If you had told me that “Loki” would be my new favorite show (as well as quickly climbing the ranks as my new favorite MCU show), I would’ve lost a lot of money betting against you. I know this isn’t the best foot to start on, but by the time “Infinity War” rolled around, I was actually relived at his untimely demise. I was a little bit on Loki burn out, and I was looking forward to seeing the future of Thor and the Asgardians of the Galaxy without him. The character had a terrific redemption arc that felt conclusive and purposeful. Of course, “Endgame” undid all of that and a two years later he’s given his own series. Despite all of this, “Loki” is a triumph, and episode 2 brilliantly blends mystery and revelation, answering as many questions as it does creating new ones. After only 2 episodes, “Loki” proves that mischief is magic, and that the MCU knows what they’re doing.
Episode 2 gives us quite a bit to mull over and countless memes to share across the interwebs. There’s a lot to enjoy about “Loki,” probably too much to cover in this review so I’ll zero in on 3 key things that I believe are the crux of the show’s success. The first and most encompassing is the brilliantly paced story. Episode 2 is part police procedural, part “Doctor Who” time travel adventure, part MCU mystery. It is incredibly ballsy to return to the idea of time travel considering how divisive their decisions were in “Endgame.” But “Loki” fills in the gaps by simply shrouding their timey wimey exploits in a slow burn unraveling mystery. “Loki” is learning (or trying to learn) as much about the TVA and the sacred timeline and the time keepers as we are, and both of us are continually met with resistance.
This keeps us enthralled with what’s behind the curtain, and episode 2 is perfectly content is drawing it all out as long as it can. It reveals a lot; zero variant energy, apocalyptic nexus events, Loki reading about Ragnorok, and of course the evil Loki variant. All of this should be a revelation overload, and yet we’re no closer to figuring it all out than Loki himself is. The story crafting and pacing is some of the best the MCU television has to offer, and it manages to achieve the strangeness and newness of “Wandavision” without the shtick of decade sitcoms. Not that that’s a bad thing, by the way. “Loki” thrives BECAUSE of these previous shows, balancing out the absurd with the familiar in ways we truly haven’t seen before.
The second thing that makes “Loki” episode 2 so good is the buddy cop dynamic between Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Owen Wilson (Mobius). I seriously do not understand how in the world these two pair so damn well together, but they are the driving force of everything that is wonderful about this show. Episode 2 seems to understand that their onscreen chemistry is undeniable, and spends the majority of the time putting them front and center. Episode 2 knows its strengths, and they are Hiddleston and Wilson. This allows “Loki” to deliver huge chunks of exposition in entertaining ways. Watching Loki ruin Mobius’ lunch as he tries to explain his theory of where the variant is hiding is a LOT of important information delivered in a fun and funny way. Episode 2 doubles down on this framing a few times; Loki testing his theory in Pompeii, Mobius explaining to Loki the wonders of the Jetski, and both men discussing big, existential ideas regarding existence, time, and free will. These frameworks are in juxtaposition of something like, say, “Thor: The Dark World” where a majority of the exposition is delivered through a bunch of self important scientists spouting off plot details seated around a table.
“Loki” may be about chaos and time, but it is perfectly balanced in its delivery and has a strong handle its pacing of that delivery. The buddy cop, police procedural works because both Hiddleston and Wilson make it work, and it allows Episode 2 to dump tons and tons of information on its viewers while still maintaining its core mystery. All of this leads up to the third thing that makes “Loki” episode 2 so good: the show is just downright mesmerizing to look at. Despite all of its amalgamation of common tv tropes, nothing about “Loki” episode 2 feels like a television show. The set pieces are simply gorgeous. The dimly lit pallets stacked against the variant oranges create a quirky and ominous feeling at all times, seamlessly switching between the two without ever shifting its tone. Everything feels like it’s in its right place and yet nothing feels right. Everything and everyone feels like THEY believe they belong, but there is always something just out of place that makes everything unsettling.
The visuals and music (wonderfully scored by Natalie Holt…seriously, some of the best music in the entire MCU) compliment the strange world both within different timelines and the TVA. Even if you didn’t really care for the character, how things are transpiring on screen is so beautiful to look at you feel like you are experiencing “Loki” rather than watching it. “Loki” episode 2 is haunting, quirky, funny, emotional, revealing, and mysterious all in less than an hour. Hell, by the time we finally reveal the variant in the final moments of the episode, so much has happened you can’t help but want to know more. Even if you called it after episode 1, “Loki” seems content in giving you just enough to keep wanting more.
So ya, “Loki” episode 2 has changed my tune on the character, proving that the MCU once again is in the driver’s seat and we’re all just along for the ride. We can pour through easter eggs, pretend we aren’t excited about the character, hell we can even root for them to fail, but “Loki” still triumphs.
There is still a ton of stuff to unravel in the remaining 4 episodes, but if episode 2 of “Loki” is where the MCU is going, give me a TVA Jacket and a reset charge. I’m all in on this time traveling rabbit hole.
Sidenote: If Mobius doesn’t get to ride a jetski before the show is over, we riot.
New episodes hit Disney+ every Wednesday.