[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Loki” Episode 3, “Lamentis.”]
Amid the CGI chaos of the closing’s stitched-together oners — tracking Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) as they try to reach an escape pod that never stood a chance of escaping — my mind drifted back to two earlier explosions. To an elderly, unnamed woman, resigned to die where she lived, and refusing to tolerate any tomfoolery from two “devils” aiming to trick her.
This Lamentian Homesteader played by Susan Gallagher (as she’s identified in the credits) dispatches the God of Mischief and his powerful compatriot with decisive, consecutive bursts from a futuristic shotgun. In spite of their oafish attempts, Loki and Sylvie get what they think they need — she tells them the townsfolk are all clamoring to board a train and reach the aforementioned “ark” — and, after a few more spontaneous tricks, they’re riding the rails to freedom (or so they think).
“It’s a pity the old woman chose to die, don’t you think?” Loki says.
“She was in love,” Sylvie replies.
“She hated him.”
“Maybe love is hate.”
To which Loki manifests a quill and scroll out of thin air, mocks his philosophical partner, and starts drinking himself into a joyous stupor. If Loki slowed down for a second — like “Loki” does with mostly positive results in Episode 3 — perhaps he’d realize the person sitting across from him, who he still believes is a version of him, has a point. After all, before he kind of, sort of, mourns the homesteader’s death, Loki was remembering the love he has for his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo); how she performed little bits of magic just to entertain him, and later taught him those tricks to entertain himself.
“She was the kind of person you’d want to believe in you,” Loki says, before remembering her fate and who helped bring it about.
Later, when Sylvie asks Loki, “Love is mischief, then?” he’s as quick and adamant in his denial as he is slow and uncertain in his own explanation. What is love? Loki may not have been in love with anyone romantically — with any “would-be-princesses or maybe another prince,” in a welcome acknowledgement of the MCU god’s bisexuality — but he knows love enough to be protective of it. He refuses to associate his pranks, deceit, and crimes with the feeling he associates mainly with his mother, perhaps because the two are so directly linked.
Loki still creates little bits of magic for his own amusement, as well as to remind him of her; but he’s gotten lost entertaining himself, letting his mischief lead him down malevolent paths, and allowing his pain to drive him further into darkness. When they’re thrown from the train (literally), Sylvie shouts at Loki, “You’re not a serious man,” to which he says, “You’re right. I’m a god.” “You’re a clown,” she counters, which he dismisses with, “I’m hedonistic. That’s what I do.”
That may be what he does, but the events in “Loki” is forcing him to question why and what cost. In this Loki’s timeline, he only recently found out he wasn’t Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga’s son; that he was adopted. In Episode 1, Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson, who’s dearly missed this episode) shows him what will happen if he lets that hurt control him: his mother will die, and he’ll be the cause of it.
Amid all the heavy exposition in the first two episodes and all the murky green-screen action here, Loki’s soul is at stake. Frigga’s final words from the TVA hover over him: “Always so perceptive about everyone but yourself.” Perhaps the end of the world will force Loki to look inward, rather than keep stirring up trouble as a distraction from himself. Maybe he’ll realize what he thinks is hate is actually love, persevering. Maybe he can rewrite his future, while mucking about in the past.
♦ Though Episode 3 was mercifully light on exposition, a few seemingly important plot points found their way in, including that TVA employees weren’t created by the Time-Keepers; they’re all variants, just like Loki. That might mean Agent Mobius has long-term plans to make Loki his working partner, but that seems a bit too duplicitous for the kindly crime-solver. Here’s hoping one of Loki’s soul-saving acts includes introducing Mobius to his old, forgotten self, freeing him to go and do whatever he damn well pleases.
♦ As glad as I was that episode writer Bisha K. Ali and director Kate Herron didn’t shoehorn in a B-plot at the TVA, boy did I miss Owen Wilson this week. He remains the series’ heavy when it comes to charm.
♦ “What exactly makes a Loki a Loki?”
“Independence, authority, style.”
Good to know!
♦ Lest we forget the true lesson of “Lamentis,” an episode built around two adults teleporting, running, walking, hopping a train, and fighting their way across a moon that’s about to be obliterated by a planet: Always remember to pack a power charger.
“Loki” premieres new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.