Loki: Episode One Breakdown

Episode 1 - Glorious Purpose


Welcome fellow myth nerds! Lyra and I have decided that every week we’ll be breaking down our favourite parts of the newest episode of Marvel’s Loki! Each conversation will be broken down into three parts: The Episode, Marvel Lore, and Mythology.


Naturally, this whole conversation is FULL OF SPOILERS so make sure you watch first!


Feel free to chime in on social media and give us your take!


The Episode


Cat: What an episode. There’s so much to say, but I think the key here is how it systematically strips Loki of his own aggrandized self-worth and sets him up to be open to new ideas. Moment after moment we witness him doing things he would never tolerate if he had the chance to stop it, which breaks down his entire sense of self. My favourite was the moment where Loki questions whether or not he was actually a robot the whole time.



Lyra: I love how it opens with him running to STAND ON A ROCK to introduce himself (you can’t get any more self-aggrandized than that), and then we immediately witness his fall with the entrance of the TVA. He literally, and figuratively, gets hit in the face with reality.


I really found his reactions fascinating, as you mentioned, when he is forced to do things (like get a ticket, the shame!) he would NEVER do. He is no longer in control, and he is not a fan, because this is the start of him having to face the truth of who he is. I also loved him questioning if he was a robot or not as well! At first, I thought, “why would he not know this?” and then it struck me...he’s been lied to his whole life about his identity, hasn’t he? So of course he would question this.


It actually makes the joke quite a bit darker.



Cat: The deeper I think about the robot scene, the more unsettling the conversation becomes 🤣


That's part of where the show shines as well. The psychology. This conversation between Mobius and Loki ticks so many of my boxes because it’s breaking down the walls that Loki has put up over a lifetime of experience. Life has taught him to protect himself and, correct or not, he thinks no one will value him as much as he longs to be valued, so he's constantly trying to make himself seem greater than he feels.


Lyra: Yes! Mobius remains so calm throughout even as Loki huffs and puffs, which allows him the chance to ask Loki the hard questions that shatters that exterior Loki has built. The patience Mobius has is what Loki needs, and I think the only other character we see where there is such patience and deep understanding of Loki’s character is his mother, Frigga. That makes this scene all the more hitting.


Cat: I think that's important, the patience aspect. We're talking about a character who believes he was never given the time of day by the people who were supposed to love him most, and that can shatter a person. It's easy to imagine a Loki that's powered by desperation to do great evils. Sure, he could have just been an evil guy doing evil things, but we see over and over that by nature and nurture, most of our choices and habits have a cause, even if they aren’t directly related to the thing we’re doing. That’s why I love villains and the exploration of the evils of humanity through villains. Because hurt people hurt people.



Lyra: Hurt people hurt people. Exactly. I really appreciate this series letting us delve into Loki’s complex psyche to understand what caused him to take that fork in the road towards being, as he called himself, the “villain.” I also love how Mobius encourages him and tells him it’s not how he sees him. He gave Loki hope, a truth, which is something he’s not had much of as the god of lies believing the lies he’s been fed by his father.


Cat: It's powerful, I think. The show takes this person who by all rights shouldn't be given a chance to speak for all the evil he's literally just done, and gives him a chance to sort himself out. He doesn’t necessarily deserve it, but in seeing his humanity, Mobius gives him a chance to change for the better. This episode does a wonderful job of positioning Loki in a similar trajectory for character growth to Sacred Timeline Loki, but in a way where he may be able to minimize the damage he does going forward


Lyra: YES! You can already see that arc to redemption, and I am really curious what is waiting for him at the end. What are Mobius’ true motives? Is the TVA more malevolent than it appears?


Cat: And not to change gears too quickly but this scene (and many others) feature some of the greatest facial expressions I’ve ever seen anyone pull off. My god.



Lyra: HIS FACES! I could not handle all his faces. Tom is such an amazing actor, and I’ve seen him in practically everything, but wow. He pulled out some new-to-me-expressions and I was here for all of them. I think these got me the most. I’m used to angry, sad, angsty, and determined Loki. I’m not used to seeing Loki afraid and confused and being just done. I need more.


ALSO…


D. B. Cooper….How did Loki lose a bet to Thor? This is honestly what makes me ask the most questions.



The Marvel Lore


Cat: I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with the TVA story arc in any of the comics. What does stand out for me in this episode is how we all just spent the last 10 years watching Marvel bring us to the end of the infinity wars, only for Loki to find an entire drawer full of infinity stones that made the last 10 years feel like a futile waste of energy. That moment weighed heavily on me, and made me think of the weight of duty in our own lives versus the crippling knowledge that we’re all just specks in an infinite timeline.



Lyra: That was so infuriating and perfect and it really breaks down all the knowledge that you think you know. I loved how that was the moment that broke Loki in a way. He thought he knew everything, and seeing those stones as paperweights...oh, that destroyed him. And me, but this isn’t about me. LOL.


Also...Loki’s original goal, his “glorious purpose” was to be a liberator of freedom. However, we learn we’ve never actually been free...We’ve basically been living, Loki included, with no choice. I found that interesting. He is in the world he wanted. Maybe he will still be a liberator, but this time, actually liberating us INTO freedom.


I could be thinking too deeply about this. I love metaphor because I am a nerd.


Cat: Oh no, this didn’t even occur to me. Now I feel like I need to watch it for the fourth time just to see him struggling with his will being taken away, which I understood, but not against the backdrop of him using free will as his entire political platform.



The Norse Lore


Cat: Quote — “For someone born to rule, you sure do lose a lot. You might even say it’s in your nature.” And later, “You were born to cause pain and suffering and death. That’s how it is, that’s how it was, that’s how it will be. All so that others can achieve their best versions of themselves.”


It’s hard for me to believe that the creators didn’t know how these lines relate back to the mythology.


Lyra: I NOTICED THIS AND WONDERED THE SAME IMMEDIATELY. These two exact quotes actually hit me in the gut the hardest, because they are so true, especially in regards to myth Loki. This is truly Loki’s fate in the mythology, and I think what makes him such a compelling and tragic figure.


And as the Norse believed in fate, it goes along with Loki being handed a role to play, the trickster, and having no choice but to cause pain so others can achieve “their best versions.” My heart hurts.



Cat: The book Trickster Makes the World by Lewis Hyde looks at the trickster archetype across mythologies and posits that without the trickster, there’s no catalyst to move the worlds forward. But if Crow or Hermes or Loki must do something bad to move the world forward, they must also be defeated for the world to return to some sort of balance. In fact, many older cultures didn’t believe that the trickster of their people was evil, just mischievous and part of the natural order. The same can be said of Myth!Loki before some of the more Christianized myths come into play. He cuts off Sif’s hair, but without that, Thor never receives his hammer, and so on. He causes suffering so that others can achieve the best versions of themselves.


Lyra: Exactly this. Chaos brings change, right? Loki cutting Sif’s hair which results in Thor getting Mjolnir, the protection of Asgard and all the Nine Realms, is the greatest example of this. Of course, Loki didn’t fare too well in the end, but that seems par for the course. Trickster’s disrupt the natural order, going against the grain to achieve a goal and win the day, although, sadly more for our benefit than their own.


Overall Thoughts on Episode 1: Glorious Purpose


Cat: I had a great time with this episode. I think that Tom Hiddleston and the team knew from literal years of feedback exactly what the fans were going to want out of a Loki show.


It was almost jarring in a sense to see Loki back on his bullshit from movie one, since we have all this history with him that he no longer has, but I think the team did a wonderful job of catching Loki up to himself. Every single step of his journey in the episode was a brick in the wall of this idea, and if any of them were missing, maybe I wouldn’t have believed it. But it was experly thought through and executed. I’d have a hard time believing that the writers didn’t work with a psychologist on this setup, honestly.


It feels weird to me that I’m less impressed by this Loki vs Loki idea than I am with the whole rest of the episode. Yes, I’m excited for this premise but putting through Loki through the ringer had my full attention, they didn’t even need to give me that reveal to keep me going.


And finally, the visual humor in this episode was TOP NOTCH. The ticket. THE TICKET. I feel like you can see Tom’s theatre experience shining through in these very deliberate pieces of body humour.



Lyra: This may come as a surprise, but I absolutely LOVED it! And I’m not just saying this as a biased Loki stan. Ok, maybe a little.


I truly appreciated the risks this show was willing to take, not just with the overall plot, but also with allowing us to really examine Loki as a character.


There were times I thought it moved way fast, but you know what? It worked. And even though Loki had his moment of self revelation in the first episode, we’ve already GOTTEN all his character development from the previous films. I think they handled this exceptionally well.


I also appreciated getting to see the duo that is developing between Loki and Mobius. I think we are in for a fun time with these two, who are like the best odd couple ever.


I think the 1960’s/70’s style was well utilized to help give a smokey/sinister feel to the TVA. I feel that is peak office bureau aesthetic. Miss Minutes is terrifying, and I have thoughts about this mascot, especially after she made us all endure that cartoon. Serious kudos to the team for being able to create something that is simultaneously innocuous and menacing.


And I want to give a shoutout to Casey, the true MVP of the episode.



I’m really looking forward to episode 2, and to see how they continue the story threads they’ve now started. They’ve opened up a mystery, and they’ve gotten me hooked.


Glorious Conclusion - What we want to see in Episode 2


Cat:


I’d kill for some acknowledgement that Sigyn exists anywhere in this show

Lady Loki needs to show her face

I want to know what they needed his temporal aura for



Lyra:


Loki in that cozy turtleneck from the promos

Who the actual villain really is...

Loki just having a good day



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