What to Watch Verdict
An exposition heavy premiere is made great by some strong comedy beats and anticipation for what's to come.
😈 Wunmi Mosaku knocking Loki on his butt will never not be funny.
😈 Strong comedy beats used to combat heavy exposition.
😈 Protect Agent Mobius at all costs.
😈 Some folks may get bogged down in the rules of this new world.
Have you ever really lived until you’ve seen Loki Laufeyson knocked out in the middle of the Gobi Desert by a character played by the incomparable Wunmi Mosaku? In a series filled with actors who very much understand the assignment, those two offer a fierce introduction to the kind of hijinks that are about to unfold in Loki. God of Mischief pops off, someone at the Time Variance Authority smacks him on the nose, rinse, lather and repeat. If this first episode is any indication, the formula works.
After stealing the tesseract, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is quickly whisked away by the TVA to be held trial for his crimes against the timeline. For the first time in his life, Loki is left powerless. At least a fraction of them had remained while in his cell in Asgard, but at the TVA everything operates differently. The god is forced to reconcile how small he truly is when he sees an entire drawer full of Infinity Stones rendered useless. But worry not, dear reader, it does little to quell his fire.
What does finally force Loki to take a step back and listen to Mobius (Owen Wilson) is, well… himself. The scene(s) where Mobius plays back the tapes of Loki’s life back to him both serve as a solution to one of the biggest concerns for Loki, and what will undoubtedly go down as one of the best scenes in the series. After losing what we’ll call Loki Prime, some fans were concerned that we’d have to deal with all of the character growth that we’d already experienced with the character all over again. While that is true to an extent, the reel of his life helps draw everything into sharp perspective for the Trickster. He sees what his chaos can do with the realization that he’s the cause of his mother’s death while, on the flip side, he sees what his good can bring when his sacrifice helps save what’s left of his people. Hiddleston never disappoints, but he wore his capital-a Acting pants to set that day.
Though plenty of fun unfolds during the episode, the premiere’s focus is getting all the exposition handled that it can in the most fun way possible. We learn the basic mechanics of time travel within this world, the simplest rules of how things function at the TVA, the difference between a Nexus and a Variant, and that someone’s killing off members of Minute Men. It’s kept hush hush through the first thirty minutes of story, but it doesn’t take long to learn that the Variant killing off the TVA soldiers is another Variant of Loki. How are there two? Where did this other one come from? What opportunity could he have possibly had to split the timeline more than once?
Those answers, my friends, are for future us. Present us gets Loki as DB Cooper, and if there were ever a scene that makes the platitude “it’s called the present because it’s a gift” ring true, it’s this one. If “I was young and I lost a bet to Thor” as a response to those shenanigans don’t make you laugh out loud, you might not deserve this show.
As I mentioned in my first look at the series, Owen Wilson’s Agent Mobius earns the low-key MVP award for Loki so far. He’s trusting and earnest in contrast to the cynicism and lies he’s surrounded by, and I hate that we’re going to see his little heart broken so many times throughout this series.
Loki has big ambitions. One might even say that it's burdened with glorious purpose. Here's hoping the series learns along with Loki and remembers that without the small, the big doesn't matter. This is one that runs a severe risk of getting tripped up by its own shenanigans. But, so long as they remember to keep its feet on the ground while its head is in the clouds, we could have something really special on our hands.
Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.
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