The Nerd Side Of Life

“Loki” Episode 4 Puts “Work Your Loki” Into Canon [Review]

I said this last episode, but I truly am running out of ways to talk about “Loki” week after week without diving into spoilers. Part me just wants to write “consistently good, review over” with each passing episode. I won’t do that, because there’s still quite a bit to unpack without revealing all that this episode had to reveal to us. Before we dive into “Loki” and that gorgeous nuances and brilliantly crafted story, cinematography and top notch performances, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Some people simply don’t like the show. I’ve seen a number of people begin to lament about the pacing and overall narrative not really grabbing them, even going so far as to call out people who rave about the show as being unwavering, cult like MCU stans. To some extent, you’re probably right. Marvel HAS conditioned an entire generation to love without merit and there are certainly those who refuse to take kindly to any criticisms of anything marvel ever.

(L-R): Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

So let’s just get it out of the way now: it’s ok to not like “Loki.” Hell, I didn’t even like Loki when he was simply another cog in the Marvel machine, and I’m as shocked as you are that his solo outing has turned out to be as good as it is to me. But despite being conditioned to assume the Marvel machine cannot and will not make mistakes, even things created for mass consumption simply won’t reach everybody. Now, there is a bit of spoiled entitlement to some of these criticisms where we all want everything spelled out for us immediately and the idea of waiting for a show to unfold at a more reserved pace is somehow insulting. I would argue that “Loki” taking its time to breath is exactly why it’s so good, and this notion that we absolutely show our hand out of the gate is unfair. “Loki” may not be your cup of tea and that’s fine, but we truly need to pump the breaks on our demand for instant gratification in every single new show that comes about. Marvel has drawn a hard line in the sand between their mediums, with the films being the nice pretty bow and TV series being slower, more nuanced form of storytelling.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way….

Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Interestingly enough, “Loki” episode 4 feels more like a feature film than an episodic entry. The entire time I was watching the episode I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching cinema unfold. From its huge reveals and upheavals to pulling back the curtain farther than I think even the boldest of film theorists thought to its character development, this episode of “Loki” felt bigger and more impactful than anything before it. That’s a bold statement considering the previous episodes have introduced infinite possibilities already. Episode 4 introduces new streams of multiverse and timeline intrigue while simultaneously layering every single character that has been included in this series. Literally everyone gets there due here, from Ravonna Renslayer to Hunter B-15 to Mobius get their time to shine, not only allowing each wonderful actor to demonstrate their incredible skills but also making everyone in the series important in their own way.

This is really hard to do without bogging down the plot and overall narrative, but “Loki” seems to but a fully realized vision in both story and characterization. Everything happens for a reason, and episode 4 serves a stark reminder that the creators have left no stone unturned here. Take Hunter B-15, played by the wonderful Wnumi Mosaki (of “Lovecraft Country” fame). She’s gets maybe 3 or 4 minutes of dedicated screen time but manages to make herself integral to the overall story through Mosaki’s unmatched performance capabilities. She shares a 45 second scene with Sylvie and somehow packs one of the largest emotional punches of the entire episode. When you spare no expense on your cast, “Loki” proves that even the most mundane of characters can be important to the story you’re telling.

Mobius (Owen Wilson) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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That right there is perhaps what makes “Loki” so damn good in addition to the countless superlatives I’ve hurled upon it episode after episode. For all its big MCU implications and multiverse teases and future release tie ins, “Loki” remains a character driven show FIRST, all of that other stuff a distant second. Yes, we may be setting tons of things up for the future, but what matters most to “Loki” are the characters in the present. Episode 4 feels like a feature film because it gives its characters feature film importance and characterization that every few television series are capable of doing. Owen Wilson’s Mobius has us rooting for him to get a jet ski despite him being a minor player (as of now) in a much larger world. Hunter B-15 doesn’t even have a name; she’s nothing more than a TVA soldier, and yet her journey of discovery pulls at our heartstrings in ways only reserved for main characters. You simply don’t get that kind of development and emotional delivery in episodic television like this, and that sets “Loki” apart and makes episode 4 shine.

The last piece of this episode 4 “Loki” puzzle is how much it reveals while still leaving us with questions. “Loki” continually answers new questions with each episode while also breaking the dams for more, striking a brilliant balance between revelation and mystery we just don’t get enough of. “Loki” pats you on the back for being right while also revealing all the ways you’re still wrong. It keeps you guessing even when it’s shattering facades, something episode 4 in packed with. What’s even more impressive is it does all of this without ever cheapening the impact of events. The post credit scene is a bombshell and of course, another cliffhanger, but it never diminishes the events that got us there in the first place. This can only be achieved by putting you characters first, which “Loki” does. What happens to our protagonists and antagonists matter, and every event shapes and reshapes our understanding of all of them.

(L): Mobius (Owen Wilson) and (center): Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Loki” may not be for you, but if it is we are being treated to something truly special and unique. And if for nothing else, episode 4 has given us the phrase “Work your Loki.” I personally motion to have that phrase be entered into the sexual innuendo lexicon. Regardless of how you interpret that phrase out of context of the show, it’s one that will most certainly stand the test of time.

And without spoiling anything and putting this at the end as a test to see who’s actually reading these:

Do we riot now?

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