Loki season 1 episode 1, “Glorious Purpose”, aired on 9 June 2021.
Loki is having an all-time epically bad day. Worst of all, are we even sure what constitutes a “day” anymore? His torment may be never ending.
Run It Back
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s review. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has just attempted to unleash all sorts of unholy hell upon Midgard with the help of the Chitauri. That did not go quite as planned and ended with him getting rag dolled by the big green mean machine. Loki is being taken away into custody when Endgame time heist shenanigans ensue, leading to his escape via the Tesseract. This is where Loki (the show, notice the italics, or this will get confusing) picks up.
What Had Happened Was
Loki crash lands in the Gobi Desert when he is approached by officers of the Time Variance Authority. Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) slaps the God of Mischief into slow motion before dragging him before all levels of time-based bureaucracy. Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) finds Loki guilty of loitering outside of the natural flow of time when Agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) tosses a Hail Mary. Apparently there is an even more evil version of Loki floating around time stream, causing all sorts of death and grievous bodily harm. Agent Mobius believes time displaced Loki is the perfect weapon to stop Evil Time Murder Loki.
What We Loved
Loki finally confirms what we have seen in flashes over the years. Loki is not inherently evil. I mean, yes, he has definitely killed just a butt load of people, but we learn context. He is constantly acting out of fear, making a desperate power grab. OG Endgame Loki learned himself through lived experience. Variant Loki had to learn through a slightly traumatizing 3D reel of his life as it was meant to be. Loki is shown how his duplicitous actions lead to the death of his mother. He sees that both his father and brother love and embrace him. He then sees Thanos execute him as his reel ends.
The god that has always been “burdened with glorious purpose” just discovered that his existence is a footnote accenting the lives of others. According to the “space lizards” and their one true time stream, he has no glory awaiting. Further, the stones that he was killed for, the most powerful stones in the universe, are mere paperweights to the Time Variance Authority. Everything he thought he knew about himself and the universe in which lived, humbled in one swoop. This sets Loki up nicely as someone that can, and will want to, make a difference outside of the predetermined time stream and leave some sort of a legacy.
What Needed More Love
“Glorious Purpose” had pacing issues. Variant Loki had to cover a ton of ground emotionally over the 50-minute run time. While that is happening, the show also alludes to the looming “big bad: of the season. These things combine for some lengthy exposition dumps. They are not terrible, but you do start to feel all the “set up” that is taking place.
Also, a minor pet peeve. I wanted to see the time bomb go off. I want to see what happens, but they kept cutting away or stopping them. You cannot make a time grenade in a show and never actually allow it to detonate. It is absolutely rude to me and all the people for whom I make this brave stand. Give us the time bomb, you cowards!
“Glorious Purpose” is a great introductory episode that expands the history and mythology of the MCU. After a rude awakening, Variant Loki is seemingly primed to help tackle the greatest known threat to the one true timeline of the multiverse… a much more sinister iteration of himself.