Comics On TV

Loki’s Surprising Fourth Episode Introduces Shocking New Ideas

Some pruning has occurred, Lokis are on the scene, and we're still trying to fully understand the Nexus Event.

by | June 30, 2021 | Comments

With its fourth episode, Loki pivots beyond its initial conflict and introduces a handful of new shocking ideas. But just what is a nexus event so powerful that it threatens the Sacred Timeline by itself? And, for that matter, what was Sylvie’s (Sophia Di Martino) great crime against the timeline? In an episode full of unmasking, introspection, loss, and a very special cameo, our own assumptions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s reality are also once again in doubt. So let’s start delving into variants, beings behind the curtain, and the nature of choice.

Spoiler Alert: The following reveals details of the fourth episode of Loki season 1. Stop here if you have not watched “The Nexus Event.” Speculation includes information from Marvel comic books and may also be considered spoilers to some.

Is Ravonna a Variant?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Marvel Studios' LOKI

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

Perhaps a strange question to ask, but it feels pertinent going forward — is Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a variant? Everyone else in the TVA is one, as both Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) have now confirmed for us. And then there’s the discovery that she was the hunter who brought Sylvie in when she was a child. Upward mobility is seemingly possible at the TVA, which seems strange if they are all mind-wiped variants.

The early scene in which she encounters the Time-Keepers suggests she is a variant. Although, anything could have happen in the cutaway and her uncomfortable meeting could have been with the real power behind the TVA (more on that in a bit). See also how hard she worked to keep C-20’s discovery under wraps. Then there’s her seemingly genuine affection for Mobius (Owen Wilson) and her sadness in pruning him. And while that would appear to make her an accomplice to whatever is really going on, there is still a modicum of doubt there. All of her actions could be those of a variant compelled to keep the secrets of the TVA at any cost without understanding their true implications.

So, if she is a variant, what is the “real” Ravonna Renslayer up to in the Sacred Timeline?

Of course, the answer to that depends on whatever info Sylvie obtains from Ravonna next week. Presumably, it will reorder everything.

What Is Sylvie’s Crime?

Owen Wilson and Sophia Di Martino in Marvel Studios' LOKI

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

The episode’s opening moments seemingly answers, once and for all, that Sylvie is Loki and not another character — like either of the Enchantresses — but it also brings up a new question: what crime against the Sacred Timeline could a 9- to 12-year-old Frost Giant commit? We think we have an answer: she presented as female.

As we saw in episode 2 — and subsequently saw again here at the end of episode 4 — Loki variants tend to be present as male even if Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is technically genderfluid. As it happens, we’ve really yet to see a Loki slip between genders, so it is possible female-presenting Lokis are pruned early on. Or, perhaps, Laufey himself deals with “the problem” back in Jotunheim shortly after their birth. No matter why female-presenting Lokis are a rarity, it leads to the new question: Why does the Sacred Timeline need a male Loki?

Presumably, this goes back to one of the show’s central themes: whether or not Loki (or anyone in the MCU) has free will. If we accept that the Sacred Timeline is preventing Multiversal chaos, then there is no free will as every “wrong” choice is clipped to ensure one outcome. Loki, for example, has been pruned to serve the exact purpose he serves in Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War. His glorious purpose was to, ultimately, hand the Space Stone to Thanos and leave Thor with warm memories about his deceased brother.

Well, provided that Loki actually died. Notice how often “our” Loki boasts of cheating death in this episode?

But to bring it back to Sylvie, a female-presenting Loki is, seemingly, the ultimate expression of the chaos the Sacred Timeline strives to avoid. Sylvie says as much herself toward the beginning of the episode. Well, she frames it more as the universe attempting to break free of some stricture, but it still feels like part of her “crime.”

Also, there is a fantastic meta-commentary buried in the narrative if her crime really was choosing her own gender expression. And it ties back into our belief that the show is ultimately about Loki’s right to choose his/her/their role in the MCU.

Is Love the Nexus Event?

Sophia Di Martino in Marvel Studios' LOKI

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

Loki and Sylvie’s heart-to-heart on Lamentis seemingly triggers a nexus event the likes of which no one in the TVA has ever seen before and, in all likelihood, made Sylvie’s audience with the Time-Keepers possible. But what was it, really? Mobius seems to think it was a romantic bond between the two variant Lokis. As we would still like to see Loki become an aromantic character going forward, we are going to suggest something different: The nexus event is Loki caring about someone other than himself — even if the other person is still Loki.

That change is key as Loki’s selfless acts in the Sacred Timeline are meant to serve a different purpose. A Loki who discovers any sort of empathy years before the destruction of Asgard is a danger to the proscribed flow of time.

And though we’re weighing most of this toward Loki, a seismic change also occurs within Sylvie as simple survival is, for once, not her main thought. Those key changes to who they are “meant to be” could trigger an unprecedented nexus event just as easily as two Loki variants falling for each other.

Then again, Mobius’s description of the nexus event leads back to the joke about Loki only being capable of loving him/her/themself. Mobius almost even gets to that punchline.

All that said, a “power of love” solution may draw the comparisons between Loki and Doctor Who even closer, but we hope the show is using that as another dodge before revealing the true nature of the TVA and the Sacred Timeline.

Oh, also, it seems Sylvie’s time bomb had no effect on the Sacred Timeline. We suppose the TVA had enough Hunters around to undo that damage.

The Being Behind the Curtain

Timekeepers character poster for Loki

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

OK, we’re ready to accept the Time-Keepers are just “The Great and Powerful Oz.” Their existence was always in doubt. But that leaves someone behind the curtains pulling the strings and securing the Sacred Timeline for an unknown purpose.

Thankfully, the comics give us one key suspect — He Who Remains — who will serve as this week’s candidate for a comics character the series might introduce. In Marvel Comics lore, He Who Remains was the final director of the TVA in the previous universe. Continuing on to the next cycle of creation, he created both the Time-Twisters and the Time-Keepers in the hopes of instructing the new multiverse in the correct path. His attempts lead to adversaries for Thor.

Yeah, it’s the heady, cosmic stuff you’d expect from mid-to-late 1970s Thor comics (courtesy of Len Wein, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott), but it is also a way forward for the MCU if He Who Remains is the man behind the curtain. For one thing, the notion of a previous Marvel Film Universe is fascinating. Galactus is also said to originate from an earlier multiversal cycle and that could matter when he finally appears in a Fantastic Four film. A previous universe could also be a nice way to include all of the Marvel films made before Iron Man while still giving Marvel Studios breathing room to recast the Fantastic Four and, eventually, Wolverine.

Miss Minutes character poster for Loki

But then there’s also the apparent truth within the TVA: the Sacred Timeline. If He Who Remains is behind the curtain, then maintaining a complex sequences of decisions from the beginning of time to the end has to have some value beyond his own continued existence — he’s already the ultimate survivor. Miss Minutes’ (Tara Strong) mention of that war in the Multiverse is a good place to start looking for clues. Although it could easily be another lie, there may be some more truth there, as He Who Remains could be the last survivor of that conflict. Forcing the MCU into a certain path may be preventing an number of sorrows and cataclysms beyond the things we’ve seen in Marvel Studios pictures and shows thus far.

Or it’s just about control and cruelty. In which case, we’ll add Kang (Jonathan Majors) and Mephisto to the list of suspects. And if we need a few other impossibly powerful to add as potential powers behind the TVA, there are Those Who Sit Above in Shadow — the beings who allegedly created the Asgardians and literally feed off the Ragnarok cycles — the Beyonder (an entity with a habit of kidnapping Marvel superheroes and villains), and One-Above-All, the apparent creator of the Multiverse itself. Loki taking on the ultimate authority does have a certain appeal.

A Multitude of Lokis Invade the Stinger Scene


(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Then there’s that whopper of a mid-credit stinger: An apparently pruned Loki wakes up to encounter Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), and Alligator Loki (an alligator) in the destroyed remains of New York. Presumably, they are also pruned variants, but their appearances suggest direct ties to Marvel history and possible story threads.

Kid Loki, for example, seems to be a tip of the horns to the Marvel Comics Kid Loki — a manifestation of Loki who sought to be different, but was murdered by the older Loki to obtain a new body. A shred of Kid Loki remained to haunt Loki by shouting he is “the crime that cannot be forgiven.” He also, in the long run, symbolizes the way Loki cannot go against his nature.

Richard E. Grant

The Classic Loki, meanwhile, is a brave attempt to make Jack Kirby’s design for the character work in a MCU context. Presumably, he will revel in being the villain — if he isn’t the Old Loki we talked about last week — and is not to be trusted simply via the virtue of wearing Grant’s face. Also, since we mentioned Doctor Who once already this week, Grant is also the face of a Doctor pruned from the show’s canon and the face of one of the Doctor’s long-standing foes.

Oh, and what is he carrying in that bag?

By virtue of holding a hammer and being called “Boastful Loki” in the credits, we’re going to assume this is the variant who was deemed worthy of the power of Thor. Such an event has occurred in Marvel Comics history, but under wildly different circumstances and only for a brief moment. Taking a closer look at Boastful Loki’s hammer, though, it is always possible the weapon is meant to mock the God of Thunder.

And Alligator Loki feels like a reference to the time he manifested as “Cat Thor” in the pages of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl or the time he turned Thor into a frog.

But the quartet’s purpose is a complete mystery. Are they the true power behind the TVA or are they just more refugee Loki variants because the power behind the agency needs Loki to be a certain person? Or, perhaps, they are remnants of the Multiverse trying to get their realities back.

It remains to be seen, of course, but it at least gives us hope that Mobius will somehow be saved despite his apparent pruning.

Loki episodes debut each Wednesday on Disney+.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

binge high school 2021 Fantasy king arthur YouTube VICE robots CBS All Access Paramount Amazon Prime FX on Hulu rom-coms ViacomCBS leaderboard television adventure comic book movies boxing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt miniseries rt labs critics edition japan Epix Peacock Warner Bros. anime YA Disney+ Disney Plus HBO Max rt labs MTV ratings sports remakes space versus Sundance TV Trophy Talk vs. rotten movies we love X-Men Marvel hollywood Masterpiece debate Black Mirror Video Games Cosplay Women's History Month The Walt Disney Company sag awards Animation 1990s RT History blockbuster Rocketman 4/20 worst movies 72 Emmy Awards Funimation scorecard independent Election reviews The Purge streaming TCA justice league Lucasfilm Apple TV+ directors dramedy Certified Fresh franchise Lifetime Christmas movies Family Photos Western Legendary Pixar 24 frames indiana jones 2018 Interview Disney streaming service spider-verse trailers cancelled trophy Baby Yoda BET Film Festival deadpool zombies Stephen King australia series wonder woman Cannes biopic Thanksgiving Paramount Plus mission: impossible Reality Mudbound comics TV Land cars Fall TV Country Shudder die hard Fox Searchlight NBA godzilla halloween tv screenings Television Critics Association TCA 2017 The Academy game show OWN Broadway marvel comics name the review new york game of thrones HBO Go diversity SDCC Rom-Com Instagram Live 2017 facebook genre children's TV spanish National Geographic ID monster movies Teen supernatural 90s Shondaland rotten 21st Century Fox TNT FX aliens Ghostbusters crime thriller Trivia Columbia Pictures unscripted IMDb TV 73rd Emmy Awards period drama prank Tumblr talk show Crackle Chernobyl scary movies singing competition Awards Tour screen actors guild Anna Paquin chucky halloween Emmy Nominations Tomatazos dexter based on movie marvel cinematic universe festivals New York Comic Con ghosts Action Pirates hidden camera Film scene in color Creative Arts Emmys 2019 Polls and Games USA football free movies japanese AMC Musical Academy Awards Television Academy cults psycho Drama Sundance Now HBO gangster DGA Image Comics Amazon Prime Video Black History Month TV One Bravo Netflix Christmas movies joker E3 MCU cartoon golden globes adenture festival SXSW Spring TV movie natural history zero dark thirty docuseries crime drama spinoff harry potter anthology History Sci-Fi HFPA cancelled TV series Avengers Superheroe A&E green book GIFs jamie lee curtis posters blockbusters cancelled television Lionsgate art house RT21 feel good blaxploitation nature italian golden globe awards NYCC superhero Opinion dragons VH1 AMC Plus Writers Guild of America crossover batman revenge Star Wars technology dark spider-man Rocky canceled TV shows CBS OneApp films action-comedy BET Awards VOD target international YouTube Red romance Spike Tarantino mcc psychological thriller child's play TCM Alien lord of the rings finale Fargo indie archives Vudu new zealand hispanic heritage month Spectrum Originals A24 Trailer kids critic resources 93rd Oscars Reality Competition nbcuniversal science fiction 20th Century Fox kaiju LGBT Kids & Family Walt Disney Pictures parents Red Carpet Musicals medical drama dreamworks saw Sundance Cartoon Network Valentine's Day news doctor who Pride Month mutant aapi Wes Anderson Rock obituary latino Premiere Dates Pop TV DC Universe biography Acorn TV royal family Quiz movies 2016 what to watch theme song The Witch Travel Channel classics DirecTV criterion romantic comedy Netflix Amazon Studios Music GLAAD Paramount Network war politics PBS Logo police drama Freeform telelvision spain First Reviews FXX Apple cops adaptation cooking Adult Swim TLC young adult Toys Grammys Brie Larson Martial Arts cinemax Hallmark Christmas movies fresh Mary Poppins Returns fast and furious Pet Sematary hist jurassic park olympics foreign 71st Emmy Awards Hulu documentaries Comedy boxoffice mockumentary Britbox Emmys Mindy Kaling ESPN canceled comic book movie black comedy scary documentary Exclusive Video BBC One Hallmark superman USA Network See It Skip It WGN mob christmas movies transformers Heroines book adaptation crime BAFTA slashers pirates of the caribbean BBC America Star Trek The Walking Dead TruTV Hear Us Out Marathons FOX a nightmare on elm street Turner critics spy thriller TV Mystery Tokyo Olympics Comics on TV political drama cats stand-up comedy casting The CW Discovery Channel Comedy Central TCA Winter 2020 twilight comic books renewed TV shows discovery Tubi nfl breaking bad asian-american SundanceTV Disney Channel Syfy stoner spanish language TV renewals quibi worst cancelled TV shows serial killer dogs venice king kong true crime sitcom travel Starz Mary Tyler Moore reboot james bond heist movie 007 Captain marvel El Rey Superheroes concert Lifetime Christmas Infographic all-time Song of Ice and Fire Podcast Universal Pictures PaleyFest new star wars movies french 2015 ABC Signature PlayStation Amazon Neflix Universal Arrowverse E! Schedule universal monsters stop motion Chilling Adventures of Sabrina toronto south america IFC MSNBC Apple TV Plus Holiday suspense comiccon Countdown Mary poppins best Nickelodeon sequel composers vampires rt archives First Look BBC APB toy story elevated horror dc Character Guide Holidays Oscars kong CW Seed historical drama TBS Super Bowl Pop IFC Films LGBTQ streaming movies ABC video strong female leads Winter TV Binge Guide Marvel Television live action razzies legend know your critic werewolf Calendar comedies Year in Review laika Watching Series Crunchyroll zombie TV movies video on demand Marvel Studios Awards Sony Pictures Pacific Islander Sneak Peek sequels WarnerMedia tv talk San Diego Comic-Con 79th Golden Globes Awards Set visit 2020 comic TCA Awards black Elton John Biopics 45 Fox News satire thriller Classic Film Tags: Comedy Endgame dceu YouTube Premium CMT Ellie Kemper Ovation sopranos witnail Prime Video live event Turner Classic Movies social media animated DC streaming service Disney Nat Geo basketball Comic-Con@Home 2021 slasher emmy awards Disney Plus DC Comics hispanic 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 99% Best and Worst Summer ABC Family award winner teaser Winners richard e. Grant Horror Esquire Comic Book ITV TIFF docudrama Box Office women Food Network American Society of Cinematographers GoT NBC Dark Horse Comics The Arrangement Hollywood Foreign Press Association disaster popular President Nominations book Extras Showtime CNN