Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been a delight to audiences, and it's easy to see why. In the first 'Avengers' movie, he was able to channel Shakespearean levels of intensity and matched it with physicality. In 'Thor Ragnarok', he was a willing comedic punching bag (literally) against Chris Hemsworth. Sure, the character's had plenty of moments to shine, but 'Loki' puts the character front and centre, which immediately begs the question as to how it's all going to pan out.
The first episode opens in the middle of 'Avengers Endgame' and the last time we saw Loki among the other superheroes. He's grabbed the Tesseract, zapped himself into the middle of the Gobi Desert and is just about to begin his schemes when up shows three armoured goons from the Time Variance Authority who promptly arrest him for messing up the Sacred Timeline. Bopped in the face with a stun baton that slows him down to a crawl while feeling all the pain of a bop in real time, he's then dragged off to meet said Authority. What follows is a Douglas Adams/'Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' inspired sequence where Loki is forced to sign for every single thing he's ever said, with a bored bureaucrat shoving more paper in front of him every time he speaks, a beam that will blow him up if he's a robot (even though he's not sure if he's a robot?), and then, finally, a ticket system that will vaporise him if he's loses said ticket. All the while this is happening, Loki - and through him, us - are completely baffled by it all, and shuffling along with him. PSAs rattle off exposition about the Timekeepers, the Sacred Timeline, the Time Variance Authority, Variants, so on and so on, and the panic is setting in - Loki is powerless, and finally met his match.
Of course, his match comes in the form of the always-disarming Owen Wilson, playing Agent Mobius, who promptly interviews Loki and tries to get at why Loki continuously seems to fail at even the most basic of villainy. More than that, it unearths a lot of issues with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Loki won, what would he do? Just rule, forever and ever? How comes he always fails, if he's "burdened with glorious purpose" all the time? Does he actually just like hurting people in the first place? Again, this is very much taking its cue from Douglas Adams' satirical writings on sci-fi and fantasy, and it's a measure of how much latitude 'Loki' is being given to mess with things. After all, the TVA is there to keep the whole Sacred Timeline - read the Marvel Cinematic Universe - in check, so they're able to offer commentary on the whole thing. There's even a diverting sequence where Loki is revealed to be none other than DB Cooper and took part in the crazy scheme because he lost a bet to Thor.
Yet, in spite of all this, Loki is convinced that while he failed to save Asgard and his brother in 'Avengers: Infinity War', he has a shot at redemption with the Time Variance Authority in helping them hunt down a serial killer who's jumping through time. The big twist revealed in the episode's final moments? The variant they're after is none other than Loki himself. That's right, folks - you've basically got yourself a '48 Hrs.' type thing going on, except instead of Nick Nolte's angry tirades, you've got a blissed-out Owen Wilson running around in a cheap-looking suit.
Strap in, because it's going to get weird.
- Are moustaches just back now? Can we stop with the whole ironic thing and just accept moustaches are back now? Because Owen Wilson's got one in this and it looks good
- Joke of the episode - the receptionist guy calling out "Sounds dumb!" as the Tesseract is taken away from Loki
- The DB Cooper sequence might have only just been in there for a bit of fun, but wouldn't an entire episode of Loki jumping into historical moments be really cool?
- If the voice of the animated clock lady sounds familiar, that's because it's Tara Strong, who voiced Bubbles in 'The Powerpuff Girls' and LOADS of other stuff