Loki S2E4 Recap: “Heart of the TVA” — Bonsoir Loom

Loki watches the TVA implode

The following recap contains spoilers for Loki S2E4, “The Heart of the TVA” (written by Eric Martin and Katharyn Blair, and directed by Justin Benson & 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.

If you’re one of the many who have watched the first four episodes of Loki and grew weary of the term “temporal loom,“ I have some good news for you and I have some bad news for you. The bad news is that episode four of Loki, entitled “The Heart of the TVA,” features a lot, and I mean A LOT of technobabble and discussion about temporal looms, throughput multipliers, and timeline branch capacity.

The good news, at least, in terms of suffering through more conversations about temporal looms, is that the cliffhanger of this fourth episode left us with the loom, and perhaps the TVA, imploding, seemingly destroying the entire TVA and sending each of our characters in the show into parts unknown. 

When critics were sent screeners for this show from Disney, they were only provided with the first four episodes, seemingly because the cliffhanger of this episode has such massive ramifications for the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). They couldn’t risk anything leaking (or if you have followed any of the recent Marvel discourse, they simply had no idea how they were going to end it and they’re still plowing through those decisions, perhaps as we speak). Never before has such a large-scale event been tested in an episode of one of their television shows, and certainly not as the end of an episode in the middle of the series.

Loki, Mobius, and B-15 hunt for Victor Timely

For as much as a linear path that a show about time, time travel, and the eliminating of timelines can follow, the events of Loki Season 1, and the first four episodes of Season 2 stuck to that path. Sometimes they would step off or deviate, but always were able to put themselves right back into the “sacred” Loki timeline. What the end of Episode 4 does is seemingly reset everything we have seen, everything we know, and everything that we thought was a potential possibility for these characters, as the show finishes its last two episodes and we head into Phase 5 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

How we got to this cliffhanger is quite the roundabout story, told in a tight 46 minutes, but there might be some clues embedded in this week’s episode that tell us where we could be headed 

Since the beginning of the season, we have been warned by Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan), that the Time Variance Authority was under a tremendous threat. After the death of He Who Remains in the Season 1 finale, the expanding and branching timelines that came out of the Sacred Timeline are overloading the capacity of the TVA’s temporal loom. O.B., as Ouroboros is frequently called, was fond of telling people how little time they had left to fix it (ironic, considering time wasn’t supposed to exist in the TVA), and that everyone there was at risk of imminent death.

The events of Episode 3 and bringing Victor Timely and his Gray’s Sports Almanac—I mean, TVA Handbook—back to the TVA were supposed to provide the relief that the temporal loom needed to allow the extra room in the waistband to be able to accommodate all the timelines that are being stuffed inside of it. That clearly didn’t happen, and despite Timely and O.B.’s best efforts, they were either too late, or didn’t follow the right steps to keep this event from happening. 

Where every character in the show is now is the major question heading into the fifth and sixth episodes of the season—the final two. We know these characters aren’t “dead,” but there are a lot of things that could happen to them across a lot of locations in a lot of universes that might actually be worse. 

Revonna Renslayer watches a scene from her past with He Who Remains

Before the climactic events at the TVA, we loop back around to where Episode 3 left off. We get some resolution and answers to the lingering question of what was Revonna Renslayer‘s secret that Miss Minutes knew about. It was teased at the end of Episode 3 and has a swift answer. As they both arrived at the Citadel at the end of time, having been banished there by Sylvie, Miss Minutes still has all her flirtatious wits about her, and decides to show Renslayer some things about her true past. Now that both of them have been excommunicated by Victor Timely, and have no more connection to He Who Remains, Miss Minutes has no problem unlocking the AI archive file and showing it to the world. 

Miss Minutes shows her that Renslayer used to be the commander of He Who Remains’ army in the Multiversal War between all the variants of Kang. This is the war that was referenced in the finale of Season 1 where He Who Remains devised a way to end the war by creating a sacred timeline and eliminating all of his variants. Renslayer was a key part of the strategy, it would appear, and she was expecting a seat at the right hand of the man who came up with the plan to save the sacred timeline.

Revonna confronts General Dox and X-5 in prison

Instead, as we learned throughout the episodes of Season 1, her mind was erased along with Mobius, B-15, and the rest of the employees at the TVA, who all had some kind of past life They have no memory of, as He Who Remains and Miss Minutes wipe their brains like some kind of cosmic whiteboard so that they could more purposely serve the TVA and He Who Remains’ mission.

Renslayer and Miss Minutes decide they are, in fact, the rightful leadership of the TVA, and devise a plan to go and reclaim it for themselves, because no one thought to remove Miss Minutes’ abilities before she was banished. This oversight allows them to hop right back into the TVA, where Loki, Mobius, Sylvie, B-15, O.B., and Victor Timely all are working to fix the loom. Renslayer knows she will need another army of sorts so she hunts down the holding room where General Dox, X-5 (Brad), and all of their army are being held.

All of these, except X5/Brad Wolfe, have come to understand the more glorious purpose of Loki, Mobius, and Sylvie: resetting the TVA to allow free will on the branches. And, as you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with Renslayer and Miss Minutes. These two anarchists decide to load up General Dox and her army into the same shrinking torture box that Loki threatened to use on X-5. This time, Renslayer and a sadistically delighted Miss Minutes watch as their potential army are crushed to death inside this box. Satisfied with how they squashed the competition, Renslayer, Miss Minutes, and X-5 go on the hunt for our heroes to try and re-capture the TVA. 

Miss Minutes is delighted watching TVA employees die

Somehow the team of loom-savers lose track of Victor Timely and the three anarchists capture him and threaten to destroy the work that they are trying to achieve. 

This sends Loki and Sylvie on the hunt for Victor Timely throughout bowels of the TVA, and we see scenes from the mysterious flash forwards that came from the first episode of the season. Loki and Sylvie are separated, but manage to find each other just before someone—who was unknown in Episode 1—prunes Loki

It turns out, the person that pruned Loki was, in fact, himself. It appears that some version of Loki, or a Loki on some timeline, understands what is about to happen at the TVA and prunes this version of himself perhaps so he can be safe from the destruction that’s about to befall the TVA. After one Loki variant is able to ensure that some version of him will survive, he and Sylvie are able to continue the hunt for Victor Timely.

O.B. realizes that Miss Minutes’ powerful and all-knowing AI can always allow them to be one step ahead of Loki and Sylvie, so he comes with a plan to reboot the entire system of the TVA, which will take Miss Minutes off-line for a period of time. Why no one thought about this to delay some of the trouble they’ve been dodging all season is beyond me, but I have not been able to claim to understand much of the science and technology the TVA up to this point, so why try now?

Victor, Ouroboros, and Mobius try to figure out how to fix the loom.

With the TVA system down, Sylvie and Loki are able to use their powers once again, and Sylvie enchants X-5 (like she did with several foes last season), which allows them to enter the room where Timely is being held and rescue him. 

But the enjoyment of the rescue will be short-lived as Victor Timely quickly and bravely volunteers to go and put the throughput multiplier on the disintegrating loom. Despite O.B.’s multiple warnings about the very chaotic nature that exists in the room where the loom is located, Timely suits up and goes out anyway. 

All the proper precautions are taken, according to O.B., but when Victor enters the room that houses the loom, he is immediately turned to corporeal spaghetti, and the patch that our team thought would be able to fix the loom never has a chance to even try and do its work. 

The subsequent implosion of the loom then produces a blinding light that fully washes over our team of heroes as well as prevents us from seeing anything that happens next. The thing that follows is a good old-fashioned cut to black and no stinger in the credits to give us any clue as to where the story, the characters, or any part of the last third of this show is going. 

If you’re counting at home, this is now two Kang variants that might have already seen their 15 minutes of fame come and go. He Who Remains, um, remains rotting at the Citadel at the end of time. Victor Timely is now turned into a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese. We believe that Kang the Conqueror still exists in some capacity in the quantum realm, but his abilities are currently unknown after he got wasted by a group of ants on steroids in the latest Ant-Man movie.

But that seems like a minor issue compared to the fact that potentially everything, everywhere, all at once has unraveled in this Marvel Cinematic Universe after the conclusion of Episode 4. The directors of the show have promised that we should not expect things to follow a straight line in the next two episodes, and to that I applaud them. 

I will admit, however, I wouldn’t even be able to begin to tell you what that straightt line would be, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The predictability, the unfocused plots, the lazy storytelling, and the haphazard endings are some of the things that have caused a dramatic fall in prestige and dramatic loss of viewers for the MCU since Avengers: Endgame. If the MCU somehow has managed to find a way to reset and start doing the things that made it the biggest and most interesting property in entertainment, I, for one, will not be the least bit upset that we have no idea where we might be going right now.

Give me a mysterious path over a predictable one every day of the week.

Written by Ryan Kirksey

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