It’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for another chapter of Loki. We’re treated to a funky and seductive opening number, which you could label as Sylvie’s theme – the enchanting and melodic tones casting you under a spell, just as she’s known for. It’s great that Waldron wastes no time demonstrating Sylvie’s prowess, as we’re given insight into how she coaxed the Timekeepers’ location out of Sasha Lane’s Hunter C-20. We’ve often been told of Loki’s illusory powers, but here it’s put on full display Inception-style, as Sylvie literally infiltrates a memory and plants herself in it. It’s delightfully devious, and also gives us a little hint that perhaps there’s a darker side to the TVA’s recruitment process than we’re led to believe.
Watching Sophia Di Martino and Tom Hiddleston play off one another is unadulterated joy, sparks fly as violently as the asteroid chunks raining down on the two of them – having two Lokis constantly trying to one-up the other and double-cross, cancelling their tricks out in the process is like watching two schoolchildren try to show off in the playground. Sophia naturally brings her own Loki sensibility to the role, and it’s distinct enough from Tom whilst still reflecting semblances of the MCU Loki we know and love. Watching her cycle through her different tricks, ultimately coming up short and resorting to full-on beratement and belittling of Tom’s Loki is joyfully comical, and it’s a testament to their odd-couple chemistry.
One of the best details of Loki is how it taps into the emotional flaws of the character without overriding his mischievous guise he’s known for. When Sylvie and Loki stop fighting one another for one second, and have a poignant conversation over lost and intangible love, it implies a possible reasoning for Loki’s chaotic and unstable ‘evil’ outbursts – a substitution for genuine love and connection with others. It makes complete sense, he’s disconnected from his family, technically a foreigner in Asgard and living in Thor’s shadow, whether he likes it or not. The one lifeline he does have is Frigga, and he knows that he will eventually even sabotage that. Loki knows Loki, better than he knows himself.
The best way to describe this episode is a sci-fi western caper gone askew, as we travel from desolate ghost towns across moon-y deserts to cyberpunk dystopias centred by an ark. There are so many different shades of sci-fi here, it’s a gorgeous cornucopia to pick apart and devour for genre fans. The set pieces are out of this world both figuratively and literally, with Lamentis-1 somewhere you’d never expect to travel to within the MCU. Kate Herron is also just showing off at this point, providing us with some all-encompassing and terrifyingly close action – by keeping us close to Loki and Sylvie, Herron brilliantly accentuates the devastatingly epic scale of destruction crashing around the pair from their perspective, with seemingly no escape in sight. It can be difficult to truly feel the danger and calamity with superhero action, so MCU directors need to take notes from Kate Herron’s playbook for the future.
Loki premieres new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+