Loki S2E1 Recap: “Ouroboros” — Try Everything

Loki Mobius and H-15 walk through the TVA

The following recap contains spoilers for Loki S2E1, “Ouroborus” (written by Eric Martin and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead). 

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

It’s hard to not notice the irony of Loki Season 2 picking up the plot at the Time Variance Authority, a place that is commonly described as somewhere where time doesn’t matter and outside timelines are irrelevant. For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, time absolutely matters. Trying to break free of the massive shadow of the Infinity Saga, the Multiverse Saga has been a disjointed, up-and-down event that is causing quite the superhero fatigue. For many, the MCU is running out of time to right the ship and Kevin Feige and his creative are hoping this latest iteration of their most popular television show arrives right on time.

Episode 1 of this second season, “Ouroboros,” takes not just one but several steps in the right direction, delivering another compelling story of not just how antihero Loki can continue on his journey, but also how all of the pieces of Phases 4 and 5 of the MCU can begin to look like a coherent puzzle.

Loki tries to escape an unfamiliar TVA

When we last left Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his variant Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), they had tracked down the originator and mysterious leader of the TVA, He Who Remains (a variant of Kang the Conqueror, played by Jonathan Majors). After learning He Who Remains created the TVA to converge timelines so he could hold an infinite number of tyrannical Kangs at bay, he offered Loki and Sylvie a choice. They can kill He Who Remains and set all those people on the trapped timelines free, but also unleash the unknown terror of the other Kangs, or they can take He Who Remains’ place, keeping timelines purged but also saving the Multiverse from a concert of Kangs who could do it immeasurable harm.

Loki and Sylive, who had united under a common mission in Season 1, splinter on this decision. They battle each other and, in the end, Sylvie kicks Loki through a Timedoor to parts unknown and stabs He Who Remains in the heart. The stinger for Season 1 showed Loki reappearing in the Time Variance Authority, where statues and portraits of Kang now appear, and his TVA buddy-cop partner Mobius (Owen Wilson) does not recognize him.

Under this backdrop, Season 2 picks up mere moments after the events of Season 1. Loki is no longer a person of importance in this version of the TVA, he is now a person of interest. But being in a familiar place on an unfamiliar timeline is not all Loki has to worry about. He also has begun to experience something called “time-slipping” where his body dematerializes and rematerializes at a different point in time.

Mobius and H-15 try to figure out how to find Loki

He finally time-slips into the future where Mobius and the Hunters (including ally Hunter B-15, played by Wunmi Mosaku) know who he is. They are able to deduce that Loki is slipping through time periods of the TVA (previously thought to be unimaginable there) and that the version he finds himself in over and over is the TVA from more than 400 years ago, apparently a time when He Who Remains was much more involved in the day-to-day of running the place instead of the Time-Keepers who he installed later to be figureheads after wiping the memory of every TVA employee clean.

This is the first and smartest choice Marvel makes in reintroducing us to this world and the impact of Sylvie killing He Who Remains. With Loki Season 1, Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the MCU has introduced so many alternate realities and timelines that it’s becoming head-spinning to try and keep it all straight. Instead of introducing us to yet ANOTHER new timeline or layer of the multiverse, Loki Season 2 decides to send Loki back to the past to a time before he met any other main characters.

Loki slipping back and forth between past and present in our prime timeline doesn’t muddy the waters of another version of a future timeline and allows the mystery to remain of what actually will happen when the unleashed variants of Kang arrive. We aren’t in a version of the future where Kang has ruled authoritatively or violently. That impending future is still left to our imagination.

O.B. in his TVA workshop

Loki, Mobius, and Hunter B-15 are able to determine what’s happening to Loki thanks to a resourceful new character—Ouroboros, or “O.B.,” played by Ke Huy Quan fresh off his Academy Award for Everything Everywhere All At Once. O.B. works in research and advancement at the TVA and is described as the “quirky repair guy” who knows how to fix everything, as the guy likely invented or created most things at the organization, but rarely gets to interact with any other being that works there. Quan’s quirky, earnest, and endearing acting style is absolutely perfect for this role and for this world in which the show exists.

Knowing that they will need Loki’s help to not only locate where Sylvie is, but also to devise a plan of what to do about the infinite timelines that are branching off the main timeline now that it has escaped the clutched fist of He Who Remains, Mobius and O.B. come up with a solution. O.B. strongly believes that if Mobius uses the Temporal Aura Extractor to pull Loki out of the Temporal Loom (the place where all fragments of time are formed into a coherent timeline; just go with it…), they can stop his time-slipping. As the procedure is about to begin, Loki inadvertently time-slips into the future where he spots Sylive at the TVA.

Her intentions and the actions that led her there are unknown. We know from the first season that one of the things Sylvie valued most was freedom. Freedom from being hunted by the TVA, freedom of choice as she chooses her own path for her life instead of being defined as a “Loki.” What would lead her back to the TVA at some point in the future is unclear and hints at something gone terribly wrong that Sylvie thinks she needs to fix.

General Dox and X-5 discuss a plan to find Sylvie

Some mysterious character prunes Loki at the last possible second so he can be pulled out of the Temporal Loom before their window to do so closes. With his body stabilized in one timeline, there is no “time” to rest and regroup. While Mobius and O.B. were conjuring up metaphysical solutions to save Loki, an overreaching member of the TVA Judges Council, General Dox (played by Kate Dickie), and her younger, but slightly-too-intimate enforcer, Hunter X-5, are planning a full-blown assault to track down Sylvie. (Don’t worry, even though General Dox and X-5 have a very odd and borderline inappropriate personal relationship, it’s far from the most disturbing one on Katie Dickie’s resume.)

The hunt is on to see who can find Sylvie first, and if they can find her before whatever Kang-sized threat that is looming terrorizes their timeline.

Beyond a glimpse of Sylvie in the future, we don’t see her in this episode until the mid-credits stinger when she emerges from The Citadel where He Who Remains resides at a place and time that has some yet-to-be-revealed meaning. We see Sylvie appear in 1982 in Broxton, Oklahoma where she hoofs it over to the closest McDonald’s. This backdrop serves to not only line Marvel’s pockets with some corporate synergy and merchandise possibilities but also to give Sylvie the chance to have the smallest fraction of the freedom she is looking for.

Sylvie orders food at a McDonalds

When the attendant at McDonald’s asks her what she would like to try, she looks around to see people blissfully living their lives on their own terms and her only reply is “I wanna try everything.” This certainly can mean that she wants to sample a Quarter Pounder, Filet-O-Fish, and a McFlurry, but mostly it means she wants a life where she sets the rules and determines the outcomes. She does not yet know that disruption is seeking her again and is likely to find her soon. But for a fleeting moment in an Oklahoma McDonald’s, she has some peace.

That peace is likely to be short-lived as two factions are now hunting her across time. And with an army of malevolent Kangs unleashed throughout the Multiverse, she better get that McDonald’s meal to go.

Written by Ryan Kirksey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *