One of the most hotly-debated topics when it comes to Marvel’s Loki series on Disney+ so far is the dynamic between the Loki Variant central to the series and Sylvie, a female Loki Variant who was revealed to have been on the run from the Time Variance Authority for the majority of her life.
The pair first came face to face at the end of Loki’s second episode, “The Variant,” and spent the entirety of the third episode, “Lamentis,” together. This installment saw the two reluctantly working together to get off a moon in which a planet was about to crash into and destroy, getting to know each other better in the process.
“Lamentis” contained several hints that Loki and Sylvie’s newfound truce and friendship could lead to romance, from some lingering looks to their conversation about romance to Loki’s dedication of his song on the train to Sylvie. His attraction to her is confirmed in the following episode, “The Nexus Event,” when the two hold hands as the world ends being the catalyst for said event.
Mobius later confronts Loki about his “demented crush” on Sylvie, and Loki appears to be trying to confess his feelings to her before being pruned by Judge Renslayer at the end of the episode.
This description alone conveys that fans are experiencing a different storyline for Loki in this series. This Variant of the character may not have gotten to experience the events of the two Thor sequels and Avengers: Infinity War firsthand, but being able to watch key moments from those movies during the show’s premiere allowed him to take some of what he learned during that character arc and use it as part of this new one.
Loki’s titular protagonist is therefore able to build upon much of the character development of his alternate self without having to repeat all of it. There are some things he has to learn again, but the series is allowing him to explore relationships beyond that of his family.
He has already forged a couple of friendships - something that wasn’t really seen in his film appearances - and, on multiple occasions, has been forced to do some serious self-reflection. In addition to all of this, he has fallen in love, or so it may seem.
LOKI AND SYLVIE'S COMPLEX CONNECTION
Loki and Sylvie are not a typical romantic pair, and the show makes it a point to bring this up. They are Variants of the same being, presumably sharing the same DNA and certainly sharing some - but not all - of the same personality traits.
The creators of the show have been adamant that the two are both the same and not the same person, which has led to a lot of confusion among fans whether the idea of them in a romantic relationship together is sweet or uncomfortable.
On a physical level, a couple in which both parties share the same DNA could be read as incestuous (selfcestuous?), but when it comes to the emotional side of it, things are much more complicated.
Neither Loki nor Sylvie have ever had a real romantic relationship, and the notion that they could be finally experiencing that for the first time is an important milestone for both characters. On the other hand, falling in love with oneself - even an alternate version - brings a lot to unpack.
To the show’s credit, it has directly addressed how strange this budding romance is. While Mobius is interrogating Loki in Episode 4 and confronts him on his feelings for Sylvie, he says the fact that Loki “fell for himself” proves just how narcissistic he is.
This paints the crush as something for Loki to overcome or perhaps a stepping stone toward another relationship in the future. Mobius is implying Loki is only able to love himself, solely having the capability to love another if they are a Variant of him. Loki hasn’t experienced feelings like this before, but if he can love someone who is partially him, it opens the door for him to someday care for someone who is fully not him.
AN ALTERNATIVE TO ROMANCE FOR LOKI?
However, this isn’t the last time the connection between Loki and Sylvie is brought up in “The Nexus Event.”
At the end of the episode, Loki prepares to confess something (presumably his feelings) to Sylvie, only to get pruned before he can get the words out. Since the mid-credits scene reveals Loki is alive after said pruning, it’s quite likely he will get another chance to speak to Sylvie about all of this before the show is over.
Allowing this relationship to simply move forward and become official with a neat little bow at the end of the season, though, wouldn’t provide much of an arc for Loki. With the way his crush has been presented to the audience thus far, it would be a case of him sort of giving in to his narcissism.
Even though Sylvie is different from Loki in quite a few ways, it wouldn’t be fully satisfying from a character development standpoint and would be a pretty big misfire considering the creative team has made it clear the main focus of the show is for Loki to go on a journey of self-discovery.
This doesn’t mean the idea of Loki falling in love with a Variant of himself is unsuitable for the show, though. Loki’s relationship with himself has obviously been a pretty unhealthy one, wrought with doubts, self-loathing, and the fear of not being enough. Loki may crave attention from others and have a desire for them to see him as powerful and important, but that doesn’t mean he believes those things are true about himself.
Therefore, Loki falling in love with another version of himself provides the opportunity for him to see traits he may personally be insecure about in a slightly different context and appreciate them in that way. Whatever this unique connection between the two turns out to be will likely be at least somewhat of a metaphor of them learning to love themselves.
On top of this, neither Loki nor Sylvie have been in real relationships before, so the purpose of this romance between them - with the other person being partially them but not fully - could be twofold: each learning to love themselves and coming to appreciate qualities that previously contributed to self-loathing while also experiencing true romance with another for the first time.
THE TRUE NEXUS EVENT
However, it’s important to mention that, so far, all gestures and emotions that visibly link with romance have been on the part of Loki.
While writers on the show have described Sylvie perhaps feeling the same way during their moment at the end of the world on Lamentis, as of Episode 4, nothing on the show itself has strongly indicated that Sylvie feels attracted to Loki in this manner, though it is possible and would indicate the relationship is meant to be part of a growth arc for both Variants.
The lack of Sylvie’s perspective on the matter may be key to the path of this particular storyline within the series, especially if the relationship doesn’t turn out to be romantic after all. Both Mobius and Loki could be mistaking the latter’s feelings towards Sylvie for romantic ones when they’re really about learning to love himself through loving another.
As “The Nexus Event” showed, Loki fears being alone and craves attention from others. However, he doesn’t seem to know how to accept real love (as in, not blind worship and praise from so-called subordinates he wishes to rule over), and this could be a key way in which he finally learns to do so.
The Nexus event caused by Loki and Sylvie holding hands on Lamentis may not have been due to a romance between two Variants of the same being after all; the question of “what makes a Loki, a Loki?” has been asked throughout the season, and whoever is in charge of the so-called Sacred Timeline may hold the firm belief that the answer to this question is self-loathing or being alone.
Loki and Sylvie growing to appreciate themselves through a mutual love for each other or definitively choosing to not be alone despite being faced with death may have been the actual cause of the Nexus event, with the romantic reasons only being an assumption from Mobius.
New episodes of Loki are available to stream every Wednesday on Disney+.