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Loki episode 1.04 “The Nexus Event” has given you a major twist, but it’s not the twist you’re thinking…
There’s a fine line between an effective plot twist, and a plot twist that is either too easily ascertained, or one that is harmful to a story.
For example, good plot twist: Bruce Willis is actually a ghost in The Sixth Sense #Spoilers
Bad plot twist: Robert Pattison dies at the end of Remember Me because of 9/11 — 9 frakking 11. #Spoilers
Loki “The Nexus Event” seems to hit the sweet spot when it comes to plot twists – one that both enhances the story, but also subverts our expectations as a viewer. But, wait, let’s take a quick look at all the different twists which happen in 1.04:
- All the TVA agents are actually variants who had lives before the TVA. Pretty big deal
- Ravonna is actually a bad guy who kills c-20. Also pretty big deal
- The Time Keepers – as we see them now – are nothing more than mindless androids. Ok, I see a problem with this notion.
- Mobius gets pruned. Yeah, that’s a whopper.
- Loki is also pruned but we discover there’s a whole other world with all the Loki variants to which he escapes. (Might be the biggest twist of them all).
I am, however, missing one major twist from the list above and that’s by design. The twist is missing because it’s the most pertinent of them all – Loki and Sylvie created their own Nexus Event. Wait, what?
How can this be the main twist in an episode choc full of twists if the event is the actual title of the episode? There are three main reasons why this is the fulcrum of the episode, but let us first refine why twists in story are important, and how they can be effective.
Thanks to Professor Wikipedia, we can point to a pretty adequate definition of a plot twist:
A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction. When it happens near the end of a story, it is known as a twist or surprise ending. It may change the audience’s perception of the preceding events, or introduce a new conflict that places it in a different context. A plot twist may be foreshadowed, to prepare the audience to accept it. There are a variety of methods used to execute a plot twist, such as withholding information from the audience or misleading it with ambiguous or false information.
In order for any twist to be effective, and not do harm to it’s story, there are three absolute and irreplaceable rules to which they must adhere:
- It has to advance the story for both character and plot.
- It must subvert the viewer’s expectations.
- Lastly, the twist has to be honest to its story.
There are more rules that can be refined, expanded upon, and utilized for different reasons – but these are the three basic pillars every twist must obey. In the case of “The Nexus Event”, Loki and Sylvie creating their own Nexus Event follows all of these rules, while the other five twists don’t.
We’ve been told since episode 2 that it doesn’t matter what anyone does during an apocalypse event. In fact, it was proven when Loki and Mobius visited Pompeii and Loki screamed to the villagers that he was from the future and they were all about to die because the mountain was about to erupt. Any action, however big or small, in an apocalypse event, will be undone because the event cancels out any actions. Everyone dies, a place or planet is destroyed, and anything in between — including variants — is dissolved to the aether. As such, Sylvie could hide in any apocalypse event because her actions left no variant trace.
“The Nexus Event’, however, proves this assertion to be wholly false.
Lamentis-1, home to the most cataclysmic apocalyptic event in the known universe – in which not one single soul escapes, is no match for the connection shared between Loki and Sylvie. When Loki exclaims how amazing Sylvie is, a Nexus Event erupts off the timeline the likes of which no one at the TVA has ever seen. Now, is it debatable what that connection is? Sure. But what is not debatable is the effect of their connection – whatever it may be. It is tremendous, and it proves the very foundations of the TVA to be false. The fact that Sylvie and Loki were able to create a Nexus Event, even in the worst of the end of days, speaks to how exceptional the bond these two share and whatever that may entail.
While the show has been telegraphing its intent to essentially “ship” Loki and Sylvie pretty much from the jump, this special bond goes far beyond the surface level of lust, love, or infatuation. In fact, it reshapes the very fabric of space and time. This is why it is the biggest twist of the episode, but also, the most effective twist.
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- It advances the plot: because now we know the special bond has a power that is beyond that of the TVA. And it advances our characters, as it redefines who they are as a tandem going forward. They are not just Loki variants who are working together, but they are a singular disruption of being.
- It subverts the viewers expectations: we have been told this entire time that there is no changing the timeline, especially during an apocalyptic event. But, here we are, changing spacetime as we know it.
- The twist is honest to its story: Just because we were told that you can’t make a Nexus Event during an apocalypse doesn’t mean that it’s 100% true. By all accounts, two variants have never worked together or shared a connection like Loki and Sylvie. So the show never lied to you in order to facilitate this reveal.
Are the other twists effective? Yes. And No. The problem the first five twists have is that they don’t quite subvert our expectations.
We all know as an audience that whatever was happening at the TVA was not totally on the up and up. As such, I think it’s fair to assume we were all a little skeptical of the power structures upon which the TVA was built. So, are we surprised that Ravonna lied to Mobius about C-20? No, she was acting all kinds of shady from the beginning as soon as Mobius questioned her.
Are we floored when we see the “Time Keepers” as nothing more than androids? No – because Ravonna was the only person who had contact with them throughout the show and since she is not reliable, we can honestly dismiss the “Time Keeper” reveal as nothing more than mechanics for the plot.
The TVA agents are all variants? Yeah, that’s a big deal, but we already witnessed the possibility in episode three.
Mobius gets pruned? That’s a big deal and would be a great twist – except for the fact that Loki is also pruned and we see him wake up in another alternate reality with the other Loki variants.
In essence, the entirety of episode 4 is us waiting for our characters to finally catch up to what we already know and that’s never a good position for a show to be in. Since we’re waiting our characters to come up to our speed, it means the show is operating in a passive fashion – except for one aspect – the true twist of this episode, Sylvie and Loki creating a Nexus event.
And this twist is great because it’s surrounded by other “twists” that seem to do the heavy work. Everything else seems bigger, more affective, and more impactful but none of them have the kind of significance as the Nexus twist. A twist done right.
That is why this episode succeeds despite its many passive flaws.
APROPOS OF NOTHING FOR LOKI: EPISODE 1.04 “THE NEXUS EVENT”
- It is frustrating that Sylvie’s plan to create all the various Nexus Events throughout the timeline in episode 2 was nothing more than a gimmick. It felt like the show was blowing up it’s premise in the best way, but it was just a mechanic to get Sylvie into the TVA to do a thing. But it does allow for our big twist in this episode.
- The Lady Sif cameo is great. Yes, because I love seeing Lady Sif, but because it really informs WHY the Nexus Event between Sylvie and Loki is so important and significant. She claims that Loki is alone, will always be alone , and deserves to be alone. But Sylvie is proof that he doesn’t have to be.
- Watching Tom Hiddleston deliver an honest look into his pathos of love for Sylvie is a thing of beauty. The connection may have come out nowhere, but it feels earned an earnest when Hiddleston is about to proclaim his connection for Sylvie before he is pruned.
- Loki’s always survive. This might be my favorite thing Loki has ever said.
- Loki’s hair flip continues to be my glorious purpose.
- Sylvie was brought to the TVA because she was born a girl, but there also seems to be more to why she created a Nexus Event which required Ravonna’s attention. If that’s not an example of Chekov’s Gun, then I don’t know what would be.
- “How about the word of a friend”. Hiddleston + Wilson = Genuine Gold.
- Alligator Loki. Yes, please.
- Richard E. Grant as classic Loki? Yes, please.
- Mobius talks about how he’s dealt with “Kree, Titans, and vampires.” Vampires officially exist in the MCU. Let’s get our Blade on.
- When Loki wakes up in the stinger, we get a reference to the shot in Avengers when Loki finds himself was surrounded by the Avengers.
- Yes, that was a nearly destroyed Avengers tower we see in the background behind all the Loki’s.
- 1.01 – Glorious Purpose | Deconstructing Character Through Exposition
- 1.02 – Variant | Going Beyond “The Hook”
- 1.03 – Lamentis | Love Is Knowing And Accepting Fault