The new Disney Plus show Loki features the return of Tom Hiddleston in a role he delivered masterful performances playing in the past, great sets and acting from stars who deliver good performances. The jokes mostly land well and the show has a snappy pace. After that praiseworthy things are hard to find. In fact some of it was slightly cringe-worthy.
After a flashback recounting of Loki grabbing the Tesseract and escaping the events of Avengers 1 via repercussions of Endgame he escapes to fall from the sky in the Gobi Desert. He encounters some locals and starts commanding they folllow him as their ruler but is immediately confronted and arrested by the Time Variance Agency- a new entity whose Time Cops appear unexplained through some sort of time portals. They easily subdue Loki- who doesn’t take them seriously.
They take captive Loki to a stylish lair a lot like the Men In Black’s HQ. Here Loki gets processed through a strange bureaucracy where Beetlejuice and David Lynch briefly intersect. After some mostly funny jokes Loki is being tried for violating the timeline and looking to end up being found guilty (and vaporized?) when Mobias- who works X-Files type crimes for the TVA, requests a conditional release so Loki can help them fight crimes committed by- Loki himself! Theyre looking for another Loki or a Loki Variant. Or someone they think is him.
Mobias has just returned from the Renaissance where hes found some clues and just talks to randos while dressed in early 1960’s clothes and playing around with some kind of smart phone. The kid they talk to simply accepts them and points to a nearby painting of the devil when asked who’s killing people. Owen Wilson’s Mobias, an incurious investigator at best, believes him immediately. The church set is once again pretty cool.
When Loki is comically processed through Time Court most of what we get about the Time Variance Agency is thrown out through a PSA style cartoon that actually is pretty funny. The things it tells us really mess with what we know though. The whole timeline is controlled by Lizard People who decide whats right and wrong to prevent conflicts between various timelines. This raises many questions and plot problems. Like the revelation there is no free will – everything is monitored and approved or fixed. So things will always just work out according to the Lizard Peoples judgement.
The TVA monitors and seemingly knows everything that has, will or could happen, so I’m not sure why later we see some of them bushwhacked and killed. This is the most enormously powerful entity in the Marvel Universe if the PSA is to be believed.
The TVA is really punitive and takes no shit. They vaporize anyone who gets out of line, we have an implication people get reset into the timeline, but we dont know that yet. Theres also a drawer full of Infinity Stones and the Tessarect- none of which work in the TVA HQ. Its guarded by a mentally deficient human who does not know what a fish is.
Loki does escape for a while and masters some of the Time Cops tech pretty quick- which is when he sees the Infinity Stones. He eventually more or less gives up and starts cooperating with Mobias. He submits to some pretty mean questions and watches future events of his life, including his death at the hands of Thanos. He admits, seemingly honestly, that he doesn’t enjoy killing and has a bit of a breakdown.
This very quickly brings Loki more or less to the emotional point he reached through the course of three more movies. In other words – he’s somewhat reformed. Its a bit rushed at best and unearned at worst. Its hard to imagine Loki as we knew him in Avengers 1 being this submissive, but hes broken in relatively short order by the Timecops mind games. This seems like it would be a lot harder. He is a master Mind-Gamer himself. At the end of the episode Loki is down with the TVA and pretty much ready to hunt himself to get in good with them.
Somewhere along the way Loki DOES ask a lot of logical questions as to what exactly is going on and gets a really bad answer – they’re not explaining it to him but yeah, it doesn’t make sense. With that we move on. Hopefully we get more on this because its a pretty simplistic pat on the head to explain how this all is happening now – or why the Lizard People were ok with past events as bad as Red Skull getting his hands on the Tessearact- or even World War 2 and all other events through time that would be kind of immoral to stand by and just watch.
The episode ends with some Time Cops going to 19th century and getting ambushed and killed in a field covered in oil. Their killer, a cloaked figure that’s probably female, is not fully visible watching the carnage. The theme song plays- its an amusing song that may just be the Twilight Zone theme notes in reverse and we end in Marvel TV Style. There is No Post Credits Easter Egg.
Episode 1 is funny and well paced- for a show that’s really cramming a lot in fast. I was able to comprehend what was going on easily- but wow did it ever shock me.
The TVA and the Time Cops are super powerful and have the ability to freeze and rewind time. They seem to have complete control with No Butterfly Effects. They openly interact with locals with no apparent reprecussions. This is pretty weird as their job is to stop other peoples Butterfly Effects.
The Time Cops are not overly impressive and very Mall Cop in their demeanor. Most of the Time Cops are as unconcerned as hardened veteran Homicide cops – but are not driven or professional. They have a “we do this all day” attitude towards their jobs. The other TVA support staff live in a plush HQ that many have apparently never left. They have a robot or two but theyre all human. They’re also just really bored public servant types. This works comically, but considering their power seems pretty tone deaf. Are they androids? Are they clones? They are all muted and bland in their demeanor. Many are very dumb.
The implications of introducing an entitiy this powerful is hard to come to terms with. They specifically tell Loki they’re ok with the Avengers travelling time but not him. We also find out if we vary from the timeline the Lizard People like they just reset us until we do what we want.
What does this mean for the 18 movies we just saw leading up to this? Does this mean that the one in 14 million chance Dr Strange forecasted for them beating Thanos was actually one in one? Did the Lizard People keep resetting events til things work out? We’re told they more or less do, and even being late to work could start problems that require them to grab you and start it all over.
They easily capture Loki. In my mind they probably should have struggled a lot more with the god of mischief, especially the Avengers 1 Loki. The ease they capture him with raises a question. Why is it their only real problem right now seems to be…..Loki in another guise? I’m curious to see if the next episode starts with them stopping the murder of their colleagues, I know I’d want them to do it for me!
The next five episodes will show whether the TVA is for real or if theyre merely delusional or lying, but they seem to need some damage control right now. It would be nice to find out we all actually have free will and that things aren’t always going to work out. Right now the best case scenario seems to be “we find out Dr Strange did this to mess with Loki and none of its true.
Next best thing would be we find out that the Time Cops have some great tech but are wrong or lying about most of the rest and that the Infinity Stones are fake. If we’ve seen the Time Cops before in a comic I dont know of it, but its possibble. Right now they seem to have a blank check to resurrect any character as many times as they want. Episode 2 apparently drops in the early morning hours- roughly 3 am, on June 16 US East Coast time- which means this post is just in time to catch you up.
Til Next Time – if the Lizard People don’t vaporize me for wondering if this show will work out, that is. If you see this review- according to the logic in the show- then what I’m saying is okay with the Lizard People. This convoluted mess could have been written by Alex Jones.