It’s been a while since Loki popped through a Time Door and onto our screens in 2021, but the Marvel spin-off has remained one of the weirdest, and most charming, things the MCU has done in a long time. As a result, the much-anticipated follow-up has quite a lot of pressure on its shoulders. Not only does the God of Mischief’s return have to live up to its predecessor, but it also holds the weight of breaking the trend of a bunch of MCU misfires over the past few years, too.
It’s a shame then that while Loki season 2 does retain much of season 1’s tone, it veers into more familiar Marvel fare. CGI battles, world-ending stakes, and a certain big bad are here in the first four episodes of the new Disney Plus show as it becomes an essential set-up for the direction of Marvel's future phases. All of this is a lot of fun and executed tremendously, but, along the way, you can’t quite help but feel it loses sight of what made this show so unique.
Season 2 picks up right where we left off with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stumbling back into the TVA following his confrontation with He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) at the End of Time. Finding Mobius (Owen Wilson), he must navigate the consequences of Sylvie’s (Sophia Di Martino) decision to kill He Who Remains, and how it changed the future. All the while, the God of Mischief is dealing with some timey-wimey shenanigans that keep pulling him through time and space.
Venturing any deeper into the plot would likely enter spoiler territory, but it's fair to say the pace is relentless. My big advice early on is to rewatch the season 1 finale before diving back in, as there’s no time to catch up when Loki season 2 gets going, which can make it all pretty confusing to get your head back into.
Hiddleston is there to guide us through it, though, remaining the compelling center of the spin-off. As much a staple of the MCU as Iron Man or Captain America, his irresistible villain-turned-good guy-turned-villain shtick has bolstered countless Marvel projects. Loki is his playground, giving the seasoned thesp some meat on the bone of this character to chew through. While there’s less time for emotional reflection in this batch of episodes, Hiddleston does well with what he has.
Expected dynamics are back too, as Loki and Mobius make an odd but perfect partnership, even if their scenes are much more fleeting. Then there’s the stunningly realized retro-future setting of the TVA, which the action effortlessly slips right back into, down to the drab aesthetics and the motivational posters. All in all, it makes for an absolutely gorgeous-looking show that will thrill those who love the tone of Loki.
Fitting perfectly into this world of corporate protocols is new addition Ke Huy Quan. Fresh off navigating the multiverse in Everything Everywhere All at Once, he plays OB, a repairman who knows the TVA so well he even wrote the handbook. Quan is a scene stealer from the moment we meet him in his eccentric workshop, and he remains so throughout. It’s particularly enjoyable to watch him interact with Mobius and Loki, echoing their perfectly offbeat tone.
He’s not the only character given space to shine either, as Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Judge Renslayer gets one of the most interesting arcs of this set of episodes. While she fell pretty solidly into the 'baddie' category in season 1, the second outing focuses on her much more, sowing the seeds for some intriguing twists and turns. She also forms a major part of one of the most interesting conversations that the show is having about the nature of being a villain.
Tied into ideas of free will and inevitability, the question lingers if there’s ever a point in redemption or if it’s all just predetermined anyway. While it was mainly Loki himself dealing with the deeds of his past in season 1, we get to see a lot more of that here through other characters, and not just through Renslayer.
Yes, we’re talking about the Kang of it all. He Who Remains and his plethora of variants are now a key component to the new slate of Marvel projects. Here, it’s all about Victor Timely, who you’ll be expecting from that Ant-Man 3 post-credits scene. We won’t touch too deeply on the satisfying way the show handles its storyline, but it does go in a different direction than you might be expecting and adds something interesting to the show’s central conversation on what it means to be – or not to be – a villain.
However, this turn away from a show anchored by character-driven studies to the bigger Marvel picture – Kang is our new Thanos, after all – does come at the expense of some of the weirder aspects of Loki. You won’t find any Alligator Loki variants nor sojourns off to collapsing galaxies here in a much more toned-down approach compared to season 1.
Similarly, Sylvie barely gets a look-in. You’ll know from the promotional material that she’s been working in McDonalds after the events of the finale, and this is where Loki finds her again. Their tense relationship which formed the whole narrative thrust of the first season falls largely to the side here. Described at one point by Mobius as the complicated nature of being in "a relationship with yourself", it seems like season 2’s writers are content to leave it just there rather than getting into the juicier why it is so complicated.
The pair do get some scenes to work through their He Who Remains-related issues, but there’s nothing that compares to them looking out as Lamentis prepares for destruction in Loki episode 3. Nor really is there enough time to allow Sylvie to really get into her trauma from the TVA. With a star as bright as Sophia Di Martino in your cast, this feels like an extra loss.
Of course, there’s time yet for this to play out, with the final two episodes of Loki season 2 held back from press. And there’s definitely enough of a thrilling ride set up here to keep you coming back. But if you’re hoping Loki might be the cure to that growing feeling of Marvel fatigue, disappointment may be on the horizon. We’re very much back on familiar ground here in a safe, recognizable return to the God of Mischief’s world that would have done well to take a few more risks.
Loki season 2 premieres exclusively on Disney Plus on October 5 in the US and October 6 in the UK. For more on the MCU, check out our guides to how to watch the Marvel movies in order, the Marvel timeline, and all the upcoming Marvel movies and shows on the way.