I was wondering when we were going to get into the nuts and bolts of the Loki Variant that’s been set up as the “Big Bad” of the series Loki. Having spent a decade-plus consuming the content Marvel Studios has created, the idea that Lady Loki (or Sylvie as she prefers) isn’t the villain of this story should have been expected. What I did not expect was how the story was going to turn everything on its head during the course of Lamentis, the latest episode in the series.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched.
I really like Sylvie. Considering how much I’ve enjoyed Tom Hiddleston as Loki over the years, I wasn’t as surprised by this development. Sylvie is in many ways an Anti-Loki. She’s far more serious than Loki but also far more manipulative and cunning. We see this in the opening scenes between Sylvie and Hunter C-20. Through her enchantment abilities, Sylvie is able to create a simulacrum of Earth, complete with tasty margaritas in an effort to pry the location of the Time Keepers from Hunter C-20.
The opening sequence of the episode where Sylvie runs roughshod through agents of the TVA (disintegrating a few for good measure) was quite fun to watch. This Variant has no issues with killing but she also doesn’t take glee in the act, unlike the Loki from 2012. She is prone to using violence as her first option, though, indicating this Variant had a much different upbringing from our Loki (more on that in a bit). Sophia Di Martino brings a wonderful contrast in her portrayal that is most refreshing. We’re so used to the smiling, scheming God of Mischief. With Sylvie, we get to see the other side of that coin: manipulative, hot-headed, capable and filled with zealous determination.
The bulk of the episode is spent on the moon Lamentis-1. Loki and Sylvie find themselves trapped on the moon when Loki uses Sylvie’s stolen TemPad to escape the TVA. And since it’s been established that Sylvie has been hiding out in apocalypses in the timeline, it’s no surprise that Lamentis-1 is about to experience an apocalypse. And boy is it an apocalypse with a capital “A”. The planet Lamentis is on a collision course with Lamentis-1, which means everything on the planet is going to die in a matter of hours. From a storytelling perspective, it’s the perfect place to put Sylvie and Loki, since they have to rely on each other to survive once it’s discovered the TemPad is out of power and Loki hides it.
The real fun of the episode is watching Sylvie and Loki interact while trying to extricate themselves from this predicament. The scenes on the train are the most interesting as we watch Loki and Sylvie compare notes about their upbringing. Since Loki is now canonical gender-fluid, it’s entirely likely that Sylvie comes from a point far before the Sacred Timeline came into existence. Loki gets to consider how things would have been different for him when Sylvie reveals she knew she was an adopted Frost Giant (a fact our Loki only discovered years after being raised as an Asgardian). Watching Loki getting drunk (“full” as he puts it) and singing was good fun, showing that for all his bluster, Loki does miss the days when he was among his brother and fellow Asgardians.
After the TemPad is destroyed, Sylvie and Loki journey to the main city of Lamentis-1, hoping to hop onto an ark ship being used by the wealthy to escape (leaving the poor to fend for themselves). There’s the obvious commentary on class structures that one can draw from this section of the story. From a different perspective, though, it’s not all that different from what the Time Variance Agency is doing: removing Variants from the timeline in favor of a select few that get to live on. The TVA does not concern itself with moral questions or ethical concerns. Their sole focus is on maintaining the events set in motion by distant god-like beings. But then it’s revealed that the agents of the TVA like Mobius and Hunter C-20 are not creations of the Time Keepers. Instead, the agents are Variants themselves, brainwashed to serve the TVA’s interests. I figured there was something off about the TVA as a whole and I’m now beginning to suspect that the Time Keepers and their Agency are really going to be the villains of this series.
In the mad dash to reach the Ark, we as the audience are treated to some truly stunning visuals. This is what happens when you’re given a movie budget and get to split it up over six episodes of television. From start to finish, there was escalating tension as to whether or not Sylvie and Loki were going to make it on time. In the end, they watched as the raining debris from the looming planet destroyed the ark, removing their only means of escaping a violent end to their individual quests. Loki stares on in disbelief, shocked that his latest plan failed. Sylvie walks away dejectedly, solemnly accepting that her quest has been stopped because of the whims of a chaotic man who doesn’t truly know what he wants.
And that’s where the episode ends. I love cliffhangers, particularly ones like this where the certainty of success is left up in the air. Of course, Loki and Sylvie are going to survive (we still have three more episodes of the series to go) but the manner in which they survive is the real question. Where the story goes from here is anyone’s guess. But I’m intrigued to see what happens.