Thursday, October 5, 2023

REVIEW: 'Loki' - Loki Suffers From Time Slipping While Trying to Warn the TVA About He Who Remains in 'Ouroboros'

Disney+'s Loki - Episode 2.01 "Ouroboros"

Loki finds himself lost to time and torn, quite literally, between past, present and future.

"Ouroboros" was written by Eric Martin and directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Sylvie was absolutely certain He Who Remains was the devil. She finally found the person who ordered her existence terminated. Loki wasn't sure if He Who Remains was telling the truth or not. The person who created the Time Variance Authority and dictates the sacred timeline may be impossible to defeat. He may be preventing something even worse from happening. Loki and Sylvie fought. Sylvie won. The timeline has started to branch off because she killed He Who Remains. The first season cliffhanger teased how the effects of that action would be immediately felt. Loki returned to the TVA newly adorned with a statue of He Who Remains. The threat is imminent. However, the premiere remains grounded in the immediate effects time slipping has on Loki.

That's a simple consequence of Loki being pushed back to the TVA. He didn't land in an alternate timeline. Instead, he emerged in the past. A past that Mobius and Hunter B-15 don't remember. It was always understood that time behaves differently in the TVA. Certain aspects aren't possible. They exist outside of time and space. The agents are tasked with protecting the timeline from the threats of variants. In reality, all of the agents and judges are variants themselves. Their minds were wiped. They became obedient servants to a higher cause they don't fully understand. The leadership of the TVA was always clouded with secrecy. Behind every reveal was simply a more significant conspiracy pulling the strings all along. It was personal for Sylvie. She needed to topple the entire power structure. Similarly, B-15 is adamant in her pleas to share the truth with the entire organization. They can't keep living in ignorance about what their lives are ultimately for.

Not everyone responds the same way. Mobius worries about the total collapse of the TVA. He understands the impulse to risk it all in service to a personal bond. He risks everything in the name of saving Loki. He has always been loyal to the company. Yet this friendship was forged through strife and a crazy idea. Mobius believed only a Loki variant could stop the Loki variant targeting TVA agents. He couldn't predict all that Loki and Sylvie would learn from each other. That is such a central relationship that tempts Loki to possibly risk it all too. However, Mobius signifies the true evolution Loki has gone through. He's no longer the villain who hides in isolation under the belief that no one can be trusted. Sylvie is still largely in that headspace. Loki has a bond with Mobius. Once returning to the TVA, Loki unloads everything on Mobius. The agency thought the variants of Loki were the worst threat they would ever have to face. Instead, Loki has uncovered a new adversary that is even more dangerous to the very fabric of time.

A lot of complicated ideas have been introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe lately. Time travel and the multiverse are prime examples. Both are included in this series. And yet, the storytelling thrives on the character details. Their humanity comes across despite the absurd situations they find themselves in. Loki is painfully being ripped back and forth in time. He never leaves the TVA. He simply experiences different iterations of it. He knows what lurks behind the murals of the time lords. It's a reminder of the true creator and the enemy on the horizon. Loki doesn't have the time to process all that He Who Remains shared. He doesn't know the full consequences of the timeline branching off. It's what needed to be done. Genocides of people could no longer continue. That's personal for B-15. She joins Loki and Mobius in fighting for something better. Free will is the desirable outcome at the end of this. And yet, that may lead to the complete destruction of the TVA. Loki knows Miss Minutes can't be trusted. So much of the organization functions on her expertise. She keeps things running. She sets plots into motion. That's no longer optimal.

Loki and Mobius have new allies who can provide crucial assistance now as well. It's been hundreds of years since OB was visited in the repairs and advancement department. His work is still crucial. He understands the technical requirements that allow the TVA to function. The timeline is an unstable beast that can quite literally tear this place apart. Loki still manages to jump to the future at one point. He's prompted to prune himself the moment a green light appears on the device OB has made. He still feels compelled to save Sylvie when she's in danger. He will sacrifice his existence for her. He is willing to behave that way. He never would have done so prior to playing around in time. This adventure has changed him. People risk their lives to preserve his survival as well. It's unclear who prunes Loki to make this all possible. It's just an ominous warning of what's to come. Time is of vital importance even for those who claim to exist beyond the concept. They aren't removed from it. They engage with it just like every other person in existence. Even more is possible now because of the branches. That just creates uncertainty. That allows free will to reign. It's still tentative because Loki presents with an immediate problem that needs to be solved.

Meanwhile, Sylvie is simply given the time to actually appreciate the sweet emotions of life. She has spent her life always on the run. She's always had to evade those who wanted to kill her. That's how she grew up. That's what informed her actions. She and Loki are the same. They are on wildly different character trajectories. They are their own unique individuals. They are brought together by fate. And now, Sylvie looks at a McDonalds in 1982 Oklahoma with such hope and appreciation. She wants to experience every single thing. That's her priority. She doesn't want the burden of fixing time and managing the looming threat. That's for others to manage. She wants life on her own terms. She deserves that after a lifetime of suffering. It won't be long before she's back at the TVA though. The story provides that certainty. She and Loki will always be bonded together in this battle. That's unavoidable. They simply have to find moments in which they can experience more. It's a battle for time. They must cherish it despite having the tools to go anywhere in known existence. Their mission rises above all of that while still operating with some quite intimate stakes as well.