Loki Recap: “The Variant”

Our variance thus far: Loki is working for the TVA in the hopes of gaining an audience with the elusive Time Keepers. But can Mobius trust anything the God of Mischief says? Spoilers ahead!

If you were the God of Mischief, caught with your metaphorical pants down (i.e. no magic), and the only way out of your predicament is to work with the very same people who want to delete you from the only timeline you’ve ever known, what would you do?

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Yeah, Loki too. Except there won’t be stabbing of anyone quite yet, considering no one will give him a knife.

In episode two of Loki, our titular antihero is learning the basics of the TVA from the very exciting front lines of…a desk. He’s not too enthused, however, preferring to only watch a few of their educational (*cough* propaganda) videos while skimming a magazine. Noting his disinterest, Miss Minutes scolds him—but instead of getting upset, he wonders lightheartedly if she is an animation or if she is actually alive. (She answers that she’s both, which may come into play later on in the show.)

Mobius is excited to see if Loki can actually help them catch the other variant of himself and takes him out into the field for a mission in 1985 Wisconsin, where the Variant has killed another group of Minutemen. Instead of helping, Loki tries to stall the investigation and keep the group from following his other self—we’re not entirely certain of his motives, other than he is trying to push the boundaries of how much he can manipulate Mobius and crew. What will he have to do in order to get in front of the Time Keepers to plead his case? Or, does he just want to screw everyone over? It seems to be a bit of both, which Mobius understands inherently, having studied almost every moment of Loki’s history.

Back at the TVA, Ravonna Renslayer is upset with the debacle and wants Mobius to call the whole thing off. But Mobius isn’t deterred, standing up for his new accomplice (I think he has a soft spot, just like any fan) and convincing her to give Loki another chance. Unfortunately for Loki (who seriously wants to stab someone right about now) that means more time spent behind a desk. Of course, our God of Mischief is quite intelligent, and after spending just a modicum of time in the TVA library is able to come up with a strange but entirely plausible theory as to where they can find the Variant.

In a hilarious scene wherein Owen Wilson’s salad gets utterly obliterated for the sake of demonstration (and yeah, Loki likes to mess with people), he postulates that the best place to hide from the TVA can only be somewhere they won’t notice timeline variance. Using Ragnarok as an example, Loki explains that if they were to visit Asgard right before its destruction he could do literally anything he wanted (like set fire to the palace) and it wouldn’t register with the TVA because anything that occurs just before an event of apocalyptic size won’t affect the timeline. Mobius isn’t sure about this, what with the destruction of his lunch and all, but Loki convinces him to let them test the theory by heading to Pompeii just moments before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

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While Mobius wants to stay low to the ground and attempt a minor disruption, Loki goes all out—he frees a cart of goats and tells the locals (in Latin, naturally) that they are about to meet their doom. Sure enough, Mobius’s TVA device doesn’t detect even the slightest variation.

This is great and all, but which apocalypse has the Variant chosen as their hiding place? Another trip to the library later, and Loki deduces that the Variant must be at a Roxxcart superstore during a major hurricane in 2050 Alabama. Encouraged by their progress, Mobius takes Loki and a group of agents to the location to see if they can find any trace of the rogue god. But of course, there’s a catch: what no one in the group knows is that the Variant has been bewitching people in order to use their bodies as temporary vessels for their consciousness.

When confronted by the Variant in the body of Hunter B-15, Loki is confused at this particular use of magic. He tries to talk to the Variant, explaining that they should work together to wreak havoc on the TVA and become its new rulers. (Because of course, he’s had a scheme all along.) The Variant is uninterested in collaboration, however, and insists that they not be called “Loki,” which Loki finds strange. (After all, he loves being…well, Loki.) And after being ambushed and thrown across the room like a rag doll, he is even more perplexed. “I would never treat me this way,” he says.

But there’s no more time for deduction or conversation. The Variant has set up a series of devices (very specific machines stolen from the TVA that reset timelines) to create what is essentially a time bomb at various points along the Sacred Timeline. Pleased at their success, the Variant reveals their face: it’s a blonde woman with Loki-esque horns who defiantly informs him that this “isn’t about you.”

Just as Mobius and the other agents arrive to give Loki backup, the woman escapes through a portal. Loki seems torn about what to do next and very nearly stays with Mobius…but at the last second, curiosity and freedom win out over false loyalties and he throws himself through the doorway after the strange Variant.

What comes next?

There’s a lot to unpack in this episode—I could talk at length about Loki’s emotional reaction to Ragnarok, or the look on his face during the hurricane (you can’t tell me he wasn’t thinking about Thor). But there is one thing that outshines all else, and that’s the Variant.

A good portion of people on the interwebs are certain that this is a version of Lady Loki. Others believe that she is the Enchantress. And still others are certain that she’s a mashup of the two characters (admittedly, this is something that the MCU would do).

What we know: in the comics, Loki gives powers to a teenager named Sylvie Lushton for the purpose to creating mischief and mayhem. Believing herself to be Asgardian, Sylvie joins the Young Avengers and takes on the style and name of Amora the Enchantress. She is young, blonde, and has magic very similar to Loki’s—the latter of which could be why the TVA read her “signature” as being a Loki Variant. Additionally, in the Castellano credits, actress Sophia Di Martino is credited as Sylvie. What we don’t know: where in the timeline this woman is from, or if Loki even knows her yet. Is she from his past or his future? Is she truly after the TVA, or is she after Loki himself?

One thing is for certain—the bombing of the timeline and the instant creation of various Nexus events is sure to keep the TVA busy for some time, giving Loki space to figure out what in Odin’s name is going on.

Loki airs new episodes on Wednesdays, only on Disney Plus.