Loki episode five kept the momentum going from last week’s jaw-dropping cliffhanger, delivering a truly epic chapter set at the end of time and introducing a fearsome new foe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before we jump into episode 5 recap here comes the spoiler alert.
This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s LOKI episode 5, WANDAVISION and THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.
Journeys into Loki
Picking up immediately where Loki Episode 4 left off, the latest installment of the Marvel series sees Loki navigating his way through the desolate wasteland he woke up in after being pruned by the Time Variance Authority. Once there, he runs into not only a number of other Loki variants but also learns about — and later confronts — the powerful being that lords over the realm.
So what’s the story behind each Loki? Richard’s Classic Loki explains that in his timeline, he didn’t try to kill Thanos (Josh Brolin) as Loki did in Avengers: Infinity War, instead conjuring an illusion before isolating himself on a planet for years. The Void is the kingdom of Kid Loki, and his nexus event was killing Thor.
Boastful Loki claims he defeated Iron Man and Captain America, then took all six Infinity Stones. Everyone thinks he’s a big liar, and he betrays them all to President Loki (and his gang of bandit Lokis) shortly afterward. So he’s a big jerk, and his nexus event was probably something innocuous like forgetting to brush his teeth.
Alligator Loki’s nexus event was apparently “eating the wrong neighbor’s cat.”
Unlocking the TVA’s truth
Back at the TVA as Ravonna and Sylvie look to Miss Minutes (voiced by Tara Strong) to help with their new quest. Sylvie realises that you can’t create nexus events in The Void, which means they must get to the end of time to save Loki. Ravonna plays along but she’s really just stalling for time as Miss Minutes “looks for the files” — which is code for call the guards. Cornered, Sylvie prunes herself. That’s clever, because she will also end up in The Void.
What is Alioth?
Depicted as a massive, sprawling purple cloud with a beast-like head, Alioth rules mercilessly over the Void — providing a constant threat to all its inhabitants. However, as Loki Episode 5 eventually reveals, Alioth’s role in The Void isn’t just to instill fear in all the variants unlucky enough to be sent there. He also acts as a guard dog, protecting and shielding the entrance to a cosmic mansion where the TVA’s mysterious leader, presumably, resides.
In the comics, Alioth is even more terrifying and powerful than he’s shown to be in LokiEpisode 5. He’s the first being in the universe said to have freed himself from the constraints of time, and his empire is said to be two to three times larger than even Kang the Conqueror’s. In fact, Alioth’s presence is the key reason that Kang never expanded his dominion too far into the timeline in the comics, even creating a barrier specifically designed to keep Alioth from invading his empire.
Outside the Void
Mobius had managed to stay alive in the Void after being pruned at Judge Renslayer’s behest. He helps reunite Loki and Sylvie. The team pf Lokis hatch a plan. Sylvie believes she can enchant Alioth, who is essentially functioning as a guard dog between The Void and whatever future the Timekeepers are weaving beyond it, and thus gain access to that future. Of course, Alioth is very large, and very hungry. Loki attempts a distraction, waving a flaming short sword given to him by Kid Loki, but it’s not enough; Alioth continues to pursue Sylvie. It very nearly becomes a disaster, but for the last-minute save of Classic Loki, who specializes in illusion magic. He weaves a massive image of Asgard before Alioth, presenting a target entirely too tempting, if ephemeral. So who is really behind the TVA remains the biggest unanswered question in Loki, and we might get an answer next week on the final episode.
Marvel Facts and Easter eggs
- Did you spot the remains of the Avengers Tower in the background in the Void? (New York clearly has major significance for ‘our’ Variant of Loki, seeing as it was here that he branched off from the main MCU timeline during Avengers: Endgame.)
- Alioth, the giant cloud monster who terrorizes the Void, originated in the comics. Making his first appearance in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective in 1993, he’s a “trans-temporal entity” who exists across divergent timelines.
- After much speculation online, it’s been confirmed that the reptilian Loki Variant is an alligator rather than a crocodile – glad that’s cleared up.
- The landscape of the Void is peppered with fun bits and pieces from history – and Marvel lore. As well as the Sphinx and Pyramids, we’re pretty sure you can see Stonehenge in the background. There’s also a giant alien/robot head, weird extra-terrestrial birds, a wrecked sailing ship and what looks like the saucer section of the USS Enterprise. The most intriguing Easter egg for Marvel fans is a yellow helicopter with THANOS written across its tail – the Titan used the Thanos-Copter (yes, it’s a thing) when he tried to get his hands on the Cosmic Cube in Spidey Super Stories in 1979.
- As the camera pans down through a cross-section of earth to reach the Lokis’ underground lair, Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, is among the buried trash. There’s also an unfortunate being buried alive in a glass jar labelled T365. We’re guessing it’s Frog Thor, an amphibian Variant who made his first appearance in Thor #364 in 1986 – and wields a hammer called Frogjolnir. It seems Alligator Loki isn’t the only non-human member of Asgard‘s royal family…
- Loki tells the other Variants he’s going to “kill the shark” (aka Alioth), which is a lot better than “jumping the shark”, TV shorthand for the moment a once-brilliant TV show loses its mojo – inspired by an episode of long-running sitcom Happy Days.
- The USS Eldridge, the US naval vessel that appears in the Void before being attacked by Alioth, was a real World War 2 ship. It’s famous for being the subject of the so-called ‘Philadelphia Experiment’, where the US Navy is alleged to have made the boat invisible – while it’s now regarded as a hoax, the MCU has now given its own explanation for the supposed disappearance. The Philadelphia Experiment myth was turned into a 1984 movie.
- As Classic Loki constructs an illusion of Asgard to distract Alioth, Natalie Holt’s score has big echoes Richard Wagner’s ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’. This is entirely appropriate seeing as, like Loki, Wagner’s Ring Cycle was inspired by Norse mythology.