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:

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:

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:

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.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E2: The Variant

Spoiler Warning.

I’ve been to Oshkosh. It doesn’t look anything like this. And I’m immediately reminded of Sheldon dressed as Spock at the Renaissance Fair.

“I Need a Hero” playing over the first scene is out of place unless it’s setting up a twist. An interesting thing about this show is that it isn’t clear who are actually the good guys.

Main-Loki goes into action with the TVA. His jacket begs the question: to which version is the title referring? Probably all of them. Loki’s fascinating on this mission; it’s clear he’s playing games even before they tell us.

I’m struck that the Time-Keepers may be an elaborate hoax. Looking it up, that’s not consistent with the comics. But they’re building up a sense of mystery about them. It will be interesting one way or the other.

I loved watching Loki’s face fall as Mobius perfectly laid out his plan. The dialogue in this scene is terrific; Wilson and Hiddleston together are a joy to watch.

Another image of Loki being tiny in his surroundings, this time with the Time-Keepers in the foreground. The look of the TVA is even more impressive this time, all vastness and grandeur.

That idea with hiding in the apocalypses is inspired.

It’s low-rent philosophizing, but I really enjoyed the conversation about mythologies and how ridiculous they all are. Also, now we’re discussing the Time-Keepers as mythology.

The name Ravonna just clicked. That’s the princess Kang the Conqueror was in love with during some of his early appearances (See Avengers (1963) #23). Of course, Kang/Immortus has links to the Time-Keepers. Unravel the threads far enough and we find Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the name “Nathaniel Richards.”

There’s lots of use of the term “Superior Loki.” Loki uses that term when there is a picture of Spider-Man in his black suit prominently in the background. A combined reference to two instances where Peter’s mind was somehow compromised, namely the Superior Spider-Man and the Symbiote. Clue? Misdirect?

I suspect the big reveal is why people love this episode and it’s pretty good but not particularly earth-shattering when we consider what we know about Loki from the comics.

But alternative Loki is demonstrated to be a badass. And when we see the TVA starting to react to the Variant’s attack, it’s the first time the surroundings seem cramped and mundane.

I’m psyched for episode 3.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E1: Glorious Purpose

Spoiler Warning.

The first new image of the series is a bug, reflected in a drop of water. Hmmm…

Loki arrives in the Gobi Desert

It’s a nice touch that they took the long shot of #Loki’s arrival; we see he’s tiny in this context. His landing is reminiscent of Iron Man 1.

We jump into action right away. I remember the Time Variance Authority (TVA) from the comics but only vaguely. Looking them up, there’s some good stuff (She-Hulk) and some egregious nonsense that I really didn’t care for. That might have been it’s precursor, the Dimensional Development Court which originated in MarvelUK’s Captain Britain stories.

There’s a cat. I hope we get more of the cat.

The informational video has the feel of a 1950s cold war propaganda video. In fact the whole TVA has a Twilight Zone vibe.

A less frenetic Owen Wilson is new but welcome.

As he traverses the TVA bureaucracy it becomes clear to us. Loki is like the bug we first saw; a distorted reflection with no ability to affect anything.

I suppose the sacred timeline must be the single one where the Avengers were able to beat Thanos. Maybe?

I did kind of enjoy it when Loki got the upper hand on Hunter B-15. In retrospect. When it was clear she survived.

The denouement of the episode is Loki gaining some self-awareness and realizing he’s the bug in this scenario. “I don’t enjoy hurting people… it’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.” Maybe. You really never can tell with this guy.

But he’s about to get some agency by joining an agency. Stay tuned.

So far not as weighty as #FalconAndWinterSoldier, not as emotionally resonant as #WandaVision but good solid entertainment. Strong performances all around.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Marvel Action: Captain Marvel

Two things that you should know about me: I like cats and I like comics. One of my favorite novels is The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein because it features, in Petronius the Arbiter, possibly the greatest cat character in all of literature. Combining these two interests, I recently did a pretty extensive overview of Chewie the Cat from Captain Marvel for this very blog. You can find it here: The Book of Goose.

Petronius, from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1956
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So, when I saw the cover of Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1, I knew I had to pick up a copy. Sadly, it’s insipid; the very thing I feared back when Disney first bought Marvel.

I’m not really a fan of Disney the corporation. Walt, as far as I know, was great. From his drive to make his parks amazing to the “this-is-how-we’ll-go-to-Mars” programs with Werner Von Braun to the whole cryogenics thing. Fascinating stuff from end to end. But in high school, I would occasionally read the Mickey Mouse strip in the Sunday paper and it was terrible. It was unfunny, preachy and an insult to the intelligence of anyone who happened to read it. When The Tao of Pooh was on the best seller list and I decided to write a parody called The Hedonism of Tigger with the premise that, to borrow a different metaphor, eastern philosophy is Mr. Miyagi while America philosophy is Cobra Kai. It never got written but while I was thinking about the project, I did buy and read Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. When I did, I realized how diminished these works were in the Disney adaptations I had liked as a kid. When you watch the original Disney Pooh shorts, Tigger, for example, is merely the wacky, gregarious comic relief who likes to bounce.

Image result for a a milne tigger

In the original books, Tigger has a child-like quality that to me comes across as a charming innocence. He’s a much richer character and he still loves to bounce. Occasional, accidental encounters with bits of the Disney Afternoon in the days before TiVo convinced me that, at least in the 90s, modern Disney entertainment was predominantly an empty vessel.

Let me back up a bit. What the hell am I reading? It’s not your everyday Marvel Comic. Disney has thankfully left those pretty much alone. The “Marvel Action” line is a collection of comics featuring Marvel characters that are not published by Marvel. Disney has licensed the characters to IDW and according to the descriptions on line, these carry an “all ages” rating. I think I understand that; early Warner Brothers’ cartoons were delightful and entertaining for kids but they also contained plenty of entertainment value for adults as well. Older viewers might recognize Edward G. Robinson or characters taken directly from Of Mice and Men. And who could forget this masterpiece, which makes a pretty salient point about the Arms Race?

But that doesn’t seem right. Other descriptions suggest that this comic is for “Middle grades” and I discover that that means ages 8 to 12. Middle grades, I guess, for back in the long-long-ago when elementary school lasted until grade 8. That doesn’t seem right either. I started reading comics when I was 8 and even then I can’t imagine having the patience for this comic. I still remember reading the three comics pictured below when I was 8 and I enjoyed them.

Those were far more complex than Marvel Action: Captain Marvel. Maybe I’m wrong about what “all ages” means. Maybe it means “really little kids.” I look up some lists of “all ages books.” Nope. My first thought was right. Harry Potter and The Hobbit aren’t my cup of tea, but they’re interesting. Shel Silverstein makes my skin crawl but ditto. I know I could sit down right now with a Dr. Seuss, or Where The Wild Things Are or Harold and the Purple Crayon and enjoy it. The Winnie-the-Pooh books are excellent! And evidently there’s something called Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I want to read that right now! Why does the pigeon want to drive the bus? Does it even have a license? Is the regular driver ill? I want to know! All of this is great stuff. Sadly, what’s not great is Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1.

IDW’s Captain Marvel is exactly like the Disney Afternoon shows from the 1990’s. Simplistic and uninteresting. There are no layers, no nuance, nothing to interest anyone other than small children. I also find the art off putting. It looks rushed to me. More distracting is the fact that the two main characters are women, presumably in their early 30s, and they’re drawn like children. I’ve seen some of Sweeney Boo’s other work and it’s far better.

Seriously, what’s even going on here?

Clearly this comic wasn’t written for me, not even 8-year old me, but it might be fine for little kids. The cats are cute and there’s a thread of story. And if there’s anything that would intrigue small children about the Captain Marvel story, it would be Goose. Or Chewie. Whomever. So, that’s a good place to start and the book works somewhat well on that level. But it’s a weak effort that diminishes the Marvel brand and I worry what the long term effects of that might be.

Bottom Line:

References:

The Book of Goose

This was written as an answer to the question “Where is Goose (Captain Marvel) from? Does he have a backstory?” and published simultaneously on Quora.

In the comics, the name of Captain Marvel’s cat is Chewie and she’s a she. If you have Marvel Unlimited or access to enough Marvel trade paperbacks through your library or somewhere else, it wouldn’t too hard to read through all of Chewie’s appearances. You can find a list of them here:

Chewie (Marvel)(Carol Danver’s cat)

Credit where it’s due, Jason Levine at Arousing Grammar did a nice job cataloging and describing all of her appearances for the first few years.

Ms. Marvel’s cat Chewie

Levine’s post goes through November 2013 here are some highlights.

Chewie’s first appearance is in Giant-Size Ms. Marvel #1 (April 2006). In the story, Carol is remembering being Captain Marvel during the House of M timeline. While fighting Sir Warren Traveler, who, evidently had been Sorcerer Supreme in this version of history, Carol encounters a cat,

and promptly throws her at the bad guy!

Seriously, NOT COOL, CAROL! I don’t care if you promised tuna. Cat’s are not weapons! Doubly so against super villains! Either way, this is an inauspicious first appearance.

The fastball special disrupts a time travel spell Traveler is casting and he and Chewie disappear to some undisclosed location.

The next time we see her is in Ms. Marvel (2006) #4. Chewie appears in Carol’s apartment as a precursor of an attack by Traveler.

Dr. Strange gets involved and he and Carol defeat Traveler and mostly, Chewie is on the sidelines, but along the way, Chewie does get to be an avatar for the proper Sorcerer Supreme when Steven contacts Carol in a dream.

That happened in Ms. Marvel (2006) #5. After all is said and done, Carol has a cat. Here I must say I approve; this is a proper way to get a cat. Cat needs you; cat shows up; you have a cat. I’ve gotten more than one of the little buggers that way.

After that, Chewie is mostly around in the background. If you want to see these appearances without digging through all of the issues, I refer you again to Jason Levine’s site. He does a nice job of showing them all.

Chewie gets things to do interesting things again in the Captain Marvel (2014) series. Carol decides to head out to space on a voyage of self-discovery with Chewie in tow. Issue 2:

Eventually, she and Carol encounter the Guardians of the Galaxy, where Rocket identifies Chewie as a Flerken.

If it isn’t obvious, this begins the main part of Chewie’s story that is source material for the 2019 film. Of course, in the film, it’s Talos making the flerken argument.

At the end of the issue, Carol’s ship is stolen with Chewie aboard by a stowaway named Tic.

In issue 3, the ship is recovered and, Carol decides to help Tic after hearing her story.

As a side note, this is a testament to this creative team’s understanding of cats. I’ve seen this sort of comforting behavior many times.

We don’t see Chewie again until issue 7 when Carol and Tic return to Carol’s ship. It’s been under the care of Rocket and the argument as to whether Chewie is a cat or a flerken resumes. While Carol’s been gone, Rocket has been putting out feelers; to see if a flerkin could be sold and for how much.

This attracts pirates who commandeer the ship and suddenly, the flerkin argument becomes moot. Chewie lays eggs. Lots and lots of eggs.

Things come to a head in issue 8.

The ship is boarded,

Rocket and Chewie make peace and of course…

the flurkittens are all fine. There’s a lot of nice touches and these two issues are the apotheosis of Chewie stories. If you like cats or you like Chewie, you should check out these two issues even if you don’t check out anything else.

The final Chewie-centric storyline occurs in issues 12 and 13. Haffensye pirates attack Carol’s ship and abduct Chewie, intending to use her as a weapon.

Unfortunately, most of the action involves getting the ship repaired, navigating through a dangerous region of space and fighting off pirates without weapons or propulsion.

Once Carol catches up with the Haffensye ship, she makes short work of the pirates, rescues Chewie and commandeers the pirates, ship for Tic.

After the pair returned to Earth, Chewie reverted to being a background character which she has remained for all of her subsequent appearances.

And that then is the story of Chewie or Goose if you prefer. There’s always hope that she will be featured in future Captain Marvel stories or join the Pet Avengers or star in her own Major Motion Picture.

There’s much more fun to come, I think, and Carol’s come a long way from the cat flinging incident. She must have sensed it at the time because this was her response to Chewie’s very first disappearance.

It was meant to be.

Quick Take: Superior Spider-Man (2019)

I read the first issue of the New Superior Spider-Man when it first came out and I wasn’t inspired to invest in the series. Not even Terrax was enough to inspire me to purchase issue 2. But while my car was being serviced, I noticed that the first issue was available on Marvel Unlimited. I decided to give it a second read. It did not get better. The set up is obvious, Dr. Octopus’ mind now resides in a cloned body of Peter Parker, with all of the powers that implies. He’s teaching at Horizon University in San Francisco and trying to be a better hero than Peter. The whole thing has a perfunctory “been there, done that” kind of a feel. It’s the same themes as volume 1 without having Peter’s story to bolster my interest.

The art isn’t superior either; it’s competent, but all the characters look like posed manikins. I’ve seen people talking about how they really like this series and it isn’t terrible. Maybe I’ll return to it in a couple of years, once the entire run is on Marvel Unlimited, but then again, maybe not. I can’t see investing in this series for the individual issues.

Also, do you remember a time when comic book companies tried not to overexpose their characters? In the 1940s Superman, Batman and Flash couldn’t be in the JSA because each had his own book. Similar policies persisted for a long time. But now Peter has two books, Miles, Gwen and Otto have books and there’s something called “Symbiote Spider-Man.” If Marvel isn’t careful, we’ll all have brand fatigue before long.

Bottom Line: