Loki episode one might be nothing but set up that gives people a very detailed idea of when in the Marvel Cinematic Universe this series is taking place; the second episode really digs into the meat of this storyline and is much stronger for it. It was interesting to see the reactions from fans when a Loki show was announced for Disney+. There was a similar reaction when WandaVision was announced as well; aren't those characters dead? When it came to WandaVision, we were talking about Wanda's powers creating a new reality around her. For Loki, we are diving into the idea of parallel universes and what happened after Loki picked up the tesseract during Avengers: Endgame.
That scene of Loki picking up the tesseract is pretty much exactly where the show picks up, so the Loki we see on screen is the one that just got Hulk smashed and is not exactly thrilled about it. From there, the first episode spends its nearly full hour runtime catching the viewer and Loki up on what is going on at the TVA and introducing pretty much all of the supporting players. Unlike WandaVision and, to a lesser extent, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that start much more in medias res, the first episode of Loki is very much focused on setup.
This is not an uncommon thing for television shows to do in the streaming era. One only needs to watch a show like Shadow and Bone, where the entire first episode is nothing but explaining the world and what is going on. It very much works for a show that is dropping their entire season at once because you can just move onto episode two, and everything is fine. However, Loki is a weekly show, and because of that, the pacing on the first episode is likely going to feel a little strange to some people. It's an episode where very little happens aside from conversation and an MCU history lesson. It's not poorly made or even not entertaining, but when it comes to converting people who might be on the fence about a Loki show in concept [this reviewer, for example] or someone feeling a bit burned by how much of a letdown The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was [also this reviewer], it really doesn't feel like an episode that is going to draw people in.
The episode that is going to draw people in is the second episode. Without getting into too many details, since the episode is still over a week away, this where Loki seems to really reveal what kind of show it is going to be. The chemistry between Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston is fantastic. One of the things that it felt like this series was really going to miss was the back and forth between Loki and Thor. You'll all be pleased to know that Loki and Mobius have fantastic banter, and Wilson is doing some really fun things with this character. The second episode is also where the other supporting players begin to shine, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku. Both of these characters are interesting and have their own unique motivations that look like they are going to be a ton of fun to explore.
Unlike WandaVision, which changed everything from the ground up to fit the aesthetic they were working in, Loki has a much more consistent look and overall feel despite being a show about bouncing around to different timelines. Said look from director Kate Herron feels like nothing we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, and by the time episode 2 wraps, it becomes clear why writer Michael Waldron was brought on to both this series and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The soundtrack is also one of the best so far in these shows and one that this writer needs to have added to her "writing music" playlist yesterday. Fans will also be pleased to know that a majority of the marketing is from the first episode or two, so the trailers have not been giving much away.
The first episode of Loki likely isn't going to convert people that aren't already into Marvel shows the way WandaVision did but if you're one of those people on the fence, wait until you see episode 2 and then made a judgment call. There is some real potential here, even for people who aren't fans of the character of Loki or the Thor mythology in general. This is something new, something different, and it's going to be interesting to see if they can stick the landing this time.
EPISODE 1: 7.5/10
EPISODE 2: 9/10
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