WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Loki Season 1 finale, “For All Time. Always.” now streaming on Disney+.
We open the finale of Loki on an absolute cacophony of sounds. Various soundbites from other Marvel Cinematic Universe characters segue into lines from inspirational figures throughout history, as we’re taken through the cosmos. We settle on a thin blue stream that takes us to a truly unbelievable sight. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) are standing on what looks to be an asteroid, staring at the castle they walked towards at the end of previous episode.
Approaching the door of the castle, Sylvie is showing some surprising anxiety, finally getting to face the people she’s been looking for her entire life. They enter and are surprisingly greeted by Miss Minutes (Tara Strong), who welcomes them to The Citadel at the End of Time. She introduces the idea of “He Who Remains,” the person who created and controlled all. He has worked out a deal to put them both back into the timeline with no consequence in exchange for keeping the TVA intact.
Miss Minutes sweetens the deal for Loki, offering him victory over the Avengers, the Infinity Gauntlet, and the Asgardian throne. She even says the two of them could exist on the timeline together. But both Lokis curtly deny the offer, wanting to write their own destiny. The cartoon then moves to the office of Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). She offers her some new files on behalf of He Who Remains, leaving the TVA worker very perplexed.
Loki and Sylvie arrive in a circular room filled with statues. A door opens to reveal the mysterious He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors), casually chomping on an apple. As he takes them to his office, Sylvie tries and fails to strike him, as he laughs along the way. Back at the TVA, Mobius (Owen Wilson) returns from the Void to confront Ravonna. She apologizes for pruning him, saying he got in the way of her mission. She puts in the call for backup, only for Mobius to reveal he’s put a stop to that.
With that, we cut to Fremont, Ohio, in 2018. Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) has been freed from her prison and is being pursued in a school by her fellow Minutemen. She leads one of them into an office, leading him to discover the principal, the Variant version of Renslayer before she was recruited to the TVA. In the castle, Loki and Sylvie begin to realize their plans of murder are falling apart. Especially when He Who Remains pulls out a script for this very conversation, showing he knows everything that is happening and will happen. He gloats that he paved the road that they took every step on to get to this point.
Renslayer tells Mobius that the Time-Keepers are a necessary lie, having to believe there’s a purpose for her work. She argues only one person can have free will: The one in charge. She accuses Mobius of betraying her and their “eons of friendship” to support the Lokis. He pleads with her, saying they can make something better together. And even when he tries to physically subdue her, she turns the tables. Though she doesn’t prune him again, she disappears into a time door, in search of free will.
He Who Remains explains that he may be deceptive, but it’s all part of an effort to make sure it all doesn’t burn. He goes on to explain his backstory. In the 31st century, a Variant discovered universes were stacked on top of each other, and he began to make contact with his multiversal counterparts. Eventually, some versions sought conquest rather than communication, which caused the Multiversal War mentioned in Miss Minutes’ exposition from the premiere.
This story, however, diverges from the conventional narrative. The Variant went on to meet and harness a monster made from the tears in all the realities, Alioth (which we saw guarding the Void last episode). Using Alioth, he ended the war and isolated the timelines again. He then created the TVA to help keep everything separated and prevent havoc from breaking out again. He argues, therefore, that he’s not evil. He’s a dictator, but there’s something much worse around the corner if you depose him.
He Who Remains then makes the two of them an offer: Kill him, or take over the TVA. He admits that he’s tired of the game after being in it for so many years. When Sylvie bristles at the idea, he replies that they’re terrible people who now have an opportunity to do good. With that, a rumbling is heard in the distance, and a surprised look spreads on his face. They’ve crossed a threshold, something he actually didn’t expect to happen. As we see the blue stream (a representation of the Sacred Timeline) begin to branch outside, he admits he has no idea what will occur next.
Sylvie lunges for He Who Remains, but Loki stops her. He admits he actually believes He Who Remains’ story. She responds by accusing him of simply wanting power, which he vehemently denies. The two of them are at an impasse; as Loki says, “You can’t trust, and I can’t be trusted.” He tries to talk her off the ledge, as she holds her blade to his throat. He tearfully tells her he doesn’t want a throne, he just wants her to be okay. In response, she puts her blade down and kisses him. But she follows that up by telling him, “I’m not you” and shoves him through a time door. Without Loki in the way, Sylvie finally stabs He Who Remains, who laughs and tells her, “See you soon.”
As his body sits slumped in his chair, Sylvie sits on the floor. We pan outside to see the timeline begin to crackle, as the branching gets worse. As they watch the calamity build, Mobius and B-15 repeat the TVA mantra to each other: “For all time. Always.” Elsewhere in the TVA, Loki silently sits, mulling over what’s about to happen. He finally gets up, and finds Mobius and B-15 mulling over the branching. Loki warns that countless versions of He Who Remains are coming, but the two respond by asking who he is. Wordlessly, Loki stares out at the statue of the Time-Keepers, now taking on the face of the very man he’s discussing.
Rather than a post-credits scene, we get a simple stamp, but one that tells a thousand words. Loki is returning for Season 2. It’s a big departure from WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier before it, the first MCU Disney+ series so far to get renewed. Considering how season 1 ended, the Asgardian (or is he even one anymore?) seems to now be in an alternate reality, yet another place where he doesn’t belong. It remains to be seen what this universe will offer, or what became of characters like Sylvie and Renslayer. Regardless, the premiere season of Loki set up some playful big-picture ideas that serve to break the show, and the MCU, at large.
Created by Michael Waldron and directed by Kate Herron, Loki stars Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer, Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15, Tara Strong as Miss Minutes, Eugene Cordero as Casey, Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20 and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie, with Richard E. Grant and Jack Veal. Season 1 is currently streaming on Disney+.
KEEP READING: A Loki Guide: News, Easter Eggs, Reviews, Recaps, Theories and Rumors
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