EPISODE SIX: “FOR ALL TIME. ALWAYS.”
As I said in my review of Episode One, “LOKI” has been a ‘wild, off-the-rails, jaunt through time' – and with so many crazy twists and turns, it's a rollercoaster that's never once slowed down since then! Throughout the show we've followed a Loki variant (Tom Hiddleston), after the time-traveling events of “Avengers: Endgame”, go from being an Asgardian supervillain to an introspective Alice through the looking glass.
Through a series of random Douglas Adams inspired shenanigans with Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) of the TVA (Temporal Variance Authority), Loki encountered a female variant of himself in the form of Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) who he then joined on a quest to uncover the identities of the Time Keepers who turned out to be nothing more than robotic puppets! Together, the two Lokis eventually found themselves in a realm at the end of time known as the Void, where all manner of Lokis have been discarded amongst the remnants of countless erased timelines, including Kid Loki, President Loki, and Gator Loki. With the valiant sacrifice of an older Loki, Sylvie and Loki are able to combine their powers and enchant the hangry cloud monster known as Alioth, revealing a portal to… somewhere?
It's all lead to this…
The End of Time
The episode begins with a series of quotes from various characters in the MCU films and we see a literal time stream emerge in the void – a single “sacred” timeline encircling a mysterious looking castle hovering above infinity. I like the visualization of time as a circle, hinting at the Hindu philosophy of the universe being a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth, or as they say in Battlestar Galactica “All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.”
Loki and Sylvie enter the mysterious mansion – seemingly held together like a cracked vase stitched with gold. As I've mentioned before, I love the music throughout this series, one of the most clever things about it is how they incorporate the audible sounds of a ticking clock into the theme. When the Lokis are walking through the Citadel, we hear what sounds like the pendulum of a grandfather clock complemented by organ music.
We're greeted with a friendly jump scare from none other than Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) herself! At first it appears as though it was Miss Minutes all along (rather than Agatha), but she explains that they're in the Citadel at the End of Time and were summoned by “He Who Remains”. She goes on to offer Loki and Sylvie everything their hearts desire if they agree to be reinserted into the timeline.
He Who Remains?
That's when we meet Jonathan Majors's character aka ‘He Who Remains'! We're never really given a name, but for all intents and purposes, he is “Kang the Conqueror” or at least a variant of Kang. In fact, his storyline most closely resembles a future version of Kang from the comics known as “Immortus”. In the comics, Kang is a time travelling supervillain with countless versions from across different timelines. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appearing as “Rama-Tut” in Fantastic Four #19 (1963) and later as Kang in The Avengers #8 (1964), he's a brilliant scientist turned tyrant from the future intent on conquering the past. His real name is Nathaniel Richards and is a distant descendant of Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four. “He Who Remains” also appeared in the comics as a totally different character in The Mighty Thor #245 (1976) as the final director of the Time Variance Authority in the far future.
Kang aka ‘He Who Remains' casually gives us the quick rundown of what the hell's going on: He knows how everything is going to play out, because he's the one who's been manipulating all of time and space all along. He explains that it all started with a variant of himself from the 31st century discovered the multiverse and made contact, but eventually they encountered variants that were less noble who then set about conquering the other realities, leading to a full blown multiversal war (just as Miss Minutes described in her propaganda video back in Episode 1). The original Kang harnessed the power of Alioth and used the monster to annihilate ALL the other realities before establishing the TVA and the false narrative of the Time Keepers! Kang justifies his actions as a necessary evil to preserve all reality and warns, “If you think I'm evil, just wait till you meet my variants…”
Now if you've been reading my breakdowns from the last few episodes, there have been a few references pointed towards “Kang the Conqueror” (especially in Episode 5!) namely Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), but I was somewhat surprised that it wasn't yet another variant of Loki pulling the strings behind the scenes. Still, Kang totally makes sense, and I think even though his reveal was a bit of a slow burn, I do think this was a great introduction to Kang in the MCU and I think Jonathan Majors absolutely stole the show, which is really saying something, because he's sharing screen time with Tom Hiddleston AND Owen Wilson! He brings a really interesting flair to the character as he's waxing philosophical. I seriously can't wait to see him reprise his role as Kang (the Conqueror) in 2023's “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”!
Meanwhile, back at the TVA, Mobius confronts Renslayer, attempting to point out who she was before she was brainwashed along with the rest of them, arguing that they can't take away people's free will. Soon after, the timeline starts diverging as the rest of the variants learn of their original lives and the multiverse begins to diverge from the so-called “Sacred Timeline'! What was once a single line starts to look more like the roots of a tree as they engulf the Citadel in the glowing ethereal light of possibilities!
The Ultimate Choice
“Kang” further explains that he paved the way for Loki and Sylvie to find him all so he could give them a choice: either they can take over for him and rule the TVA together in his stead, or they can kill him – destroying the sacred timeline and ensuring another multiversal war with infinite copies of him! We're given an awesome symmetrical shot of Loki and Sylvie looking over at one another as the two consider their options. Suddenly, Kang stops as he has an epiphany – he can no longer see the future, he has no idea how it's going to play out from here…
Despite Loki and Sylvie both being the same person, they've lived very different lives. Sylvie is convinced that Kang is lying and is determined to end him and restore the multiverse, while Loki is having second thoughts. Sylvie jumps to her feet to kill Kang, but Loki stops her saying, “Remove the dictator, what fills the void?” The two face off with the fate of all reality hanging in the balance. It all comes down to the fact that she can't trust anyone, and he can't be trusted. Sylvie comes out on top, tricking Loki and blasting him back through a portal to the TVA before stabbing Kang through the chest! As Kang dies, he laughs and ominously whispers, “See you soon…”
The episode ends with one of the craziest cliffhangers since “Planet of the Apes” with the reveal that Loki is no longer in *his* universe! Mobius doesn't recognize him and then we pan over to a massive overbearing statue of Kang the Conqueror in place of what was once the Time Keepers!
I guess we'll have to see how this all plays out in Marvel's “What If?”, “Spider-man: No Way Home”, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, and “Loki” – Season 2! Although I was somewhat shocked (and relieved) to see that the series will be continuing with a second season (unlike “Wandavision” and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” which were both one offs), I for one am dying to see what happens next!
“Loki” is now streaming on Disney+!