Loki Season 1 Episode 2: The Variant

The second episode of Loki solidifies the show as Marvel’s best since Netflix’s Daredevil. The series plot develops nicely and continues Mobius’s hunt for the bad Loki Variant. Loki – the one we know and love – is more of the classic version of himself in this episode. He manipulates and acts duplicitously, bringing back that old familiar feeling we typically get from Thor’s little brother.

Plot Synopsis

The episode begins with a brief recap of episode 1 then jumps right into new events.

The Variant we’re hunting is…you.

Mobius speaking to Loki

Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 1985. Medieval fair. Just picture it – nice and quaint, then a TVA portal opens and four Minute Men walkthrough, tracking the energy from a nexus event. They make their way into a dark, empty tent where the bad Loki springs a trap on them. The Commander agent gets mind controlled by the bad Loki and takes out her squad before passing out.

The “bad” Loki grabs the Minute Men’s Reset Charges and the TVA Commander, dragging her through a new portal.

In the next scene, Loki is sitting at Mobius’s desk reading a magazine and half-heartedly paying attention to Ms. Minutes training. He’s clearly bored and tries swatting the AI projection and she escapes into the computer. Then Mobius walks in, gives Loki a Variant jacket and tells Loki they have a mission.

The duo meet up with Hunter B-15 and her team, where she debriefs her team. She and Loki have a sarcastic back-and-forth which Mobius stops.

Mobius then shows multiple versions of Loki to the team, since they don’t exactly know which Loki they’re looking for. Loki interjects to explain the difference between illusion projecting and duplication casting – essentially a matter of semantics to the TVA agents. It makes Loki look smug and trite.

Before the team walks through the gateway, Loki asks for some weapons and Mobius nixes that idea. Mobius then tells Loki that he’s not worried about Loki betraying the TVA because he knows Loki wants a meeting with the Timekeepers.

The crew goes to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1985 and locate the tent. The nexus event is close to the redline, which will put the Sacred Timeline into chaos. Hunter B-15 wants to hurry and search for the other commander, but Loki spins a tale that the bad Loki set a trap for them. He tells them not to leave this tent and wastes time. Eventually Mobius calls bs and the team sets a reset charge and heads back to the TVA headquarters.

Back at the TVA, Mobius meets with Ravenslayer who is upset with Loki’s deception in 1985. She wants nothing more than to destroy Loki, but Mobius talks her out of it and she permits Loki one last chance to prove himself.

One interesting observation to note is that whenever there are statues of the Timekeepers, the camera starts zoomed into the Timekeeper that’s presumably Kang the Conqueror.

During Mobius’s meeting with Ravenslayer, she offers him a drink. He goes to put the drink down on an end table with water marked rings. Ravenslayer makes Mobius use a coaster and blames she blames him for making the previous stains. Mobius denies it, which could be a playful “I’m not admitting to anything” moment, or there’s something going on with the TVA agent’s memories.

Ravenslayer: Look, I know you have a soft spot for broken things.

Mobius: I don’t think so.

Ravenslayer: Yes you do. But Loki is an evil lying scourge.

From Loki, episode 2

After the meeting, Mobius and Loki head down to the research library and have a less-than-civil argument about Loki’s behavior. Mobius calls Loki a scared little child, which Loki takes offense to.

Mobius parks Loki at a desk full of file folders of the “bad” Loki and tells him to read every paper and try to find something the TVA can use to locate the other Loki. Loki reads through the files quickly then goes into mischievous mode.

He walks up to the librarian’s desk and tries to get all files pertaining to the creation of the TVA, the beginning of time, and the end of time. All of which the librarian replies, “Those are classified.” The only files Loki can see are his own, which the librarian gives him.

Loki talking to the librarian
Loki talking to the librarian

As he reads through the files, he sees a memo on the destruction of Asgard – Ragnarok. Loki sees a note on the file that says, “Zero variance energy detected.” After a somber moment looking at the number of Asgardians killed and his home completely destroyed, Loki gets an idea on how to find the other Loki.

He interrupts Mobius eating lunch and explains that he knows where the bad Loki is.

Using Mobius’s salad (which he ruins), Loki explains his theory. Anyone can go to an apocalypse event and do whatever they wanted to do and it wouldn’t create a new branch because everyone dies and the apocalypse still happens. Loki predicts that’s where the bad Loki is hiding and the reason why the TVA hasn’t been able to find the other variant.

Loki convinces Mobius to test his theory out, so the duo head to Pompeii, Italy in 79 AD, one of history’s most memorable deadly events caused by a natural disaster.

Loki and Mobius in Pompeii, Italy in 79 AD
Loki and Mobius in Pompeii, Italy in 79 AD

In Pompeii, Loki acts ridiculous in an attempt to create a nexus event. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, Mobius realizes Loki is right – nothing branches off of the Sacred Timeline. It’s a huge discovery and exposes a vulnerability in the TVA.

The duo head back to the TVA with a new problem – how can they determine which apocalypse event the bad Loki is hiding in. After presumably hours of research, Loki falls asleep at the library desk. Mobius wakes Loki up and takes him to the cafeteria.

They have another heart-to-heart, this time more civil. Loki asks Mobius why he has a jet ski magazine on his desk. Mobius explains that he loves jet skis, but he hasn’t been on one. He also explains that he reads about the jet ski to remind him what they’re fighting for.

If you think too hard about where any of us came from, who we truly are, it sounds kind of ridiculous. Existence is chaos. Nothing makes any sense and we just try to make sense of it. And I’m just lucky the chaos I was born into was this – my own glorious purpose.

Mobius M. Mobius, talking to Loki

The conversation circles back to Mobius calling Loki a child, which triggers a thought into Mobius’s head. He recalls the package of Kablooie gum he found in the first episode. This indicates the bad Loki is hiding in a apocalypse where Kablooie is available.

They narrow down the apocalypses to one – Alabama in 2050 AD.

Mobius convinces Ravenslayer to approve a mission to deploy a team of Minute Men to raid the Roxxcart store that gets destroyed in Alabama in 2050 and she approves it reluctantly.

In one funny moment, Mobius hands Loki his two daggers but Hunter B-15 immediately takes them away.

Hunter B-15 briefs her team (once again) then they walk through a gateway to Alabama, 2050.

TVA Minute Men heading into Roxxcart
TVA Minute Men heading into Roxxcart

The team splits up to search for the “bad” Loki and to find the kidnapped commander. Loki goes with B-15. The duo observe a man looking at some plants for sale and immediately grow suspicious. It turns out their suspicions were correct when the man touches B-15’s arm and a green aura appears on the TVA agent’s arm, implying the bad Loki took over her body.

Loki and the bad Loki talk to each other but clearly there’s little trust between them. Loki says he’s not actually working for the TVA, but is manipulating them for his own purpose.

Meanwhile, Mobius and the other agents find the missing commander, who tells them that she divulged an important secret to the bad Loki – how to find the Timekeepers.

Back to the Lokis. It turns out that the bad Loki was simply using Loki as a distraction to achieve her ultimate purpose – to deploy reset charges to many points along the sacred timeline. This causes a major alarm at the TVA headquarters where one agents says, “Someone bombed the sacred timeline.”

Many TVA agents deploy to the new nexus events, leaving the TVA minimally protected.

The bad Loki – who eventually shows her face to Loki, turns out to be Lady Loki (portrayed by Sophia Di Martino). She seems to be an Asgardian, too, so they share quite a few similarities.

Lady Loki flees through a time portal. Just as Mobius and a few TVA agents near the time door, Loki jumps through it as it fades away.

End of episode.

Easter Eggs

There are quite a few easter eggs in this episode of Loki.

1. Just One Damn Thing After Another

In the scene where Mobius and Loki sit in the library researching apocalypse events, Mobius says, “It’s just one damn thing after another.” That’s a nod to Jodi Taylor’s book Just One Damn Thing After Another, where time travel meets history in an explosive bestselling adventure series.

Book cover of Just One Damned Thing After Another
Book cover of Just One Damned Thing After Another

2. Special Dates Bombed

Unless you have a massive television and felt the need to pause the episode to read the list on the TVA monitor, you probably haven’t seen the list of dates the female Loki bombed. Well, allow me to take care of that for you and to explain their relevance.

Screenshot of the sacred timeline bombed
The Time-Keepers

Let’s go over the list of dates and places female Loki bombed:

  • 03/08/1522 – Phong Nha, Vietnam: In the comics, Mantis is from Vietnam, there are tie-ins to Dr. Strange and Loki, too.
  • 03/31/1492 – Lisbon, Portugal: Christopher Columbus set sail to reach the East Indies by going west
  • 04/23/2301 – Vormir: Home of the Soul Stone
  • 10/25/1551 – Thorton, United States: Perhaps an allusion to Professor Thorton, the Weapon X Director responsible for Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton
  • 11/22/1999 – Cookeville, United States: Presumably located in Tennessee, this could tie-in to A.I.M. and Iron Man 3
  • 02/16/2004 – Asgard: Home of Loki and Thor, perhaps Lady Loki is trying to prevent Ragnarok
  • 03/10/1390 – Rome, Italy: Home of Galileo and Da Vinci, who battled Galactus in the 1500s in Marvel Comics; possible reference to expansion of Christianity
  • 08/13/1984 – Sakaar, Tayo: Home of The Grandmaster
  • 02/02/1908 – Barichara, (Col): Located in Colombia, this state was part of the United States of Colombia that was abolished in the late 19th century
  • 07/14/1708 – Porvoo, Finland: Possible reference to Jumla gods or another reference to the rise of Christianity
  • 27/12/1382 – Ego: Peter Quill’s father, perhaps the date when Ego decides to look for a mate
  • 10/13/1982 – Titan: Home to Thanos, perhaps the date Thanos decides to destroy half the universe; Also the year Marvel killed off the original Captain Marvel
  • 09/21/1947 – New York, USA: Maybe a tie-in with Agent Peggy Carter
  • 01/03/1984 – Tokyo, Japan: Home of mutant Sunfire, perhaps an X-Men tie-in
  • 03/01/0051 – Hala: Home to the Kree, perhaps the day the Supreme Intelligence formed
  • 08/02/1999 – Kingsport, United States: Home of Marvel’s The Terrible Old Man, inspired from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old Man
  • 24/09/1001 – Xandar: Home to the Nova Empire, perhaps the day the Nova Corps was formed?
  • 11/23/2005 – Beijing, China: Home of Mandarin and Fin Fang Foom
  • 10/07/1903 – Madrid, Spain: Home of Fire-Eater and other lesser-known mutants
  • 12/04/1887 – unspecified: Possible reference to Candra, aka Red Death, a rare subspecies of immortal mutants called Externals

3. “Trust Me”

Towards the end of the episode when the team is in Roxxcart, Mobius says this to Loki, “Why is it the least trustworthy people are always the ones that say ‘trust me’.” I think that’s a nod to 2014’s short run Loki comic series Loki: Agent Of Asgard: Trust Me.

Loki: Agent of Asgard

4. Broken Crown

Speaking of Loki: Agent of Asgard, that comic series likely inspired Lady Loki’s look with a broken horn on her crown.

Lady Loki's broken horn
Lady Loki’s broken horn

5. Is That a CLUE OR A rED hERRING?

After too much time researching this one, I have to assume the Franklin D. Roosevelt High School pen is simply a red herring or will end up as a clue for something later on in the series.

Franklin D. Roosevelt High School pen
Is this pen a clue?

6. Roxxon…again

Clever MCU fans may have recognized the reference to Roxxon (ala Roxxcart) this episode. Roxxon has made appearances in all 3 Iron Man movies and the Marvel’s Runaways, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cloak and Dagger, Agent Carter, Daredevil, and Iron Fist series.

Roxxcart store
The frequent appearance of Roxxon in the MCU continues

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