The second season of the Marvel Studios series is underwhelming despite expanding on the Kang mythology
PLOT: Loki finds himself in a battle for the soul of the Time Variance Authority. Along with Mobius, Hunter B-15 and a team of new and returning characters, Loki navigates an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous multiverse in search of Sylvie, Judge Renslayer, Miss Minutes and the truth of what it means to possess free will and glorious purpose.
REVIEW: Who would have thought that in the two years since Loki debuted on Disney+, the world would have begun to turn on Marvel Studios? What was once an unstoppable success story, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a shell of its former self, with many decrying the watered down quality of Kevin Feige’s slate after the first phase of the Multiverse Saga did not align as well as the Infinity Saga did. Nevertheless, the first MCU series to get a second season, Loki brings with it high expectations. Starring Tom Hiddleston as the fan-favorite character, Loki‘s second season is also the first appearance by Jonathan Majors in the MCU since his highly publicized legal issues. Full of jaunts to different worlds and eras, season two of Loki manages to deepen the mythology around Kang the Conqueror and his multitude of variants while not doing much else. An entertaining diversion, Loki is thin on depth but big on atmosphere as a new batch of writers and filmmakers dive into this sophomore run.
Teased in the end credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, this new season picks up directly from the first season finale and pits Loki and the rest of the Time Variance Authority against the crumbling multiverse after the death of He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). While being ripped through time, Loki and Mobius (Owen Wilson) team up with Ouroborous, or O.B. (Ke Huy Quan), to try and fix the aftershocks caused in the season one finale. This means finding Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) as well as Syllvie (Sophia Di Martino). They must also contend with warring factions within the TVA, led by X-5 (Rafael Casal) and Dox (Kate Dickie). There is also the new variant of Kang from 19th Century Chicago known as Victor Timely (Jonathan Majors, again). All of this while B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Casey (Eugene Cordero) also help fix things. The cast is all good, with the production values as good, if not better, than last season. Everything about this season fits alongside the first run, but something feels slightly off.
In the first season, Loki was focused on the titular sibling of Thor as he contended with being pulled from the Endgame-created parallel timeline. A criminal who met his doppelgangers and fell for his female self, Loki discovered that the TVA was created by a “good” version of Kang, whose death set this season in motion. Through the first four episodes made available for this review, Loki goes to the 1970s, 1980s, 1870s, and 1890s for brief jaunts before spending most of the season within the TVA. The first episode establishes the “time slipping” that Loki suffers from, which only O.B. knows how to fix. We are introduced to many new characters in a propulsive episode that shifts back and forth through time. It is a solid opening that poses many questions without answering much. Then, very abruptly, the second season starts in a different place. I thought that I must have skipped an episode and was lost for half the chapter before giving up and going along with it. By the fourth episode, I realized what they were going for, and it still did not make much sense. A lot of this season of Loki feels that way as it tries to cram a lot into the six-episode season and still manages not to explain very much.
The standouts this season are Jonathan Majors and Ke Huy Quan. Hot off of his Oscar win for Everything Everywhere All At Once, Quan is great as the TVA’s repair guy with an important amount of knowledge concerning what is happening to the timeline. At no point does Quan’s casting feel like a stunt move, as he fits right in with the off-kilter tone of the series. Majors is fantastic in a role vastly different from other iterations of Kang he has played before and shows just how talented he is as an actor. It remains to be seen how his real-life drama will impact his place in the MCU, but I would love to see what else he can bring to these roles. The chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino is intact, but they share much less screen time in the episodes I have seen than last season. Conversely, Hiddleston and Owen Wilson share a lot more time, and both get to explore their dynamic friendship more. I was surprised at how vital Tara Strong would be as Miss Minutes this season, but her scenes are amongst my favorites. I was less enthusiastic about Rafael Casal as Brad Wolfe, AKA X-5, who seems shoehorned into the series and never quite worked for me.
This season’s quality shift is likely due to the new crew behind the camera. Director Kate Herron and series creator Michael Waldron transitioned duties to new showrunner Eric Martin and directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead. Martin, who scripted one episode in season one, wrote all six episodes of season two, four solo and two alongside Kasra Farahani & Jason O’Leary and Katharyn Blair. Benson and Moorhead, who helmed episodes of Moon Knight, directed four episodes, with FX supervisor Dan DeLeeuw and Kasra Farahani directing one each. Like Moon Knight, much of Loki looks great and has solid music and production values, yet it feels oddly slow in many places. The mystery of Loki’s first season and just where it was headed kept me intrigued week after week, with the finale cliffhanger promising more time-traveling adventures. This season, despite the excellent musical score by Natalie Holt, never quite builds that same momentum. The first and second episodes feel disjointed, and their flow feels like scenes are missing between them. The premiere episode has a post-credit scene, whereas the rest do not, but they all end unceremoniously especially the fourth episode.
I expected a lot more from this new season of Loki. As good as Tom Hiddleston is at portraying the God of Mischief, a few references to Tony Stark and Thor are not enough to redeem this latest entry in the MCU. Like Secret Invasion before it, Loki wastes a great opportunity to put Marvel Studios back on track by delivering multiple episodes that feel like they are treading water. If the series’ final two episodes do not produce a seismic shift in the direction of this story, I am not sure if fans will be willing to come back for a third run. Like Quantumania, season two of Loki feels more focused on deepening the mythology of Kang than telling an effective story of its own. It is a shame, as I liked the ensemble cast of Loki and the reset direction for Tom Hiddleston’s character. There are things I liked about this season, and it is worth watching for Jonathan Majors and Ke Huy Quan, but it is another underwhelming entry in the once-flawless Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Loki Season 2 premieres on October 5th on Disney+.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/loki-season-2-tv-review/