I have one (1) issue with Loki
Loki is a 2021 Disney+ series starring the ever charming Tom Hiddleston as our favorite trickster and god of mischief, Loki Laufeyson. The series consists of six episodes and, as of writing this, five have aired and, although I can say that I’m liking the series overall, there is one issue that I have with it that won’t let me fully enjoy it.
*Spoilers for Loki and pretty much the entire MCU ahead.*
Because it’s never fun to start with the bad, let me list the things I like about it:
The characters are fun
Owen Wilson is very charming as Mobius and I’m invested in his character. Sophia Di Martino plays a wonderful Sylvie. I want to see more of her because she’s great. And I always, always love seeing Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Put her in every movie all the time, give her all the roles. I have loved her for years and I will love her forever. My favorite one, however, is Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki. I love him and I wish we’d had more time with his character.
The story is weird
It could be weirder, to be honest, but it’s weird enough to set it apart from other Marvel properties, and it has just enough wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff to keep me coming back.
The music is amazing
Composed by Natalie Holt, the music score for Loki has been one of the highlights of the series. I love listening to the opening sequence, and how it compliments the series. I especially appreciated that Holt incorporated a theremin in some scenes and I thought that Classic Loki theme that incorporated Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries was fantastic.
Yeah, he’s been playing this character for so long that he can probably do it in his sleep now. His portrayal of Loki is fun, emotional and has a depth to it that always has me feeling all the feels.
In short. I am liking this show. Maybe not as much as WandaVision, but I am liking it.
There is this one aspect that keeps nagging at the back of my head, and it’s that Loki is not behaving like the Loki he should be.
The series starts just after Loki from the Avengers (2012) takes the Tesseract and escapes and is taken in by the Time Variance Authority (TVA). He is captured and he’s led to a room where Mobius, a TVA Analyst, is determined to understand him and even “break him” a little in order to recruit him.
It is there that Loki (2012) sees his life on a screen: how he returns to Asgard as a prisoner and inadvertently sends a monster to kill his mother, how he and Thor avenge her and fight side by side against the Dark Elves, how he sacrifices himself for his brother, only to come back and betray his trust… again (Thor: The Dark World (2013)).
Loki also sees how Thor finds out and takes him to Earth to look for Odin. He watches Odin, their father, tell them both that he loves them, he hears his father call him son. He watches how he and Thor bicker and fight and betray each other, and finally learn to trust each other again, but only after Loki decides to do the honorable thing and return to Asgard to save his people (Thor: Ragnarok (2017)).
Lastly, Loki sees himself falling back into his old ways and being unable to resist the Tesseract, which leads Thanos’ ship to theirs. But this time, he is brave enough to make one last stand, his final sacrifice to save his brother, and he dies (Avengers: Infinity War (2018)).
The last thing that Loki (2012) sees on that screen is his brother crying over his dead body. And so, Loki (2012), after crying and lamenting how his life turns out, decides to cooperate with the TVA. But he has an ulterior motive: he wants to overthrow the Time-Keepers to… rule?
I’m not sure. He’s not sure, either, which seems to be a theme of the series: Loki doesn’t really know anymore what he wants or why he wants it.
Despite having betrayed Mobius, he does form a bond with him, but it is only when he meets Sylvie and hears her story that he truly lets his previous plans go and joins her cause. After a rough start, they learn to work together, to listen to each other, and become allies. Loki (2012) is so distressed when he thinks Sylvie is dead that even Mobius calls him out on it and says that Loki is falling for her. Even though Loki (2012) has little patience for Mobius’ mocking and games and torture, he is willing to show him the truth, fight with him, and call him a friend. When Mobius is pruned by the TVA, Loki (2012) is visibly upset. Once he sees him again in the Void, he embraces him and works with him.
You’ll notice that I have been writing “Loki (2012)” all the time, and that is because this show is expecting me to believe that this enormous transformation, this huge change in Loki’s perspective and attitude, is just from watching the movies and talking to this woman for a couple of hours. And I don’t buy it.
I understand that from a story-perspective, we need Loki to be where he was at the end of Ragnarok (2017)/the start of Infinity War (2018), because he’s a much richer, well-rounded character with complex emotions. He’s risen and fallen and risen and fallen, and he’s learned his lessons and has finally chosen to do the right thing. He’s not good, but he’s not bad either. He’s still flawed and can’t resist the power of the Tesseract, and that’s what kills him. If he hadn’t taken the Tesseract from the Asgardian vault, if he had let Surtur destroy it with the rest of the planet, Thanos wouldn’t have found him and killed the Asgardians and him. In his last moments, Loki (2018) chooses to fight and to deliver a hopeful message to his brother. Loki (2018) is amazing.
But that Loki is not the Loki we get at the beginning of this series. The one we have is the one who just invaded earth with the Chitauri army, the one who killed 80 people in two days. This Loki is the one who was compared to Hitler in that one cheesy scene where the old German man stands up to him in Munich. This is the Loki that we get at the beginning of the series, and the series expects me to accept that the same transformation that took him years of pain and loss can happen in a matter of hours, just because he watched the movies. And I can’t.
Whenever I see this Loki running around helping Sylvie or trying to save Mobius and having this big emotional journey where he’s basically always willing to take a hit for the team, I can’t help but think that this is the same Loki that stabbed Phil Coulson and took someone’s eye out at the opera the week before.
It doesn’t help that, in Episode 5, while talking to the other Lokis, he even mentions the short time that has passed since he left New York. I just don’t buy his transformation.
And that’s my big issue with Loki and the main reason why I cannot completely relax and enjoy the series. I do bump into other little issues here and there with some plot points and character motivations, but I don’t really mind those. They don’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that 2021 Loki is behaving like a 2018 Loki and seems to have made the same emotional journey (I’d argue that it’s an even bigger one) just because he watched the movies.
Having said all of that, I have been enjoying the series so far and I’m looking forward to seeing the final episode.
Before you go!
If you love all things Loki, head over to FilmBlog 1305, where my friend Kim is doing a weekly recap and commentary of each episode. Reading her recaps has become part of my weekly Loki experience, so head over there and check out her blog.
Originally published at http://paonavvil.com on July 13, 2021.