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LOKI: Season 2 - A Complete Review

Being a collection of thoughts on each episode, written as each one aired, between October 10th and November 10th 2023.

By Jack Anderson KeanePublished 7 months ago 7 min read
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Production still from "Loki" Season 2. (Image copyright: Disney+)

“It would just be easier to burn this place down, and start from scratch!”

“Sure. Burn it down, easy. Annihilating it, easy. Razing things to the ground is easy. Trying to fix what’s broken is hard. Hope is hard.”

***

The following are my individual reactions to each episode of this season, as they aired, that were all first written on my Serializd page, and which I’ve compiled here for our collective convenience.

Also: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!

Proceed with due caution…

***

Episode 1 — “Ouroboros”— (Watched 10/10/23) ★★★★

Welcome back, Loki! And welcome back Natalie Holt’s amazing soundtrack continuing to give me chills every episode. (Gotta love those theremins!)

Episode 2 — “Breaking Brad” — (Watched 13/10/23) ★★★½

(Note: I didn’t write anything regarding this episode at the time, but retroactive thoughts about it do appear later.)

Episode 3 — “1893” — (Watched 20/10/23) ★★★½

Miss Minutes went a little bit Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club there for a second, huh?

(Or should that be… LOKI Doki Literature Club? Eh?! EH?!)

Also: I’m willing to bet Jonathan Majors majorly wishes he could, in real life, use his character’s monologue about “not [being] the man you think I am” and how “you don’t know the heart that beats in this chest” to try and convince the world that he’s not as bad a man as he’s been alleged to be. And I am definitely not the only person who’s going to draw that parallel, because it is way too glaringly obvious to ignore, no matter the unintended double-meaning those scripted words now wield…

Episode 4 — “Heart of the TVA” — (Watched 27/10/23) ★★★½

While that absolutely stunning shocker of an ending to this episode is a standout moment for the entire show… I’m continuing to have this persistent niggling frustration with the way this season’s episodes have so far been written, shot, and edited, and how the cumulative effect of those flaws is dragging down what is otherwise a pretty good show, preventing it from being as truly great as it could be.

The recent news revealing that the Disney+ Marvel shows have all been going for years without showrunners or series bibles or anything that TV shows need to have to keep them properly structured, which is only now starting to be rectified and resolved by terms agreed upon as a result of the WGA strike, can really be felt in season two of Loki.

Scenes keep repeating pieces of information that was already established moments before; important character stuff happens off screen, and in between episodes (like X5/“Brad” going from TVA zealot to rogue variant movie star between episodes one and two); the high stakes of the collapse of the time loom, and destruction of the TVA, weirdly lacks the requisite urgency we need to feel its importance, due to the languorous pacing of the blocking of shots, the oddly low-energy editing, and the meandering nature of the plot stretching out all the wrong elements, while undercooking the things they ought to have focused on more with the time each episode allows. So it altogether feels both too long and too short.

Now that we know they’ve been basically filming these Disney+ Marvel shows as individual massive movies, then cutting them up into an episodic structure in post, makes sense of all these oddities. (WandaVision seems to be the only outlier, if solely just by virtue of its meta TV sitcom trappings strictly enforcing an episodic structure because of the very nature of the medium it was spoofing.) The previous MCU miniseries have almost all had the same problem as Loki is addled with right now — i.e. there’s enough plot for a 2+ hour movie, but not enough for a 6 episode season of television, so they have to keep dragging things out as long as possible to arbitrarily fill the episode-length quota. Hence the languid editing, slow shots that are slow just for the sake of being slow, and repetitious exposition (e.g. Ouroboros telling the others that Miss Minutes is hacking the system, twice across two different scenes, as if the first time didn’t happen and it’s brand new information they didn’t already figure out a couple of minutes ago).

However… if these various errors and miscalculations are all revealed to somehow be deliberate choices that the final two episodes of this season will show were actually ingenious methods of hiding some timey-wimey plot twists in plain sight, changing everything we thought we knew about what we’d been watching, then I will concede my complaints, and congratulate their misdirections and storytelling acumen.

(But to be honest, my guess is that tricking myself into believing such a thing would be a potent dose of copium, akin to when that subset of Sherlock fans tried convincing themselves that the bad storytelling decisions of season four would be fixed by a secret bonus fourth episode that would make everything make sense, via revealing all of season four was a dream or a prank or something. With Loki, I think the makers of the show have been doing the best they can with the faulty methods prescribed to them by Marvel and Disney choosing to make TV shows in the least effective ways possible, while being arrogant enough to think they could power through the issues they made for themselves by throwing money and a “fix it in post” attitude at the problem, as has been their wont for too long.)

Episode 5 — “Science/Fiction” — (Watched 03/11/23) ★★★★★

Finally, a fully fledged, barnstormingly great episode of this thus-far shaky season.

Moving, thrilling, visually astonishing, eerie, funny, and spine-tinglingly awesome.

Interesting to note that the best episode of Loki Season 2 is currently the one that doesn’t feature He Who Remains, Ravonna Renslayer, Miss Minutes, X5/Brad, or any other various extraneous characters, instead focusing on a tighter ensemble of the fan favourites (Ke Huy Quan forever!!), and actually having the title character afforded the spotlight to be the primary character in his own show, rather than being crowded out by the other plotlines. Depending on who you ask, perhaps I’m being too unfair, or not unfair enough. In the past, I’ve often granted more generosity to Marvel fare than maybe I ought to have done. Maybe now I’m catching up to a jadedness for the MCU that others have already been harbouring for years? Or maybe I’m just getting grumpier in my old age of 30. Who knows?

Similarly, who knows if the next and final episode (of just this season, or of the series itself?) will carry this momentum forwards into a grand finale that makes the rocky journey to get there ultimately worth it.

For now, though, let’s just celebrate this episode’s stand-alone success, and let those other concerns slide for the time being (for all time, always)…

Episode 6 (finale) — “Glorious Purpose” — (Watched 10/11/23) ★★★★★

To quote House of Leaves:

“What miracle is this? This giant tree.

It stands ten thousand feet high

But doesn’t reach the ground. Still it stands.

Its roots must hold the sky.”

***

Overall review of Loki Season 2: ★★★★½

Both weaker and stronger than its first season, Loki Season 2 starts with a great first episode, stumbles and stutters like the affectation-heavy Victor Timely through episodes 2, 3 and 4, before thankfully making the overall journey worth it by climaxing in breathtaking fashion with the stunning one-two punch of the concluding 5th and 6th chapters, that are not only some of the best episodes in the entire show, but also some of the best anything in the MCU’s history.

The storytelling, performances, cinematography, visual effects, the music… all of these aspects in the last two episodes see the creative team at the top of their game, rejuvenating the waning energy instilled by this season’s rocky middle section, and by proxy even injecting some life back into the flagging interest the frustratingly messy post-Endgame era of the MCU has mired itself in through Disney/Marvel’s unwise combination of oversaturation of content, lack of a cohesive vision or direction between the overwhelmingly multitudinous projects, and a general downward trend in quality.

Whatever happens after Loki is anyone’s guess. Not in the sense of the show’s ongoing continuation, since it seems like Season 2’s end stamps a pretty definitive full stop on itself in an ideally epic, satisfying manner. But what of its Doctor Who-esque world of the TVA, and the characters we’ve come to know and love across both seasons? One hopes that this isn’t fully the end for those who remain (He Who Remains pun unintended), and that the rest of the Secret Wars/Multiverse saga that’s yet to play out (assuming Marvel doesn’t financially crash and burn before they get to make Endgame 2: Kang Boogaloo) will leave some room for their return.

Basically what I’m saying is:

KE HUY QUAN MUST RETURN!

YOU HEAR ME, FEIGE?!!

WE REQUEST — nay, DEMAND — MORE OUROBOROS!

MORE-OBOROS, IF YOU WILL!

Anyway, all hail Loki for ultimately sticking the landing, and praise be to Tom Hiddleston, and his unwavering dedication to this endlessly compelling character he’s portrayed for over a decade, through the MCU’s many ups and downs. You are a legend and an icon, and we salute you, good sir.

HAIL!

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About the Creator

Jack Anderson Keane

An idiot pretending not to be an idiot.

You can also find me on Twitter (for memes), Instagram (for the pictures), Letterboxd (for film reviews), Medium (for a Vocal alternative), Goodreads (for book reviews), and Spotify (for my music).

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