CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sasha Lane
RUNNING TIME: 43 mins
PREVIOUSLY, ON LOKI: A “variant” of Loki (Hiddleston) has partnered with the Time Variance Authority to investigate the murderous activities of another Loki variant (Di Martino). Loki and the TVA manage to track her to an apocalyptic event in time, where she can hide safely from the TVA’s watchful eye across space and time, but she is able to ignite several charges across the “Sacred Timeline”, causing multiple rifts. The female Loki variant escapes through a portal, while the other Loki follows after her.
IN THIS EPISODE: Both Lokis wind up on a mining planet that’s facing imminent destruction, and must work together to escape their new fates…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
One of the many things I’m really enjoying thus far about Loki is that each episode – at least, the ones that have come out so far – is wildly different than the last. The first episode was dedicated solely to providing exposition about new aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that are just being introduced, while the second sets itself up as more of a procedural with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mobius behaving like detectives on an episode of Law & Order. The tradition continues with the third episode – entitled Lamentis – which once again goes for something different than what some might have been expecting, but keeps the entertainment factor wildly alive in ever-fascinating style.
Lamentis, of course, follows directly on from the previous episode, which ended with Hiddleston’s Loki chasing through a portal after another rogue Loki variant, who we now know to be played by Sophia Di Martino (who, for a moment or two, I had to stop and tell myself that it wasn’t Naomi Watts I was seeing on the screen). A scuffle between the two sends them through another portal to the purple-tinted mining planet of Lamentis-1, which is on collision course with a moon that is about to destroy the entire planet; now, Loki and his female counterpart – who prefers to be called Sylvie – are trapped without any means of immediately transporting away, so they must try to work together in order to find a safe way out of their new apocalyptic situation. It’s a bit difficult, though, when both of them are not only the same person – albeit very different, alternative versions of the same person – but are both just as cunning, manipulative and powerful as one another.
This is much more of a two-hander episode, focused almost entirely on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie with most other elements introduced in this series – the TVA, Owen Wilson’s Mobius, that strange animated clock Miss Minutes – either taking a far smaller role or not appearing at all in the episode. It is an experimental episode to see if the series can survive without some of its sturdier foundations, and the good news is that it’s an experiment that largely pays off, because you still have the title character being his incredibly enjoyable self, but now is partnered with an even more mysterious alternative version who is just as compelling as the main Loki is. Both Hiddleston and Di Martino share a very powerful chemistry which certainly feels like an odd-couple pairing, but they both find numerous things to be impressed by with each other, whether it’s the notion of performing magic or their different ideas on how to sneak past guards or fool unsuspecting citizens. The characters are also given plenty of room to breathe and actually feel like three-dimensional characters; one of the most profound scenes in the whole episode is just the two of them sitting and talking about their alternating lives, even seemingly confirming some long-standing fan theories about a certain character’s sexuality in the process. Both the writing, here provided by Bisha K. Ali (also the head writer for Marvel’s upcoming series Ms. Marvel), and especially the charming turns by both Hiddleston and Di Martino easily help these two characters carry this smaller but possibly more significant episode of the series thus far, to a point where it would be completely understandable to start seeing fans constantly ship them online, as the Internet tends to do.
This episode also really serves as a firm reminder of how well-made this series has been so far, even by Marvel miniseries standards. For starters, it’s a gorgeous-looking series, with this episode in particular really mining the purple hazes of this desolate, about-to-be-demolished planet for all of its visual prowess, making it look as captivating as any of the MCU’s space-set movies. Director Kate Herron has really found her filmmaking groove as well, particularly in a climactic sequence that is captured 1917-style in one continuous take, which contains everything from armoured combat to bombastic visual effects, and is stylistically one of the more ambitious action sequences that any of these Marvel series have undertaken so far. For someone who has yet to direct an actual feature film – her directing credits are mostly comprised of short films, and episodes of other shows like Sex Education and Daybreak – Herron displays unwavering, and entirely earned, confidence in her filmmaking that can be rivalled only by people who have actually gone on to direct movies in the MCU, instantly making whatever she does decide to work on as her feature debut all the more fascinating, seeing how this is what she can do with a major property like Marvel, even in a television format.
As for what this episode sets up for the remaining three entries in this series, once again it’s impossible to tell. One of the great joys about Loki is that, much like the God of Mischief himself, you’re never entirely sure where it’s going, and each episode so far has ended without so much as a hint as to what lies in store next for our characters; given the unpredictable nature thus far, for all I know next week’s episode could be a political drama. Whatever it ends up being in a week’s time, there’s no doubt that it’ll be extraordinarily good fun, for now that we’re halfway through this six-episode series it’s safe to say that this is perhaps the strongest Marvel series to date; of course, it could all go pear-shaped as we venture into the second half, but regardless of whether it becomes more formulaic or continues to be just as unpredictable, this really feels like exactly the kind of, well, low-key MCU storytelling that we’ve always wanted out of a Marvel show.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Loki: Episode 3 – Lamentis is easily carried by the incredibly enjoyable odd-couple act of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie, with both actors sharing impeccable chemistry and well-written character moments, in a slightly smaller-scale episode that continues the strong pace and impressive overall filmmaking to tip the series thus far into the strongest that Marvel has yet put out on the small screen.