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Warning: This article contains spoilers about the fifth episode of Loki.
Loki's time is almost up.
In the Disney+ drama's penultimate episode, Tom Hiddleston's God of Mischief teamed up with Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) to defeat Alioth, the smokey monster patrolling the Void, and hopefully uncover who is pulling the strings behind the TVA. After successfully enchanting the beast, they discovered a mysterious fortress on the other side of the Void, leaving the audience on quite a cliffhanger as we head into next week's finale, which hopefully provide many answers.
Ahead of Loki's last installment, EW hopped on the phone with head writer Michael Waldron (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Heels) to discuss Frog Thor, Alligator Loki, Loki and Sylvie's intriguing relationship, and more.
Marvel Studios; Inset: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Tom Hiddleston as Loki; 'Loki' head writer Michael Waldron (inset).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's start with Frog Thor. Episode 4 writer Eric Martin mentioned on Twitter that you guys actually filmed a scene with Loki and Frog Thor in the time theatre for the premiere. What actually happened in the scene?
MICHAEL WALDRON: There was a version alongside the D.B. Cooper sequence of kind of Loki's Greatest Hits. There was another greatest hit of the time that Thor was turned into a frog and that's in this case left to the imagination. But yeah, we did almost get there in there. But I am glad that we see that Frog Thor.
Episode 5 had a lot of Easter Eggs like Frog Thor and the Yellowjacket helmet. How many of those were written into the script versus being added while shooting or in post?
It's kind of a combination of all of those. I would probably give more credit to Kate [Herron], the director, and to the production team and VFX, and all those guys. There were a few I wrote in there. I think that I was probably more focused on, "Alright, how the hell do we make Alioth make sense?" [Laughs] But yeah, it was kind of a team effort getting that stuff in there. Like the Thanos-copter, that was the production team. They did an amazing job really making the episode a treat for fans in that way.
This morning, you shared a photo of your Alligator Loki birthday cake from 2019. Where did the idea to include Alligator Loki come from?
That one was me. That one I'll take credit for. That was a thing that came out in one of my very first meetings with Marvel. It was just, as I was talking about what the show should feel like, [I said], "You should feel like anything can happen, that we can do anything, anything in this show." And one of those [was], "We can have an Alligator Loki." And that was an idea that just kind of stuck, and now here we are.
Eric also revealed that Loki and Sylvie joining hands to enchant Alioth in episode 5 arrived late in the game. What was the original plan there, and how did you move from that to the hand holding?
There's a lot of different versions of, how do you communicate with this thing and is there actually a dialogue? I think at one point Alioth was running his mouth to the guys and there was a frank exchange of ideas back and forth. But that was just a constant whittling down [to], what is the simplest version of this? And that was working with Kate, Eric, and the whole team of just like, how do we just hit on what's the most visually and emotionally impactful for this climactic sequence? There was always going to be a joining of hands at some point there, but what became a really cool idea was joining hands to actually pull it off.
You mentioned how you were focused on making Alioth make sense. When I watched the episode, I was immediately thought of Aladdin's Cave of Wonders when we saw Alioth for the first time. Then, of course, it reminded me of Lost's smoke monster, too. Did you and Kate have those references in mind as you were trying to figure out how to bring this Marvel character to life?
You know, interestingly enough — the Smoke Monster, the Man in Black [from Lost], of course you see that — [but] I was just thinking about Twister, you know a living tempest. I love storms. Episode 2 has a storm. So, I was thinking Loki and Sylvie are Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in Twister. That was kind of my reference point for it.
Is the audience supposed to interpret Loki's love for Sylvie as the only person Loki could possibly fall for or sacrifice himself for is Loki? How were you thinking about that dynamic?
I think that Loki is very much a work in progress. As he said, "I've never done this before." He doesn't quite know what he's feeling, how to feel it, and like the audience, he's still trying to figure it out, and I like that.
It definitely comes across as some sort of love story, but there's also aspects of self-redemption. How did you approach writing this tricky and unique relationship?
[Laughs] We felt it was a really unique, cool idea, and we just wanted to do something that always felt truthful to the characters, that felt truthful to who Loki is and to who he is at this point in the story. This is a character that, as he says to Mobius [Owen Wilson], has always thought of himself as a villain. In meeting Sylvie and having a mirror held up to him, for the first time he feels something else about himself; he feels affection. And in Sylvie, he sees things to admire in himself, and I just think that was a rich thing to explore.
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Marvel Studios' 'Loki' on Disney+.
When we spoke for the first time way back in April, I asked you what was the most insightful thing you learned from talking to Tom about the character, but you couldn't reveal it because it was a spoiler. Is it safe now to share what that was?
I can! I guess it was the thing that came up in episode 4. Tom said that one of the foundations for him was loneliness, that Loki was lonely. That was something that unlocked the character further for me and that we've tried to address there in the show.
The other thing you brought in that conversation was how you and the writers spent a lot of time just mapping out the time travel rules for the TVA and for the show. How many of those rules have actually made it to screen, and what's the most minute or mundane detail that you discussed but didn't make it into the show?
I feel like a lot of them made it to screen in the first episode. The first episode had to do a lot of heavy lifting. I've been pleased with the fact that I don't see a lot of discourse about how people don't understand what the hell is going on, that hopefully it's like, "I got my orientation from Miss Minutes and now I'm in, I'm on the ride, and so I get why Lamentis is a hard place to pull for a nexus event, because it's going to be destroyed." Episode 1 had some leg work to do.
But what is the minute time travel thing? It's just lots of questions about: [In existence], is there just a constant repetition of existences? How many instances of existence are happening at any given time? Is it infinite? Are you and me having this conversation right now and have five seconds prior, and five seconds in the future? Are those happening slightly differently? It was stuff like that, that you talk about for an hour and you're like, "Does this matter? If we're talking about this in the show, I think somebody is going to unplug their television." [Laughs]
Did you land on an answer to that question?
We did. I think that the idea is that time is a thing that's kind of always moving, so it's existence is always happening.
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in 'Loki.'
The MCU has this tendency to introduce these bureaucratic police forces like S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. and then reveal that there's something rotten to their core, which is what we ended up learning about the TVA. Was that thematic throughline on your minds as you were building the TVA?
It's interesting, I don't think we were thinking about it as something that was connected to the broader MCU. I think that's something that we all feel and is a constant theme of great stories: You know, the monolithic organizations telling you that they're looking out for your best interests via unscrupulous measures sometimes are in fact not telling the truth. That's something that resonates with everybody. Nobody trusts the DMV, that's why we wrote this show.
One of my coworkers jokingly wondered if the TVA was comparable to like working at Marvel where you have people just deciding what's canon and what isn't. From your experience, how comparable is that?
[Laughs] I've heard that. While that would be a helluva trick for me to pull — to write a show that's a meta-commentary on the studio you're working for — it honestly couldn't be further from the truth. It is not a soulless bureaucracy at all and Kevin Feige is not a Time Keeper. He's much more like Mobius in that he's a guy that just wants to do the work, get his hands dirty, figure out what's the coolest, best version of this. Marvel is not afraid to mess with their own Sacred Timeline if it makes your project great.
The sixth and final episode of Loki arrives next Wednesday on Disney+.