What is time-slipping in Loki season 2? Why the God of Mischief keeps glitching, explained

Owen Wilson as Mobius and Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki season 2
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Warning! This article contains mild spoilers for Loki season 2 episode 1. If you've yet to tune in and don't want to know anything that happens, turn back now!

Tom Hiddleston's unlikely hero is having a tough time of it in the first episode of Loki season 2. After being booted through a portal by Sylvie during their brawl at the End of Time, the God of Mischief tries to catch up with Mobius and Hunter B-15, and get them up to speed. It's a task made difficult, though, by the fact that he keeps finding himself in different timelines. Turns out, he's time-slipping, but what exactly is it?

Well, we'll be honest, the show isn't super explicit with its explanation, but we do know that it's a term used to describe when someone is being involuntarily "being pulled through time, between the past and the present" – and sometimes, even the future. Episode 1 opens with Loki realizing that Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) has sent him back to a time where he's yet to meet Mobius and the gang. As suspicious Minute Men attempt to capture him, he hijacks a mail truck and winds up crashing through the window of an operations room, before the carnage sends a screen hanging from the ceiling to fall and crack the floor. Loki begs Casey (Eugene Codero) for help, but of course, the technician doesn't know him.

A later version of Casey does, mind, when Loki time-slips into the present. Noticing the damaged floor, Loki works out that the things he is doing in the past are actively affecting the current timeline.

According to Repair and Advancements guy O.B. (Ke Huy Quan), who Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Loki later seek out to help them, it's impossible to time-slip in the TVA. He changes his tune, however, when Loki is thrown back over 400 years and explains he's from the future and keeps glitching out. As Loki fills O.B. in in the past, the latter "remembers" the new info mid-conversation with Mobius in the present, as well as the fact that he made a temporal aura extractor to stop Loki's time-slipping. 

To use it, Mobius must use the device on the Temporal Loom and use it to "pull Loki directly out of the Timestream." O.B. tells him he has to be quick, too, or else the temporal energy might just peel the skin off his bones... Yikes. Meanwhile, Loki has to simultaneously prune himself. In layman's terms, the duo have to perform a factory reset on Loki. "When something is pruned, it's released from time, so the hope is that after you prune yourself, the extractor will pull you into the present."

Fortunately for Loki, they manage it, though the show is keeping us deliberately in the dark for now as to how exactly Loki got pruned – he was without a Time Stick when Mobius set off the extractor – just in the nick of time...

But why is Loki, and only Loki, time-slipping?

Loki season 2

(Image credit: Marvel)

Now, this is where things get super tricky. It's hard to really know why Loki is the only character suffering from the time-slipping affliction, which leads us to believe that the reason behind it might be revealed in a later episode, despite Team TVA having already solved the problem.

We originally assumed that it was Loki's run-in with He Who Remains that might have caused him to start time-slipping, but that doesn't check out because Sylvie doesn't seem to have been affected.

"So Sylvie kicking you through the Timedoor into the past, that somehow started all this?" Mobius wonders aloud to Loki in episode 1, prompting him to reply: "All I know is I was in the past. It was He Who Remain's TemPad, so maybe that's how this is possible?"

TemPads are devices used by the Time Variance Authority to do their missions. It enable the user to travel through different points in time and space. Perhaps He Who Remain's was broken, and that's why he was living in isolation at the End of Time? Or it could simply be different, or more powerful, to other TemPads? We'll be sure to keep you posted as we get more definitive answers.

Loki season 2 episode 1 is streaming on Disney Plus now, with episode 2 set to land on October 13. 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.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.