BY MATT TUCK
Loki sheds his role of sidekick and becomes a star in the first episode of Loki, delivering a high-concept adventure that firmly sets it apart from WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. It embraced its sci-fi/fantasy roots so much so that its high concepts even encroached on Rick and Morty territory.
SPOILER ALERT. DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW
I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but it’s hard to discuss the Loki premiere without revealing a handful of secrets. On that note, you’ve been warned.
After a long wait, we finally have the premiere episode of Loki on Disney+, which dropped today on the streaming app. It was full-fledged science-fiction, which is fitting for the character since Thor’s corner of the MCU has become almost exclusively cosmic. As we saw in the trailers, this story takes Loki further into sci-fi, and it is a perfect marriage.
Let’s face the facts: so far in the MCU, Loki has been relegated to Thor’s sidekick. He is the Laurel to Thor’s Hardy. Sure, he played the part of the charming, devilish villain in Thor and The Avengers, but beginning with Thor: the Dark World, he transitioned into the god of thunder’s partner in crime. That’s why the best part about the new show is seeing Loki rise to the level of star. As the series continues, it will be interesting to see him elevate his stature and stand alone without Thor.
The premise of Loki’s first episode is that he has been labeled a fugitive by the Time Variance Authority. Operating under the godlike Time Keepers, the TVA monitors the different timelines, ensuring that everything goes according to plan. Picking up where Endgame left off, Loki uses the Tesseract to escape his timeline, making him what the TVA calls a “variant,” which feels like a wink and nod to comic collecting.
As a variant, the TVA’s police force apprehends Loki and basically puts him in time-space jail. We discover that there is another version of Loki (whom I suspect will be Loki’s female form from the comics, considering the show’s producers are adamant that Loki is gender fluid) reeking havoc in the timeline, and Loki is being recruited to help capture his variant self.
Owen Wilson plays Agent Mobius, who is looking to Loki for help to resolve the issue with the other god of mischief on the loose. In true Thor-Loki fashion, it appears these two will do the good cop/bad cop routine in full Lethal Weapon fashion.
For the sci-fi fans, Loki appears to be a dream come true. Where the Thor movies were a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, Loki has cast away the fantasy aspect, and it was highly entertaining. The first episode is heavy on high-concept sci-fi that was hinted at in Endgame. I’m crossing my fingers that it will only get deeper into the science fiction realm and avoid being yet another by-the-numbers MCU action-comedy.
Speaking of high-concept science-fiction, was I the only one who thought Loki echoed Rick and Morty? That’s not a knock against the series at all; I love Rick and Morty. As I watched the first episode of Loki, from his Rick Sanchez-level narcissism to the Nexus of All Realities, it reminded me of Rick and the Citadel. More so, the Time Variance Authority was almost exactly like the Council of Ricks. We can also draw comparisons to Umbrella Academy and Five’s misadventures as an assassin for the Temps Commission.
The only complaint I have is that there was too much dialogue and exposition. I understand that this is the first episode and the first time we have seen the Nexus and the Time Variance Authority. That warrants plenty of explanation for the audience, not to mention Loki himself is not aware of this new world he’s been thrust into. The trouble is that much of the episode is nothing but Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson bantering. The dialogue was well written and effectively delivered by the accomplished actors, so that kept it from becoming too plodding. Still, much of that could have been trimmed down for the sake of a faster pace.
Be that as it may, this was a strong first episode that was enjoyable and thought-provoking. We are left with Loki, despite his bravado, questioning his place in the universe. He is brought down from god to mortal being with a god complex, and our hero is left to ponder whether or not his “glorious purpose” is to always lose so that others can become the best versions of themselves, as Wilson’s Mobius points out. I can’t wait to see what the next episode has in store for us.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.