Of all the new MCU tv shows – WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier – the one I was most looking forward to was this, Loki. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is a fascinating character, as is his evolution in the Marvel universe: from pure, if faceted, villain in both Thor (2011) and Avengers (2012), the character was so popular he became a somewhat unexpected recurring character, with an interesting arc from villain to… well, anti-hero? Rehabilitated villain? Just a boatload of fun?
So, yes, expectations were high for this, and… to be honest, the show did not live up to them. It’s fun, it’s still good, very entertaining, and yet…
We start off tying things in really well with the movies. If you’ve seen those, you might remember that during Avengers: Endgame and the time heist, Loki manages to steal the Tesseract and vanishes. We pick up from that point here – meaning, it’s a ‘past’ version of Loki, from the end of the first Avengers movie, not the one that’s had some reconciliation with Thor, etc.
However, things are not going to run smoothly for the God of Mischief, as he’s almost instantly apprehended by the TVA – the Time Variance Authority. These are the ‘time cops’, tasked with ensuring that only the ‘sacred timeline’ is allowed to flourish, and all others – including Loki escaping – are pruned. Our anti-hero is thus whisked into the bowels of bureaucracy, threatened with being wiped from existence, and interviewed by one Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) who shows him reels of his life: past, and possible future.
So far, so good. The character is not quite the one we’re most recently familiar with, but arguably it’s more interesting to see almost-evil Loki being forced to confront his life and perhaps reaching the conclusions we sort of knew he did/would, but far quicker. The acting in these scenes is pretty impressive.
Alas, somehow from these intriguing beginnings, the whole show never quite pulls together. Loki wrangles an invite on missions, we find out there are alternate versions running amok, and shenanigans ensue.
There’s plenty to like, from some truly amusing – and inspired! – alternates, to the budding bromance between Loki and Mobius, and an absolutely excellent moment in a ‘time prison’. And yet somehow the surround tale just never quite got up to speed for me.
So where did it go so wrong? Loki was always such a fun character, an agent of chaos and indeed mischief. So to dull that down, to take away his magic and make him more of a passenger in his own story, well of course that didn’t quite hit the mark. I mean, they’ve even got him dressed in a shirt and tie for the whole series, which is just such a visual reminder of how dull they seem to be going for.
Perhaps if there’d been more of a resolution to the story rather than yet more set-up for yet more (movies?) then it would have felt more satisfying. As it was, I didn’t hate it, but I’m disappointed that it wasn’t better.
First broadcast: June 2021
Episodes: 6 @ ~42 mins each
My rating: 7/10