Loki: Glorious Purpose

Really, who approved my wardrobe for this?

Disney+ has been producing some great additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision was surreally amazing, and The Falcon and The Winter Solider was a great buddy cop/adventure story with some events that should change the future of the MCU. Now Loki gets his turn in a six part series explaining what happened to the God of Mischief after he escaped during the Avengers’ hijinks in time as seen in Endgame. The first episode, of course, borrows from one of his big scenes in the first Avengers movie. No one who saw that is likely to forget what happened when he showed up talking about his “Glorious Purpose.”

The episode opens with Loki’s escape amid the chaos of 2012’s Avengers being infiltrated by the ones from the Endgame timeframe. Seizing the Tesseract, he teleports away, although not well. Somehow he ends up over the Gobi Desert and crashes to the sand. He tries to overawe the locals, but is in turn surprised when portals open in the air and armored figures come through. Never one to be impressed, Loki tries his usual combination of threats and charm. They don’t care, and the Asgardian quickly finds himself subdued and captured. He ends up in a very strange place that seems to combine questionable 70’s décor with the kind of office bureaucracy many of us can relate to. Loki goes through an odd intake process that quickly humbles hm, and ends up in a long, winding line of retractable straps like you’d see in a movie theater. He also gets to witness an example of what happens when you don’t cooperate with the people currently holding him.

We get a memorable introduction to the Time Variance Authority, which gives us a lot of information and annoys Loki. While he tries to figure out a way to escape and/or turn all this to his advantage (it is what he does, after all), we meet Agent Mobius, who is in 1500’s France, surveying an unusual crime scene. We get more vague hints at dire events, and then a man arrives to show Mobius something that might help him. Back at the TVA, Loki is brought before a judge, and doesn’t help himself by mocking everything and everyone involved with the TVA. He hears a lot of things he doesn’t like and refuses to accept, and then gets a big surprise when he tries to use his powers to… well, we never see exactly what he was trying to do. Instead, Mobius shows up to intervene in the trial, and ends up getting custody of Loki.

Mobius does a kind of interview with Loki that is thoroughly entertaining to watch. Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki, and Owen Wilson, the actor behind Mobius, play off each other amazingly well with some great back and forth. There are vague hints at other departments of the TVA, some unclear explanations, and then Mobius shows various scenes from Loki’s life on some kind of projector. Loki goes from annoyed to uncomfortable as we see some of his interactions with the Avengers. Mobius keeps asking questions and seems amused by the god, not accepting his self-justifications for his actions. After an amusing historical detour that was shown in most of the previews, we see Loki looking a lot less smug as Mobius’ presentation moves to events we’ve seen but this version of Loki hasn’t experienced yet. He’s utterly shocked by some of what he witnesses, and his cocky attitude falls away completely. Loki gets another demonstration of the TVA’s technology, and hears some harsh truths from Mobius. Their odd interaction gets interrupted when the guard who captured Loki, apparently designated Hunter B-15, pulls Mobius out to tell him about some new disasters.

While Mobius and the Hunter argue about Loki, the god himself takes advantage of a lapse on Mobius’ part and manages to run around loose in the TVA. He runs into the desk clerk we met before, evidently called Casey, and makes more threats. Loki forces Casey to return something that was taken from him, but in the process Loki learns something that leaves him dumbfounded. It’s an amusing change to see him so utterly shocked and overwhelmed. Eventually, at a loss, Loki returns to the interview room and learns more about his “proper time line.” Once again, he’s stunned, and just sits there dazed when Mobius comes back in. Beaten, at least for now, Loki finally gives some honest answers to some of Mobius’ questions, giving some real self-assessment. Mobius tries to talk him around to what he wants him to do. The big reveal about what Loki will be facing is a surprising one, and one that the God of Mischief certainly didn’t see coming. The episode ends with another team from the TVA in the past, going on a mission they don’t take seriously, and paying a big price for it. This is going to be an interesting fight.

What I Liked: Hiddleston is, as he has been, fantastic as Loki. Wilson’s Mobius was a fun new character, and the interplay between the two of them was very entertaining. Loki’s reactions to learning about his life worked perfectly. The use of assorted clips from the various movies was done well, and the sudden irrelevance of something that was so important to the MCU until now worked. The reveal of what the big bad is made sense and threw some light on Mobius’ interest in Loki.

What I Didn’t: No matter how good it was, this was a set up episode. There was a lot of world-building, threat-establishing, and it felt like that took a while to get in place. So far, this hasn’t grabbed me quite as much as either WandaVision or Falcon/Winter Soldier, but it certainly got enough of my attention to keep me watching.

A good start with an interesting premise. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.