Back when the mischief incarnate Norse god Loki was introduced as one of the chief antagonists in Thor, and later went on to become the genocidal maniac in The Avengers, no one could have assumed that his character might go through the most uniquely written arc the MCU has managed to produce so far. Thanks to the space allowed during the span of the Disney+ series of the same name, Loki went on to become a fan favorite, a relatable element of chaos, a symbol of change and the flow of life itself, and the introspective, humane approach to the character taken by the showrunners is responsible for that. The fifth episode of the second season of the series “Science/Fiction” respects the approach by once again wielding Loki’s humanity as the fulcrum of the narrative, which drives the overarching plot of TVA’s multiverse crisis forward.
In the previous episode, Loki, Mobius, and Sylvie engaged in a conflict with Ravonna Renslayer and Miss Minutes, as Victor Timely and O.B. managed to patch up a throughput multiplier to retrofit the Temporal Loom, which was going out of control since the branching of the sacred timeline. But there was a fatal delay, as even before using the solution, the temporal radiation destroyed everything, including the TVA, as the episode ended with a bright flash of light engulfing everything. The penultimate episode shows that with the end of TVA, the members of the organization have gotten their lives back—one that He Who Remains snatched away from them—but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is alright, and it is up to Loki to fix things using his newfound abilities.
Pulled Through Time Again: Does TVA Still Exist?
The episode picks up right from the ending of the last episode, and the blinding lights of the Temporal Loom explosion slowly dim as the scene remains focused on a close shot of Loki’s face. He finds himself in the same place in the observatory room, and the Temporal Loom seems stable as well, but none of the other members are seen to be present. In fact, as Loki ventures through the inner quarters of TVA, he finds it to be completely empty. At the same time, once again, the time-slipping problem starts plaguing Loki as he gets sent back and forth in time through various places inside the TVA. Previously, through O.B. and Mobius’ assistance by anchoring his temporal aura, Loki was able to stop the problem, but it seems after the events of the previous episode, the effect has been undone yet again. Soon enough, Loki sees the TVA slowly getting shredded into strings, the same way that Victory Timely was obliterated in the previous episode when he was exposed to temporal radiation. He quickly grabs a copy of the TVA guidebook lying around and once again timeslips, this time to a different location in the branched timeline. Showrunner duo Benson and Moorhead are known for their proficiency in atmospheric sci-fi horror, and the opening sequence of this episode is a testament to their skills.
What Did Loki Find Out About TVA Members?
The scene cuts to 1962, in Alcatraz prison, where Casey, along with a few other inmates, is breaking out of prison. Loki arrives at the exact location, feels relieved after seeing a familiar face, and asks for his help. However, this is the original timeline where Casey belonged as a human, and he has no recollection of any events of his TVA life, therefore he is unable to recognize Loki. The fellow inmates refer to him as Frank, and there is a nifty real-world reference regarding the name and a connection with the first season as well. Frank is likely a reference to Frank Morris, who escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962, never to be heard of again. This is in sync with the D.B. Cooper reference in Loki’s first season, where Loki turned out to be the unknown plane hijacker, and the MCU continues the trend of attributing every unexplained shenanigan of the real world to the TVA.
Loki once again gets pulled across timelines, right from Sylvie’s universe to Time Theatre to 2012 in New York in a branched timeline, where Hunter B-15 is living in her original life as pediatrician Dr. Willis. She is shocked to see Loki appear and disappear at a moment’s notice, and she tries to comprehend the situation as best an average human can. Point to be noted: perhaps being a doctor in her real life, B-15 had the sympathy and sensibility to mourn the deaths of the branched timelines previously. The scene moves to Ohio in 2022, where Mobius, revealed to be a single father of two, an enthusiastic jet ski seller named Don, tries to lure a customer into buying his favorite vehicle of choice. Loki arrives and tries to make Mobius remember the past events, but like everyone else, Mobius has no idea what Loki is talking about. However, the reason for Mobius’ fixation on jet skiing during his time in TVA is revealed, and it’s a bit saddening to be honest that he retained some of his real-world memory despite the brainwashing done by He Who Remains.
Going To A Place That Doesn’t Exist: How Did O.B. Help Loki?
Loki gets transported to California in 1994 in a branched timeline, right inside the workspace of O.B., who is living as a Caltech scientist and failed science fiction writer A.D. Doug. It should be mentioned that O.B’s real-world workspace resembles the R&A section of TVA as well, which explains that he, much like Mobius, retained something from his real life in TVA as well, despite the brainwashing. However, this time doesn’t timeslip for a significant period of time and has the chance to explain everything to him. Surprisingly or not, O.B. actually believes Loki’s statements and is of the opinion that Loki’s timeslipping is not as random as he thinks it is because it is taking him to exactly all those people, in this case, the pre-TVA lives of TVA associates, Loki needed to meet.
Loki is bewildered to consider how he can return to TVA before the Temporal Loom meltdown (which he considers can allow him to undo the effect), a time and space that doesn’t exist, and O.B. offers his expertise. There is an interesting concept that O.B raises by sharing his understanding as a science fiction writer: that while the scientific intricacies are concerned with the precise functions of an event, fiction deals with causality. And Loki needs to focus on the causality, which is to say that he needs to go back to that exact time and space in TVA, which might help him be able to focus and get a grip on his timeslipping abilities. The reason he needs to go back is because without TVA, variants of He Who Remains will destroy every timeline, but despite his clear idea about the causality and effort to harness time-slipping powers, Loki fails. This time, O.B. offers a scientific approach, stating that the people who were present at the exact time with Loki in TVA, his friends, had a unique temporal aura of their own. Which might act as coordinates if they are gathered together and help him go back to the desired time and space.
However, without the Tempad, their job is as impossible as ever. Loki provides O.B. with the TVA guide he was carrying, which might allow them to conjure up a prototype version of the Tempad, and O.B. is delighted to know that at least one of his science books went on to become a bestseller—in a sense, he is right.
Will Loki’s New Powers Be Enough To Save The TVA?
Loki timeslips yet again and reaches outside Mobius, aka Don’s household, where the former TVA operative is seen getting busy while managing the antics of his sons Sean and Kevin. Loki tries to convince Mobius to join him by reminding him of his life in TVA, but quite obviously he isn’t able to comprehend. In the meantime, O.B. manages to create a Tempad by working on it for 18 months ( but it’s instantaneous, almost due to time shenanigans), and reaches out to Loki and Mobius. Loki further adds details about how Mobius helped him when he was captured and sentenced to be pruned by the TVA, asserting how much of an important figure he was in his life as well. Mobius is still unwilling to leave out of his concern for his boys, but Loki assures him by showing that he will be able to return to them at any given moment as if he never really left. Mobius begrudgingly agrees, and using the Tempad, Loki goes on to recruit B-15 and Casey as well by convincing them similarly. The one and perhaps the most important member of the TVA band remains Sylvie, whom Loki prepares to bring up to speed about the situation.
However, Loki is quite shocked to see that Sylvie remembers everything that occurred during the TVA meltdown and isn’t willing to do anything different, as she feels TVA’s destruction has been a blessing in disguise. The members of TVA have gotten their lives back, and they are happy with it. That matters more than another multiverse crisis that jeopardizes existence, and in a way, she makes perfect sense. Instead of recruiting them back to TVA, she asks Loki what his reason is for desperately trying to save the TVA, and finally, Loki confronts the truth: that he wants to be with his friends. Even gods can ascertain what it feels like to be alone, and who else but Loki to realize it profoundly, someone who’s never felt a sense of belonging? Sylvie consoles him, stating that they have moved on with their lives; it is about time Loki found one for himself as well. A despondent Loki returns to O.B.’s workspace, and to the confusion of the former TVA members present there, he asks them to return to their lives.
However, the Temporal Loom meltdown had a much more far-reaching impact than the mere destruction of TVA, as Sylvie finds her universe slowly shredded into strings, along with most other branched timelines. Just as Loki requests that others return, Sylvie appears and warns them about the impending catastrophe. But she is too late, as slowly, one by one, all the members, including Sylvie, get obliterated in the string sequence, and a horrified, distraught Loki grasps at air in a vain attempt to save them. The pain and desperation of seeing his close ones get decimated seem to have changed something in him. As the world caves in around him, Loki triggers his time-slipping powers at will and reaches moments before the incident actually happens. Realizing that he can control this power, Loki states to Mobius that he will be able to rewrite the story this time and rewinds himself back to moments before the Temporal Loom meltdown. The episode ends with the possibility that Loki’s powers will help him do things differently now, but we are unsure whether that will be of much help.
Through the entire second season, a number of instances of temporal paradox, time loop, and temporal anomaly were highlighted, which culminated in Loki’s control over the flow of time itself. But can he break the pattern of inevitability, or has too much intervention with timeliness ended that possibility as well? What happened to Miss Minutes and Renslayer hasn’t been highlighted as well, along with the He Who Remains’ variant situation, and we are hoping the season finale will be able to address all these questions without jam-packing the experience in the process.