was dulled: it is immediately clear that all the deceased characters will return – they still have to appear in the sequels!
But this is what attracts “Loki” because its plot not only moves along pre-laid rails, but constantly attracts attention to these rails. Emphasizes the passivity of his hero, beckons him with the hope of liberation, seeks sincerity and spontaneity in worked out genre schemes. The series more than once or twice overlaps with the Star Wars sequels and especially The Last Jedi: like Ryan Johnson, showrunner Michael Waldron tries to look beyond the worn-out clichés and see in the archetypal characters living people – doubting, confused, even outright frightened in the face of inevitability. Sylvia, your Kylo Ren, is trying to kill the past. But in vain, JJ Abrams has already taken up the pen …
Forward to the future!
Hence the feeling that the main villain “Loki” appears as if out of nowhere. He was not announced in previous episodes, did not hide under the guise of one of the episodic characters, the UVI employees did not even talk about him in a frightened whisper. “Kevin Feige didn’t have a plan!” Outraged fans shout (or does this only work for Kathleen Kennedy?).
However, there is a plan. Rei is afraid of her past – and the past literally rises from the grave. Loki is afraid of the author – and here he is, a mischievous peasant in a purple robe and with a full printout of dialogues on the table. Simultaneously god and devil, scientist and tyrant, immortal sage and just “goat”. He does not need special effects to instill terror in his interlocutors: on the contrary, the time lord is openly clowning and does not take anything seriously. In part because he himself is a hostage to the plot – in the same way that Marvel authors are doomed to follow certain patterns. Otherwise, there will be chaos.
Naturally, the entire episode turns into a benefit performance for Jonathan Majers as “The One Who Abides.” The young African-American actor has been shining in powerful indie dramas for several years (“Five of the same blood”, “The last black in San Francisco”), and now he has finally made his way to the general audience. The script favors him: in half an hour, the Majers replaces a dozen emotional states, easily passes from pathos to farce, from frivolous self-confidence to sacred awe on the eve of the denouement. Even the routine exposition (alas, there is an unreasonably large amount of it in the finale) is transformed by the actor into an exciting performance with elements of stand-up and prayer.
The name of his character in the series is coyly hushed up – even in the credits! – but Marvel fans will of course instantly recognize Kang the Conqueror, the 21st century genius scientist and time traveler. One of the oldest characters in the Avengers universe (Kang made his debut back in 1963), he managed to be a hero and a villain, a pharaoh and the head of a church, exchanged half a dozen images and names.
In fact, Loki’s timekeeper is closer not to the tyrant Kang, but to his more noble version, Immortus. But, judging by the last scene, the tyrant is already on the way – and it seems that he will become the main antagonist of the MCU for at least the next couple of years. His appearance (again performed by the Majers) has already been confirmed in the future “Ant-Man”, and the second season of “Loki” cannot do without him. In addition, Kang is a distant relative of Reed Richards, the founder of Fantastic Four, a film about which is currently in active development. What a coincidence!
Finally, Kang is an important building block in the Young Avengers team that Marvel Studios has been unobtrusively building for the past six months. Viewers have already introduced Speed and Wiccan (children of the Scarlet Witch in Wanda / Vision), Patriot (grandson of Isaiah Bradley from Falcon and the Winter Soldier) and teenage Loki. Next in line are Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), Miss America (second Doctor Strange), Altitude (third Ant-Man) and, in fact, Iron Man – a young version of Kang, intent on stopping himself from the future.
The situation turned out to be interesting. For a long time, Marvel serials were considered an appendage of films, and they were boldly ignored: the lot of some “Agents of S. I. T” were local plots and one-day villains, all the most important and spectacular happened only in the cinema. This year the alignment has been turned upside down. New movie releases – hello Black Widow – tell little personal stories and fill in chronological gaps. On the contrary, TV shows expand the boundaries of CME and set the direction of the entire universe.
At the very least, Doctor Strange will have to clean up the consequences of Loki (according to rumors, Tom Hiddleston will also appear in The Multiverse of Madness) and Peter Parker, who in No Way Home will have to fight the villains from previous Spider-Man movies. It is logical to expect an early start of the advertising campaign for these films, since the parallel worlds have now finally and irrevocably come to KVM.
And all this, of course, sounds very tempting and promising, but the question is: what about Loki? The character, whose villainy was needed only in order to rally the “Avengers”, finally got his own series – but that one turned out to be a prologue to the next phase of the Marvel universe, and the story of Loki himself faded into the background. There is a bitter irony in this; which, however, the authors openly admit and play up in the course of the plot.
Does Loki deserve more? Maybe. But, firstly, a more traditional plot would rob the show of its originality. There are many superhero projects – and you go, tell an absurd metahistory about a character who was pushed to the periphery by the vile author! By Marvel standards, this is a daring move, revolutionary in five minutes.
And secondly, personally Loki no longer strives for glory and heroism. Let others bash their foreheads, fighting the will of the writers in the name of “glorious mission.” This god will have enough hugs of a faithful friend and the confidence that everything is in order with a loved one. Unlimited power over time cannot be compared with someone else’s warmth – and this is perhaps the wisest lesson of the first season of “Loki”.
Enough theories and recaps. Better hug those who are dear to you. And feed the crocodile.