Loki Episode 2 Review: The Variant

In Loki episode two, we discover more about this other Loki variant... but is there more than meets the eye?

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Loki Episode 2 Review

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Whereas the premiere episode introduced us to the world of the TVA, re-introduced us to an Avengers-era Loki, and set up the series’ major premise, this week’s installment of Loki continues to delve into the character of the titular mischievous scamp as we see him begin to participate with the TVA to hunt down the other variant Loki. And just as you probably expected, it’s a lot of fun.

This review is part of a larger series. As Loki airs, I’ll go through each episode one by one, discussing some of the highlights, pointing out some Easter eggs, making predictions, and talking about what is working and what is not.

So, throw on your TVA-issued jacket and follow me as we journey through time and space to explore Loki: “The Variant.”

RELATED: Loki Episode 1 Review

Loki Episode 2 Review
(c) Disney+

This week, we find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) settling into his role at the Time Variance Authority (TVA). He’s folded into a work cubicle, half-heartedly watching instructional TVA videos, answering Miss Minutes’s (Tara Strong) questions about nexus events and the Sacred Timeline, and peeking at Mobius M. Mobius’s (Owen Wilson) beloved jetski magazine. Despite his generally bored attitude, it turns out that Loki is a pretty quick learner, as he’s able to answer all of the questions about the TVA that are thrown at him this episode.

From there, Loki is taken on his first mission: the other variant Loki was discovered at a 1985 Renaissance Faire in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Loki is joined by some TVA agents on the ground, including Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), to investigate the havoc that the variant left behind. Remember, near the end of Episode 1, Mobius informed Loki that the TVA needed his “Loki perspective” to help them find and capture this variant, whom they believe to be another Loki.

Loki Episode 2
(c) Disney+

Performing his role within this superhero-crime-procedural, our Loki examines the clues left behind in the crime scene within a Renaissance Fair tent and claims that he recognizes a classic Loki scheme when he sees one. Solemnly, he informs the agents that he should exit the tent alone so that he can face the other Loki. But, of course, this is all a rouse. Unsurprisingly, Loki takes the first opportunity he gets to put one over the TVA agents and escape. Mobius proves himself to be an excellent match, quickly calling out Loki’s lie.

Returning to the TVA headquarters, Mobius faces Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is not at all happy about this recent mission and Mobius’s failure to locate and apprehend the variant. She’s also unable to understand Mobius’s soft-spot for Loki, or why Mobius insists on involving the chaotic God of Mischief in this very important mission to restore order to the Sacred Timeline.

One of my favorite parts of this episode is the relationship blossoming between Mobius and Loki. Mobius continues to work with Loki as if he were counseling a troubled youth, providing tough love and reaching out to the potential he sees in Loki. In this episode, however, Loki begins to return the favor. When he learns that Mobius has never been able to ride a jetski despite his adoration of the water-based vehicle, Loki encourages him to dream beyond the orderly and suffocating walls of the TVA. If this show doesn’t end with Mobius riding off into the sunset on a jetski, I just don’t know what I’ll do. Even better- can Mobius and Loki ride the jetski together, please?

After spending some time in the TVA’s library of files, Loki comes up with a theory, which he excitedly relays to Mobius. Basically, Loki’s theory is that the variant must be hiding out in apocalypses. Because an apocalypse includes the destruction of both the land and all of its people, whatever the variant does in this setting won’t result in any changes to the timeline, and thus, won’t come up on the TVA’s radar.

Loki Episode 2 Disney
(c) Disney+

Mobius and Loki successfully test the theory in 79 AD Pompeii before traveling with a team of TVA agents to a Roxxcart store in 2050 Havan Hills, Alabama that’s about to be hit by a hurricane. The two are able to pinpoint this exact time and location thanks to the Kablooey candy that the variant seems to always have on hand. It turns out that they were right on the money with this one. The variant is here, using green enchantment magic to possess peoples’ bodies. Even worse, it turns out that the variant wants to blow up the Sacred Timeline.

While in the superstore, the variant finally removes their hooded cape and reveals themselves. Rather than being an exact duplicate of our Loki, this other Loki (Sophia Di Martino) is female and wears her blonde hair in a short wavy bob. She explodes the timeline, then opens a portal to escape. Mobius and the other agents run after our Loki, who quickly follows the variant and disappears into the portal.

The Superior Loki

Loki Episode 2 Review Disney
(c) Disney+

Loki repeatedly manages to find moments to mention that he is the “superior” Loki in comparison to this other variant during his conversations with Mobius this episode. I don’t know about ranking the Lokis in this show, but I have to admit that this episode does some really fun things with the character.

Ironically, I think that Loki is at his best when we get to see some cracks in his armor. In “The Variant,” we get to see quite a few. For one, his insecurity is on full display as he repeatedly seeks Mobius’s praise. He wants Mobius to agree that the variant Loki is an inferior version of him, and he clearly wants to dazzle Mobius with his the-variant-is-hiding-in-apocalypses theory.

Then, there is the Loki that just can’t help himself but play into his old ways. While investigating at the Renaissance Fair, Loki immediately gives up the actual hunt and instead engages in a pretty transparent escape scheme. Later, Mobius calls him out for trying to manipulate and charm his way into a meeting with the Time Keepers so that he can overthrow them and take over the TVA.

Loki’s repeated failure in deceiving Mobius is really fun to watch. Loki is learning that not everyone is as foolish and gullible as he believes the Asgardians are, and the audience is getting a sense of the wisdom and power of Mobius and the TVA. Or, perhaps, we’re learning that Loki’s claims to cleverness are overblown and just part of the self-defensive mask he wears (remember, last week, when he admitted that he doesn’t like hurting people and that his villainous reputation is merely “part of the illusion…the cruel, elaborate trick by the weak to inspire fear”).

We certainly see a moment where Loki quickly masks his feelings. While serving his punishment in the library, Loki slyly tries to get his hands on information regarding the Time-Keepers, the beginning of time, and the end of time by the ever-so-clever tactic of straight-up asking the woman who appears to be some sort of head librarian for the files on these topics. Shockingly, this doesn’t work.

In frustration, Loki asks what files he is allowed to see, and he is promptly shown to his own files. It is here where he discovers the events of Thor: Ragnorak. We momentarily see a flicker of emotion in response to this discovery, but Loki quickly masks it by focusing instead on his apocalypse theory.

Loki Television Series
(c) Disney+

The scene in Pompeii is also important in fleshing out our titular character. While visiting the doomed city, Loki hoots and hollers, joyfully proclaiming that everyone is about to die and that nothing matters. Without any context, this would certainly seem like the depraved actions of a cruel villain; however, because we know the reason why he and Mobius are there – to test the theory that nothing they do while visiting the doomed city could hurt the timeline – all of Loki’s behavior here seems fairly innocuous – dark, yes.

Selfish, yes. But not really evil. This moment in Pompeii helps to show how easily Loki can fall into playing the role of villain even when that’s not really who he is.

It also sets up the episode’s final moments. As Loki pursues the variant, the two leave behind them a collection of dazed and unconscious civilians. Hunter B-15 is also knocked out from her brief possession, allowing Loki his first taste of freedom since begin captured by the TVA. All of this comes just after Loki promised Mobius that he could trust him, to which Mobius wonders out loud why it’s always the biggest liers who proclaim their trustworthiness the most.

So, when Loki hesitates and looks back towards Mobius before following the variant through the portal, the audience is left wondering how we’re supposed to interpret this event. Unlike the scene in Pompeii, we don’t know the full story behind Loki’s actions. Is he betraying Mobius? Is Loki going to team up with the variant in a ploy to overthrow the Time-Keepers? Are the TVA agents even the good guys? Is this just another example of Loki accidentally performing the role of villain?

Roxxon, Jotunheim, Oh My!

(c) Disney+

The confrontation between the variant and Loki occurs at a super-store called Roxxcart. Based on the store’s name, it seems that it’s part of the larger Roxxon, an evil oil and gas corporation that appears throughout Marvel comics (they were even behind Howard Stark’s death in the comics!).

Roxxon has also been briefly mentioned in a number of MCU properties recently, so it’s likely that it will eventually have a major role to play. In the comics, Roxxon is currently owned by CEO Dario Agger, AKA Minotaur, who regularly battles against Thor. Will we get to see some Minotaur action in Loki? One can only hope!

After the variant Loki blows up the Sacred Timeline, we see from the scrolling displays and computer screens of the TVA a number of different locations that have been impacted, these include such notable spots as Asgard, Titan, and Xandar. Perhaps this list of locations provides some insight into where we might see Loki headed in future episodes.

One of these locations is Jotunheim, which is important due to the fact that this is where Loki was born. Earlier in the episode, Mobius makes direct reference to Loki’s frost-giant roots, a history that is generally ignored by the MCU thus far. This reference along with Jotunheim’s inclusion in the list of locations impacted by the variant’s attack makes me believe that we could be heading towards a visit to Loki’s birthplace.

(c) Marvel

Loki is the biological son of Laufey (hence Loki’s last name, Laufeyson), the ruler of the Frost Giants in Jotunheim. According to the backstory provided in the comics, because Loki was unusually small, he was immediately abandoned and left to die following his birth. Eventually, Odin and Frigga adopted Loki and treated him as their son. Laufey pops up here and there in the comics, and is generally not too fond of the Asgardians and his runt of a son. In fact, near the start of the recent War of the Realms series, Laufey eats his son alive. Yikes. Perhaps a trip to Jotunheim could allow for some father-son bonding… but, then again, probably not.

Is This Lady Loki?

Before I was able to watch “The Variant,” the phrase “Lady Loki” was trending on Twitter (come on guys, we’re better than this – ease up on the spoilers!). So it would appear that most viewers are currently accepting the TVA’s claim that this variant is another Loki. While this is certainly a possibility, I don’t think this is definitely her identity. Here are the three characters she might potentially be…

1. Lady Loki
(c) Marvel

As many eagle-eyed fans have noticed, Loki’s gender is listed as “fluid” in the TVA’s official paperwork. And as anyone who has encountered Loki in recent comics knows, the God of Mischief has the power to shift between female and male forms. This was first introduced in a 2007 issue of Thor, where Loki takes the form of Lady Loki in order to fulfill a villainous plan.

Since then, Lady Loki has appeared in other comic series, including 2016’s Vote Loki and 2014’s Agent of Asgard. In fact, the Agent of Asgard Loki and Lady Loki both wear a set of broken horns that match the horns worn by the variant, however, that’s about as far as the visual similarities go…

2. Sylvie Lushton
(c) Marvel

Unlike the raven-haired Lady Loki that appears in the comics, this variant has short blonde hair. As Lady Loki states in Agent of Asgard, no matter what form Loki takes, “I’m me. First, last, and always.” As a result, nearly every Loki shares some key features, including black hair. The only exception to this rule that I can think of is the time that Loki took the form of a rainbow unicorn. Yeah, he did that.

Anyway, the fact that this variant has short blonde hair makes me very suspicious of her Loki credentials. One possibility beyond being Loki is that she is Sylvie Lushton, a mortal human from Oklahoma who Lady Loki gave magical powers and memories of being an Asgardian simply because she was bored and wanted some entertainment.

Sylvie adopts a fake Asgardian accent, moves to Manhattan, and attempts to join the Avengers. There’s a lot more to her history that I don’t have the time to get into here (see her dealings with the Young Avengers, the Doom Maidens, the Young Masters, the Illuminati, and Briggs Chemical, LLC), so for now I’ll just mention three things.

First, Sylvie poses as the Enchantress, which makes sense given their similar arsenal of powers, including sorcery, mental manipulation, energy projection, and telekinesis. Second, Sylvie gets pretty chaotic and sometimes downright villainous in the comics. She’s certainly someone who would want to destroy the Sacred Timeline. Finally, she’s typically depicted with blonde hair, wearing green, and wielding green magics. In other words, she looks a lot like this variant.

3. Amora The Enchantress
(c) Marvel

The final theory I have regarding the true identity of this variant is that she might just be Amora, AKA the Enchantress. Amora is an Asgardian goddess known for her beauty as well as for her ruthlessness, love of luxury, and commitment to vengeance. She also is known for her powers of seduction and often uses her body as a weapon in the comics. She had a brief fling with Loki in Agent of Asgard when a spell cast by Wanda had the accidental consequence of turning heroes into baddies, and villains into heroes.

If this is in fact Amora, then director Kate Herron might be doing something very different with this character. Rather than have her dependent on her powers to seduce men, this potential Amora is instead using her full deck of magical abilities to execute a much larger plan. I’d definitely be excited to see this Enchantress play out!

So, I guess all of my toe- and finger-crossing worked, and we were able to see what this other variant looked like, but we still don’t know exactly who she is or what she really wants. Come back here next week for our coverage of Episode 3, where we should hopefully have some more answers!

Loki can be watched every Wednesday on Disney+.

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