Last night I attended the season 2 Fan Event for Marvel Studios’ live-action Disney+ series Loki starring Tom Hiddleston as the title character, and below are my (mostly spoiler-free) thoughts on the two episodes that were screened.
As a casual fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I’ve seen all of the content once or twice), I would call the first season of Loki one of my favorite entries in the franchise. To me, it captured what I have always loved about the weirder side of Marvel Comics, embracing sci-fi and merging it with Loki’s magical mischief, without ever crossing the line into self-parody. And now, having seen the first two episodes of season 2, I’m pleased to say that the spirit of Loki for the most part remains intact in this second go-round… with some notable exceptions. Just as a fair warning, I’m not going to spoil too much of what happens in this review, but I will be giving some broad plot descriptions and a few specific nitpicks as I go along. The first episode of season 2 by and large deals with resolving the cliffhanger from over two years ago. If you don’t remember, season 1 ended with the character of Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino, playing an alternate-timeline female variant of Loki himself) killing He Who Remains (the embattled but incredibly talented Jonathan Majors) at the end of time and sending Loki back to the TVA, or Time Variance Authority.
And season 2 picks up right from that point, with Loki scrambling to figure out exactly why no one at the TVA, including his de facto partner Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), seems to remember who he is. This is about where the show introduces a new character named Ourobouros (or simply O.B. for short, played charmingly by Everything Everywhere All At Once’s award-winning Ke Huy Quan), whose job becomes to anchor Loki in time so that he and Mobius can get on with other, probably more important tasks. I’m a little worried that Quan– who got his start as a child actor in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom way back in 1984– may be getting typecast as a chipper, fast-talking guy who explains how the multiverse works, but it’s wonderful to see him in this nevertheless. Again without spoiling too much, I’ll say that’s really the bulk of what happens in that first episode, which I found to be a whole lot of fun, even though– much like season 1– the confusing-to-the-point-of-being-labyrinthine “science” part of this science-fiction never really makes a whole lot of sense. But ultimately it doesn’t have to, because everything else around it is also functioning on the same wholly enjoyable comic-book logic.
The second episode of Loki season 2 is mostly about the search for Sylvie, who has disappeared somewhere into the timeline after offing He Who Remains. And here’s where a couple of my problems come in. This episode gets caught up in a subplot involving a rogue TVA agent (Blindspotting’s Rafael Casal) that just drags on for too long for reasons that defy rational character motivations. And then comes the worst offense of all: a good chunk of this installment is spent extolling the virtues of McDonald’s as a fast-food establishment, and no I’m not kidding about that. This ranks among the most egregiously eye-rolling examples of blatant product placement I have literally ever seen in my nearly four-and-a-half decades of consuming popular culture, and I feel like that’s saying a lot. I mean, I understand that Disney and Marvel need to make money somehow, but having Owen Wilson’s Mobius gush about what a great meal he’s having at Mickey-Dee’s just feels like a bridge too far.
Anyway, I still really like Loki, but I’m really hoping that the second episode is an aberration and that season 2 improves from that point on. There’s a whole lot of potential left to be explored here, like the whereabouts of Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character Renslayer, and her creepily cheerful A.I. assistant Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong). Plus, we know from a post-credits sequence in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that Loki and Mobius will encounter a younger version of He Who Remains– known earlier in his life (before he became Kang, even) as Victor Timely. I’m looking forward to all that stuff, and as long as Loki rights itself in the third episode of season 2– which I have a tremendous amount of faith it will– this could add up to being a very compelling and entertaining season of television. Let’s just hope it leaves McDonald’s behind as a backdrop, so I can honestly start to say “I’m lovin’ it.”
Loki season 2 premieres this Thursday, October 5th, exclusively via Disney+.