Can Tom Hiddleston bring his iconic trickster god, Loki, successfully to the small screen?
We usually wait till the end of the article to reveal our verdict, but there’s no being coy about Marvel’s Loki:
I didn’t just like Loki after one episode, I loved it. Let’s dive in.
Episode One: Glorious Purpose.
Loki, the God of Mischief, steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Making his escape with the tesseract, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) runs afoul of the Time Variance Authority for altering the timeline. Sentenced to deletion, he is instead recruited by a sympathetic detective from the TVA, Mobius (Owen Wilson).
The first episode did so many things that immediately hooked me into the show:
Creating a Compelling Identity for Loki.
I’m not even that big a fan of Loki the character. He could be a lot of fun, or an annoying prat with an inferiority complex, depending on who was writing him. The movies he featured in were very early in the MCU, when the quality of the product was hit or miss, and Marvel was positively dreadful at creating menacing or interesting baddies. It took quite a few movies of being overshadowed before the studio finally figured out his hook: his love/hate relationship with his family, especially Thor.
The series leans way into these character traits. Hiddleston goes through a highlight reel of Loki’s best character beats (helped by an actual highlight reel of Loki’s best MCU appearances courtesy of the TVA.) He’s by turns sly, bumbling, vainglorious, apoplectic, and even menacing. He’s also heartbroken when he sees how his plans actually turn out for his family (he doesn’t know anything post 2012 in this timeline, so no dead Odin, Frigga, etc.)
The series gives you all of what you’d expect from the MCU’s Loki, building him up before blowing his ego apart. Now we get to see what kind of person the God of Mischief will remake himself into after having seen the horrific results of his mischief.
Giving Him the Perfect Foils.
The cast of characters playing off Hiddleston is fantastic. The obvious foil is Wilson’s Mobius, a laconic and sarcastic veteran who knows just what buttons to push to get the reaction he needs out of the mercurial Loki. It’s a role right in Wilson’s wheelhouse, and he cranks the pitch right out of the park. He’s funny and irreverent, but also carries that trademark air of barely restrained sadness. It makes Mobius feel like he has earnest sympathy for Loki, despite his calumny.
Beyond Mobius, the rest of the TVA allows Loki to show off his best (or worst) traits. Wunmi Mosaku plays a tough-as-nails “Variant Hunter” who apprehends Loki, utterly humiliating him in the process, a la the Hulk in Avengers. Unlike the Hulk, Loki turns the tables on the rivalry to great effect, and I’d assume they become frenemies as the series goes on, kind of like his eventual relationship to Thor. Eugene Cordero plays an office drone in the TVA who is non-neurotypical. His literal-mindedness completely implodes Loki’s attempts to trick or beguile him. The rest of the cast is stacked with characters who are comic book deep-dives, so I can’t wait to see how much of that gets used.
Action, Mystery, Danger.
I think director Kate Herron must have been a fan of DuckTales growing up, since this one episode basically hits all of the theme song‘s suggestions. Solve a mystery or re-write history? Literally the plot of the series. Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes? I might not have seen the race car, but the others all check out!
In just one crackerjack of an episode, we get full exposition, a compelling mystery, action, adventure, tragedy, comedy, you name it. It never drags, and while it is fast paced, it never winds up a feeling muddled.
Binge or Purge?: Loki.
I was worried that just one episode would not be enough material to make a decision. Turns out I wasn’t even halfway through the episode before I knew I am locked in to watch the heck out of the series. The characters are great, the story is engaging, and it has already demonstrated that it can deftly pull off a lot of looks. You don’t need to be Loki fanboy to enjoy what Disney is serving up with Loki.
Verdict: No, Really, binge the heck out of this. Even though it comes out one episode a week. So, I guess, just watch it religiously then?