The penultimate episode of Marvel’s Loki does a great job of keeping up the pace set by last week’s final revelations. It displays impressive scale, ranging from stunning apocalyptic threats to tender character moments for both new and returning cast members. And while it may not move the overarching plot along to the same extent as Episode 4, it’s an enjoyable ride and one of Loki’s strongest episodes yet.
Episode 5 opens on a spinning shot of a TVA hallway, a clever visual indicator that the organisation’s world has been turned upside down by the thrilling conclusion to last week’s events. From here on the show pleasingly wastes no time in revealing exactly what happens when one gets pruned.
That all pruning victims are transported to an apocalyptic dumping ground means Loki is able to meet several more inventive Variants of himself. Each has their own quirks and charms, and many pull inspiration from lesser read pages of the comics, which will likely be particularly pleasing to long-term fans. Boastful Loki and Kid Loki have their moments over the course of the episode, but it’s Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki, with his enjoyably homemade looking outfit, and the absurdity of Alligator Loki that make a particularly strong impression over the course of the episode’s 45 minutes or so.
The chapter’s one and only real fight scene makes great use of these Variants, acting as a fun moment to showcase Trickster abilities. A brief appearance from Presidential Loki is brought to an amusing end via his best Captain Hook impression, with his hand bitten off by Alligator Loki. All of these variants may be different from one another, but this scene quickly demonstrates that if there’s anything we know, it’s that you can’t trust a Loki.
If we’ve learned anything else over the past four weeks, it’s that sometimes even Richard E. Grant comforting an alligator wearing a crown isn’t the most bizarre thing to wrap your head around. This week’s weirdest idea is firmly reserved for the situation that Loki now finds himself in, The Void.
While some episodes of Loki have taken their time to move the plot along, thankfully the same can’t be said here. We quickly learn that The Void is a place at the end of time where nothing ever returns. Here Alioth, a giant smoky Godzilla-like tempest, roams its skies, preying on all who have been pruned. Naturally, Loki considers the “nothing ever returning” part of this equation not to his liking, and so promptly launches a plan to kill Alioth. The manner in which the entity effortlessly destroys a battleship, though, is a fun method of indicating just how futile Loki’s plans are.
A new course of action is needed then. Luckily for the group’s chances of survival, it isn’t solely down to Loki’s way of thinking, as Sylvie has a plan of her own. Despite her importance here, though, the episode is oddly content to keep her stuck in the TVA offices for the first half of the episode. This is entirely to endure dull exposition scenes with Rennslayer, whose true motivations appear to flip-flop with every ticking of Miss Minutes’ clock. Rennslayer is a mysterious character that we still don’t really know a whole lot about, and it remains a shame that Marvel hasn’t taken the time to develop her character. At this point it’s unlikely she’ll evolve, as it feels like we’re full steam ahead on plot until the end.
That’s not to say there isn’t still time for things to slow down though, even amongst the chaos that reigns at the end of time. The standout scene in the episode is quite literally the calm before the storm, as Loki and Sylvie nervously chat away like two awkward teenagers discovering romantic feelings for the first time. Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino play the moment out beautifully, bringing a touching sense of humanity. In a landscape full of gods and monsters, it only serves to strengthen their bonds with each other, as well as with the audience.
Talking of character bonds, it’s a huge relief to see Owen Wilson return. As well as providing a second opportunity for him to supply some of his trademark dry comedy (which nicely off-sets the darkness of The Void), it also grants Loki and Mobius the opportunity to say the proper goodbye that appeared robbed from us last week.
Marvel’s Loki Images and Poster
It’s with Sylvie then, that Loki must work with to bring an end to this story, and it’s a real display of his growth as a character that he’s now willing to firmly put his faith in another. Armed with the theory that Alioth is guarding whoever is truly behind the TVA, the duo combine their power to enchant the gatekeeper. It’s a visually impressive ending that peaks with the apparition of Asgard, underpinned by the ever-fantastic Natalie Holt score.
As the dust settles and the smoke clears we’re still left with the big question of who is behind all of this. Episode 4’s mysteries still remain, with the person behind the TVA’s curtain still shrouded in mystery. The episode may move along with pace, but we’re still not a whole lot closer to a conclusion. Sure, there have been some touching character moments and development along the way but there still feels a lot left to do in next week’s finale.
With theories flying around the internet as to who the “big bad” may be, Loki is walking the same thin line that WandaVision did before a finale that left many viewers cold. Here’s hoping Loki manages to end on a stronger note and deliver an ending as thrilling as the mystery weaved throughout deserves.