‘Loki’ Series Premiere: The God of Mischief Has a No Good, Very Bad Day (RECAP)

Loki Tom Hiddleston
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[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Loki Season 1 Episode 1.]

Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston) is not having a good time.

After he fails to conquer New York (and Midgard, in general), he swipes the Tesseract and — after a brief yet hilarious pit stop in Mongolia — winds up in the hands of the Time Variance Authority.

The TVA, which serves a trio of beings called the Timekeepers, monitors the sacred timeline to ensure nothing disrupts the events the Timekeepers have condoned: And Loki taking the Tesseract and escaping captivity by the Avengers definitely qualifies as a disruption. Throughout the episode he’s arrogant, power-hungry, selfish, and snarky… but he’s also smart, self-aware, and maybe even a little sympathetic. In short, even though he’s a “variant,” he’s still the Loki fans know and love, and it’s exciting to see his journey on Disney+ begin.

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A God Does Not Plead

As is explained to Loki by a cute little talking clock named Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong), he’s a “variant,” which means he didn’t do what he was supposed to do, and now his existence has messed up the timeline. But Loki, being Loki, hasn’t taken kindly to anything the TVA has done to him since they took him into custody — not asking him to sign papers to verify everything he’s ever said in his life, not removing his Asgardian armor and replacing it with a beige jumpsuit, and certainly not forcing him to hand over the Tesseract to a desk clerk. When he arrives at the place where he’s meant to “stand trial” for his crimes, he’s more than indignant — he’s arrogant and brash. “How do you plead?” asks Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Loki responds in the most Loki way imaginable: “A god does not plead.”

Naturally, the situation doesn’t improve from there. Loki tries to use his powers, which don’t work in the TVA, Judge Renslayer is forced to find him guilty, and then — surprise! — Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), an agent of the TVA, makes his voice heard. He offers to take Loki and question him.

Loki’s Greatest Hits

Mobius and Loki are fun right off the bat, with the former expressing his encyclopedic knowledge of the latter as they travel to the interrogation room (this is where we get the “Well, I don’t like talking,”/”But you do like to lie, which you just did” scene from the trailers). Even better are the actual interrogation scenes, which could have a recap of their own; Mobius asks Loki about what he’ll do if he gets out of the TVA (he’ll rule over Midgard, then Asgard, then the Nine Realms, as he believes is his right) and most importantly, whether he enjoys hurting people. Through the TVA’s Time Theater he plays Loki some of his “greatest hits,” all of which involve torturing and hurting people. Also fun here is the introduction of a device that loops time just for whomever is wearing the TVA’s control collar, meaning that when Loki gets a little too angry or tries to walk away, Mobius can zap him right back to where he’d been seconds earlier. Nice. We also learn that in one of Loki’s all-time great escapes, he was D.B. Cooper. Because he lost a bet with Thor. Also nice.

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Don’t Go Anywhere

But through Loki’s moping and metaphors and overall haughtiness, Mobius makes a good point: He’s the God of Mischief, but what he’s doing isn’t mischief at all — it’s causing harm and suffering and fear. And all Loki’s self-righteousness and suspicion of the TVA comes crashing down when Mobius starts showing him glimpses of his future. He moves ahead in his life to Thor: The Dark World, where Loki watches himself inadvertently lead the Dark Elves right to his adoptive mother, Frigga (Renee Russo) instead of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). He’s shaken as he watches her die and demands Mobius tell him where “they’re keeping her,” but they don’t have her — what he’s just seen is the future, and more pain and suffering he will cause.

For the first time in the episode, there’s a glimmer of who Loki will eventually become as he wipes away tears after watching his mother perish. And it’s then, when it seems Mobius might be able to get through to him, that they’re interrupted; a TVA agent needs Mobius’ help, which means he has to leave Loki alone for a bit. “Don’t go anywhere,” he tells Loki as he heads out the door, which really makes you wonder if he knows Loki half as well as it seemed like he did.

Because of course Loki won’t do what he’s told.

Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston in Loki trailer

The Greatest Power in the Universe?

Instead, he takes the opportunity to attempt an escape. He finds his way back to the desk clerk who took the Tesseract from him and demands it back, or he’ll “gut him like a fish” (the clerk, having no idea what a fish is, doesn’t know how to interpret the threat). But nonetheless, Loki gets his beloved glowing blue cube… only to open a drawer at the clerk’s desk and see it filled with Infinity Stones. “We get a lot of those,” the clerk remarks, and suddenly, in the face of such immense power, Loki’s snarky attitude toward the whole place changes. What a shock!

But Loki’s character development isn’t over yet, because while Mobius and the rest of the TVA are alerted to the fact that their variant is on the loose, Loki zaps himself back to the theater (he swiped Mobius’ time-looping device) and watches the rest of his life play out on the screen. Basically, he watches Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War, but the “Loki-only” cut.

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Glorious Purpose

He’s happy to see himself mend his relationships with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Thor — and understandably traumatized when he sees himself killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) (you have to wonder if he was aghast at his future self for going after the Mad Titan with nothing but a knife!?). And just like that, he’s witnessed his entire story, a journey from hero to villain to antihero that spanned several MCU films, in a span of minutes. And he doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with it.

And that’s where Mobius finds him, sitting on the floor, his head in his hands. “I can’t go back to my timeline, can I?” he says, and finally, he tells Mobius he doesn’t enjoy hurting people. He demonstrates remarkable self-knowledge in admitting it’s a desperate play for control, conjured by the weak — himself — to inspire fear. Oh, and he calls himself a villain, with plenty of regret in his voice. Whoa, that’s a lot of character development in one episode!

Mobius says he can’t offer Loki salvation, but he can offer him “something better.” Turns out, the TVA is trying to hunt down a particularly dangerous variant that keeps slipping through its fingers and killing its Minutemen, and they could use a little help from a certain variant. “Why me?” Loki asks. “The variant we’re hunting is you,” Mobius answers — so yeah, that makes Loki a pretty good choice. And as the episode ends, we see a hooded figure burn an entire team of Minutemen alive… Loki, we presume.

Loki, Wednesdays, Disney+

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