The MCU continues to impress with Loki. After the previous episode’s dialogue-heavy character study on the God of Mischief, this week’s plot has a far more active pace. Picking right up from last week’s revelation, this story doesn’t contain any flashbacks, and other characters get more time to impress. While the trickster may not be returning in Thor: Love and Thunder, he is certainly getting his own unique mystery to make up for it.
Loki is available to stream exclusively on Disney Plus.
Story – A time-traveling mystery
The story opens with a group of TVA (Time Variance Authority) hunters searching for the alternate Loki at a renaissance fair in 1985. It’s a fitting anachronism for the time-bending show. After this, the audience is propelled through Marvel’s sci-fi take on a detective drama. It even has the classic scene of pouring over old case files. This is family-friendly entertainment, not True Detective, so while it never reaches the heights of dedicated mystery series’ out there, it acts as a nice tribute to the genre. However, this format does make the first half of the episode feel a little slow at times.
The show sprinkles humour liberally throughout, and it represents the MCU at its comedic best. Without the fun tone established, the exposition could be a dry snooze-fest. In one scene, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) have an amusing back-and-forth about their knowledge of Nexus Events and TVA tech. There is also a great moment where the Asgardian ruins Mobius’ poor salad in an attempt to convey a complicated theory. Not every joke lands, but when they do, it makes for a tone appropriate to a show focused on the God of Mischief.
The story ends with another significant plot reveal that could completely change the structure of the series going forward. It was another exciting ending to a well-crafted episode.
Characters & Performance – Fun and Fresh
Loki has transitioned from being confused and out of his depth to the scheming scoundrel we all know and love. Right from the start, he tries to manipulate Mobius while searching for his alternate variant self. It’s an effective scene that reminds the audience that even though he may be the protagonist, the interstellar god is still leaning on the villain’s side. He may not be committing evil acts, but he’s looking out for himself. It’s a very fun way to watch a show, wondering if the main character has a bigger plan that hasn’t been revealed to the audience. The humour produced from his notoriety as a trickster is top-notch, and Owen Wilson assists with great back-and-forth banter.
Mobius gets good character growth as well. He starts naturally suspicious, but as they begin to make significant breakthroughs, the agent begins to get a little more lenient with his prisoner. He even tries to arm the Asgardian at one point, but this is hilariously put to bed by Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). As well as great comedic scenes, the two main characters get philosophical with each other. Their questions and reasoning for how and why the universe is a certain way perfectly reflect the God of Mischief’s focus on himself and Mobius’ focus on his job.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw gets more screen time as Ravonna Renslayer, a judge in the TVA. She does a solid job of convincing the audience of her authority within the organisation. However, her character still remains something of a mystery. Additionally, Hunter B-15 may have a generic sci-fi name, but she is turning out to be one of the best-supporting actors on the show. Mosaku plays this tough character perfectly, making for a great straight-man to the show’s humour.
Pacing & Editing – A Better Balance
This episode is one big build-up to the plot twist at the end, and it was almost a perfect journey getting there. The investigation scenes take up just over half of the runtime and result in a slow start to the story. Fortunately, these scenes contain funny moments and great dialogue, so going at a slower pace suited the detective-comedy tone well. However, the interaction between Mobius and Ravonna overstayed its welcome just a tad. Unless there’s going to be some significant revelation relating to these scenes later in the series, they seemed to run-on considering their generic purpose of establishing the characters’ professional relationship with each other. This is a very small issue in an otherwise well-edited plot.
Cinematography & Sound – Time-bending beauty
Just like the premiere, episode 2 continues to impress with its high-quality CGI. The intermingling architecture of the retro-looking office space and the towering sci-fi backgrounds are beautiful. The brown and orange colour palette of the TVA is showcased in its retro furniture and fixtures, as well as the metropolis that houses these structures. Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) makes a return to pester the trickster and is a great example of the way CGI is interwoven with the physical structures in the show.
Natalie Holt’s musical score rounds out the science fiction vibes. The synth tunes are fast becoming a staple of the series and help underpin the futuristic yet vintage feel of the TVA. There are also more emotional moments that have their own unique sound. Like when Loki discovers a document on the destruction of his home planet, Asgard. The close-up of his devastation accompanied by the fantasy music reminiscent of Asgard make for a stand-out moment.
The entirety of the section set during 2050 is constructed in a way that really creates a unique atmosphere. The sounds of rain gushing against the shopping centre, the red glow during the closing moments of the story, the little detail of a digital name badge--it all comes together to really make the show feel alive.