Loki S1E1 REVIEW: "Burdened with Glorious Purpose" takes on a new, timely meaning
Creator & Head Writer: Michael Waldron, Director: Kate Herron.
The announcement that the six-episode Loki mini-series would follow the events of Avengers: Endgame left a bad taste in my mouth. I was in that sticky theater seat for all six MCU films in which Loki appeared, watching his evolution from petulant god to reluctantly endearing brother. That Loki gets to die, while this (old) Loki gets to saunter about? This isn’t my Loki.
My mind changed almost immediately.
The show picks up exactly where it should: where does Loki go following his escape, and who the hell are the Time Variance Authority? These become secondary concerns, however, as the show’s thematic elements focus on Loki himself. The God of Mischief (and Illusion) encounters powers beyond himself with the TVA, and his usual manipulations will no longer run the game. Waldron’s writing does well in conveying this relatively regressed Loki’s encounter with his own powerlessness. Parallel to Loki’s experience is our own as the audience. The MCU just got much bigger, and shifts our perspective of what being a “god” even means, when Loki himself must wait in a queue.
Herron’s direction (coupled with phenomenal performances) gives me Thor: Ragnarok vibes, with a touch of the drab-space chic made infamous by Douglas Adams. The set design sets up mind-bending possibilities in future episodes while also showing us how much bigger things are going to be in the MCU from now on; I feel that one particular shot inside a benign desk drawer serves my point titanically. There is quirky humor that tends to run tense against a background of the unknown. Alongside Loki, the whole first episode makes us wait for exposition, anything to help us navigate this new frontier. What I particularly liked about the direction is the time it takes, choosing not to rush into heavy information drops and action.
Of particular note in terms of performances are Owen Wilson as Mr. Mobius, and Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15. The former adds a mysterious charisma that works well with his timeline bureaucrat role, and plays nicely with Hiddleston’s banter. Mosaku is just hilarious in her aggressive demeanor as she squabbles with Loki. I hope a buddy-cop episode is on the way.
All in all, I’ve found myself being frequently surprised by the MCU these days (like I ever wasn’t). The inevitable “Well, where can they go after THAT?” following the release of Avengers: Endgame now fades into the distance as Loki charts new waters in the MCU and executes its glorious purpose.
Watch a new episode of Loki on Disney+ every Wednesday. I highly recommend watching WandaVision and Falcon & Winter Soldier on the same platform.
The Mighty Thor Vol 1 #372 (1986) First appearance of the TVA
Fantastic Four Vol 1 #353 (1991) First appearance of Mr. Mobius