Warning — This article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Loki, titled “The Nexus Event.”
Even in a Phase of the MCU that began with a story as weird and wonderful as WandaVision, Marvel Studios has certainly pushed the boundaries with Loki, one of its craziest projects to date.
After a controversial slower, more character-driven episode last week, Loki and Sylvie were left trapped on the moon of Lamentis-1 as it approached its apocalyptic destruction with no way off the planet for the Variant duo.
With only two more Loki installments to go, did director Kate Herron and writer Michael Waldron manage to pull the series back to form with “The Nexus Event?”
A WINDING ROAD OF CHAOS
While Marvel Studios took a fairly comedic route with the first three episodes of Loki, “The Nexus Event” marks a major tonal shift for the series as the sinister nature of the TVA is finally revealed.
After learning more about Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie on Lamentis-1 last week, the fourth episode of Loki showcased her original capture from Asgard at the hands of a young Ravonna Renslayer.
The sequence that follows cleverly mirrors Loki's original arrival at the organization in the series premiere, this time with a much more sinister tone to properly reflect the horrific nature of the TVA's actions.
With a jump back to the present day, the two Loki Variants are shown back where the last episode left, doomed for death at the impending apocalypse of Lamentis-1. But, as the pair inadvertently create a massive Nexus event, even in an apocalypse, they draw the attention of Mobius at the TVA, who opens portals to their rescue.
Figuring out this Nexus event is clearly the crux of the first half of this episode, as its title suggests, with a return to the TVA's interrogation room as Mobius and Loki are once again on opposite sides of the table.
But, first, fans are treated to a surprising cameo from the Thor franchise as Jamie Alexander returns as Lady Sif within the Time Cell, a mechanism that forces the imprisoned to relive a painful memory on loop. As it turns out, Loki's torturous memory involves being brutally attacked by Sif after cutting off a chunk of her hair.
Even more painful for the lonely Asgardian, she tells him that he will always be alone. The episode as a whole puts a great focus on the God of Mischief's desire to find love, even planting the seeds for a romantic arc with fellow Loki Variant Sylvie, possibly the ultimate narcissistic move.
Seeing Loki and Mobius reunited once again on screen is a great reminder of what made the early episodes excellent. The TVA analyst is clearly hurt by Loki's betrayal of him, proving that there was a friendship between them, and teaming up was not just a means to an end.
While that reunion carries the first half of the tale on the straight and narrow, the remainder of the episode is a winding road of twists and turns that sets Loki on a brand-new course for its final two installments.
As the last episode revealed, all the TVA's agents are Variants, plucked from their original lives to serve a larger purpose in protecting the so-called Sacred Timeline. Over the course of the episode, both Hunter B-15 and Mobius discover this truth as the greater conspiracy behind the TVA is gradually uncovered with constant thrills and surprises all the way to the end.
The two learn the truth behind their lives in two drastically different ways. Hunter B-15 shares some excellent scenes with Sylvie who uses her enchantment powers to reveal memories of her earlier life, a powerful moment as the dedicated TVA worker learns everything she thought she knew was a lie.
Viewers also get to see more of the dynamic between Owen Wilson's TVA agent and Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Judge Renslayer. Over their years working together, the two have built a strong friendship which this episode reflects well as they talk over a glass of whiskey.
After Renslayer tells Mobius that Hunter C-20, the female Hunter brainwashed by Sylvie for information in the second episode, is dead, the agent goes on a mission of his own to uncover the truth. The conspiracy elements of this story certainly prove to be some of the most enjoyable, with Mobius eventually discovering Renslayer swept C-20 under the rug to cover up the Variant nature of the TVA's employees.
As a whole, revealing the evil behind the Time Variance Authority is a key part of this episode as they shift from being heroes to the Sacred Timeline to the evil fascists of the multiverse. Loki has certainly set the stage for an uprising against the TVA, with Wilson's character being the first victim of the movement as he was pruned at the orders of Renslayer.
Seeing Mobius, a fan-favorite character, meeting his demise was an unexpected moment that is sure to shock some fans and make others cry. However, the moment could have perhaps been more powerful had more time been spent exploring the history between the judge and the analyst.
Possibly the biggest shocks of the episode come in the final five minutes as Loki and Sylvie are taken to meet the Time-Keepers. Renslayer makes her villainy apparent in this scene, bringing the Asgardian Variants before the so-called protectors of the timeline to be deleted.
“The Nexus Event” makes excellent use of its concluding moments in a sequence that is sure to keep viewers' adrenaline running from beginning to end. As Hunter B-15 arrives to save the Variants, a well-choreographed action scene ensues as the group of rebels takes on Renslayer and the other TVA Hunters.
After finally fulfilling her life's mission of killing the Time-Keepers, Sylvie and Loki quickly discover that they were in fact androids being controlled by some external force, raising the question of who is truly running the TVA?
Even after that, Loki still had one more twist left in it as Tom Hiddleston's popular Asgardian was pruned by Renslayer as he seemed to be in the middle of professing his love to Sylvie. Given that leaves Sylvie and the Judge alone together, the Disney+ thriller has left great potential for the remaining episodes as the Variant spends time with the woman who took her life away.
For the first time in Loki history, viewers will want to stick around after the credits to rest easy for the next week as Hiddleston's hero is revealed to be alive after all, but it remains unclear where he is.
In a moment that will prove shocking to new viewers and Marvel Comics readers alike, the episode ended with the introduction of four new Loki Variants including Classic (Richard E. Grant), Kid (Jack Veal), Boastful (Deobia Oparei), and even some kind of alligator version of Loki.
Tom Hiddleston's talent shines brighter than ever as his excellent showcase of emotion in every situation carries this episode to greatness. With Loki and Sylvie kept separated from the majority of the TVA-set story, the Disney+ series takes a trip back to where it began as the God of Mischief reunites with Owen Wilson's Agent Mobius.
Speaking of which, both Owen Wilson and Wunmi Mosaku put in stronger performances than ever as they finally learned the lies behind their entire lives. It's particularly exciting to see Mosaku's Hunter B-15 given a lot more to do within this episode, allowing her to finally show off her talent.
After spending much of last week's episode exploring Sylvie's character, the Loki Variant is clearly put on the back burner for this episode, meaning Sophia Di Martino doesn't get much opportunity to use her talents in this episode.
One of the episode's most hilarious moments saw Loki revealing a painful memory with Lady Sif on loop, with the scene inevitably reaching the same violent conclusion every time despite his attempts to prevent it. Jamie Alexander is simply hilarious in this repeating moment, having clearly filmed the same scene plenty of times.
Last, but certainly not least, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the perfect villain, doing a great job of covering up her nefarious intents as she maintains a friendship with Mobius while hiding her villainous agenda.
Seeing Renslayer tell Sylvie she doesn't remember the Nexus event that turned her into a Variant is sure to make viewers hate the TVA Judge more than ever, realizing how little remorse she has for her actions.
PRODUCTION — CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, EDITING, ETC.
Since the premiere, Loki has consistently showcased some visually stunning set pieces. While this episode doesn't include many new locations, it revisits all the highlights of the series so far including the TVA, Roxxcart, and Lamentis, allowing the production team to flex all their talents.
One of the most exciting surprises was the unexpected return to Asgard as a young Sylvie was taken by the TVA. Just as Marvel fans will be used to from the Thor franchises, Asgard looks as grand and royal as it ever has.
The visual effects and editing of “The Nexus Event” were also just as flawless as ever from Marvel Studios. The destruction of Lamentis was a visually incredible moment to kick the episode into motion, but overall, it was much lighter on visual effects than in past installments.
As viewers finally got a look at the Time-Keepers, the creature designs of the all-powerful group were an excellent CGI creation for the brief minutes they featured in. Additionally, the atmosphere of their throne room defiantly set the mood of the scene with some unique cosmic light patterns and heavy use of smoke.
The series' composer, Natalie Holt, created a truly cinematic score for Loki in her Marvel Studios debut with every moment feeling just as blockbuster-like as any movie that has come before it.
Many viewers had previously criticized “Lamentis” for being a filler episode, doing little to drive the story forward. However, “The Nexus Event” cleverly adds more meaning to the character-driven adventure.
Showing the TVA in such a drastically different way than the series' second installment where they were last seen certainly reflects the effect a matter of hours in an apocalypse with Sylvie has had on Loki's perspective.
After an adrenaline-fueled episode of non-stop action, “The Nexus Event” seems to be the series' strongest episode yet as it continually holds a fast pace while not leaving its powerful character moments behind.
As Marvel Studios has already shown in past Disney+ projects, the blockbuster franchise has been as capable of telling its grand-scale stories on the small screen as it has been in theaters.
Tom Hiddleston previously teased that this episode would set the Disney+ series on a new course, the destination of which will be revealed next week, something “The Nexus Event” clearly lived up to.
With only two episodes remaining, Loki's fourth installment will leave viewers excited for what's to come and hoping for next Wednesday to roll around as quickly as possible.