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Loki Ep 4 Recap (1).png

'Loki' Episode 4 Recap: What's (Self)Love Got To Do With It?

By Tori Preston | TV | July 1, 2021 |

By Tori Preston | TV | July 1, 2021 |

Loki Ep 4 Recap (1).png

For those of you who were lamenting the lack of plot progression in last week’s “Lamentis” (GET IT), I can only assume you had absolutely nothing to complain about this week. Episode 4, titled “The Nexus Event”, makes up for lost time by cramming in more answers, and more new questions, than you can shake a stick at — and then proceeds to literally shake some sticks in the big climactic fight scene! What matters, though, is that everything that happened this week — and that will happen through the rest of the season — is absolutely dependent on the bonds we saw forged between Loki and Sylvie in “Lamentis.” That was by no means a throw-away episode. It’s going to prove to be the linchpin of this show.

Of course, theirs isn’t the only relationship that matters this week…

Ravonna And Sylvie Go Way Back
The episode opens with a flashback to Sylvie as a child on Asgard, just as a group of TVA Minutemen arrive to take her into custody. The first reveal of the night is that Ravonna was the HMIC (Head-Minuteman-in-Charge) of the operation, but before we can learn what baby Sylvie’s time crimes were the girl steals Ravonna’s TemPad and escapes. This is the quick-witted start of her life on the run, though I think it’s more interesting because of the questions it raises about Ravonna. After a colossal f*ck-up like losing a baby Loki variant, how did she wind up promoted to the head office? Is her pursuit of Sylvie and the other Loki variants personal? And despite what she later tells Sylvie, are we really supposed to believe Ravonna doesn’t remember why Sylvie was captured and her timeline erased in the first place? Something fishy is going on in the TVA, and it’s clearer than ever that Ravonna isn’t an unwitting participant in the deception.

When the episode catches up to our two favorite variants, they’re watching the sky fall over their doomed moon and having a final chat about what makes a Loki a Loki. “The universe wants to break free so it manifests chaos, like me being born the Goddess of Mischief,” Sylvie says, positing that — her being a Lady Loki — as the divergence that brought the TVA down onto her timeline. However, it’s also a workable theory as to what the real purpose of any Loki is. What if Lokis are the defense mechanism of the Sacred Timeline as it struggles to become a multiverse once again — the ultimate manifestation of chaos to disrupt the artificial order imposed by the TVA? What if they matter on a scale larger than “hero” or “villain”? Sylvie also wonders if Lokis are destined to lose (a familiar refrain from the very first episode), but Loki says that while they may happen to lose — a lot! — what defines them is that they always survive. And speaking of not-dying, a couple of timedoors open up just in time to yank Loki and Sylvie out of the frying pan… and back into the fires of the TVA.

The Nexus Event
Sylvie’s childhood represents one Nexus Event, but it isn’t the only one the episode is concerned with. The only way the TVA could track down Loki and Sylvie, in the midst of an apocalyptic event where nothing is supposed to matter, is if they did something so unexpected, so seismically DRASTIC that it would form a detectable timeline branch. That’s just what they did when they… held hands? Well, that’s what Mobius thinks. Loki reaching out to Sylvie in that moment was the first time he chose not to be alone, or believed he didn’t deserve to be alone, or something. Of course, is Loki any less of a Very Lonely Boy if he’s emotionally connected to a version of himself, or is that just some professional-grade narcissism? Considering the end of the episode, that’s a question to hold on to…

To Tell The Truth
Upon Loki and Sylvie’s arrival at the TVA they are promptly separated, and remain that way for most of the episode. Mobius is tasked with debriefing Loki, but first, he chooses to soften Loki up in a “time cell” — basically a time loop that traps a person in a very bad memory. In Loki’s case, he’s stuck in a memory of Lady Sif beating him up over and over again. It’s a neat little cameo from Jaimie Alexander, but it also breaks Loki down enough that he gets on his knees and admits his faults (that he is a narcissistic attention whore who is scared of being alone). Perhaps that does sort of soften him up, because Loki then tries to tell Mobius the truth for a change by revealing that whole “the TVA is lying to you and you’re all variants” thing. In fact, the only time Loki lies to Mobius during their debriefing is when Mobius rejects the truth first. What’s interesting in this episode is how often Loki resorts to telling the truth, even when he doesn’t want to (the tears in his eyes, when Mobius tells him Sylvie was pruned — be still my heart!), while everyone else inside the TVA is lying left and right (Sylvie was not actually pruned, for example).

What Happened To C-20?
Mobius is interested in interviewing both Sylvie and Hunter C-20, whom we last saw babbling about something being “real” at Roxxcart after she was enchanted by Sylvie. Ravonna cagily tells Mobius that C-20 died because of the mental manipulations she suffered, but he has a hard time believing it since C-20 was coherent when he left her — and his suspicions are further raised when Ravonna refuses to let him question Sylvie as well. Sure seems like his boss has something to hide! So Mobius steals Ravonna’s TemPad and finds interrogation footage of C-20 corroborating what Loki told him — that she saw memories of her past life, and that everyone inside the TVA are variants pulled from the Sacred Timeline. It’s clear why Ravonna doesn’t want anyone getting too close to Sylvie: Because her enchantments can reveal the truth to every person in the TVA. C-20 is certainly dead, but it’s not because her brain was turned to mush by Sylvie. It’s because she knew too much, and Ravonna had to clean up the mess.

When Ravonna discovers Mobius freeing Loki, she cleans up that mess too — by pruning Mobius. 😱

Meanwhile, Hunter B-15 is chasing the very same lead, because she too saw memories of another life during the brief time that Sylvie enchanted her. She is able to enter Sylvie’s cell and confront her, and Sylvie — just like Loki — tells her the truth without hesitation. Turns out having B-15 on your side is a very good thing, as we discover at the end of the episode.

Who Are The Timekeepers?
Before this week’s episode, I would have guessed that the series was building up to a climactic confrontation with the Timekeepers in the finale or something. Certainly that face-to-face meeting was the goal of both Loki and Sylvie, so it came as a bit of a surprise that they got their wish in Episode 4. Ravonna claims that the Timekeepers want to personally oversee the pruning of the two variants, so she escorts them into the Timekeepers’ chambers where… all Hel breaks loose. Hunter B-15 shows up with Sylvie’s sword and frees the pair from their time collars, then Sylvie and Loki proceed to beat the crap out of the guards. Sylvie faces off against Ravonna, managing to punch her out, and then she takes her sword and throws it at the Timekeepers, decapitating the middle one…

Except the head that bounces down the podium is cybernetic. Yup, you guessed it: The Timekeepers are robots!😱

So uh… What Now?
Sylvie is discouraged to find that her years of planning led her to this giant red herring, but Loki decides to console her by… well, it sure seems like he is trying to confess his feelings to her. He doesn’t get a chance to say the words, though, because Ravonna sneaks up behind him and PRUNES HIM before Sylvie can knock her down again! 😱

So Loki is dead, and Sylvie now has Ravonna back in her grasp, ready to spill the beans on the whole enterprise. That’s it, right? There’s nothing more to see?

Loki 4 mid credit (1).png

THAT Mid-Credit Scene
If you’ve been following me in the great “Richard E. Grant IMDb Countdown”, then you know our watch is ended! Richard E. Grant DID show up at long last, in a surprising mid-credit scene — and better yet, he really is playing Old Loki! He’s in the original (very yellow) Loki costume from the comics and everything. But he’s not alone — Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Crocodile Loki (???) and a hammer-wielding “Boastful” Loki (Deobia Oparei) are standing by as our Loki wakes up in some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Yeahhhh so Loki isn’t dead after all, and maybe that’s just because Lokis never die… or maybe no one we’ve seen get pruned was actually killed. Maybe “pruning” simply shunts them off into an alternate abandoned timeline. We already know the TVA was built on a lie, so why should we believe it actually has been maintaining a singular Sacred Timeline at all. Maybe every single thing they’ve erased is still out there, lost in a dormant multiverse.

Point is: MOAR LOKIS TO LOVE! Our Very Lonely Boy will never be lonely again! Huzzah!

Other thoughts:

- Thematically, I love the fact that Sylvie’s enchantments — which seem like they should be magical deceptions — are the very things that reveal the truth about the TVA. In fact, it takes the combination of two Gods of Mischief to topple a scheme far larger than any they could pull off, because who better to debunk a big lie than a couple of big ol’ liars?

- Does Loki actually love Sylvie? He definitely admires her — not for being like him, but for all the ways she isn’t like him. That much is clear from the pep talk he gives her on Lamentis. It also has to be a very deep sort of love, for him to be struggling to put it to words at the end of the episode. He’s never been in love before! So is that feeling alone the divergence that caused the Nexus Event on Lamentis, or is it the fact that two alternate Lokis forming a bond is a sort of paradox in and of itself? After all, timelines diverge all the time — but variants of the same being should never have a chance to mingle. Is that the real “manifestation of chaos” that Sylvie talked about? Not that the universe created a Lady Loki, but that it created the kind of Loki that our Loki could love — and that love will bring about the end of the TVA? And for that matter, how much chaos is manifested when a bunch of Lokis converge?

- Full disclosure: I totally have this thing where I exclusively date tall, dark, bony, and hairy people, and as a tall, dark, bony, and hairy person myself, I can appreciate Loki’s narcissistic model of attraction here.

- Did I miss where they explained what happened with all those reset charges Sylvie sent off into the timeline, that we all thought was gonna kickstart the multiverse? The TVA sure seems to have cleaned that up handily off-screen.

- The robot Timekeepers were wearing Gallifreyan collars. The Doctor Who homages never cease!

- Mobius’ last words were about jet skis. Bless.

- Mobius wondering if he can trust the word of two Lokis, and Loki replying “How about the word of a friend?” is the only love I needed to witness this week. Oh wait, scratch that — when Mobius told Loki that he could be whatever he wanted to be, even a good guy, THAT was some real love sh*t.

- Y’all, I need Owen Wilson to come back. This can’t be the end of him!

- The show can still end with a confrontation between Loki, Sylvie, and the Timekeepers — or whoever is really behind the TVA. The robots were decoys, but the real mastermind is still out there. Is it Kang? Is it Mephisto? Is it one of those vampires that Mobius mentioned, which are totally canon in the MCU now? Wait… DID MOBIUS JUST SET UP THE BLADE REBOOT?!

- Speaking of confrontations, did you clock how Ravonna practically begged Sylvie to finish her off at the end? Either Ravonna is sick of doing all this dirty work, or she’s more scared of whatever fate awaits her for failing to prune Sylvie. Should be interesting to find out which!

- Old Loki and Kid Loki are straight out of the comics, but I don’t recall ever seeing Crocodile Loki or Boastful Loki before. Then again, Frog Thor (“Throg”) is a thing that happened in the comics, so anything is possible.

- Let’s say Loki ever does manage to confess to Sylvie. You just know she’s totally not that into him, right?

Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Disney+/Marvel