Watching Loki: S1E6 For All Time. Always.

Spoiler warning, obviously.


But first, a bit of space.

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I had some good conversations after episode 5, so I’m going into this episode with a bit of headcanon. It seems clear to me after “Journey into Mystery” that the person behind the TVA must be a Loki; it’s the logical extension of what they built up there. My preferred outcome is that Mobius is actually the Son of Loki and Sylvie and he’s been the driving force behind the TVA from the start with the goal of bringing about the circumstances of his own birth. That’s not very likely because it doesn’t fit into the larger MCU narrative and because this is more about alternate realities than time travel. If you haven’t, you should read “By His Bootstraps” and “…All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein and while you’re at it, watch Predestination. In that order.
But onto the episode.

It’s interesting seeing Loki and Sylvie on the cusp of realizing their goals become hesitant before they enter the suspiciously gothic castle.


The two statues we see as they enter are reminiscent of Sylvie when we first saw her. Their faces are clocks which is a cool juxtaposition.

Miss Minutes is clearly Satan.

Actually, to borrow a line from The West Wing, Miss Minutes is the guy who runs into the 7-11 to get Satan a pack of cigarettes.

“He who Remains.” Hurm. Could still be a Loki I suppose. So far, pretty cagey. Nice office though. Very Sanctum Sanctorum.

B-15’s scene in 2018 is a nice development, showing the other Hunters Ravonna’s pre-variant self, a high school principal(?) in Ohio. The diploma on the wall says “Rebecca Tourminet.” That’s an alias that the comic book Ravonna used when she was hiding in 1905 in the “Terminatrix Objective.” Checking the source material those do not look good. It was in the middle of the Cross-Time Kang storyline which I remember being tedious. This is a still stronger reference to Kang the Conqueror though.

Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective (1993). Own ‘em. Probably read ‘em. No memories whatsoever.

“I already know what’s going to happen” is a standard time-travel trope. Here it’s a pale reflection of Doctor Who’s “Blink.

He Who Remains is Kang, (really Immortus as he appears here). It was always the most obvious answer but that doesn’t mean it will be bad. Here he’s laying out the Cross-Time Kang storyline; I hope they can do that better. That story led to the Council of Reeds which I thought was pretentious but THAT led to the Council of Ricks which is great.

Quick aside: I’ve mentioned Hiddleston and Wilson before but Sophia Di Martino and Jonathan Majors and a bunch of others are terrific. This is a strong cast from top to bottom.

“Why would you give up being in control?” is a very Loki question. Sylvie wouldn’t ask that which is part of the reason they could work as a team.

Shades of Doctor Manhattan. “The threshold” is crossed and the time master no longer knows what will happen. That must be a standard part of that trope but I can’t think of another example, although Asimov’s “The Dead Past” has a similar device in the other temporal direction. Never mind. “By His Bootstraps” again. Right there at the end but in a much more organic way.

A “bazillion boogymen” sounds much better in a British accent.

Sylvie and Loki’s debate is authoritarianism vs. anarchy again. Until it isn’t.

I kind of love that Kang thinks this is all funny even to his death.

Tom Hiddleston is a good actor even when he’s just sitting there.

That’s a chilling moment at the end when Mobius doesn’t remember Loki and then worse when we see the fiction of the Time Keepers replaced with a version of He Who Remains looking much more Kang-Like than Immortus.

And Loki’s made the switch from being a budding authoritarian to being a revolutionary. Season 1’s Sylvie may foreshadow season 2’s Loki. Assuming that all this isn’t resolved in Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness.

This is a great end to an excellent season.

Episode:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Season:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

My Voyager Rewatch: S1E01

S4E01 – Scorpion pt. 2

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Since I started tweeting these in the middle of season 4, I decided to go back and fill in, working my way outward to S1 and S7. A lot of the previous episodes were on as background noise; this gives me an excuse for a closer watch.

At the start of the episode Janeway has made an alliance with the Borg. I’m sure this is one of the things that will figure prominently in her trial when she’s charged with war crimes. Working with the Borg is dumb and using Borg nano-probes medically is playing with fire.

A lot of stuff doesn’t make sense, like Species 8472 trying to speak through Kes, but having nothing to say. The Borg aren’t quite acting like Borg and everyone seems vaguely out of character. It’s clear this is a contrivance to get Seven of Nine into the show. That at least is well done

From the start Seven is distinctly more human than a regular Borg. It’s curious that Janeway recognizes her as human (how?). The build-up works and Seven’s isolation from the collective in fluidic space nicely foreshadows the resolution. The story ends as it inevitably had to and isn’t too silly.

So, overall this episode is pretty good despite its flaws. Species 8472 appears to be a malevolent new presence and Jeri Ryan as a new cast member shows a lot of gravitas. We can hope interesting things are forthcoming.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

#StarTrek #StarTrekVoyager

Watching Loki S1E5: Journey into Mystery

Spoiler Alert!

Nice title. “Journey into Mystery” was Thor’s original comic; that’s especially nice with Richard E. Grant playing Classic Loki.

Ravonna is a skilled liar.

I love that the Alligator with the horns is also a Loki. I approve of making things just a little more surreal.

Also, I had been hoping that the guy with the hammer was a Thor but he’s a Loki too. I’m now convinced that Sylvie really is a Loki herself.

I guess that the Thanos Copter is the big Easter egg that everybody was excited about. Yawn. But we do get a glimpse of Mjolnir and Frog Thor. Better.

Sylvie’s self-pruning is a gutsy move; trusting Ravonna even in that was risky.

Classic Loki’s story involves being captured by the TVA and “pruned” after ending a self-imposed exile. God of Outcasts. But he inspires Main Loki to confront Alioth.

We get Sylvie in the void. And a better look at Alioth. I hope it’s Mobius in that car. And it is. Nice.

I’m pretty sure Alligator Loki is the best character. Classic Loki’s reflections are interesting. “We’re broken. Every version of us.”

Sylvie and Loki have some synergy themselves. They both independently decide to confront Alioth.

I had to look this up but the Eldridge is the ship from the Philadelphia Experiment. Real ship, probably fake experiment though.

Sylvie keeps getting better as a character.

Nice exchange between Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Mobius. “It’s never too late to change.” That’s a nice setup for the Loki and Sylvie conversation.

The battle with Alioth is a good action sequence and Classic Loki gets his moment in the sun turning the tide. Recreating Asgard is a big distraction and visually stunning. And the music, strongly evocative of Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries is a nice touch. “I think we’re stronger than we realize.”

Classic Loki brings himself full circle, ending another exile by sacrificing himself. A pivotal character.

Everything is tinged green befitting the Lokis’ victory over Alioth and we see the episode title wasn’t just a nice nostalgic reference. Loki and Sylvie get to travel beyond the void to confront whoever is behind the TVA. The Journey into Mystery continues.

We’re perfectly set up for the finale.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

100th “Issue” Special!

It’s been almost three short years, and here we are at the 100th post on Comics, The Universe and Everything! I hope you’ve been enjoying the ride!

Anniversary Issues have become a big deal in the comics world, a universe where very few comics last long enough to have 100 issues. Indeed, some of the all-time most important series — All-Star Comics comes to mind — never made that milestone. And so we get big comics with epic stories and a plethora of guest stars or returning favorites. The Fantastic Four faced off against virtually all their foes! Spider-man became more spidery by growing 4 extra arms! I don’t remember what happened in Avengers 100 but the cover promises “the mightiest 100th issue of all!!” Also ten-damn-dollars for Amazing Spider-Man #800, but that’s another conversation.

For our 100th post spectacular, we’ll revive the “First Comics” column. I’ve written about my first comic as a collector (Action Comics # 425) and my first issue of Fantastic Four (#126). Today we’ll look at my First 100th issue, Justice League of America #100, August 1972. Ironically, #99 had been a double-sized issue. DC had tried to make their entire line of comics 52 pages for 25 cents but that experiment ended and issue 100 returned to the more modest size and price of 20 cents. A SPECIAL REGULAR-SIZED ISSUE!!

It was probably on the stands 49 years ago today as I write this and the next issue box from JLA #99 ramped up expectations!

This is about a year before, with all the seriousness a nine-year-old can muster, I decided I was a “comic book collector.” I only owned a handful of comics at this point but I knew I liked team books with lots of heroes and this one promised to fit the bill.

So let’s revisit the actual comic. It’s surprising how little happens in this issue.

It begins with some JLAers arriving at the team’s dusty, cobwebbed former headquarters ready to celebrate their hundredth meeting. That’s a bit on point, but okay. Green Arrow must have a dustbuster arrow or some nonsense that will help them clean up. Also, I have no idea why they’re holding this celebration in what looks like a cave while they have a perfectly good multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art satellite headquarters. Nostalgia, I suppose.

Their satellite, by the way, is in geosynchronous orbit which is 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface and THAT is a fact that I learned from reading comics.

Everybody wants to attend the party. There are more than 2 pages of characters getting ready to go to, starting to go to, arriving at the cave, or bemoaning the fact that they can’t attend the party. DC takes the opportunity to pad the list of guest-stars that they hyped in the last issue. Just saying, Adam Strange — one panel, Martian Manhunter — one panel, Snapper Carr — one panel. At least we see why Batman is too good to help clean up the cave; two low-level thugs need apprehending. Also, Diana Prince needs a lift. Doesn’t she have an invisible plane?

And there’s a cake with a big numeral on the top. Even at eight, I knew that was lame. Also, would someone please slap the crap out of Green Arrow?

Suddenly… as they say in the comics biz, everyone in the cave is teleported to Earth Two and we’re introduced to The Justice Society of America. America Two? I really like the JSA and for as long as I can remember I’ve liked them better than their Earth One counterparts. When I came back to comics in the 80s, I mostly read Marvel books before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Two of the exceptions were All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. Because of the JSA connections.

That’s what makes this a personal key for me. As near as I can figure this was my introduction to the JSA as a group although I’d seen some reprints of their solo stories. Still, look at this! Cool gas mask, cool hood, cool goggles, cool helmet. Also, Wildcat has literal whiskers! Great stuff! And for me way more interesting than the everyday leaguers.

And here the book gets positively Asimovian. The JSA explains that their Earth is being gripped by a huge hand which has something to do with a villain called the Iron Hand. Clearly, Len Wein had been watching Star Trek.

With Zatanna’s help, Dr. Fate conjures an oracle who keeps on with all the long-winded explanations. The key to saving Earth Two from the Hand? Turns out it’s the Seven Soldiers of Victory (Well, eight really, but let’s say that’s about keeping the name alliterative and not about the fact that Wing was Asian). Anyhow, the 7SofV? Also pretty cool. But Stripsey? Bwah-haha! Oh, the 1940s, you can be so silly!

The last adventure of the Seven Soldiers had them encounter a menace called the Nebula Man who is somehow similar to that hand thing. We get an extended flashback. The 7SofV built a whatchamacallit to defeat the Nebula Man and that same thingamabob just might do the trick here. Luckily for their publicist, they’re victorious, although one of the soldiers sacrifices his life and the rest are taken out of time so they no longer exist. The contemporary Earth 2 heroes can’t really remember them.

Something almost happens; in an homage to the great JSA stories from All-Star Comics, everyone has to break into teams to retrieve the time-lost Seven Soldiers. In another homage, the Earth 1 Wonder Woman gets left behind to “brief anyone else who might arrive.” We get another flashback and now the coincidences are multiplying faster than the spiders in Miss Havisham’s wedding cake. That Iron Hand guy? He used to be known as merely “the Hand” and he was responsible for them becoming a team in the first place. We learn his early history with the team, which is ultimately their origin story.

Then something finally happens! We get to see the first team retrieve the first soldier from the depths of the past.

And as suddenly as the action began, it ends, because the pages have been successfully filled. We end with a couple of panels where the Iron Hand gives a typical over-the-top supervillain rant and vows that all these foolish heroes will not foil his plans. The next issue is hyped with a title that is almost a pun and the issue is over.

Overall this issue is mediocre; I poke fun but enjoyed revisiting the issue. The story, bringing two teams together to welcome a Golden Age group back into continuity is worthy of a 100th issue. But the pacing is a bit off and I wonder if this was planned for a double-sized issue and had to be reconfigured in a hurry when they decided to make all the titles regular-sized again. The JLA warranted a larger anniversary issue. Another hundred issues on they got one, a “Super-sized, star-studded 200th” issue if the cover is to be believed.

The story continues into JLA 101 and concludes in 102. It’s more of the same; the other groups of heroes rescue the remaining Soldiers of Victory and we get a lot of patent DC Weirdness along the way. We learn which soldier sacrificed his life and Diana, without any powers, gets to take down the Iron Hand. The weapon that the 7SofV built is recreated and this saga ends in a way parallel to the 7SofV’s last story; one of the JSA sacrifices his life to deploy the device and save Earth Two.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

My Voyager Rewatch: S4E15

S4E15 “Hunters.”

Voyager is stealing cable to talk to Starfleet in the alpha quadrant and the Hirogen don’t like it. I wanted to see more of the Hirogen, but the face painting thing is too cliché for me.

It’s weird to see the crew have hope. I predict the writers will use this for some cheap pathos.

Meanwhile, Pro Tip: Don’t want to hire an extra to play a corpse? Throw an empty costume on a biobed and claim there’s been a “complete osteotomy.” That’s technobabble for “This alien has been fileted.”

So, yeah. Letters from home. We get cheap pathos in spades; some of it’s organic, like news about the Maquis, but a lot, like Harry whining about not getting a letter, is just annoying. And Neelix hovering over everyone as they read their letters… Ugh. Très creepy. You’d think there’d be a better way to deliver e-mail in the 24th Century.

And I’ve lost interest in the Hirogen; they’re a completely forgettable morass of hunting clichés and despite having warp drive, they’re idiots. Maybe it gets better, but for now, they rank with the early Ferengi, utterly one-dimensional. At least they aren’t the Kazon.

It was fun watching Janeway be a complete and total badass, but that didn’t make up for the rest of the episode.

This one did not work for me.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Watching Loki S1E4: The Nexus Event

A lot is going on in this episode and there are a lot of reveals that I’ll try to be somewhat vague about. Still… spoiler warning. Less speculation this time. Probably.

If that little girl is Silvie, that makes it all the more dubious that she’s a Loki. But she’s Asgardian so maybe…. I have to wonder how much variation from the “sacred timeline” is allowable or even possible. This seems inconsistent with previous episodes.

I don’t believe the thing about C-20. But I don’t think we’re supposed to.

The destruction of Lamentis, by the way, is spectacular.

Seeing Sif was a nice surprise. This might fast-forward some character development for Loki.

It is clear Ravonna is up to something and that something is up with B-15.

Again Wilson and Hiddleston are spectacular together. Good subtle performances.

Ravonna is still acting suspiciously. She seems to have a strong connection to Mobius. It makes me wonder, what if Mobius ends up being Kang? That’s not a casting choice I see them making, but it would be interesting.

It was pretty obvious what was up with B-15 but we get confirmation at Roxxcart. And Mobius ties all that together with the lie about C-20.

One of the Time Keepers has a Mark Gruenwald mustache. That’s a nice touch. Also, Time Keepers. Called it.

Wow. Did not see that coming! Watch the episode.

Big reveal after the credits. Maybe Sylvie’s a Loki after all. There’s a nice nod to Journey into Mystery that might tell us something about Richard E. Grant’s character and also perhaps something that will drive the white supremacists crazy.

I’m on the edge of my seat metaphorically.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

A Flag for the Fourth

Happy Independence Day!

We’ll begin in our usual way. To mark the occasion this year, we’re flying the “Bunker Hill Flag” which is a bit different from our usual July 4th flag; its not one of the variations of the stars and stripes. It’s famous for flying at the Battle of Bunker Hill the first major conflict of the Revolutionary War, except that it isn’t. I’ll explain. It’s a story reminiscent of the history of the Bennington Flag.

The Bunker Hill Flag, so named because many believe it was flown by the colonists at its eponymous battle, has a blue field with the red St. George Cross on a white background in the canton. In the upper left hand corner of the canton is a pine tree which to the colonists symbolized liberty.

There are no contemporary accounts of this flag being flown at the battle and most likely the colonists flew what is known as the colonial flag; a red ensign with a pine tree shown in the canton. Both of these flags are modeled on British flags with only the addition of a pine tree because at the time, many colonists still believed that reconciliation with Great Britain was possible.

The evidence that the blue Bunker Hill flag was flown at Bunker Hill consists entirely of a painting done by Jonathan Trumbull, an eye witness to the battle, and an interview of the daughter of a veteran of the battle.

But the daughter’s account only said that her father claimed to have raised a blue flag at the battle while an earlier version of Trumbull’s painting showed the blue flag colored red; that painting is considered to be evidence that the Continental Flag was used.

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There’s one piece of direct evidence that the Bunker Hill Flag was actually flown at the battle, a book published early in the 19th century. The book contained a picture of the flag but the description described it as red rather than blue. This is generally considered to be a printing error.

Despite it’s questionable origins, the Bunker Hill Flag became a symbol of both the Revolution and of New England. It remains in use as a flag of New England today.

This seems fitting. Despite Bunker Hill being the original objective of both the Americans and the British, most of the fighting occurred a third of a mile south on Breed’s Hill. Some even cal it “The Battle of Breed’s Hill.”

References

Foundational Readings

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If you’re following our podcast Episode 6 dropped on Wednesday and in it, we discuss “The General” from Foundation and Empire. If you’re reading along you can find the book in all sorts of places. I’m sure that Apple and/or the publishing company have made sure that it’s available in all sorts of places and there is of course your public library or Archive.org.

The Empire was the theoretical obstacle to the growth of the Foundation in the first book. In “The General” we meet Bel Riose a general loyal to the Empire who will be the first to oppose the Foundation directly. What will this mean for Seldon’s Plan? You’ll have to read it and then listen to our podcast to find out.

And if you’re looking for a more nostalgic or, dare we say interestingly atavistic (to borrow Emperor Cleon’s description of Bel Riose) way to read “the General” we can again turn to Archive.org.

This story appeared for the first time under the title “Dead Hand” in the April 1945 issue of John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction. The cover proclaims “A Foundation Story by Isaac Asimov!” Evidently, the series has developed a following as well as the Author.

The story as it appears it’s very similar to the book’s version. Mostly the text is word-for-word the same, but there are some differences. The Encyclopedia Galactica entry, seemingly obligatory in the books is absent. In its place, we get this preview.

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The Foundation had always been weak — but heretofore the sharp wits of it’s leaders had protected it. But this time — Foundation’s leaders were stupid men , and a clever general, under a strong Emperor teas attacking.

As well as this abbreviated prologue.

Four centuries of internal wrenchings subsided into another faint interval of quiet and order, that was half-exhausting, and for twenty-five years under Cleon II the Galactic Empire experienced the milky feeble gleam of a last Indian Summer.

The other big difference is the internal artwork, four nice images by Paul Orban who seems to be settling in as the Foundation series illustrator.

The presentations of the image have evolved here. The opening drawing depicts the most exciting moment in the story rather than something that happens towards the beginning. In previous installments, the illustrations are square or nearly so. Here the second and third images are “L” shaped; strategically placing some white space allows for larger images without sacrificing space for the story. The final image is tall and narrow, taking up an entire column on one page. It seems that Campbell is allowing Orban more freedom to change up his layouts to good effect.

You can find the entire issue here: Astounding Science Fiction, April 1945 while the interior artwork can be found below.

References:

If you haven’t already, this is a perfect time to check out our podcast.

Stars End Episode 6

Orginally published at <StarsEndPodcast.Wordpress.com>.

Episode 6: “A Podcast is a Good Weapon but It Can Point Both Ways” is now available! This week, Dan starts his tenure as quiz master, Joseph learns what wasn’t covered in his Shakespeare class (way back in 1988) and as always Jon tries to keep us all on track.

We also have breaking news! So breaking that we had to add an addendum in post production! That means Monday.

And of course, we start discussing “The General,” the first section of Foundation and Empire. This one is almost like Asimov himself was replying to our discussions of the “Great Man” theory of history vs. the “Bottom Up Theory.” Join us!

Visit our site for the Stars End Podcast!

Watching Loki S1E3: Lamentis

Spoiler Warning!

This is about 10 minutes shorter than the first two episodes.

We rush straight into TVA headquarters: the Variant does not kid around, and she takes down a crowd of guards with no magic and no mercy.

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The Variant’s headgear is interesting; one of the horns is broken. So she’s a Loki but broken or different. Distinctly different; that much was already clear.

“Don’t call me Loki! Don’t call me Variant!” She’s Sylvie. That will cut down on the confusion. She and Loki are evenly matched, but far more different from other Lokis than I think we’ve seen in the comics. She’s far more direct and much more of an anarchist than Loki who, ultimately is a megalomaniac.

These two are different enough that I have to wonder if they really are versions of the same individual. If they are that calls into question the whole notion of a sacred timeline. The flawed headgear could be telling us that they’re not the same; her story is broken.

There’s a Sylvie in the comics, but she’s an Earth teenager given Asgardian powers by Loki. A later version of the Enchantress. That may or may not be a clue.

Lamentian society as commentary lacks subtlety. It smacks you in the face with class privilege. Traveling to an arc so you can escape the destruction of your planet isn’t the time or place for luxury.

More differences: Sylvie doesn’t know her mother. That’s kind of chilling since that small nascent spark of decency in Loki mostly came from Frigga. Assuming she’s really a Loki. The broken horn would fit a missing parent symbolically though.

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Meanwhile, their plan to use the Arc to recharge the TemPad and escape Lamentis is extremely cold-blooded, even if everybody on board is fated to die anyway.

We get more clues that the TVA or at least the Time Keepers aren’t on the up-and-up.

A lot of this episode felt like an homage to the new Doctor Who that didn’t quite land but the episode was necessary; we needed to learn about Sylvie and we did. And the sense that nothing is as it seems has intensified somewhat. I’m still fully engaged.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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