Loki – Season 1 Episode 4
“The Nexus Event”
Loki provides some answers while asking even more questions as the truth of the TVA and the Time Keepers becomes far more complicated.
The previous episode could be criticised for very little overall plot movement and that would be a fair criticism but with this one its true purpose becomes a lot clear. It was a character driven episode to establish and develop Loki’s dynamic with his alternate self, Sylvie. A lot about this episode rests on buying into that connection so taking the time to extensively cover that proves essential in making some of the beats of this one work.
A young Sylvie playing in Asgard opens the episode along with her removal by Ravonna who subsequently destroys that entire timeline. Sylvie proves resourceful even as a child and manages to escape therefore giving the audience an idea of where she came from and how she ended up in her current situation. More important than that is establishing the tragedy of her character who was an innocent ripped from her home without even knowing why. To this day she still questions what it was that prompted her being branded a criminal and forced away from her home. It’s a painful unanswered quetion and there’s a heaviness to her describing it as being worth having her life taken from her.
This is great context for Sylvie as well as providing a practical idea of how the TVA operate and reinforcing the fact that they are the villains. Add in the fact that every agent is a victim just as Sylvie is without even knowing it and there’s a really sinister undercurrent to everything that happens. Sylvie is the perfect point of view character for this because she has lived every day of her life trying to take down this threat to her very identity while coming to realise exactly how nefarious they are.
Another great character detail exists in what she believes to be her final moments. She and Loki resign themselves to the inevitability of death after all hope of escaping the doomed moon is lost. In that moment she chooses to open up to Loki after an entire episode of manipulating him into opening up while giving him nothing. She talks about living her life at the end of worlds and it’s clear from Sophia Di Martino’s performance that a lifetime of witnessing nothing but death and destruction in the name of self preservation has taken a significant toll on her. There’s a real sense of tiredness to her in this moment and clear resignation to what she believes to be her fate. There’s no point in running any more as there’s nowhere to go. Loki makes sure to tell her how much he admires her for escaping the TVA and staying ahead of them all these years on her own. There’s an unspoken connection that forms between them that ends up leading the TVA to them though it’s clear it wasn’t intentional.
Loki’s admiration for Sylvie feeds into decisions he makes over the course of the episode. He shares scenes with Mobius once again which is definitely a good thing as their dynamic was among the stronger aspects of the first two episodes. The conversation where they attempt to out-deceive one another is particularly notable. Mobius showcases how bad a liar he has and Loki confirms he’s not as good a liar as he thinks he is, at least where Mobius is concerned. It’s well established that he has a talent for deception but Mobius has an advantage as he understands and expects it so constantly works to cut through the lies to get to a glimmer of truth. He does so by paying attention to his eyes and expressions that betray his true feelings while his words are intended to misdirect. In particular he spots how Loki feels about Sylvie and is highly amused by the fact that Loki seems to be falling for another version of himself. It’s strangely fitting for someone so self centred to have those sorts of feelings for a variation of himself and those growing feelings form part of the emotional core of the episode.
A significant amount of time is spent highlighting Loki’s internal feelings of loneliness. Admitting it even to himself is something he doesn’t do but being trapped in a memory loop of Sif (Jamie Alexander) attacking him for playing a prank on her uncomfortably reinforces that emotional truth. The memory always ends with her telling him that he will always be alone and the implied high number of times he experiences that loop makes those words resonate until he reaches the point where he admits that he sees himself as a horrible person and fears being alone. Sif doesn’t attack him following the admission but she does deal a crippling blow by assuring him that he will always be alone.
These instances of vulnerability from Loki are a fascinating insight into his character and what motivates him while also being an excellent showcase for Tom Hiddleston’s acting ability. Loki’s sadism and arrogance are actually cover for deep insecurities that probably stem from a variety of experiences. Always living in Thor’s shadow and finding out that he’s adopted will number among them but there is more beneath the surface that he buries under hedonism, deception and sadism.
Mobius always sees right through him and there’s a definite respect that develops between them. Loki is motivated by self preservation but he also considers Mobius a friend and makes sure he imparts what he has learned about the TVA. Mobius is self aware enough to question the status quo because he recognises that things are being hidden from him. The case of Hunter C-20 and the obvious lies he is told about what happened to her pique his curiosity and cause him to question the truth of everything that surrounds him. His request to interview Sylvie is rejected most likely because there is a desire to limit her influence but he already has enough information to question everything he is associated with.
His conversation with Ravonna showcases a different form of manipulation coming from her. She frames the decision to keep Mobius away from Sylvie as a desire to protect him from any risk of turning out like Hunter C-20. The reality is obvious given what Mobius and the audience knows but as far as Ravonna is aware Mobius is completely unaware of the truth and she wants to keep it that way. Her deflection is enough to confirm to Mobius that he has to take extra steps to understand what’s really going on. Ravonna’s tone appears to be genuine enough so it’s likely she does have genuine affection for him and considers him a close friend as she says but at the same time she is in the position of protecting the status quo which means making sure that information is contained. Mobius and Ravonna are similar in that they possess an obvious curiosity about the timeline they protect. Ravonna’s office is filled with memento’s of fallen timelines and captured variants so there is an appreciation of the finer details that they share. It’s unclear whether Ravonna is simply a cog in the machine that is the TVA with greater knowledge than other agents or if she is in charge in some way. Seeing her beg for death when Sylvie has her at her mercy suggests a desire to be free of the role she may have been forced into. There is more to come with that as Sylvie opts to keep her alive for information purposes.
Mobius has his entire worldview shattered by what he learns though he has a strong sense of what is right and realises that the TVA has to be taken down because of what they do. In a short period of time he has gone from fully committed to the TVA’s mission and preservation of the Sacred Timeline to understanding that they are a nefarious organisation that need to be torn apart. Owen Wilson’s performance as everything he thought he knew is torn from him is excellent and it’s an admirable character trait for Mobius to immediately want to put things right even though he’s still processing what he learned.
His death is unfortunate and unexpected as the character had a lot left to give. The mid credit scene does strongly suggest that being “pruned” isn’t necessarily being disintegrated but that may only apply to Loki. Since Mobius is already a variant then there’s a strong chance that another version of him will show up in the remaining two episodes. Whether that happens or not is irrelevant to his death in this episode as the Mobius that learned the truth about the TVA and was starting to process it is now gone which means that all of his character development dies with him. It was definitely done for shock value with that part of it being successful but it seems to be far from the right decision for the show overall. This is an opinion formed without awareness of what comes next but Mobius definitely had more to give.
Hunter B-15’s experience with Sylvie further shows how easy it is to tear apart the TVA and backs up why Ravonna is so concerned about minimising the damage. Those that know about Hunter C-20 and heard her talk about the memories that were unlocked would start to wonder what the truth of their own existence is. Up until this point every member of the TVA blindly accepted that they were created by the Time Keepers for a specific purpose but Hunter C-20 experiencing memories that she held in her life before being indoctrinated by the organisation creates doubt. Ravonna wants to minimise that and Hunter B-15 is a clear example of why that is. She takes Sylvie back to the event where she was found and asks to experience more of her life before the TVA. The memories aren’t seen but it’s still a beautiful moment perfectly played with the simple statement “I looked happy” being incredibly heartbreaking. All it takes is a taste of individuality to tear apart the control. It’s flimsy and easily questioned but everything is in place to ensure that questions aren’t asked.
The reveal that the Time Keepers are androids confirms that there is even more at play than expected. A monolithic trio making decisions about what the correct progression of the timeline should be is a comfortingly simple answer to a lot of questions. This small group decide and there’s a debate to be had over what makes them qualified to do so. This show could simply have been about interrogating the arrogance associated with assuming that they know better than any other being in the entirety of the universe -or multiverse- and ending with a victory for Team Free Will by putting an end to them in order to let the multiverse play out naturally. The androids have been put in place by some other party to embed that simplicity and have the TVA follow their directives for some unknown purpose. Adding complications to the plot through some unseen hand pulling the strings is certainly intriguing and Loki being removed from the influence of whatever the power behind the androids is puts him in the ideal position to investigate it. The reveal of the other Lokis -inclusive of Richard E. Grant playing a variant- makes for an enticing ending after an episode that appears to upend what was assumed to be the core rules of the show. Loki is certainly unpredictable in a way that stops short of going completely off the rails and that makes it highly exciting.
An excellent episode that makes strong use of well built character dynamics, complicates the overall plot in compelling ways and succeeds in shocking the viewer. The insight into Sylvie’s tragic backstory greatly enhances her character and having her open up about living her life at the end of different worlds in order to survive shows how much of a toll that has taken on her. Loki and Slyvie’s dynamic is used to great effect with their relationship informing a lot of Loki’s decisions following the clear indication of his growing feelings for her. They were enough to draw the TVA to them though they also motivate Loki in different ways. The scene where he and Mobius attempt to out-deceive each other is excellent with Mobius seeing right through him and recognising the feelings that he has gained through looking into his eyes. This also comes after Loki admits to a looped Sif that he’s a horrible person terrified of ending up alone. Displays of vulnerability from Loki are excellently done and help to flesh out what motivates him to be the way he is. There’s a genuine respect that forms between Mobius and Loki that encourages Mobius to question the status quo when he is told the truth. His conversation with Ravonna confirms that he is being lied to with Ravonna minimising the damage that Sylive can do by containing access to her. Ravonna considering Mobius to be a close friend seems genuine enough and they have similarities in terms of their shared curiosity about the timeline they protect. It’s unclear if Ravonna is a cog in the machine with more knowledge than others or is in charge in some way though her desire to be killed suggests that she is being controlled. Mobius has his worldview shattered but maintains a strong sense of right as shown by him immediately looking to fix things even though he’s still processing what he learned. His death is a shock though appears ill advised as the character had so much left to give assuming this is the end for him.
Hunter B-15 is the perfect example of how easy it is to shatter the control that the TVA have over their operatives. All it takes is becoming aware of her former life for the control to be broken. The moment where Sylvie gives her access to her memories is beautiful and devastating. The reveal that the Time Keepers are androids helps to upend everything this show established about its own setup and complicates what could have been a simple conflict about bringing down a monolithic trio with their own agenda. Part of the appeal of this show is that it’s incredibly unpredictable in a way that stops short of going off the rails which makes it highly exciting.
- insight into Sylvie’s backstory and the tragedy of her character
- Loki and Sylvie’s connection informing a lot of his decisions
- the Sif loop revealing a lot about Loki
- Loki and Mobius trying to out-deceive each other
- Mobius being a match for Loki’s dishonesty
- the genuine respect that exists between Loki and Mobius
- the Mobius/Ravonna conversation that shows her style of manipulation
- implied complexity associated with Ravonna begging for death
- the beautiful moment where Hunter B-15 remembers her life before the TVA
- complicating the overall situation by revealing that the Time Keepers are androids
- the show in general being unpredictable without going off the rails
- Mobius’ death seeming to be entirely for shock value and removing potential for further development
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