Loki season 1 review (2021)

Marvel’s Loki is not only a great character piece for one of the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe villains ever, but it’s also a mind-blowing, stage-setting epic that promises something devastatingly drastic is about to happen to the superhero universe we’ve grown to love over the last 13 years.

Marvel Studios has been on an absolute tear in 2021 with its MCU content so far. About seven months in, the fans have been treated to the strange, but fantastic WandaVision, the grounded The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanoff’s swan song with Black Widow, and the latest game-changing series, Loki. If I’m being honest, out of the three shows, Loki is probably the one I was the least excited for. After seeing it in its entirety, I have to admit, it’s my favorite MCU series so far. WandaVision is a close second and I feel it did a better job making it more about the two main characters. However, the way Loki is sets the stage for the future of the MCU has me incredibly excited for what’s to come. At this point, the possibilities are literally endless and I can only imagine the content we’ll be getting moving forward. Before I go any further, I feel I can’t do a review of the first season any justice without going into spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen Loki, now is the time to stop reading.

Loki picks up during the events of Avengers: Endgame where the Avengers go back in time to the battle in New York during the first Avengers film. The captured Loki steals the Tesseract and teleports himself to a different and unknown location. Once there, the Time Variance Authority (TVA), which is an organization existing outside of space and time and controls the timeline, captures him. He either gets erased from existence, or cooperates and helps them bring down an even bigger threat as he journeys through different points in time.

I can’t lie. At the start, I was a bit confused about what was going on in the series and how the writers were going to explain everything while trying to make it all make sense. But, I have to say, I was surprised with how smoothly the plot points were introduced and how they were told as the story progressed throughout the season. Once you realize the TVA isn’t taking place at any specific point in time and exists no matter what happens in the “Sacred Timeline,” which is what they call it, then it really starts to come together. As a fan of the MCU as a whole and having seen every film up to this point, I tried to see where Loki takes place in the overall timeline. However, when you truly realize it can go to any event that has already taken place or will take place in the MCU, then the speculation and all the exciting ideas begin.

In reality, this story takes everything we’ve seen in the MCU so far and flips it on its head with its narrative. You come to realize everything is not what it seems and anything can be changed according to the orchestrator of it all (we’ll get into that a bit later). So, basically, you have to forget what you know about the MCU when watching Loki since none of it necessarily seems as important or as grand anymore. What you thought to be something drastic or large in scale now seems fairly minute. The perfect examples are the Infinity Stones, which are borderline useless in the TVA. It’s sort of bizarre to see since we all saw the impact these stones can have in capable hands.

Some other things are revealed as you watch the series, which really changes so many things. At first, you’re led to believe the TVA is controlled by three entities known as the Timekeepers, who created the Sacred Timeline and have pruned (or erased) every other timeline branch that spawns from it in order to keep the proper flow of time going smoothly. You’re also introduced to the idea of those working in the TVA, such as Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Mobius (Owen Wilson), being created by the Timekeepers to aid in keeping the Sacred Timeline in tact. However, you soon realize not everything is as it seems and everyone in the TVA are all variants of a specific character.

To specify more on this, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) is a female variant of Loki, while everyone else is a variant of another character who was captured and brain-washed into thinking they were created by the Timekeepers and their sole purpose is to prune every other possible timeline and variant, for that matter, who potentially puts the Sacred Timeline at risk. If you haven’t seen the series, I’m sure it can sound a bit confusing at first, which is why I don’t think discussing some of the spoilers necessarily ruins the show. Once you’re invested, it all comes together and tells a phenomenal story.

I found most of the characters to be incredibly likable and layered. Some are more important to the plot than others, but I feel most played their respective roles very well and made the overall viewing experience much more entertaining. Some of them have been mentioned already, such as Sylvie and Mobius. Di Martino truly brought a different side to Loki with Sylvie, which was awesome to see since we’ve all been so used to seeing Tom Hiddleston’s take on the character for over 10 years. Wilson is also fantastic as Mobius. We rarely see Wilson in these kinds of roles, so it’s great to see him show off his range and his overall talent.

Other characters include some of the other Loki variants. One of my favorites is Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki. I don’t think the comic book accurate costume translates very well to a live-action format, but it was still so fun to see the series pay homage to it. I’m hoping we get to see Grant return in some way, although it may be a bit unlikely due to his untimely demise. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see Jack Veal return as Kid Loki, though. He has more to bring to this character. Plus, I’m almost sure a Young Avengers series or film will come soon enough, and having Veal return as Kid Loki is a no-brainer for me.

Most of all, the best part was getting to see Hiddleston return to this role. I mean, I thought he was officially done as Loki when Thanos snapped his neck in Avengers: Infinity War. Then, after seeing what he does in Endgame, it opened up a ton of different possibilities with the character. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t sure what the creators had planned to do with Loki, but I’m glad this series was created, which not only brings us a different layer and dynamic to this character, but it also sets up a number of interesting and game-changing stories to come in the future. I’m convinced there’s no one else who can take on the mantle of the Loki we’ve come to know in the MCU. In other words, at least this variant. Hiddleston is the full package; charming, charismatic, humorous, and he can definitely delve deep into the dramatic tones when needed. Best of all, it seems he’s only getting started.

The most important detail in the entire series happens in the season finale. Of course, the series was subtly hinting at this character the whole time, but we couldn’t be too sure. We did see what happened when we over-speculated about character and plot hints in WandaVision and how all of that worked out. So, as a viewer, I tried to keep my expectations in check in order to avoid massive disappointment. It’s also important, at least for me, to let the writers tell the stories they want to tell without fearing the backlash from the fans. Anyway, we finally got our first look at Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror (well, a variant of the character, at least).

This variant is referred to as He Who Remains, who ends up being the orchestrator of the TVA all along. He goes on to explain everything, going into detail about how he was a scientist in the 31st century and how he discovered that there were universes stacked on top of the very one he lives on. He also goes on to explain there are various different versions of him in each universe who so happen to be learning the same thing. So, similar to all the different Loki’s we see in the series, He Who Remains is another variant of this one character, who I assume is Kang the Conqueror, who I think is probably the most ruthless and savage one.

He continues to say how all of these variants began to encounter one another and they essentially made a truce. Of course, not everyone is the same, as he explains, and some are more ruthless than others (again, probably Kang the Conqueror being one of them). This then leads to a multiversal war, with each variant trying to protect their universe while ridding of the others. This variant, He Who Remains, eventually discovers Alioth, a big cloud-like figure and he harnesses its power in order to end the war and now, he manages the flow of time by not allowing further branches to come about.

The way I see it, although some of his methods ruined some lives, he’s actually a good person in the grander scheme of things. Well, at least compared to what’s coming, considering Sylvie ends up betraying Hiddleston’s Loki and kills He Who Remains due to being hellbent on revenge because of everything she’s been through. It’s a bittersweet ending, in a way, but it’s a promise for something major that is about to shift the MCU into something extremely chaotic and mind-blowing. I can’t wait to see Majors in all of his glory.

I wish Loki was a bit longer. I feel some of the plot points were definitely rushed and not many of them were fleshed out or expanded on since the first season is only six episodes. In a way, it uses Loki’s character as a set up more than anything, and at times, it doesn’t really feel like his story. He’s just a pawn on a chessboard whose next move is used to usher in an even bigger move that’ll change the entire game as we know it. Compared to WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where each respective series focuses on the main characters and, in many ways, it tells their stories, Loki tells a different story and focuses on the massive world-building that’s on the way. I won’t necessarily say it’s a bad thing since Loki does have his moments and it’s definitely still a character piece in the first couple of episodes, where different sides of Loki are showcased. But, it’s more of a change of pace compared to what the previous shows established.

As for everything else, I absolutely loved it. The characters are great and I’m looking forward to seeing most of them returning in some capacity. I’m very interested to see what Loki does next here as well, considering he still has a big role to play in everything. Most importantly, Kang’s arrival is something I’m certainly very intrigued by. I feel he’s a villain not many people know about and he sort of gets downplayed because most of the casual fans aren’t aware of who he is. However, this being the MCU, I can see his power levels being increased and he may even be a much bigger threat than Thanos. If we thought the Infinity Gauntlet was the most powerful weapon in the universe, we haven’t seen anything yet.

I can’t wait to see what happens in upcoming films dealing with the multiverse, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Plus, season two of Loki is already confirmed, and that’s exciting. If you haven’t seen this series, do yourself the favor and watch it.

Score: A-


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