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Loki: Journey Into Mystery

Survive. That's all there ever is, all there ever was.

What happens to people when they're pruned? It's a grape story.

At the end of "The Nexus Event," Sylvie was our only hero left standing – we think? Mobius got pruned for wanting a real life. The TVA android fakes got beheaded (be-CPUed?) and Loki got pruned by Renslayer, rudely interrupted in the middle of telling Sylvie Something Important with a puppy dog expression. A nice post-credits scene has Loki asking if he's in Hel and if he's dead, and a group of... other Lokis replying to him saying no, not yet, but he will be soon if he doesn't haul ass. If you feel upside down and inside out, you might be forgiven.

Because that's how episode five begins: with a great camera-rotation scene, nothing staying still, everything spinning – on Sylvie, Renslayer – whoever the TVA really is – and on Team Loki.

So far, each of the Marvel series released have had a common element – around episode 4/5 the series breaks from a simple TV show into a cinematic series, and "Journey into Mystery" was that episode of Loki for me. This episode was full of, dare I say it, glorious purpose. Sylvie is almost gloating as she confronts Renslayer. Everything Renslayer's fought for has been beheaded along with the androids. Renslayer just killed her sometime 'friend' Mobius, and all this after hunting Sylvie for years and removing her from her childhood. Sylvie has to feel vindicated, if emptily so. It's clear Sylvie has already set her eye on two goals: figuring out what the hell is going on with the TVA and with Loki. Her vindication is definite enough so she has no problem shoving a TemPad into her pocket and pruning herself.

Renslayer, to me, is pretty horrible, even when I try to keep her big picture in mind. I get wanting to keep the system stable while you figure out what's really going on. Hunter B-15 is taking the opposite course suggesting that the people in the TVA need to know the truth – they're all Variants being used to kill Variants. I have to admit that Miss Minutes has become my candidate for the Big Bad for this series. The way she stalls for time and works with Renslayer is far too 'alive' in my book, and the way she responds to Renslayer when Renslayer says 'whoever created this place is in danger' made me wonder how much of a connection Minutes has to that Whoever. Or is Minutes actually that whoever? What will Renslayer do if she discovers – and is disappointed in – the truth? Will she tell the truth to the other TVA team members? Or will she make them all wear Variant suits like Loki?

That brings me to my favorite part of this review: the Lokis! This whole episode was riddled with easter eggs and references to the comics – from Alioth, who appeared in a 1993 issue of the Avengers, to Classic Loki and Kid Loki. It was also riddled with new stuff – the Boastful Loki who assembled the Infinity Stones, and Alligator Loki. I loved the betrayal scene where Alligator Loki gives the team a hand. I also loved how certain things were left open – like Kid Loki, who implied he tried to become a better person and got punished. I have a feeling we'll see Kid Loki again. Of all the Lokis, I was most touched by Classic Loki – his illusions were amazing, and so was his sacrifice. Lokis don't just have a tendency to save themselves.



In the end all of this is background to Loki and Sylvie and their developing connection. I don't yet have a sense for sure of whether this is a romantic connection or simply a very deep friendship, or an echo of themselves and the self-love that Loki has always had. Whatever it is, is marking a point of transformation for our title character. Take these following points: Loki's self-love, in this episode, has finally become balanced by self-knowledge and prophecy: remember, this is an earlier Loki who's seen his own future and certain things he wishes to avoid, in the context of his own failings. Further, he's just seen dozens of echoes of himself betray, fight, and possibly kill each other. Finally, he's no longer justifying his own behavior - as he tried to do to Mobius, during those first conversations. Instead, he's openly critiquing himself to Sylvie, and promising to be a better person. This is a Loki who wants to move on to a better place in life, connect to other people and put others before himself.  And a few minutes ago Kid Loki, quite casually, explained that that's when the Time Variance Authority shows up to prune a Loki: when they try to be a better person. There's something important on a cosmic scale about this transformation.

Regardless of the final form their relationship takes, there's something very special about the way Loki and Sylvie relate, and Sophia di Martino and Tom Hiddleston manage to act out the new-relationship awkwardness and partnership very convincingly, and this moment of transformation for Loki just works on so many levels. Their decision to combine powers and work to enchant Alioth together, with the distraction provided by Classic Loki, was both a practical and metaphorical next step for this pair, whatever direction their actual relationship goes. They spent a couple of episodes fighting; now they're flinging green magic around together. At the end, their illusion and enchantment magics combine to reveal reality: a cosmic house at the end of time, reached somehow through the body of Alioth.

Eggs by the carton

There's a miniature Thor in a bottle buzzing around angrily for a hammer just outside the bottle in the scene where the Lokis lead the team to hide.

The leader of the rebel Lokis appears in the Vote Loki series. I don't recognize the others.

The dagger/sword Kid Loki gives Loki appears in the comics too!

The ship that appears in the episode which is eaten by Alioth is actually the USS Eldridge, which was reported to have disappeared for a brief period in what became known as the Philadelphia Experiment.

I feel like I've seen the weird sphere-headed purple chickens before.

What eggs did I miss? Many, I'm sure.

Moments to Cherish

I have no idea how Mobius knew where Sylvie was, but a little loophole is a small price to pay for the great conversation between the two of them as they try to escape Alioth.

Alligator Loki deserves his own show. He and Kid Loki have a kind of Groot/Raccoon vibe, especially when Kid Loki translates his growls as prayers for survival. Come to think of it, Alligator Loki probably survives Alioth, too.

Classic Loki's story was kind of touching, but also maybe a warning for our Loki? I could see him going down that path especially after watching his own life story.

Quotes to Savor

Loki: Look, it's been a very, very, very trying past few days. Months? I don't even know how long it's been since New York. All I know is, I got pruned and I woke up here, and now I'm surrounded by Variants of myself, plus an alligator, which I'm heartbroken to report I didn't even find all that strange!

Classic Loki: I have to say, it feels odd walking toward the gargantuan creature. Do you have a plan of action?
Loki: Get inside, find its heart or brain or whatever, and then, you know, do it in.
Kid Loki: I mean...
Loki: Okay, just because it's not complicated doesn't mean it's bad.
Kid Loki: It also doesn't mean it's good.

Sylvie: How do I know that, in the final moments, you won't betray me?
Loki: Listen, Sylvie, I... I betrayed everyone who ever loved me. I betrayed my father, my brother, my home. I know what I did. And I know why I did it. And that's not who I am anymore.

Overall

Five out of five shifty versions of Miss Minutes.

5 comments:

JosiecKafka said...

"I loved the betrayal scene where Alligator Loki gives the team a hand."

Perfect!

Billie Doux said...

I loved the alligator so, so much. And Classic Loki sacrificing himself in such a Loki way. It was the best episode so far, and I don't know how the finale could possibly top it.

Anonymous said...

I got a total Willow and Tara in Hush vibe when Loki and Sylvie held hands to combine their power.

Anonymous said...

Richard E Grant was the MVP here. Also it not stop my Loki/Sylvie shipping at all. They were too sweet with the blanket stuff. Make her a snuggly one, Loki!
I have no idea how this will end.

RandallJosephSmith said...

Another Easter egg was the yellow helicopter that said Thanos which could be seen when the Lokis were walking at one point. It’s a reference to the infamous Thanos-copter.