Our variance thus far: Loki is picked up by the mysterious TVA for altering the sacred timeline. Spoilers ahead!
Once upon a time, there was a God of Mischief named Loki. He had a brother (adopted), could do cool magic tricks (with knives and illusions), and had lots of fun doing wily things (like trying to take over the world). He’s portrayed as an antagonist and villain most of the time, but audiences see a different side to him—one full of personal pain, love, and a desire for acceptance. Sounds like a good story, right? Who can resist the character development of an antihero and trickster with a sense of humor?
If you’re no stranger to the MCU, then you know how this story “officially” ends—he reunites and reconciles with Thor, recognizes himself as an Odinson, and make a huge sacrifice that ends in Thanos snapping his neck during the first five minutes of Avengers: Infinity War.
Well, not anymore. In a move similar to Loki in the comics, MCU Loki (marvelously portrayed by Tom Hiddleston since 2011) has found a loophole, albeit by accident. When the Avengers went back in time to collect the Infinity Stones, he stole the Tesseract during a scuffle and inadvertently created an alternate timeline. And this is precisely where Disney’s new series Loki begins to take shape.
The first episode, titled “Glorious Purpose” introduces Loki to the Time Variance Authority—rather abruptly, when they apprehend him by force. When he protests that he is a god and has never heard of this strange organization, the reply he receives is simple: he didn’t need to know about them, because prior to his deviation during the Time Heist the sacred timeline was proceeding as was ordered by the Time Lords. I mean, Time Keepers. Despite his continued objections, he stands trial before Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)…and to his dismay, he can’t escape the courtroom because his powers are useless in the TVA Headquarters.
Before anything too terrible can happen to our favorite mischief-maker, Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) intercedes. Mobius, an experienced member of the TVA who specializes in hunting down dangerous time criminals, is eager to speak with Loki face-to-face and discuss his former misdeeds. He takes Loki to an isolated room and shows him clips of himself from the past: classics like trying to take over New York and masquerading as D.B. Cooper. Loki seems unimpressed, until Mobius takes things a step further and shows him a moment that this version of himself has not yet lived—the death of his adoptive mother Frigga during Thor: The Dark World. Something that he helped cause by happenstance.
Angered, Loki attempts to escape. He manages to get away from Mobius and the guards, but when he tries to get the Tesseract back from TVA receptionist Casey (who doesn’t know what a fish is), he is faced with an awful realization. Not only is his magic useless within their walls (or realm??), but so are Infinity Stones. That’s right, the small but limitless gems that will grant Thanos the power the eliminate half the galaxy are nothing more than paperweights in the TVA.
This odd little agency that looks like its suck in a 70s view of futurism and which subtly governs the lives of every being in the universe is more powerful than all the Infinity Stones combined.
Feeling defeated, Loki returns to the theater room and decides to see what else his future self would have done (or does) in the correct timeline. He watches his life unfold before him, up until the fateful moment with Thanos. The record ends, and he puts his head in his hands.
Mobius returns to find Loki still struggling to process what he has learned about a life he will never have the chance to live, and finally makes his offer. Instead of facing the consequences of his time crime, will Loki agree to help him with his latest case? Mobius is trying (and failing) to capture a variant who has been murdering TVA agents across time and space and believes that he needs Loki to help him.
The variant villain in question? Loki himself.
What comes next?
As we have learned from both the films and new TV shows in the MCU, you can’t always predict what will happen since this universe differs from the comics. But we can certainly theorize what’s in store for Loki of Asgard. And maybe Lady Loki. King Loki? The door is wide, wide open for any and all Loki incarnations, or “variants.”
What we do know: there’s a version of Loki out there who is pissed off at the TVA and wants to f*ck with them on a “I’ll burn you alive” level. What we don’t know: which version of Loki it is. Is it a different incarnation? Are they from the past (for all we know, he could have created an alternate timeline ages ago, what with all his mischief) or the future? From another dimension?
One piece of the puzzle has been frequently cited by fan theorists over the last week. When Mobius speaks to the young French boy back in time, the child insinuates (quietly…note that he never says a word aloud) that the person who killed the TVA agents in his presence was a devil. Many people have said that this could be a reference to the demon Mephisto. While this could be true (let’s face it, anything goes with Marvel), I think it’s much more likely that the child himself is Loki, playing a trick on Mobius. In his best known form, Loki sports his horned helmet. And the best tool of a liar is actually the truth.
Another big clue about what we can anticipate from both the show and the continuing canon is the idea of Nexus events, or branched off timelines. Not only does the word Nexus harken back to that commercial in WandaVision, but Nexus Beings are super rare and powerful creatures in the comics. The Scarlet Witch is a Nexus Being. And because the TVA deals directly with the sacred timeline and the Multiverse, there will likely be a tie-in with WandaVision as well as the next Doctor Strange film. Will Wanda’s search for her sons have an effect on Loki’s actions, and vice versa? Reports from the last several months have indicated that Loki might appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and this article from Digital Spy further discusses the connection among the three storylines—and how Spiderman and the X-Men might get looped in, too.
No matter what (or who) awaits us and the multiverse, I do know one thing for sure: we are in for a glorious ride.
Loki airs new episodes on Wednesdays, only on Disney Plus.