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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

Marvel’s ‘Loki’ returns for stellar second season

Anna Falk | The Observer

I have been having superhero fatigue for some time now. When Marvel was first releasing their many Disney+ series in the wake of “Avengers: Endgame,” like “Wandavision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and the first season of “Loki,” I was excited, even staying until 3 a.m. to watch the episodes right as they were released. Yet, superhero fatigue still got to me eventually. Marvel released project after project, and even the good movies and shows failed to stand out in the midst of so many other releases. After some time away, I had a feeling that if any of the upcoming projects would bring me back, it would be “Loki.” The first of the Marvel Disney+ series to receive a second season, “Loki” had the opportunity to build on a solid first season and stand out among Marvel’s recent releases, and it did.

The first season of “Loki” had established the Marvel multiverse that many projects since, including “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness,” have utilized and built upon. Marvel has since stated that the next several phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will be known as “The Multiverse Saga” as they continue to build on it. The second season explores this multiverse, its various timelines and the very idea of time itself. 

Picking up right where the first season left off, Loki and his friends may have aided in the creation of the Marvel multiverse, but they must now race to protect the fledgling multiverse from destruction while navigating the fate of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), the agency tasked with the management of the timelines. While time travel can be a tricky plot device to navigate without falling into paradoxes or inconsistencies, I did not catch any glaring issues and thought they actually handled it quite well. 

Tom Hiddleston returns as the titular Loki, playing the character for well over a decade. He brings back Loki’s signature charm and cunning in full force and delivers perhaps his most moving performance yet as the character. Sophia Di Martino also returns as Sylvie, an alternate universe variant of Loki who serves as an effective foil to the character. This season sees Loki and Sylvie spar on a number of ethical dilemmas as their approaches differ on several situations the two face. An interesting reform-versus-revolution debate plays out between the characters over whether the TVA is worth saving, as well as an actual fight over ending the life of someone destined to become evil. They also argue over the true nature of free will. The show also importantly reflects on the fact that even though Loki has become a fan favorite character and had a change of heart, he was for some time the villain of the MCU and has done terrible things. 

While they each had a specific role to play in the first season, the rest of the returning cast feels somewhat underutilized this season. Owen Wilson and Wunmi Mosaku as Mobius M. Mobius and B-15, respectively, deliver strong performances and show off new sides to their characters even though they fall to the sidelines somewhat. Ke Huy Quan joins the cast as Ouroboros, otherwise known as OB, the eccentric engineer behind the inner workings of the TVA. He quickly became one of my favorite characters on the show. Tara Strong’s Miss Minutes is also a terrifying warning against the proliferation of artificial intelligence.

One critique of many of the Marvel TV shows recently has been consistently lackluster finale episodes. The second season of “Loki” breaks this pattern and sticks the landing with arguably the strongest finale episode yet. Overall, I am glad that I came back for the second season of “Loki,” and I am excited to see what they do next. If Marvel can keep up this quality, and perhaps space out their releases more, I believe there is hope they can get past this wave of superhero fatigue.