Loki, wearing green robes and a black horned crown, holds up a hand, surrounded by green lightning.

Is the End of ‘Loki’ Bittersweet, or Just Bitter?

Loki season 2 ends on a painful note, with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) making an unfathomable sacrifice to protect his friends and the multiverse. As a bridge to the next chapter of Marvel’s Multiverse Saga, the season finale is a poignant character beat. If this is the end of Loki’s story, though? It’s just cruel.

Recommended Videos

Massive spoilers for Loki season 2 ahead!

To recap: in the season finale, “Glorious Purpose,” Loki spends centuries trying to change the events leading to the destruction of the Temporal Loom. After realizing that the entire endeavor was a giant waste of time, he sacrifices himself to the timeline, holding the multiverse together himself from a throne in the heart of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. The one thing Loki has wanted throughout the series is not to be alone, but that’s exactly the fate he’s left with. It’s a gutting, tragic ending for a beloved character.

But is it a good ending? Fans are divided, and so am I.

All season, ‘Loki’ suffered from a plot bogged down with distractions

As I wrote in my season 2 review, the plot suffered from a host of problems: repetitive writing, murky stakes, and technobabble instead of honesty. In particular, the Temporal Loom—whose ultimate problem, that it can’t accommodate infinite branches, was obvious from the start—took up vast amounts of narrative real estate when it was never a very interesting plot device.

The finale was no different. At the end of episode 5, Loki has a profound realization: he learns to time travel at will so that he can connect with the people he loves. By the end of episode 6, he’s learned to pause time, too. But what does he do with this newfound power? He goes back to the moment before the loom melts down, and spends centuries tweaking it. A random slob like me can see what a terrible strategy that is, yet it doesn’t occur to the God of Mischief that there might be a better way? Hmm.

Loki finally starts going further back in time to find a solution, but those scenes are plagued with problems, too. He confronts Sylvie, but neither of them says anything meaningful to each other. He goes back even further to his first interrogation with Mobius, but while Mobius’ story about his hunter days helps Loki decide what to do, the scene carefully avoids any real catharsis between the two characters. In a series that puts Loki’s burgeoning capacity for love and connection front and center, it’s frustrating that Loki never gets to tell his Mobius and Sylvie—the ones who have gone through this journey with him, not earlier versions of them from previous episodes or alternate timelines—how important they are to him.

Then we have that climactic scene.

Loki is gone … so now what?

Let me be clear: Loki’s ascension is a breathtaking, gut-wrenching, beautiful scene. Thanks to the combination of the visuals, the story, and Hiddleston’s acting, it may be one of the most creative and memorable scenes in any comic book film or series, ever. I can’t say enough good things about it.

But the scenes bookending the ascension are pretty upsetting. Beforehand, Loki time slips back to the control room, and goes out to the loom without telling anyone what he’s up to. That makes sense; he doesn’t want anyone to try and stop him.

The scenes afterwards, though, are where I really start to feel angry about Loki’s fate. We see Mobius back at the Time Variance Authority, and he’s clearly miserable. Why? The logical way to read the scene is that he misses Loki, but he never actually mentions his lost friend—even when he announces that he’s quitting the TVA. In fact, the only mention of Loki’s sacrifice comes from Sylvie, who blithely remarks that it’s “weird” without Loki around. I don’t know about you, but I kept waiting for someone to mention a rescue plan, or at least express a tiny bit of grief. Instead, everyone seems content—or, at least, resigned—to let Loki spend eternity trapped in his worst nightmare.

Loki is a tragedy

Over the weekend, I came upon an X (formerly Twitter) thread by Phantom of the Dystopia that hits the nail on the head. Loki, she writes, is a tragedy: “no matter how hard he tried, even if he fell in love or made the truest of friends. he would always be alone.”

It’s true. Loki, for all his growth and redemption, doesn’t get a happy ending. Instead, he’s doomed to an eternity of isolation, cut off from everyone he loves. Over and over, the series reminds us that he doesn’t want to be alone, and that’s exactly how he ends up. For those of us who love Loki because, like him, we feel like misfits who are hard to love, that ending is a pretty tough pill to swallow.

Which is why it surprised me to see so many people praising the season finale as “bittersweet.” What’s sweet about that ending, exactly? The devastating war is still on its way, and Loki is arguably worse off than he was before the TVA arrested him. Mobius is a wreck, and Sylvie comes off as pretty heartless at the end. No one seems really happy, and thanks to Loki’s time slipping, no one even knows or understands the sacrifice he’s made.

So is the season 2 finale a good cap to the series, or not? I honestly can’t decide. I’m still clinging to the belief that this isn’t the end of Loki’s story, and that by the time the Multiverse Saga ends, he’ll find his way out of his prison and back to his friends.

At least Marvel released some new art that shows him walking around. Maybe he can at least get out of that throne once in awhile?

A brokenhearted Loki fan can hope.

(featured image: Disney+)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Julia Glassman
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="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>