Loki Review: An Anti-Redemption Time-Jumping Delight

Loki in a green vest presents himself to group
Tom Hiddleston as LOKI. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Please note: This spoiler-free review was written after watching only the first two episodes of the series.

Loki becomes the third limited series of the MCU Phase 4 Cycle. What's nice about Phase 4: each series appeals to different audiences and goes a slightly different direction as far as genre and tone. WandaVision dives into a universal love for American TV sitcoms and questions about reality to build a quirky Smallville-type universe. The more serious Falcon and Winter Soldier uses a tried-and-true buddy cop formula to examine life after Captain America, commenting on socially conscious themes of racism, as well. Loki does something altogether different and dives into time travel, free will and determinism, philosophy, and morality. Watching will exercise your brain as you ponder the implications of the world revealed and also your belly as you laugh at Loki's predicament. Within 10 minutes of watching the first episode, Loki drew me in.

The series begins with familiar territory. The Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from the first Avengers movie (before the redemption arc we have followed in the MCU) grabs the Tesseract and disappears into the ether. He wakes up and is immediately apprehended by Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku; His House), a hunter from the Time Variance Authority (TVA), tasked with righting crimes against time. Loki resists arrest, of course, but eventually ends up at the TVA, standing trial in front of Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw; Motherless Brooklyn), a respected judge. Mobius (Owen Wilson), a detective working for the TVA steps in and claims he needs the Loki variant to aid in the investigation for another variant wrecking havoc. The trick?: the variant the main character Loki will help catch is another Loki.

Two men stand together, one in a suit, the other in a prison uniform.
[L-R] Tom Hiddleston as LOKI, Owen Wilson as MOBIUS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.
Removed from his world and navigating a new world with new order, Loki plays a fish out of water. This role and show really gives Hiddleston a chance to explore the many nuances of Loki's character. Loki wants power and believes himself to be smarter than everyone else. However, in the TVA, his information about how things work is limited, putting him at a disadvantage. Loki takes the job, but what's his endgame? Most likely, Loki wants to get back to his world so he can resume taking over the world, but doing so will involve gaining an audience in front of the Timekeepers.

Enter Mobius. In his humility, Mobius realizes he needs help to catch a dangerous criminal who has outsmarted him at every turn. He decides to try out the theory that you need a trickster to help you catch a trickster. He chooses to work with Loki and use him as a weathervane. If he gets to know this Loki variant, perhaps he can understand the other Loki, as well. Mobius knows that playing it safe won't work in this case, so he chooses the path of risk, even though he knows Loki seems to have no loyalties other than to himself. To influence him to help, Mobius needs to dangle something Loki wants in his face. 

A Black woman and white man face the camera in action shot.
[L-R] Wunmi Mosaku as HUNTER B-15, Owen Wilson as MOBIUS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

The chemistry, banter, and power plays between Loki and Mobius create a truly delightful cat and mouse dynamic. Who really has the upper hand? Loki needs to learn the rules of the game before he can hope to outsmart Mobius, Hunter B-15, and the TVA at large. He pushes the boundaries at every turn, trying to see what havoc he can create. That's always been Loki's MO -- he causes chaos and then uses it as a distraction. For Mobius' part, he seems to genuinely enjoy Loki's prattle, but this could be a psychological game to flatter Loki and ensure compliance. The possibilities for double or even triple crosses are endless. Only time will tell who truly has the upper hand, who extends trust, and who is playing a part in an elaborate game.

Some categorize the show as a redemption tale for Loki, and it could go that way, but so far it's more appropriately called an anti-redemption story. Mobius sizes up Loki and tells him that he is a god of chaos. There's no world where Loki becomes a good guy. But Loki needs purpose. Stripped of his world and the people he has worked to defeat, what does he have to do except rot in TVA jail? Perhaps as the show, Loki will want to be the hero, but if Mobius is correct, it's written in the stars for him to be an antagonist. He is an outsider and never satisfied. But there's still plenty of show to discover.

A man in a gray prison suit stands on trial.
Tom Hiddleston as LOKI. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.
Some questions burning a hole in my brain:
  • Is the wanted variant actually a Loki? We have yet to see his face. And if he is a Loki, what time does this Loki come from?
  • What does "evil Loki" want?
  • Does Loki from this timeline regret any of his choices? The Loki we have known had a complicated relationship with his brother, and that caused him to occasionally join forces with Thor to "save the world." This Loki has not gone through that arc.
  • If Loki is able to escape the TVA where would he go?
  • In each of the series, surprising characters from all over the MCU have been integrated into the show. Who will show up in this series?
  • Each series also hints at a connection with an upcoming MCU movie. Will that be the case with Loki, as well?
Release info: Loki premieres on Disney Plus on June 9, 2021.

Final score: 4.5 out of 5 so far

Poster for Loki