Loki Recap: Variants! (Episode 5)
We’re running a weekly recap of Loki on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
First there’s Boastful Loki, who wields a Mjölner replica constructed from parts of a monkey wrench and a piece of train track. Before his banishment to the Void, this Variant brags to have accomplished what no Loki had ever done: “After I vanquished Captain America and Iron Man, I claimed my prize: All six Infinity Stones.” The other Lokis call shenanigans, and truthfully, we never learn if his story is true. We do know that minutes later, Boastful Loki betrays his own clan to President Loki’s gang.
The Variant Lokis embody the literal thousands of branches the God of Mischief’s life could have taken.Exactly what President Loki is the president of remains to be seen. Was he a candidate for office before or after his time in the Void? I’m assuming that was sometime before, in an alternate timeline, which means this candidate never changed out of his campaign clothes after the TVA pruned him. No matter. POTUS Loki’s appearance is short-lived after the gang to which our original Loki was betrayed turns around and betrays President Loki too. At which point a Loki–melee ensues wherein the Commander in mis-Chief’s hand is bitten off by Alligator Loki, Captain Hook–style. And that’s the last we saw of President Loki.
Earlier tonight I spent more time than any self-respecting grown man should, arguing at my dinner table whether Alligator Loki is actually a Loki. If the alligator has no powers of speech and no magical abilities to speak of, then what makes Alligator Loki different from any other alligator? Is it the crown? Alligators don’t wear crowns, but Loki does. And this crown looks like Loki’s, hence, this alligator must be a Loki. Either way, if Thor can be a frog, then who am I to question how Loki can be an alligator?
Kid Loki is something of a tragedy. He is the version of Loki who actually succeeded where the MCU’s Loki failed. The Loki we’ve always known is the metaphorical dog chasing the metaphorical car, trying to conquer Asgard, trying to rule the universe, but always coming up short.
Kid Loki is the dog who finally caught the car. And his answer to why the TVA pruned him was simple: “I killed Thor.” Do you remember the story Thor told in Thor: Ragnarok? “There was one time [Loki] transformed himself into a snake, because he knows how much I like snakes. And so I picked the snake up to admire it, but then he turned back and went ‘AAHH! It’s me!’ And then he stabbed me.”
Imagine a timeline where Thor died in that story, then Loki was immediately pruned to the Void for the rest of his days. That’s who Kid Loki is.
Classic Loki, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. Back when Thanos killed the MCU’s Loki in Avengers: Infinity War, this Loki had mastered the art of deception to such a degree that he tricked Thanos into killing a mere projection of Loki. Classic Loki then escaped and spent the next several eons in isolation and self-reflection. It’s no wonder then that Classic Loki just isn’t up for the same tricks anymore. He’s loyal and helpful and generous in spreading his wisdom to the more immature Variant Lokis. It’s possible that Classic Loki is just pulling another long con. Or maybe he’s proof that Loki can change.
All the What-If Lokis
Back when this show first began, I shared that Loki is just like the rest of us. His life is a bell he can never unring. And like us, his future exists in terms of narrowing possibilities based on the choices he has made before. With the TVA’s time-altering powers in Loki’s grasp, Loki has the opportunity to right his past wrongs, and settle past scores. This week, as Loki got a better glimpse of the “bells” of his life, we can press into that idea a little further now.
What would have happened if Loki had killed Thor at a young age? Or escaped Thano’s death grip and lived for another generation in isolation? Here in the Void at the end of all time, the What if? is no longer a question of possibilities, but of cold, stark realities. The Variant Lokis embody the literal thousands of branches the God of Mischief’s life could have taken.
And now that Loki can see the multi-faceted directions his life can go, it should mean that much more to see the choice he’s finally willing to make in this penultimate episode:
Sylvie (aka Lady Loki)
Sylvie is the Loki Variant who was pruned from her home in Asgard for no apparent reason other than simply existing. As a young, scared girl, Sylvie’s life was stolen from her and her timeline erased. Not only that, Sylvie has since learned the Time Variance Authority has done the same thing to countless others just like her. But while Sylvie was able to escape whatever fate the TVA had planned for her, this can’t be said of all the Variants the TVA still keeps as its prisoners, erasing their memories and enlisting their help to maintain the very system that wrecked their lives.
Only now, for the first time in her life, Sylvie doesn’t have to do the work alone. Not only does she have Loki’s help in enchanting Alioth, but she also has Agent Mobius and Hunter B-15 on the inside of the TVA now, ready to burn it all down.
We have a lot of plot left to pack into Loki’s final episode next week. Whether we learn the identity of whichever “Great and Powerful Oz” is actually ruling the TVA is of second importance to me.
I just hope Mobius finally gets his dang jet ski.