Loki Series Review: Watch or Skip?
The Loki series premiered on the 9th of June 2021 and has a total of 6 episodes with the final episode released on the 14th of July. It follows the exploits of Loki after he escapes from the Avengers during the events of Avengers Infinity War Part 2. This article will be an exhaustive review of the series as a whole and my personal thoughts on it and the future of the MCU. This review is not spoiler free so continue at your own risk.
It’s going to be pretty much a long rant about what I like and dislike about the show so you have been warned. It’s a really long review.
Let’s start with the main story, during the events of time heist plan, Loki got lucky and managed to obtain the tesseract, and used it to escape right after the events of the first Avengers movie. He proceeds to open up a portal that sends him to the Gobi desert seemingly ensuring his freedom. This freedom is short lived however as several unknown figures appear near where he landed who then proceed to apprehend him and bring him back to their HQ. Its revealed that these people are with the Time Variance Authority (TVA).
Loki soon finds out that the agents of the TVA enforce and protect a singular timeline, called the sacred timeline, and that his actions and subsequent continued existence goes against this timeline due to him not acting in the “intended” way as outlined by the sacred timeline whereby he is brought back to Asgard by Thor and the events of Thor 2 continue. This creates a nexus event and the TVA rectifies this by eliminating the branch that has veered off from the main continuity timeline. Before Loki gets executed however, we are introduced to Agent Mobius played by Owen Wilson, and that Loki might be of some use to the TVA. Mobius explains that several of their hunter teams have been attacked and he needs Loki’s help to catch the culprit and this is where the show starts taking off.
Now I want to discuss in general what I like about the show first.
Firstly I like the choice of using the TVA as the main lore for the series as at the very first episode we are dropped into a world behind the curtain, against an organization that is seemingly all powerful but completely unknown. This is significant because the MCU has been going on for a long time and finding out there exists an organization functioning in the shadows was a real treat. The show is a slow burn even with just 6 episodes and it takes a while before things get going but I find this a positive as I enjoy shows that don’t immediately throw all its exposition on the first episode and in this case the slow burn somewhat helped maintain the mystery surrounding the TVA and the time keepers. As the show progresses we learn more about the events surrounding the TVA and the actions of the culprit killing their agents.
There are plenty of Easter eggs that appear which made it quite fun for me to see something on screen that I recognized. It’s a minor point but I feel each time Marvel does this it’s as though they are paying homage to those fans who are familiar with the larger universe. None of these Easter eggs however are plot driving so it’s just fun to identify them.
The reveal at the end is also something I thoroughly enjoyed, and were going to enter some spoiler territory as we need to discuss the last few episodes. The climax of the show revolves around Loki and Sylvia reaching the one who stands above the TVA itself and uncovering the purpose of the TVA. Throughout the 6 episode runtime, Loki uncovers more and more as he moves through the ranks of the TVA until it’s revealed that there is a singular person who monitors the TVA from beyond the end of time. This individual is so shrouded in mystery that even the top brass of the TVA are unaware of his existence. In any case, Loki and Sylvia eventually reach his domicile, the citadel to find a person who is able to predict their every move and word. This person teleports and dodges every attack each of them throws at him and leads them into his room where Loki and Sylvia accept his offer to listen to him first.
This character then proceeds to explain everything.
He begins telling Loki and Sylvia that the purpose of the TVA is to maintain the sacred timeline but not because of some selfish reason but rather because it is the only timeline in which the best outcome for peace has been achieved. See, long before the marvel universe became this singular timeline (or maybe far into the future..) this person who is from the far future of the 31st century discovered time and dimensional travel. All his parallel existences also came upon this breakthrough and in the beginning they shared knowledge and experience amongst themselves. Unfortunately this devolved into an all out multiversal war for supremacy until only one version remained.
This version is the person Loki and Sylvia are talking to now. Who turns out to be a version of Kang the Conqueror, but not the one we are familiar with.
He then gives them 2 choices, kill him as they intended to originally and allow the timeline to split and ultimately plunge all conceivable universes into war, or take his place and continue his work. This is a mind blowing revelation as up until this point we’ve only been given hints on the multiverse coming to the MCU. A lot of speculation up till this point has been that the multiverse already existed within the MCU and we just haven’t seen it. The fact that we are shown the literal birth of the multiverse itself was nothing short of amazing and I was fast thinking of the implications this would have for the MCU moving forward.
In addition, because I was somewhat familiar with the name of Kang the conqueror, I was initially under the impression that the MCU was going for some weird, quirky version of him which was as far as I was concerned a giant disappointment at first. The reveal meant that this Kang was a benevolent and kinder version with a much more terrifying version looming over the horizon who was worthy of the title of conqueror. This is such a great villain reveal to subvert the idea that the Kang we see was not the most dangerous one. I have always found joy in seeing a good villain much like how Thanos was built up ever since the first Avengers movie and I felt as hyped during this reveal as when Thanos first appeared. The idea that a more well aligned Kang was protecting the timeline all this while during the entirety of the marvel cinematic universe was great.
The whole feel of the show at its climax took a complete turn when the realization dawned on Loki and Sylvia. I will admit that at some points throughout the series it felt as though it wasn’t a truly serious affair but this moment completely changed all that. Loki, who was at the start fixated on ruling Midgard and getting what he felt he deserved completely changed his outlook when it was revealed the weight and repercussions of the decision he now has to make. This moment I felt helped to truly mature Loki and transition him from an purposeless villain to someone who realizes that things are much more complicated especially when one peers behind the curtain. His transition into seemingly an anti-hero from this point onward I felt was well timed and I’m really glad that the implication here being he is likely the core person who has to rally all others to this looming threat. We don’t know for sure if this will happen but I do look forward to what the MCU will make of this.
While I did go quite some time talking about those last few episodes, we now have to enter the territory of the things I don’t like about the show. To follow up from that long rant about why I liked how the show ended, let’s talk about how the story kind of spoils the ending anyways and this is related to Ravonna Renslayer. If you didn’t know anything about Kang the Conqueror’s storyline and the main characters in his stories then you can skip this part of the rant as it largely wouldn’t make a difference to you anyways. But if in the off chance that you do know who she is, the ending would have automatically been spoiled to you as in the comics she is Kang’s girlfriend. As much as I expressed how I liked the ending, the show became more about just waiting for Kang to appear rather than being surprised. Granted a lot of these storylines do follow some of the comic book storylines so it’s unavoidable if you indeed grew up with those comics. That being said it is a minor gripe because while I knew Kang was the final reveal, I felt they still did a good enough job of putting a spin on it by showing us a good version of Kang rather than the villain one.
My second gripe with this show is that it is likely to be what others find to be the most annoying and it’s related to how underpowered Loki is. A lot of the time he’s made out to be quite powerless and is just dragged along from one place to another as he reacts more to situations than proactively shapes them seemingly as though he has no control over anything. It could be argued that it’s a form of balancing as the challenges he faces wouldn’t have been actually challenging if he just had unlimited powers that got him out of it. Despite this I would have loved to see him awaken or use more of his powers similar to how Thor got a power boost in his third movie but moments like that are few and far apart here. We do get to see an older version of him use his illusion powers to create a replica of Asgard itself (still amazing) but not much other than that. We also do get a scene where he and Sylvia had to work together to enchant something which at least shows the potential upper limit of his powers. And this is where I have the most issue with this as throughout the show we really just see hints at how powerful he really is without actually being shown and it’s rather frustrating. I was hoping for some amazing set piece that showcases this but after 6 episodes it’s nowhere to be seen. I do hope that we get to see it in the future but if they didn’t show it in his own solo show it’s unlikely we’re going to get it anywhere else.
Now before I conclude the article I feel I need to touch a bit on items related to SJW stuff. If you’re looking around the internet or on YouTube on reviews for Loki you would have undoubtedly stumbled upon several reviewers mentioning the whole SJW agenda. It mostly focuses on the Men vs Women arguments we see a lot these days and uses points like how Loki is underpowered, women being in positions of power such as Sylvia and Renslayer, and that the male characters tend to be portrayed as incompetent and weak compared to other characters. Some reviews mention that these points ruin an otherwise good character by making Loki, the main character of the show, appear weak and dependent all in the name of SJW.
Throughout my viewing of the series, which I did in one seating, I could see how some of the scenes could be viewed this way. There are scenes where I felt Loki was indeed underpowered as well as scenes where some characters like Mobius and Loki were uncharacteristically incompetent. But as I watched I came to realize that I had to actively search and be aware of these moments of as well as connect dots actively for them to come to surface. I realized that for the most part, it didn’t feel, at least to me, that these were something done intentionally. The being said that doesn’t mean I agree with underpowering Loki this much and making him almost borderline comical but it wasn’t done as badly as some detractors may have you believe.
Because of how blatant this type of writing is, and how it has permeated into our shows in general I found myself at times anticipating something SJW aligned to happen.
“Oh no, Loki is gonna just randomly lose isn’t he”
“Renslayer is just going to appear out of nowhere and take the villains places isnt she”
“Oh Sylvia is just going to enchant this by herself isn’t she”
But really I noticed that when I’m just enjoying the show and not actively looking for these types of scenes they just seem like any standard writing. Now I personally don’t know if the writers had an ulterior motive to include these types of scenes on purpose or not but my personal opinion is that there is no blatant SJW agenda in the writing for this series, at least not to the point where it becomes overbearing. As a comic book fan, I was more excited about how the show ended and its implications moving forward, the abilities of different Loki’s, the Easter eggs that were shown *cough-Thanos-Copter-cough* and the characters themselves to really nitpick and find these type of scenes. Thus, I would urge you, that if you’ve heard some of these claims about the SJW agenda surrounding this series that you would reconsider and judge for yourself whether they are blatant and shameless as some others have claimed.
Overall though, I felt that he was merely a passenger in his own show and reacting to things rather than shaping them. I do understand some of the complaints from others that he didn’t feel like the character they knew who was charismatic and in control of his actions and fate. I have mixed feelings about the show because on one hand, by the end of the show he was no longer the same Loki we know but at the same time his character evolved in such a compelling way that I can’t help but accept and even like this new Loki.
The choice and predicament of killing for revenge or maintaining order for the greater good does pull him in different directions of who the character was and who he is now showing how he has evolved. The past Loki would have just killed but understanding the repercussions have changed him having actually seen the results of his actions earlier in the show. Much of the time as we cant see the repercussions of our actions we can only choose an action for better or worse. But for Loki he saw the first hand outcome (his adoptive mothers death) of his actions and even his own eventual death. This makes his transition to becoming a more rational person all the more believable. Loki has through these challenges evolved to a more rounded out character who has seen both sides of selfish individualistic behaviors and a selfless greater good sacrifice which makes his character far more compelling to watch in the future and I’m excited for what comes next with his story arc.
So to answer the question of watch or skip?
It’s a definite watch for me.