Warning: This article contains spoilers for Loki Episode 2.
Much like the season premiere, Episode 2 of Loki delivered on the core values of this show: witty banter, mysterious circumstances, and clear and concise explanations of the rules.
And much like Episode 1, "The Variant" managed to turn everything on its head right before credits began to roll.
The Variant Loki that the TVA has been hunting all this time turns out to be none other than Sylvie Laufeydottir. While there is still some ambiguity surrounding the identity of this Variant, she had no problem putting her stamp on the show and the MCU as a whole.
Diving into the power sets and characteristics of this variant, what separates Lady Loki from Hiddleston's Trickster God fans know and love?
HOLDING OUT FOR A LOKI
The opening scene of "The Variant" brings a new jolt of energy to an otherwise slow-paced show so far. Most of that energy is present in the first long-term look at the mysterious Variant Loki that has been terrorizing the TVA. This fight scene, set to Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero", also featured a sneak peek of the mind control powers of this variant.
As the TVA investigates an incident on the timeline, they are drawn into a trap by the Variant Loki, resulting in the commander of the squadron, Hunter C-20, being brainwashed and used as a puppet to attack her own. A flash of green in her eyes indicates this is in fact Variant Loki working the controls as C-20 starts picking her fellow Minute Men apart. This was further shown when asked what she was doing, responding in a seemingly "Loki-esque" voice that she is just "having a little fun."
An important note about this sequence is a shot where puppet C-20 is holding a Minuteman up and the hooded Variant Loki comes from behind to finish him off. The ability to control another while still being able to move about independently is deadly and innovative for a master of the mischief arts.
LADY LOKI BY COMMITTEE
The puppet-like mind control power of the Variant Loki is on full display in the final scene of the episode within the RoxxCart supermarket. When Loki and Hunter B-15 are searching for the Variant, they come across an unassuming customer taking advantage of a hurricane sale. As Hunter B-15 attempts to corral this customer, viewers see a green light of energy transfer from the customer to B-15.
Fans' first real introduction to the antagonist of the show is through not one, but FOUR different actors, before her true identity is revealed. Using this manipulative power to distract Loki while the base version of Variant Loki completes her master plan is about as mischievous as it gets. Beyond the amazing display of this confident and witty Loki Variant from all four puppets, this is one of the truest examples of using tricks to hatch evil plans.
THE GODDESS OF MISCHIEF
In an exclusive interview with The Direct, head writer for the show Michael Waldron was asked if this version of Loki is the most mischievous we have ever seen the God of Mischief.
"You be the judge of that. I would point back to what Mobius says to Loki when he is showing all the mayhem in New York. None of this seems very mischievous."
Throughout the decade the Loki character has been a part of the MCU, audiences have seen various forms of mischief in the way of illusions, sleight of hand, and secret passageways. While that was all well and good for the God of Mischief to be the MCU's best trickster, it is hard to believe that crown remains with Hiddleston after what we have seen Sophia Di Martino's version of Loki has done.
Being able to control others as a puppet is no new concept in the MCU. Not only did the original Loki do that with the Mind Stone in 2012's The Avengers, and Wanda Maximoff just flexed the biggest of mind-control muscles throughout WandaVision. The combination of skill and plan is what makes Lady Loki stick out here.
Using the TVA's own tech to set up a mass bombing of the Sacred Timeline, while using Loki's Achilles heel of hubris to stall and get the pieces in place, along with the Trickster God qualities of her magic all pad the stats for Lady Loki to be the true God of Mischief in the MCU. The best part is that Loki is just getting started with this concept of Loki supremacy.
And with four episodes to go, there is much more mischief ahead. But will the TVA, the Time-Keepers, or even Hiddleston's Loki be able to manage it.