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Loki Episode 5 Multiple Lokis Lead to a Chaotic & Important Penultimate Episode

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Since we first understood the premise of Loki, there has been an implicit promise of multi-Loki chaos. A story rife with time travel and alternate timelines starring the literal God of Mischief practically demands it. Well, as hinted by last week’s post-credits scene, that promise has finally been fulfilled. But it’s not just a bit of frivolous fun (though it certainly is that, too). The reason to introduce so many versions of the character is to illuminate something about our own Loki (Tom Hiddleston, The Avengers). So, through the prism of his many different incarnations, this episode shows us both the best and the worst of what Loki can be.

Stranded at the end of time after being “pruned” by Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle), Loki is rescued by an eclectic bunch of Lokis, including Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Kid Loki (Jack Veal, The End of the F***ing World), Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei, Game of Thrones), and Alligator Loki (an alligator). These Lokis have resigned themselves to lives of desperate survival against the mysterious Alioth, a giant monstrous cloud at the end of time that devours everything it touches. But Loki refuses to accept this fate and rallies the Lokis. After reuniting with  Mobius (Owen Wilson, Zoolander) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino, Yesterday), they launch a scheme to overcome Alioth and confront the entity that’s truly behind the TVA.

It’s a lot of fun to see all of these different versions of Loki crash against each other, the initial friction of Loki and Sylvie’s interactions stretched across a half-dozen characters. But all of them also represent something in himself that Loki must recognize and overcome. Most obviously, the gratuitous scheming and betrayals of Boastful Loki and President Loki show him at his pettiest. Kid Loki carries his own warnings though. As an incarnation that succeeded in killing Thor yet remains as frustrated and unfulfilled as the others, he shows the empty futility of Loki’s past goals. Even Classic Loki, though he came to realize his villainous efforts only caused himself and others pain, remains convinced of his inability to change. Rather than try to make amends and reforge connections with others, he cut himself off from the world, preferring a lonely isolation.

It’s overcoming this latter mental obstacle that the episode most concerns itself with. We’ve already seen Loki, driven by glimpses of his future and his bonds with Mobius and Sylvie, realize the self-destructiveness of his past behavior. But he, like Classic Loki, still fears being vulnerable or getting close to anyone. He may be somewhat self-aware now, but that doesn’t mean he’s actually committed to putting in the work needed to change for the better. The capacity, even the necessity, of changing is the main theme here, and it comes together quite well through every character and arc in the episode.

Mobius started last episode, choosing to team up with Loki when he learned the truth about his origin, but it continues here as he remains determined to do the right thing, now that everything he thought about the TVA has been upended. Loki reaffirms his bond with Mobius, embracing him and calling him friend. Classic Loki, inspired by Mobius’ bravery, chooses to aid Loki and Sylvie with their plan at the last minute, performing that act most anathema to a Loki: sacrificing for others. And both Loki and Sylvie reach out through layers of fear and anxiety to acknowledge their growing feelings for each other.

(It’s worth mentioning here that as lovely as this burgeoning romance is, it’s also another frustrating example of Disney’s constant hedging when it comes to LGBTQ representation. Even the barest steps in that direction, like Loki’s casual admission of bisexuality a couple episodes back, have to be immediately caveated, like putting him in an entirely heteronormative romance right afterwards. The romance itself is good, and even that small admission was quite meaningful for some, but it’s 2021 and Disney is the largest media juggernaut in human history. Frankly, they could be doing better.)

Most interesting, though, is how Renslayer’s arc mirrors this idea. She may have already known that members of the TVA were themselves variants, but she is just as shocked as Loki and Sylvie to discover that the Timekeepers are only a smokescreen. Yet, despite a brief feigned alliance with Sylvie, she refuses to let this knowledge change her. Unlike Mobius, she clings to the mission of the TVA and will not abandon it. Though she may wish to learn who is behind this, it doesn’t appear to cause her to question anything else about what she does or why she does it. This refusal puts her in stark contrast to Mobius and Loki and makes her an effective foil for the two as we head into the final episode. Renslayer may not be a bombastic presence on the level of Thanos or, well, Loki, but in a cinematic universe where villains often seem like an afterthought, it’s nice to see one written so competently.

Of all the Marvel shows, Loki has been the most consistent and confident one we’ve seen. There have been some minor hiccups along the way, but the show has maintained that confidence and skillfully woven Loki’s character development with a compelling mystery narrative. Now that we’re approaching the end, it’s more important than ever not to stumble too badly. Fortunately, this episode lays all the groundwork we need for a memorable finale. With only one episode left, all that remains is to see if they stick the landing.

Loki Episode 5 ‘Journey into Mystery’ is now Streaming on Disney+

Chris Diggins
Chris Digginshttps://alittleperspective.substack.com
"Lord" Chris Diggins, "Grand Prognosticator of ThePopBreak.com" is a staff writer and incorrigible layabout for The Pop Break. He usually reviews TV and movies, although he sometimes writes ludicrously long pieces of critical analysis and badgers the editors to publish it. He cannot be stopped.

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