Warning: The following recap of the season one finale of Loki, “For All Time. Always” contains spoilers.
Instead of burning down the theatrical slate to feed the beast of streaming, one hopes that Disney bosses’ wake up to the fact that it’s series like Loki which are the pumping aorta of an OTT service.
The cliffhanger for Loki just keeps us hungering for more, and rather than keep us guessing, Marvel promptly revealed during the end-credits last night that there is indeed a season 2. It’s the serials which keep streamers alive, not the movies. Those who spent $60M WW on Black Widow aren’t going to buy it again. But it’s a nail-biting series like Loki which creates ‘must-see’ and therefore frosh sign-ups on Disney+.
In addition, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new plan to connect their Disney+ series with their movies, it’s obvious Loki will be bridging to the feature Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, as Jonathan Majors’ villain was finally introduced. Deadline first broke the news that Majors would play Kang the Conquerer in Ant-Man 3. While he didn’t go by that title, he was referred to as “He Who Remains” throughout the entire episode, as first indicated by Miss Minutes who welcomes Loki and Sylvie to the Citadel at the End of Time, He Who Remains’ domicile. However, it’s the variant of He Who Remains that becomes Kang.
Majors in his parts in White Boy Rick and Atticus Freeman in HBO’s Lovecraft Country deftly carries gravitas, but here as He Who Remains/Kang, he gets to stretch in a comical way, with his facets of performance evoking Frank Morgan’s as the Wizard of Oz. Marvel paid off here on what many fanboys were guessing: that it was He Who Remains who was at the end of time. For those studying Easter Eggs in Loki, there was a statue in the TVA piazza of Kang which toward the end of the finale’s episode, we see Loki look up to; the whole moment being a Usual Suspects-ending-like homage. Marvel isn’t always up to paying off: Many thought Mephisto was the big-bad-baddie at the end of WandaVision, and for a minute there was some guessing that was the case in Loki when we see the stained glass window of the devil in ancient France in Ep. 1, however, director Kate Herron told us very early on that the extra-dimensional demon wasn’t in the cards for the MCU series.
After Loki and Sylvie get past Miss Minutes, who in Satanic fashion is trying to offer them all the riches of the world to get them back on the timeline (‘Loki, the Infinity Gauntlet is yours’, ‘You kill Thanos’, ‘How about the throne on Asgard?’), Thor’s adopted brother blasts “We write our own destiny now!”.
“Good Luck with that,” answers Miss Minutes.
The duo try to kill He Who Remains, but he just keeps disappearing due to his TempPad. He Who Remains tells them he “knows all and has seen it all.” The entire journey that Loki and Sylvie took between Lementis and the Void, “I paved the road, you just walked down it” He Who Remains tells them. He gets them to settle down in front of his desk and tells them about how he, and the whole timeline-TVA thing came to be. A variant of He Who Remains live on Earth in the 31st century, a scientist who learned that the universe was stacked on similar universes. Other variants of him were learning the same theory simultaneously. His variants made contact and there was a peace, and they shared technology. However, “not every version of me, was so pure of heart” and war erupted between the multiverses. Each variant trying to preserve their universe and annihilate the others. “This was almost the end of everyone and everything,” says He Who Remains. The first He Who Remains variant encountered Alioth who was able to harness his power and weaponize him and “I ended the Multiversal War!”.
After He Who Remains isolated “our timeline”, he created the TVA in order to create ages of cosmic harmony.
“You came to kill the devil right?” says He Who Remains, “Well, I keep you safe. If you think I’m evil, just wait till you meet my variants.”
“The TVA, it works,” he adds.
Sylvie believes He Who Remains is lying. He offers them two options: Kill him and there will be a Multiversal War, or Loki and Sylvie can run He Who Remains’ timeline, and make the TVA innocent. The duo aren’t amused with the latter offer. Sylvie is irate at how He Who Remains has made a game out of time and played with people’s lives, especially hers.
He Who Remains then feels a rumble: “We just crossed a threshold”. There are some elements of the timeline he can’t control; he confesses to the two that he lied, that he really doesn’t know how everything in life will turn out. If He Who Remains is killed, he warns that another version of him will just reincarnate and plop himself in the throne at the end of time. All of this culminates in a sword fight between Loki and Sylvie: the former believes He Who Remains that a mess is evident in his death. “That’s the gambit: remove the dictator and what feels the void,” Loki argues. After they kiss, Sylvie pushes Loki through a time portal door back to the TVA. She then stabs Kang, and soon enough notices a multitude of diverges in the cosmic timeline outside his castle window.
Much, much earlier in the episode, Mobius confronts Ravonna regarding her abuse of authority at the TVA. She doesn’t know about He Who Remains, who runs the TVA. She’s collecting files from Miss Minutes in order to go on her own journey of discovery about the org. A flashback reveals that she used to be a high school teacher, and was somehow declared a variant, encountering B-15. Mobius is about to prune Ravonna. They fight, but she winds up getting the pruning weapon in her hand. A time portal door opens and she tells Mobius, almost sarcastically, that she’s going to search for free will.
After Sylvie kills He Who Remains, Mobius and Hunter B-15 notice another explosion in the timeline on the TVA monitors. Loki finds them and exclaims that they can’t stop the huge divergence in time. “It’s done, Mobius. We made a terrible mistake. We freed the timeline. We found him. Beyond the storm. A Citadel at the End of Time. He’s terrifying. He planned everything. He’s seen everything. He knows everything.”
“But someone is coming: Countless different versions of a very dangerous person,” warns Loki.
And to all of this, what is Mobius’ response?
“Who are you? What’s your name?” says Owen Wilson’s character not recognizing the trickster.
Hunter B-15 then orders troops to capture Loki.
Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania, directed by Peyton Reed, hits theaters on Feb. 17, 2023. The question is: Will we see season 2 of Loki before then?