Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki, holding a timer and looking worried

Here’s Why Loki Pruned Himself in ‘Loki’ Season 2

Loki season 2 is all about time loops, and one loop in particular sparked fan theories for the better part of a month as each episode dropped. That loop, of course, is Loki pruning his past self in episode 4.

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But why did Loki do it? Let’s dive in!

Spoilers for Loki season 2, episodes 1-5 ahead!

Loki episode 1: Loki gets pruned

In episode 1, “Ouroboros,” Loki is afflicted by time slipping, which randomly yanks him from one point in time to another. At first, he’s pulled from his present to the past. At the end of the episode, though, he’s pulled to the future, in which the Time Variance Authority seems to be collapsing. Once there, he sees an elevator door open and Sylvie come out. Before he can process that, though, someone prunes him from behind.

If you look really closely in episode 1, you can see that the figure behind him is wearing a TVA uniform with a brown overcoat. It’s Loki, pruning himself. But why?

Loki episode 4: Loki meets his past self

In episode 4, “Heart of the TVA,” we finally catch up to the cataclysmic events that Loki witnessed in episode 1—and, as things are falling apart, we see Loki from the past again, trying to find a time stick so that he can prune himself. This time, though, the narrative is also tracking Loki in the present, as he tries to get Victor Timely back to the Temporal Loom’s control room.

Separated from Sylvie, Loki takes the stairs so that he can meet her on another floor. When he gets there, though, he sees his past self. He looks down at the time stick in his hands, and realizes that he’s the one who did the pruning in episode 1. He activates the time stick, sneaks up on his past self, and prunes him.

Why did Loki prune himself?

So why did he do it? On a practical level, Loki knows that if his past self doesn’t get pruned, then he’ll be, as O.B. puts it, “lost to time forever.” (That explanation begs a lot of questions, the main one being, “Why?” But the plot doesn’t make much sense, so just roll with it.) Basically, Loki is saving his past self’s life by pruning him, since with the benefit of hindsight, he knows that O.B.’s plan to cure his time slipping will be successful.

On a deeper level, the time loop that Loki finds himself in is a very interesting paradox. Loki only survives his time slipping because someone else pruned him, but that someone is the future version of himself who survived. It’s an infinite loop!

It also raises some interesting questions about why Loki time slipped to that exact moment. Notice that by time slipping, he a) sees Sylvie and sets off the chain of events that gets her in that elevator; b) confirms that the TVA is in danger of being destroyed; and c) allows his future self to prune him. When you consider that in episode 5 (spoilers!) he figures out that his time slipping serves a purpose—and he uses his love of his friends to harness it—you can’t help but wonder if he subconsciously time slipped to that moment by the elevator so that he could accomplish those three goals.

And who knows? Episode 6 may reveal an even deeper reason why Loki pruned himself. We’ll have to wait and see.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>