While I would like to make this “Loki” season 1 finale review spoiler free, there is simply no discussing the episode without talking about some key performances that will inevitably spoil some things for you if you haven’t seen the show to its final minute. I think the internet will be probably be doing everything it can to disrupt your ignorance as you may or not may be late to the game in finishing the season, so for now just know this: I will save my review of the end of the finale towards the end of this review. That way you can enjoy the “Loki” review without worrying about the entire conclusion being ruined for you.
And man, does “Loki” really want you to talk about things that you can’t really talk about until everyone has seen it. The season concludes by leaving viewers with more questions than answers, and once again delivers a polarizing conclusion that will most certainly create a branch of debate for all of time.
And now, I will not apologize for the wordplay. You know what you’re getting into with these.
Rather than make this review solely about the final episode of “Loki” like the other episodes were, I’m going to talk about the season as a whole; the good, the bad, and the futuristic MCU implications that Marvel was not kidding when they said it was going to change everything.
For starters, there’s a lot to enjoy with “Loki.” Considering the show is a massive collection of time traveling tropes along with deep, game changing implications for a very large universe while also trying to tell a present story from an alternate timeline of a previous story we already know very well, it is really impressive that it comes together as well as it does. That’s as much to type as it is to read as it is to even comprehend, and for the most part “Loki” manages to execute on just about all of them really well. Season 1 introduces a whole new world while simultaneously reimagining the current one while also setting up the future. With so much going on, season 1 gets high praise for even attempting to meet all of our expectations. Let down for some? Sure, I can see that. But for me, “Loki” really does excellent work in making an extremely off putting and difficult, massively sprawling narrative digestible for even the most casual of Marvel viewer.
Dealing with time and time travel and multiverses is always a challenge even at the best of times, and “Loki” season 1 manages to really hit the mark more often than not. Paying homages to things like “Doctor Who” and other notable aesthetics proves to be a strength rather than a weakness, drawing from a number of influences while still managing to feel unique. “Loki” is also really engaging in its storytelling, constantly creating more and more questions and rabbit holes until it all comes to a head in its finale. To that end, “Loki” is once again proof that the MCU has a plan, and they are in fact that sacred timeline and maintain with the same care and necessity as the TVA itself. There is a glorious purpose for everyone and everything in “Loki” and the implications of these events will have a foreseen ripple effect throughout the larger franchise universe. This was the point of “Loki” all along, but the fact that they were able to actually pull it off is all the more impressive.
Of course the show is elevated by its wonderful cast who all get a few moments to shine here. Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, and Sophie Di Martino are all in top notch form here, working well together as well as in their own stories. Hell, Wilson’s Mobius isn’t even a real main character and all we want now is for the man to get his jet ski.
The only downside of “Loki” season 1 is that there simply isn’t enough of Hiddleston and Wilson together. Don’t get me wrong, their stories throughout the show are done will and I’m all for The Lokis running through space and time for answers, but one of the best parts of the first two episodes is the buddy cop dynamic set in motion by watching Mobius and Loki bounce off of each other. It was truly a strength of the show, one that I understand why it couldn’t be what the show is about but also something that is missed the longer the show goes on. “Loki” is doing a LOT, so I can forgive minor asks like that one.
Ok, Spoiler time.
I’m serious. I’m literally going to give away the ending of the entire season the minute I talk about this character.
Ok, now that the slow pokes are gone, CAN WE TALK ABOUT JONATHAN MAJORS?!?!? I had my suspicions that he would show up by the end of the season, but his character had become the Mephisto of “Loki,” so I was actually beginning to give up on the idea that he would show up here. Lo and behold, in all his glory, He Who Remains (more on that later) has arrived to deliver a better, far more interesting “Matrix Reloaded” Architect exposition dump. Always self aware, He Who Remains even asks the Lokis when the find him if they’re disappointed, a very meta quip that is clearly pointed directly at “Loki’s” detractors. Majors is a terrific actor, and he really is playing it up here. Some would argue a bit too much to where he doesn’t really fit, but I would argue that if you can introduce an Alligator Loki and thrive, you can introduce an over the top version of He Who Remains and make it work. The whole scene is a lot to take in, but “Loki” opts to give us some answers about what we’ve been watching while also forcing us to end season 1 with more questions than we probably anticipated.
He Who Remains introduction in the “Loki” finale is perhaps what creates both the biggest rift among fans and is also a ding on the entirety of the show. For starters, calling him He Who Remains feels stupid because casting announcements ruined any kind of possible secrecy they could have had here. We know who he is, and trying to hide his true identity does feel a little bit underwhelming. I don’t blame the creators for this; this is a direct result of casting news preceding the show, and you can’t base a show on casting news. The show is operating under the assumption that through his exposition (and there’s a LOT of it) you’ll be able to deduce who he is and if he is or isn’t a reliable narrator. Instead, we know who he is because Jonathan Majors shows up having a grand old time explaining the finale’s conclusions. There hasn’t been a bad performance yet, and I’m stoked to see what Majors is going to bring to the table in latter MCU projects.
The introduction of He Who Remains as answer to who created the TVA and why along with the inevitable fallout of that discovery by the two Lokis is where things get a little dicey. While this was executed well, “Loki” suffers from concluding as a bridge to “Doctor Strange 2” rather than its own, unique story. Up until the final episode, everything and everyone feels like they have a purpose in their own present, and where they end up is important to viewers to feel satisfied. The reward for their investment is basically a commercial for what’s coming rather than an end to what’s happening. This isn’t all bad; it most certainly shakes the MCU to it’s core by the time the credits roll, and phase 4 is poised to go in very strange, new, and dangerous territories. Things are slowly starting to come together, and “Loki” season 1 plays a major role in what’s coming. But unlike “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and even “WandaVision,” the finale makes the entire season 1 feel more like a set up than its own story.
I didn’t feel this way until it all concluded, and I’m not really even that bothered by it if we’re being honest. But both previous shows were their own, contained, unique story first, MCU connectors second. This has always been the blueprint for much of Marvel’s success; make a good movie that happens to connect to a larger universe rather than cram a larger universe into a mediocre movie. “Loki” season 1 comes very close to committing this mistake. Its refusal really answer questions about many of characters and leave all of them hanging in the balance takes away from the emotional impact of going on the journey in the first place. Even the Lokis reaching the end of time itself only to discover that everything that’s happened is merely a set up for what’s coming feels anti-climactic. “Loki” season 1 leaves you wondering if that’s really the end because all of the answers are mainly aimed at setting up bigger questions for what’s going to happen down the road. This is the first time Marvel has made the connection to the MCU more important than story at hand, and “Loki” almost derails entirely were it not for a run of stellar episodes prior.
“Loki” is really good even if it doesn’t stand on its own by the end. Season 1 starts strong and gives us some truly great performances as well as some big glimpses into what we can expect down the road. Where it stumbles is in not seeing their own story through, deciding that the effect on the larger MCU timeline is more important than resolving anything in the current one. It’s still exciting and there’s a lot to enjoy about the whole season, but as much as I love the show I won’t fault you for feeling a bit underwhelmed by it all. There’s more to look forward to than there is to be resolved in “Loki,” and this ends up being both a strength and weakness for the show overall.
I guess Starlord can rest easy after someone in “Loki” Season 1 makes a much bigger mistake and is now responsible for bringing about the new wave of chaos.
Disney+ already revealed that the series will be returning for a second season.