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Just like that, the story is turned on its ear. The latest episode of Loki, titled “The Nexus Event”, propels the story forward in an unexpected way, bringing new revelations and new story possibilities, all with a bittersweet cliffhanger. Much like the fourth episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Nexus Event” changes the status quo of the series up to this point and sends the story careening off into a new direction than where we as the audience thinks the stories going.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.
Sylvie’s methods are abhorrent but when you are a child removed from their original timeline and forced on the run for your entire life, can you really blame her for lashing out at the Time Variance Authority? It isn’t revealed in this episode what Nexus Event caused Sylvie to be removed from the timeline but given what we’ve seen of the TVA up to this point, I doubt it was an earth-shattering event. A child, bereft of any kindness and compassion, is pulled from her home on Asgard by Hunter Renslayer (before she became a Judge). Sylvie is ultimately a tragic figure and I’m pretty sure that she won’t survive this story, since there is normally only one way for a tragedy to end.
The scenes on Lamentis-1 as the planet Lamentis is barreling toward it are pure nightmare fuel. Credit to the production team for Loki that they could create such a harrowing vision of an apocalyptic event. The events unfolding is a crucible, a point where Loki and Sylvie are waiting for the inevitable, which forces them both to confront things they weren’t able to before. In our Loki’s case, it’s realizing that he’s falling in love with Sylvie, an event of such magnitude that it creates a Nexus Event strong enough to override an apocalypse and alert the TVA to their location. Loki falling in love with a version of himself shouldn’t be that surprising, though. As he later admits during his time in the Time Loop Prison, he’s a narcissist. And yet, Sylive is a wholly distinct and unique person, due to the circumstances of her life. Can it really be considered narcissism for Loki to fall in love with Sylvie? Or is it more accurate to say that Loki finally met someone who, like him, never found their place in the universe but decided to forge a place for themselves?
Watching Mobius work through to the truth was quite fun. As mentioned in a previous review of this series, I haven’t always been a big fan of Owen Wilson’s work. On Loki, Wilson has brought understated grace and flair to Mobius, who at his best is a detective in a corrupt system and at his worst is a starry-eyed bureaucrat stuck in the middle of a corrupt system. Mobius learns that Hunter C-20 was pruned because she remembered that she was a Variant and Ravonna Renslayer was the one who did it. Ravonna is revealed as one of, if not the, Big Bad of the series. For me at least, she cements her status as the villain when she callously has Mobius pruned once he discovers the truth about the TVA and attempts to help Loki escape along with Sylvie.
But this isn’t the only shift in TVA personnel that occurs. Hunter B-15, who up to this point could be labeled a hard case, is reeling from the events of “The Variant”. She is on edge for much of the episode until she gets a chance to have a one-on-one with Sylvie, who reveals the truth to her, unlocking memories of B-15’s past before the TVA. While Mobius is removed from the board, it’s B-15 who has the “big damn heroes” moment, providing Sylvie with her sword and deactivating Sylvie and Loki’s restraint collars during their meeting with the Time Keepers. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Hunter B-15. I’d like to know a bit more about how she was before the TVA mind-wiped her.
All of these moments lead to the reveal of the Time Keepers, who are portrayed as unknowable, aloof guardians of the Sacred Timeline. Except, they’re not. They’re actually sophisticated androids, as evidenced when Sylvie uses a captured spear to decapitate one of them. The fight scene with Sylvie and Renslayer was well-choreographed, showing each of them fighting for all they’re worth to end the other person. It’s deeply personal between the two of them, which is always the best kind of fight scene. The reveal that the Time Keepers are hoaxes shouldn’t have been such a shock to me but I have to admit, I didn’t fully see that revelation coming. I was expecting Kang the Conqueror to make an appearance or something along those lines. One of my friends made an observation that I think is not too far off the mark at this point: The TVA is really an organization meant to protect the timeline where Kang the Conqueror is eventually victorious. While that may just be pure speculation at this point, it is a sound hypothesis given what this episode shows us.
Which brings me to the ending and the after-credits stinger. Just as Loki is about to express his feelings for Sylvie, he’s pruned by Renslayer. But this isn’t the end of our Loki (we still have two episodes left after all). Instead, he finds himself in an alternate dimension, surrounded by three more Variants of himself: Classic Loki, portrayed by Richard E. Grant; Kid Loki, portrayed by Jack Veal; and Boastful Loki, portrayed by DeObia Oparei. Pulling a classic “Come with me if you want to live” moment, these Variants seemed to have also been pruned from the Sacred Timeline. Their appearance and the lack of death for our Loki begs the question: does this happen to everyone that is pruned? If so, I hope Mobius also returns. If it’s just this Loki, then this may be a form of plot armor that I’m okay with. The next two episodes should be quite entertaining and I’m genuinely looking forward to them.