SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details from the Season 2 finale of Loki.
The Season 2 finale of Loki wove together more than a decade of character development for Tom Hiddleston’s titular character.
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As the episodes title indicates, the God of Mischief finally fulfills his glorious purpose by taking on the ultimate burden in order to save his friends, as well as everyone who has ever existed.
When Loki realizes that the Temporal Loom will never be able to safely hold all the branches of time, it doesn’t take long for him to understand what he must do. The final moments of the episode see Loki using his own powers to revive and hold together all the branches of time at the citadel at the end of time.
He is no longer just the God of Mischief. He is the God of Stories … his own and everyone else’s.
“Going into Season 2, it felt like an opportunity to bring gravity to the series to step up a level, because we marched up the line and got to the man behind the curtain and the stakes got extremely high at the end of the season. Let’s keep climbing. Let’s keep building that,” head writer Eric Martin told Deadline. “The idea was always Loki would finally get his throne when it was the last thing he wanted. And like Atlas, he’s burdened with this purpose and his purpose is holding all of time together. He has replaced the Loom. He’s become so powerful that he alone can hold time together.”
Even in the midst of Season 1, the creative team knew they wanted Season 2 to “take Loki from a lowercase ‘g’ god to a capital ‘G’ God,” as Martin put it.
“Then the work goes into like, how do you achieve that? Everything goes back to that fight in the citadel at the end of Season 1, which obviously we ended up there at the end of Season 2. But looming over Season 2, is the question of like, well, who was correct? Loki or Sylvie? So the season became about exploring that,” Martin said. “What is the new reality that they face? What happens when you remove the power structure and now there’s kind of nothing mooring this?”
Loki spends much of the Season 2 finale going back to various points in time to try to develop Victor Timely’s multiplier faster in order to reconfigure the Temporal Loom before it explodes from holding too many time branches.
So, it certainly packs quite a punch when Loki returns to the citadel at the moment he and Sylvie (Sophia di Martino) first encounter He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) to find out that, after spending centuries looking for another solution, the only way out is to prevent Sylvie from killing the Kang variant — which He Who Remains knew all along. This is when Loki determines that there is one more option at play, but it will require him to sacrifice his own autonomy.
It’s a sinister move from He Who Remains and a critical moment for Loki, who finally admitted one episode earlier that he was going through all this trouble not only to save the Sacred Timeline, but also to preserve his friendships. A past version of the character very likely would have made a different choice, especially after realizing that he’d been put through centuries of hell only to land back at the same place he’d already been.
“I want to make it always as difficult as possible for our characters. The harder the journey, the more valuable the victory. The more satisfying the conclusion. I wanted to take Loki down 30 miles of rough road, like let’s make this hard,” Martin explained. “Because if we are going to level him up to be this capital G God, he has to earn that. It has to actually be plausible in the way that he is now incredibly knowledgeable, incredibly powerful. But what time gives us all is wisdom. He’s now incredibly wise. He has lived so much. It felt absolutely necessary to run him through that wringer because of all of that.”
The complexity of that journey is what brought directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead on board. The directing duo helmed the first episode, as well as Episodes 4 through 6. Benson estimates there were “hundreds of meetings” where the creative team talked through the sequence of Loki destroying the Loom and taking his throne at the citadel, because of its importance to the series, the MCU, and to the character himself.
“What’s cool about that is there’s one side of inheriting a project that has an enormous amount of interweaving storylines and characters… that can sound complicated. But then there’s the other way to take it, which is you are walking in on a character that inherently has baggage and everybody knows it and what it is,” Moorhead said. “So you get to just start at a place of vulnerability and trauma and know where somebody comes from. That’s where we got to start. So that was really, really interesting for us to be able to try to wrap that and take it to what we see as an end.”
There is likely little to say to the man who has played this character since 2011’s Thor (and already developed him a significant amount through Avengers: Endgame). But, the directors did have one suggestion for how Hiddleston could lock in before shooting that momentous scene.
“Aaron said to him, ‘Would it be helpful to go look at [yourself] over the years playing this character?’ And you know, what are you going to tell Tom Hiddleston about preparation or directing? He’s one of the most skilled actors. But he’s such a lovely guy who’s just so giving. I’m sure we said lots of dumb stuff on set at some point, and he never let us know,” Benson recalled. “But he did. He went off and watched these scenes and that was really endearing. He was watching, what is in this story, the tragic landing of this character and his transformation over so many years, so many movies, so many TV shows? The thought of him thinking back on, not only the character himself, but him as separate from that character. I mean, you’re watching yourself for so many years back thinking about what you were going through in your life and how important that was. It’s quite beautiful.”
The sequence is made all the more powerful when Loki weaves the branches of time together to resemble Yggdrasil, the sacred tree of Norse mythology that connects the Nine Worlds. Martin called it a “beautiful opportunity” to be able to incorporate such a large element of Norse mythology into Loki’s personal story.
But, it wasn’t until post-production that the idea really came about. According to said showrunner and executive producer Kevin Wright, the plan to incorporate Yggdrasil came about in January 2023, after production had wrapped in October 2022. The post-production team spent about seven months ensuring that the moment landed.
“We knew Loki was going to take a throne, [and] we knew he was going to refashion time at the end of this,” Wright said. “If we’re playing with this idea of this whole thing being a closed loop, you want to take that back then to Loki’s roots, and Yggdrasil and this tree of life and all that is just the perfect encapsulation of it…it’s leaving room for yourself creatively to find those inspirations to do something that’s going to take it to the next level.”
Season 2 takes its characters on a journey through time both inside and outside of the TVA, and the citadel at the end of time isn’t the only Season 1 moment that Loki returns to in the finale. Once he understands that he must either kill Sylvie to protect He Who Remains, or come up with another solution, Loki time travels back to one of his first moments in the TVA, when he’s being interrogated by Mobius (Owen Wilson).
Loki asks Mobius how he is able to prune people who disrupt the Sacred Timeline and how he finds comfort despite having to choose who lives and who dies, but Mobius insists there is no comfort to be found at the TVA.
In a “scheduling bit of brilliance,” that was the first scene that Hiddleston and Wilson shot for Season 2. Bringing them full circle right from the start helped everyone lock in moving forward.
“It allowed them to fall back into who they were while taking some stabs at who they’re going to become,” Moorhead said. “I think that ended up just being one of the more exciting days on set, seeing where it could go.”
Seeing as there are no current plans for a third season of Loki, this finale brings several characters’ stories to a close (for now). B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan) are hard at work within the TVA. Sylvie is off to forge her own path. Mobius is headed back to his original timeline to relish in what Loki was able to preserve for all of his friends. Then there’s Brad Wolfe (Rafael Casal), whose ending is a little harder to spot.
“If you notice in the scene where they’re rebooting Miss Minutes and finding out if she’s a dangerous AI and Mobius is kind of frozen with his coffee cup preoccupied with something? If you look on his desk, beneath the file, you’ll see there’s a jet ski magazine featuring Brad Wolfe. You realize that that’s actually what ended up happening to Brad,” Moorhead said.
When asked if there was anything else the directors wanted audiences to know, Moorhead grinned.
“There’s an extended scene of John and Clarence, aka the two of us, in Alcatraz that someday will see the light of day,” he said. “We’ll fight them to release it in a steel book.”
The finale also paves the way for the rest of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, since we now know that other Kang variants can exist across the various timelines. As for how Loki’s choice will ultimately ripple through the broader MCU?
“I’m not just being coy. I can’t tell you how other people will pick this up, because we just haven’t had those conversations,” Wright said, adding that he hopes there will be more intentional conversations between producers on various Marvel projects moving forward.
“There is going to be a stronger emphasis trying to make sure everyone is working from the same sheets, the same script. I think that is partially trying to get these writers on the Loki side, who had been living in this world, to maybe hopefully populate into other projects so they can help with that, or just better conversations among producers internally,” he said. “We’ve told almost 12 hours of Loki‘s story with the hope that they would come to us a little bit and go, ‘Hey, does this align with what you’ve been doing?’ It will probably help us out tremendously.”