In Episode 2 of Loki we got a pretty big dose of stupidy up front and they dropped a new plot device on us. Time- destroying Time-Bombs.
No, these are not Time-Bombs as we know them- though they DO have timers and they are bombs. They are in fact Bombs that Erase Time. We again get most exposition rolled out in quirky jokes that still are mostly funny (til you think about them)
For context, first lets look at the story and some things that tear you right out of the experience. In the later part of the post I will focus on conflicts and unresolved questions exclusively.
The Time Variance Authority uses these “bombs” to clean up and cover their tracks when they move around through time. They magically make everything go away. We see the effect for about 30 seconds as it makes some dead people disappear and disintegrates matter and objects- but trees and grass remain. Its hard to say what they do. When we see them in the opening – this time at a Wisconsin Renaissance Fair in 1985, they seem pretty effective and relatively silent.
The hunt for Loki 2 is entering a new more intense phase with Loki Prime acting as something of a Criminal Profiler. This episode really doubles down on everyone’s contempt for Loki and the idea his role is to act badly so others will be better. Why he was allowed to later try to kill Thanos to avenge the people of Asgard in Infinity Wars is hard to fathom in light of this revelation.
The TVA is jacked and has an agent kidnapped upfront. Throw away lines reference that it takes time for new ‘branches’ or TVA locations scattered across time and space – to get stronger. Hard to say what this means after being told Time doesnt apply to the TVA. There’s no real context.
We’re quickly on to a confrontation between the Time Cops and last weeks cloaked figure- who we can now just call Loki 2. Still in the guise of a cloaked figure we don’t get a good look at, Loki 2 manages to apparently kill and drag off a Timecop in almost Predator movie style and uses the Time cop;s gear to beam away via Transporter Beam. Saying “opens a time portal we still havent had explained’ is too cumbersome. Its a Transporter til they explain it.
Somehow Owen Wilson knows the Time Cop isn’t dead or missing but kidnapped- he just knows. They set a time-bomb and beam away leaving us to ‘enjoy’ the effect. Its an okay effect and we need to know it for later, sort of. The time resetting charges need some real explanation. Dead people, including Time Cops are left where they fall to be disintegrated. Once again we see the TVA doesn’t care at all about openly interacting with randos undisguised. Apparently they themselves can not cause a Butterfly Effect.
Back at TVA HQ Loki continues his humiliating dissent to irrelevant loser. He is given a suit from the early 60s and a jacket from the 80s thats completely un-cool and has VARIANT in orange on the back. Everyone teases, dises and and mocks him. The PSA from last week has evolved into a now annoying interactive hologram that Loki cant stand either. He shows he’s been a quick study.
In his first field action as a TVA Timecop Loki is pretty useless. No one trusts him and he’s apparently angling to team up with himself and mess with the Time Controlling Lizard People. He again asks to speak to them. For whatever reason he’s not allowed. This sequence takes place as Loki’s taken out for sort of a test run at the Renaissance Fair in 1985. The Timecops bring Loki to the location to sort of look things over. He mostly confirms things they already know but catches the blame for the whole failed expedition, kidnapped Time Cop and all.
We again have Loki asking reasonable questions that Owen Wilson’s Mobias answers with fortune cookie logic and jokes. Loki wants to know whats going on and how all this time manipulation is possible. He also points out, correctly, that the Lizard People – aka the Timekeepers, are the bad guys as they’re arbitrary and un-elected. The show tells us he’s wrong and we again get a bad answer- It doesnt make sense and we just have to believe it makes sense, therefore it does make sense.
Mobias boss is apparently the same woman who was about to vaporize Loki in Time Court. She talks to Mobias like hes a problematic asshole whose always wrong. Then she verifies she likes Mobias and hes good at his job because hes glib and will ‘delete’ Loki from the timeline himself if he thinks its fun. This Un-does the damage his reputation took for being dedicated and inventive. The dialogue is painful and disrespectful, Mobias is fine with it though. It doesnt add up for people who like one other, even though that’s what we’re told. It comes across like when Leia tells Holdo she really likes Poe after slapping, demoting and stunning him. In other words- it’s bad and doesn’t work. Mobias reveals he’s never seen the Lizard People aka the all powerful Timekeepers. The TVA are more than morally ambiguous, theyre total assholes.
This scene is tonally confused. This is not a misprint, yes its also TOTALLY confusing- but what I really mean is the tone of whose right and wrong and how people talk is all over the place.
I speculate the exchange between Mobias and his unlikable boss who we’ve only seen acting terse, judgmental and angry; would be offensive if the actors switched roles. Mobias boss is way over the line, it’s workplace harassment in our world. She derides his intellect and goes after all his methods before she delivers a throw away line that hes actually a genius who is always on the spot trying. It was kind of needlessly weird. What happened didn’t match Mobias reaction or how it was played.
The entire exchange is bizarre and makes no sense. They again directly address and then laugh off the many questions swirling around how any of this works.
This is the second time we’ve been pat on the head and told its wrong to wonder whats going on. We need to just believe; like Mobias does. If I was writing this show I would think they need to not talk about this until they explain it rather than point it out and move on every week. One thing sort of leads to another but Loki is allowed to be smart for a moment. Outside the office Loki simply knows what the details of the conversation are and discusses some of them with Mobias. This is a mistake or really lazy storytelling.
Threatened by Mobias that they could still just kill him, Loki makes his way to the Archives Department of the TVA where he is told he can only read the files on events of Movies Thor Ragnorak and Infinity War. He’s back to having no empathy. He comes away with a fairly good theory though and tells Mobias.
In a mostly failed attempt at humor Loki wrecks Mobias lunch as he explains that if you go somewhere that has a mass casualty event you can’t cause a Butterfly Effect and therefore elude the scanning tech of the TVA. It’s another joke in the face of the obvious plot contrivances that is supposed to make them too funny for us to scrutinize. Seems the writers can’t really cope with the implications of their show. The simple, morbid logic is “imminently doomed people cant reveal anything or a cause a butterfly effect.” This seems to mean we’re just going to hang out watching doomed peoples last moments and not save them like in Man of Steel! Uplifting! At least it pretty much makes sense as far as Butterfly effects.
So essentially Loki’s research has given him the idea that you can hide from the timecops in the moments before a disaster. Something the TVA has overlooked for longer than there’s been time. Seems to take him about one day.
Mobias and Loki go to Pompeii and test this theory at the foot of Vesuvius as its ready to blow. Loki divulges the future to the Roman locals. He tells them their fate. Then the volcano blows up like its a surprise despite the rumbling its making the whole time. Funny but stupid. Mobias tech confirms that there’s no Butterfly Effect- somehow. This just leaves you wondering about the TVA.
The discussion between Mobias and Loki in the Timecop Cafeteria is really troubling as the motivations of the TVA are peppered with terms from the Third Reich and its Sci-Fi equivalent – The Galactic Empire of Star Wars fame. All three organizations say the ends justify the means because the most important thing is Order. The idea there once was a 100 Years War (fittingly so named) and so many other bad things, seems to not figure in. Once again racing to the end after some pretty useless info-dumps we see some sleuthing.
Loki and the TVA look over several Mass Casualty events and pick a disaster that wipes out an Alabama town in 2050. With no one trusting Loki the Alpha female time cop- who has a number not a name like all TVA we’ve gotten to know save Mobias, somehow pulls rank personally takes custody Loki and sort of takes the operation over. It’s strange they trust him less the second time than they did the first- but they do mention he seemed to be stalling. They actually pay this off later and it was a rare time an inconsistency was shot down well inside the actual episode.
With that Loki and the time cops beam over to 2050 and we now have a pretty bland mall/warehouse set thats unremarkable. We then seperate everyone and deal with the hunt for Loki 2. We find out soon enough shes waiting for them and watching them via security cameras. So out of all the mass casualty disasters ever they end up at the right one. First try. Convenient.
Loki and the alpha female timecop are on their own in the blandest mall ever. They question a lone shopper whose enjoying the savings of the hurricane sale like a total idiot. Alpha Time cop touches the shopper and he collapses. Loki pointlessly asks if the shopper- who is doomed and will be dead in hours- is dead. Alpha Female Time Cop reveals that she is now under Loki 2’s control. Loki Prime seems to put this together just slightly faster than us.
Mobias and the other time cops encounter doomed randos and recover their missing time cop. The missing Timecop manages to say shes given away the location of the TVA HQ and the Timekeepers but is otherwise pretty freaked out and incoherent.
While this is going on we have a series of proxy encounters between Loki 2’s zombies and Loki Prime.
Loki gets across his plan to Loki 2’s zombie proxies – together the two Lokis can overthrow the Lizard People. Why he would think this is possible is completely unknown as he was so quickly outfoxed by the TVA one episode back. Two times zero is still zero.
In what seems like the start of a series of back and forth double-crosses and lies Loki 2’s biker Zombie tells Loki Prime that Loki 2 has a different plan. We see from the Timebomb Time Bombs scattered around that this is looking like another ambush.
Loki Prime finally confronts actual Loki 2. Loki 2 is in fact female. Shes an apparently beautiful blonde rather than the brunette from comics for those who care, but she has Loki’s crown.
Shes the only Loki variant with a unique face (that we’ve seen so far). The others we were brieflly shown have Tom Hiddleston’s face for whatever that’s worth. She makes reference to having her own agenda “This isnt about you!” she tells Loki Prime as Owen Wilson and the time cops show up.
Then Loki 2 beams all the Timebombs away towards TVA HQ and the inept idiots there barely overcome their own procedures to somehow manage to say that someone has ‘bombed the timeline.’ We dont see much more about this as we close the episode back in 2050. After bombing the timeline Loki 2 starts to beam away- it takes longer this time though. Mobias asks Loki Prime NOT to jump into the Transporter beam. After a moments thought Loki Prime jumps in to follow Loki 2 (at least by Star Trek logic) and the transporter beam and the episode close. Thats right Loki watches old school Star Trek or he wouldn’t have had a clue about trying this. At least he’s cool, right?
“Another confusing installment with little new information’ sums up episode 2. The 6 pages of notes I took were useful if possibly irrelevant at the end. The attack on the Timeline could literally result in anything. The TVA might be gone. This would avoid needing to explain it. The two Lokis are now united – somewhere. The timebomb Time Bombs effect on the TVA and the Timeline has not yet been revealed-we only hear that they went off. What effect these have on anything is yet to be said.
Thoughts on the Most Puzzling CONFLICTS and MISTAKES
So far the Time Variance Authority are the most powerful, nebulous ‘Good Guys” ever. They have no compassion. They’re bored. They’re ignorant of everyday things but speak every language in the Timeline? We don’t know how the Timekeepers achieved control of the Timeline. We don’t know the lower limits of being reset or vaporized by the Timecops. We’re told being late for work might be enough. This makes them them as powerful as they are flaky. They seem inept and can be ambushed despite saying they have foreknowledge.
We still don’t know much about the Lizard People and how they affect our free will. When its suggested we have no free will Mobias throw away line to Loki is simply he would put it differently. This is useless to us as information.
When Loki asks the TVA reasonable questions they mock his intelligence, tell him he’s overthinking it and can not understand it anyway. I feel a little more like this is aimed at the fans every time the say tediously say it. Then they make a joke and say “Yeah, this cant be explained so we won’t”
Seems that the TVA’s tech is not going to be explained. It’s disappointing to have to coin the phrase ‘Butterfly Effect Detector’ for them. This is something of a failure in my eyes. We got enough logical sounding information on Warp Engines and Phazers from old Star Trek to make them seem real enough. No such luck here. Are they mentioning things as jokes ahead of time as a way to simply kick the can forever on substance?
Loki discovered an innovation in TVA investigations working off one incident for about a day. We can see there’s not a whole lot there for him to read- its one of the jokes. This does not square with everyone calling him stupid and saying that he cant understand their tech.
The idea they still consider Loki dumb makes the TVA even bigger assholes and more incompetent than ever. Loki is a 1500 year old Asgardian space traveler. He’s been to many, many planets. He has technical skills. If he understands the Bi-Frost and space travel? They can nurse him along on this. Constantly calling him an idiot wont work much longer. Like i said, the TVA are just assholes.
The TVA tech is just left to us to imagine and write for them. They get around with a Transporter-like device that they simply do not show or explain. The writers simply rely on knowledge of Star Trek to fill us in while they drive the plot. Worse- when Loki Prime jumps in to the Transporter beam they continue to rely on Star Trek to let us know both Loki’s end up in the same place – or so we’re left to assume based on reactions. We’ll find out in Episode 3 just where they went.
I know Loki’s first zombie is the shopper due to a lot of thinking and re-reading my notes for the episode only. Its kind of unclear considering the Timecop pulling rank on Mobias moments earlier to get Loki alone. Turns out it wasn’t part of the plan. I’m left to wonder why she did it other than for us to see Loki and Mobias get verbally derided again, this time together – I guess this means now their friends? Or both untrustworthy? Or the Timecop is just an asshole? Which is just sort of destructive to a message of diversity as Mobias is treated uncivilly at all times. TVA competence was never a thing to destroy. They’re all pretty dumb except Mobias
In fact the TVA staff are so dumb I still can’t tell if they’re sheltered regular humans, mentally diminished clones or poorly programmed androids. Hard to see how their power and jobs are in line with any of these possibilities. If they’re human how are they so dumb yet speak all known languages? Tougher, dumber C3PO’s covers most of their personal traits, so androids seems in the mix. They come off naive. This is weird when they’re shown as cops. They have well below average intelligence, like botched clones.
There’s not a lot of time to think on any of this as we rock through another hour jam packed with information and implications.
Other Conflicts include; notably; that Loki Prime and Loki 2 really do not bother with illusions during their confrontation. Loki Prime loved having several duplicates at once to confuse his foes. This even gets mentioned earlier in this very episode. For whatever reason though he’s just not using this power, nor is Loki 2.
When the 2 Loki’s confront one other there’s a little bit of pithy professional courtesy and they’re not really trying to kill each other- but since no illusions play in its a bit like two Jedi fighting but not using the Force. Sure, we know they have a few options, but whats wrong with Loki’s most preferred method? Its not even a difficult visual effect, in fact its one of the first and oldest, older than color! Maybe even before sound. Is this because the show assumes you’re not really thinking about it? In other words is this just the minimum needed for consumption and they do not care? Opportunity lost.
Loki 2 apparently doesn’t need the Tesseract or to actually touch anyone to take mind control of people and have them attack. Did the writers forget this or does Loki 2- being called Lady Loki by some- have a Tesseract of her own we never see despite how it worked in Avengers? Or does she have new powers? Or is this a complete impersonation? It’s most likely a mistake because they don’t address this directly.
This is two weeks of poor exposition and head pats now. It makes no sense at all and is now tired and unfunny. Relying on other shows to fill in the gaps is pretty bad writing. Seems like we’re all being encouraged to take the slowest, least inquisitive of intellectual outlooks on this.
Making a joke to acknowledge the contrivances then moving on is not sufficient and its done a few times in each episode. It’s actually derived off a common fan straw man argument straight off of Twitter. The passive aggressive method goes more or less like this – ‘it was good until you over-analyzed it.” This makes as much sense as “It wasn’t gonna rain til that weatherman mouthed off” or “I caught COVID from the COVID test.”
The show had problems when the writers didn’t respect the characters or the intelligence of the fans. They have sidestepped all the implications their jokes create. This is putting style over substance and raises obvious questions. Circling back to joke about it over and over strains suspension of disbelief and is a lazy hack attempt to undo the mistakes by normalizing them. You have to wonder if there are people tasked with continuity at Marvel.
Loki and others know things that have only been revealed to the audience to move things along a few times. Mobias knows the timecop is kidnapped – though there’s no reason for him to think this as we hear its never happened before. You’d be forgiven for thinking the timecop was dead the way it came off
Loki knows about the details of the conversation between Mobias and his boss despite the fact hes outside and has no time to get up to speed. He merely knows. This is twice in one episode where people have omnipotence before getting dumb again. Was this a mistake or to rush the plot? There’s too many times where the show is too contrived.
Why do the writers rush this plot when we have three movies worth of time? Will we slow down and explain at some point or is this how we do things in these shows now?
Loki apparently is much weaker physically then the guy who survives a beating from Hulk. He more or less knows the will of Loki 2 and is on and off coy about this, tipping his hand on all his options. He also seems to think he needs to team up with himself and that will be enough to overthrow the Timekeeping Lizards. He apparently doesn’t grab an infinity stone – despite the fact there are many of each stone, unguarded and they work everywhere but the TVA HQ.
Sometimes funny but never clear, the plot advances as questions remain unanswered. Next installment brings us to the halfway point and some clarity would be nice.
Til next time- if Lizard People allow it!