This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s Loki episode 5, WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Loki Episode 5
“I am Loki. God of Outcasts. They see themselves in me, and I in them. All of us, alone together. It’s why my stories always end with someone trying to put me in a box. And begin with my spectacular escape.”
An excerpt there from Daniel Kibblesmith’s Loki #5, and quite a prominent theme of Loki’s story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Classic Loki (a spectacular Richard E. Grant) declared part of it aloud in the fifth episode of Loki when he told his gathered counterparts that they only have one part to play in the story of life, the universe, and everything: the God of Outcasts.
But throughout the series to date, Loki has borne witness to all his terrible flaws made flesh, and right about now he is just sick to death of them. From the God of Outcasts to the God of Losers to the God of Mischief, Loki is tired – so very tired – of himself. He’s also falling in love with himself, but I’m not here to perform that kind of emotional labor. He can take that shit to his therapist and work it out in private.
“Wherever you go, there you are” fits just as well for Loki episode 5’s theme, as Loki got to know some other versions of himself while stranded in the Void; their mistakes laid bare. Kid Loki killed Thor (you could’ve heard a pin drop), Classic Loki survived his Avengers: Infinity War encounter with Thanos by using his beefed-up sorcery …to hide. Alligator Loki ate his neighbor’s cat. Boastful Loki kicked both Iron Man and Captain America’s asses and went on to collect the Infinity Stone set, and “Vote Loki” was all about claiming political power on Midgard, I suppose.
It’s hard to pick an MVP from this gaggle of Lokis on the run. While it’s tempting to immediately choose Alligator Loki (literally every shot of him broke any serious moment with a laugh) or Kid Loki, who I am looking forward to inevitably joining a future Young Avengers lineup, Classic Loki wielded the most thematic impact by revealing what would have happened if Loki had evaded death in the “sacred” MCU timeline: weariness, loneliness, and a mile of regret. Loki really got a chance to see where all his worthless baggage was taking him, drawn heavily in the lines of Classic Loki’s face.
While there was both a lot of emotional resonance and fun to be had in this particular installment of the series, it did suffer from the traditional problems of a penultimate episode. It had “one last boss to fight” in Alioth before our Loki-Sylvie duo forged ahead to challenge the big bad, and we also had to go through the motions of “formulating a successful plan of attack,” all of which drove up enough excitement for the finale but didn’t really get us any closer to the end of our own journey into mystery. After last week’s shocks and surprises, there was bound to be a little calm before the storm, but I’m probably not the only one who hoped for a little bit more oomph in amongst the admittedly extremely distracting and gleeful collection of Marvel Easter eggs onscreen.
It was definitely a relief to see Mobius had managed to stay alive in the Void after being pruned at Judge Renslayer’s behest. Many thanks to Marvel for pulling its own “Lightning McQueen to the rescue” moment in a pizza delivery car – alright, it wasn’t a jet ski, but there’s still time. It seems that Loki has made a real friend in all this weirdness, and I hope that this will be a friendship that endures beyond the end of the series. Owen Wilson has been an excellent addition to the MCU and seems to have had a lot of fun playing the character.
Though it was a pleasure to spend some time with Mobius, the Lokis, and their stories, there was some awkward blanket time with Loki and Sylvie that I really could have done without. I will reiterate that I wish this romance wasn’t happening; it just feels weird as hell. I love Sylvie as a character but making her a love interest for Loki still feels unfortunate and way too rushed.
In the end, Loki and Sylvie managed to enchant Alioth by combining their growing power, but unfortunately it was too late to save Classic Loki, something I do not have it in my heart to forgive at this time. Yes, of course they managed to open a portal to the place beyond the Void in an effort to confront the entity who may truly be behind the creation of the TVA, but would it have killed them to get the job done a few seconds earlier?
Who will be revealed as the villain of this show next week? My first instinct – and one I had when the first trailer was released despite getting all the details laughably wrong – was that Loki and Sylvie were about to meet the MCU’s version of Doctor Doom. The castle we see in the distance looks eerily like the Doomstadt of Battleworld. But so many hints in the series thus far have teased a Kang the Conqueror appearance!
However, in the back of my mind lies another, perhaps more realistic fact: this is the third Marvel Disney+ series, and in the first two there were “big bad” mysteries that were resolved without introducing a new MCU character at the end. In WandaVision it was not Mephisto pulling the strings, but Agatha. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the Power Broker turned out to be Sharon Carter. In Loki, it is therefore just as likely that the man behind the TVA curtain will be someone we’ve already met: Loki himself.
As always, I’m looking forward to all your thoughts and theories in the comments, and I’ll see you next week for the finale!