The fourth episode of ‘Loki’ season two was a shocking watch, subverting expectations of what Marvel Studios is willing to do. It supercharges the direction the final two episodes can go in, reviving the waning interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s great from start to finish.
The episode focuses on solving the problem of the exploding loom, since if that happens then the MCU and TVA will look very different to what audiences are used to. Victor Timely is brought in to help, and he instantly hits it off with O.B, the creator of the TVA handbook. It’s here that audiences learn that O.B. based the handbook off Timely’s designs, leading to the explanation of the Ouroboros, a snake stuck in a constant loop of eating itself.
It’s a very fun moment, and the chemistry the pair has throughout is charming. Timely still has an annoying stutter, but here he feels less awkward than last week, mostly because Timely is an area where Jonathan Majors is allowed to play him with more confidence. And for a man who’s got an innate understanding of how time itself works, it’s still funny when he’s surprised by the simplest of things, like a hot chocolate machine.
Loki and Sylvie get to pair up and use their magic again, after the TVA turns their security system off. It’s something that lets Loki and Sylvie revel in their penchant for being mischievous, taking their anger out on X-5. Sylvie does feel like she regresses in her character somewhat, as in the last episode her decision to let Timely go was a result of her belief that the TVA can change, but here she’s just as rageful as before.
Miss Minutes continues to go further into her psychotic AI phase, gleefully cheering on the deaths of several Minutemen – which, it must be said, was achieved in a particularly gruesome fashion with crushing jelly. It pays off the moment where Loki stuffed X-5 into the same device, but only threatened to squash him. It’s a shockingly brutal moment, even if it’s not shown on screen.
Minutes also jabs insults at Timely, and her parting gift to him is a claim that he will never be He Who Remains. It’s also a meta sign to the audience, signalling that Timely won’t ever become the great General that led the TVA to victory in the Multiversal War. Her “death” hopefully isn’t permanent either, because it feels like this orange clock is just getting started with all of the carnage.
The tenuous alliance Miss Minutes has with Ravonna Renslayer is also really interesting, as the pair realise that they don’t need He Who Remains or Timely to fulfil their plans. If they survive past the end of the series, their presence could put a chaotic evil into the rest of the Multiverse Saga. At this point, they feel more threatening than Kang.
A majority of the episode is about solving the impending destruction of the time loom and making sure that time itself doesn’t collapse. But the heroes fail to do this, a moment that dawns on them as soon as Timely gets turned into spaghetti by temporal radiation. It’s a bold and astounding direction to go in, as it makes everything unpredictable and has the chance to radically alter everything.
Episode four successfully raises the stakes of everything that’s been happening across the season, as the TVA race to stop the failure of the time loom. But with the failure of the loom and the massive explosion it causes, it puts the future of the MCU in uncharted territory, and one that will leave it forever changed.