Thursday, November 2, 2023

REVIEW: 'Loki' - Loki Must Find His Proper Motivation to Save the Timeline and His Friends in 'Science/Fiction

Disney+'s Loki - Episode 2.05 "Science/Fiction"

Loki traverses dying timelines in an attempt to find his friends, but reality is not what it seems.

"Science/Fiction" was written by Eric Martin and directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

The employees of the TVA were removed from the timeline by He Who Remains. He snatched them from their lives so they could obediently serve in his institution of control. He removed free will from everyone. He professed altruistic motives. This was the only way to avoid war. Order had to be issued by the one person capable of seeing the larger picture. He robbed people of choice. He wiped their memories whenever it was convenient. No one at the TVA even believed time travel was possible within the institution until Loki started time slipping. It was always conveyed as a location outside of time and space. Things behaved differently. That too was just a convenient story given to turn them into obedient servants who didn't question anything. The first season revealed the truth. The second has focused on what these characters are willing to fight for. The sense of character languished throughout the early going. It felt like the plot was taking priority over the characters. They moved with urgency to save the TVA from impending doom. They failed. And now, they must truly accept what actually matters.

The destruction of the TVA essentially sends everyone back to their previous lives. Casey was a prisoner on Alcatraz plotting his escape. O.B. was a science fiction writer failing to get anything published. B-15 was a doctor. And Mobius was a small town salesman always preaching the wonder of jet skis. Aspects of their identities and personalities were always present. They didn't know where they came from. They applied them to their responsibilities at the TVA. This is who they were always meant to be. They have the freedom to explore these lives once more. They no longer must handle the crisis of the collapsing timelines. That pressure is removed. Loki doesn't exist elsewhere. He has no where else to call home. That reveals how he wasn't fighting to preserve the TVA against the variants of He Who Remains. Instead, he rallied around the institution because it gave him the family he always wanted. He unites his friends because he needs them. Without them, he is completely lost. It's a selfish impulse. It's the truth.

Time slipping was a new ability that was incredibly painful and random for Loki. He had no control over it. Mobius reached out to O.B. to fix the problem. The team did precisely that. Loki revealed what he learned at the citadel beyond the end of time. He issued a warning. However, the threat the TVA faced was the system failing because of how He Who Remains set it up. Sure, he made plans for another variant to assume the role when Loki and Sylvie betrayed him. That set in motion everything Victor Timely discovered. That was still characters going from motion to motion. They were running out of time. The temporal loom would destroy the TVA. It couldn't process the existence of so many new branches. Everywhere Loki goes once he starts time slipping again is a new branch. Sylvie found a home for herself. It reduced her to a smaller life. However, she was happy. It was a decision she made. Reality is constantly taking that away from the team. Loki remains at the center. He must tap into the abilities that can reverse the worst from happening. It comes with immense sacrifice. He must reckon with that.

Loki has to convince all of his friends to follow him into the unknown. They don't remember their time at the TVA. They don't respond to the names Loki knows them as. It's all a leap of faith. They must believe in the power of these friendships. O.B. offers support because he explores fantasy. He carefully balances a life of science and fiction. Both qualities are needed to help Loki prevail. Every member of the team is vital for Loki to discover what must be done. At first, it's all about bringing them together to harness their temporal aura to return to that crucial moment in the past when they failed. They feel the urgency to do so because reality is fading away. It doesn't happen as quickly as Loki experiences when he's alone in the TVA. It's still happening. The dissolution of time isn't uniform. Loki has the freedom to return to the past. Objects disappear. That's not the extent of the damage. Sylvie believes in Loki's argument only after her entire branch fades away. She fought to preserve this reality when General Dox was the threat. But now, she has to place her faith in Loki. He must be able to fix it. These friendships are more than just necessary for Loki's development. They are rewarding for everyone else too.

The focus remains on Loki though. He drives the story. He slips through time. O.B. explained it in a way that helped fix the problem before. It no longer needs to be seen as a problem that must be dealt with. Instead, it has value for the opportunities it can provide. Loki no longer needs a tempad to travel through time. He just needs the proper motivation. It's fueled through the people he is trying to protect. He doesn't want them to leave the TVA. Mobius never researched his life. He couldn't handle anything that was good. Loki doesn't have the option to remain in limbo. He sees what Mobius could have been. It's a life with tragedy. His wife died. He's left raising his sons. He's also happy. He's doing what invigorates him. All of that is in danger. O.B. inventing a new tempad creates options. Everyone rallies in support for a cause they don't completely understand. Sylvie's mind wasn't wiped. She still needed the proper motivation. No one can avoid this fight. It's coming whether they want it or not. The people who will defeat it will do so because of their profound love for others. Loki has arrived at that evolved state. He was always incredibly powerful and manipulative. His actions are now informed by something greater. He reaches out for his friends where they are all ripped away. That's when he returns to the immediate past. That's how he makes the jump before everything broke down at the TVA. He endures that journey. He returns even more enlightened. Time plays differently for him. That is incredibly isolating. He doesn't want that life. He also has the responsibility to use it to preserve time for everyone throughout the branches.