Picking up mere seconds after season 1 left off — when Tom Hiddleston’s title character failed to prevent the murder of He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors, a glaring, distracting, and unfortunately significant presence throughout the season) all the way at the End of Time and watched helplessly as his variant Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) unleashed chaos upon the Sacred Timeline — season 2 of “Loki” smoothly transitions to the show’s new major and upcoming conflict, though not before a nifty-but-necessary bit of ret-conning.
Fans will remember the bold, almost “Planet of the Apes”-like finale that saw Loki returning to an utterly changed Time Variance Authority (TVA), where neither TVA agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) nor Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) recognize our villain-turned-hero anymore and Kang the Conqueror now appears in total control. Written by new head writer Eric Martin and directed by talented filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, all of whom combine to inject a playful sense of liveliness and (glorious) purpose to the new season, the season 2 premiere slightly re-contextualizes this moment to allow for a more straightforward storyline. From there, we steamroll ahead to tackle the painful-looking “time slipping” conundrum that now plagues Loki, meet new additions Ouroboros (or O.B., played by a lovably scene-stealing Ke Hey Quan) and X-5 (Rafael Casal, who sinks his teeth into a surprisingly well-rounded role), and generally set up the stakes for the new season.
As easy as it is to get lost or have one’s eyes glaze over amid the endless technical jargon of “Temporal Looms,” “Temporal Aura Extractors,” pruning, and branching timelines (here, we’re reminded that even better-than-average MCU is still, unavoidably, the MCU), the creative team maintains a steady hand on the wheel. Thanks to a host of clever editing tricks (shout-out to editor Emma McCleave) blending past and present in one hilarious conversation early on, quick panning shots from director of photography Isaac Bauman that directly incorporate the camera itself into the punchlines of killer jokes, the ever-energetic score composed by a returning Natalie Holt, and a gorgeous visual medley harkening to the old-fashioned/futuristic anachronisms of “BioShock” with the low-budget joys of “Doctor Who” by production designer (and, later on, episode director) Kasra Farahani, “Loki” takes viewers through the chaotic and rapidly-unfolding disaster awaiting the TVA. Most encouragingly of all, it does so with confidence and a sense of style rarely seen anymore in Marvel productions these days.