Loki: Episode 2 “The Variant” Review

So, as I’ve mentioned last week, I won’t be able to post reviews or recaps of Loki as soon as the episode airs each time, but I will always post on the day it releases. I hope you’ll all bear with me on those days and beware of spoilers moving forward!!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Loki is integrated into the TVA as a special consultant. No one trusts him, but can he still weasel his way into their hearts?

My thoughts?

I’m having a blast with this show. I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to keep up these episodes that are on the long side or not, but I think it really works for the format. There’s a lot of new information, considering the timelines, variants, new characters and so on, which makes me glad they aren’t rushing it or making me, as the viewer, feel overwhelmed. Yes, there is always intrigue and a bit of a cliffhanger, but that is only suitable for a show that airs weekly and needs to keep people hooked.

Let’s break down what we learned and found out this episode:

  • Loki did a little TVA training session with Miss Minutes and got to watch more educational videos. I think it’s funny that they put so much effort in him, considering that they don’t have any faith in him. He’s a smart guy though, so even if he was bored by most of it, he clearly understood the key teachings and information.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • After the Variant has struck again and taken a hostage for the first time (C-20, as all hunters seem to only have designations instead of names), Mobius takes Loki to the scene, where he tries to cause chaos. He clearly has ulterior motives in helping the TVA, but Mobius sees through him. I continue to really enjoy their dynamic, because Loki needs someone in his life who doesn’t buy into his bullshit and knows how to counter his behavior effectively.
  • During a meeting with Ravonna, Mobius has to justify why he wants to keep Loki on. He feigns to not care, but I, just like Loki, can’t help but wonder what sparked that intense interest in the trickster. He really is a specialist on him and I don’t know if it’s because he had to deal with so many of his variants (which were hilarious by the way) or because this Loki is his favorite and he actually feels a hint of sympathy. Either way, it’s fun to watch and try to figure out.
  • Loki is tasked to study the previous variants and that’s when he finds out about the destruction of Asgard. He is such a familiar character to me and I keep forgetting that he doesn’t know about most of these events. Even in the memory theater, he barely watched any scenes, but you could see the genuine emotion in his eyes, despite him covering that all up real quick. I don’t, in general trust Loki, because he is arrogant, deceptive and always has a hidden plan, but I love it when Tom gives us these moments of vulnerability with Loki.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Through the research, Loki comes up with the theory that the variant they are looking for hides within apocalypses, because whatever you do there won’t be noticeable as a time disturbance. He tests that theory with Mobius in Pompeii and I was kind of bummed that this wasn’t a bigger scene. Sometimes I think back to the trailer and how they showed so many things that turned out to be just tiny moments in episodes. It was still fun, but brief.
  • After getting the theory confirmed, Mobius and Loki try to find where the Variant could be hiding. They have a very interesting bonding moment together, as they take a break, where they talk about actual deep life questions. Loki clearly has his quarrels with the blind faith people put in the TVA and the Time-Keepers. I think it’s fair criticism, because as he said “No one bad is all bad and no one good is all good” and there must be a catch. They both ponder their lives and how ridiculous their existence sounds if you spell it out, but yet they do exist. It really makes you think about your own life, despite not being a magical person at all.

Fun fact: Roxxcart has been mentioned several times within the MCU before and seemed to have been some sort of evil corporation. Considering that they now seemed to have caused the apocalypse in 2050, they really did proper foreshadowing with it before.

  • Eventually, Mobius gets an idea and a mission quickly forms. They get to go, but B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) is still there to babysit Loki, because there is no way that woman will ever trust him (as she shouldn’t).
credit: Marvel Studios
  • During the mission, the team splits up!
    • Mobius and some hunters find C-20, who was taken hostage and seems completely out of it. She claims she gave away how to find the Time-Keepers, which peaked my interest. Mobius, a presumably quite high-ranking analyst, has never even met them. Do hunters know where the Time-Keepers are? Ravonna is supposedly in contact with them, and they are very eager to get the Loki matter resolved, but all the information on them is highly classified.
    • Loki “meets” his Variant, who can possess people and move from one body to the next by touch. I’ve never seen “our” Loki do that, so it was really interesting to see a different power. They talk, they fight, they clearly both think they are the superior Loki. Eventually, my suspicions from last week were confirmed though and the Variant was revealed to be Lady Loki. (Although she doesn’t bare much resemblance to her comic counterpart and doesn’t like to be called Loki. Maybe there’s still more there!) She sets off all the reset charges she collected over time at once and therefore bombs the sacred timeline, causing it to split into multiple streams all at once. In short, this means we are definitely getting a multiverse. I think?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • In a final scene, we see Lady Loki disappear through a portal and Loki contemplating whether he should follow her or not. Mobius comes running and doesn’t want him to go, obviously, but I could have sworn I saw actual hesitation on Loki’s part. It seemed to me he was warring with himself on whether to earn the trust the TVA had put in him, or seize his chance at whatever ploy Lady Loki was involved in. He chose the latter and followed Lady Loki through the portal just as the episode ended. 

The show continues to juxtaposition deep existential questions with bouts of humor. I think Loki is the perfect character for that kind of content and the TVA the perfect setting. I honestly didn’t expect them to reveal the whole Lady Loki thing so early on, but it was massively satisfying to have been right on the matter. I can’t wait to see what happens next week and the rest of the season, because they just unleashed pure chaos. I’ve tried to keep this review a bit shorter, as I’ve really just recapped most things in previous posts and they got a bit out of hand, but I hope you still enjoy them and I’ll see you again next Wednesday!

Ravonna Renslayer insert: Last week, I mentioned that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character was not mentioned by name, but a couple hours after the episode aired, it was confirmed she was portraying Ravonna Renslayer. I thought it would be fun to imagine her bigger part in the MCU based on comic information, even if she supposedly is quite different here.
The thing is that Ravonna definitely isn’t a purely “good” character, so it’s fascinating to me that she is a judge within the TVA. Through tumultuous events, she was often associated with Kang the Conqueror, who is scheduled to appear in Ant-Man 3 (Quantumania), which could mean a link for future appearances for her outside of Loki!

credit: Marvel Studios

PREVIOUS LOKI REVIEWS


What did you think of this week’s Loki episode? Are you enjoying the journey? Did you guess the reveal? Let’s talk!

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 2 “The Star-Spangled Man” Review

You know the drill, people. This post contains SPOILERS for episode 2 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Read this at your own discretion.

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sam and Bucky team up to deal with a global threat, while the world gets to know the new Captain America.

My thoughts?

After last week, I knew what topics The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was likely going to touch upon during its run, but I had no idea how they were going to go about it. I was surprised by the in depth character drama we got and so pleased to see it moving along quickly in terms of plot, however, still giving us plenty of introspection in this second episode. There are always one or two really well choreographed action sequences in the episode, but a lot of it is character work and I’m here for it.

We start the episode with neither Sam nor Bucky, but John Walker instead. I think it was evident by everyone’s reaction to last week’s final scene that he had quickly become one of the most hated characters in the MCU without ever having spoken so much as a word. We could have easily not seen his side of the story or his struggle with taking on the mantle of Captain America, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier made sure this was a balanced way of portraying the issue (still doesn’t mean I have to like him though).

credit: Marvel Studios

From the glimpse we got, John Walker isn’t a bad man. He’s a soldier, and a very capable one at that. Having received several medals of honor and showing great skill with the shield, he knows how big a shoes he has to fill. I don’t think he takes it lightly to put on the mantle of Captain America (although he would likely prefer to punch his way out of a situation rather than use diplomacy) and I can see why the government took interest in him, but … nothing will change the fact that he is not Steve Rogers and Steve intended for that shield to go to someone else. Like Sam said in the pilot episode “these symbols are nothing without the men and women that give them meaning” and I cannot see Walker carry that same kind of hope.

Let’s check out what we learned about him:

  • He seems to have a good support system with a loving wife and a best friend, Lemar Hoskins, ready to be by his side. Lemar is Battlestar on the show. In the comics he staged attacks on Walker in order to build his brand, but I can’t see him doing that in the series. They seem to both be employed by the government and work as a team.
  • Not only has he physically trained to be Captain America, he also seems to have familiarized himself with the Avengers and notable associates. He was definitely fighting to get Sam and Bucky on his team, but I don’t think calling Sam a wingman, speaking of Steve as a brother without ever having met him or plain hacking into Redwing got him any browny points. By the end of the episode, he had burned quite a lot of bridges, showing a possible darker side to his persona.
credit: Marvel Studios

But on to more important things and the actual leads of this show – Sam and Bucky! As a lot of us predicted, it did not sit well with Bucky to find that Sam had given up the shield. He did not hesitate to confront him, despite not having talked to Sam and having ignored his texts the past couple of months. Immediately, as soon as they got back together again, they proved once more what an incredible duo they are. Not just are they able to carry emotional scenes, but their comedic timing is off the charts. I laughed out loud so many times and was really happy to have them paired up this episode.

Now, where are we moving with those two in terms of plot:

  • Bucky jumped on the plane with Sam and Torres to tag along for the fight against the Flag Smashers. I’m not sure whether Bucky just didn’t want to let go on the matter of the shield yet or if he was craving a new mission, but despite their constant bickering, Sam and Bucky are growing to be a really good team. They may not have won, but they have each other’s back when it matters.
  • We also found out that the Flag Smashers are indeed super soldiers, powered by serum and apparently led by one Karli Morgenthau. (So they are not one of the big three – aliens, androids or wizards – a joke that keeps on coming) They feel abandoned by the governments that care more about the returned people than those who were never blipped. It’s evident they already have a large following, although I’m not 100% clear on what their plan is. Giving everyone powers doesn’t really solve … anything?
  • After getting their asses kicked by the Flag Smashers, Bucky brings Sam to Baltimore to introduce him to a man called Isaiah he fought as part of Hydra back in the 50s. For those who didn’t know, Isaiah Bradley was the original Black Captain America (on this show as well as in the comics) and there was already a hint at his identity during last episode’s credits. He never got the same glory as Steve though and the government thanked him for his heroic deeds by putting him in a prison for 30 years, showing once again the double standard when it comes to race. Obviously, he wants nothing to do with Bucky or his past though, so they are left to seek help about the super soldier serum elsewhere.

Fun fact: Isaiah Bradley’s grandson Eli/Elijah, who opened the door, will likely become a hero called Patriot, who is a member of the Young Avengers. Not every, but a lot of the shows/upcoming movie of the new MCU phase have had teases for the Young Avengers, with Wiccan and Speed in WandaVision, Kate Bishop in the upcoming Hawkeye series, America Chavez in the Multiverse of Madness, Riri Williams as Iron Heart in the show of the same name, Cassie Lang aka Stinger in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania and ultimately Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel in her own show as well.

  • Sam is naturally pissed that he never knew about Isaiah, even if Bucky never told anyone else about him either (not even Steve). They have a small fight on the street when a cop car pulls over, which immediately made my stomach tie up, knowing what would come next. I know that Sam and Bucky could easily take them, but I was still afraid for him. Of course, the cops racially profiled Sam and only backed down as soon as they realized that he was Falcon. Something he shouldn’t need as a protection against discrimination when he never did anything wrong to begin with. In the end, they do arrest Bucky though, since he missed his court mandated therapy session, while profusely apologizing for having to take him in. This scene worked as a mirror to many people’s reality when it comes to interactions with the police and I am glad that Disney/Marvel isn’t shying away from showing that on screen.
  • John Walker is the one bailing Bucky out and calling his therapist, because he wants Sam and him on his team. He asks that the therapist do whatever needed to get them to ship out on missions again and I just think that was a terrible, terrible idea. Bucky is nowhere near done dealing with his trauma and neither has Sam worked through his own stuff. Still, the “couple’s session” did provide a little breakthrough when Bucky revealed why he was so angry at Sam. They didn’t exactly grow closer through the exercises, maybe even a little further apart, but they will work together for now. I just hope they both take up therapy again, I think they could profit from it.
  • Lastly, we finally learn how Zemo comes into play with this storyline. Since Bucky can’t think of anyone else to ask about the serum, he ropes Sam into coming with him to seek out Zemo for answers. Doesn’t sound like a great idea either, if we are being honest.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode very much, which was overall solid. I loved that Bucky and Sam are finally together on screen again, even though I very much understood how necessary it was to show their current state of minds apart from one another in the pilot. This show is moving at a really nice pace and I think it will be able to tell a good story in the remaining four episodes.


PREVIOUS THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS


What is your take on the episode? Did I miss something crucial? Let’s talk!

WandaVision: Episode 1 & 2 Review

Back in the day, and I say it weirdly like that on purpose even though I mean only a mere three years ago, I used to do weekly reviews of single episodes of certain shows. More accurately Doctor Who, because that was really the only show I did that for (check out the last review here). But, something about WandaVision, along with a little poll on Twitter, has compelled me to take up the weekly reviews again. So, I want to warn you that these posts will not be spoiler-free, but rather my unfiltered thoughts right after the episodes have aired!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Wanda and Vision have moved to the lovely town of WestView. They try their best to fit in and seem as regular as they can, however, it does not take long before they realize that something is off. Strange things keep happening, but are Wanda and Vision prepared to face reality?

My thoughts?

I have waited for this show for what feels like forever. WandaVision was the very reason I got a Disney+ subscription in the first place and I am so very happy that it is out now and that I LOVE it. With Marvel’s entire slate moving to the Disney platform, I was worried about the content a little bit, but with WandaVision they have proven they are not afraid of going into a weird direction.

Modeled after 1950s to 60s sitcoms such as Bewitched, the first two episodes of the new Marvel series take you on a ridiculous ride full of laugh-tracks, tailored theme songs and animated intros. Everything our two leads do is both extremely over the top and very in character for who they are supposed to be. It is fun to watch, but at the same time they keep the viewer wondering what all of this is about. Much as the trailer was confusing, you do not get a lot of insight throughout the first two episodes. They do, however, manage to create a wonderful feeling of dread on top of the silliness and jokes. Something is off and you are very aware of it, it’s just about figuring out what that something is now.

credit: Marvel Studios

Well, here is where it might get really spoiler-y, because these are some of the most important observations I have made (at least I think they are important):

  • Both episodes had short interludes of what looked like old-timey commercials. One was for a Stark Industries produced toaster, which also featured the first time color was shown on the show. Previously, it had all been black and white. The second episode showed a Strücker watch with a clear reference to Hydra. I don’t know if they maybe just want to hint at important parts of Wanda’s life (her home getting blown up by Stark weapons and her powers stemming from experiments done on her by Hydra – even in chronological order) or if it is something different entirely.
  • Another occurrence that was notable in both episodes was a human getting hurt and that being a huge part of Wanda’s awareness that something about her life was off. I found it interesting that these instances mainly involved Wanda and not Vision (although he did save his boss using his abilities in the first episode), because people were turning to her to DO something.
  • We do know that Wanda is in some form of simulation, as it is shown that someone is monitoring her and Vision and the life they are trying to create. There are credits shown for WandaVision’s life within the episode that do not correlate with the actual writing, directing and producing team, although the names didn’t mean anything to me. However, to stay in world, it seems Wanda has more control over her environment. At the end of episode 2, Wanda is confronted with something she does not wish to face, so, she reverses time to change events in her little TV world. Through that color is introduced to the entire scenery as Wanda and Vision learn they are expecting a child (or rather children, I suppose. You know, do it for the children).
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Most notably in all of it though was the symbol/logo shown on both the colored toy helicopter Wanda found in her black and white hedges as well as the beekeeper who came out of the canals. (Edit: also on the folder of the person who was monitoring Wanda and Vision on the screen) While the red and gold coloring may have been a misdirect to Stark again, the logo of a sword can quite simply only mean a connection to the S.W.O.R.D. organisation. In the comics, it was another counterterrorism and intelligence agency along the lines of S.H.I.E.L.D. just with a focus on extraterrestrial threats. Reports suggest though that the Sentient World Observation and Response Department has a new name and purpose on WandaVision, since the acronym now stands for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division. All of this makes a lot of sense in the context of WandaVision, as they are both basically sentient weapons.
  • In conjuncture with the last point, we need to talk about the magnificent Teyonah Parris. She introduces herself as Geraldine in episode 2 of WandaVision, but we already know that she is slated to play Monica Rambeau (Carol Danver’s friend Maria’s now adult daughter), which leads me to believe she is a S.W.O.R.D. agent and working on the WandaVision case.

I think that is all for now on my part. I am sure there was much more to observe, especially since Agnes will likely play a vital part as well and I haven’t even touched on her yet. I am so looking forward to exploring more decades, styles of television and just plain story with WandaVision! Also, if you noticed in my post that I am referring to Wanda more than both, her and Vision, it is solely because something tells me he is not quite real. I would love for them to be able to be together again, but I am not sure Marvel is that charitable towards my feelings. I think a lot of this is possibly just all done for Wanda.


Have you watched the first two episodes of WandaVision? What are your thoughts on it? Let’s talk!

Doctor Who: Smile

This is actually happening! My weekly reviews of Doctor Who are back! I am not sure how long I can keep this up, with my Canada trip just around the corner and all, but I will do them while I still can. As I did in the past, I will review all episodes right after having watched them, so you get almost like a real time feed of my thoughts (which are subject to change). Today is all about episode 2 of Season 10 Smile and be aware that this is filled with Spoilers!

What was it about?

The Doctor takes Bill on her first adventure to the future, where they immediately run into misguided emojibots which endanger the last hope for human civilization.

My thoughts?

Unfortunately, I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed by this episode. It’s absolutely not that it was badly executed or that the message was a bad one. After all these years, the first thing humanity resorts to is apparently still weapons. Do we not learn? Do we not appreciate other cultures and creatures? Why can we never accept indigenous people? Why do we have this need to colonize everything and make it fit us? All valid topics for an episode, but the way it was done was literally something I’ve seen countless times on the show already.

Here are a few examples of what I meant by “I have seen this before”- We have the misunderstood lifeform that actually wants to help people which faintly reminded me of Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (people getting uploaded in the libarary to be save) and The Girl Who Waited (letting people live out their days in kindness chambers … I mean the robots even kind of remind me of each other …), just that the Vardis actually killed the inhabitants here.

Then we have the age old question, who is actually entitled to the place? Who was there first? Who is allowed to live there? The whole “having to negotiate between humans and race XY” was only recently done in the Zygon Inversion and a while back in the Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. Just that this time it was solved super easily by resetting and wiping the robots memories. Which, by the way, was a different circumstance but nonetheless criticized just last week.

There are a couple things I do like. I quite enjoy how naturally Bill fits into the show, how funny she is and how incredibly smart. I mean, sometimes, I don’t really get her thought process. She questions things that have been unsaid for years and years of this show’s existence, but then she cannot possibly imagine what is in the pods of the human spaceship they built to find a place they could colonize? Weird in my eyes, but nothing too distracting. Bill is amazing and that’s all I need to know for now. She discovers the Doctor and his personality all anew. I love watching that realisation click in a companions eyes when they just know that the Doctor would never leave anyone behind or simply not help. She’s like a gust of fresh air again. Also, does she already have a catch phrase of sorts by saying “like a penguin with his arse on fire” whenever she sees the Doctor run now?

I am also happy about the fact that the vault-scenario is not being forgotten. I am assuming this will the story arc of this season and I sincerely hope that we will also figure out how Nardole (who was delighfully unamused at Bill’s presence in the TARDIS) will figure into all of this.

The way into next episode has already been provided at the end of Smile. The dynamic of that season is pretty interesting so far and I think it’s a decent formula to let Bill see the future and then the past in the next one. Regency England here we come!

What did you think of Smile? How are you liking the season?