*** WARNING: this contains spoilers for all episodes of Loki on Disney+ ***
It’s the finale of Loki, the most mysterious and captivating of Disney+’s MCU shows. Last week saw a lot of running around, meeting new characters, and revelations about the TVA. For the final episode there are fewer set pieces, but an awful lot happens.
To catch up: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) were in The Void, the place where everyone who gets pruned by The TVA arrives, usually waiting to be eaten by a beast known as Alioth. The pair found a way to best Alioth, while Mobius (Owen Wilson) used a TemPad to go back to The TVA and confront Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who still defends the system despite it being a lie.
We see an audio/visual representation of The Sacred Timeline, before finding Loki and Sylvie outside the castle revealed at the end of last week’s episode. Miss Minutes arrives, telling them this is The Citadel At The End of Time. She offers them a chance to be reinserted in The Sacred Timeline, in exchange for everything they ever wanted – power for Loki, a happy life for Sylvie. They refuse, and move forward to meet “He Who Remains”, the one behind it all.
Who is “He”? It’s Kang The Conquerer! “He Who Remains” is played by Jonathan Majors, who is cast as Kang in the upcoming Ant-Man: Quantumania. In the comics he is a time travelling villain who has had many variations, so it’s likely Ant-Man’s Kang will be a different version to the one we see here. Time travel stuff is complicated, but we’re so pleased in the casting of Majors, an incredible actor who can nail a role like this. If you haven’t seen his work in Da 5 Bloods or The Last Black Man in San Francisco, treat yourself now.
Kang avoids Sylvie’s blows as he knows everything. Leading them to his chamber, he explains that what has happened to this point is his design, as he is behind The Sacred Timeline. A version of Kang discovered the Multiverse, along with many other variations, all eventually meeting. While initially peaceful, certain variants wanted it all for themselves, and a Multiverse War broke out. He Who Remains discovered Alioth, used him to end the fighting, and set up a standard timeline kept peaceful by The TVA. He wants Loki and Sylvie to take over The Sacred Timeline. He offers a choice between that and killing him, which would set off another war with multiple versions of him returning. At this point, a “threshold” is passed where he can’t see what’s going to happen.
The MCU hasn’t always had great baddies, the one thing DC films truly have over their rival. However, the big villains (Loki, Thanos and now Kang) have interesting moral quandaries. Kang doesn’t want to rule, he just doesn’t want chaos, and sees the destruction of free will as a necessary end. He points to Sylvie’s murders to explain how a certain goal requires bending the rules. For a show all about the vagaries of character, it’s an appropriately layered motive.
Sylvie struggles, but eventually goes for the kill. Loki stops her, reasoning that this will create something much worse. He says he doesn’t want a throne, or power, he just wants Sylvie to be ok. The pair kiss in a beautiful moment, before Sylvie says “but I’m not you” and kicks Loki back to the TVA. She then kills He Who Remains, who refuses the offer to beg for his life knowing he’ll be reincarnated. As the blade goes in, he smiles and says “see you soon”.
A lot has also been happening at The TVA. Mobius confronts Renslayer, who reveals she doesn’t know who’s behind all this but , in her words, “it can’t have all been for nothing”. Mobius tells her Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) is revealing the truth to all the TVA agents by showing Renslayer in her original life as a teacher. Back to the closing moments of the episode, Loki sits bereft by Sylvie’s betrayal. He finds Mobius and Hunter B-15, explaining what’s happened, only to learn that they have no idea who he is. In a foreboding final shot, we see that The TVA is running as normal and is overlooked by a new statue… of Kang.
So that’s it for the MCU’s third original series. WandaVision had a unique style but had some unsatisfying conclusions, while Falcon and Winter Soldier was familiar but gave us everything we wanted. Loki managed to be unlike anything else in the Marvel Universe, and still hit all the right notes. Praise should be heaped on director Kate Herron, the writing team and Hiddleston himself for creating a series that really earns its place. Loki could have been an unnecessary spin-off, but they found a way to make it vital.
A small credits scene promises Loki will be back for Season Two, and things are open for more exploration. We’d like to see Loki being a little more like himself – yes, it’s been very rewarding to see his character broken down and true feelings come forward, but the devilish charisma is why he had the series in the first place. A lot’s likely to change before Season Two, with two Multiverse themed movies likely to come before then. One thing’s for certain, however: The MCU’s most enduring antihero has made sure nothing will ever be the same again.
All episodes of Loki are available on Disney+.