Does the possession of free will guarantee an escape from inscrutable, omnipotent destiny? Or, like Thomas Hardy’s characters, are we forever doomed to end up in a never-ending cycle of misery and tragedy? As the fourth episode of the second season of the MCU series Loki reminds us of the inevitability of destiny, mimicking the famous quote of the mad titan Thanos, the ever-present conflict of the series between free will and fatalism pops up in a catastrophic manner.
In the previous episode, Loki and Mobius traveled to the late Victorian era to find out about Miss Minutes, as she shared the temporal aura of He Who Remains, which was needed to open the TVA blast door and retrofit the Temporal Loom. However, Miss Minutes and Ravonna Renslayer teamed up to turn Victor Timely, one of the variants of He Who Remains, into his successor and usurp control of the TVA—but to no avail, as after knowing their ulterior motive, Victor becomes disenchanted. On the other hand, Loki and Mobius decide to take Victor to the TVA instead of Miss Minutes, as he too shares the aura, and after an initial struggle with her prejudices against him (being a variant of He Who Remains), Sylvie decides to join them as well. The fourth episode, titled Heart of the TVA, focuses on the Temporal Loom crisis with multiple highlights to the concept of time loop and ends with a massive cliffhanger that leaves much room for speculation.
Miss Minutes’ Secret: How Does The Team Plan To Fix The Loom?
As the episode begins, a tracking shot through the timestream takes viewers to the dilapidated Citadel at the End of Time, where Miss Minutes and Ravonna Renslayer had been banished by Sylvie during the ending of the last episode. Miss Minutes shares the secret she was hinting at previously and shows a conversation between He Who Remains and a past version of Ravonna Renslayer through projection. The exact same conversation that Loki had listened to in the future between the duo plays out, which signifies Ravonna was a loyal partner (and possibly more than that) to the multiverse-controlling despot. The conversation supposedly took place just after the multiversal war between He Who Remains and his other nefarious variants, and Ravonna, whom he had promised an equal seat at the throne of the Citadel, was influential in his victory. However, later, He Who Remains asked Miss Minutes to initiate Protocol 42 and erase all memories of Ravonna and the rest of the TVA members. Since then, Ravonna has turned into a puppet at the hands of He Who Remains, doing his bidding as a TVA judge despite having claimed the top spot, and it is needless to say that knowledge of that fact angers her extremely. Miss Minutes advises her that they can team up on their own, without being dependent on Victor or any other variants whom they never needed in the first place.
At TVA, Victor watches around his (He Who Remains’) effigies and the murals of timekeepers in wonder, and right at the next moment, he gets alarmed by the presence of Loki, Mobius, B-15, and Sylvie. He obviously can’t bring himself to trust them that easily after going through so much confusion and temporal shenanigans within the span of a day. Loki assures him about their well-placed intentions and shows his confidence in Victor’s brilliance as an inventor, which somewhat assuages his suspicion. The team goes to meet O.B. and Casey to discuss the Loom situation, and Victor recognizes him as the writer of the TVA guidebook, which helped him become a brilliant inventor in the first place. O.B., on the other hand, recognizes Victor, whose ideas inspired him to create the mechanisms in the TVA, and the duo share a fanboy moment by appreciating each other’s impact on their respective lives. Recognizing the loop-like pattern, O.B. ironically cites the reference to his namesake, Ouroboros, a snake eating itself in a never-ending loop.
Hoping Against Hope: What Was The Point Of Conflict Between Loki And Sylvie?
However, time is of the essence, and Sylvie reminds the team to look into the Loom situation. O.B. has TVA’s own throughput multiplier, which he can use on the Loom to stabilize timeline overload, but it’s not working according to need. Victor presents his own prototype version of the multiplier, which might just do the trick. But another troublesome situation still plagues O.B., i.e., who is going to launch the multiplier by going outside the TVA and risking exposing themselves to the temporal radiation, which is gradually becoming more severe with every passing moment?
O.B. and Victor get busy assembling the multiplier, and Mobius suggests Loki and Sylvie kill the time by having some pie. His apparent casual demeanor triggers Sylvie into a furious rage, which is admixed with some degree of frustration on her own and tension about the future of timelines, as she has built a life of her own in one of them as well. Sylvie lashes out at Mobius and calls him out for never bothering to look into his own life in the timeline that he was forced to leave. Later, Loki tries to calm Sylvie down and addresses the fact that her frustration stems from the fact that she killed He Who Remains but had to spare Victor Timely after observing, unlike the former, how vulnerable and humane he was. Loki remarks that having lived a life among humans has softened up Sylvie, like it humbled his elder brother Thor as well, and that has allowed her to act benevolently and spare Victor’s life. Sylvie, on the other hand, blasts Loki for putting so much faith in a sham institution like TVA and believing that it can change from its original purpose of exterminating timelines and lives. Loki chooses to be hopeful for a better future (which just shows how much he as a character has progressed since his insecure villainy days), while Sylvie remarks that his hope rests on the success of too many variables.
Sylvie further asks Loki what he has decided about Victor once the Loom is stabilized, as now he knows all the intricacies of the TVA. Loki replies that protecting him by sending him back in time will be their duty, and Sylvie can’t help but notice the ‘interference for good’ pattern of TVA/He Who Remains repeating in Loki’s idea, albeit in an apparently less crude fashion. She isn’t a fan of playing the role of God in such a manner, while Loki reminds her they can still do good by assuming the role of He Who Remains with a better modus operandi—and also that they have always been gods.
What Happened To General Dox?
TVA Judge Gamble instructs B-15 to convince the captive General Dox and her loyalist Minutemen to join their cause in saving the TVA, as despite their heinous action of bombing entire timelines and destroying countless lives in the process, Gamble believes their loyalty to the TVA is unquestionable and therefore they should be given another chance to make amends. B-15 tries her best to convince Dox of their cause of remodeling the TVA and helping in the Loom crisis, but to no avail.
As B-15 departs, Ravonna and Miss Minutes arrive inside the holding cell using a time door and try to sway their allegiance towards her cause of assuming control over TVA. In exchange, she promises to return the lives that they have left in their respective timelines, and X-05, aka Brad Wolfe, is the first and only one to seize the opportunity. General Dox and her loyalists reject the proposal on her face, resulting in them getting viciously crushed to death inside the time cube by Ravonna. Miss Minutes’ sadistic pleasure at the sight of the off-camera gruesomeness is unmistakable.
Renslayer and X-05 abduct Victor and try to force him to reveal the location of the multiplier, while Minutes takes control of TVA Tech. Loki and Sylvie start scouring the TVA to find Victor, and Loki finds himself in a time loop as he sees the future vision of TVA play out right in front of him (shown in the first episode). The past version of Loki stands right in front of him, and realizing that he needs to prune himself at the exact moment, the present version of Loki does so. O.B. informs Loki and Sylvie of the Minutes situation and states that the only option left for him to stop her is to override TVA’s entire system, which will shut down Minutes in the process.
Is This The End Of TVA?
As O.B. reboots TVA’s tech system, Minutes’ control ends, and before getting shut down, she states to Victor that he can never become He Who Remains. The system override also destabilizes the magic dampeners, which allows Loki and Sylvie to manipulate X-05 into pruning Renslayer, and they bring Victor back to O.B. and co.
Victor’s temporal aura allows the TVA blast door to open, and the team observes that the Loom has gradually gotten more unstable, and the team needs to send someone with the multiplier as soon as possible. Victor volunteers to do the job because he feels it is his responsibility to fix the situation. Besides, if the multiplier malfunctions, he will be the one to ensure its reorientation as well. Although initially hesitant about his safety, the team affirms their faith in Victor, who puts on the required gear to venture through the temporal catastrophe. Victor valiantly rushes through the gangway to reach the launch pod, but to the team’s absolute horror, he gets shredded down to threads along with the multiplier, much like how Mr. Fantastic was exterminated by Wanda during the events of Multiverse of Madness. No sooner than the shock of the spectacle recedes, the team observes the Loom getting destroyed, the ensuing blast spreading out to reach TVA and beyond. As the episode ends with a close-up of terrified, confused, teary-eyed Loki, the blinding light of the cataclysm engulfs his surroundings, presumably destroying TVA and, in the process, the entire sacred timeline, the multiverse.
Keeping in tradition with the fourth-episode cliffhanger of MCU shows, the second season of Loki brings Heart of the TVA to a shocking end. The idea of time loops and paradoxes has been emphasized a number of times in the series, which probably suggests the possibility that the destruction of TVA led to Loki’s time-slipping incident at the beginning of the episode. What happens in the next two episodes is anyone’s guess, but presumably this will be linked with the events of Quantumania, where Kang became trapped inside the time vortex. Perhaps the destruction of TVA will allow Kang to get free and truly establish him as a credible threat to the multiverse saga. Or perhaps it will put Loki and the rest of the team in a perpetual time loop, where they will struggle desperately to prevent the fall of TVA, only to realize the inevitability of the calamity.