Everyone’s favorite time-traveling trickster god is coming back to Disney Plus this week. It’s been over two years since we’ve seen Loki on screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and fans are clamoring to know how the infamous anti-hero’s story will unfold in this new installment.
In 2021, season one of Loki ended on a show-stopping cliffhanger that left Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), and Mobius (Owen Wilson) adrift in disparate branches of a rapidly splintering multiversal timeline. In season two, our core group of time-traversing heroes will likely have to find each other and restructure the timeline to prevent another multiversal war.
If you haven’t seen Loki since its initial airing, don’t fret: we’ve got you covered. In this piece, we’ll be recapping what season one had to offer, explaining how Loki fits into the grand scheme of the current MCU, and delving into the behind-the-scenes controversies that could affect the series’ future. Let’s hop into it.
Where did Loki leave off in season one?
In season one, we find Loki right where we left him in Avengers: Endgame. After stealing the Tesseract from the Avengers, Loki uses the Infinity Stone to portal himself to the Gobi Desert. Loki attempts to harass some locals into fielty with his “glorious purpose” shtick, but it doesn’t take long until jack-booted representatives from the TVA (Time Variance Authority) come and rain on his parade. After whooping Loki’s butt with ease, the TVA agents transport Loki to their headquarters for a trial.
Through a kitschy piece of TVA propaganda, Loki learns about the TVA’s sworn mission to keep the Sacred Timeline flowing smoothly by “pruning” variants that accidentally step off the preordained path dictated by the TVA’s head honchos, the Time Keepers. Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) orders Loki’s pruning, but Agent Mobius steps in to prevent his sentencing in the hopes that Loki can help him with a case he’s been working on.
Since Loki is still unconvinced of the TVA’s legitimacy and power, Mobius shows him a tape of his entire life and explains his role in the Time Keepers’ master plan. After witnessing his own death at the hands of Thanos, a defeated Loki finally accepts his circumstances by submitting to Mobius and agreeing to help him with the case. Mobius informs Loki about the culprit that has been wreaking havoc across the timeline: an alternate version of the God of Mischief himself.
Loki and Mobius move forward with their investigation in a tenuous partnership – each understanding what they can gain from the other, but never trusting one another fully. Eventually, Loki confronts his multiversal counterpart in a confrontation that results in both of them being transported to a distant planet on the brink of an apocalypse.
Loki also learns how the TVA kidnapped Sylvie from her timeline when she was a young girl. Sylvie’s sole purpose since escaping their clutches has been seeking retribution against the evil bureaucracy that stole her life away. Initially, the two variants despise each other, but after breaking the ice and letting their guards down, Loki and Sylvie begin to form something of a romantic connection.
Mobius and Renslayer track the pair down and return them to headquarters, where a personal trial with the Time Keepers awaits. The Time Keepers order Loki and Sylvie to be pruned, but the pair manage to overpower the TVA agents and kill the Time Keepers, who we learn are nothing more than puppeteered androids. But before the two Loki variants can escape to investigate further, Renslayer prunes Loki, sending him to an alternate dimension at the end of time.
Loki wakes up in the Void to find himself surrounded by a cabal of Loki variants. The variants inform Loki of the monstrous beast, Alioth, that guards the Void and prevents all who have been pruned from escaping their imprisonment. Back at the TVA, Sylvie is able to convince Mobius that the TVA’s mission is a farce. Now understanding he’s been lied to for his entire life, Mobius allies himself with Loki and Sylvie. Sylvie prunes herself to avoid capture, and Renslayer prunes Mobius after learning of his disillusionment with the TVA.
Sylvie, Loki, and Mobius meet in the Void and hatch a plan to enchant Alioth and confront the man behind the curtain. After subduing the beast, Loki and Sylvie find the Citadel at the End of Time and the man who lives there, He Who Remains. He Who Remains informs them about the brutal necessity of the TVA’s mission: if the TVA stopped pruning branched timelines, another multiversal war would eventually occur. He Who Remains offers Loki and Sylvie the overseer position he’s been holding for millennia. Loki considers it, but Sylvie, who lost her only chance at a normal life thanks to the TVA’s cruel practices, is far less amenable to the proposition.
Sylvie kills He Who Remains and sends Loki back to the TVA. Loki desperately tries to find Mobius to inform him about the multiversal war on their doorstep, but when Mobius sees Loki, he has no idea who he is. Back at the Citadel, Sylvie watches in horror as thousands of timelines begin to branch and collide.
The bigger picture
It’s no secret that the MCU’s Disney Plus shows have been less than stellar as of late. After major disappointments like Secret Invasion and She-Hulk, and middling affairs like Hawkeye and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the MCU’s streaming branch really needs a win right about now. In 2021, Loki provided a much-needed jolt of reassurance that the post-Endgame MCU could wow fans as much as it did in the Infinity Saga days. It introduced the franchise’s brand new big bad in glorious fashion and proved Disney Plus MCU shows could be just as essential to the saga’s overarching structure as the films.
Considering the near-unanimous fan approval of Loki’s first season, many MCU diehards are looking to season two to save the MCU from its ongoing slump. On paper, season two has all the tools to succeed, but unfortunately, one pivotal production change could potentially gum up the works: season one showrunner Kate Heron and lead writer Michael Waldron have departed from the project.
Heron was instrumental in creating Loki’s distinct and eccentric visual style, while Waldron’s bona fide sci-fi writing chops provided a sturdily intricate narrative that kept viewers glued and guessing throughout the six-episode season. Marvel Studios tapped Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, a pair who came to prominence for heading up the Moon Knight series in 2022, with showrunner duties on Loki season two. While markedly imperfect, Moon Knight offered viewers more visual flair than your garden variety MCU Disney Plus outing, making the duo a savvy choice to replace Heron.
As for the lead writer position, Marvel opted for another Rick and Morty alum: Eric Martin. In the post-pandemic era, Marvel Studios has scouted more talent from Adult Swim’s mega-hit than any other writer’s room in Hollywood. Initially, the move seemed like a genius business decision from Kevin Feige. The MCU was entering its multiverse saga; what show has done multiverse stories better than Rick and Morty? But after Jeff Loveness, another Rick and Morty stalwart, produced a bit of a stinker in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, some fans have soured on the symbiotic relationship between the two media entities.
Until now, all of the promotional material for season two has been top-notch, and it doesn’t seem the production changes have impacted the distinct visual footprint season one crafted. For Feige and Marvel Studios, a lot is riding on the success of this series. If season two fails to live up to the standard of the first installment, the franchise could be in jeopardy of losing fans and Disney Plus subscribers. Only time will tell how it will all play out, but there are a few more controversies surrounding this production worth diving into.
The Majors situation
As all MCU fans know, Jonathan Majors is currently entangled in a domestic assault charge he received back in March. When he was introduced as Kang in Loki season one, fans and critics alike had nothing but glowing reviews of his electrifying performance. Despite the lackluster public response to Quantumania, the only bright spot in most critical reviews mentioned Majors’ and his towering screen presence as the multiversal baddie.
Earlier this year, trusted MCU scoopers were spreading rumors about Marvel Studios seeking a replacement for the controversial actor to star in Loki season two alongside Hiddleston and Wilson. And although the trailers and ancillary promotional material for the new season have gone out of their way to avoid showcasing Majors, he’s unmistakably present in more than a few frames.
Marvel Studios and Disney have been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about their ongoing partnership with Majors. The next big tentpole team-up flick on the MCU docket was meant to feature multiple iterations of Majors as a cabal of Kang variants. In fact, the entire multiverse saga was built around the strength of Majors’ distinct and charismatic performance. Majors’ legal team continues to assert the performer’s categorical innocence, but updates on the case have been scarce and confusing.
While Majors’ future in the MCU is shaky at best, if one thing is certain, fans can expect to see him portray at least one version of his trademark character in Loki season two. It seems Disney and Marvel Studios are biding their time and waiting to see how the trial will play out. But if they have any intention of sticking to the Phase Five rollout plan they launched in 2021, they will need to make a decision on the actor’s future sooner rather than later.
For some viewers, it might be conflicting trying to enjoy the series with an alleged abuser playing such an integral role. But Marvel has put all of its eggs in the Majors basket and clearly isn’t too keen on cracking them on the ground until the dust has settled on his criminal trial. In any case, we’ll keep you updated on the latest developments — on screen and off.