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Loki finally reveals the Time-Keepers’ big secret

Loki episode 4 ending
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Loki has slowly been teasing that all is not right in TVA’s dusty departments and cramped corridors. The Loki episode 4 ending has slightly pulled back the curtain and, while we don’t see the ‘wizard’ at the end of the temporal yellow brick road that Loki, Sylvie, and Mobius have been shepherded down, we’re getting closer and closer to revealing the ultimate truth – starting with the Time-Keepers.

Spoilers for Loki episode 4 follow. If you haven’t watched the episode, look away now!

Loki episode 4 ending explained: who are the Time-Keepers?

Loki

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Time-Keepers are… not real. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s something Loki fans will have suspected for some time. The Disney Plus show even did a great job in keeping the façade up as Judge Renslayer, Loki, and Sylvie came face to face with what appeared to be three temporal beings.

As Renslayer presents the pair of troublesome Lokis, the Time-Keepers ask them to explain themselves before they get pruned. They are rescued, however, by Hunter B-15 after her change of heart. She helps them break free of their collars; Loki kills the TVA agents and Sylvie subdues Renslayer.

Despite being called a "child of the Time-Keepers" and offers pleas to talk, Sylvie silences the Time-Keepers by beheading one of them with a sword. It’s not quite as gruesome as it sounds, though: the Time-Keepers have had their true nature revealed: they are merely mechanical constructs/androids and were never omniscient beings, as the TVA had originally explained.

In one final twist, Loki asks what we’re all thinking – "Who created the TVA?" – and is also about to seemingly declare his love for Sylvie. Before he gets an answer on either of those, he gets ‘pruned’ by Renslayer.

Don’t worry, he’s not dead. The Loki episode 4 post-credits scene saves us from floods of tears – and introduces three new Lokis (Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Boastful Loki) in the process.

But that has all left us with more questions than answers. So, let’s look a little deeper at the loose threads that Loki has yet to tie up as we hurtle towards the series’ final two episodes.

Who created the TVA?

Loki

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

All signs point to a new Big Bad. The most likely candidate is Kang the Conqueror, a time-travelling Marvel villain who is set to be played by Jonathan Majors and was due to first appear in Ant-Man: Quantumania.

The breadcrumbs have already been dropped, too, not least of which include his major comic ties to a Loki character: Ravonna Renslayer, who has previously been in a relationship with Kang. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s panicked portrayal of Renslayer as Mobius digs a little deeper in her office seems to suggest that she’s hiding someone pulling the strings in the shadows. There’s also the small matter of a 31st Century – yes 31st – weapon picked up in the first episode that also points to Kang making an appearance down the line in the series.

Don’t discount the likes of Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki, however. The British actor not only has a rich history of playing villains, from Star Wars to Logan and beyond, but he’s also playing a Loki. If there’s one throughline for each of the Lokis we’ve met so far, it’s that they’re always scheming and aren’t afraid to stab people in the back – sometimes quite literally.

It’s unlikely Classic Loki fabricated the TVA, but there’s every chance he could be working for Kang (or someone else) as a means to an end. This is Loki we’re talking about, after all.

Does Loki love Sylvie?

Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie in Loki episode 4

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Loki is the ultimate narcissist – and that even extends to falling in love with another version of himself. He and Sylvie share a touching scene as Lamentis goes up in smoke. Their handholding even causes a serious timeline branch spike, indicating that – if there was ever any doubt – that two Variants of the same ‘person’ should probably not fall in love.

That, when coupled with Tom Hiddleston’s stumbling and stuttering at the very end of the episode hints that, yes, Loki does love Sylvie. Whether she feels the same way is another question entirely.

How does the Loki episode 4 ending set up episodes 5 and 6?

Loki

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Quietly – and not so quietly in the Time-Keepers’ case – the Loki episode 4 ending has set up the show’s third and final act. Firstly, Sylvie has Renslayer backed into a serious corner. Expect the fifth episode to begin with either her spilling the beans about Kang, or to have a show-altering escape plan as the TVA falls all around her.

The gang of five Lokis (yes, we’re counting Reptile Loki) should also factor heavily into the finale. A realistic trajectory for their arc would be a quick exposition dump and then a shaky alliance. Wherever they are – and it might even be a post-apocalyptic Earth judging by the Avengers Tower looming large in the distance – they will want to get out of there and back to setting their sights on the TVA. Hopefully they can rescue Owen Wilson’s Mobius in the process.

There’s also something more concrete about what’s happening next: a scrap of info from the very first Loki trailer. There, we can see a presidential Loki with a ‘Vote Loki’ badge. Somehow, this Loki – or maybe ‘our’ Loki – is either ruling the world that Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief finds himself in or Loki uses a TemPad to make his way out of wherever it is he’s ended up and is making his way back to the TVA via a series of weird and wonderful timeline Variants. The Boastful Loki is even seen in one split-second moment, which indicates they’re teaming up.

Whatever happens next, be sure you’re there to see it as soon as it happens. Find out the times and dates for the remaining episodes with our Loki release schedule.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.