Following the release of its pilot episode on June 9, Disney+ and Marvel Studios’ Loki unveiled the second installment of its first season with the episode titled “The Variant.” While the pilot episode “Glorious Purpose” provided television and Marvel fans with the necessary background and exposition for this different adventure, “The Variant” provided some further depth into his involvement with the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and philosophical perspectives on life.
“The Variant” embarked further on Owen Wilson’s (Wedding Crashers) Mobius quest to take down the Loki variant that is interrupting the singular timeline set by the Time Keepers. Mobius’ new helper in Tom Hiddleston’s (The Night Manager) incarnation of Loki begins to strive within his new role in assisting the capture of a potentially, although disputed, version of himself. Taking on the capacity as a company man behind a library desk, Loki is able to deduce the unknown variant to be hiding out and meddling with timelines in areas that result in catastrophes and apocalypse so its actions do not affect the Time Keepers’ timeline.
When arriving in Alabama during a 2050 hurricane, Mobius and Loki seek out the unknown variant in a superstore along with the help of TVA hunters. When split from Mobius, Loki comes into contact with the Variant in disguise by possessing individuals taking shelter before the Variant unveils itself as an unknown female individual, sporting a similar crown to Loki, and escapes while disrupting the singular timeline. Loki enters her teleport and escapes the grasp of the pursuing TVA agents, including Mobius himself.
“The Variant” continues on the aesthetic set up by the futuristic and clerical atmosphere of the TVA. The second episode engages with the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking on analyzing how it approaches the meaning of free will, chaos, and ultimately time. Detailed through varying conversations with Mobius and Loki, the MCU begins to plot a philosophical approach to its characters’ actions. In a franchise consisting of crossovers and easter eggs, Loki’s second episode utilizes the God of Mischief’s curiosity and utter desire to have free reign over his actions as a spell towards the future of the MCU’s timelines.
Loki has jump-started its narrative into the unknown and the uncertain future that its titular character will take on. If the first episode was of any indication, fans were taken under the impression that the series will follow the God of Mischief in a hero role, taking on the inevitable evil for the time being until a personal advantage was made known. However, this advantage became evident in the subsequent episode. The act of betrayal, one that is all too familiar for Loki, has been made once more and the series engages viewers with the notion of investigating the true meaning of will and chaos within our world.
Hiddleston’s dialogue, again, reminds media fans of his quick wit and ulterior motive-driven actions. Rather the series that wants us to accept a singular timeline features the character most likely to want to disrupt such. Laced with comedic elements and a philosophical approach, “The Variant” slashes the series’ expectations set up by its pilot episode. While viewers were to expect the timeline jumping aspect of the series, the presumed subservient version of Loki disrupts this label with the desire to become the superior and free-spirited self that he has come to identify with.
Despite taking on the Detective job for the majority of the episode, Loki has re-engaged with God of Mischief as the character who looks out for himself and only himself. Now, with his escape from the TVA’s grasp, the series and its fans can have its fun with new expectations of Loki being able to play around and place himself within these now variant timelines caused by the tactics of this unknown Variant figure.