After a whirlwind 6 episodes, Loki season 1 is officially over. From an exposition-heavy pilot, through several more action-packed storylines, everything was leading up to this – the finale. The ongoing plot point that the season has been driving at was answering the question of who was really in control. Who masterminded the TVA? Episode 6 finally gives us an answer.
The episode certainly didn’t back down from the hype, and instead of music, the intro played several iconic lines from throughout the MCU. It was almost like a reminder of the stakes of Loki, and how all that happened in the first 3 phases of the MCU was child’s play compared to the power of the TVA. And then after the logo disappeared, there was a weird space montage. It felt like we were cycling back through the universe, with planets appearing and disappearing all around us, until we arrived at the void, with a ring around it that I assume is supposed to represent all of time. It was a great way to start the episode, as it really gives a sense of scale, and makes us desperate for answers. We want to know the truth behind the mystery.
He Who Remains
After discovering that the Time Keepers were merely a ruse, I was eager to see who was really in charge. Nobody seemed to know, not even Judge Renslayer at the TVA. So when Loki and Sylvie entered the castle at the edge of time, I was on the edge of my seat. And then Miss Minutes entered! Was she the one in charge? Had she been fooling everyone all this time? It turns out she was merely working for ‘He Who Remains’, but clearly there’s more to her than meets the eye. But we still needed to find out the identity of He Who Remains. And honestly, I think the reveal was a bit anti-climactic.
After having built it up all season, I think the pay-off would have been much better if it was someone we’d already been introduced to at some point during the MCU. How cool would it have been for them to go through and see Thanos sat atop a throne, waiting for them? Or perhaps even another Loki variant? Instead, we see an unknown figure, and have to wait to find out who the hell he actually is.
I’ve gotta say, I did actually like the character. Jonathon Majors did a great job of making He Who Remains come across as charismatic and eccentric. I just think it was a shame not to have that instant pay-off of “Oh wow, it was X all along!” that we could have had if it had been someone we knew. When he mentioned that he’d gone by many names, including ‘The Conqueror’, I realised he was probably a variant of Kang. However, as Kang hasn’t appeared in the MCU, that would only feel exciting to those who are familiar with the comics, which ends up alienating some viewers.
The Truth Behind the Sacred Timeline
He Who Remains has been built up as like this big bad. He’s framed as the villain to end all villains, and you wonder who this powerful evil genius is. But it turns out, he’s not at all who we were expecting. He certainly has the all-powerful thing going for him, as he reveals he knows exactly what’s going to happen at any point, as he has it all written down. He’s easily able to teleport out of the way every time that Sylvie attacks him, as he knows it’s going to happen.
However, much as he could simply reject their questions, he decides to tell them the story of how the TVA came to be. Most of this episode consists of just talking, and yet it does command a certain weight. He Who Remains reveals how he was a scientist who discovered multiple universes. He was able to figure out a way to teleport between then, and met other versions of himself, who were working on similar projects, and they helped each other. Together, they worked towards peace and prosperity.
But not all variants of himself were as peace-loving. Some were determined to disrupt the harmony, and wanted all of the universes for themselves. War broke out, and it seemed as though all time and space was doomed. But then He Who Remains discovered a powerful beast; Alioth. He used Alioth to put an end to the tyranny of the variants, and to collapse the other universes, creating a singular timeline, the Sacred Timeline. Now he uses the TVA to maintain order, and to ensure that his variants don’t re-emerge to wreak havoc.
But is he telling the truth? As he says to Loki and Sylvie, “That’s the gambit”.
Meanwhile, Back at the TVA…
So whilst all that is going on at the edge of time, Mobius has used the TemPad to return to the TVA. And he has an old friend to visit. Judge Renslayer’s face is impossible to read as he bursts into her office. She seems almost pleased to see him, but also tries to stifle any shock or surprise. However, if she’d missed him, she doesn’t show it, as she almost immediately calls for a guard. But it turns out that Mobius was one step ahead of her, and the agents now know the truth. Hunter B-15 took some agents back to 2018, and showed them the real Ravonna Renslayer, a teacher. They realise that they’ve been lied to, and they weren’t created by the TVA, they’re simply variants who were snatched from the timeline.
Accepting defeat, Renslayer has a conversation with Mobius. And during it, we realise that she’s not evil after all. She truly believes that she’s doing the right thing. She believes in preserving the timeline, and thinks there has to be a reason that they weren’t told the full truth. In her mind, Mobius is the one who betrayed her, not the other way round. She tries to escape to find the one in charge, and Mobius is willing to prune her to stop her escaping. But she overpowers him, and for a moment it looks like she’ll prune Mobius again. However, looking down at him, she’s moved by friendship, and spares his life, before leaving through a portal. It was touching to see that she does still care for him, and I’m interested to see where her story will go next.
A Tale of Two Lokis
This episode really shone a light on the inherent differences between Loki and Sylvie. They’ve both had their lives turned upside down by the TVA, but it’s affected them very differently. For Loki, he saw the futility of his previous actions, and he gained a lot of perspective. He became less rash, more introspective, and determined to stay on a path of redemption. Meanwhile, Sylvie learned never to trust. She thought of nothing but revenge, and the TVA caused her to live a life of pain and isolation.
We see this manifested in the perks that Miss Minutes offers them when trying to convince them to leave. Loki is offered power. He can rule over anywhere he wants, and have anything he wants. The old Loki would have jumped at that chance, but the new Loki has truly changed. He cares about justice now. But Sylvie is offered happiness. The opportunity to have her bad memories removed, and start a new, better life. The chance to experience joy, and love. But Sylvie has long since given up on those dreams, and she just wants revenge.
And unfortunately, their differences overwhelm them when it comes to making a decision about He Who Remains. Pre-destined time has run out, and he no longer knows what their moves will be, and so he’s no longer invincible. But he’s given them quite the moral dilemma. Loki wants to be rational and take some time to think about it, but Sylvie isn’t thinking straight. Her whole life was ruined by the TVA. She was snatched as a little girl, and had been on the run ever since. This was her chance for revenge, and she was not about to let it slip away.
Now THIS is What a Finale Should Be
The last few minutes of the episode are by far the best parts. When Sylvie attempts to kill He Who Remains, Loki won’t let her. He begs her to talk about it, and tries to reason with her, but she’s blinded by her hatred. She swings her sword again and again, and they get into an epic fight. The choreography is superb, and it’s an excellent scene, watching the two Lokis battle it out with each other. And just when Sylvie overpowers Loki, and makes a run for He Who Remains, Loki teleports in front of her sword. The blade is against his neck, and he’s looking at her, pleading.
He admits that he no longer cares for power, he’s not like that anymore. He’s not trying to betray her, he just wants her to be happy. He would never hurt her. It’s a sweet moment, but I was dreading what it was no doubt leading up to. And then it happened. Ewwwww. I couldn’t even watch… Loki and Sylvie kissed! He literally kissed another version of himself. It felt so wrong and unnatural. But then Sylvie pushed him through a portal, and you can see Loki’s heart break. Tom Hiddleston’s acting is fantastic, and his eyes reveal the pain, fear, and betrayal.
With no Loki to stop her, Sylvie plunges her blade through the heart of He Who Remains. And for a moment, everything stops. We don’t know what’s going to happen, was He Who Remains lying? But then it happens. The perfect ring around the void starts branching off, and the TVA gets countless alerts of nexus events. The sacred timeline has been destroyed. What has Sylvie done?
What Comes Next?
Loki is still distraught from Sylvie’s betrayal, and now he has more important things to deal with. He knows what these new timelines mean, and the destruction that seems imminent. He rushes off in search of Mobius, and finds him in the records room alongside B-15. Barely stopping to breathe, he hurriedly explains the events at the edge of time. He correctly surmises that Sylvie must have killed He Who Remains, but before he can expand on why that’s so bad, Mobius interrupts him.
Mobius hasn’t got a clue who Loki is, and neither does B-15. They clearly still work for the TVA, but their memories have been altered. They speak like loyal subjects, not the rebels they were just moments ago. And then Loki looks around in horror, and spots a statue. Not of the fraudulent Time Keepers, but of He Who Remains himself. Something is very not right.
And then the episode ends! You can’t end it there! It’s a very intense cliff-hanger, and leaves all sorts of questions. I’m intrigued to see where they’re going to go from here, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for season 2.
The finale was a decent episode, although not as strong as I’d hoped. I’m not action-obsessed by any means, and I can appreciate a good conversation, but it doesn’t make for overly riveting viewing. I felt a lot of the dialogue was a little dragged out, and could have done with being a bit shorter. Honestly, it was the pacing more than anything that let this episode down, and I would have like a bit more excitement. The CGI was gorgeous as usual, and I loved the cracked effect inside the castle, it was very thematic. The music too really helped to set the scene, and the episode was certainly not all bad. However, I felt it was a little lacking for a finale, when you compare it to something as powerful as the Wandavision finale. Still, I’m very eager to watch Loki season 2 when it comes out.
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