Boy. It’s a shame I’m getting the third episode. Because, unlike my colleagues, I actually thought both of the first 2 episodes were both 🤩’s.
You see, unlike both of them, I have always loved Loki as a character. And what they were simply writing off as a “Cruella”-esque storyline of redemption for the sympathetic villain with this series is actually, in my opinion, very inaccurate, to say the least. What they didn’t really touch on is that Loki has ALWAYS been established as a sympathetic character in the MCU since the first THOR. And his journey from that film to INFINITY WAR always established him as such, and allowed him to earn redemption and develop a better relationship with Thor per the storylines. Sympathy through growth and story. Not because they’re telling us he’s sympathetic, but because the 10-year long storyline allows him to earn our sympathy.
Therefore, to suggest that Marvel Studios just decided to make a sympathetic story for him with LOKI because of a trend about antiheroes diminishes and ignores the good character work they’ve done after 10 years of development and storytelling. Who Loki is in his eponymous series is merely an extension of that very same character they’ve been establishing for years. So it’s a completely different situation than something like CRUELLA OR JOKER. They aren’t introducing new information to make him sympathetic. They took a fully developed, already sympathetic character that we know is a sympathetic character, removed the years and experience that it took for him to complete that character arc, and made him re-learn what we already know he’s capable of, but without the benefit of those years and experience. It’s also stripped him of whatever purpose he thought he had for himself and given him a complete existential crisis. And to me, that’s brilliant! I cover this and many reasons why those first two episodes were “A” grade episodes in a review from a separate site here.
I’m also a really big fan of the TVA explanation that we got in the first two episodes and found it clear, concise, and fun in the same way JURASSIC PARK handled the exposition about dinosaur cloning. It also gives me something to really look forward to as it is seemingly foreshadowing the fate of the greater MCU (especially given what we know about DOCTOR STRANGE 2 and rumors about SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME). All of this is a huge win in my book and kept me a lot more engaged in its first two episodes than what we saw in WANDAVISION or THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.
Unfortunately, the momentum from those first two episodes ends at Episode 3. This was a rather pointless episode, which neither provided significant answers about the so-called Variant introduced in the previous episode, any resolution to the massive TVA cliffhanger from the end of the previous episode, nor any real significant humor or action. In other words, this felt like a filler episode. And for a 6-episode series, you can’t afford to have those. Naturally, Hiddleston and Sophia di Martino do good, charismatic work. And exploring di Martino’s character a little bit is better than nothing. And the production design is phenomenal. But there was nothing really huge about this episode that I felt progressed the plot or the characters.
Watch it because it’s pretty and well-acted. But compared to the previous two, it’s a significant step-down. Hearing the next two are insane though, so looking forward to that! Fingers crossed!
The 3rd episode of LOKI is now streaming on Disney+.