“Is he man or monster… or is he both?” – Cover, The Incredible Hulk #1
This recap includes spoilers for the first three episodes of Loki on Disney+. If you haven’t seen the episode yet and want to avoid spoilers, you should use your TemPad to open a door away from here. Previous Loki recaps can be found here.
After the green version of the Marvel Studios logo set to “Demons” by Hayley Kiyoko, we open on Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane), dressed in “20th Century Earth casual” clothes. She’s sitting at a restaurant table sipping a margarita out of what appears to be one of the souvenir glasses available at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland.
Hunter C-20 puzzles over her order as we see that she’s sitting across the table from the Loki Variant (Sophia di Martino). The Variant suggests eating somewhere else, and verbally spars with C-20 over the health department assessment of the establishment. Outside the window, we can see a scenic vista at sunset.
The Variant begins talking about memories and brain freezes. Soon, C-20 agrees to a game of answering questions, and the Variant asks how many guard the Time-Keepers. C-20 reacts with confusion…
And we abruptly jump cut to the same table, but at night. The Variant asks C-20 how long they’ve been best friends, and C-20 says, “Too long.” The Variant again asks about those guarding the Time-Keepers… and seems to make it through some of C-20’s defenses, although she still seems confused.
C-20 eventually concludes that she doesn’t know the Variant, and the Variant assures her that she’s just tired. But then we see that these scenes have been taking place within C-20’s mind as she lies in the security office of the Roxxcart Superstore during the Category 8 hurricane that will have had destroyed Haven Hills, Alabama in 2050.
The Loki Variant asks C-20 how she finds the elevators, and C-20 says, “They’re gold.” The Variant smiles with satisfaction before looking over to the security monitors and seeing that our Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) have arrived in 2050… and we cut to the Loki opening title.
Loki S1E3 – “Lamentis”
Back at the Time Variance Authority, we see some Minutemen head through Timedoors as Nexus klaxons blare. After they vanish, another Timedoor opens, and Sylvie, the Variant played by di Martino, enters (she won’t introduce herself until a few scenes hence, but with both Variants sharing scenes throughout the episode, we’re naming her early for clarity’s sake).
Sylvie heads down a hallway and attempts to use her possession magic on an unsuspecting Minuteman… but as we know (and apparently Sylvie doesn’t), Loki’s magic is ineffectual within the TVA.
But that doesn’t mean Sylvie is defenseless. She seizes the Eradicator Wand from the Minuteman and disintegrates him, then dispatches two more foes in similar fashion (and with some very cool, literally off-the-wall fighting moves).
Elsewhere, we see our Loki arrive in the locker room. The Timedoor closes behind him and he seizes upon the locker in which Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) stashed his double blades in the previous episode. Soon, Loki is stealthily approaching Sylvie in the TVA hallway, following the trail of non-disintegrated opponents.
Sylvie has arrived at a golden elevator, one decorated with an hourglass pattern. Loki asks Sylvie what her game is, and Sylvie asks if he has nothing better to do. Loki asks if she’s sure she’s a Loki, and she replies that he’s in her way. “You are my way,” Loki verbally spars, before the duo engages in some literal sparring.
The two battle as Loki attempts to convince Sylvie to join forces with him – essentially, the same elevator pitch Loki Prime gave Thor on Sakaar in Ragnarok, before the whole “Codename: REVENGERS” apocalypse went down.
But that’s when Judge Ravonna Ravenslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) arrives, clutching the weapon she pulled from her trinket shelf in last week’s episode and flanked by a pair of soldiers. Sylvie holds her sword to Loki’s throat and threatens his life, Ravenslayer is unshaken.
But that’s when Loki seizes the TemPad from Sylvie and opens a Timedoor directly underneath them, sending the pair tumbling through…
…and into a shack on Lamentis-1.
The pair tussle some more and Sylvie emerges the victor. She takes the TemPad from Loki and attempts to open a Timedoor, but she only gets a notification delivered by Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) informing her that she’s “out of juice.” The TemPad is out of batteries and as a result, is not functional.
The duo continues to argue. Sylvie says that Loki can’t recharge the TemPad, and Loki counters that she isn’t the only tech-savvy Loki. But Sylvie again tells him not to use the name “Loki” for her…
But before she can explain the reasoning for Loki being a deadname, a meteorite bursts through the roof of the shack and embeds itself in the sand betwixt them, causing Sylvie to ask where Loki had sent them.
That’s when we cut to outside. We see a purple-tinted mining pit that is being pockmarked by shrieking meteorites as the caption establishes that Loki and Sylvie are on Lamentis-1 in the year 2077. The camera pans up, and we see that we’re witnessing another apocalyptic event: this time, a moon is dangling in the sky like it’s auditioning for the adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Sylvie goes outside and immediately identifies their time-space location, saying it’s the worst apocalypse saved on the TemPad and noting that no one will make it out of the event alive. What does this mean for our Variants? For one thing, the TVA isn’t coming: because Variance Energy is shielded by an apocalypse, Sylvie and Loki’s presence on Lamentis-1 will not be detectable to the TVA, just as Loki’s meddling in 79 AD Pompeii in the previous episode was undetectable.
The pair continues to bicker as they navigate the meteorites and attempt to escape the pit, and manage to make it to another shelter, one that seems comparatively well-shielded. As they attempt to catch their breath, Sylvie approaches Loki and tries to use the same green-hand magic we saw in the previous episode to enchant him. Loki says it won’t work because his mind is too strong, and the pair again draw their blades… but Loki asks if they’re really going to battle again.
He proposes a truce, and while Sylvie doesn’t readily concede, Loki’s possession of the TemPad forces her hand. Sylvie vows to recharge the TemPad so she can escape the apocalypse and return to the TVA, where she plans to dispatch the Time-Keepers.
Loki trails after Sylvie, asking where they’re going. Sylvie says there’s a town nearby, and Loki calls her “Variant,” to which she reacts with distain. She says not to call her Loki again, and then says that’s not who she is anymore: she’s Sylvie now… however, she does identify Sylvie as an “alias” a few lines later.
Loki says that her alias isn’t very Loki-like, and Sylvie asks what makes a Loki a Loki. It’s a central question to the series (and echoes one of the central themes of Loki: Agent of Asgard).
“Independence, authority, style,” Loki answers.
“So naturally you went to work for the boring, oppressive time police,” Sylvie counters.
The pair continues to assess each other’s motivations as they approach the town.
Meanwhile, back at the Lamentis-1 settlement…
Loki and Sylvie arrive in the settlement and find it abandoned. Loki notes that everyone has fled and Sylive replies that it was in vain. Just like the Roxxcart disaster, we have another apocalypse that sees the working-class rendered helpless before natural cataclysm as their corporate authority figures watch, indifferent to their suffering. Sylive notes that about twelve hours remain, with increased gravitational effects and further societal collapse in the offing for the next half-day.
As they pass a neon sign, Loki suggests using it to charge the TemPad. Sylvie feigns compliance, but she’s just trying to get the TemPad back from Loki… which he recognizes. The two verbally abuse each other, but just like Vision fighting The Vision in the series finale of WandaVision, they are essentially evenly matched, and unable to gain the upper hand over one another.
Sylvie asserts that the TemPad will require a serious power source before they move on.
In the next scene, we see the duo navigating another breathtaking, Majora’s Mask-evoking plain. They approach a solitary shack on the outskirts of town. Loki suggests they employ diplomacy and guile but Sylvie lacks subtlety… causing the resident inside the shack to blow her away with an energy weapon.
Loki scoffs at the momentarily incapacitated Sylvie before addressing the resident. He sees a photograph in which she appears beside a man, and adopts the appearance of the man. Using the disguise of Patrice, he attempts to gain the trust of the resident…
But she blows him away in the same fashion as Sylvie, explaining that in the 30 years she knew the man, Patrice never had a kind word to say for her. The woman accuses them of being devils, and it’s Sylvie’s turn to mock Loki.
But in spite of her surly nature, they gain valuable information from the resident: people are evacuating to an arc – an evacuation vessel – and it’s accessible by train. The catch? Tickets are only available to the wealthy.
Gee, the more things change…
At the train platform, a line of working class miners has been waiting in line for hours. They shout angrily as they are held in place by armed guards while the well dressed wealthy residents of the planet are permitted to board the train. On the horizon, meteorites continue to collide with the surface of Lamentis-1.
Sylvie suggests enchanting a guard, but Loki says they’re doing it his way and adopts the guise of one of the guards. Sylvie criticizes his play but he insists she go along.
As they reach the guard at the door of the train, Loki’s off-the-cuff plan starts to go sideways. Fortunately, Sylvie saves the day by reaching out and enchanting the guard before he can raise the alarm… a success that is something of a surprise to everyone involved.
The Snowpiercer of it all amps up to eleven as Loki and Sylvie enter the train’s bar. A stark contrast to the shrieking, unwashed masses in the queue of the train platform, these ticketed riders maintain a relaxed demeanor as they sip their exotically glowing beverages, utterly convinced their wealth will shield them from the consequences of the apocalyptic events unfolding outside the windows.
Loki and Sylvie sit down in a booth and immediately begin bickering with one another again. We’re being set up for another one of those one-on-one conversations between characters that have defined so much of Loki so far.
The topic of the conversation quickly turns to Loki’s mother. He clearly maintains his tender feelings towards his mother. As the conversation continues, though, it is interesting to see how different the experience of the two Variants seems to be. Sylvie tells Loki that she barely remembers her mother at this point, although it’s unclear whether that’s because of the point at which their respective timelines split or if it’s just because Sylvie has experienced decades during her time on the lam from the TVA.
The pair seems to be bonding as Loki shows off a fireworks-in-the-hand trick Frigga taught him. Sylvie tells Loki that she taught herself how to do the enchantment trick we’ve seen her using in the past couple episodes. Loki accepts a flute of champagne from a waiter before taking the second, which was refused by Sylvie.
Next, the conversation turns to romance, and while few specifics are revealed, both Loki and Sylvie admit to one another that they’re bisexual.
— Sophia Di Martino (@sophiadimartino) June 23, 2021
“Love is mischief, then,” Sylvie muses.
Sylvie suggests they rest, given that they’re about to attempt to hijack a power source that is a civilization’s only hope for survival, and Loki tells her to relax in her way while he relaxes in his.
The Hunger Train
After a few (frankly incredible) establishing shots that show the train traveling between the meteorites falling on Lamentis-1, we see that in spite of Sylvie’s talk of staying awake, she’s fallen asleep at the table. In the meantime, Loki has continued drinking, and has made himself the center of attention as he sings Asgardian songs to music played on a strange alien instrument.
One of the rich folk scowls at Loki and leaves the bar. Loki finishes his drink and throws the glass on the ground before demanding another, the exact behavior exhibited by an overly arrogant Thor in Thor.
Sylvie asks where Loki’s disguise has gone and points out to him that the other passengers seem overly aware of his antics, but he only drunkenly insists she sample some of the nibbles. Loki asks when Sylvie got so paranoid and she says she guesses it was when she spent her entire life running from “the omniscient fascists” for whom Loki works.
But Loki is uninterested, instead returning to the “what is love” metaphor game they’d been playing earlier and declaring, “Love is a dagger.” While he makes a compelling argument, that’s when the train guards arrive and demand their tickets. The wealthy patrons flee the bar as the Variants begin battling the guards.
Loki manages to kick one guard out of one of the train’s windows, but two more guards seize him and throw him out afterwards. Recognizing that he’s got the TemPad, Sylvie dives through the window after him.
As the train leaves the pair of Variants behind, Sylvie demands Loki surrender the TemPad… but he reveals that it was broken in the battle. Sylvie curses him as it falls to pieces, calling him a clown and saying that while she’s more hedonistic than he is, it’s never at the expense of her mission.
She screams in frustration and takes a seat on a nearby pile of sand. Loki takes a seat beside her and asks if the scream helped (it did).
Sylvie recaps the apocalyptic situation for Loki: the moon will collide with the planet, and the arc will never leave because it is destroyed. But Loki suggests that they create a Nexus event, using their combined abilities to seize control of the arc and deviate from the Sacred Timeline by actually using it to escape.
Sylvie agrees, and the two Variants set off on the train tracks together. As they stroll, Loki feigns casual conversation about Sylvie’s enchantments in an effort to learn more about her abilities, but Sylvie demurs. Loki argues he’s told her about his abilities and she thanks him for the tactical advantage. Loki says he wants to know if he can trust her, and Sylvie concedes.
She tells him that enchantment works through physical touch. Once this is accomplished, she can “grab control” of their mind. Most are easy to overtake, but when their mind is stronger, it’s a more complicated procedure: she’s in control, but they’re there too – in order to preserve the connection, she must create a false world out of their memories… In other words, the situation we saw in the cold open between Sylvie and Hunter C-20.
Soon, we learn that before “joining” the TVA, C-20 was just a regular person on Earth. Presumably, this means that B-15, Casey Who’s Never Seen a Fish (Eugene Cordero), and the rest of the TVA employees are all actually Variants (and B-15 was so proud of holding that over Loki’s head). The notion that the Time-Keepers created the employees of the TVA is a lie… so what else is the TVA lying about?
But that’s when they arrive at the location from which the Lamentis arc will launch.
Final Boarding Call for the Lamentis Arc
The sound of screams fills the air as Loki and Sylvie arrive at the launchpad for the arc. It looms over the angrily chanting crowds in the neon-lit marketplace as the situation worsens. Guards use force to knock working class people back… and that’s when the looming moon splits in half, showering even more meteorites on the proceedings.
Loki and Sylvie begin battling the guards as they attempt to approach the arc. The surrounding buildings begin to collapse as the gravity effects of the falling moon worsen. The population screams in terror.
Loki and Sylvie are nearly crushed by a falling tower, but Loki uses his magic to deflect it. They’re finally working in tandem, like a team, getting each other’s backs!
“We can still make it,” Loki shouts hopefully.
The arc’s engines begin to power up as they battle more guards. Their opponents knocked aside, they run towards their salvation…
Only to witness the arc being split in two by a particularly large meteorite, causing the spacecraft to explode. Loki, Sylvie, and the helpless humans watch as their last hope for survival is destroyed on the launchpad in front of their eyes…
And we head into the credit sequence, which features an image with photographs that changes each week, and which is (appropriately) set to Gale Storm’s 1957 recording of “Dark Moon.”
Things seem pretty grim! How are Loki and Sylvie going to make it out of this one? Maybe episode four will be about some other Loki Variants! We’ll find out next Wednesday.
New episodes of Loki are available on Disney+ on Wednesdays.