Loki Glorious Purpose Television 

Five Thoughts on Loki’s “Glorious Purpose”

By | November 13th, 2023
Posted in Television | % Comments

It’s time for the season finale of Loki, and considering there are currently no plans for a season 3, presumably the series finale. Once more, we get to see of Marvel can stick the landing, or if the show ends up among the other Disney+ Marvel series that just didn’t know how to end. It’s been quite a ride, but let’s see how it ends.

Which, of course, will include spoilers.

1. Groundhog Day

Last episode ended with Loki gaining the ability to move through time and space, so surely he has a plan to use his knowledge of the future to save the day, right?

Well, not quite. There’s a bit of trial and error involved. So much, in fact, that he basically gives himself a Groundhog Day learning curve, where he has to repeat the same event repeatedly to learn everything he needs to know and that’s going to happen until he can get it right.

It’s handled well, starting by showing us a few attempts, then accelerating each time between multiple failures, loops, and new ideas. It even makes use of the time jumping to let him learn centuries worth of TVA science in order to speedrun the repairs for the Temporal Loom. This is a clever use of his newfound powers, and Tom Hiddleston does a great job with the timing and delivery of his lines to let us feel how many times he’s gone through and learned from what went wrong each time, not to mention all the technobabble he’s now fluent in.

Had this come later in the episode, it might have even been enough, because it felt properly triumphant when it actually worked and allowed them to repair the Loom. But of course, it’s too early for that. Instead, he has to go back further and further to try and stop the problem at its source, taking us all the way back to season 1.

2. Infinite Worlds, Infinite Possibilities

A multiverse is typically described as an infinitude of worlds, each one spanning from every conceivable possibility. Comic book multiverses are often a fair bit more limited, with a large but still finite number of alternate worlds that differ from each other in significant ways. In Marvel, for instance, every world from the various spin-offs, animated series, video games, and what-if stories has its own designation (although both the comic and movie universes have been given a 616 designation, despite the cinematic universe previously been designated Earth-199999).

When the TVA pruned the timelines, they limited those infinite possibilities. Without He Who Remains, though, those possibilities could return and continue to create even more possible timelines. And that proves to be the biggest problem for the Temporal Loom – it can be scaled to manage more timelines, yes, but not an infinite amount; it will always overload eventually, because nothing can scale to infinity. It was never going to work.

This also establishes an important element of the MCU Multiverse: while we’re only going to look at the numbered worlds that are interesting to us as viewers (usually by connecting to other movies, games, etc) there’s still a potential infinitude out there.

Of course, that doesn’t resolve the issue of the Temporal Loom. So what’s the solution? Either the Temporal Loom explodes, destroying everything except for the “sacred timeline” (including the TVA), or it’s destroyed and the infinite worlds return, along with the infinite Kang variants whose war will eventually destroy all of time and space anyways. (So yes, the many, many Kang variants we’ve already seen at the end of Quantumania are the limited variations.)

3. No Win Situation

This episode puts Loki in a bit of a conundrum. Out of the three possible solutions he’s presented with, two involve the end of everything, and one involves the loss of free will.

If He Who Remain lives, he’ll continue dictating the fate of everyone in every timeline, and pruning those that step out of line. If he dies, then either the Temporal Loom wipes out everything except the Sacred Timeline, or Loki destroys the Loom and infinite Kangs destroy reality. Only Loki can choose, but according to He Who Remains, he doesn’t even have a choice—everything is according to his plan, including Loki’s time slipping bringing him back to the moment Sylvie killed HWR.

Continued below

Sylvie, on the other hand, is still dead set on destroying He Who Remains, because his purpose is to dictate all of reality. She sees it as better to die free than to live in a reality without choice, and Loki can’t take that away from them all.

That’s right, we’re back to HWR and Sylvie representing predestination and choice once again. It’s nice how it all comes back around, kind of like… oh, an ouroboros.

But this time, there’s a third person giving Loki advice: Mobius. We learn more about his backstory from his earlier days in the TVA, when he was a Hunter rather than an analyst, and how that often involves making hard choices for the bigger picture. It’s a moment that adds a lot to not only Mobius, but the TVA in general, as we learn about the kind of “trolley problems” the Hunters face every time they prune a variant. Most important is Mobius stating that purpose can often be a painful burden, bringing it all back to Loki’s earliest claims of being “burdened with glorious purpose.”

4. Loki’s Throne

This is where Loki makes his sacrifice play, destroying the Temporal Loom to replace it with something better: himself.

Yes, as the Temporal Loom is destroyed, Loki himself steps up, taking hold of the dying timelines and… making them pulse with green energy? It’s not entirely clear what he’s doing, but it’s very dramatic. This is him deciding what kind of god he wants to be, putting aside the trickery and lies that once defined him.

We see his suit transform into a green outfit and cape, complete with the classic Loki horns, as he literally ascends to sit atop a golden throne, from which he’ll weave and manage the various timelines. The timelines themselves take the form of a massive tree, obviously drawing parallels to Yggdrasil (the world tree) and the mythological Loki’s fate of being trapped under it until Ragnarok.

Does this make him the god of time? The god of stories? It’s left a little open to interpretation, but the main point is: he’s sacrificing his own freedom and taking the place of He Who Remains, managing the timelines to prevent another multiversal war while still allowing the freedom for people to choose their own destinies and for timelines to develop as they will.

So… Multiverse fixed? Obviously there’s more multiversal fun to be had in this phase of the MCU, but it brings Loki’s storyline to an end. He finally has a throne, a purpose, and most importantly, friends worth fighting for. But is this the end of Loki in the MCU overall? That remains to be seen.

5. What Comes Next

Obviously there’s still a lot to clean up afterwards, so we get a look at the rest of the TVA and the other characters. The TVA has indeed reformed, and is now dedicated to protecting the growing tree of timelines rather than pruning it, but they’re also keeping an eye out for He Who Remains’ variants. (Mobius even mentions one popping up in “a 616-adjacent realm,” referring to Kang in the Quantum Realm.)

Hunter B-15 and Casey now have high-ranking roles in the TVA. Ouroboros has a new printing of the TVA Handbook, with Victor Timely given co-credit, but we see history changed so a young Victor never gets the book himself. Miss Minutes is back and may or may not try to kill them all again. And as for Renslayer? She wakes up in the Void, with what sounds like Alioth approaching, so… that may or may not be the end of her, but she was at least taken out for the rest of this season.

But what about Sylvie and Mobius? Sylvie has her freedom again, and can go where and when she wants, so she got what she wanted, even if it just ends up with her back at McDonalds. But Mobius? He’s actually taking some time to see the world and timeline he helped protect, including seeing Don, the man he was before he was taken by the TVA. It’s a bit more bittersweet there, but he has time to discover himself in more ways than one.

And that’s how it ends. The multiverse is safe-ish, characters tended to get proper endings, and Loki has a new glorious purpose, albeit one that keeps him away from all the friends he made and in a prison of his own design. Is it a fitting ending? It can be argued that Loki deserved better after all he’d been through, but it is still poetic, and puts him in a position of great importance. And of course, this means he’s positioned to return to the MCU if and when it’s necessary.

So we’ll see what comes next for Loki, the TVA, and all the Kangs out there.

//TAGS | Loki

Robbie Pleasant


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