In 2019’s mega-hit blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, the titular team of heroes travel through time to various points in their history. It’s firmly established early on in the movie that whatever the characters do in the past cannot affect the present.
This concept of branching timelines was expanded upon in a big way in Marvel’s Disney+ show Loki, which took the time-travel ball and ran with it. In the series’ second season premiere, the Asgardian mischief maker had begun to slip through time uncontrollably, sending him searching for answers.
Eric Martin Talks Loki’s TVA Time-Slipping
Loki Season 2 head writer Eric Martin spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about a particular scene from the season’s first episode.
In this sequence, Loki and Mobius travel to the depths of the TVA headquarters to pay a visit to Ouroborous, or O.B. for short. They’re trying to ascertain how to put a stop to Loki’s time-slipping. To do this, O.B. concludes that they’ll need to build a temporal aura extractor.
O.B. was helped along by Loki who had time-slipped into the past. The Asgardian gave Ouroborous the idea for the extractor and it was completely ready for use in the present. So, something done by someone time-traveling backward affected the current time.
Some have claimed this occurrence contradicts the MCU’s rules for time-travel setup in Avengers: Endgame, but Eric Martin doesn’t see it that way and defended the scene:
“It shouldn’t be possible. O.B. sees this [time slipping], and it’s like, ‘We don’t actually have time. We don’t age. This should not be something that can happen.’ And so there are different rules in the TVA itself, and we don’t even quite understand what that means yet.”
Indeed, as Mobius explained back in Season 1, time doesn’t exactly work how one would expect in the TVA, so Loki directly influencing the future while in the past can be seen as an exception to Endgame’s clearly defined logic.
Martin noted that this segment of the episode “came to [him] and just stuck immediately” during the writing process:
“It’s not that I was trying to not work within the rules we’ve established; I was just trying to continue to grow them. I really didn’t want one scene to be something that broke the paradigm, although it was a scene that came to me and just stuck immediately. So that’s very much the scene that we talked about in the room.”
The head writer continued, noting that it wasn’t the show’s intention to break the rules, but rather, it was trying to "grow out our world of the TVA as a whole:"
“I definitely was trying to not just stay within the rules we had, but also expand them, grow them, and grow out our world of the TVA as a whole, and really ask the question, ‘Well, if that’s not possible, how is it happening?’”
Loki’s Time-Slipping Continues in Future Episodes
Going by the show’s marketing, Loki will continue to time-slip in the season’s final two episodes.
As for why? Well, that’s not quite clear. It wasn’t fully explained why he was slipping through time to begin with. It could, however, have something to do with the TVA’s temporal loom which experienced a fatal overload at the end of Season 2, Episode 4.
As for the time-slipping itself, the process looks incredibly painful and unpleasant. After all, Loki is literally, forcibly being pulled through time itself. As Mobius quipped, “It’s terrible. It looks like you’re being born, or dying, or both at the same time.”
Tom Hiddleston really gave the experience his all, too. According to executive producer Kevin Wright, every time Loki time slipped, that was Hiddleston “performing his heart out.”
Marvel Studios’ Loki Season 2 drops new episodes on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. EST. The next one will arrive on November 2.