Loki Episode 4: The God of Mischief turns into the God of Love

Warning, this recap of the fourth episode of Loki contains spoilers! In it, we finally see Loki open his heart and expose the truth behind the TVA, as well as – heads up! – a post-credits scene!

If the events of the series occurred prior to Avengers: Infinity War, then it is likely that Loki really wasn't killed by Thanos as fans had longed believed.
If the events of the series occurred prior to Avengers: Infinity War, then it is likely that Loki really wasn't killed by Thanos as fans had longed believed.  © Imago/Prod.Db

Last week's episode left us with Loki and the female version of himself from a different timeline, Sylvie, facing imminent death after getting trapped in an apocalyptic timeline. This new, mature version of Loki has been owning up to his mistakes and seems quite in touch with his feelings.

We have fewer fight scenes to navigate this time around and far more meta hints that the villain Marvel has pitched is a decoy. Of course, we wouldn't have an episode if Owen Wilson's Agent Mobius hadn't figured out a way to come to rescue his buddy, as predicted last week.

The action opens with a flashback: Mobius' boss, Ravonna Renslayer, is about to enter the chambers of the Time Keepers and she reflects on how she effectively kidnapped young Sylvie and erased her childhood in the palace on Asgard. Sylvie couldn't have been more than eight years old, and even as the Goddess of Mischief, certainly didn't have time to commit any major crimes against the Sacred Timeline, so her arrest is extremely suspicious.

Angel Reese drops cryptic hint about her new love interest!
Angel Reese Angel Reese drops cryptic hint about her new love interest!

Syvlie manages to escape her captor before the judge at the Time Variance Authority sentences and possibly "resets" her. It is clear that this failing has haunted Renslayer for years, and it forms the entire premise of the TVA hunting this version of Loki for so long.

Back in the present, Renslayer is heading into a mystical, fog-filled chamber, from which three pairs of bright red eyes peer out of the gloom to speak to her.

Something about the scene is so off. This must be intentional on Disney's part, otherwise the special effects and shadowy figures on thrones wouldn't evoke an immediate memory of a cheap episode of Power Rangers.

"Just kind of an a**hole and a bad friend"

Owen Wilson as Agent Mobius (l.) and Tom Hiddleston as Loki have an undeniable chemistry as friends that lends credibility to their roles in the series.
Owen Wilson as Agent Mobius (l.) and Tom Hiddleston as Loki have an undeniable chemistry as friends that lends credibility to their roles in the series.  © Imago/Prod.Db

Just before Loki and Sylvie are rescued from their impending doom, she reveals a bit more about why she has been fleeing, and now fighting the TVA. Aside from never knowing what she did to be arrested, she spent her whole life hiding from the TVA, as her presence anywhere on any timeline was immediately traceable, given that she "was not supposed to exist".

Sylvie had been hiding in Apocalypses until Loki found her: "That's where I grew up, the ends of a thousand worlds".

Perhaps it's the romance of imminent death, but Loki holds Sylvie's hand as she speaks of her pain and fears about the end. "Is that what makes a Loki a Loki – the fact that we are destined to lose?", she asks.

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Billie Eilish Billie EIlish opens up about "toxic" and "vicious" responses to her music

The reply is very poignant: "No, we may lose, sometimes painfully, but we don't die, we survive." If we had only had this line before we all watched Loki get killed off during Avengers: Infinity War. If the events of Infinity War have yet to happen, then that means his death at the hands of Thanos is very much not the end of his timeline. Is it possible that fans wept over the loss through two solid movies for nothing?

The pair is then rescued by Mobius at the last possible moment and taken into custody. It quickly becomes apparent that the trust between Loki and his handler wasn't entirely severed when he ran off after Sylvie. Mobius' biggest complaint is that he was "just kind of an a**hole and a bad friend," which prompts Loki to reveal that TVA is lying to all of its agents.

The whole "you have no reason to believe me but you should anyway" trope is a bit too on the nose, and of course we know that Mobius' dog-like devotion to his pal will win out.

Additionally, Loki's seemingly rapid transformation from petty anti-villain to genuinely big-hearted do-gooder is sprinkled with a bit too much Disney sugar when it becomes clear he has fallen in love with Sylvie. Mobius does call him out for his narcissism, and technically, the agent isn't wrong: Loki's in love with a version of himself, after all.

Pulling back the curtain

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer, the TVA administrator, and Agent Mobius' boss, has been telling a whole lot of lies.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer, the TVA administrator, and Agent Mobius' boss, has been telling a whole lot of lies.  © Imago/Prod.Db

But loyal Mobius does believe Loki, to the point that he engages in his own undercover investigation against his boss, Renslayer.

Because he believes that Sylvie really had been uncovering memories that the TVA wiped from its officials and officers, he wants to question those who have been under her enchantments. That line of search comes to a literal dead end when he learns his boss has been killing off officers who were starting to remember who they were before the TVA.

"Pruning" is the word Renslayer uses when Variants and criminals need to be killed to preserve the branches on the Sacred Timeline. It's a term that is starting to sound a lot like "released," as used in Lois Lowry's dystopian novel, The Giver: individuals who don't meet the standards are wiped out to preserve the greater fiction of the community.

When Renslayer realizes Mobius has gotten wise to the TVA's lies, she officiously prunes him, right in front of a horrified Loki. The god and Sylvie are then escorted to those foggy chambers at the top of the golden elevator, where the three figures sit enshrined. Finally being able to speak to the venerable Time Keepers is what the two have been fighting for throughout the series, but their exchange with the awkward being proves very unsatisfying.

The whole scene is deliberately jarring, taking place in a fog-filled underworld with three distinctly animatronic-looking figures. "I've lost count of the number of times I've been killed," Loki says in response to the Time Keepers when threatened with punishment, yet more evidence that the video reels we saw in an earlier episode aren't properly documenting his demise.

With the help of a guard who also had her mind unlocked by Sylvie, the ensuing fight scene actually makes sense in the context of the episode and feels necessary. During the battle, a Time Keeper has its head knocked off, revealing... an animatronic fake, of course!

Then comes the climax: just as Loki grabs Sylvie to confess his love to her, Renslayer stabs him with a time-wand from behind, dissolving him out of existence.

Mobius' boss, Ravonna Renslayer, plays a prominent role in episode four of Loki.
Mobius' boss, Ravonna Renslayer, plays a prominent role in episode four of Loki.  © IMAGO / Prod.DB

But did you catch that post-credits scene? True to his word, Lokis can't be killed, and he wakes up to a rag-tag group of characters who are all wearing versions of his two-horned crown.

It's not clear where he is, but it seems Loki has just been introduced to all the other versions of himself pruned through the ages by the TVA. Will he band them together to get back to Sylvie next week?

Cover photo: Imago/Prod.Db

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