(Photo by Marvel Studios)
The penultimate episode of Loki offered something we, frankly, did not expect — a successful version of the Alien Death Cloud. It also proved, again, that a gaggle of Lokis could also be called a “murder of outcasts” and that the bond between the title character and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) might be the rarest thing in the Multiverse.
It also featured a ton of Easter Eggs.
But beyond that, the central mystery deepens as the stability of the TVA is threatened and our heroes — such as they are — step ever closer to the being behind the curtain. So, let’s dive into some of the standout moments and what they could mean as we approach the end of Loki.
Spoiler Alert: The following reveals details of the fifth episode of Loki season 1. Stop here if you have not watched “Journey Into Mystery.” Speculation includes information from Marvel comic books and may also be considered spoilers to some.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
There is a habit in comic book adaptations to take powerful entities with wild character designs and turn them into sentient clouds of smoke and death. The list includes characters like Parallax in the Green Lantern feature film, Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Dormammu in Doctor Strange. With the exception of Dormammu — and only because his appearance was very brief — converting a character into an Alien Death Cloud generally fails to make the character compelling. When Galactus finally arrives in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he better look more like Jack Kirby’s conception of him than an amorphous mass.
And yet, Loki managed to make Alioth the most successful Alien Death Cloud brought to screen. It probably helps that the Alioth of Marvel Comics lore is actually an Alien Death Cloud to start with and not a humanoid with thrilling headgear.
Created by Mark Gruenwald and Mike Gustovich in 1993, Alioth is said to be the first sentient entity to move beyond time. Naturally enough, it used that ability to conquer various eras and their adjacent multiversal counterparts. In fact, Alioth’s expansion across time prevented Kang the Conqueror from stretching his sphere of influence to its fullest potential. A detente existed between them, but it was disrupted following one of Kang’s deaths and the actions of a variant Ravonna Renslayer (played in Loki by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). It would take that Ravonna, another Ravonna, a revived Kang, and the Avengers to stop the cloud from spreading across all of time and potentiality.
Marvel comics can be wild sometimes.
But the character’s history only helps to inform its use here. As Sylvie notes, Alioth is not a conqueror, but a guard dog for an entity using the End of All Things to hide their existence. She assumes this is the entity behind the TVA. And perhaps casting Alioth in a support position (and a temporary threat) made it more successful than, say, making an Alien Death Cloud version of Galactus your big bad.
That said, Alioth’s habit of absorbing all potential energy from pruned timelines sure reminds us of Galactus…
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Despite Alioth’s best efforts to keep the Void free of life, things escape its hunger. For one, the Void is apparently the rightful domain of Kid Loki (Tom Veal). His prize for killing Thor, apparently. We’ll admit the suggestion of Kid Loki’s story sure reminds us of the older Loki in Loki: Agent of Asgard, who presides over a destroyed Midgard while his brother ruled Asgard during an age of piece. Naturally enough, Loki envied the adoration Thor received, but chose to change history instead of just killing the God of Thunder. Curiously, though, murdering Thor and ruling the Void at the end of time is completely counter to the goals of Kid Loki back in the comics. He desperately wanted to change while this one seems happy to rule an empire of ash.
His domain is littered with destroyed monuments, famous hoaxes like The Philadelphia Experiment, seeming references to other sci-fi properties — we’d swear the derelict ship from Alien is among the wreckage — and direct pulls from Marvel Comics like Frog Thor and the Thanos Copter.
The latter first appeared in 1979’s Spidey Super Stories #39, an issue of the out of continuity joint venture between Marvel and the educational television series The Electric Company. In it’s pages, Thanos used a yellow helicopter adorned with his name on the tail in a bid to obtain a Cosmic Cube from Hellcat. The image of the Mad Titan using such a mundane conveyance charmed generations of comic book readers — particularly as a couple of pages from the story became meme-worthy in the 21st century. The Thanos Copter has appeared in one in-continuity Marvel Comics story (an issue of Deadpool, of course) and now that we’ve seen it on Loki, we’re obliged to believe Spidey Super Stories #39 occurred in some pruned timeline.
Frog Thor first appeared in 1986, but his image denotes a couple of characters. Loki turned the actual Thor into a frog at one point. And this Thor befriended Simon Walterson (a play on long-time Thor comics writer and artist Walt Simonson), a man cursed to become a frog. Along the way, he came into possession of a small piece of Mjolnir, called Frogjolnir, which gave him the powers of Thor as long as he deemed himself worthy. We’re inclined to believe the Frog Thor seen caught in a jar in the episode and Alligator Loki are from the same timeline. But that’s mainly because it is amusing to think putting him in such a tight spot is Alligator Loki’s final victory over his brother.
One last Easter Egg we’ll discuss is President Loki. The visual is pulled from Vote Loki, a 2016 miniseries in which Loki (the God of Stories) runs for President of the United States as part of his long-term plans. But considering the his real aim in running — which we won’t spoil because the series is worth reading — the visual of President Loki is the only substantial callback to the story. Instead, President Loki seems to serve a distinctly different purpose here: to prove Lokis are generally not to be trusted.
Indeed, his arrival in Kid Loki’s bunker precipitates a series of betrayals among the Lokis and an all out battle “our” Loki (Tom Hiddleston) only escapes when Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) conjures an escape portal and copies of their likenesses to fight the others. But as Kid Loki points out, there is something different about “our” Loki. And that difference, particularly in light of the Loki war, may make all the difference in the Multiverse.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Sure, Loki keeps leaning toward a romance between “our” Loki and Sylvie as a Nexus Event so powerful, it nearly ruptured the Sacred Timeline. But as we’d still love to see Loki as an aromantic character going forward, we’re going to suggest something else occurred during their moment on Lamentis: they shared something genuine and proved Lokis can change.
Although the mystery of TVA is the show’s plot, it creates a canvass to explore a theme of free will. As Classic Loki points out, the Sacred Timeline only wants Loki to serve one purpose. Throughout the series, we’ve seen Mobius (Owen Wilson), Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), and Ravonna Renslayer discount both Loki and Sylvie’s abilities to be anything but a villain. And yet, altering this fate seems to be a core desire of all the sympathetic Lokis we’ve seen. Classic Loki even turned out to be the most successful at this by conjuring an illusion of himself so convincing, both Thanos and the TVA assumed him dead until he tried to visit Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in some distant future.
Which makes you wonder about the Loki who died in Avengers: Infinity War…
(Photo by Marvel Studios )
Despite this professed want to change, Kid Loki, Classic Loki, and Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei) were also content to wait in the bunker and muse on the difficulty of being different. Well, Boastful Loki’s contentment lasted as long as it took for President Loki to storm the gates. Nevertheless, the arrival of “our” Loki and Sylvie upended everything and even gave Classic Loki the moment of change he longed for. Together, they inspired something altogether new: cooperation among Lokis.
And it took that level of cooperation to stop Alioth, open the curtain to a haunted mansion and, presumably, the real power behind the TVA. So whether or not it begins with a romantic entanglement, the level of trust between Loki and Sylvie is unprecedented and, we think, powerful enough on its own to be the Nexus Event.
At the same time, if you want it to be romantic, their quiet moment this week is easily read that way.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
So who is so powerful that it takes two Lokis (potentially) falling in love with each other to counter its might? Over the weeks, the suspect list has varied from obscure Marvel Comics cosmic entities to characters we know are soon to debut in the MCU. So let’s take one last look the potential beings behind the curtain and the likelihood they will be unmasked as the real conspirator.
He Who Remains — Creator of the Time-Keepers in Marvel Comics lore and the last director of the TVA in a previous reality. We mentioned him last week, but we neglected one key detail: in the comics, the TVA is predominantly staffed by clones of Mobius M. Mobius. It suggests to us He Who Remains is a version of Mobius or all the TVA clones are sourced from He Who Remains. Unmasking the Mobius who Loki has befriended over the course of the series as He Who Remains (and the power behind the TVA) would lean into the series’s examination of trust. And it’s pretty much the only scenario in which we would expect He Who Remains to become part of the story.
Ravonna Renslayer — Despite it being clear that Judge Renslayer is in the dark about the TVA’s true nature and purpose, it is possible another variant of her, or even the “real” Ravonna Renslayer, set the TVA in motion. In fact, Alioth’s appearance makes a version of Ravonna a more likely candidate as a variant Ravonna released him in his debut story. But what would be her motivation? This one feels like even odds.
They Who Sit Above in Shadow — The alleged creators of the Asgardians and eaters of Ragnarok events. Since the series is centered on Loki and his ambition to change, They Who Sit Above in Shadow would have a keen interest in keeping Loki set on his glorious purpose. His actions precipitate Ragnarok after all. They are extremely unlikely to be revealed, however, as there has been no hint of them at all in the MCU.
Kang — Despotic ruler of a far-flung future and would-be ruler of everything. He’s been the odds-on favorite from the jump as the character will appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But as we always like to introduce a new character for inclusion in the series, we’re going to suggest a specific version of Kang known as Immortus. Hailing from Earth-6311, this Kang is said to be his own ancestor and descendant. His history as a Marvel villain is equally twisty, assuming over a dozen identities across the years and forever scheming to create a timeline he deems as correct. This motivation, above all other things, makes Immortus the seeming answer to Loki’s riddle. But it comes with a caveat: Loki and Immortus have no beef — in the MCU anyway — which would make his reveal somewhat anticlimactic even as it opens a new story going forward.
And just to be thorough, we’ll add Mephisto, Galactus, and the Living Tribunal to the list. All are wildly unlikely choices, of course. Although the Living Tribunal — a multiversal entity charged with maintaining the balance of mystical energies and good and evil across all realities — could be creating this whole ordeal just to see if Loki is truly capable of change. But would discovering the entire series was a charade leave viewers feeling cheated? This is Loki, so purposely cheating the audience could be in play.
Oh, and on that front, we’ll add one last suspicion: it could still be Classic Loki playing the longest of games. He is a survivor, after all.