With last week's episode dropping Loki onto a garbage heap and revealing not one, but four other Variants, you kind of knew going into this week's episode, 'Journey Into Mystery', that it's going to cover a lot of ground quickly and unravel some of the mystery behind last week's cliffhanger.
What's been so enjoyable about 'Loki' so far is that it's more than willing, if not eager, to directly address the audience and their expectations. Where are they? The Void. Why it's called that? Because it's where everything gets dumped. Why is everyone here? Because they had a Nexus Event, something that deviated them from everyone else, and they were sent here. As Richard E. Grant's comic-accurate Loki tells it, Loki is not the god of mischief, but the god of outcasts - and they are themselves outcasts.
The Void, as you'd expect, is guarded by an impressively huge monster called the Alioth which is a cloud of purple that basically destroys anything in its path. While Loki, Elder Loki, Black Loki, Alligator Loki, and Child Loki decide to hide out in their underground bunker, they're soon joined by another band of - you guessed it - other Lokis. In a fight scene reminiscent of 'Anchorman', the Lokis double-cross and back-stab one another while our Loki decides enough is enough and leaves along with his band of strange other Lokis.
Out of all of these Lokis, the one with the biggest impact on the episode is undoubtedly Richard E. Grant. Not simply because Grant is an actor with range and incredible screen presence, but because his character is so rich in story. Elder Loki followed much the same path as our Loki, except that he used his powers to hide and survive, and we see the end result of that. He's lonely, he's miserable, he's slightly pathetic, and he is above all coward. His comic-accurate costume paints him as a sad clown, and Grant's drawn features just gives so much emphasis and gravitas to what he's saying. It's a shame, then, that he goes to meet his reward during the CGI-leaden finale of the episode, but what an impact he makes in one episode.
As for everything else, 'Journey Into Mystery' makes some reasonably familiar choices. Obviously, Loki and Sylvie are going to reconnect and try to address the romantic tension between them, even though it's very odd and not exactly playing out in a way that's easy to understand. Is it narcissism or just acceptance of oneself? Does she represent him, or does he represent her? Are they one and the same, then?
As Loki, Sylvie, Elder Loki, and Mobius (He's back! And he's driving a pizza car!) prepare to face Alioth together, we're reminded that no Marvel property - be it a TV miniseries like this, or 'Black Widow' in cinemas this week - can end without a CGI bonanza. It does feel like it's a wasted opportunity, because as impressive as it all is, you're watching this on a TV. It doesn't matter how big your screen is, how loud your speakers are - a spectacle of that size just doesn't have the same weight when it's on TV. Why not use that effort towards something much more clever than a giant smoke cloud?
That aside, the climax shows Loki and Sylvie opening a doorway to a castle that looks an awful lot like a certain Eastern European comic-book villain's place of residence. Like the title of the episode suggests, it's a journey into mystery - and next week's episode will hopefully reveal all.
- In case it wasn't clear above, we think that's Doomstadt and next week will see Doctor Doom enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but of course, we're more than likely to be proven wrong
- Are we ever going to find out who's behind the TVA? Is it Kang the Conqueror? Is that Kang the Conqueror's castle we saw, and not Doctor Doom's?!
- There was a golden opportunity for Owen Wilson's character to rock up in Lightning McQueen's car, and they let it slip by
- Also, Owen Wilson made it through this series without saying 'Wow' once, so jot that down
- Sophia DiMartino really has been playing a blinder in this role, and she really deserves to get some kind of big work after this