This article contains spoilers for Loki episode 5.
Agent Mobius did say that time ran differently in the TVA but who could have imagined that the penultimate episode of Loki would arrive so quickly? Marvel’s Loki episode 5 “Journey Into Mystery” keeps up a streak of superb installments for this increasingly superb show.
In this hour, Mobius joins the side of the heroes, Judge Renslayer has some questions, and Loki and Sylvie’s relationship continues to blossom thanks to the conjuring of an uncomfortable green blanket. Equally as important, however, is that “Journey Into Mystery” raises some big questions about the ending of this show and the future of the MCU. Questions like…
What is The Void?
This episode does a pretty good job of succinctly describing what the Void is. The Void is the end of time, itself. Since the Time-Keepers are unable to completely destroy matter (Theory of Conservation of Mass and all that), they send unwanted Variants to the end of the timeline to languish or be swallowed by a hungry monster (more on him in a bit).
In Marvel Comics, The Void is something of an actual character. It is a destructive amorphous entity capable of both adopting a corporeal form and destroying the universe as we know it. During the Siege storyline, the Void even killed Loki, which then facilitated his “rebirth” as Kid Loki. See how this all starts to fit together?
What is Alioth?
In the world of Loki, Alioth is a big, hungry cloud monster that prowls the Void looking to consume yummy matter. It’s the TVA’s unwitting cleaning service, wiping out all the Variants that the TVA can’t eliminate. Classic Loki helpfully offers up the analogy that the Void is a shark tank, and Alioth is the shark.
Alioth of the comics was first introduced in 1993’s Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #1. That same comic also introduced Ravonna Renslayer and features Kang the Conqueror as its central villain. Oh yeah, it’s all coming together.
Alioth is considered to be the first being that broke free from the constraints of time. It’s no wonder then that it would make an appearance in Loki.
What’s Up With That Castle?
It’s about time a Marvel villain lives in an honest-to-goodness castle! While it’s still possible that this is a misdirect and this environment is not what it seems, for now it looks like episode 6 will be headed off to a spooky castle.
Interestingly, there are no shortages of spooky castles in Marvel comics lore. Perhaps the most famous one is Castle Doom within Doomstadt. Bet you’ll never guess who lives there! Yes, it’s ol’ Victor von Doom himself, Doctor Doom to his friends…of which he has very few.
Another notable abode is Castle Limbo, which serves as the home of Immortus, who was once Nathaniel Richards a.k.a. Kang the Conqueror. Look, Kang is a confusing character, so you’ll just have to trust us on this one.
What is Mobius’s Plan?
Thank the gods that Loki and Mobius finally embraced their destiny as best bros. Mobius leaves all the Lokis behind in The Void to return to the TVA. What does he plan to do once he gets there? Why, burn the whole thing down, of course!
It’s unclear how Mobius believes he’s able to pull off such a grand task. The TVA is an enormous bureaucracy with seemingly infinite moving parts. The only real weapon that Mobius has at his disposal is the truth. The truth changed his and Hunter B-15’s perspectives but can it do the same for everyone else? The only other named TVA employee that we’re aware of is Casey (Eugene Cordero). He seems like a sweet, non-confrontational lad. But perhaps that will all change once he realizes he’s been robbed of fish dinners his whole life.
What Becomes of the Other Lokis?
The most pleasantly strange aspect of “Journey Into Mystery” is how many new Lokis it introduces. This hour features: Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), President Loki (Hiddleston), and Alligator Loki (uh… a CGI alligator). Naturally, each of those Lokis has their own official hashtag sprite on Twitter.
Fittingly for their chaotic energy, each of the Lokis introduced in this episode have quite different ultimate fates. Boastful Loki betrays his Loki comrades, because that’s just what Lokis do. The subsequent scene of President Loki and his Void army battling the other Lokis is one of the best moments of this show yet. That causes our Loki to take off with Classic, Kid, and Alligator. When Mobius invites that trio to come back to the TVA with him, they decline because the Void is their home now.
That is the last we’ve seen of Kid Loki and Alligator Loki thus far but not the last of Classic Loki. The comic-accurate trickster returns to help Loki and Sylvie when they need it the most. He uses stunningly powerful magic to create an approximation of Asgard all around him, distracting the ravenous Alioth. Even Sylvie with her enchantress power is stunned by Classic Loki’s abilities.
Is Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki Really Dead?
Ultimately Classic Loki is swallowed up by the Alioth and therefore finally blinked out of existence. Or is he? It seems like he could have been utilizing the very same technique here he claims to have used to escape his death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. “I think we’re stronger than we realize,” Loki tells Sylvie, so this would certainly be a case of that if it came down to it.
Plus, that leads us to the final and most important question that this episode raises.
Who is the Villain?
Who indeed? There has been one name bandied about as the most likely Loki Big Bad. Before we get to him (and it’s absolutely who you think), indulge us in another theory. What if the villain of Loki is…
Classic Loki or Another Loki Variant
Richard E. Grant is kind of a big deal as an actor. It’s not every day you can find a seasoned performer who can portray a kindly exterior with some menace underneath. With that in mind, it’s possible that Classic Loki is a bigger character than he appears at first glance. This episode goes out of its way to communicate just how powerful Lokis can be. And when you combine that kind of god-like power with a trickster’s sensibility, it’s not hard to imagine that Classic Loki, or another Loki entirely, could be pulling all the strings.
Kang the Conqueror
While Loki confronting himself in the end would make for a dramatically interesting enterprise, the hard evidence at hand still seems to indicate that Kang the Conqueror is our real villain. The internet at large has been banging the drum for Kang the Conqueror as the ultimate Loki villain for weeks now and it’s not hard to see why.
This isn’t a case of collective delusion like with all of the Nightmare/Mephisto WandaVision theorizing, Kang really does seem to be a legitimate possibility. For starters, we know we already have an MCU actor for Kang in the fold already in the form of Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country). Kang was announced for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania but doesn’t it sound very Marvel for the character to make his unexpected debut here?
In the comics, Kang the Conqueror is wrapped up in multiverses, timelines, and all manner of heady sci-fi nonsense that Loki is already invested in. In fact, as Reddit user u/Hpotter821 points out, one iteration of Kang in Marvel comics sought to become Immortus by eliminating all of his other Variants. It would seem that creating the TVA to police other timelines would be quite useful in that mission.
Then there’s the fact that Kang has at least some level of crossover with just about every major character and element of Loki. Kang has a relationship with Ravonna Renslayer in the comics and is also an occasional rival of Alioth. The show is not shy about injecting Kang’s aesthetic into the proceedings. While ostensibly space lizards as Loki described them, the Time-Keepers do appear to resemble the classic Kang the Conqueror look a bit. And the TVA logo?
Oh yeah, that’s Kang, baby.
Perhaps by this time next week, all of this Kang conjecture will look as silly as WandaVision’s Mephisto fever dream. It’s undeniable, however, that Loki has provided us with plenty of breadcrumbs. If it’s all a Kang-sized red herring, then so be it.
This is a considerable longshot, despite the fact that we’ve wanted it to happen for a long time. Doom was at the center of Marvel Comics’ multiverse-shattering Secret Wars event by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, and the castle we see in this episode’s conclusion sure does look an awful lot like his humble Doomstadt home.
Every time we get excited about Doctor Doom or the potential Secret Wars threads embedded in this show, we’re brought back to reality by the fact that there’s virtually no way that Marvel would introduce arguably their greatest villain in a teasing series finale episode, especially not when they’ve got the Kang-centric Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to tee up with Kang. Yes, we’re hedging our best by including him, but can you blame us?
Anyway, patience, Doom fans. The Fantastic Four movie is finally a priority for the MCU, and we should see that by 2023.
This obviously won’t happen but in the spirit of Marvel’s next Disney+ series What If…?, what if Loki and Sylvie arrive to the throne room in the castle and Marvel Studios head Kevin Heige is hanging out there wearing one of his trademark baseball caps? As witnessed in WandaVision and now Loki, this phase of Marvel cinematic storytelling is clearly about setting up a new multiverse of possibilities. What better way to introduce that multiverse than by completely breaking the fourth wall?
OK, so there are probably a ton of better ways but Feige would at least be fun and truly unexpected.