Television Review: ‘Loki’ Is Off To A Great Start .. What Did You Expect?
Loki is glorious and a huge win for Marvel fans around the world. For anyone who has been longing for a bold direction for the MCU, then feast your eyes on what director Kate Herron and showrunner Micheal Waldron have concocted. While Falcon and The Winter Soldier relied on some familiar beats throughout the course of their storyline, Loki takes things in a completely different direction.
Gone is the ego and self-proclaimed majesty of Loki, and what’s left is a man forced to see that his desire for power impacts others. Where Herron and Waldron take this god of mischief in the first two episodes is a breath of fresh air for a brand that rarely deviates from what works. Some are ready to proclaim this is the best Marvel series yet, and after two episodes and that’s a strong statement to make. Perhaps we need to pump the breaks slightly. What we can say is Loki is off to a fantastic start.
The series picks up right from that moment in Avengers: Endgame, where 2012 Loki takes the Tessaract and escapes from custody. Of course, this was never supposed to occur, which results in a split of the time continuum, which alerts the TVA (Time Variance Authority), and he was subsequently apprehended. Of course, he thinks this all a big joke and attempts to escape, but he quickly realizes that time is not a laughing matter. He is quickly brought before a judge to answer for his crimes, only to be saved at the 11th hour by Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) from being reset. This does come with a price.
Mobius needs Loki to help track down other time criminals to restore the original progression of time. They, of course, don’t see eye to eye, and there is an escape attempt in the first episode. Is it because he wants to be free? Perhaps, but Loki more than likely wants away from the TVA because he’s forced to face the impact his actions have had on others. Loki is often the smartest person in the room, but Mobius appears to be one step ahead. The dynamic of these two is Marvel’s equivalent of the odd couple. The bureaucrat and the god of mischief working together to fix time.
While Hiddleston and Wilson are certainly dynamic together, the biggest reason why Loki has been fantastic has been Kate Herron and Michael Waldron. Herron and Waldron have crafted a Marvel series that has the feel of a film noir with the bite of a David Fincher film. There’s even a few moments that are homages to the film Seven in episode 2. The approach is bold, the pacing is brisk, and the mix of humor within the narrative is perfectly balanced. It’s not hard to see why Hiddleston and Wilson agreed to sign on for the series. A quality project is a quality project no matter what universe it might take place in.
The dynamic between Hiddleston and Wilson was terrific. While it seemed odd that Owen Wilson had been cast in this series at first glance, it becomes apparent that his approach to playing Mobius makes his character the perfect FOIL for Loki. It’s snarkiness vs. mischievousness! The god of mischief is charming and can find a way out of most anything. Mobius is impervious to his ways. Mobius is actually good at delivering those snarky zingers to Loki, which surprises him. He doesn’t know what to make of the TVA agent. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku both make excellent additions to the MCU and have great chemistry with Hiddleston in the first two episodes. While we don’t see too much about either of their characters at first, my guess is that change in the third episode.
The TVA’s design and the color palette are on point. The neutral tones and overall blandness make the inside seem like it’s the world’s worst DMV. This decision is by design because when Loki can see outside the TVA, he observes a bright futuristic landscape. At first, he thinks it’s magic, and the idea that this is nothing more than the future blows his mind. His shock is heightened when Loki learns just how inconsequential the infinity stones are. We actually see them being used as paperweights during the first episode. Could the ultimate power all along be time? Is the idea of possessing that power enough to cause Loki to revert to his old habits?
Anyone going into this series expecting it to have similar beats to Wandavision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will be in for a shock. While Wandavision thrived as an ensemble piece and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier soared during its intense action sequences, Loki is a character-driven series, and it doesn’t waver from that in the first two episodes. Will that continue? That remains to be seen. However, we can report that Herron and Waldron’s approach to this series has led to wonderful results.