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Loki: Lamentis

Loki: “Brute force is no substitute for diplomacy and guile.”

This was a bit of a quieter episode, which gave us plenty of time to discover the wonders of Lady Loki aka Sylvie.

Who is Loki? In a lot of ways he's a pretender, a con man, a fake. Maybe that's why his specialty is illusions. He has to create what he lacks, specifically the qualities needed to rule Asgard. It is what drove him down the darker path, combined with the unfortunate timing of finding out he was adopted. But deep down Loki isn't evil, just morally corrupt. He didn't think twice about saving those poor people in line trying to get away from a dying world and that's okay. Because we know Loki. We've been with him (not rooting for him per se) but watching his exploits for a decade now. But now I wonder, is the point of this show to make him a hero? Or is his journey about something else?

I guess that's the most intriguing aspect of this series; it is a story about a villain (which is all the rage in the Disney corporate offices lately). A sympathetic villain for sure, but one who has killed indiscriminately in the past. Does that make him, and by extension his exploits, more interesting? Perhaps, but I think there is another reason we are exploring this character.

One of the main themes in this episode is his definition of love. Does he even understand it? Honestly, I think the answer right now is no. He uses a dagger as a metaphor for love, and while it is a drunken rant, it says something about his character. I cannot for the life of me remember where I heard it first, but to be a hero one has to understand love. Because to be selfless, to sacrifice, you have to love. To give of yourself, you must not expect to be given something in return. That is the lesson he hasn't learned yet, he expects to be given his throne. He expects to have adulation and love thrown at him because of his position and his charisma and his power. Yet he deserves none of it because he cannot return that love.

Love is a dagger.

So why is he confronted with a vastly different version of himself? A Lady Loki who was never shown love. Who didn't have a mother and whose father clearly didn't care for her (given how Odin is depicted in the first two Thor films, that isn't surprising). Sylvie has cast aside her name, and is desperately trying to tear down the TVA. Why? Well her explanation is that they have been hunting her for her entire life. But that cannot be the only reason. No, I get the impression she is searching for something she cannot quite articulate. Perhaps it is the same thing Loki is searching for... a definition and maybe a reason to love.

Of course all of that is just prologue. What we get in this episode are two people who are basically mirrors of each other forced to work together. As much as I love Loki, I love Sylvie. She is exactly what I was hoping for, she is powerful and smart and deeply broken. She is just as layered and wildly engaging as Loki, and while she may turn out to be the villain of this series, I hope that she can be redeemed. I want her to be a continuing character, someone we can get to know for the next ten years.

"I'm not playing 'Get Help'!"

The actual plot was fairly thin, and was mostly an excuse to get these two to a point where they can work together. And their fight across the surface of that moon was glorious. We even got some wonderfully campy acting from Loki pretending to be a security guard. Where things go from here is honestly anyone's guess, but I really cannot wait to find out. Are we really halfway through this season already?

I would be remiss not to talk about the two big reveals. One spoken off hand was such a welcome and wonderful bit of character building: Loki is officially bisexual or maybe pansexual. He does have a bit of a Captain Jack Harkness vibe to him. Secondly, all the TVA agents are Variants. Which makes total sense. How can you have an organization with that many people unless they were either created for the agency (which is beyond creepy) or they are basically prisoners of the agency (i.e. captured and brainwashed variants). It makes poor C-20 all the more pitiable, because that scene in the beginning was a real memory.

Bits:

Loki showed a bit of the scope of his magic when he stopped that giant pillar from falling.


The main setting is the moon Lamentis-1. Which is appropriate given how much Loki laments in this episode.

So about love, Loki has shown at least twice that he is capable of love. Specifically a love for his people (crying when he discovered the destruction of Asgard), and from his mother and father and to a lesser extent his brother. So it is a bit ironic that he doesn't seem to understand that love at all.

Intro Song: Demons - Hayley Kiyoko
Outro Song: Dark Moon - Gale Storm

Quotes:

Sylvie: "You know what brain freeze is, don't you?"
C-20: "Here we go."
Sylvie: "It's when you sip something so cold..."
C-20: "Brain freeze associated with coldness, got it."
Sylvie: "Wait, I'm being serious. So, it permeates the roof of your mouth and it freezes the synapses in your brain. So your memories are literally frozen in place."

Loki: “A weapon to be wielded far away, or up close. You can see yourself in it. It’s beautiful, until it makes you bleed. But ultimately, when you reach for it…”
Sylvie: “...It isn’t real. Love is an imaginary dagger.”

Loki: “Brute force is no substitute for diplomacy and guile.”

Sylvie: “What exactly makes a Loki a Loki?”
Loki: “Independence. Authority. Style.”

Sylvie: “I'm not gonna waste my time rooting around for the TemPad when someone taught you fairly decent magic.”
Loki: “My mother.”
Sylvie: “What was she like?”
Loki: “She was, um... a Queen of Asgard. She was good. Purely decent.”
Sylvie: “Are you sure she was your mother?”
Loki: “Oh, no, she's not, actually. I was adopted. Is that a bit of a spoiler for you? Sorry about that.”
Sylvie: “No. I knew I was adopted.”
Loki: “What? They told you?”
Sylvie: “Yeah. Did they not tell you?”
Loki: “No. I mean, they did eventually.”

I don't really care if this was a good episode (although it was), we have a new Loki and she's marvelous (see what I did there). As a bonus, here is her official poster.

3 out of 4 Falling Planets


7 comments:

Richard said...

Loki completely understands love, however we all assume he's on the up and up with us, the audience. I think that he's playing every viewer into this current state to garner more info. He's not ready to turn this variant in unless he knows exactly what for. To that end his displace of "brand new powers" is also a ruse because him rebuilding a collapsing building is very time stone like.

He spent so much of the episode not giving Sylvie the teleport stick only to finally relent and have it break. He knows what he's doing and he's trying to keep the both of them alive for as long as possible.

"Keep talking and nobody explodes." he can get them out of this whenever he wants but he wants to see how she ticks. I doubt he was really even drunk on the train, but wanted some more stakes...

Billie Doux said...

Thank you for an excellent review, Samantha.

Richard, I get your point, but I also don't think Loki understands love. He keeps showing such confusion when he thinks about his mother's death, like he doesn't understand why he is grieving.

citten said...

I got a very Doctor Who-vibe from this episode (the good ones :) ) - it was fun and I really liked it.
Looking forward to the last half of the season!

Michal Dvorak said...

After Sylvie tried to charm Loki, I kept thinking that everything that followed might be an elaborate illusion where one of the Lokis was trying to play the other one. And I was so sure the broken TemPad was a trick and Loki still had the real one. But I guess not. That's the problem with both main characters being tricksters - how can you believe anything you see?

But anyway, the show is great, so I guess I'll just let them surprise me. 🙂

Josie Kafka said...

I think the question of Loki understanding love might also be an issue of the difference between experiencing loss (which we've seen the in MCU movies): that led to character development. But in this show, with EarlyLoki, he is aware of his mom's death and the destruction of Asgard, but he hasn't lived through it, so it hasn't had the same impact on him.

I've often (well, not really often, but sometimes) wondered which questions I would ask an alternate-universe version of me, and I think it's quite telling that Loki jumped right to the adoption issue. That is still his foundational trauma. I wonder if the Loki who lived through the events of the film would have asked the same questions?

I really enjoyed this episode, even though it went almost literally nowhere. Little details made me so happy, like Loki rolling up his sleeves to look cool in the middle of an apocalypse, and Sylvie tying her hair up so it's out of the way as she goes on her adventures.

Michael, I also wonder if maybe this whole episode was an elaborate illusion.

Anonymous said...

Is Sylvie really a Loki? Or could she be Enchantress? There's one Enchantress called Sylvie.
I dig Loki being bi even if he's never shown any romantic interest in anyone, guess he's too busy scheming. Princes though? Hmm..

Serena + Pumpkin said...

This show feels like a smash up of Legends if Tomorrow (TVA) and Lucifer (narcissist rebelling against predetermined destiny by overlords) without the case of the week syndrome. Plus both Toms look damn good a suit - I’m pretty sure that DB Cooper scene was purely so they could dress Tom Hiddleston like Don Draper.