The longer I sit with this Loki finale, the more it grows on me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. There was so much to process. But after re-watching “For All Time. Always” a couple times now, I think it accomplished what it needed to. I probably won’t come back to it as much as other episodes like “The Nexus Event” or “Journey Into Mystery,” but it did answer the big questions surrounding the TVA and its origins and will likely have a profound impact on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. So there’s that.
Finales always tend to be more controversial than regular episodes of a series, especially at the end of a first season. Ideally, it’s the culmination of everything that has come before, no matter how many episodes there were leading up to it. A good finale has to provide a satisfying resolution that’s not predictable but also not out of left field, and leave room for the story to go new places in the future. It’s a tricky proposition, especially when you have a devoted fan base who pays attention to every detail and has been coming up with theories since the first trailer dropped. No matter what you do, you’re not going to please everyone.
So I get it; finales are hard. And when you add the pressure of setting up an entirely new phase of a massive franchise on top of that, it’s even harder. Personally, I preferred it when the MCU ignored the TV shows and just let them do their own thing (of course now they can just say they were part of a different timeline). I’ve said it before, but the finales of both WandaVision (now with 23 Emmy nominations!) and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (with another five nominations) felt more like Marvel movies than TV series, undercutting what made those shows unique and special. While the Loki finale doesn’t suffer from the blight of what my friend calls “a bunch of people fighting in the sky” it was still burdened with the “glorious purpose” of setting up a new antagonist who will play a major part in Phase 4 of the MCU and launching the franchise into a new era.
I’ll be discussing the rest of the Loki finale from here on out in detail. So you should already know what that means: spoilers ahoy. This is your last chance to bail out. But please come back later and maybe even share your thoughts in the comments.
He Who What Now?
It was an interesting choice (yeah, let’s go with “interesting”) to have the mastermind behind the TVA—the all-powerful being who claims to have paved the path our two main anti-heroes walked—turn out to be a brand new character we’ve never met before. That introduction necessitated a lot of exposition. For a good chunk of the Loki finale, the characters were forced to just sit there, making the odd skeptical comment, while He Who Remains explained everything. It was a gamble that could have gone very, very wrong.
Thankfully, the production had a secret weapon in Jonathan Majors. Marvel rarely misses when it comes to casting, and they’ve hit the mark once again (he’s also set to appear in the next Ant-Man movie Quantumania, but it was cool to see him show up here first!). Majors gives a standout performance in this episode. His disarming delivery, syncopated timing, and nimble ability to change gears in a flash (plus, he could give a Ted talk on how to eat an apple on screen and I’d watch it), made the character fascinating to listen to. Which was fortunate, because we had to do a lot of it.
He never comes out and says it, but we all know this is Kang the Conqueror we’ve just met. Lots of fans had already guessed his identity before this episode aired. I’m glad this wasn’t a Mephisto situation like we had in WandaVision, where fans expected to see him around every corner and were disappointed when he never materialized. Kang is the real deal, though, a villain with a long and convoluted history in the comics, only some of which is hinted at in the Loki finale.
I’m curious to see how much of his history they incorporate into the MCU. Besides the staggering possibilities presented by the introduction of the multiverse, this reveal also opens the door to adapting popular comic storylines in the future, including Secret Wars and Young Avengers. I haven’t seen this level of excitement in the fandom since some eagle-eyed viewers spotted Cap’s shield in the ice in The Incredible Hulk.
Fanning the Flames
For those unfamiliar with the term, “Sylki” is a portmanteau of Sylvie and Loki used by fans rooting for a romantic relationship between them. The finale may be a double-edged sword for Sylki shippers, who got to witness a full-on kiss between them about two seconds before she betrayed him and shoved him through a dimensional doorway back to the TVA (and not even his TVA). Does it mean there are romantic feelings between them? Or is it just one-sided? Is it even possible, considering they’re the same person? Does that make it squicky? My take is that if there were any character likely to fall in love with another version of themselves, it’s Loki. Plus, there’s no denying that Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino, are great on screen together. It’s certainly implied that the two of them falling for each other was their Nexus event, but interpretations may vary (that’s what makes it fun!).
Of course, no matter what you think about their relationship up to this point, it’s completely different by the end of the finale anyway. Loki is alone again, betrayed by the one person he allowed himself to trust. It’s poetic, really. And I think Loki, if anyone, is capable of seeing it that way, once his shattered heart heals a little. The “gambit,” as He Who Remains called it, was their big crossroads moment, the point where their future split in two. Because Sylvie was too angry to take any other path but vengeance. She had one goal throughout the entire series and never wavered. Loki, being more practical, tried to argue, “How about we don’t create infinite branching timelines destined to destroy everyone and everything?” but he couldn’t compete with Sylvie’s lifelong quest for retribution. She needed someone to pay for stealing her life from her, and didn’t care what happened afterwards.
And so here we are on the brink of war, a Multiverse of Madness, if you will. Good luck with that, Doctor Strange!
For All Timelines. Always.
So where does all this leave the TVA after the Loki finale? For a while it looked like Mobius and B-20 might actually bring the whole thing down from the inside on their own. The truth is powerful like that. It was neat seeing that the Ravonna of the Sacred Timeline was a school teacher. But I still wish we’d seen the real Mobius, or any Mobius variant, really. As long as he had a jet ski.
We never found out what information Miss Minutes passed on to Ravonna’s TemPad, but whatever it was, it led her out the door in search of “free will.” Maybe she thinks she’ll find He Who Remains somewhere out there. There’s a good chance she will, now that there are infinite versions of him, but he may not be what she expects.
And judging by the great honking statue in the middle of it, one of those Variants seems to be running the parallel TVA where Loki ends up. As devastated as he is by Sylvie’s betrayal, you can see the moment he realizes he’s still got one friend left in the world, and he’s close by. My heart was was with Loki as he frantically searched the TVA for Mobius, and then it broke again when it turned out Mobius didn’t know who he was. Maybe that’s good, though? They can become best friends again without all the baggage of Loki being a Loki. Of all the things I’m hoping for in Season 2, that’s what I want most of all.
- Yep, we’re getting a Season 2! The one and only mid-credits scene confirmed it. I think this makes it the first of the three Disney shows to get an official renewal. I don’t expect one for WandaVision (that series felt really self-contained), but I can see Falcon and the Winter Soldier returning for more Sam and Bucky adventures.
- Props to Tara Strong for her performance throughout the show as the voice of Miss Minutes. She managed to make that folksy southern facade ominously creepy by the end. I still think that little hologram minx is not to be trusted.
- I haven’t said it enough, but Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie has been the real revelation of this show. I loved every moment she was on screen, and she had great chemistry with Tom Hiddleston. I don’t know what the plans are for bringing her back, but they need to figure it out, like, now.
- Wow, did those six episodes fly by. Remember when shows had like 22 episodes a season? Seems crazy now! But these limited runs allow them to make more series, which I guess is okay.
And that’s a wrap on the Loki finale, friends! Thanks for keeping up with these recaps each week, or reading through them all if you’re discovering this after the fact. It’s been a thrilling ride. I’ll probably be back to write about next live action Marvel series, Ms. Marvel, later this year (following the animated What If…?). Until then, for all time. Always.