Marvel’s Loki “The Variant” Review

Are we holding out for a hero?

After an annoying TVA training orientation, Loki and Mobius visit the most recent attack of the Loki Variant; a renaissance festival in 1985. Finding nothing except signs of a struggle and a missing TVA agent, Mobius puts Loki to work studying all of the past encounters with the Variant to see if they missed something. Searching through the records, Loki comes up with a theory; the Variant is hiding in timeline apocalypses where consequences don’t matter since everything is about to be destroyed anyway. Confirming their theory with a visit to Pompei on Volcano Day, Mobius and Loki’s next stop in search for the Variant is during an apocalyptic event at a RoxxCart superstore in 2050 Alabama. Splitting up, Loki encounters the Variant through a number of mind controlled people and tries to discover their motives until he meets the real Variant face to face; a female variant of Loki. Setting up a series of bombs in an attempt to destabilize the Timeline, Variant Loki escapes through her own TVA portal with Loki following close behind.

After a therapeutic first episode, “The Variant” quickly puts Loki to work with Mobius and the rest of the TVA on their hunt for the Variant Loki, who I’m currently calling Val, because 1. Variant Loki is a lot to type over and over, and 2. throughout the credits the TVA logo is shown upside down and spells out VAL and I’m speculating there’s a reason for that. Or maybe not. We’ll see. 

This second episode also raises questions about the origins and true motives of the TVA and the mysterious lizard people aka Time Keepers. In an enlightening conversation between Loki and Mobius, they discuss the nature of existence; Loki’s birth of a frost giant and raised of Odin in Asgard, realm of the gods, and Mobius and the TVA’s creation by the Time Keepers and the predetermination of the end of time. Mobius’ comments on the end of time and everyone joining in an everlasting peace and an end to chaos is said with reverence, making the TVA sound almost like zealots rather than a fascist time dictatorship erasing free will, with the Time Keepers set as gods and saviors, which fits strongly with Loki’s running theme and self identity as a god. 

This idea of an end to chaos might also illuminate the motives behind Val’s war against the TVA. As the god of mischief, an end to chaos would likely mean an end to Val, and in turn Loki. But chaos comes with negative connotations when in Loki’s perspective, chaos would also mean free will. Destabilizing the timeline creates branches of new timelines which could create a sense of free will against the TVA. Val’s motives may actually be altruistic, even if her methods are extreme. This chaos Val might be striving for could lead to the reformation of the Multiverse, which may come into play in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. 

This episode also brings a small reference to the greater MCU with RoxxCart, which is likely a retail outlet owned by Roxxon, a familiar, and often villainous, corporation seen in other shows and movies like Agent Carter and Daredevil. And finally, a possible nod to another popular time traveling series, Doctor Who, after the “you’re the criminal with the blue box!” line in episode one, when Loki and Mobius visit Pompei, which the Tenth Doctor visited as well.

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