Loki stands in a dark hallway in the TVA, looking concerned.

That ‘Loki’ Cliffhanger Could Still Turn This Season Around

Two thirds of the way in, Loki season 2 is bogged down by a plot more complicated than the innards of a clock—but there’s still time to save it. What on earth is going on in episode 4, “Heart of the TVA”? What happens in that cliffhanger? Could the series still pull off a satisfying ending? Let’s unpack episode 4.

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Victor Timely and the throughput multiplier

Most of Loki season 2 has hinged on retrofitting the Temporal Loom so that it can weave more branches into a unified timeline. If you feel like this plot makes no sense at all, you’re not alone. If the multiverse is infinite, wouldn’t the rings of the loom need to be infinitely big? What function is the loom even performing, if the multiverse exists now and the Time Variance Authority isn’t pruning branches anymore? If a loom meltdown will destroy the TVA, can’t they just turn the loom off? But, okay, fine—O.B. needs to make the rings bigger to keep the loom from exploding, and to do that, he needs to use Victor’s temporal aura to open the blast doors.

Once he’s at the TVA, Victor reveals that he’s invented a throughput multiplier, which will somehow enlarge the rings if it’s launched at the loom. Again, fine, if Tony Stark can have a nanobot suit, I’ll believe that the throughput multiplier is a thing that’ll do a thing to fix the thing.

The plot gets really confusing, though, when Ravonna shows up at the TVA. Have you noticed that the last three episodes have basically been the entire cast following each other around, making dramatic entrances? I’m not sure what Sylvie’s plan was when she sent Ravonna to the end of time, since Ravonna uses her TemPad to come right back to the TVA, but no one seems surprised to see her again. With the whole place crumbling around them, Ravonna and Brad prevent Victor from opening the blast doors by taking him hostage. Why would they do that, when the meltdown will kill them, too? Because Disney needed to get this episode up to 51 minutes, and with some of the coolest and most interesting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to work with, the filmmakers apparently had no other ideas.

But never fear—Loki and Sylvie eventually get Victor to the loom, after they have a little chat about how free will requires a cosmic nanny and Loki used to be an interesting person. Too bad Victor never gets to drink his cocoa!

A time loop closes

Okay, so here’s the part of episode 4 that I actually really liked. You’ll recall that back in episode 1, Loki sees Sylvie in a TVA elevator before someone prunes him from behind. We finally catch up to that moment in time in episode 4, with Loki stumbling upon his earlier self and realizing that he’s the one who prunes him. It’s a moment whose emotional weight isn’t really earned (although composer Natalie Holt scores it beautifully), but it’s cool to see the time loop finally close. Why is Sylvie at the TVA in episode 1? It turns out Loki himself began the chain of events that would bring her there.

This moment is one of two major time loops we’ve seen in Loki season 2 so far. The other loop is the TVA handbook. Did O.B. write it based on Victor’s work, or did Victor write it based on O.B.’s work? Where did the book originally come from? The TVA really is a big ouroboros.

Finally, the promised temporal meltdown

If, after four episodes of everyone fretting over the Temporal Loom, we didn’t get to watch the thing explode, I would have thrown my TV through the window.

Luckily, my window remains intact. Victor dons the temporal radiation suit so that he can go launch the throughput multiplier. However, he makes it about half a foot onto the gangway when he’s shredded into spaghetti. The radiation is just too strong for any living thing to withstand. Too bad the TVA can’t repurpose that clothes-shredding robot from season 1 to go out on the gangway instead.

Everyone stands in the control room, stunned. Then there’s an explosion, and a bright light. Loki looks away as the episode cuts out, implying that he and everyone else has been vaporized by the explosion.

So what happens next?

Here’s where I’m praying this season will turn things around.

The main problem with Loki season 2 is that it’s more interested in the mechanics of the TVA than the characters we love so much. If the TVA is finally kaput—and Loki finds himself spiraling through the multiverse after having somehow survived—then the series could finally focus on some real, meaty character-driven storytelling.

Marvel likes to include unused footage in its trailers, but assuming there are no huge fake-outs, the trailers hint at some interesting scenes coming up. Loki goes out on the gangway without a radiation suit. Loki and Sylvie talk in a bar. Loki visits each TVA employee in their pre-TVA lives. Loki finds himself back in his prisoner’s uniform before he spaghettifies. Could we finally get the emotional arc for Loki we’ve been waiting for all season?

There’s also the possibility, based on trailer footage, that the last two episodes will focus on Loki going through more time loops, trying to fix the loom again and again until he gets it right (presumably by going out, sans suit, and fixing it himself). That’s a pretty wearying thought.

While we wait for episode 5, though, I’m going to hold onto a sliver of hope. It’ll suck if this season ends up having wasted most of its runtime on the loom and only gets interesting in the final act, but it’ll be something. Who knows? Maybe Loki will finally ditch the TVA uniform and get his horns back.

(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="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>