‘Loki’ season one review: Marvel’s balm for the time travel-obsessed

Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson star in this extremely-watchable experiment of a show, which gets most things spectacularly right, and sets the bar high for its second season

Spoilers ahead…

The first two episodes of Loki had us believe this was a show where Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is reluctantly helping Mobius (Owen Wilson) of the Time Variance Authority (TVA) hunt a dangerous variant who is killing TVA agents, the minutemen. The chemistry between Loki and Mobius was sparkling and the easy banter between the two was one of the best things about the show. In episode three — the beautifully named, ‘Lamentis’ — there is a seismic shift as Loki meets his feminine side in Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) at the end of yet another world.

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For a little background, in Avengers: Endgame (2019), on stealing the Tesseract and disappearing, Loki messes with the Sacred Timeline and becomes a variant. He is brought before judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) at the TVA. He would have been “pruned” if not for Mobius, who thinks Loki will be able to help in finding the killer of the Minutemen.

‘Loki’ doesn’t just explore ‘anywhere’, but also ‘anywhen’: creator Michael Waldron

Some things work spectacularly well in the show like the bickering between the many Lokis, including Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei), Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) and President Loki (Hiddleston again). The Alligator Loki (!) with a smile and horns took my breath away. The sets are breath-taking. All those analogue props, the rotary phone, and those ‘70s style blocky lettering is just so comforting in these unsettling times, when one feels out of sorts without quite knowing why.

Loki

  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 6
  • Duration: 50 minutes
  • Creator: Michael Waldron
  • Director: Kate Herron
  • Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Tara Strong, Owen Wilson, Jack Veal, DeObia Oparei, Richard E. Grant, Sophia Di Martino, Sasha Lane, Jonathan Major
  • Storyline: The God of Mischief chases versions of himself through space and time

That train bound for the ark was reminiscent of jolly Snowpiercer; 1000 cars long and other luxury trains, including the Orient Express, with a magnificently-moustachioed Kenneth Branagh looking for the “murder rug” (murderer).

Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson on going to ‘Loki school,’ and why fans love the God of Mischief

The time travel, of course, is balm for the geeky soul. Using words like ‘pruning’ and ‘branches’ evoke a visual of time as a tree, with the sacred Timekeepers being stern gardeners keeping unruly time in check with the Sacred Timeline. Sylvie saying, “Everywhere and everywhen I went, I caused a Nexus event,” or that “I grew up at the ends of a 1000 worlds,” and “past the void to the end of time,” are jolly fixes for the time-travel obsessed.

The stuff that did not quite work is the police procedural which was supposed to pick up cues from Se7en and the utter lack of chemistry between Loki and Sylvie; Loki and Mobius’ hug was much more touching than Loki and Sylvie’s kiss. The final reveal was also vaguely meh.

Hiddleston is as usual very watchable as the sleek, classy, arrogant, vulnerable little lost boy-god. Wilson’s Mobius is folksy and sunshine and one can easily imagine him on that jet-ski…but Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie is a feeble distraction to Mobius and Loki’s bromance. Tara Strong’s animated Miss Minutes (the TVA mascot is fun), the inexplicable southern accent notwithstanding. Wunmi Mosaku is no-nonsense Hunter B-15, Sasha Lane is Hunter C-20 who falls into Sylvie’s evil clutches, and Eugene Cordero is TVA receptionist Casey who does not know what a fish is much to Loki’s chagrin. Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains seems to try too hard to appear unhinged.

There is a second season coming, and there is enough in the show to like to firmly disagree with Mobius when he says that he has been spending too much time with Lokis.

Loki is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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