The much-needed albeit unplanned hiatus from Marvel Studios is paying off quite intensely with four MCU projects having debuted this year alone. Some were groundbreaking (WandaVision) and some were genuinely questionable (Falcon and The Winter Soldier). ‘Loki‘ takes the good and the bad of both those projects and implements them in a season that’s incredibly entertaining albeit messy.
minor spoilers for the first season of Marvel Studios’ ‘Loki‘
As someone who wasn’t around when the Tumblr Loki section of this fandom was thriving, I honestly did not care for Loki very much. He was no more than an enjoyable villain to me. I remember really liking the more comedic role he had in ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ but he met his demise no longer than a couple minutes into his next appearance. His involvement in ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ was honestly eye-rolling in the sense that he had escaped death yet again. I don’t think Marvel is even capable of killing off Loki now because we wouldn’t take them seriously. Long story short, this was my least anticipated Marvel Disney+ show (next to Hawkeye). It’s also the only show of the three so far I decided to binge instead of watching it weekly. To be fair, I did just start working a nine-hour job so it was out of my hands. I finally caught up this week and to my surprise, this season was a delight! I loved exploring the TVA with Loki and going on these catastrophic missions. The new additions of Mobius, Sylvie and Miss Minutes were also fantastic. Most importantly, however, it made me understand why Loki is such a beloved character and that’s the biggest compliment I can give to a show like this.
These MCU Disney Plus shows’ biggest strength is that they nail the characters their show is about. We all had that emotional journey with Wanda, we understood Sam’s tribulations to become Captain America and now we have a better understanding of Loki’s psyche. The entire first episode is essentially an hour-long therapy session and even by the end of its pilot, I already understood what made Loki, a Loki! Just like Loki’s character arc, however, nothing reaches a satisfying conclusion. Everything is put on pause in the incredibly jarring season finale. Character arcs, plot development, dynamic setups are all left open for the second season to tackle. It left this season feeling incomplete and ultimately devoid of structure. The show’s lack of focus on any particular subject or character doesn’t really affect the show until the finale when you realize that essentially nothing has happened all season long. You could not pay me to tell you what this show is about. Is it about the TVA? Is it about Loki’s unfinished character arc? Is it setting up Doctor Stange 2? It all just feels like a mixture of a bunch of great ideas that ultimately never got the proper exploration they deserved. It was a great ride but in retrospect, not a very well-written one. It’s very unfortunate that Marvel cannot figure out how to execute a proper finale. So far all three shows have had weak finales that compromise the plot in favour of either action or set-up.
The introduction of Variants and the TVA set up a really intriguing mystery which ultimately paid off. It was the one element holding this discombobulated mess together and even then, it gets thrown out of proportion in the finale. I genuinely hope these concepts will bleed into the movies and won’t be kept for the small screen. It would defeat the purpose of the show if it stayed that way. That being said, this show does have its fair share of cinematic moments. It really mastered its own aesthetic and tone. Everything from the mischievous score and the vivid colours even down to the locations made ‘Loki‘ a blast to watch. Most of the shots could make for an incredibly epic desktop background. However, it was genuinely confusing not seeing Loki using his powers an awful lot. There are only a couple instances where he gets to show his magic and even then, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Since this will be a multiple-season show, it has plenty of time to develop his powers. This season’s main focus was to establish Variants and boy, did we get plenty of them. Episode 5: ‘Journey Into Mystery’ was some of the most chaotic pieces of entertainment I have ever seen. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I want to see more of President Loki and Alligator Loki. Such scene stealers, those two! Now even President Loki has a “Hulk” to be scared of. It was mighty hilarious seeing Richard E. Grant appear for one episode as “Classic Loki” only to die in said episode because he’s a movie star, not a TV star. I couldn’t help but laugh.
Despite being devoid of structure, ‘Loki‘ somehow works thanks to its charismatic cast, captivating visuals and intriguing concept. Its place in the grand scheme of the MCU should prove to be a crucial one with the introduction of Variants. I hope that this will be a stepping-off point for most of these characters to appear outside of this show. Its ideas are too big to restrict to the small-screen. Tom Hiddleston once again owns this role and has much more room to play with, acting-wise. Owen Wilson and Sophia Di Martin are also excellent additions to the ever-growing cast of the MCU. Overall ‘Loki‘ is an entertaining binge with lots of promise for potential but also room for improvement. May the second season live up to its promise. Until then, For All Time, Always.