By Janie Walenda
How time flies. In 2021, when the first season of “Loki” was released, the Marvel TV shows still had the allure of novelty and the MCU was still at the beginning of its post-“Endgame” era. Two years later, much of the excitement for the MCU fizzled out. The deluge of movies and television shows that lacked the interconnectivity fans expected of the franchise resulted in many fans losing interest. Even as a person who enjoyed almost every MCU project in recent years, I certainly care a lot less about Marvel than I did two years ago.
But “Loki” remained a bright spot in the MCU’s constantly expanding roster of television shows. Along with “Wandavision” it stands as one of the most creative and intriguing projects of the MCU. But just as “Wandavision” was brushed aside and barely mentioned in “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness,” “Loki” is frustratingly self-contained, with no mention of the TVA found in any of the MCU’s multiverse projects.
This isolation of stakes is the biggest problem that season two of “Loki” is facing. The first season had the fresh energy of introducing these characters and concepts, as well as building toward the introduction of Kang and the collapse of the multiverse. Season two, so far, feels like a smaller, mildly important three-episode arc in an eighteen-episode season instead of one-half of a complete story.
That is not to say that season two isn’t thoroughly engaging, because it is. All of our recurring characters pick up seamlessly from where we ended last season, and I tune in every week excited to see what they are up to. It’s unfortunate then that I just cannot tell you what the plot of the show is or even what it is building to. Is it fixing the time loom? Are we building up to another Kang reveal? Season two feels directionless at the moment, which wouldn’t be a problem in a longer season. But in a season with only six episodes, the story must feel tighter and more focused than what Marvel is giving us.
While the overarching season plot may be falling through, the first three episodes of season two are still among the best individual episodes of any Disney+ MCU show. The characters are written almost flawlessly, and their dynamics with each other grow more and more delightful. I’m particularly happy to see Loki use more magic, as well as embrace his villainous side that has largely been abandoned in recent years. While they don’t appear until episode three, Ravonna Renslayer, Miss. Minutes and our newest variant of Kang, Victor Timely, make a strong entrance with conflicting motivations and promising character development.
Out of all these characters, without a doubt the strongest of season two for me is Ke Huy Quan as Ouroboros, or O.B. I love seeing Quan continue to get work, and O.B. is a fantastic addition to “Loki’s” supporting cast. His line reading on “You’ve got about an hour…you’ve got five minutes” genuinely made me laugh out loud, and I have been very pleasantly surprised to see him as a recurring member of the cast, rather than a guest star in a single episode.
The other highlight of season two so far is the continually high production value and score. The pre-established sets and costuming of the TVA from season one are expanded, showing off new locations and character designs while still keeping its distinctive, retro-inspired aesthetic. The time-traveling locations, from a 1970’s McDonald’s to an 1880s World Fair, are gorgeously realized and distinctive. Natalie Holt’s score is one of the most instantly recognizable MCU scores, and she continues to build on it in season two. My favorite musical moments come from episode three, with an old-fashioned version of the Marvel theme playing in the opening credits and a subdued version of the “Loki” theme playing under Victor Timely’s speech.
In short “Loki” season two does nothing to disrupt the first season’s credibility, but neither does it build on it. While the episodes are exciting to watch, I am not necessarily excited about the show itself. I would love to be pleasantly surprised by the last half of the season taking all the loose threads and tying them together, but Disney+ does not have the strongest track record when it comes to finales. No matter what, I will enjoy the show and characters, but I am beginning to doubt that “Loki” season two will match the fireworks of season one.
“Loki” is streaming on Disney+, with new episodes every Thursday.
Janie Walenda is a junior Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is passionate about musicals, animation and cold brew. When she isn’t obsessing over her own nerdy interests, she’s usually absorbing her friends’ nerdy interests.
Images courtesy of Marvel Studios