"Loki" Episodes 5 & 6

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Richard E. Grant, Jack Veal, Deobia Oparei, the voice of Tara Strong, Jonathan Majors, Neil Ellice, Eugene Cordero

Episode 5: Journey Into Mystery

Oh, this is gonna be batshit.

The reveal that Loki is in some world full of Lokis is tacked on to the end of the previouslies in case you missed it.

We're back at the TVA, where we do a very dizzying upside down panning shot through hallways and offices to the elevator, which I am just noticing has the "for all time always" slogan printed above it. We morph through the door to the room with the Time Keepers, where the head of the lead one is still on the ground. And then we just go to the apocalyptic Lokiland, which we pan over to cinematic fanfare. Near a cloud of smoke and lightning, Loki is just getting off the ground despite the fact that it looked like he was well away from the city in a field before. He does his sassy little hair flip answer to the hero landing and bombards the other Lokis with questions: where are we? Who are you? What is this place? Richard E. Grant, aka Classic Loki says they're in The Void, that smoke monster back there is "Alioth" and they need to leave before he eats them. Loki follows them away from the roiling smoke monster, which forms something like a dragon head to roar after them.
Chrissy: And if you were wondering when this series was going to make parallels to "Lost"...here you go.

After the opening card, we go back to the TVA. Sylvie demands Ravonna hand over her temp pad and asks who really runs the TVA. Ravonna says honestly, she's just as surprised about the animatronic Time Keepers as Sylvie is. Sylvie is like 'oh, so your whole reality has just been upended, has it? Poor thing. How does it feel?' She lets Ravonna up after twisting her arm a little more and we realize they're in the courtroom now. Sylvie thinks it's poetic justice to kill Renslayer in the same place where she took Sylvie's life from her. Ravonna blurts that Loki isn't dead. Yet. Probably. Sylvie snarls that she's lying. Ravonna says "maybe. Or maybe we want the same thing." Sylvie doesn't see how saving him - if he even can still be saved - will help them find whoever is actually behind the TVA. Ravonna says it's complicated, but she wants answers now too since she has obviously been lied to.

Sylvie lowers the dagger. Ravonna explains that it isn't possible to destroy everything in a pruned branch of reality. So while it looks like they're burning it out of existence, what they're really doing is just moving it "to a place on the timeline where it won't continue growing." They don't really "reset" the timeline. They just quarantine it in "a void at the end of time." A place where all realities collide and "stop." They are told the end of the Sacred Timeline is still being written and the Time Keepers are working to turn it into a sort of Utopia. Sylvie snorts that that's really cute and totally believable. Ravonna shrugs and says either way nothing comes back from The Void. But she can help Sylvie. Sylvie slowly returns the temp pad.

The Void. We pan over a moss covered ship I'm just going to call the Black Rock and something that looks like the Enterprise. Loki asks if the group currently passing the wreckage of a plane can stop running for a second so he can ask "several thousand questions." Classic Loki says nope, they have to keep moving so they don't die. Loki asks if they have any plans beyond that. Classic Loki says no. Loki says that's not a PLAN. Lokis always have a PLAN. The rock they just passed is in the shape of a giant head. A bunch of strange purple birds run past them. Loki snaps and begs SOMEBODY to TELL HIM WHAT IS GOING ON HERE. Because he has been having a very rough time since that New York thing a few days...or months...or whatever ago. And now he's in this weird place surrounded by variants of himself and an alligator "which I'm heartbroken to report I didn't find all that strange." And now they're running from whatever the fuck that thing was toward who knows where and he just wants to get back to the TVA now.

Kid Loki pulls a dagger on him and he falls over, unbalanced. Kid Loki hisses at him to stop yelling or he'll alert Alioth. Then he sends the dagger back to whatever pocket universe he took it from and helps Loki up. He says The Void is where the TVA sends everything it prunes and Alioth makes sure it doesn't return. Deobia Oparei, who is identified as Boastful Loki, calls it a "living tempest that consumes matter and energy." They send things to the Void to be devoured. Classic Loki cuts him off to summarize it more crudely: "we're in a shark tank. Alioth is the shark." The alligator makes a snorting, growing noise and Classic Loki answers that "shark tank" is a better metaphor than "alligator tank" and shut up. Despite the horns, Loki just now realizes that the alligator is actually another Loki variant.
Chrissy: I suppose next you'll tell me there's a crocodile somewhere around here that's a Thor variant.
Emilio: No, but wait'll you hear about Throg.
Chrissy: I'm assuming the frog variant and the alligator variant are from the same universe, right? Is that the same universe Howard the Duck is from?
Diandra: They're not from the same universe. Throg is a black guy who was cursed by a pissed off witch and then gained the power of Thor because "he who is worthy yadda yadda". I think he's one of the Pet Avengers along with Ms. Marvel's dog, Devil Dinosaur and the Inhumans giant teleporting dog.
Chrissy: ................I think I'm just realizing how insane it is that there are people taking these comics so seriously.

Of all questions, Loki asks why there are so many of them here in The Void. Classic Loki says the same thing Loki said to Sylvie: that one thing Lokis are really good at is surviving. Loki asks how they escape then. Classic Loki says they don't. And they all went through this phase Loki is going through where they tried to make plans and they were never successful. Loki asks if they've thought of using a temp pad. Boastful Loki says oh, right, because we have those EVERYWHERE around here. Why didn't we think of that?
Chrissy: Okay, sarcasm noted.
Loki says fine then. How about trying causing a Nexus Event?
Chrissy: Considering how the last one came about, I suppose that means I would have to make out with one of you.
Emilio: I vote for the alligator.
Chrissy: I suppose you're playing Classic Loki then.
Emilio: Nope. The alligator. I'm hungry.
Diandra: [snort]

Actually, Boastful Loki says that wouldn't work because the TVA doesn't give a rip what they do here. Loki says surely they must be able to do SOMETHING.
Chrissy, Emilio and Diandra at the same time: Don't call me Shirley.
Classic Loki says they can survive. Period. Full stop. Kid Loki has had enough of standing around talking and prompts them to start moving again. At least those of them NOT including the new guy, who can do whatever the hell he wants and leave them out of it. They start walking and Loki hesitates for a few seconds, looking around at the desolate wasteland, before running after them. Apparently the horns are some sort of command thing because he asks why Classic Loki is wearing them if he lets the kid boss him around. Classic Loki is like 'it's called RESPECT and you should try it sometime. Also, this is his kingdom.' Loki sneeringly asks what His Majesty's Nexus Event was. Kid Loki says he killed Thor and walks away while Loki ponders the possibility that the kid is actually a bigger psycho than he is.
Chrissy: Oh, come on. Like you never thought of trying it.

They pass a helicopter that says THANOS across it, which is apparently an artifact from a comic that is batshit nuts.
Chrissy: What, crazier than any of the other shit you just said a few minutes ago?
Classic Loki opens what looks like a bomb shelter cover and the Lokis all start climbing in. We pan down past all the built up layers of crap, including a lot of lunch trays, Mjolnir, Throg, whose frustrated screaming as he tries to escape his jar is provided by Chris Hemsworth and some wires. We reach the shelter at the same time Loki does. Classic Loki asks why he wants to go back to the TVA anyway. Boastful Loki mocks "you leave your glorious purpose there?" Loki is too distracted by the sight of the room that obviously used to be a bowling alley before it was converted into a throne room for the criminally insane. There are giant candy canes surrounding a big, ornate chair with a neon "L" hanging crookedly over it.

Back at the TVA, Ravonna is orderering Miss Minutes to access the restricted files on "the beginning of time" and the foundation of the TVA. As the anthropomorphic clock is flipping through files, Sylvie asks what about the END of time. Ravonna shrugs that there's nothing there but a void. Sylvie asks what if there's something BEYOND the void though. Miss Minutes looks at Ravonna apprehensively. Sylvie says she hid in apocalypses because she realized it was impossible to create a diverging branch that would alert the TVA, right? So, if the Time Keepers are still writing the ending, it shouldn't be possible to diverge from anything there either because there's nothing to branch FROM. She asks how they get past the Void. Ravonna says they can't because there's nothing for the temp pad to lock on to for all the reasons she just said. Sylvie concludes that she needs to go "through it" then. Ravonna thinks that's a terrible idea. Sylvie says okay then, guess I no longer need you and starts menacing toward her. Miss Minutes frantically suggests the Void spacecraft. Ravonna says it's a prototype, but in theory it will travel to the end of time.
Emilio: Say hi to the Doctor and that Viking girl.
Chrissy: Viking....
Diandra: Capaldi era.
Chrissy: Ah. What happened to Jack Harkness?
Diandra: He went to the other comics universe.

According to Sylvie, the plan is then to find Loki, find the "man behind the curtain" and kill him. Ravonna seems to be on board with this. She shakes Sylvie's hand on it. But when she goes to pull away, Sylvie doesn't let go and casually asks Miss Minutes where the files on this timespacecraft are. Miss Minutes is flicking frantically through files, claiming they are buried deep in a way that looks suspiciously like stalling. Ravonna says she might not even have clearance to access them. Sylvie thinks she would if it were a real thing. Ravonna asks "how long" and Miss Minutes replies "any second now" before some minutement burst through the door.
Chrissy: Impressive that they programmed that code into an AI.

Sylvie kicks Ravonna aside and jumps up to the judge's bench at the head of the room. Ravonna tells the minutemen that Sylvie stole her temp pad. Then she calls to Sylvie that they know where her hiding places are now, so if she runs they'll just catch her eventually. Sylvie asks if Ravonna was lying the whole time or if she really did feel a little betrayal for a minute there. Ravonna tells her to come out and they can talk about that. Sylvie says sure, as soon as all those other guys fuck off. Ravonna offers to put her in a time loop of a good memory if she surrenders now. Assuming she has any. Sylvie mutters that she just has one. Then she activates the prune stick she stole, stands up and stabs it into her own chest. The minutemen all look shocked and horrified because they still think pruning equals death. Ravonna shrugs it off and walks away.

Back in Lokiville, Boastful Loki is telling the story about how he killed Captain America and Iron Man and collected all the Infinity Stones. Alligator Loki makes a grumbling noise, which Classic Loki translates as "growling and saying 'liar' at the same time." Boastful Loki sneers that at least his Nexus event wasn't "eating the wrong neighbor's cat."
Emilio: Hey, I can never resist a pussy.
[stunned silence for a solid minute]
Chrissy: My god, you really are playing the alligator, aren't you?
Diandra: I feel like I should just leave the two of you to finish this episode without me because I'm going to be out of my depth.
Chrissy: No, we need you to steer us back or we'll never finish.
Alligator Loki snarls and hops from his wading pool to chew on Boastful Loki's arm a bit. Loki and Classic Loki have to break them up. Loki looks horrified by this whole thing and Classic Loki just looks annoyed because he's probably had to do this a lot.

Kid Loki, sitting on the throne, prompts Classic Loki to tell everyone his story. Loki seconds that because he wants to know...uh..."well, we're supposed to die, right? Thanos kills us after Ragnarok?" Classic Loki snorts that everything went as it was supposed to in his timeline right up to Thanos. Loki asks if he tried to stab him.
Chrissy: Just because your response to every problem is to try to stab it doesn't mean the rest of us feel such an obvious need to compensate for an area where we clearly come up short.
Chrissy: I'll show you SHORT, you -
Diandra: OKAY, that's enough of that.
Classic Loki says no, blades "stunt our magic potential."
Chrissy: You really should stop this reliance on props.

So anyway, Classic Loki cast a projection so real even Thanos believed it. He made himself look like just a piece of debris and hid. Once everyone believed he was dead he just drifted through space away from everyone and everything. And because he had a lot of time to think then he got to realizing that pain followed him everywhere he went. So he went to a remote planet somewhere where he couldn't cause any anymore and stayed there all alone for a "long, long time." Loki asks how the TVA found him then. Classic Loki says he missed Thor and wondered if he or anyone else missed him. And, like...he was lonely. But the minute he tried to leave the planet the TVA captured him. Possibly because they hadn't realized he had escaped death until then. But Classic Loki concludes that they all have one part to play: "the God of Outcasts." He and Boastful Loki drink a toast to that from ornate goblets. Kid Loki drinks from a juice box.

Loki puts down his smaller goblet and says he's getting out of here. Because Lokis are just as good at escaping as they are at surviving, so he's pretty sure he can get back to the TVA. Classic Loki says he'll be murdered. Loki says fine, that's what was supposed to happen anyway. Kid Loki asks why he's different. Loki says he's not and asks if any of them have met a female Loki yet. Classic Loki makes exactly the face you would expect from someone right out of a 60s comic at the idea and says that sounds "terrifying".
Chrissy: Nah, I'm just trying to picture any of us in drag. It's horrifying.
Diandra: You know, actually...his shapeshifting ability did apparently malfunction at one point in the comics and got "stuck", much like the TARDIS got stuck as a blue police box, so for a while no matter what shape he took, it still had his face. So yeah. Imagine the alligator wearing Tom Hiddleston's or Richard E. Grant's face.
Loki says she is absolutely terrifying, yes, but that's the part that makes her great. She's not trying to take over the TVA, she's trying to destroy it. And she needs him.
Emilio: No I don't.

He summarizes what all the other Lokis said about Alioth. It's a living thing, like a shark, and it's what keeps them from leaving this place. If it's alive, it can die. So he's going to try to figure a way to kill it. Who's with him? The other Lokis laugh. The alligator grunts in what might be amusement. Loki stomps back to the bunker exit. Except when he opens the door he is faced with ten other Loki variants, only the leader of which is also Tom Hiddleston. This one is wearing a suit with a "vote Loki" pin on it, so everyone refers to him as President Loki. "Which one of us are you," he asks in a deeper voice than usual. I would like to thank the fans who suggested reading the Vote Loki comics based on seeing this version of him in the previews and assuming the show would draw from them. It doesn't at all, but it was probably the best Loki comic I read. Loki deflates and mutters that he is, in fact, in hel.

Sylvie wakes up in some sort of nest with giant eggs in it built into the back of a school bus. She climbs out and looks around at the wasteland full of decaying cars and some variation of the Golden Gate Bridge. Thunder and lightning crash and she instinctively runs as purple smoke consumes the bus. As she's running, she seems to use her enchantment power on a wisp of the smoke and sees a glimpse of...something. A pizza delivery car drives up, honking at her and she runs toward it, leaping in just ahead of the smoke. Mobius is driving and he snaps at her to shut the door and guns it away from Alioth the Smoke Monster. And by the way, "you should be careful just jumping into a stranger's car like that."
Emilio: What, are you going to kidnap me? Take me to your secret dungeon and have your way with me?
Diandra: ...............okay, I don't think that suggestive tone comes across in type, Emilio.
Chrissy: He likes it when you call him Daddy.
Diandra: NO HE DOESN'T. Stop it.

She yells at him to watch out. He says he sees it. She says "really? Because you're driving right towards it." He mutters that she really is "one of you."
Chrissy: And you surviving this long suggests that you might just be one too.
They drive past a great pyramid, the sphinx and what looks like Stonehenge. How the hell are all these landmarks getting here? Are they really purging timelines so completely?

Back in Lokiland, Classic Loki yells at Loki for bringing the "wolves" in. President Loki says they prefer the label "snakes". Kid Loki brags that he's eaten both for breakfast, so.
Emilio: Yeah, I tried snakes once. But I prefer cats.
Diandra: Is the rest of this recap going to be like this?
Emilio and Chrissy: Yes.
Diandra: Didn't I invite you to help KEEP us on track, Emilio?
Emilio: Yeah, I don't know why you thought that was going to work either.
Boastful Loki announces that he was actually the one behind this and calling mutiny on Kid Loki to declare himself king. President Loki is like 'eh...are you?' His Loki army all pull weapons. "What did you expect," he smarms. Boastful Loki blabs that he gave President Loki the location of the bunker in exchange for supplies. "You give me your army and I take the throne." Loki is just shaking his head in the corner like 'lord, save me from these idiots.'

President Loki says nope, his army, his throne. His Lokis all turn their weapons on him and he looks surprised, like........dude. You expected an army of Loki variants to exhibit loyalty? He yells that they had a DEAL. The alligator snarls and President Loki asks why the hel THAT is in here. Alligator Loki latches onto his arm and when he wrestles it free he is minus that hand. He looks at the bleeding stump and screams in a ridiculously high pitched shriek. Someone drags him away and a fight breaks out. Loki steps back to avoid a swinging mace. Kid Loki picks up the Alligator like a baby and runs for it. Loki tries to pick his way through the fighting without getting involved in this insanity. President Loki gets his head shoved in a popcorn machine. Classic Loki casts duplicates of himself, Loki, Kid Loki and Alligator Loki, which join the fight so they can escape through a green smoke portal he opens. Loki takes one last look at all the Lokis fighting each other in this demented underworld lair before stepping through the portal.
Chrissy: Can we go back to that President Loki comic for a second? You described it to me when you were reading it and it looks like we're treating that as belonging to another universe, probably where Loki tried this method of Earth takeover instead of the attack we saw in The Avengers. What was it you said at the end?
Diandra: That it exists in the same universe where Jane Foster is Thor and Loki is Sorcerer Supreme and Doctor Strange is a veterinarian with a talking dog that Loki turns into a ghost after he (the dog) dies?
Chrissy: That was it.
Diandra: Yeah, it's probably one of my favorites.

Back outside, Classic Loki rants about how they always lie and cheat and betray anyone who thinks of trusting them and "for what? Power. Glorious power. Glorious purpose! We cannot change. We're broken. Every version of us. Forever."
Chrissy: You sound like you could use a hug.
Chrissy: Touch me and die.
Kid Loki adds that whenever any of them tries to fix themselves, they're sent to this hellhole at the end of time. Loki thinks this is why getting out of here is important. They can't change anything unless he can stop the TVA. Classic Loki asks if he trusts her. Loki says she's the only one he trusts and she's their best chance against the TVA. Kid Loki believes him. Classic Loki says FINE, but they can only get him so close to Alioth because any closer is asking for death.

Alioth, meanwhile, has apparently just decided to stop chasing Sylvie and Mobius and retreated back up into the sky. Mobius is bemoaning the fact that he really thought he was working for the good guys. Sylvie is like 'really? You thought the guys destroying whole realities were the GOOD guys?' He guesses it has something to do with believing in ends justifying means and hey, she destroyed stuff too. Killed people. She sneers that she did what she HAD to. Mobius is like 'isn't that what I just said?' He apologizes for all that time he spent hunting her. She grumbles that she was hoping to find LOKI when she pruned herself, but that thing back there probably got him already. Because that Variant wasn't the brightest bulb.
Chrissy: Hey!
Emilio: What? It's true.
Anyway, it doesn't matter because she still needs to get out of this place and figure out who is behind the TVA. He asks how she plans to do that. She says they need to turn around. "What, and go back to the angry cloud?" She says yes, because she's starting to think it has the answers.

Classic Loki asks if Loki has an actual plan once they reach the Smoke Monster of Death. Loki plans to get inside it, find whatever vital organ he can and kill it. Kid Loki isn't so sure about that plan. The alligator growls and Loki claims he's on board with the plan. Classic Loki says no, he's praying because he's pretty sure they're all about to die.
Chrissy: I would love the back story for how he understands Alligator speak.
Diandra: I would say it's just an example of Allspeak in use, but I'm not sure the MCU has Allspeak since the whole "I took Groot as an elective" thing.
Emilio: Maybe some universes have it? Just not the MCU.
Diandra: I guess that works as well as any other explanation. Let's go with that.

They reach a cliff overlooking a valley just as a ship crackles into existence. It is marked USS Eldridge. The sailors on deck scramble as smoke starts pouring toward them. Loki exposits that, like any animal, Alioth will go after the big prey first. And they can take advantage of the distraction. Except before he even finishes the sentence, Alioth devours everyone on the ship and retreats. "Okay," Loki says. "Maybe we think a bit more about this, huh?"
Chrissy: Pretty sure all the thinking in the world isn't going to help you, bud.
Diandra: Change your tune?
Chrissy: I was being Classic Loki there.
Kid Loki spots a car coming. Loki asks if that's a bad thing. Kid Loki says it's usually cannibals, which come in two flavors in this hellscape: marauders and pirates. Sylvie gets out of the car and Loki runs toward her, stopping awkwardly in front of her and asking what happened. Mobius gets out behind her and Loki looks for a second like he might go to him instead and stops again.

The other Lokis wander up and Sylvie starts toward them defensively. Loki says it's okay, because they are his...er...friends. Sort of. He introduces them to Sylvie as "us as a child, us in the future and us as...uh...an alligator. It's best not to question it."
Chrissy: Thanks writers, but that's already been our mantra for a few movies now.
Sylvie asks if they're all chasing the giant cloud monster then. Loki says yeah, they're not sure how they're going to kill it yet, but... She interrupts like 'who said anything about killing it?' She turns to the other Lokis and asks if they were really going along with this idiot's plan. They're all like 'well, no, actually...'
Chrissy: Traitors.
Sylvie says the guy they're looking for is BEYOND the Void at the end of time, so that thing is just his guard dog, basically, keeping anyone from getting to him. Loki rolls with it and asks how they get past the guard dog then. She plans to enchant it. Loki snort laughs and says she's kidding, right? She says oh, right, we should totally go with your idea of killing the giant cloud monster. Loki starts spluttering that he's been down here longer than her and...she says they're doing it her way. End of story. Loki looks to Mobius, who is like 'don't look at me, dude, I'm with her.'
Emilio: She's the smart one.
Chrissy: All of us look brilliant compared to that one.

Back at the TVA, Ravonna goes to the time theater where they are apparently keeping B-15 in a cell along one wall. B-15 asks why she's been put in here. Ravonna says she was disloyal to the TVA and freed a variant. B-15 latches onto the disloyalty thing and reminds Ravonna that they were both in that chamber when the variant realized the Time Keepers aren't real. Ravonna doesn't think that changes anything. B-15 thinks the people need to know the truth. Ravonna thinks that until they figure out what, exactly, is going on, they need stability. So she's here to pump B-15 for information because she linked with the variant and knows what drives her. B-15 says yeah, revenge. And the goal of killing the Time Keepers until she realized they were robots, so now she wants to kill whoever made them. She cocks her head at Ravonna and says this isn't about protecting the TVA, is it? She wants to find out the truth too. But there's no way she'll get to the real forces behind the TVA before Sylvie does because "you only want it. She needs it."

As she's leaving the room, Ravonna pulls up a mobile version of Miss Minutes and asks her to retrieve all the files on the founding of the TVA, all the way back to the beginning of time. Because the founder(s) are in danger and she needs to find them.

Back in Lokiland, Mobius is telling Classic Loki that he doesn't remember ever coming across the alligator variant. Are they sure he really is a Loki variant? He could be lying. "Of course, that just makes him more likely to be a Loki." Kid Loki asks what happens if Mobius does actually get back to the TVA. He thinks he'll start telling people the truth. Classic Loki notes that he would be going against the organization he devoted his life to then.
Chrissy: Seriously, are we sure you're not a Loki variant yourself?
Mobius thinks it's never too late to change.

And Loki and Sylvie were not in the little room of ruins with them because they are sitting outside having their own conversation. Sylvie thinks Mobius isn't so bad. Loki is like 'yeah, that's probably why I'm falling in lo.....I mean, why we get along. Yeah, that's it.'
Chrissy: And there's the shipper.
Diandra: I mean, it's right there.
Sylvie says yeah, he obviously "cares about you."
Emilio: I'm sure he'd like to demonstrate how much he "cares about you" too.
Loki, who is, remember, a FROST GIANT, suddenly decides he's cold and conjures up a green blanket to wrap around himself. He offers to get one for her and she grumbles that she'd rather have a whole different outfit because "you've no idea how uncomfortable something like this is."
Chrissy: Oh, I don't, do I?
Diandra: Yeah, Tom totally put that in the script.

Sylvie is like anyway...about Mobius' theory of what the Nexus Event was..."total rubbish, right?" Loki agrees and they stutter through a little back and forth about 'I mean, I like you, but really...' She says she doesn't know how to do "this". He says he doesn't even know what they're doing.
Emilio: Oh, that much has been clear since the beginning.
Chrissy: You know...
She says she doesn't have friends. Loki wonders if that's really that important.
Chrissy: Who needs friends when you can have a whole planet kneeling before you.
Emilio: A whole planet seems like a lot. Who has that much stamina?
Chrissy: I do, but yeah, probably need to limit to mutants and supersoldiers and that one sorcerer and how far are you going to let me go before you stop me, D?
Diandra: What? Sorry, I went to my happy place where I wasn't getting sucked into a weird sexually suggestive conversation.
She says yeah, bringing down the TVA is more important. Loki says they're basically saving the universe and Sylvie is like 'woah, back up there, Drama Queen. But sure. Sort of.'

He alters the blanket so it goes around both of them and she notes that it isn't very plushy and what is it, "a tablecloth?" She chokes out a thank you as if she is not used to saying the words, which she probably isn't. She asks how she can be sure he won't just betray her in the eleventh hour. Y'know, because that's what Lokis are good at. He says he's betrayed everyone who ever loved him and he's aware of that and his reasons for doing it, but he's not that person anymore. She says if they do succeed in destroying the TVA "there might be a timeline for you to rule". But actually, neither of them knows what they will do then. Loki suggests they could figure it out together.

We get a closeup of one of those funny little birds running around and I just realized I think these are probably one of the animals in "Shang Chi". It segues us into a shot of the group standing on a cliff watching Alioth roil in the distance. Mobius asks what their next move is then. Sylvie says she linked with that thing briefly earlier. Just for a second, but she thinks that it knows what's behind the TVA and if she can get close enough, she can enchant it and make it take her to whoever it is. She pulls out Ravonna's stolen temp pad and hands it to Loki. He announces that he's staying with her. She admits that she doesn't really know if this is going to work. "You go, I go," he says.
Chrissy: This line courtesy of Jim Cameron.
Diandra: SNORT.
He hands it to Mobius, who is eager to get the fuck out of crazytown. He says he'll give their regards to Renslayer and asks if any of the other variants want to come with him. Kid and Classic Loki both refuse because this is their home now. The alligator growls, which could be either an agreement or a 'fuck them, I'll take it!' Kid Loki conjures a gold plated sword to hand to Loki, who conjures a holster to put it on his back. Classic Loki wishes him luck and the three other variants walk away.

Mobius opens a door to the TVA. Loki asks what he's going to do because he wasn't in that conversation earlier. Mobius says he'll burn it to the ground. Starting with the paperwork on his desk, probably. He holds out his hand to shake Loki's. Loki just hugs him.
Chrissy: I'm pretty sure that music playing there could just as easily have accompanied a kiss.
Mobius says "you're my favorite", but he's looking at Sylvie over Loki's shoulder, so.
Chrissy: Traitor.
Diandra: Well, you are adorable, but she is way more badass.
Chrissy: You LITERALLY just met her. I thought we had a thing going here, but I guess you were just using me to get to her.
Diandra: Uh...yeah. I believe we established right away that that's exactly what I was doing.
Emilio: We could always share.
Diandra: Who are you talking to?
Emilio: [points at Diandra] Mobius.
Chrissy: And now I'm a piece of meat, am I? A chew toy for the two of you to fight over? Actually, that sounds kind of fun. D, how many threesome stories are there in this fandom?
Diandra: I just assume that literally everything that can be tried with Loki has been at some point. I mean, we talked about how hilarious it was that people were talking about this show inventing the idea of selfcest when Loki has always been able to replicate himself and yeah, the second the multiverse came into play he was one of the characters who would inevitably try to bang another version of himself. And yes, before you ask, there is at least one Loki/President Loki story. Fandom communal bicycle. If you can think of a pairing, it probably exists.
Emilio: So, Loki/Howard the Duck...?
Diandra: ..........why would you think about that? Ugh. Probably. Thanks for that mental image. I may never sleep again.
Mobius disappears back to the TVA and Loki and Sylvie stare at the building storm some more while those faceless birds run around squeaking in alarm.

The plan now, such as it is, is to wait for a "branch" to appear and when Alioth is distracted by it, she will enchant him. The dragon face materializes out of the smoke monster and Loki...steps behind Sylvie. He asks if they have time to wait for a branch to just appear. She says then they'll need some other distraction. He puts a hand on her shoulder and they have a silent conversation where she shakes her head like 'no, that's a terrible idea, you moron' and he just nods and then...runs.
Chrissy: It's okay, I have experience distracting monsters. Just ask Fury and Captain Marvel.
He pulls the sword, which bursts into flame all along the blade. Not sure if he knew it would do that or if he's making it do that. He waves it like a crazy person trying to get Alioth's attention while Sylvie tries to enchant some of the tendrils that surround her. It turns toward Sylvie and starts diving toward her open-mouthed while he screams at it to LOOK AT HIM.

It almost swallows her, but at the last second something distracts it. Because Classic Loki realized that what they were doing wasn't going to work and came back and he's creating an illusion of the entirety of Asgard in the other side of the valley. Loki joins Sylvie again and she asks how the HELL he's doing that like 'did you know this was a thing we could do?' Loki thinks it's possible they have more powers than they know about.
Emilio: Well, you certainly do.
Diandra: But that's not difficult since he doesn't know much.
Chrissy: Right here, guys.
Sylvie takes his hand suddenly and says they're going to enchant it together. He still thinks he doesn't know how to do that. She says he does.

Classic Loki is playing with Alioth, making spires of buildings that the dragon mouth tries to consume. Sylvie catches a tendril in her free hand. Loki catches another, but it takes a few minutes for the green glow to start coming out of his hand.
Chrissy: I love how the closed captioning is like "grunting. Groaning. More grunting. Breathing heavily."
Emilio: Yeah, they could probably have switched it accidentally with the subtitles for a porno and see how long it took for anyone to notice.
Diandra [sarcastically]: Thanks, guys, that's really helping.
Classic Loki runs out of energy ("grunting weakly") and collapses. The generated Asgard disappears and Alioth turns to face him. He raises his arms and yells "glorious purpose!" and cackles like a lunatic as the dragon consumes him, leaving behind his helmet.
Chrissy: See, that's how you do it. Not by waving a little flame dagger and yelling "come get me."
Chrissy: I would point out the obvious indicator that I came out ahead here, but...well...you're dead.

Loki and Sylvie struggle to hang on to their tendrils as Alioth turns to them. It is just starting to swoop toward them when a green flash goes up the tendrils and it disappears in a poof. Sylvie tells Loki he can open his eyes now. He does as the still swirling clouds part to reveal some sort of castle.
Chrissy: Well, that wasn't that bad.
Diandra: Yeah, you didn't sound any crazier than usual.
Chrissy: I know you're trying to goad me, but I will take that as a compliment.

Episode 6: For All Time. Always. (Or: Get Ready for an Exposition Dump)

Here we go. Last one. For now.

The opening card for this episode features sound clips of various characters as their images appear on the screen. As follows.
[powering up noise]
Sam: Way to go, Tic Tac!
Hope: That's how you punch.
Scott: Nah, you wouldn't've heard of me.
Natasha: Let me put you on hold.
Star Lord: Dance off, bro!
Thor: ...a friend from work!
Captain America: I can do this all day.
Endgame Captain America: Yeah, I know.
Hank: I'll show you ferocity.
Captain Marvel: Higher, further, faster, baby!
Loki: We have a Hulk.
And then it's just a disaster of everyone talking over each other with nothing that can really be picked out.
Chrissy: That...is a weird mixture of catch phrases and very bizarrely chosen lines.
Diandra: Yeah, they couldn't have gone with "on your left" for Sam? Or, like, anything else for Thor? And I cut it off before the line from Korg because I just can't fathom the stupidity of that playing over the image of Tony using the Infinity Gauntlet while saying "I am Iron Man" because WHAT THE FUCK?

We open on a shot that looks like it could have come right out of "Cosmos" while voices talk about time and time's arrow and Neil Armstrong chimes in with "one small step for man" and then Greta Thunburg says "how dare they" as we zoom all the way out of the solar system, the galaxy, whatever. It goes quiet for a half a second and then the ball of matter explodes outward and we get quotes from Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela accompanied by various snippets of music both of the era and classical. And then there's Richard E. Grant yelling "glorious purpose" from the last episode and Vision's quote about love persevering from WandaVision. And Maya Angelou saying "I will rise."

We finally stop moving through space when we reach a weirdly shaped rock hovering near a beam of light and push in on the rock to the shot we ended the last episode on of Loki and Sylvie looking at the castle in the distance. Only now there are rocks hovering all around them. Cut to the title card with what the closed captioning claims is the "theme music" despite not being the melody played over the last five episodes.

When we come back, Loki and Sylvie are approaching the door of the castle. Sylvie asks if he's going to tell her not to just kick the door in. He's like 'oh, because you would actually listen to me this time?' She says she'd like him to speak up if he thinks it's a bad idea.
Chrissy: You think all MY ideas are bad ideas, so how would that help?
Emilio: I'm obviously stalling.
She starts rambling about how she was pruned before he was even born and she's been trying to get to this moment her whole life, so...she needs a moment. Before she can do anything though, the doors creak open by themselves. They step cautiously into the entry, which is all done in ornate, gold streaked black.

Miss Minutes appears suddenly in front of them and they both draw their daggers. Apparently there was a cut scene - probably here - featuring a longer fight between them and the holographic clock person. Because the alligator wasn't insane enough, I guess. Miss Minutes recites a canned message welcoming them to the Citadel at the End of Time and "he's impressed" they made it. Sylvie pauses in her creeping around Miss Minutes to ask who "he" is. Miss Minutes is like 'well, He Who Remains, of course. Silly.' Loki waits for a second to see if there's anything else to that before prompting "and who is he?" Miss Minutes just says he "created all", "controls all" and "at the end, it is only He Who Remains." Anyway, he thinks he can make a deal with them because he's figured out a way to reinsert them into the timeline without causing a disruption or doing any damage to the TVA, which will continue as it was.

Loki prods her for more specifics and she says he can win the Battle of New York and kill Thanos and get the throne of Asgard AND the Infinity Gauntlet himself.
Chrissy: How is that not causing a disruption?
Diandra: Yeah, we're doing a whole series about this.
She turns to Sylvie and says she can wake up tomorrow with a whole lifetime of happy memories.
Chrissy: We're going to lobotomize you.
Diandra: Or plug you into the Matrix.
Chrissy: Yeah, that would probably make more sense.
Most importantly, they would be together. Which is batshit, but He Who Remains thinks he can make it work. Sylvie comes to the obvious conclusion that this is bullshit and they can't just replace their lives with a happy fairy tale. Loki says they're writing their own destiny now. Miss Minutes says "sure you do, good luck with that," in a tone that Southerners can probably recognize as being the same used when saying "oh, bless your heart" and disappears.

She reappears to Ravonna at the TVA and apologizes for the delay because "some things had to get worked out." She's downloading the files Ravonna asked for now. Ravonna picks up her temp pad, pushes a couple buttons and says these are not the files she asked for. Miss Minutes says He thought these would be more useful and disappears again.
Emilio: She is the real villain of this series, isn't she?
Diandra: Casey probably programmed her.
Emilio: [blank stare]
Diandra: Badgy!
Chrissy: If this is a "Star Trek" thing again...
Emilio: Maybe?
Diandra: You haven't seen "Lower Decks"?
Emilio: Like, two episodes.
Diandra: Oh, it's one of my favorites. Okay, just imagine if Clippy's personality was merged with Hal from "2001: A Space Odyssey" into an evil AI from Hell.
Chrissy: Okay, you really need to recap the "Star Trek" movies next. If for no other reason than you might get this out of your system.
Diandra: Oh, please. Like that would work.

Back in the Citadel at the End of Time, Loki and Sylvie creep down a hallway to another room with four statues, one of them broken on the floor. The entire interior of the building including the statutes is done in that gold veined black marble, by the way. Loki runs fingers through the thick layer of dust at the base of one of the statues and asks if they're sure this guy is actually still alive. Seemingly in answer to this, an elevator arrives behind the far doors and opens to a very amused Jonathan Majors. He gushes at the two Loki variants brandishing daggers at him that it is just "wild" to see them both here together like this and chomps on an apple. Sylvie asks if he's He Who Remains then. Around a mouthful of apple, He notes that the clock is still calling him that then. Okay. Cool. He invites them to come with him to his office so they can talk.

They follow warily, keeping their daggers pointed at him the whole way. He just continues to eat his apple and try to engage them in small talk. He notes that he isn't what they were expecting. Loki is like 'a human? Not really.' Sylvie notes that on the plus side, this makes him easier to kill. She takes a swing at him and he suddenly disappears and reappears on the bench behind them, giggling. Sylvie takes another swing and he repeats the dodge. On the third attempt, he disappears entirely. The elevator arrives at its destination and the doors open on his smirking face. He invites them in and goes to pour tea or something like none of that just happened. He sets the cups beside the two chairs in front of his desk and tells them to sit. They do very slowly, keeping their daggers pointed at him the whole time.

Back at the TVA, Ravonna is frantically jamming files in a bag when Mobius enters the office, a prune stick in hand. She just mildly notes that if anyone was going to come back from the Void, it makes sense that it would be him.
Chrissy: Any of the Loki variants, really. You do know you're one of them now, right?
Emilio: So we're going with that headcannon?
Diandra: She is, obviously.
She asks if he's planning on using that prune stick on her. He says that sounds like a neat idea, "but, you know, my standards might be a little bit higher in that area than yours."
Chrissy: Yeah, he doesn't jab just anybody with his prune stick.
Diandra: Sigh. Must you?
Chrissy: I think we both know the answer to that by now.

Anyway, he means he doesn't do that to friends. She says she's sorry about that betrayal, but she couldn't let him compromise the mission. He's not sure what that mission is, exactly, anymore seeing as they are all Variants answering to animatronic space lizards controlled by who the hell knows what. She's having a hard time adjusting, apparently, because she says she's convinced it can't possibly have all been "for nothing". She radios for a hunter to come to her office and Mobius says yeaaaaaahhhhhhh, that's probably not going to work because we all know "your secret" now. He pulls out the pen she was using on all the paperwork before.

We flashback...maybe...to Freemont, Ohio in 2018. B-15 takes cover in an office with a pencil cup on the desk full of those pens while hunters chase her. She tells the one that catches up to wait a minute and pre-TVA Ravonna - who was apparently principal or vice principal or something of this school - comes into the room to ask what the hell these people are doing in her office. The hunter is confused and B-15 says yeah, there's more where that came from.

Citadel at the End of Time. He Who Remains is rambling about all the years Sylvie spent running and describes Loki as a "flea on the back of a dragon" and it's really amazing they made it this far. Loki growls that He Who Remains doesn't seem to grasp the gravity of his predicament. "We found you." HWR snorts that that was kind of the idea. Sylvie, sick of this shit, gets up and takes another swing at him. He transports to the back of the chair, just past the dagger, before she can make contact and chuckles "so we're still doin' that, hmm?"
Chrissy: Yeah, she doesn't give up easy.
He pulls out a book and sets a couple sheets of paper in front of them as he explains that all their attempt to kill him are bound to fail because he knows exactly what's going to happen. Loki picks up one of the sheets, which is a printout - like the stack he signed in the first episode - of all the things that have been said in the past few minutes. He says this is a "parlor trick". HWR asks them to explain how he's able to get out of the way every time. Sylvie says the temp pad. He says yeah, but how is it loaded with all the details he needs for these particular interactions? It's because he has seen everything on the timeline. Shit the TVA doesn't even know about. He illustrates by talking about some details from the Nexus event on Lamentis, in particular the part where they were making goo goo eyes at each other as the apocalypse approached. Sylvie brushes it off and says they "broke out of your little game". He says no, they haven't. He was guiding them the whole way, making sure they got here in the end. So they're welcome.

He says he has the rest of how everything goes too, if they're interested. Sylvie asks why the hell they're here if there's only one predetermined way everything can go. He says something about not being able to complete the journey unless you've been changed by it.
Chrissy: Terms and conditions may be limited only to those defined as "heroes".
Emilio: Isn't the point of the Hero's Journey that they BECOME heroes without having to be heroes already at the beginning?
Diandra: I don't know how often stories send villains on a hero's journey. Maybe.
He says this all needs to happen so they can "finish the quest". Loki concludes that it's all a game then. A "manipulation". HWR thinks that's an interesting choice of word. He turns to Sylvie and asks if she thinks she can trust Loki. Or, like...anyone? She sort of looks awkwardly sideways at Loki like 'well, not really, but...'

TVA. Mobius thinks everyone is ready for the truth. Ravonna thinks the lie is necessary because there HAS to be a reason this place was created and they were given this purpose of safeguarding the Sacred Timeline. Mobius doesn't think she would be talking about necessity if she saw what happened to the stuff they pruned. She argues that for all they know that might be better than leaving the timeline to fall into chaos. He asks what about free will. She snorts that the only person who "gets" free will is "the one in charge".
Chrissy: You know, we have a name for people who are perfectly fine with living in a dictatorship as long as they agree with the dictator.
Emilio: Republicans?
Chrissy: I was going to say Trump supporters and Bernie Bros, but yeah, that works too.
Diandra: Extremists of all flavors. Just steamroll over everyone and disregard any objections or due process to get the shit I agree with done.
He stares for a minute, then reminds her of all the flowery shit she once said about their friendship before sending him into the Void to die. She yells that he BETRAYED her by siding with those Variants after everything she did for him.

She opens a door with her temp pad and he asks what she's doing. She non answers that it's what she NEEDS to do. He tries to stop her with an offer to rebuild the TVA into "something better." When she refuses, he powers up the prune stick in his hand. She says he's "of no danger" to her with that.
Emilio: Random blow to his manhood there.
Chrissy: Pffffttttt. What are you going to do with that little thing?
Diandra: Thanks. Really nice. At least the Lokis appreciate me.
He goes to jab her with the stick and she disarms him easily and kicks him to the ground. He groans and looks at her hovering over him with the armed stick. He tells her to just go ahead and do it. She disarms it and heads for the still open door. He asks where she's going. "In search of free will," she says.

Okay, now we're really gonna settle in for the eleventh hour exposition dump that may or may not have been the result of COVID messing with the MCU's entire lineup and forcing changes. You see, this show was originally supposed to air at about the same time "Multiverse of Madness" was in the theater and "No Way Home" was still a few months off, which would have reinforced the whole facing off against an evil variant of yourself thing, but then both of those movies were put on hold so this show had to introduce it entirely alone after the weirdness that was Captain America fighting with a past self in "Endgame". He Who Remains says he gets that they have moral objections to what he and the TVA are doing, but without them "everything burns." He says he's been called many things over time, like a dick and (Kang the) Conqueror, but he should probably explain what is meant by "He Who Remains" now.

He flicks a little blob of gold veined black goop onto the desk from the control thing on his wrist and it starts behaving much like the sand display stuff they use in Wakanda. It forms a little model of him as he explains that before the TVA, a scientist variant of him lived on 31st century Earth, where he discovered that the multiverse was a thing. As did several other variants of him. And they figured out how to contact each other and travel between those universes. And after a narcissistic circle jerk they started sharing technology and knowledge across universes, including finding that one idiot kid in San Francisco and teaching him how to control multiversal travel.
Chrissy: We managed to get this far without a reference to "Sliders". I'm not sure if I should be impressed by your restraint or baffled at all the "Star Trek" references you went through instead to get here.
Diandra: "Star Trek" has multiverse shit too. It's just mixed in with all the other sci fi shit that applies to lots of other things.

Of course, not every version of HWR was so...noble minded. Some of them saw other universes as places to be "conquered".
Chrissy: And some saw the other variants as people to be "conquered".
Diandra: Just because the Lokis are into selfcest doesn't mean everybody is.
Emilio: Well...He definitely is too.
Diandra: Yeah, he did just admit to being a narcissist somewhere in there, didn't he?
So it turned into a war between variants and universes because, hi, human nature. The black goo forms into several variants locked in a battle with spears like an ancient statue depicting some mythological bullshit. Unsurprisingly, a big multiversal war nearly caused the end of everything. Sylvie is like 'yeah, I saw this part of the propoganda video. This is when the Time Keepers intervened and saved everyone.' HWR is like 'cute little bedtime story, right? Yeah. Here's what really happened.' He says the original variant found a "creature" that had been created by all their fucking with the fabric of reality. It could consume time and space. He prompts them like a school teacher to name that creature because they both know it now. Loki grumbles "Alioth"
Emilio: Hey, maybe you aren't so dumb after all.
Chrissy: Ha. Cute. Are you Sylvie or He Who Is Not Named right now?
Emilio: Yes.

HWR switches from the third person to the first, saying HE captured the creature and experimented on it and weaponized it. And he ended the war between universes by isolating "our timeline" and managing its flow to "prevent any further branches" via a bureaucratic organization that unwittingly sends anything not meant to be to Alioth in the name of some all knowing space lizards its employees think created them. He gets excited at this point, jumping on top of the desk as he rants about how all these things created eons of "cosmic harmony" and they are welcome. The Lokis are unimpressed. He dissolves his little multimedia presentation and jumps back down, saying they came to kill the devil, but, you know, he's actually keeping them - and literally EVERYONE ELSE - safe so he's closer to the other guy. But "if you think I'm evil, well...just wait 'til you meet my variants." So, in conclusion, their choices are "stifling order or cataclysmic chaos." And if they "dispose" of him, something worse can always fill the Dictator-shaped void.
Chrissy: Feel free to apply this to literally any time a dictator or dictator wannabe was in charge anywhere throughout history.
Diandra: Yeah, I think I mentioned that in my Marvel novella. It's the thing that always comes up in alt history "what ifs". As bad as the one guy is, the alternative could very well be a whole lot worse. And it isn't limited to people. If you prevented the Titanic disaster, the next luxury liner to go down might have taken EVEN MORE people with it.

HWR claims he's gone through every possible scenario and concluded this was the only way that would work. Sylvie suggests an alternative: he's full of shit and all that was lies. He smirks at her like 'yeah, sure. Obviously I'm never going to convince you, so.' Loki asks what happens now then. He just goes back to "pruning" divergent timelines? HWR says nope, they can do it. Because as he sees it, they have two choices here: kill him, destroy the citadel, the TVA, etc. and instead of "one devil, you have an infinite amount". Or the two of them can run it. Because he's tired of being the one in charge.
Chrissy: Just how desperate do you have to be to hand your job to anyone else that you will give control over preventing the multiverse from falling into chaos over to the God of Chaos?

He says he's gone through a bunch of scenarios again trying to find someone who could take over the job and "it turns out that person came in two."
Chrissy: Just how badly did it go with all the Doctor Strange variants? I assume he was in at least some of those scenarios.
Diandra: Yeah, this is where the fact that this and his second movie were supposed to be at the same time might have come into play. There's probably something in that movie that proves he would be terrible at it. Or, like...all the variants including the one who destroyed his whole universe play more important roles somewhere else.
So, HWR circles back to the choice between killing him and the Sacred Timeline and returning to the multiversal war or become the new, benevolent rulers of the TVA. They can even tell everyone who works for the TVA who they really are and what the purpose of the place is. Sylvie is still stuck on the fact that he has been treating people's lives like it's a game. He argues that all the decisions were practical. She says it was very PERSONAL to her. He snaps and yells at her to grow up. Because they are ALL villains who have a history of horrible behavior, but at least this way they can do terrible things for a good reason.
Chrissy: I guess that is some sort of terrifying logic.
Diandra: And circling back to the Doctor Strange variants thing, this is probably your answer. The guy who fucked off to the Arctic circle to avoid taking sides during the Mutant Registration Act War and couldn't separate from Steve Rogers after Gamora mutated them together because it gave him a crisis of ethics probably wouldn't be good at making the sort of decisions HWR has been making.

There's a rumbling noise outside and HWR drops the giddy act and starts looking around worriedly. "We just crossed the threshold," he says. He picks up a thing on his desk and lets it drop experimentally. He turns back to them like 'yeah, so I was lying about one thing.' He said he knew how this entire encounter would go, but he only knew up to a certain point, which they are now past.
Chrissy: Plot convenience, that.

We pan outside the citadel, where the beam of "sacred timeline" running through it starts branching as it comes out as he says no, really, he has no idea what's going to happen from now on. Loki says that's it then? "This is what happens at the end of time?"
Emilio: We don't even get a decent restaurant that serves sentient cows?
Diandra: I was wondering when that reference was going to come up. Thanks, Emilio.
Chrissy: Side note: I'm starting to understand that thing you said about getting distracted by Tom's voice, D, because I can FEEL it vibrating through the floor right now.
Diandra: Yeah, I had just gotten a new speaker system when this show first came on and I could feel his voice rumbling through the floor, the couch, the inside of my ribcage...it distracted me from the actual words. Luckily, I'm used to it by now so I don't have that problem anymore.
Emilio: I'm glad you said "ribcage" after "couch" there.
Diandra: Yeah, I'm trying not to be crude because...
Chrissy: Oh, his voice always has an effect on THAT.
Diandra: ......because that's Chrissy's job.

Anyway. Loki says so now he's just going to sit back and let THEM decide his fate? HWR says yes, absolutely! "What's the worst that can happen?"
Chrissy, Diandra and Emilio: [collective groan]
He says it's sort of win-win in the sense that either they take this burden off his hands and continue his "life's work" or they kill him and allow an infinite number of hims to wreak havoc and he'll probably end up right back here as a sort of reincarnation to try to stop Multiversal War II. Sylvie is still stuck on the idea that everything he says is a lie or a manipulation and Loki sighs.
Emilio: Hey, one of us has to be the skeptic. We can't all be Fox Mulder.
Diandra: Okay, I think we can stop the random references now.
HWR insists he's not lying. He takes the controller thing off his wrist and sets it on their side of the desk, rambling about honesty and fresh starts.

There's a pause and the only noise is the distant rumbling thunder and the fire crackling in the fireplace along the wall. And then Sylvie and Loki both jump up at the same time, her to stab HWR and him to hold her back. She spins on Loki and asks what the FUCK he thinks he's doing. HWR watches them like this is a particularly entertaining stage play while they argue. She suggests they put off this argument until after they finish what they came here for. She lunges for HWR again and Loki pulls her back via magic. They fight each other for a bit and when she pauses he asks what if HWR is NOT lying. Because he's starting to believe him. She sneers that he really thinks a bunch of bad guys will show up just because they grant everyone free will. Loki says yes, he's obviously insane, but he's not LYING. Because if ever anyone could tell when someone is lying it's another professional liar. HWR pipes up that they'd better hurry up and make a decision because the timeline is branching out there.
Emilio: Also, I can hear the whole 'he's crazy' thing. I'm right here.
Chrissy: Why are you He Who Remains as well as Sylvie?
Emilio: Sorry. I think I'm getting used to being the bad guy.

Loki wants them to think about it for a minute. Sylvie doesn't know what, exactly, there is to THINK about. Loki asks if she heard a word he just said. The whole remove the dictator and create a vacuum thing? She accuses Loki of wanting to go the Take Over the TVA route because he wants the "throne". He says what? No. They literally are deciding the fate of the universe as they know it. And HWR might be right about things being even worse if they kill him. Sylvie stubbornly launches into accusations that he can't be trusted and has been conning her this whole time so he could rule the TVA. Or something. He's like 'oh, FINE, see if I care since you obviously never trusted me this whole time and thought I was just working some evil plan.' She questions how they're seeing this from such different perspectives if they are variants of the same person. He says because "you can't trust and I can't be trusted." She lunges again and they fight and the subtitles are just all variations of grunting and groaning again.

She magic blasts him into a wall. He magics things in front of her to try to stop her advancing at HWR again. He runs in front of her and produces a dagger to deflect hers after apparently being disarmed a little while ago. She backs him onto the desk. He pushes her back again, yelling that it doesn't matter if he's lying or not, the risk of doing the wrong thing is too great. She tips his dagger toward her chest and invites him to kill her then and claim his throne. He refuses to. After a couple more blows, she does something to magic him away. He reappears as she's swinging at HWR's head, blocking her. He just tells her to stop and when she actually hesitates, he says he's been where she is now. And he doesn't want to hurt her and he doesn't care about having a throne anymore. "I just want you to be okay." She drops the dagger and kisses him. Then before we can think that actually worked, she says she's not him, opens a door back to the TVA and shoves him through it, closing it before he can come back through.

So true story...when I went to see "Rise of the Skywalker" in the theater there was this one guy who yelled in outrage when Rey and Kylo Ren kissed. I am wondering now, how many people were doing that during this scene of this show too because it seems to have the same vibe and I saw several "we all hated this episode" comments online after it dropped.
Chrissy: I mean...what were they expecting?
Diandra: I don't know. Loki and Mobius to be more of a thing? God, that sounds like those assholes dismissing criticism of that last episode of "Sherlock" as just being from pissed off shippers.
Chrissy: Well, there might be some of that, but all I saw was positive response and very high ratings for the show, so they're probably in the minority opinion. I would think the bigger problem would be the fact that we just went through half an episode of exposition instead of the expected resolution.
Diandra: Yeah, hold that thought for a bit. We'll circle back to that.

Sylvie turns to HWR, who is still watching this like he's just wishing he had thought to make popcorn. He giggles as she sweeps his entire desk aside and starts menacing toward him. She asks if he's going to beg for his life. He says well, he COULD, but... She stabs the dagger into his gut. "See you soon," he chuckles before slumping over. She staggers back, probably realizing that wasn't as rewarding as she'd hoped it would be, and collapses to the ground crying. We pan out the window behind HWR to the branching timestream that's looking less like a line and more like a chaotic web of galaxies.

Back at the TVA, the monitor is showing branches everywhere going past the red line. Mobius says there's no turning back now. B-15 is like 'good' and they do the "for all time, always" call and response at each other.

Meanwhile, Loki is still in the room he was banished to, crying or trying to stop crying. He gets up and runs through several locations of the TVA, past scrambling agents. He finds Mobius and B-15 in the library (which...here's your first clue something's off), looking at a pad that is identifying 60 new branches "in this unit alone". "Does he want us to just let them all branch," B-15 asks. Mobius doesn't know how they could stop that. Loki cuts in to say they can't stop it because "it's done. We made a terrible mistake." They freed the timeline after finding "him beyond the storm" in a "citadel at the end of time". And now someone is coming. Or rather, many versions of one very dangerous someone and they need to prepare for a war and... Mobius calmly tells him to breathe and slow down. "You're an analyst, right? What division are you from?" Loki blinks in confusion so he adds "what's your name?" As Loki slowly realizes he's in a different reality where none of them knows who he is, he steps over to the balcony and looks up in horror at a giant statue of He Who Remains, possibly where there had been one of the Time Keepers before.

We smash to credits and instead of a mid credit scene this time, we get a close up of Loki's TVA case file as it is stamped with the words "Loki will return in season 2", becoming the first of all the Disney+ Marvel series to do this after the other two insisted they were one-off miniseries.This might partly explain why the buildup in action bafflingly ended with an eleven minute exposition dump and never really concluded anything. The rest probably boils down to COVID some way or another.
Chrissy: You were talking a few recaps back about how COVID impacted the story the MCU had planned, forcing a bunch of reshuffling, rewrites, reshoots, etc. I think you said it wouldn't be as noticeable once we got past stuff that was filming during the initial wave, but we're obviously not there yet and I'm not sure the stuff coming out now isn't showing cracks either.
Diandra: Yeah, I think somebody pointed out that Marvel had everything scheduled so far in advance that delaying, like, two movies had a domino effect on everything. And things that were able to finish filming got pushed into different order. Like "WandaVision" coming before "Falcon and the Winter Soldier", which didn't screw up much other than jarring audiences with the difference coming off of the movies. But the introduction of all the multiversal stuff is now...wonky because this was supposed to be released at about the same time as "Multiverse of Madness" and before "No Way Home".
Emilio: Which explains why that ending should have a major effect on everything that came after it but didn't.
Diandra: Yeah, I'm assuming "Multiverse of Madness" will still at least be running parallel to this since they're both dealing with shit coming from other universes.
Chrissy: So we can look forward to Doctor Strange and Loki interacting again outside of fanfiction, probably.
Diandra: Trust you to focus on that detail.
Chrissy: Says the slash writer who has written a couple hundred pages of different variations on Hiddlebatch.
Diandra: Two. It's only two variations.
Chrissy: Only because you keep refusing to do that "Only Lovers Left Alive" crossover. Or the How to Stop Time crossover.
Diandra: [deep breath]
Chrissy: Yes, I know you said we don't know that will actually be a thing, but when have details like that ever stopped a fanfiction writer?
Diandra: Yeah. Anyway. I'm sure we'll talk a lot more about how the changes in scheduling and release order impacted the storyline when we get to "No Way Home". And by then we should know how many of the insane Qfanon theories surrounding "Multiverse of Madness" proved to actually be true.

Emilio: Back up a second...Hiddlebatch is an actual thing? I thought it was just you combining two obsessions.
Diandra: I don't know whether to be insulted or flattered that you think I invented a ship that's been around for at least a decade. Welcome to the fandom.
Chrissy: I find it particularly hilarious how baffled they are by it, even after Benedict once answered a question with something about a Doctor Who/Sherlock/Loki "fuck fantasy".
Diandra: As I recall, he added something like "get on that, Internet," at the end of that like it didn't already exist by that point and he thought we needed ideas. But to answer your question, Emilio...maybe...fans arrived at that pairing the same way we arrive at any pairing: by exploiting the chemistry between two people. It's just that in this case, those two people are actors and the vibe they give off is due to them actually being friends outside of a work context so it gets applied to all variations of their characters, a couple of which share universes so it would hardly be a stretch to figure out how to get them to interact.
Chrissy: I love how you put so much thought into the psychology of something that is basically the grown up equivalent of a kid playing with various action figures, Barbies and/or My Little Ponies with flagrant disregard for logical storytelling.
Diandra: And that's different from what Neil Gaiman does whenever he writes for Marvel comics how?
Emilio: She has a point there.
Chrissy: It isn't, no. That's kind of the beauty of fanfiction. It doesn't have to make sense. You can just throw any characters you like together even if they are played by the same actor in completely different franchises and see how long it takes for them to make out.
Diandra: And now that we've come back around to selfcest and the fact that this show didn't invent it...
Emilio: Did we ever leave that?
Diandra: Hmm. We cool if I do quick jogs through the next couple things in the MCU? Because I really don't think I want to do full recaps of "Shang Chi" and "Hawkeye".
Emilio: You forgot about "Eternals".
Diandra: No, I didn't, but I'm trying to.
Chrissy: If you want to take a break from Marvel for a while, we could always do the "Star Trek" movies. Based on what Emilio said earlier, I think we could invite him to play all the villains.
Diandra: This is going to be the new "Night Manager", is it?
Chrissy: Or you could do that, as long as you're bringing it up.
Diandra: Sigh.