Loki Gives Its Hero His Own Place in the Multiverse

Loki Gives Its Hero His Own Place in the Multiverse

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) travels through dying timelines to find his team—but has to decipher what’s really reality, as everything is crumbling—in Loki episode five, “Science/Fiction,” now streaming on Disney+.

In the penultimate episode of Loki season two, the Marvel Studios series gets back to its weird roots, offering an intriguing build-up to the season finale. We’ve seen Loki repent for his past actions as a villain, we’ve seen him fall in love, and now we see him reclaim the narrative of his fate as someone always destined to lose.

After the shocking ending of last week’s episode when the Temporal Loom went kablooey, Loki opens his eye from the blast of light and realizes he’s the only one who remains. The Time Variance Authority is empty and he begins to time-slip again. It’s seeming like he’s meant to be able to time slip, but he just doesn’t know why—and as everything spaghettis around him, a Miss Minutes sign appears that reads “Thank you for your service.”

Things get interesting as we pick up on Casey (Eugene Cordero) in a cell working on escaping Alcatraz in 1962 San Francisco. He doesn’t recognize Loki as he makes a run for it. Loki goes through a montage that pulls him to various locations, including the outside of the McDonald’s where Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) works, a jet ski sales pavilion, and a doctor’s office.

In 2022, Mobius (Owen Wilson) is a guy named Don selling jet skis, and Wilson gets a fun moment using some of his Zoolander modeling skills as he poses for marketing purposes. Don’s a single dad who doesn’t know he’s going to work two jobs real soon. But before Loki can approach him, he time-slips to 1994 Pasadena and meets Obi (Ke Huy Quan), who’s a sci-fi author and thankfully also a scientist, because when Loki tells him what’s been going on, Obi believes him. The scenes with Quan and Hiddleston are exciting because of the hope Obi gives the God of Mischief as they get down to business. Obi points out that the best course of action is for Loki to control his time slipping, and notes that it can’t be random because it pulls him to people he knows.

Image: Marvel Studios

Obi theorizes he’s moving around in space as a better version of a Temp Pad, so he needs to collect all of his friends to read their collective auras in order to get back to the moment in time before the Temporal Loom goes boom. Loki leaves 1994 Obi with the TVA book he wrote, and they agree to get to work on making a real Temp Pad… but then Loki goes “poof” and re-appears at Don/Mobius’ house. It’s a sweet moment when you see Don deal with his precocious boys, who are not unlike a young Thor and Loki. Don recognizes Loki from their earlier interaction and tries to sell him his prized jet skis before getting weirded out by Loki trying to get him to leave his sons and come back to the TVA. Thankfully before Don/Mobius really freaks out, 1994 Obi appears with his Temp Pad, which is the size of an early ‘90s flat typewriter with a screen. Seeing the proof of the timeline travel being real convinces Don/Mobius to help them, especially if it means saving the boys’ lives from the Loom’s destruction. They next round up Casey and B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), but they’re still short one person.

Loki travels to Sylvie at her McDonald’s and expects to have to explain what’s going on—but she already knows. It’s such a weirdly disappointing choice to have Di Martino’s breakout performance from season one be muddled by her character taking a cynical and selfish world view in season two. She sells it: she’s a cold Loki who chooses to stay in her timeline as a burger flipper, who goes to the bar and listens to indie records with her manic pixie dream girl haircut, while Loki plays the forlorn lover who can’t get through. It’s a disservice to Sylvie to take her badass character and make her whatever she is this season, the girl who got away. Truly, what in the early aughts hell is this? Anyway, Sylvie admits she’s selfish and tries to make Loki think he’s selfish too, for ripping his friends away from their lives so he won’t be alone even though it’s to save the timelines. She tells him to write his own story, and to leave her alone. Which he does, and then tells the friends he’s rounded up they should go back to their lives and give up. Which, again, what the hell? It’s so unearned to have them suddenly be discouraged over what a cool girl says.

Sylvie gets what’s coming to her when she’s at her local record shop and hanging with her store friend, who gives her the Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” to listen to—and sure enough, her world spaghettis around her. I’m not sure why at any moment she thought that the timelines were okay after the blast, but now she cares because she wants to get her life back.

Image: Marvel Studios

With her temp disc, Sylvie goes back to Loki and says the branches are dying (no duh), and Loki changes his tune to “Okay, let’s save the world again.” I really didn’t like the direction here—suddenly, the Temp Pad disappeared; the set-up that Casey looked like he wanted to steal it is a cringe moment before everyone starts to spaghetti in front of Loki, including Sylvie. Here is where Loki realizes it’s a fiction problem—not a science one. It’s not about when or where or why, but rather who. Realizing he controls the threads of his narrative, Loki understands now he can become his full Temp Pad self. And as he slips back to the moment Victor is about to open the blast door gates, we can’t help but wonder if this Loki has now become the God of Stories.

Loki airs weekly on Disney+.

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