Wednesday, June 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Loki' - Loki and Sylvie Reveal Their Clear Similarities and Stark Differences to Each Other in 'Lamentis'

Disney+'s Loki - Episode 1.03 "Lamentis"

Loki finds out The Variant's plans, but he has his own that will forever alter both their destinies.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Disney+'s Loki.

"Lamentis" was written by Bisha K. Ali and directed by Kate Herron

The show introduced the sacred timeline and the TVA. And then, the female variant of Loki blew up that premise by sending explosives to various points in the timeline. That was a huge deal. It was an escalation of her grand plan. She set off those explosions and then headed to confront the Time-Keepers. She was interrupted by Loki. This episode could be seen as a step back in terms of plot development. It doesn't progress things as quickly or succinctly as the previous two episodes. And yet, this one is just as pivotal because it delves deep into two of the characters crucial to the ongoing development of the entire series. It was a big deal when it was revealed a variant of Loki was the antagonist the TVA was hunting down throughout time. It was a surprise when that variant was revealed as a woman. However, the show can't reasonably expect the audience to instinctively understood her motives and actions simply because she is a female version of a beloved character. She deserves her own autonomy. So much of the conversation has been around Loki's ego and the need to be the superior copy in the timeline. And yes, the audience can appreciate the similarities between Loki and Sylvie - as she has rebranded herself as. They wield similar powers and fight in similar ways. However, they are two distinct beings in this story. They have different agendas. Loki seeks out the Time-Keepers because he is envious of the greatest power in the universe. Meanwhile, Sophie seems to have a much more personal vendetta against these god-like entities. Everything has been in service of her mission to get to them. And then, Loki shows up and leaves them stranded in a dire apocalypse. This is the one place in time Sylvie doesn't want to be. It's the most deadly apocalypse she has programmed into her device. A moon is on the verge of complete destruction. No survivors make it out of this event. The device that can open portals to other points in time has no charge left and is later destroyed completely. Loki and Sylvie are stranded here. They are trying to assess each other. It's a bold introduction of both of these characters to the audience as well. This is the first time a conversation has occurred around Loki's sexual fluidity. Sure, it would be better to see that concept actually depicted instead of merely talked about. It's still progression of a key component that has always just been speculated about previously. It offers a more enriching context to this person. Sylvie is more guarded with personal details about the life she lived. But she also looks on with envy at the life Loki was afforded in Asgard. He always saw that place as a prison. A kingdom that never appreciated him or what he could do. He sought out power and to free people from their blatant disillusions. With Sylvie, she always knew she was adopted. Her life seems defined by pain. Again, it probably all connects back to the TVA in some way. Those answers should be forthcoming soon. Right now though, it's simply engaging to watch as these two refuse to trust each other even though they must rely on each other to advance to every significant stage of immediate survival. And then, it all implodes right in front of them. They don't change the outcome of this apocalypse. They too seem destined to perish on this moon. Now, that's unlikely given the context they have in the larger story. This episode is almost completely devoted to them. It still reveals some details about the TVA though. Sylvie notes that all of the TVA agents are variants as well. Loki was labeled as such when he became a consultant for this agency. He was made to feel like an outsider. He now operates with the freedom of knowledge. That's a blessing many in this organization don't have. That also sets the show up to offer more personal revelations about who these agents used to be. Sylvie brings back a memory for Hunter C-20. The other agents probably have such memories of their lives before service to the TVA too. As such, the show seems primed to extend its conversation about personal agency and free will in a world where the Time-Keepers seem hellbent on controlling absolutely everything because it's their sacred duty to the overall timeline. That's a convenient story. It's much more complicated than that. Plus, the show has a lot of fun with its oner sequence at the end of this episode featuring Loki and Sylvie struggling to make it to the Ark while fighting off a riot. That style is evident and compelling to watch. The show should engage with the audience on every level at this point. That's a blessing that sets this show up as one of Marvel's best to date. Of course, it still has to follow through on some of these ambitions as well. But the first half of the season has established a ton of trust and respect for these characters.