If you thought that last week’s episode was stuffed full of references and Easter eggs, that had nothing on Episode 5, Journey Into Mystery, whose very title is a reference to the very first appearance of Thor and indeed Loki in the Atlas Comics series, AKA the forerunner to Marvel Comics.
Indeed, this entry was a fun romp that was literally littered with callouts to elements from the comics and the MCU, plus fun little nods to time and even pizza (we’re sure Team Pixar would have let them use a Pizza Planet truck given that the voice of Lightning McQueen would be driving it). Mostly, though, we’re happy (but not entirely surprised) to see Mobius is alive.
And it was a masterclass in weaving in character among spectacle, as the various Loki variants (plus at least one extra) got to fill in their backstory all while bickering and driving the story along.
Let’s ponder the questions raised this week, shall we? Spoilers ahead!
So, Who Really Is Behind The TVA?
That one is still to be answered. When Loki and Sylvie (thanks to a sacrifice play from Richard E. Grant’s Classic Loki) are able to enchant Alioth (more on him in a moment) and remove his protective barrier, a castle is revealed. Which, given that next week’s episode is the finale, would appear to hold the answer. Will it be Kang the Conqueror (since we know Jonathan Majors has that time-spanning role in at least the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania). Will it be Mephisto? (Shut up – ed.) Or will it be someone else.
We still think that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Ravonna Renslayer knows more than she’s letting on, even managing to make Sylvie believe her, at least for a short time.
Who – Or What – Is Alioth?
Drawn from the pages of Marvel Comics, Alioth is there described as “a trans-temporal entity, existing across divergent timelines as an enormous cloud destroying all it touches, causing massive temporal disturbance, and devastation across entire dimensions.” It poses a huge threat to realities, and has had tangles with Kang in the past (it has created a temporal empire bigger than his on the page). Created by Mark Gruenwald and Mike Gustovich for Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #1 in 1993, the creature’s story also included Ravonna Renslayer, Kang and others. Which is more fuel to the fire idea that Renslayer will be heavily involved in the finale.
What Is The Void?
As explained in this episode, The Void is a dumping ground created at the end of time, a place to put pruned and trimmed realities in a safe spot where, according to the TVA, they can do no more harm. That translates to a realm of different objects, people and places all crammed together, including a ruined New York (complete with Stark/Avengers tower, with the Qeng logo on it – in the comics, Tony sells the tower to Qeng Enterprises, who are linked to Kang), San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (because what disaster is complete without it?), Asgard (rebuilt in illusory form by Classic Loki at the end), a crashed Helicarrier, a sphinx and much more. This is an episode where the rewind and pause buttons will get plenty of use. Into the void also drops the USS Eldridge, a real ship at the center of the Navy’s alleged 1943 Philadelphia Experiment, in which it was supposedly rendered invisible and teleported, according to what seems to have been a postwar hoax. Not so fake here…
Who Is President Loki – And Were Those Others Lokis?
After extensive coverage in trailers, we finally met Politician or President Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), who is looking to take control of the Void. He’s already done a deal (and doubled back on it) with Boastful Loki (Deobia Oparei) and appears to travel around with a mob of hench-folk – including several who look like they’re also Loki variants. Lot of horned helmets, we’re saying.
On the Loki front, we learn that Kid Loki (Jack Veal) is actually ruling the Void and was pruned after he killed Thor, Boastful Loki defeated both Iron Man and Captain America and scored all six Infinity Stones before he was nabbed by the TVA and that Classic Loki outsmarted Thanos by, er, hiding, then spent a lot of time in solitude thinking about who he’d become.
Is That Frog Thor?
In a moment that could be a Simpsons joke (the show often hides little gags when it pans up or down the characters’ house rafters), we see several items in the earth above the bunker where the Lokis find themselves, including a Mjolnir variant and, next to it, a little green guy in a jar, whose voice sounds like some reused Chris Hemsworth grunts. He’s Frog Thor, AKA Throg. In the comics, Simon Walterson was turned into a frog by a witch and got a miniature version of Mjolnir. This turned him into the Frog of Thunder. Read more about him). The label on the jar is a nod to Thor 364/365, where his storyline appeared.
He’s just one of the little nods hidden in this episode, which also include the head of the Living Tribunal), Yellowjacket’s helmet from Ant-Man, the Dark Aster (Ronan’s ship from Guardians Of The Galaxy) oh, and…
Is There Really a Thanoscopter?
Yes! It’s not just a sly wink to the MCU’s Mad Titan (as also referenced in Classic Loki’s tragic backstory). While it’s hard to imagine Josh Brolin’s version of Thanos using a helicopter, the character in the comics has one. In Spidey Super Stories #39, Thanos used his special Thanos Copter in order to attack Hellcat and obtain the Cosmic Cube.
Will Alligator Loki Get His Own Spin-Off?
All right, so probably not. But he deserves to! He’s a great creation, with his realistic outlook on the world and his widdle horns and… ahem. Anyway… Al-Loki is a highlight of the episode, mocking his comrades and apparently having a fondness for neighbourhood cats. Quite why that gets you pruned is a mystery, though perhaps it was a very important cat? Or even a Flerken?
And according to director Kate Herron, the actor behind Alligator Loki was a nightmare on set…
For more, you can listen to Empire’s weekly Spoiler Special Podcast Episodes about the show by signing up for the feed here. You’ll also find an interview with Sophia Di Martino on that feed, but if you want to read some highlights, head here.