Tom Hiddleston stands in front of three other castmates in a scene from 'Loki' on Disney+. The four (three men and one woman) stand heroically in a large room.

‘Loki’ Season 2 Review: Where Has the God of Mischief Gone?

3/5 Horns

At San Diego Comic-Con last summer, I saw an odd Hot Topic display. The retailer was promoting its Loki season 2 merch, but almost all the stuff was Time Variance Authority-themed. At the time I thought it was just misguided marketing—didn’t they know the show is about Loki?—but it turns out the display was, as Loki himself says in the season 2 trailer, spot on.

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Loki season 2 begins right where season 1 left off. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is transported to an alternate TVA where no one knows him. He’s panicked. He’s running. He’s juggling multiple crises at once: Where is he? How imminent is the catastrophic war He Who Remains warned him about? And what happened to Sylvie? Loki has returned from the Citadel at the End of Time to find a TVA on the verge of collapse, and he’s determined to save it.

Episode 1 is pure fire: thrilling, touching, spooky, and funny. Horror motifs and weird science make for a haunting, mind-bending adventure, and I was grinning as the credits rolled. But after that first episode, the storyline plateaus and the pace starts to sag—and, bafflingly, Loki himself starts to feel like a supporting character in his own show.

Of course, there’s great stuff throughout season 2. With Eric Martin as head writer, and horror veterans Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead directing most of the episodes, the TVA is weirder than ever. It’s filled with bizarre gadgets, funhouse office culture, and lots of eccentric characters. The set and sound design, combined with Benson and Moorhead’s grittier filming style, create a lived-in and immersive world that grows menacing as it begins to unravel.

In Loki season 2, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally takes full advantage of the storytelling potential of time travel. Characters find themselves in labyrinthine time loops as the Sacred Timeline decays, with events happening out of order and some scenes not making sense until several episodes later. Critics were given four out of six episodes to review, and there are clues that some loops haven’t been resolved yet. Season 2 has a lot of fun with time, and it’ll be a treat for sci-fi lovers.

With no one around to pull the strings from the Citadel, everyone in the TVA’s orbit is forced to navigate the chaos of a branching multiverse on their own. Mobius (Owen Wilson) has complicated feelings about learning who he was before the TVA took him, and his bond with Loki deepens as he struggles with those feelings. Sylvie (Sophia di Martino) is as volatile as ever, and I’m excited to report that I have no predictions about what she might do in the last two episodes. Given how formulaic comic book media tends to be, feeling this clueless about a character is refreshing.

The TVA’s supporting cast also enjoys more of the spotlight. B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Casey (Eugene Cordero) wrestle with their newfound knowledge that the branches they pruned contained real people. Ravonna (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is even more fun as a fugitive, especially when she ends up in the same time and place as Victor Timely (Jonathan Majors). And Miss Minutes (Tara Strong)? Well. If you thought she was disturbing in season 1, brace yourself.

The season’s new characters are great, too. O.B. (Ke Huy Quan) seems naive on the surface, but deploys a sly wit when he needs to. Kate Dickie and Liz Carr join the cast as TVA higher-ups blindsided by the power vacuum. Brad Wolf (Rafael Casal) has enough charisma to rival even Loki’s.

Which brings us to Loki himself. You know, the guy the show is named after?

Here’s the weirdest thing about an already weird show: Loki is now the most well-adjusted, levelheaded character in the series, coaching everyone else through tough feelings and moral dilemmas. His motivation is alarmingly straightforward this season, and it feels like his edges have been sanded off. Remember the guy who trashed Pompeii and started a drunken singalong on Lamentis? Where did that guy go? Are we ever getting him back? What made season 1 so great was shoving a maniacal chaos goblin into a rigid, orderly organization, but now Loki is a solid team player, and it’s heartbreaking.

The show does allow Loki a few good moments. The interrogation scene shown briefly in the trailer, for instance, is exquisite. Oh, it’s delectable. Hiddleston eats that scene up, going full villain-mode while bouncing off of Wilson and Casal. The scene lets Loki be Loki, and it left me longing for more.

I really hope the show is playing the long game, and that in the last two episodes, everything will fall into place. Maybe we’ll get the juicy, turbulent character development for Loki that’s been absent so far (not to mention the long overdue return of his horns and regalia). After the gaffes of Quantumania and Secret Invasion, though, that hope is hard to cling to. I fear that like the TVA, the MCU is careening out of control, and Loki will end up being one of its most spectacular casualties.

Loki season 2 premieres on Thursday, October 5 at 6 P.M. Pacific.

(featured image: Disney+)


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Author
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>