- Episode 4 (of 6), 'The Nexus Event'
- Written by Eric Martin
- Directed by Kate Herron
Once upon a time, it was easy to tell the comic book superheroes from the villains they thwarted. Sure, the good guys usually had some minor flaws to deal with, but there was never any question that the likes of Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and their counterparts fought on the side of the angels.
In recent years, however, the lines between good and bad have become more blurred – Batman overstepping numerous moral boundaries in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; Iron Man and Captain America becoming enemies in Civil War – but you could still (nearly) always tell them apart.
Loki is different. The late, great Obi-Wan Kenobi once said that “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” and ‘The Nexus Event’ feels like it’s been built around that principle. It’s the culmination of four episodes where almost every major character has flirted with being hero and villain, sometimes even in the same scene. It’s also fun and clever, and comes with some killer twists at the end – but more on that later…
One of the fundamental ideas behind Loki’s fourth outing is that one small piece of information can completely alter the way you view a character. Indeed, while on one level the episode’s title refers to a key scene on Lamentis-1, it’s also a handy catch-all term for a succession of life-changing revelations.
Last week’s bombshell that every TVA agent is a Variant plucked out of their own timeline proves particularly pivotal. For the no-nonsense Hunter B-15, it means a glimpse at an existence where she was “happy” and reason to question everything she takes for granted. In the case of the unfortunate Hunter C-20, meanwhile, impact is more tragic, as we gradually learn that her knowledge of a past life frightened the TVA management so much that they had her eliminated.
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For Sylvie herself, the perception shift comes courtesy of a flashback to her childhood on Asgard. As soon as we learn she was abducted from her home as a kid (by Ravonna Renslayer, no less), she instantly shifts from antagonist to victim. Subsequent revelations that she spent her childhood on the run, growing up leaping from apocalypse to apocalypse, humanize her further, making sure you sympathize with her mission to take down the TVA 100 per cent.
Now we’ve established they’re (probably) on the same side, Loki and Sylvie’s relationship has moved to another level – there’s even a hint of unlikely romance. This is undeniably weird, yet feels appropriate for a character as unashamedly narcissistic as the god of mischief – who else could win a Loki’s heart but a Loki?
When their shared ‘moment’ on the doomed world of Lamentis-1 creates the eponymous Nexus Event that allows the TVA to find them, the episode skirts perilously close to the ‘love is a powerful force’ trope that’s become a sci-fi cliché everywhere from Interstellar to Doctor Who. It works here, however, because it’s played for laughs, the writing team totally embracing the ridiculousness of the situation. Kudos also to the underplayed nature of their rescue.
But the real star of the episode is undoubtedly Owen Wilson’s Mobius. Seeing him verbally sparring with Loki once again, you realize just how much episode 3 missed the TVA’s biggest jet-ski aficionado – there’s no question his relationship with the god of mischief is now one of Marvel’s greatest double-acts.
Initially hurt by Loki’s betrayal at the Roxxcart superstore (“You’re just kind of an asshole, and a bad friend”), Mobius quickly turns the tables by throwing the Asgardian into an ingenious Groundhog Day-inspired prison, where he’s forced to relive an awkward moment with Lady Sif again and again and again – a fun surprise cameo from Jaimie Alexander, reprising her role from the Thor movies.
What this big reveal means for the show – and the MCU as a whole – is anyone’s guess, but it’s an intriguing twist in a series that’s proved masterful at giving you key information at exactly the right time. And if Loki survived his own pruning, maybe there’s hope that his new pal Mobius is still out there too…
But as Mobius gradually starts to process Loki’s claims about the TVA’s questionable recruitment policies, he turns detective. What really happened to C-20? Why does Sylvie “scare the hell” out of Renslayer? And why do the Time-Keepers want to witness Sylvie’s “pruning” for themselves? We eventually see a new side to the lifelong company man, as he steals his boss’s TemPad, and decides to join Team Loki.
Unfortunately for Mobius, we don’t get to find out if the alliance could have grown into a beautiful friendship, thanks to his Renslayer-sanctioned pruning in the series’ biggest shock moment so far. He didn’t even stick around long enough to see B-15 turn hero by freeing Loki and Sylvie, or witness the MCU’s answer to the ‘what’s behind the curtain?’ reveal in The Wizard of Oz when the Time-Keepers turn out to be robot fakes. He also missed Loki being vaporized in an epic final battle.
If there’s one thing the MCU has taught us, however, it’s that a Loki rarely stays dead for long. Here it’s mere minutes before his survival is confirmed, as a surprise scene in the closing credits shows him on the surface of a new world, face-to-face with three (maybe four…) alternative Loki Variants.
“Is this Hel? Am I dead?” he asks.
“Not yet. But you will be unless you come with us,” comes the cryptic reply from a man dressed like the comic book version of Loki.
After episode 3 attracted entirely justified comparisons with Doctor Who, this week’s instalment of Loki shifts gears once again, ensuring that the most predictable thing about the show is its unpredictability.
While early episodes established Sylvie as the villain of the piece, the title of ‘antagonist in chief’ now seemingly belongs to Ravonna Renslayer – especially now the Time-Keepers have been revealed as a sham. The question is, is she working alone, or is some higher power pulling the strings? If so, how much will Renslayer divulge to Sylvie?
Just like WandaVision earlier this year, Loki revels in making you question what you think you know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, its rules may be shifting before our very eyes as episode 4 takes the show in a whole new direction.
“I think episodes 4 and 5 [are my favorites],” star Tom Hiddleston told theoriesbyt (opens in new tab). “The two of them together, the whole series takes off in a direction that I certainly didn’t see coming when I read it, and I’m really excited for the audience to see it. That’s where we just expand into new territory.”
We can’t wait to find out what he means…
- The young Sylvie at the beginning of the episode is played by Cailey Fleming, who you may recognize as Judith Grimes from The Walking Dead. She also played the young Rey in The Force Awakens.
- When Sylvie tells Loki on Lamentis that the universe “wants to break free, so it manifests chaos” she’s telling the truth – from a certain point of view. Real-life physics tell us that the entropy – or disorder – of the universe is always increasing.
- That’s Jaimie Alexander reprising her role as Lady Sif – a powerful warrior and one of Thor’s closest friends – from the first two Thor movies. While Sif sat out Thor: Ragnarok, she appeared in a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD, and will reportedly be back in Thor: Love and Thunder. Alexander was also the star of NBC show Blindspot.
- Sylvie is held in Time Theater 47. The number 47 has some history in the MCU. Item 47 is a ‘One-Shot’ short film included on the Avengers Blu-ray release, that focuses on an alien weapon left behind in New York after the Chitauri invasion. The attack was, of course, initiated by Loki.
- Mobius tells Hunter B-15 that “we’ve brought in Kree, Titans, vampires…” We’ve already seen the alien Kree in Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel, and Thanos is a Titan. But this may be the first on-screen acknowledgement that vampires exist in the MCU, paving the way for the Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali. There’ll also be vampires in Spider-Man spin-off Morbius (not to be confused with the TVA’s Mobius), though as far as we know, that’s not technically part of the MCU.
- Now we’ve learned that the Time-Keepers were simply robots, we’re wondering who’s at the controls. Could Kang the Conqueror (confirmed as the Big Bad in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) be the leading candidate? He has experience of time travel in the comics, and also had a relationship with Ravonna Renslayer – maybe she’s also in league with him here?
- The theremin has been the Loki TV show’s musical instrument of choice since episode 1, and it’s all over the version of ‘The Swan’ from Camille Saint Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals playing in Renslayer’s office. The music playing over the end credits is Brenda Lee’s ‘If you Love Me (Really Love Me)’, an English-language cover version of Edith Piaf’s ‘Hymne à l’Amour’.
- This is the first episode of Loki to feature a mid-credits scene. WandaVision’s first bonus sequence came in its seventh episode, while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s turned up in its fifth outing.
- We finally know who Withnail and I and The Rise of Skywalker star Richard E. Grant is playing in the show. Credited as ‘Classic Loki’, his jester-ish yellow and green costume is inspired by the character’s look in the comics. Intriguingly, the bag he’s carrying looks like it comes from our present – the cityscape behind him also looks like Earth – so presumably he’s done some time-hopping of his own before we meet him.
- The two other (human) Loki Variants we see are ‘Boastful Loki’ (who appears to wield a hammer, like his brother Thor) and ‘Kid Loki’. They’re played by DeObia Oparei (Eric’s dad in Sex Education) and Jack Veal (young James in The End of the F***ing World), respectively.
- Is the alligator/crocodile in Kid Loki’s arms a pet or (as suggested by the characteristic gold horns) a reptilian Variant? In Norse mythology, one of Loki’s children was a sea serpent known as Jörmungandr, so there are some reptiles in the family.
- In the comics, Kid Loki was a reincarnated version of the original character who came into being after Loki died in the Siege of Asgard. He made his first appearance in Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry’s Thor #617 in 2010.
- If you were watching with subtitles and thought Loki’s mention of “Hel” was a typo, fear not – Hel is the name of the underworld in Norse mythology. The realm is ruled by a female being of the same name.
- Like Loki head writer Michael Waldron, ‘The Nexus Event’ scripter Eric Martin has worked on Rick and Morty.
New episodes of Loki debut on Disney Plus every Wednesday.