By Janie Walenda
Perhaps I treated season two of “Loki” too harshly. While I won’t walk back my opinions on the first three episodes of season two having no clear direction, the second half bends time to consistently elevate the stakes far beyond anywhere I thought the show would go. While this could be a recipe for a deflated and disappointing finale, as so many MCU shows have demonstrated, “Loki” ends with a bittersweet culmination of Loki’s decade-long character arc that’s satisfying both narratively and emotionally.
Episodes four, five and six of “Loki” season two are among the most energetic storytelling of the MCU to date, picking up every dangling plotline from the first three episodes and running at a breakneck pace to weave them all together. The pacing manages to avoid being rushed, giving the plot plenty of room to breathe and the characters space to develop, which has been rare for MCU shows.
As always, I want to sing Natalie Holt’s praises as a composer, as Loki’s score is one of the strongest in the entire MCU. His theme is one of the most recognizable and catchy in recent comic book media memory. Her score is instrumental in creating the atmosphere of the show, and her score for the final episode in particular is masterful. The track “Purpose is Glorious” is filled with the kind of emotion and expression that marks a soundtrack that I will return to time and time again. From the reversed MCU theme in the opening credits to the final track “History is Now” being Loki’s main theme in a major key, Holt’s score shows a level of craftmanship that also manages to convey the emotion and character of Loki himself that I, a professional score nerd, can’t help but obsess over.
I always love a good ensemble cast, but I didn’t expect to be as attached to the supporting characters in “Loki” as much as I am. B-15, Kevin and OB might not have been at the forefront of the story, but that didn’t stop them from being incredibly endearing characters that I would love to see more of.
The biggest character dynamic change in season two is how Mobius and Sylvie have switched positions in this season, with Sylvie having a smaller role while Mobius’ backstory and character are explored more. I’m particularly a fan of how Sylvie was handled this season. Her actions at the end of season one have consequences, and she is forced to grapple with how these consequences conflict with her beliefs.
(The following section contains spoilers for season two of “Loki”)
Last but certainly not least, we have Loki. The finale pulls various references from across the show, and Loki’s MCU appearances as a whole, to finally give the character a proper ending. No more deaths that get undone the in next film, no more cheap theatrics and deceptions. Loki has gone from being the god of mischief to the god of stories, a transformation ripped directly from the comics. He’s gone from only wanting a throne to learning that a throne is the last thing he wants, only to be burdened with the most powerful throne in the multiverse. The scene of Loki breaking the loom and taking control of the strands of the multiverse was a jaw-dropping sequence, from the visuals to the costume reveal, all elevated by Holt’s triumphant score.
One of the most interesting thematic threads in the final episode is the usage of Loki’s signature phrase “I am Loki of Asgard and I am burdened with glorious purpose.” The “of Asgard” part comes in the final reveal that the threads of the multiverse have formed the Yggdrasil tree from Norse mythology around Loki. The glorious purpose, however, is where the real thematic meat is. Originally a line to emphasize Loki’s ego and desire for power, the true glorious purpose is something much greater and much heavier than any of us could have imagined. This is emphasized by having the finale share the title “Glorious Purpose” with the very first episode of the show, and by having Loki time travel back to the events of that episode in desperation to find a better solution than the one he’s been given.
It is in this where Mobius comments on Loki’s iconic phrase, stating that “most purpose is more burden than glory.” This revision of the phrase that has accompanied Loki since “The Avengers” makes Loki’s final decision feel like a real culmination of everything he’s been through, making this ending feel satisfying instead of frustrating.
Ultimately, “Loki’s” greatest success is choosing to center its ending around the character, rather than fighting for relevance on the MCU’s mainstage. One of the most frustrating aspects of the MCU’s phase four is the proliferation of puzzle pieces on the table, but no effort to put them together. This is the problem that “Loki” season one ran into, and where I feared season two was going to go. But instead of ending with a cliffhanger that will never be resolved or an end credit scene that will never be expanded on, “Loki” instead focuses on concluding their story.
It’s rare for any comic book story to have a satisfying and lasting ending. But while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Loki and the TVA return, season two pulled off the incredible feat of simultaneously expanding and building up their show while wrapping it up and laying it to rest.
“Loki” seasons one and two are streaming on Disney+
Janie Walenda is a junior Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is overly passionate about animation, caffeine and weirdly enough Dracula.
Images courtesy of Disney+.