The following review contains spoilers for episode 4 of Loki.
After episode 3 of Loki, there was fear that it may fall into the trap of other Marvel Studios Disney+ series. Strong start, failure to stick the landing. Now that episode 4, “The Nexus Event”, has aired, there’s some serious doubt cast on that notion. By that, I mean, this episode is the most exciting piece of Marvel television to ever air.
Directed by Kate Herron once again, it doesn’t entirely seem that way at first glance. We open with a flashback to Sylvie as a child, playing on Asgard, when Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) snatches her up to the TVA headquarters. Being the rambunctious variant she is, Sylvie escapes with a stolen TemPad. Cut to the present, er, the most predicament Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia di Martino) are in on Lamentis-1. As the world falls apart around them, they share an intimate moment. It’s a beautiful scene, nay, a testament to the wonderful chemistry of Hiddleston and di Martino.
Apparently, the chemistry is palpable to the TVA as well, as it creates a branch so big in the timeline that Mobius (Owen Wilson) takes notice. He snatches up Loki and Sylvie, bringing them back to HQ for debriefing. After putting them both in separate interrogation rooms, Mobius has some harsh words for Loki. Every episode in this series surprises me in just how good Wilson is in this role. His down-to-earth charm is put to good use as a no-nonsense protector of the timeline, and there’s something comforting about his presence. That is, unless he’s scolding Loki for betraying him.
He immediately throws Loki into a sort of time cell where (surprise!) he’s in a memory with Sif (Jamie Alexander), who beats him up for cutting her hair. Over and over again. It’s great to see Alexander in the role, and all the more amusing to see Loki try to grovel his way out of the very painful situation. Meanwhile, as Mobius tries to get access to Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane), Ravonna informs him that she’s dead. Sylvie appears to have scrambled her mind with her enchantment. Ravonna’s authority makes Mobius take this at face value, but with everything else about her character, there’s an ambiguous hint that something’s not quite right here.
Mobius appears to pick up on this, perhaps subconsciously, and releases Loki from the time cell. Loki then spills the beans on what he’s learned. All the members of the TVA are supposedly variants. Mobius doesn’t buy it, throwing him right back where he came, ready to shut the case. However, a chat with Ravonna where they officially seal it casts some doubt in his mind. This scene is well played, where Ravonna celebrates their friendships but has an undercurrent of trying to get Mobius to stop questioning things. There’s just this unshakeable feeling that something is not right here, akin to the inaugural Disney+ Marvel series Wandavision.
Therefore, Mobius starts doing his own research. After swiping Ravonna’s TempPad, he goes to the archives and finds an interview with Hunter C-20 where she comes to the realization that she’s a variant. Said sequence is an enticing show of the surrealistic analog technology that the TVA runs on. Such visuals recall the go-for-broke style of something like Legion. At the same time, Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) confronts Sylvie, revealing that she experienced memories of her past life as a Variant.
Mobius, the weight of realization on him, breaks Loki out of the time cell. In a lesser show, this would be the end of the episode or would lead into some kind of a team-up. We’re not talking about that show here. We’re talking about Loki. As soon as Mobius and Loki exit the time cell, Ravonna is waiting for him with TVA guards, mercilessly killing Mobius. Although the moment is shocking, it’s one that some – including our own Ileana Meléndez – saw coming. Yet it’s what happens next that cements Loki as the bold show we’ve been hoping it to be.
Loki and Sylvie are taken down to the Time Keepers. To put it plainly, they’re bizarre. Looks ranging from alien to lizard and in between, they are funky dudes that are far outside the realm of what we’ve seen in the MCU so far. As they condemn the two for their disrespect to the sacred timeline, Hunter B-15 shows up and helps them fight. In an energetic sequence, they dispatch most everybody, leaving Ravonna running.
Done with the BS they’ve encountered, Sylvie throws her weapon to decapitate a Time Keeper, leading to its head rolling off and… exposing its mechanical parts? Yep, that’s right the Time Keepers were robots, puppets to represent someone or something else. Loki tries to comfort Sylvie, appearing to even go in for a kiss, when Revonna disintegrates him. Yep, the lead of our series is dead. Or so we think… as a mid-credits scene reveals him in a strange place with four Loki variants: a boastful Thor-like variant, a kid Loki, an Iguana-like Loki, and the classic Loki (Richard E. Grant).
What. Did. I. Just. Watch. The shock factor of this episode of Loki is hard to shake. That’s certainly part of the appeal but it’s not the only thing that makes “Nexus Event” so great. What really makes “Nexus Event” soar is its full commitment. We’re breaking the line, going deep down the rabbit hole. Anything is possible. A whole new side of the MCU is being unveiled before our very eyes. We’re at the point of no return. – James Preston Poole
Loki is now streaming on Disney+.