It’s always the sullen, quiet, characters that get me. Think pre-teen Draco Malfoy (who coincidentally, is also a Tom). I’ve learnt to pick-up that there’s always more than meets the eye with them.
It’s not (only) Tom Hiddleston’s classical theatre background that has me biased, or the laugh lines at the corner of his eyes that have me smitten. He commands the screen; especially in episode 5 of the Loki series: ‘Journey to Mystery’.
WHO HE WAS
We’ve all had an insight into who Loki is. He is the other brother. The God of Mischief. The one who stabs people in the back both literally and figuratively. Throughout the beginning of the series, we see this same Loki with one aim: to get to the Timekeepers and overthrow them. Predictably, it’s the throne he wants.
As a standalone, episode five is one to look forward to, but I’d be lying if the prior three don’t contribute to making it as great as it is. The meat is in the build-up. Remove that and all we’d be left with is a Void of Loki variants, and our Loki wanting to paper cut a giant cloud to death.
Hiddleston’s character development makes episode five more enthralling. He’s no longer-I hope- fighting for his own selfish gain, but for truth. This is a complete character flip of the Loki we’ve grown to know throughout the MCU.
‘Journey to Mystery’ circles around the identity of a Loki, and what makes a Loki who they are. Instead of The Void being a means to an end, it’s more of a strange place of endless opportunity which also coincidentally encapsulates disturbing echoes from the characters’ lives.
WHO HE BECOMES
For both Sylvie (Sophie Di Martino) and Hiddleston, they’ve only known lives that have been built upon patterns of betrayal and revenge, which ultimately lead to loneliness and unfulfilled ‘glorious purpose’. With Hiddleston finding a connection with Sylvie as they ponder over their purpose on Lamentis 1, it pushes him to question if there could be a possibility, he was destined for more than just a throne.
Enter the Loki Variants. As humorous as they are, they make up Hiddleston in all aspects of his life. It places him in a retrospective position as they talk about their own journey: Kid Loki (Jack Veal) killing Thor, Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei) lying his way through his own story as a Loki should, and of course Classic Loki whose main goal is to just survive. Honorary mention goes to Alligator Loki who adds the touch of mischief to the mix. Of course, a Loki episode wouldn’t be complete without an overexaggerated egoistic version of Hiddleston, hence President Loki.
Ultimately, it is Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) who puts Hiddleston in a retrospective position as he sits and listens to their tales. His story takes us straight to the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos intercepts the Asgardian ship.
It answers a question Marvel fans have been asking: Was Loki truly dead? The answer? Not at that moment. Apparently, Classic Loki cast a projection of himself so real, even the Mad Titan believed it. He spent his life hiding as inanimate debris on a remote planet until he got lonely.
Albeit being the oldest and wisest among the Variants, Classic Loki in his sixties Jack Kirby costume has embraced his lack of will and endless self-deprecation. It is a nod to Hiddleston’s potential future. Could it be that not only will he end up alone, but he’d also lose all the fight left in him?
WHO HE IS
Hiddleston seems exhausted by their presence. Who wouldn’t be drained by constant negativity? Feel free to disagree, but the turning point of this episode was him standing up and attempting to inspire the Variants who have succumbed to defeat. As they all sit and cower in fear underground, Alioth-the giant cloud trans-temporal being- looms over The Void, growing hungrier.
There seems to be a new type of fire ignited in Hiddleston’s heart, not born out of spite or revenge. It is true that the right circumstance brings out the best in people, and for our Loki, it was only a matter of time. As much as he has denied it throughout the MCU, Hiddleston and Thor have more in common than he realises.
This newfound fire is what ties Hiddleston and Sylvie together. Sylvie’s journey has always been a need. It is that very desire that put her and Hiddleston in the same Variant circle. Lokis’ are known to have no fight, and yet both do. So much so that Sylvie self-prunes into The Void to look for answers despite the unknown fight ahead of her.
As Mobius-who also found himself in the void after proclaiming his love for jet-skis- saves Sylvie from Alioth, they both reunite with Hiddleston. This scene shows a different side of Hiddleston—sincerity.
Mobius uses the TemPad to transport himself back to the TVA to “burn the place down”, but not before Hiddleston embraces him as an old friend, finishing off with a sincere ‘thank you’; unspeakable of someone who’s been labelled a self-centred liar.
Hiddleston and Sylvie trudge off to defeat Alioth, with Sylvie’s plans to enchant it. The plan almost seems futile until Classic Loki makes his dramatic appearance. Contrary to popular Loki belief, he doesn’t fight with knives or believe in them. Instead, he conjures up a life-sized Asgard illusion that is bigger and more potent than any power we’ve seen Hiddleston emit, as a distraction for Alioth.
Seeing someone engulfed in defeat give off such stunning power and magic was the push both Hiddleston and Sylvie needed to clear their cloud of doubt. Aside from its ravenous hunger pangs, the enchanting of Alioth also symbolises a clearer vision for both Hiddleston and Sylvie.
Taking control of the giant cloud monster – their self-doubt- revealed a new discovery and finally a new adventure-potentially a bigger insight into a misunderstood Loki-that we are all looking forward to in the upcoming finale.
On the whole, Loki has been a cohesive teaser of the multiverse and a reminder to us long-term fans that the MCU is never what it seems. With theories being thrown around as to the castle that looms in the distance behind Alioth, introduction of Nexus events and the new spotlight on time, we’re all on the edge of our seats.
Guess it goes to show, one person’s glorious purpose doesn’t determine ours.
Catch the Loki series finale on 14 July exclusively on Disney+
(Images: Marvel Studios)