Throughout Loki’s run on Disney+, there has been nearly as much introspection and philosophical discussion as there has been antics with time travel and Variants. One question in particular has been posed multiple times: “What makes a Loki, a Loki?”
Each instance has been met with a different answer, but all have pulled back the curtain on the essence of Tom Hiddleston's God of Mischief. The character's many Variants that this show has introduced are very different from one other in a lot of ways, but they do have a few key things in common that the show has made a point of highlighting.
WHAT MAKES LOKI TICK?
This question is discussed in the very first episode of the show when Agent Mobius is interrogating Loki in the Time Theater in an attempt to figure out his motives for causing havoc and mayhem. It takes some low blows and deep cuts, but the eventual result is a surprisingly emotional confession from the self-proclaimed “villain”, who explains his tirades as “a cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear”.
Mobius fights to get this information out of Loki in hopes of figuring out the mindset of another Loki variant wreaking havoc on the “Sacred Timeline”, but Loki’s personality and mindset actually end up leading to the exposition of the truth behind the TVA itself.
Loki can immediately tell that something about the organization is shady, and he actually uses the aforementioned quote about himself to first describe his assessment of the TVA. Of course, his suspicions are soon proven correct as the reveal comes later in the series that all of its workers to also be Variants and the Timekeepers are nothing more than a facade.
INDEPENDENCE, AUTHORITY, STYLE
When Loki and Sylvie are stuck on Lamentis-1 together, the latter asks the question of what makes a Loki a Loki, given that the two are both Variants yet quite different from each other. Loki swiftly responds with the simple answer of “independence, authority, style.”
While this response may be accurate, it does seem a bit surface-level compared to other revelations about Loki and the other Variants throughout the series. Still, it’s a fitting one for the third episode, as “Lamentis” focuses squarely on the dynamic between Loki and Sylvie, and all three of these words are definitely fitting descriptions of them both.
LOKI’S NARCISSISTIC TENDENCIES
Early in the next episode, a Nexus Event occurs when Loki and Sylvie hold hands as the apocalypse commences. Of course, the two make it out alive via the TVA (with the Nexus Event allowing them to discover the location of the pair) but they are immediately separated and Loki is forced to relive a bad memory in a time loop chamber.
The memory in question is that of Lady Sif berating, punching, and kicking Loki for cutting off some of her hair. This frustrates Loki, of course, but the part that seems to hit the hardest for him is when Sif tells him he’ll always be alone. He eventually gets worn down enough to admit that he craves attention because he is afraid of being alone.
Tom Hiddleston's Loki also calls himself a “narcissist” in this scene, something Mobius refers to him as earlier in the episode when confronting him about his feelings for Sylvie. The implication is that the Nexus Event was Loki falling in love with Sylvie and that he is a narcissist for loving himself in this way, but a revelation in the next episode indicates that might not quite have been it.
THE GOD OF OUTCASTS
In “Journey Into Mystery” it is revealed that numerous other Loki Variants live in The Void, a place at the end of time where the TVA dumps anything they don’t want elsewhere in the timeline. It is here Loki meets, among others, Classic Loki, who tells the sad story of his own Nexus Event that led to his capture and pruning by the TVA.
It turns out that Classic Loki is an older version of the Loki seen in the MCU movies up to Avengers: Infinity War. He managed to trick Thanos and escape his wrath, disappearing to a remote, isolated planet far from Thor and the other surviving Asgardians to contemplate his place in the universe.
Classic Loki isn’t even a blip on the TVA’s radar, though, until he begins to miss his brother many years after he last saw him during their confrontation with Thanos. It’s only then that he causes a Nexus Event that the TVA rush in to prevent.
Classic Loki sums all of this up as all versions of Loki being predestined to be the “God of Outcasts”. For whatever reason, whoever is in charge of the Sacred Timeline is insistent that Loki's fate is a sad one: To remain alone forever. As such, any time Loki gains or even desires companionship, a Nexus Event occurs.
STRONGER THAN THEY REALIZE
This indicates that the Nexus Event caused by Loki and Sylvie in the show’ fourth episode may not have been because the two consciously decided to connect and bond with each other, regardless of whether or not said connection was romantic in nature. If Loki is destined to be an outcast and forever alone, him actively choosing not to be would automatically make him a Variant.
Perhaps this is what ultimately caused Sylvie’s Nexus Event that occurred during her childhood on Asgard; the game she was playing involved heroes saving the realm, and it’s possible this was a deceptively defining moment for her in which she decided she felt connected to her home and those within it.
Later in “Journey Into Mystery,” Sylvie encourages Loki to try to enchant the smoke monster in The Void along with her, leading to the two holding hands once again. Classic Loki is even able to get in on the action - though he appears to die in the process - and between the three of them they manage to defeat the creature and uncover a mysterious castle.
Loki, Sylvie, and the other Variants all appear to be quite powerful on their own, and now viewers have seen what's possible when they team up and work together. It’s easy to see why the TVA might view this possibility of multiple Loki’s teaming up with each other (or even non-Loki beings) - with no ulterior motive - as a threat.
In the first episode, Tom Hiddleston's Loki refers to himself as “weak”, but in “Journey Into Mystery”, he claims he and Sylvie might be “stronger than [they] realize.” Self-discovery is a major theme of Loki, and in a series with so many major breakthroughs for the character, this one might be the biggest of all.
It remains to be seen, however, what this will mean for the Loki Variants and the TVA, but fans can expect answers when the Loki finale begins streaming on Disney+ this Wednesday.