Loki: Episode 6 Review
This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s Loki episode 6, ‘For All Time. Always’, now available to view on Disney+. To remind yourself of where we left off, check out our Loki episode 5 review.
Loki’s season finale has saved the best for last as it sticks its landing, setting big, universe-altering events on a small stage. It’s a culmination of themes, character bonds and promise that results in a thoroughly engaging yet unexpectedly understated 40 minutes. Fantastic writing and a standout debut performance combine to create an episode of television that should change a universe (or multiverse) forever.
After a brief nostalgia-soundtracked journey through space, the season finale of Loki puts us right where we want to be – the exact moment episode 5 ended. A stunning gothic castle under a pearlescent sky awaits Loki and Sylvie, who are as eager to find out who is behind all of this as much as the viewer at this point. Luckily, we don’t have to wait long to find out.
Following a fun encounter with a more sinister side of Miss Minutes – who acts like a reminder to save your progress before a final boss battle in a video game – the show wastes no time in pulling back the curtain. But unlike an action-packed boss battle (something pretty familiar to Marvel viewers), this is much more of a war of words. It’s an engagement more suited to Loki than Sylvie, who would much rather talk their way out of a scenario than have it result in combat.
The tables are turned the moment an elevator door opens, with the variants confused to see a mere man standing before them. It’s an understated but impactful reveal – while the pair may well stand bemused, anyone who has kept half an eye on Marvel casting news will have a smile creep onto their face the moment Jonathan Majors appears on screen. A smile that won’t go away for another half an hour or so.
This is largely due to the stellar writing (some of the MCU’s finest to date) and the joy that Majors seems to take with delivering every line. It’s wonderfully Shakespearian, a stage set by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki but thoroughly stolen by Majors over the course of the episode. Playing the enigmatic “He Who Remains”, the Lovecraft Country star owns the screen, and even if you know not to trust him, you just can’t help but be drawn into him. It’s a mistake that Loki himself fittingly makes.
It’s wonderfully Shakespearian, a stage set by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki but thoroughly stolen by Majors over the course of the episode.
The way he toys with both Loki and Sylvie is a joy to watch. The villain we expect to become a take on the comics’ Kang the Conqueror acts like a director gleefully watching the script he’s spent an eternity writing being performed for the first time. “We’re all villains here” he states at one point, cleverly relating to them and enticing them with every word. He’s completely in control – up until the point where even he doesn’t know what’s next in the story. After an entire show built around a lack of free will, it’s a fantastic moment where (if you believe him) you’re braced for anything to happen and, crucially, anything feels like it could happen. The entire sequence is a masterclass in tension, built up through engaging dialogue and a heavyweight performance from Majors.
Channeling the zany energy of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka with the underlying terror of Denzel Washington’s Detective Alonzo in Training Day, He Who Remains is personable and charismatic, but also feels like a shark lurking in the shallows that could unleash at any moment. In many ways, he’s a parable for the series itself – a fun appointment on the surface, with darkness at its core.
All of this leads up to one final scene for Hiddleston’s Loki and Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie to clash, kiss, make up, then clash again. Again, the writing and direction is fantastic, leading to the manipulation of both variants, their true natures pitted against one another. The episode’s only action scene is a brief but exciting flurry of blades, which ends in a touching moment that all Sylki shippers out there I’m sure enjoyed greatly – even if genetic similarities of the situation does make me feel a little uncomfortable. Is this allowed between variants? I don’t know. Go for it, I guess.
Of course, this sweet moment for Loki turns bitter almost instantly as the Loki mantra comes back to haunt him. You just can’t trust one, and he really should know that better than anyone. Hiddleston and Di Martino unfortunately don’t have a whole lot to do during the episode when compared to Majors, but they hold their own and act effectively as an audience proxy throughout. Villain monologues full of exposition can often grind things to a creaking halt, but this just isn’t the case here due to the energetic back-and-forth from the trio on screen. Given that almost the entirety of the 40-minute runtime is spent sitting at one desk in an office, that’s no mean feat.
Villain monologues full of exposition can often grind things to a creaking halt, but this just isn’t the case here.
It’s when the episode steps away from this desk that the less exciting aspects of Loki rear their head. Renslayer remains a cryptic character, but not in a particularly fun way. We still don’t know a whole lot about her and the fleeting moments we get with her here don’t do much to address that. The brief revelation of a Renslayer variant is more of a Season 2 set-up (which, of course, was confirmed in a mid-credits scene) than a true plot pay-off. Mobius returns, but Owen Wilson isn’t given his best material to work with, and it feels like a misstep after his emotional exit last week. While these characters can’t just be pushed to the side completely, I did just find myself wishing I was back at the end of time whenever visiting the TVA.
It’s at the end of time where Loki delivers its grandstand finish. Where WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier stumbled across the finish line, showrunner Michael Waldron and director Kate Herron manage to cross it with aplomb. Sylvie’s decision is a visually spectacular one that causes literal ripples through time as the branches appear in the stars like cracks in ice. It’s a choice that not only makes complete sense for Sylvie’s character development, but also one that should change the MCU as we know it. For all time. Always.
Fantastic writing and a standout debut performance combine to create an episode of television that should change a universe (or multiverse) forever.
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