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It’s a glorious time to be a Loki fan. The second episode of Marvel’s miniseries turns out to be no less ambitious than the first, offering new twists and turns while its central mystery—“The Variant,” as the episode’s called—pushes the Sacred Timeline to the brink of collapse. Tom Hiddleston has never seemed more at home in the role than his performance here, calling out the TVA for their foolishness even as he follows them deeper into the devious game this other Loki’s playing.
How can you watch ‘Loki’?
In order to watch Loki, you need to subscribe to Disney+, the platform that serves as the online home for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can watch Disney+ using streaming devices, desktop browsers, a wide range of mobile devices, smart TVs, and video-game consoles.
A subscription to Disney+ costs $7.99 per month or $79.99 for the full year, though you can save by signing up for the Disney Bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu, which gives you access to all three streaming services for just $13.99 a month.
What happens in this episode of ‘Loki’?
In this week’s episode, we get to know both Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a little better, seeing them interact in private. We also see the bureaucracy’s mistrust of Loki in action when he’s denied access to documents in their archives. As Loki and Mobius conduct their Mindhunter-esque investigation, the Variant—ostensibly another Loki from a different time—springs up across history, drawing out the TVA’s Minutemen, killing them, and collecting their reality-shaping technology. Half the fun is watching the Loki of 2012 try to manipulate the situation to his own ends and then seeing Mobius, perhaps the foremost scholar on Asgard’s God of Mischief, play him like a chessboard.
Some of the logic is tough to follow in this episode, since we’re dealing with the threat of a comic-book multiverse shattering reality. But it’s all done confidently and carefully, like Will Graham surveying a murder scene in Hannibal. And we buy the notion that Loki knows himself (and any variations thereof) intimately enough to guess what he’d do in the “lesser” Loki’s place, given the resources at their disposal.
Ultimately, while going over the killer’s case file in a library, Loki notices a “variance reading” of absolute zero at Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse seen in the third Thor movie. So what we appear to have is a kind of doomsday killer, hopping from Pompeii to the climate catastrophes of the 21st century, hiding out at epicenters of chaos and destruction to avoid detection. Or so the theory goes. Maybe the Variant Loki wants to be found; maybe they want to draw Loki out and have a one-on-one chat about what, precisely, the Time Variance Authority actually is.
It seems plausible, even likely, that the majority of the Variants this organization’s been hunting since its inception are, in fact, Lokis. Could it be that its one true purpose is to outsmart and eliminate the God of Mischief for good? Could Loki be the sole being with the power and cunning to stop the trickster (or tricksters) responsible for the TVA’s existence? We still haven’t seen these purported Time-Keepers trying to maintain their one ideal version of history—the one, presumably, with the fewest Loki Laufeysons. Lots of food for thought in these first two episodes.
Once Mobius and Loki get Renslayer’s green light to pursue the doomsday-killer hypothesis, we finally meet the Variant up close—at the site of a 2050 superstorm. After a fun body-snatching horror sequence, the Variant Loki reveals themself to the audience: English actress Sophia Di Martino, who looks an awful lot like Hiddleston. (She’s even wearing the gold horns.)
Using an arsenal of TVA tech, this female-presenting Loki “bombs” the Sacred Timeline, triggering any number of branching timelines throughout history. And our antihero, from the 2012 attack on New York, follows his Variant through a portal, leaving the stunned Mobius behind.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Loki episode two recap: Marvel’s God of Mischief meets his match