It’s no secret that Marvel Studios’ 2023 wasn’t its best.
Even though Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 provided much-needed relief after Ant-Man: Quantamania failed to win over critics and general audiences alike and to surpass the $500 million global box office barrier, even though most critics and moviegoers attributed its success to James Gunn’s improbable winning streak at directing comic book adaptations. Later came the drastically reshot Secret Invasion, which is regarded as one of the worst Marvel series to have been released on Disney Plus thus far due to its horrendous ending and is currently ranked as the second-worst Marvel Cinematic Universe installment of all time on Rotten Tomatoes.
The first season of Loki, which debuted in 2021, was both a noteworthy series in and of itself and a hopeful glimpse at the MCU’s overarching plan for the Multiverse Saga. Ironically, the TV project, which at first appeared to be more unnecessary, ended up becoming one of Phase 4’s highlights. Can Marvel wow us once more with Season 2 after all of its recent ups and downs? We might be booming back in business if the season premiere is any indication.
Spoilers Ahead For Loki Season 2 Episode 1: ‘Ouroboros’
So, Season 1 had a dramatic conclusion with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returning to a TVA that doesn’t seem to be his and Jonathan Majors’ He Who Remains (a Kang variation) dying at the hands of Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) after explaining why he had to keep a Sacred Timeline.
The “multiverse” that we’ve started to see in films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home was effectively established when He Who Remains died. A new Multiversal War is about to break out as timelines can communicate with one another once more.
Loki, who has fallen in love with a variant of himself named Sylvie and who is currently lost in time, wants to find her. The issue? Everyone at the TVA will find it difficult to believe what they saw and heard at the End of Time, especially since he keeps uncontrollably flitting back and forth in time. However, it appears that he is at least connected to the timeframe we were familiar with throughout the majority of Season 1.
One could argue that Season 2’s first action reverses the horrifying repercussions of the cliffhanger finale from two years prior, but this is a twist we hadn’t even contemplated, and it doesn’t lessen the overall threat in the slightest. In actuality, the opening episode of Season 2 is rather stressful. Loki and Sylvie going missing, Hunter B-15 breaking protocol, etc.), so we’re introduced to Kate Dickie’s General Dox and Liz Carr’s Judge Gamble, who will try to decide the best course of action going forward. The TVA knows the Sacred Timeline is cooked and has lost Ravonna Renslayer on top of everything.
After just about persuading the emergency council and Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) from the present about at least some of what happened at the End of Time – revealing a hidden mural full of Kangs helped – Loki and his new favorite companion, Ouroboros, a chatty and upbeat employee who was undoubtedly written with the Oscar-winner in mind, meet him at the bottom of the TVA. The banter between Loki and Mobius, which managed to be funny without going overboard, has been a major plus for the show since the very beginning. It seemed sincere, and Ke Huy Quan’s act blended seamlessly with their existing relationship.
Long Story Short (P.S: it’s not going to be short and no spoiler is going to be spared)
Loki is experiencing time-slips due to the time-related complications he and Sylvie encountered. Ouroboros, aware of this “affliction,” insists it couldn’t happen within the TVA. However, our primary concern in this scene was that O.B., affectionately called Mobius, might send Loki and Sylvie on an unnecessarily prolonged side quest dominating most of the season.
Fortunately, this scenario is avoided as Loki’s conversation with O.B. triggers memories in the latter, leading to the acquisition of a device designed by an earlier O.B. for such situations. This well-written double conversation, expertly edited, offers a more satisfying solution to their urgent problem compared to a hasty and unfulfilling detour.
Yet, a significant twist arises in the form of the TVA’s Temporal Loom collapsing. This development would be catastrophic, especially for Loki, as it would sever his connection to two different points in time, causing him to unravel. The Temporal Loom serves as a nexus powering all of the TVA’s time-related technology and refining time into tangible timelines—a quintessential Marvel concept.
Loki faces the daunting task of “pruning” himself using the TVA’s weapon, which dispatches problematic variants to the time junkyard seen in Season 1. He must then be retrieved using a device positioned near the Temporal Loom, all within a narrow window of time. Although the mechanics might seem complex, they become comprehensible once you overcome the jargon. It’s classic sci-fi entertainment.
The situation becomes even more precarious as Mobius’s bulky suit provides limited protection within the massive chamber containing the Temporal Loom. Loki embarks on another time-travel journey, struggling to find a pruning stick. Just in the nick of time, he prunes himself and is pulled back into his timeline.
However, he catches a glimpse of Sylvie in the future as O.B. begins closing the gates protecting the TVA from the Loom. Sylvie is searching for a new place to call home. But does this suggest a retraction of her previous statements regarding their relationship? A brief post-credits scene reveals her initial plan to try her luck working at McDonald’s in 1980 Broxton, Oklahoma.
The story’s focus now shifts towards finding Sylvie and understanding the new timeline’s dynamics, as well as the looming threat of Kang to the entire multiverse. With the apparent stabilization of the Temporal Loom and Loki’s resolution of his time-slipping issue, these challenges come to the forefront.
Simultaneously, General Dox is rapidly mobilizing to capture Sylvie, believing that the Loki variant might be responsible for the negative events since Sylvie’s arrival. As they navigate this perplexing new period, Judge Gamble has temporarily suspended the pruning of additional criminals.
Except for a brief action sequence early on, “Ouroboros” is an episode that is entirely set within the TVA and manages to delight. The actors and the vivacious and dynamic camerawork, in our humble opinion, steal the show here. On a screenplay level, this season’s opener repeats a lot of the errors from the show’s 2021 premiere: While the plot does nothing for full scenes, it is overburdened with exposition and technical discussion. However, the execution is so endearing and captivating that you don’t give it a second thought as you watch. It also helps that the production design and visual identity of this show are still analog.
It will be interesting to see if the studio and the writers used the chance provided by a collapsing cop-like organization to comment on how such a misguided and oppressive regime can be rebuilt to do some real good amid all the time-traveling adventures that undoubtedly lie ahead of us. An all-knowing guiding hand deceived them all to the point of erasing their memories multiple times. While genuinely defending his Sacred Timeline, He Who Remains also rapidly judged numerous others. Could the TVA accept these unfavorable realities and change?
We are presented with a fantastic idea that has a ton of potential, and if it is fully used, it might show that these programs are much more than just fragments of a bigger picture. The first season was terrific on its own and served as the Multiverse Saga’s proper introduction. As the plot becomes more bizarre and the cast of characters becomes more numerous, can Marvel Studios pull off the same magic trick again? We’ll discover it in due time.