‘Loki’ Director on Capturing Loki’s Emotional Journey, Meeting He Who Remains
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Loki Season 1, Episode 6, “For All Time. Always.”]
Fresh off the high of several Emmy nominations, Marvel continues to raise the bar on Disney+ with its third original series Loki.
The finale installment, “For All Time. Always,” brought some major questions to their satisfying conclusions, while others were raised. And behind the lens is director Kate Herron who helmed all six episodes. Delivering some mind-blowing camera angles to capture the fantastical spaces that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) inhabits throughout the series, from the TVA and Void to the finale’s Citadel, Herron’s vision helped bring the emotional journey for everyone’s favorite God of Mischief to life.
So mesmerizing are the episodes that Disney+ and Marvel unveiled Loki would return for Season 2 in the finale’s credits. But the same can’t be said for Herron. “It would definitely be a question for Marvel,” Herron said of the possibility of being involved with Season 2. “I always planned to come on just for the first season and I’m so proud of what we got to make and I’m so pleased I got to be part of it, but I have other things that I’m working on after Loki.”
While the show might lose one of its assets, there was plenty of excitement set up for fans to remain curious over until Season 2 arrives. In the meantime, Herron opens up about the introduction of He Who Remains, capturing the action in the Citadel, and bringing Loki’s emotional journey full circle.
In the finale, you trade the vast landscape of The Void for the gloomy Citadel, what were the challenges of bringing the action into a space that feels so big and closed in at the same time along with the mesmerizing performance of Jonathan Majors?
Kate Herron: The exciting thing I loved was that Episode 5 almost feels like your more traditional Marvel third act, right? We go very big and scale. And I think for me the fun of Episode 5 was that we’re getting to play into the fun of all these different Loki variants. We have so many nods to the comics, but then also original Lokis that we brought into the world of Loki.
I think the fun of Episode 6 really was like, “okay, well now we’re going to settle in.” It almost bookends with the first episode. The show starts with a conversation and it ends with one. And with Jonathan, it was exciting because He Who Remains is like a variant of Kang. And he’s not necessarily going to be the one we might meet in future movies. But that’s the fun of it, is that this is a version that’s meant to be arguably the nicest of this character, but also he’s been alone for a long time.
And what is this character who’s holed up in his house going to be like? And we echoed that across into our production design. [We] were excited by the idea that he finished his office, but the rest of the place is ruined and dusty, it’s a bit more dilapidated. Also with the music, for example, like with [composer] Natalie Holt. We had this TVA theme, but the fun thing in the final episode is we learn, “Oh no, actually that’s Kang’s theme.” And so it almost feels like he’s had a hand across the whole story. He even says in the sixth episode, “I paved the road, you just walked down it.” So I think for me that was really exciting.
Speaking of Kang. Can you confirm whether or not He Who Remains is a variant of Kang the Conqueror, and if so, is he based on anyone in particular from the comics?
I think he’s definitely inspired, but I would say that he’s unique to the show, right? Because He Who Remains is from the comics, but obviously the version we’re presenting in the show is very different from the comics. So I think I’d say kind of like all our characters in a way, they kind of pull from the comics, but they’re their own unique creations basically.
He throws quite a wrench in Loki and Sylvie’s (Sophia Di Martino) plans which become complicated in their own right when the pair begin fighting each other. What did it take in order to capture the tension of their conflict?
Yeah. So I’d say as we were digging into the story we always knew that they were going to meet He Who Remains and at the end, the multiverse would be released, but we didn’t necessarily know how they were going to get to that point. So something me and the writers [did was] look emotionally at our Loki and the journey he’s been on. We all landed on the idea of this shouldn’t be them fighting He Who Remains, but them fighting each other, because Loki’s had this amazing emotional journey, but Sylvie’s not on the same path as him yet. She’s in a different place. And I thought it was really satisfying in that sense because you could almost put her in a place where Loki probably was in Thor.
She’s got all this anger and pain. That’s what’s so sad when he speaks to her and he’s like, “I just want you to be okay,” because he can see her decisions almost, but he doesn’t want that for her. And I think that’s the painful thing about it. If you really care about someone and they’re just not quite on the same journey as you, and hopefully we’ll get there eventually, but she’s just not there yet. That was really key for us. Also as an audience, we know our Loki doesn’t want a throne anymore, and that felt very powerful because in the first episode that is actually what he wants. It felt very key in that moment to show the journey that our Loki has been on. But also that, that unfortunate assumption [made by Sylvie] is almost the unraveling of this beautiful relationship that they formed.
Following the Citadel and a kiss with Sylvie, Loki is pushed through a door into what appears to be the TVA, but is it? Or is this an alternate space?
I love that line, “Lokis survive.” And when I was thinking of that shot when he’s in the time theater, it was really important for me to show that moment of he still has pride, because he’s just had his heart broken. When he takes that breath, he’s not just like, “Okay, I’m just defeated.” He’s like, “No, I still have fight in me. I’m going to try and do the right thing.”
But obviously, then he finds he’s in a different TVA. But the multiverse is born and it’s meant to be the idea that unfortunately, because of the fact that all these branches are appearing, he’s not in the TVA that we saw originally. And that’s the rug-pull basically, is that we don’t know which TVA he’s in, but he’s definitely in this different reality now where Mobius (Owen Wilson) and B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) don’t recognize him.
And we had little subtle hints to that like when he runs into the space where we circle around him and it looks completely different now. So that was always the idea that it’s showing the audience slight little hints. And I would say that there’s a character running behind Loki in that scene where the camera spins around him, so people should look at that and see who that is because it’s someone they’ll recognize. Who’s leading them.
Loki, Season 1, Streaming now, Disney+