Features and Columns · TV

Everything We Knew About ‘Loki’ Was Wrong

Lions and tigers and space lizards! Oh my! The TVA is not the great and powerful DMV we once thought it to be.
Loki Episode 4 The Nexus Event
Marvel Studios
By  · Published on June 30th, 2021

Marvel Explained is our new ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we explore Loki Episode 4 (“The Nexus Event”) and its end credits scene and unravel the many revelations found within. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

Well, that sure as Hel wasn’t any filler episode. Yikes.

After Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gets a little too touchy with Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) on Lamentis, their emotional bond sparks a Nexus Event so powerful that the Time Variance Authority is immediately alerted of their presence on the exploding celestial body. They’re once again shackled and brought back to the offices to face interrogation and temporal punishment. It’s all very much business as expected until the two variants are brought before the Time-Keepers.

Loki Episode 4 (“The Nexus Event“) shatters everything we knew about the one-true timeline and those that protect it. Last week, we learned from Sylvie that the TVA agents are variants themselves. When they strayed from their pre-determined course, the TVA snatched them up, wiped their brains, and put them to work. But the mess they’re tidying is far more tangled than previously imagined. In fact, the mess may not even be the multiverse madness originally suggested in the premiere.

We can no longer trust any information delivered to us by the TVA. The Time-Keepers are nothing more than smoke and mirrors — or, as it turns out, sprockets and wires. They’re three androids propped on pedestals to instill fear and order in their subjects. If not for a curious Mobius (Owen Wilson) and a mind-expanded Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), our intrepid variants would have been pruned like so many other cosmically deviating rascals.

Instead, they have their collars unlocked, and their Asgardian ass-kicking skills make quick work of their jailers. Sylvie lobs her blade at the middle-seated Time-Keeper, and their head pops from their shoulders. The space lizards are no such thing. Will the great and powerful Oz please reveal themselves?

But Sylvie and Loki don’t get their peek behind the curtain. Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) springs forth just as Loki is in the midst of professing his romantically complicated feelings for his variant, and with a back-stabbing from her baton, she obliterates him and that awkward moment from existence. Sylvie, once again, gets the upper hand on the judge, and Loki Episode 4 cuts to black as she demands answers.

The Loki Episode 4 End Credit Scene

Thankfully, our Loki is not dead, let alone erased. In the first Loki post-credit scene, at the end of Loki Episode 4, the series’ main character awakens not in Hel but inside another apocalypse. Standing amongst a cityscape of crumbling skyscrapers are four other Lokis credited as Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei), and…well, the fourth member doesn’t have a name yet, but let’s call the little critter Alligator Loki.

The Loki Council

Sylvie may not squeeze much info from Renslayer, but this diabolical council certainly knows a bit more about what’s actually going on with the one-true timeline. Firstly, there’s probably nothing “true” about it. With the Time-Keepers exposed, the TVA’s propaganda regarding a dangerous multiversal war sounds like hokum. Resetting and pruning are not acts of protection but enslavement.

Whoever created the TVA and is pulling its strings is restricting all realities to one, robbing sentient life of free will. The universe naturally rebels, giving birth to Syvies and Gator Lokis. The events of Loki Episode 4 suggest that the villain is forcefully steering space and time to meet their desires. There’s nothing “true” or “destined” about it.

In Loki Episode 2, we were told that Loki variants are like cockroaches to the TVA. There are more of them than any other troublesome variant. Agents like Mobius have spent centuries chasing them down, pruning them into nothingness. But a few have slipped through the cracks.

Who are the Loki variants at the end of Loki Episode 4?

The council of Lokis has probably banded together to counter whatever Renslayer’s boss is committing. Two of their members are immediately recognizable. Classic Loki’s origins are right there in his name and costume. He’s dressed in his traditional comic book spandex attire, as first seen in The Avengers #1 published by Marvel Comics in 1963. He is the villain, the big bad who brought Earth’s Mightiest together after he poisoned the Hulk’s mind. Classic Loki will definitely incite the most annoyance from our Loki, and neither will have much patience for the other.

Down in front is Kid Loki. We’ve been anticipating his appearance since the series launched. He initially came into fruition in the comics after Ragnarök. When the gods died, Loki returned in the body of a child. He spent a good amount of time hanging with the Young Avengers, attempting to make amends for the horrible deeds he committed as Classic Loki. Kid Loki eventually discovered his Classic, evil self still living in his mind’s deep recesses, and the two had to square off against each other. Based on their posing here, they seemed to have worked things out in this reality.

The variant called Boastful Loki has no comic book origins, but based on his dress and the traditional Mjölnir he’s carrying, his roots are firmly planted in Norse mythology. According to some legends, Loki convinced the dwarves Brokkr and Eitri to build Mjölnir as a gift for Thor, and it was Loki who delivered the mighty hammer to his brother. So, if he delivered it, that meant he had to carry it in some fashion, right? Loki was, is, or could be worthy. That’s the point.

Whatever the case, this Boastful Loki appears absolutely worthy, and lifting Mjölnir goes a long way in explaining his namesake. Anyone who can wield such noble magic has got to feel good about themselves. He certainly stands the straightest amongst the Loki variants seen at the end of Loki Episode 4.

The Alligator Loki variant also has zero links to the Marvel comic books. But Loki has taken on many animal forms, such as snakes, eagles, mice, cats, and bees. In the Norse tales, Loki is most famous for transforming into a horse and mating with the stallion Svaðilfari, and their coupling produced the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. So, taking on the form of an alligator is not that strange for our trickster friend.

Who created the TVA?

Knowing that we can’t trust whatever the TVA previously decreed, the variants themselves could be much more complicated than individuals straying from a singular timeline. If Sylvie could be born a girl, Alligator Loki could be born an alligator. Or, their reality could be comprised of nothing but intelligent alligators.

This implies that the multiverse is much more than just people making alternate decisions. Sylvie did not create a Nexus Event by deciding to be a girl when she was meant to be a boy. Her backstory, depicted at the start of Loki Episode 4, reveals her to have been born a girl, and she lived for a good decade or so before the TVA came for her.

Why did the TVA wait so long to reset her reality? Sylvie’s arrest by a young Minutemen Renslayer occurred eons ago, possibly early in the TVA’s formation. It’s a multiversal attack. They’re pruning the universes they don’t want so they can maintain total control of one particular timeline, one particular reality. Whoever made the Time-Keeper androids is enforcing their will on all creation by restricting creation into something singular and easily manageable.

Once again, we’re back to considering Kang the Conqueror. We know the classic Avengers villain will torment our size-changing friends in AntMan and the Wasp: Quantumania. We know Jonathan Majors will play him. We know that his comic book character has deep ties to Renslayer. And we know he’s a baddie who gets his way through treacherous time travel. Kang is an easy prime suspect for the TVA’s mastermind.

Of course, with a council of Lokis galivanting across dimensions to protect their interests, we must also consider the probability that another Loki is the final boss. When we met our Loki, he was seeking a glorious purpose: to rule over everything. Our Loki once sought to command Midgard, but as Mobius pointed out in the first episode of Loki, the God of Mischief would not stop there. Our Loki fancied himself the King of Space.

Where do you go after you conquer space? Well, you conquer time and space. If we don’t meet Kang the Conqueror by the end of Loki, we’re definitely going to meet the evilest version of Loki possible. Witnessing himself as a demonic, hateful creature who achieved everything he once lusted after will force our Loki to reevaluate his own dreams and desires. It will also speed our Loki along in his emotional arc, to the point where he was when he had his neck snapped by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Loki, the Odinson, will return.

Loki Episode 4 is now streaming on Disney+.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)