We’re all villains here.
With Alioth defeated and the pathway clear, Loki and Sylvie find themselves at the steps of an ominous castle floating beyond the void. As they prepare to battle whatever powerful creature waiting within, the doors open and they find themselves invited inside by the man behind the curtain; He Who Remains (HWR) (Jonathan Majors). A charismatic and welcoming host, HWR enjoys the company of the Lokis as he explains his role behind the TVA, how the brilliant and powerful variants of himself discovered the multiverse in the 31st century, and despite some variants wanting peace, others were more interested in conquering the other timelines which led to the Multiversal War. At the end of the war, the variant now known as HWR harnessed the power of Alioth and ended the conflict, then built the TVA to maintain order to avoid another war.
Now, HWR is tired and wants to pass on the responsibility of running the TVA to the Lokis. Sylvie refuses outright and tries to kill HWR, but Loki is hesitant from his warning that by killing him, the conquering variants from other timelines will start another Multiversal War. Sylvie and Loki combat each other as they try to determine if he is telling the truth or not, until Sylvie opens a portal and sends Loki back to the TVA. Now alone, Sylvie plunges her sword into HWR’s chest, setting free the timelines.
Meanwhile, Mobius returns to the TVA and with the help of B-15, reveals the truth about the TVA and all of its agents being variants. Finally confronting Renslayer, he tries to convince her the importance of free will and that what the TVA is doing is wrong. She however has other ideas, committed to HWR’s cause. After receiving a mysterious message from Ms. Minutes, controlled by HWR, she opens a portal and disappears. The Sacred Timeline is destroyed. Sylvie sits alone in HWR’s castle, and Loki runs through the halls of the TVA to find Mobius, only to discover he’s in a different timeline where Mobius has no idea who he is.
It’s been an incredible fun run through time and space, but “For All Time. Always.” brings Loki’s first season to a satisfying end. Though it’s Loki’s show, Jonathan Majors’ HWR, which we already know to be Kang the Conqueror who will be returning in Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, takes the lion’s share of screen time in this finale, and rightly so. Despite only appearing in one episode, he performs wonderfully, showing off the range of this character from comedic to insane to fury. Even when he has no lines and is just watching the Lokis interact from the background, you can’t help but focus on him. He’s like a sci-fi Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp).
While it’s great that we got the answers we’ve wanted all season, and despite Majors’ performance, the reveal of Kang felt expected. It was already reported that he would play Kang in Antman and the Wasp, and many of the show’s easter eggs pointed heavily to Kang. It felt so obvious that it had to be a feint. But if we’ve learned anything from WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s that the obvious answer is usually the correct one. Of the three Marvel shows so far, Loki is the first to introduce not only a villain who will show up in a future movie, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, but the potential big bad villain for phase four, maybe even further. It will be interesting to see how his story plays out, either as He Who Remains or other variants of Kang. If it does go the variant route, Majors will have the task and opportunity to test his range performing as different versions of the same character.
Spider Man: No Way Home is set to come out in 2021, but we’ve seen no trailer under the mountain of rumors of the live action Spider-verse, fueled by Doctor Strange’s apparent involvement in the film. Doctor Strange’s own film, the Multiverse of Madness, is set for 2022 and will likely involve Scarlet Witch and the affects of these new multiverses. And Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, which will feature Kang, doesn’t come out until 2023. And those are just the films that will most likely address the multiverse canonically. While the next MCU show, Marvel’s What If…?, will probably be more of a fun show and not affect the greater MCU, it is possible that the different episodes will actually be the peaks into different timelines.
What’s next? He Who Remains is dead, the multiverse is branching, leaving the door open for worse Kang variants. Loki is seemingly lost in another timeline. Sylvie’s mission is over but she may be trapped in the void. Loki is confirmed to have a season 2 but there’s no release date yet, and we don’t know if Tom Hiddleston will appear in any of the upcoming films, such as those involving the multiverse or Thor: Love and Thunder.
Loki has been a strong balance of fun mischief and somber moments of character development from one of the MCU’s best anti-heroes. Who would have thought the Asgardian god of mischief would work with a bureaucratic time agency? The entire show played well with common time travel motifs, making it feel like Marvel’s own version of Doctor Who, but an episode where there are multiple Doctors (Tom Hiddleston would make a great Doctor, by the way).