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Loki episode 1.03 “Lamentis” really wants to resonate with the viewer and clearly set up a redemption arc for Loki, but it falls just short.
For all the hoopla over Loki, and all the wonder over how great of a show it is so far, episode three takes an odd step back to focus on Loki, Lady Loki (who is apparently called Sylvie — which, by the way, is a reference to Enchantress in the comics) and a dynamic that I find oddly appealing and disturbing at the same time.
Here’s what this episode boils down to:
Lady Loki wants to kill the Time Keepers (I’m game by the way). She goes back to the TVA after she has created all the panic with Nexus Events throughout the Sacred Timeline and her plan is thrown asunder because Loki follows her back to the TVA. They both fight, Loki gets his daggers, they’re cornered, she takes a timely-wimey thing, opens a door and Loki sends them to Lamentis-1 for some reason. They get on Lamentis-1, continue to fight, try to escape, there’s a terrific long take during their hunt to get to the Ark, but it explodes before they can board. Then they get on a train, Loki gets
drunk full, sings a song, they get thrown off the train, and they watch a moon come colliding with Lamentis-1 and contemplate their lives.
Long story short: stuff happens. Stuff.
Being the middle episode of a six episode series, you would assume that there is a big, enormous event that changes the trajectory of the story going forward, right? I suppose one could argue that having a front seat to the surrealistic picture of a moon collide with your planet would be a life altering event that could certainly warrant a major shift in narrative. But you know what I say to a show which puts its main character in that kind of danger half way through its series?
In no way on god’s great green MCU earth is Loki ever going to die half way through his own series. Zero point zero chance.
“But, Blake,” you ask “‘what about Sylvie?’ She was only introduced last episode, and she surely doesn’t have the same kind of plot armor that our Loki has, right? She could go at any minute. We should care about her.” In any normal world, I would probably agree with you. But, the show is soooooo obviously trying to make Sylvie a love interest for Loki that it’s painful to even think otherwise.
Considering the level to which the writers forced Loki and Sylvie together, and how each of them seem to contain parts of their lives the others don’t, there is also no way that they are going to let Sylvie die this early either.
Between the forced charm with Loki getting drunk and singing a longing song about whatever (because who really cares what it’s about since we understand the kind of emotion the show is trying to evoke). Or there’s also the story about Frigga teaching Loki how to magic up some fireworks — these choices reveal a real sense of depth and character that Head Writer Michael Waldron is trying to instill in us. In fact I would be inclined to say that we still actually learned more about Loki than Sylvie this episode, which boggles my mind. While Sylvie does play a large role in this episode (we learn that she, too, is just as isolated as Loki, that she kicks butt first and forgets to ask the questions later, and that she is secretly in dire need of connection), but we know from this kind of development that she is going nowhere.
That is not to say, however, that Sylvie WON’T die later on in the series (most likely as part of a redemption story for Loki), but the show needs Loki and Sylvie to stick around for a while to figure out the nonsense that seems to be happening at the TVA.
Though, I do have to acknowledge the giant horned elephant in the room — is Loki hooking up with a variant of himself weird? Like, is it incest? Is it a level of narcissism the likes of which the world has never seen? Heck, is it even morally ethical?
But, then… oh, then we get get to the whole “what is love?” debate. Cue 1993’s number 11 song “What Is Love” by Haddaway. You’re welcome for that reference (I’m old).
Listen, I’m all for a good theoretical debate, and I could watch Tom Hiddleston narrate a sloth pick his favorite leaf to eat. But when all the tension is zapped out of the episode because you know there is no danger to the characters no matter what fancy one-shot director Kate Herron decides to thrust on us, or how simply gorgeous the dangerous environment looks, I don’t think it’s advantageous to add a forced philosophical debate about the the nature of love.
Whether or not love is the same as hate (as Sylvie believes) or it is a dagger, as Loki seems to suggest, you can tell that the writers want this conversation to be capital M Meaningful.
To me, though, it comes off as forced.
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In other words, this conversation has to be important to our main characters (because they are clearly on the course of sharing some kind of intimate connection) so the team decided we must slow down, stop all the narrative, and emphasize just how important this conversation really is. It’s not showing us, the episode is telling us, and that’s when you know you’re wading into bad territory.
This episode suffers from what I call “Westworld Disease”. Westworld desperately wants you to know how important, and full of depth it is. So the writing and direction tries to make you feel like everything that’s being said on screen is the most important line to ever be delivered in the history of television. While Loki hasn’t gone full Westworld yet, this debate about love certainly is a close cousin and that sucks. Thor may not be the best movie ever made (though I do feel like it gets a lot of flack for no reason) I believe I learned far more about Loki in this scene because of how raw, powerful, yet subtle it is, than I ever did in the conversation between Loki and Sylvie:
Yes, the “TELL ME” is great, as Hiddleston always is. But, it’s the slow recognition of his role in his fathers fate, and how he desperately calls for the guards that tells me more about his character than anything else. Loki basically trolls his father to death, but he still feels some kind of loyalty and respect for his step God of a father. It is, to this day, still one of my favorite scenes in the MCU.
Though I will say not all was bad in this episode – in fact, the best part was the beginning. The purposely misleading and disorienting cold open between Agent C-20 and Sylvie was fantastic. In fact, something kind of tells me that this whole ordeal that Loki and Sylvie find themselves in on Lamentis-1 is nothing more than an Enchantment — which is probably why this whole episode feels like filler, and why romantic musings are happening between our characters. Sylvie is just trying to get information from Loki the same way she did from C-20. I am willing, however, to be COMPLETELY wrong about that.
Nevertheless, that beginning coveys what might be the most important factoid Loki has offered thus far. C-20 had a life before the TVA. And if she had a life before the TVA…
This episode was nowhere near the triumph of the first two episodes, and it is a little frustrating. It begins in an interesting fashion, we have some hijinks in the middle, and it ends because, well, it just comes to the end of its runtime. I believe, though, the show has earned enough equity for me to trust where it’s going and see where it leads to next episode.
APROPOS OF NOTHING FOR LOKI: EPISODE 1.03 “LAMENTIS”
- The Loki hair-flip is my Glorious Purpose.
- Enchantress is actually two different people in the Marvel Comics. The first is Amora, who is one of Thor’s greatest enemies. The second though, is Sylvie Lushton, who was given great mystic powers by Loki when he created her as a tool for chaos. She models herself after the original Enchantress, Amora.
- Our Sylvie, though, does not seem to be either character, but rather an amalgam of comic Sylvie, comic Amora, and Lady Loki.
- C-20’s memories are apparently hundreds of years old. WHAT?!?! How long has she been at the TVA, and is it even relevant?
- Loki drinking and smashing his glass while yelling “Another!” is a great callback to the hilarious scene from Thor. Seriously, go back and watch that movie, it’s better than what you remember.
- Loki is CONFIRMED bisexual. This is great. Truly. And I hope it lends to more stories that focus on bisexual characters. Also, it’s believable that Loki is bisexual. HOWEVA – what does this choice serve for the character? We learn that he is bisexual for the sake of being bisexual – it doesn’t reveal anything about his choices he’s made throughout his run in the MCU, or enlighten his character in the choices he has made thus far. It’s announced he’s bisexual simply for the sake of announcing it. Again, I love that this reveals another layer to Loki and I am so happy that his character is bisexual, but I am just scratching my head about how this choice serves the characters story in the past, or what it does in the present, or what it will do in the future. (Want a perfect reveal of bisexuality? Refer to Joe MacMillan in Halt And Catch Fire — when the reveal services the plot, but also reveals character through the choices Joe makes to get his way, and how he can read his peers to infiltrate their inner desires.)
- “I’m not drunk, I’m simply full.” Keep that in the mental rolodex for the wife the next time I come home from my fantasy football draft.
- Did anyone else this feel like this episode was Snowpiercer but with just a hell of a lot of purple? No? Just me? Fair enough.
- Lastly, Lamentis obviously derives from the word Lament. Lament means: “to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively” — hmmm…what does Loki regret, and who is he mourning? Food for thought…