TV REVIEW: Loki Season 2 – The Final Verdict

Loki season 2 has come to a close. Glorious purpose has been fulfilled. More than simply closing the season, this was the series finale as well: leaving the series a finished, complete story.

In an interview with Cinema Blend, lead writer Eric Martin said, “We approached this as like two halves of a book. Season one, first half. Season two, we close the book on Loki and the TVA. Where it goes beyond that, I don’t know. I just wanted to tell a full and complete story across those two seasons.”

With this, Loki is one of the few modern comic, Marvel, or Disney properties to come to a genuine conclusion. It was only right that our review team came back together one last time, as Michaela El-Ters and I reflect on this conclusion with our final thoughts.

Be Warned: Spoilers lurk beyond this point – and if you indulge, even the TVA can’t protect you from getting ahead of your own timeline. If you’re looking for a crash course in time travel theory, check out our reviews of firstsecondthirdfourth, fifth, and sixth episodes.

James’ Final Thoughts

At its best, the early Marvel Cinematic Universe knew how to handle its source material. The greatest stories would be brought to the screen directly: Captain America: The First Avenger builds on Jack Kirby’s 1960s retelling in Tales of Suspense: many sequences are direct recreations of panels. Who knew how to capture a dynamic image better than Jack Kirby, after all?

The worst storylines would be heavily rewritten, with a new approach taken to the material. The Winter Soldier is an infamous Captain America storyline. The film takes a free hand with the material, recreating the storyline to better suit the characters, and to simply make some degree of sense.

As the MCU progressed, this touch was lost. The worst storylines were adapted wholesale, and the best storylines were decimated (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame fail to capture the spark of The Infinite Gauntlet, or show why Jim Starlin’s work still holds all its power decades later).

All of this takes us to Loki. The series mixes elements from the best Thor runs, freely combining Walter Simonson and J. Michael Straczynski’s work: Simonson provides the TVA, Straczynski provides Broxton, and both provide a willingness to truly engage with the mythology. Is Loki locked into being the God of Mischief because it is his mythological role, or is he simply experiencing the sum of his own free choices? Both writers examined variations of this question, sometimes focused on other characters.

Moreover, it’s interesting that Broxton’s context has changed, but it has thematic resonance with Loki‘s plot. It’s interesting and extremely well done.

But it also uses elements of other storylines. Loki: Agent of Asgard may charitably be described as marmite: you either love it or you hate it. But most would agree that the central character is not really Marvel’s Loki, and that the series drowns in tie-ins to corporate events. But it hinges on an idea sympathetic to the above: who is Loki, and how can he escape his fate and doom?

But the brilliant catch is this, one that reins the idea back to Simonson and Straczynski: instead of a complicated story of reincarnation, new powers, and alternate identities…Loki simply comes to the (indirectly stated) realization that being the God of Trickery is the ultimately same thing as being the God of Stories. As OB would say, it’s a fiction problem. The central good idea of the run is placed in a context where it works, and feels earned as the conclusion of Loki’s story. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Loki is, on its own (if largely toward the end for season 2), genuinely exceptional TV: well-written, well-acted, well-shot. But it is also a far rarer thing, a great adaptation of the source material.

It’s interesting to see the reversals played with Renslayer’s backstory, and it is genuinely tragic the overall series won’t shift gears to focus on her as the primary villain instead of Jonathan Majors’ Kang.

James’ Final Score (4/5 Stars)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Loki‘s second season is an excellent three hour movie. As a movie, I would give it a vanishingly rare 5/5. I wouldn’t qualify that with “it’s great for an action movie,” or “it’s great for a superhero movie.” It’s great film science fiction and fantasy.

However, it is unfortunately not a three hour movie.

It’s an excellent, 5/5 three hour movie (give or take a half hour) with awkward bits and side quests stapled onto it in order to fill a six hour TV season. One of those hour-long side quests is one of the worst episodes of television I’ve suffered in the last few years.

But when it’s great, it’s fantastic, and it’s one of the best works of science fiction and fantasy I’ve watched in years. When the show fires on all cylinders, it is a tightly-paced, beautifully-shot, well-acted, and well-written series. It makes the most of a Norse God in an unusual, alien setting, instead of letting it become unexamined IP stuff like so much of the MCU that pulls threads from multiple genres. It is the first MCU production since the original Thor film to truly explore both the mythology as it truly is, and the mythology as filtered through creators like Lee & Kirby, Simonson, and Straczynski.

It’s difficult to rate. Should I rate it as the film it should have been, or as the TV show it is? Should I lower the score to three stars to illustrate it is quite literally half-and-half in quality?

I’ve given it four stars to honor the excellence of the last half of the series, even if the show’s own glorious purpose is tantalizingly unfulfilled. Flawed though it may be, Loki as a whole is one of the few MCU productions truly worth watching.

Michaela’s Final Thoughts

Loki season 2 finished airing last Thursday, and even now, I can’t stop thinking about the finale. The effects and writing in the final episode were top-notch, and I won’t be forgetting this riveting episode of television any time soon.

But let’s analyze the season as a whole. When you compare it to Season 1, the quality isn’t consistent from episode to episode. Depending on your mileage, it takes about four episodes for Loki Season 2 to truly reach its peak and get good. For me, the first three episodes are good to mediocre; none of them are particularly bad, but it’s a noticeable drop in quality when compared to Season 1. On top of that, telling viewers to “just wait, it gets good!” after three episodes can be a hard sell. That’s essentially three hours, and that’s a lot of time to invest in a show if you’re not fully committed from the beginning.

That might be a deal-breaker for most viewers, but what saved it for me is the fact that even as Loki season 2 finds its footing, it’s still better than nearly all of the other MCU shows to date. It’s a testament to the quality of Loki, as a whole, being on another level, and I think it’s worth highlighting.

It’s because of that I still recommend Loki season 2 wholeheartedly. Yes, there are a few low points, but the high points this season reaches in the last three episodes are genuinely incredible. I’d even go so far as to say the highs in Loki season 2 are on par with Avengers: Endgame in terms of emotional investment, memorable cinematography and stunning visual effects, and impact on the MCU as a whole.

On top of that, what Season 2 does for Loki is huge. I’ve always liked Loki, but after this season, he may possibly be my favorite character in the entire MCU. His character development is thoughtfully written, gripping, and powerful, and it truly allows Tom Hiddleston to shine and show his range.

With the way season 2 ends, it feels like the perfect send off for Loki. In the days following the season finale, several writers, producers, and even Tom Hiddleston have referred to season 2 as the conclusion to a fourteen year journey spanning the movies and show. Marvel has neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of season 3. 

We may not know what the future holds, but it’s bittersweet knowing that Hiddleston’s performance of the beloved fan-favorite character in Loki season 2 may very well be his last. And while it’s possible he could cameo in future projects, I’m just glad they stuck the landing with the amazing second-half of the season.

Michaela’s Final Score (4/5 Stars)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Loki season 2 is tricky to rank. As a whole, it’s not perfect, and the bumps on the road may be unforgiving for some viewers more than others. In comparison to its predecessor, it’s not as consistently great, either. Despite that, though, the last three episodes leave a lasting impression that I think overrides the uneven pacing of the previous ones. They are truly worth the watch. If you’re a fan of the God of Mischief and Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal, then you have to see how his journey ends in season 2.

Summing Up

Thank you to our readers for following us these last few weeks! And thank you to Anna, who put our merry band together. She couldn’t join us at the end, but she is here in spirit.

What did you think of Loki? Let us know below!

Featured Image: Marvel

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