Loki Episode 1 Recap: Welcome to the Time Variance Authority

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Loki episode 1 — out now on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — introduces us to an entire new, never-seen-before side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or must I say, multiverse. The Time Variance Authority, abbreviated as the TVA, is the focal point of the first episode of the Tom Hiddleston-led newest Marvel series. We memorize approximately how it came into being, what it does, what it’s capable of, and what that means for the trillions of living beings across the timeline. And because this series is named Loki, we see the TVA’s actions from the perspective of the God of Mischief (Hiddleston), who realises on Loki episode 1 just how big of a power the TVA is. He is been trying to grow to be king of a little patch — Soil, Asgard, and the Nine Realms — but there’s so a lot more to it.

Along the way, Loki episode 1 also reflects on the life Loki has led, numerous which is news to this Loki (not us) because he hasn’t if truth be told led most of it just yet. This Loki has branched off the timeline all over the events of The Avengers, and he is now in a whole new world so as to speak. If truth be told, he doesn’t have a place in the real world anymore. The TVA is very happy to do away with him, as they do for all variants, but one of their analysts Mobius (Owen Wilson) believes he can use him to succeed in his mission: capture another variant of Loki. That’s rather the setup for this six-episode Loki season 1.

Loki episode 1 — directed by Kate Herron and written by Michael Waldron — opens with the exact scene from 2019’s Avengers: Endgame wherein Loki from 2012’s The Avengers era escaped with the Tesseract. It is a reminder for many who might have forgotten that moment, but it’s unnecessary for everyone else as it doesn’t add anything. Heck, whether you have not seen Endgame, it isn’t going that can assist you because there is not any context to the scene. It’s just a gateway to the start of the series, that’s all. After disappearing into a void, Loki emerges out of a portal and crash lands into the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Loki being Loki, he tries to proclaim his greatness in front of Mongolian tribes, who are just puzzled as to what he is doing in their home. Of class lesson, they may be able to’t understand a word he is saying.

Before things can move any more, a bunch of time cops show up through another yellow-coloured portal. Their commander, Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) says she is arresting Loki on behalf of the TVA for the crimes he has dedicated. Loki thinks he can easily take care of them — he is Loki, in the end — but he gets a lesson in humiliation as he approaches B-15, who whacks him with her time rod. As she therefore explains, Loki is moving at a very slow speed but feeling all of the pain in real time. She uses the possibility to attach a collar around his neck, and he’s then dragged back through the portal while another member of her team sets a reset charge to reset the timeline. Arriving at the TVA, Loki tries to escape, and B-15 gives him (and us) a lesson in what the collar does.

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Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15, Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki episode 1
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

Realising he can’t run from her because he’s going to at all times be reset to his position, Loki has the same opinion to go together with the TVA procedure. He’s pushed into an elevator-sized room where a robot strips Loki of his “fine Asgardian leather” robes. He is dressed in TVA garb as he falls into the next room, where he is asked to signal and verify everything he has ever said. Loki tries to demostrate but he realises that as he helps to keep talking, new printouts retain coming. Falling once again, Loki is greeted by a small man who asks him to confirm is he is an biological lifeform and not an absolutely robotic being. What would happen whether he used to be robotic, Loki wonders? The machine — that looks like a metal detector — will burn you from your insides. Ouch. Loki gingerly walks through it, scared of the unknown. But he is fine, he is not a robot.

Loki then arrives at a security checkpoint of sorts, where he’s asked to take a ticket by the guard. This whole TVA process is like airport security essentially, and it’s riffing on how annoying and demeaning that process will also be. After you have his ticket, Loki protests out loud that the entire thing is a mistake and that he should not be here. Enter Overlook Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong) as the source for a bunch of heavy exposition in Loki episode 1 that is lively like old The Jetsons-style cartoons.

Here’s the Cliffnotes version: long ago, a multiverse war erupted as timelines battled it out for supremacy and it led to the destruction of everything. Three all-knowing time keepers emerged, and they ushered in peace by creating and managing the “sacred timeline”. Since then, whenever people step out of their predetermined paths, they’re labelled as variants, just like Loki. Their actions can set off all sorts of things into motion, and these triggering actions are called nexus events. And as the ripples of nexus events can lead into another multiverse war, the time keepers built TVA and all its agents. It’s their job to put an end to variants before they cause too many problems and set time back on its predetermined path. A part of that involves arresting variants and putting them on trial, which is how Loki has ended up in the TVA.

Cut to 1549 Aix-en-Provence, France where Mobius is dealing with one such nexus event within a cathedral. A variant has been attacking their officers and stealing reset charges, and this latest attack is consistent with other attacks — this is actually the sixth attack in the final week. “That we realize of,” Mobius adds. Just then, a boy walks into a cathedral. Mobius walks up to him to ask whether he saw who did this, and the boy points at the satan in a stained-glass window. Mobius says they don’t seem to be afraid of the satan and that they are going to ensure the boy is taken care of. He notices that the boy’s teeth are blue, who then offers up an artificially-flavoured chewing gum called Kablooie as evidence for why so. The gum is anachronistic, and Mobius asks his team to check its signature.

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Gugu Mbatha-Uncooked as Pass judgement on Ravonaa Renslayer in Loki episode 1
Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Just as they’re approximately to go back, another TVA officer walks out of a portal to cause our Loki variant to Mobius’ attention. Cut to said Loki at his hearing with Pass judgement on Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Uncooked) who addresses him as Mr. Laufeyson. That’s his very-rarely used final name — whether you’re going to recall, Loki is the son of Jotunheim’s Frost Giants leader King Laufey. Loki protests the TVA have the mistaken person and that they must arrest the Avengers. It’s them who travelled through time — he smelt the cologne of two Tony Starks — to stave off his ascent as God King, Loki says. But the pass judgement on assures him that their actions were supposed to happen. Loki then tries to use his powers but B-15 just laughs at him, as the pass judgement on informs him that magical powers don’t work in the TVA.

Like is pronounced guilty and approximately to be reset, but Mobius — who walked in just when the hearing began — stands up and intervenes. Mobius says he has a use for this Loki, and the pass judgement on reluctantly has the same opinion.

Out of doors, Loki is wowed by the TVA architecture which isn’t driven by any magic. As they walk into an elevator, the Hiddleston and Wilson dynamic immediately comes to life. Loki wonders whether Mobius is going to kill him. No, that’s where you were, I am taking you some place to talk, Mobius says. I don’t like to talk, Loki claims, and Mobius points out that Loki loves to lie which he just did. He then mocks him by making hands gestures and saying talky, talky. In response, Loki mocks the whole of the TVA — three “space lizards” and their workforce deciding the lives of trillions of beings — and noting that it isn’t just amusing, it’s absurd. To be reasonable, he has a point — the concept the TVA manage the right kind glide of time is rather absurd. But hey, this is the Marvel universe we are talking approximately.

After spending some time on quipping, we find out that Mobius specialises in catching “especially dangerous variants”. He wants to be told approximately Loki and in return, he could potentially help him. Their conversation starts with Mobius asking Loki what he would whether he got back. This is circa 2012 from The Avengers, so this Loki is all approximately ruling. He wants to rule Midgard (aka Soil), then Asgard, and all of the Nine Realms whether he can. “Why does someone with such a lot range, just wish to rule?” Mobius wonders.

Loki claims he would have made it easy for them, as the first and biggest lie used to be the song of freedom. “For just about each living object, choice breeds disgrace, uncertainty and remorse,” Loki adds. Mobius takes that to intent that Loki doesn’t imagine himself part of that group. In reponse, Loki calls the TVA a circus with clowns like Mobius playing their part to perfection. Big metaphor guy, I find it irresistible, makes you sound super smart, Mobius replies. I am smart, Loki protests, which signals Mobius to run him through his string of defeats. It’s why it’s called a time theatre, because the TVA can run through replay anyone’s life as holograms. This also works as a reminder for many who might have forgotten what Loki has been up to in the MCU.

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Owen Wilson as Mobius, Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the time theatre in Loki episode 1
Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Calling it Loki’s greatest hits, Mobius shows him his defeat to The Avengers, prompting Loki to point out that he used to be there. Yes, so were we. But there are scenes we haven’t seen before, including an escape from a plane. It’s in point of fact just an elaborate prank on the a part of the Loki writers. Loki used to be D.B. Cooper, we’re told in a full reconstructed fashion, but without any bearing on the story.

A frustrated Loki doesn’t realize where Mobius is going with this. The TVA analyst says he just wants Loki to be sincere approximately why you do what you do. This is essentially psychoanalysis — which makes for great TV. Loki is annoyed by what he believes to be a charade, calling the TVA an phantasm and an elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear. Mobius says he needs to begin believing in the TVA’s power. We just have no idea your past, we also realize your future. Bring in more scenes from older Marvel movies, including Loki’s return to Asgard in chains, and the subsequent attack on Asgard by the Dark Elves that ended with the death of his stepmother Frigga (in Thor: The Dark World). Loki is in point of fact upset at seeing this, because this is something that has yet to happen to this Loki.

Believing Mobius to be playing further tricks, Loki demands where they’re keeping her. But Mobius points out that this is what is supposed to happen over and over again. “Loki, you’re not born to rule, you’re born to bring pain, suffering, and death,” Mobius adds. Geesh, that might be true but it’s still harsh to hear. “That’s how it used to be, that’s how it is, and that is the reason how it’ll be. All so others can achieve their best selves,” Mobius continues, as we switch to that iconic shot from The Avengers when the heroes all came together. Angered, Loki charges at Mobius but he hits a button on a remote and resets his position.

Enter Hunter B-15 who interrupts to say there’s a situation. Out of doors, she tells Mobius that another of their units has been killed by the variant that he’s chasing. B-15 paper money that talking to this Loki variant is a mistake and a waste of time, but Mobius thinks he is getting good stuff out of it. He returns to the time theatre but finds Loki lacking, who slyly took the collar remote off Mobius when he helped him up. Loki has by hook or by crook teleported to a different a part of the TVA and he then follows the desk guy Casey (Eugene Cordero) from earlier in a tender to receive his hands on the Tesseract. But as he grabs it from Casey’s drawer, Loki sees that almost all of the Infinity Stones are there. Casey says they get numerous those, and that probably the most guys use them as paperweights. Classic TVA.

That sparks a realisation in Loki, who marvels that the TVA is the greatest power in the universe. You’ll tell he is began forming new mischievous plans in his head. As B-15 and the other guards catch up to him, Loki resets himself back to the time theatre. There, all alone, he plays through his own life tape. He revisits the death of his stepmother, the death of his stepfather Odin (from Thor: Ragnarok), and the bonding moments with his stepbrother Thor (also from Ragnarok). The final of those puts a smile on his face, but that is wiped absent as he plays the tape forward and witnesses his own death by the hands of Thanos (from Avengers: Infinity War). The player then runs out of tape — his life is over — and Loki starts laughing as he’s confronted by the words “end of dossier”.

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The other Loki variant in Loki episode 1
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

The laugh stems from a combination of pain, horror, and disappointment — for this Loki, who has just tasted defeat by the hands of The Avengers, has just discovered what his life is actually worth. And he cannot accept that destiny, which is why when B-15 shows up and he by hook or by crook transfers the collar to her neck in their fight, he then begins to bother her by resetting her over and over again. It’s borne out of his frustration and inability to have any have an effect on on the life in front of him. And hence, when Mobius returns, a dejected Loki says as much. He knows he can’t go back to his timeline. And he in the end answers Mobius’ questions, repeating his words from before but turning them on himself: hurting others is a part of the phantasm, a merciless elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.

Mobius says he can’t offer Loki salvation, but perhaps he can give him something else. But why does Mobius need the God of Mischief to catch a fugitive variant who is killing the TVA’s minutemen? The variant we are hunting is you, Mobius tells him. Loki is taken aback, naturally. Loki episode 1 ends in 1858 Salina, Oklahoma where a hooded character sets fire to a TVA unit, all to steal a reset charge, it kind of feels. What is going on? That’s a question for Loki episode 2 to reply to.

Loki episode 1 is now streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. New episodes release each Wednesday around 12:30pm IST/ 12am PT.

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