Wadi considers himself a bit of an expert on storytelling. The truth is he buries himself in fiction to keep an existential crisis at bay.
It's been over a week since the last episode of Loki was released (at the time of writing). I know I'm a little late to the party in talking about Loki. I was tempted to write this article sooner, but I decided instead to sit on it for a little while and let my thoughts about the show coalesce. As the days passed and I sat in my room, staring at a wall, lost in my thoughts about Loki, I came to a realization. This show was made on two conceits: a spectacular idea and the set up for the future of the MCU for years to come.
Does it succeed in accomplishing those goals? Yes and no. And this is where the problems with the show become apparent.
Loki has a great start and a great end. Everything in the middle is of little consequence. And I know that because the show went out of its way to make that clear to me.
Watching the final episode, I realized that the showrunners were really hoping that you would forget about much of what came before. Even the ending itself is predicated on the idea that the only thing that truly mattered in Loki's runtime was its final moments. This issue was further exacerbated by the limited number of episodes they were given to establish a ridiculous amount of concepts and worldbuilding. Many ideas were introduced, only to be promptly forgotten about and made irrelevant by the next batch of stuff that had to be thrown at the audience. The clearest indicator of this is how cliffhangers at the end of episodes are presented as these moments of great consequence, only for the issues they created to be solved quickly in the next episode. One cliffhanger was even solved off-screen, which is even more unforgivable, but I will get to that later.
All of these factors come together to ensure that much of the potential that Loki had was thoroughly hampered. Of course, the incest (selfcest?) didn't help either.
I could go on and on about the many failings of Loki as a show and the few bright spots. However, that would take all week. So instead, I will clearly and concisely highlight the pros and cons of this show using the revolutionary format of a list feature.
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- Owen Wilson: Obviously. The man gave a delightful performance, maybe his best in years. A shame that the show couldn't live up to the standard he set.
- The Beginning: Glorious Purpose and The Variant were two of my favorite episodes of a superhero TV show at the time of their release. They did such a good job introducing the world and setting up stakes. And the rest of the show pissed all of that goodwill away and made those episodes worse in hindsight.
- Kang: The introduction of Kang (as He Who Remains) into the MCU in the final episode is well handled. Jonathan Majors' incredible performance saved what could easily have just been 30 minutes of boring exposition. I'm looking forward to what the MCU does with this character going forward.
- Classic Loki: Richard E. Grant's Loki, in his final moments, is the only instance I can think of where Loki has actually felt like a god in terms of his power levels. So that's a plus, I guess?
The Horribly Bad
- The Incest: Let's address the incestuous elephant in the room first. This was terrible. I don't know how this romance plot even got off the ground. I don't know how anyone who read this in the script didn't immediately point out how awful this was. It isn't even as though this has any plot relevance whatsoever. The episode The Nexus Event would have the audience believe that Loki and Sylvie changed the timeline simply with the power of their intense incest gaze. This directly contradicts information we were given in The Variant. No action, no matter how significant, can cause a nexus event when a major catastrophe is involved because any effects of those actions will simply be wiped away. Are you telling me that Sylvie and Loki's incest gaze was so intense that it reached beyond just the destruction of Lamentis and influenced the rest of the universe? In that case, why did their kiss in the final episode not have an even more significant impact on the timeline? And for the people who will try to do some mental gymnastics to excuse this as not being incest, both Loki and Sylvie are born to the same parents. Even if you argue that they are not the same person, you still can't get away from the fact that a DNA test of the two would find them to be siblings at the very least. It's incest.
- Lamentis: And speaking of, much like how the first two episodes of the show were some of my favorites in a superhero show, the third was my most hated by far. I have never seen a sharper decline in a TV show from one episode to the next. I have two gripes with this episode. First, this episode looks bad. I would imagine that Loki had a similar budget to WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Clearly, they decided to spend very little of that money on this episode. The final sequence of Loki and Sylvie running around as stuff falls apart around them is laughable, as people stand awkwardly to wait for their cue to do some generic hand motions while the visual effects department takes care of the rest. That is to say nothing of how boring the planet itself turned out to be. The second issue I have with this episode is how it completely drops easily the most interesting part of this show. The end of The Variant left us with a great cliffhanger of Sylvie bombing the entire timeline. I was excited to see what great scenarios that would lead to and how the TVA would struggle to contain all those nexus events. Did we actually get to see any of that? Did we bugger. It was solved off-screen so don't even worry about it. Instead, we got to spend that time establishing an incestuous relationship on a boring planet. Great.
- False Representation: One of the things I was most excited about at the beginning of this show was the representation it promised. A lot of the marketing for this show talked about the multifaceted nature of Loki and the easter eggs of Loki's gender being marked "fluid" in his file made me believe that the show would be the first from Marvel to have proper queer representation (no, gay Joe Russo doesn't count). Nope. It never truly progressed beyond an easter egg here and there. I don't want to delve too deep into this because I don't know if I would do a good enough job. Besides, there are other people better suited to speaking about this issue. I would highly recommend that you check out the article from James Hynes talking about this in detail. They do a great job of breaking it down and highlighting the instances of poor representation.
- Surface Level Fan Service: This show commits one of the biggest sins in my mind. It's surface level cool. And there is very little substance beneath that.
- Dropped Plots: As previously stated, this show suffers from having too much. Here are just some of the dropped plots and concepts. The inability to create nexus events around catastrophes? Undermined in the space of one episode. The mystery and danger surrounding the evil Loki? Stripped away in the matter of minutes. The timeline is bombed? Solved off-screen. Miss Minutes is a fun character! Barely gets any screen time. TVA is all-powerful! But barely an inconvenience for the good guys. Loki killed? Nah he's fine, don't even worry about it. We get all the iterations of Loki for one episode! And they're mostly just set dressing. The list goes on.
If I had to sum this show up in one phrase, it would be: "Wasted potential."
Now, I fully recognize that I am in the minority with my opinions. Most people seem to really like and enjoy this show. If that is you, great. This article is not meant to call anyone out or to say that you're wrong for liking this show. I just wanted to get a perspective out into the world that I haven't seen many people share and hopefully add something to the discussion surrounding this show.
That being said however, this show fell down in a some very crucial places for me. It had some bright spots, sure, but they weren't enough to cover up the many problems of Loki.