4 out of 5 stars
Following the first season of “Loki,” Marvel has been doing its best to build their next projects into another massive franchise hit. However, elements of time travel and the multiverse, while interesting to ponder, have mostly been too complicated to invest in emotionally, not to mention subpar writing in movies like “Doctor Strange 2” and “Ant Man: Quantumania.”
Season two of “Loki” is an exception to the recent lack of energy, ushering in strong performances from a delightful ensemble cast and exploring the world of the mysterious Time Variance Authority introduced in the first season. Season two’s weak spot is an extremely complex plot centered on time travel which changed and twisted enough to occasionally lose itself.
“Loki” does the same thing that most Marvel cinematic content does at this point, which is relying on the fact that most of their audience knows the entire lore of the MCU. This is discouraging to first-time viewers, and starting with season one would not be sufficient to get them caught up on all the references and characters.
Season two follows Loki, god of mischief (Tom Hiddleston); Mobius, an optimistic time agent with a passion for jet skis (Owen Wilson); Sylvie, a cynical female version of Loki from another timeline with her own agenda (Sophia Di Martino); and more agents as they try to stop the ruthless Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and the sinister AI being Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) from following the directions of the MCU’s newest big bad, He Who Remains, also known as Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
The overall goal of the season is to stop all of time from being wiped out. This is either achieved by preserving the so-called Sacred Timeline, a timeline in which everything outside of the regimented flow of time is destroyed, or letting the timelines branch into different universes and overloading the TVA’s bureaucratic system of control.
This season is less of a drive to a clear finish line and more of a complicated twisting and turning of the character’s goals. While this was an intriguing approach to an already complicated concept, the show gets lost in its own jargon and I had to tune some of it out to keep up.
Every cast member performs with commitment and sincerity, especially Hiddleston, whose Loki is sometimes overshadowed by his comrades in earlier episodes. “Loki” gives Hiddleston, who is also an executive producer, a chance to add even more depth and complexity to his already fascinating and morally gray character on his journey to serving others instead of himself.
The cast is further rounded out by MCU newcomer Ke Huy Quan as Orobourous (OB), an eccentric time engineer whose earnest quirkiness and funny lines enhance the seriousness of the predicament rather than undermining it.
Majors is given additional time as a shyer, geekier version of He Who Remains from a different reality who sides with Team Loki in the effort to protect the Sacred Timeline. The MCU’s next phase is clearly meant to give Majors different opportunities to flex his own acting chops in every which way, and while he enthusiastically commits, sometimes the portrayal can feel almost cartoonish rather than grounded and frightening.
Aesthetically, the show maintains the brownish tint of the ‘70s themed TVA, an organization that is beyond time yet reflects the dusty mundane energy of a government nine-to-five job. This contrasts with the bright lights of the timeline itself, creating an intriguing reality in which humanity is attempting to control the uncontrollable with bureaucracy.
The whole show is underscored by composer Natalie Holt’s theremin-heavy soundtrack, giving an eerie and intense energy that is unique and unexpected enough to complement the show’s individuality while still supporting each scene in the ways that viewers would expect.
Season two was an enjoyable trip that I looked forward to each week, but unless you have the background on the entire MCU as well as season one of “Loki,” you won’t be able to follow what’s happening. It’s a breath of fresh air for Marvel fans worried that the world is getting stale, unless they can keep up or know when to let the weirdness wash over them.
Photo credited to Disney.