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Loki Episode 3: The Horns Come Off As the Variant Games Begin

Road trip! Loki and Sylvie discuss love and identity while hoofing it around a doomed planet.

by | June 23, 2021 | Comments

Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

Now at the halfway point, Loki’s third episode offers a number of new questions, while giving “our” Loki (Tom Hiddleston) a new sparring partner. But just who is this variant? Are the comic book nods just another distraction from the God of Mischief? And was last week’s time bomb really just a misdirection from the Variant’s true goal? Let’s take a look at this week’s episode and see if we can’t suss out some good answers to these questions.

Spoiler Alert: The following reveals details of the third episode of Loki season 1. Stop here if you have not watched “Lamentis.” Speculation includes information from Marvel comic books and may also be considered spoilers to some.

Is “Sylvie” a Loki Variant?

Sophia Di Martino in Loki

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Despite spending an hour with Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), we’re still unsure if she’s a variant of Loki or something else entirely. To be fair, she self-identifies as a variant, but nevertheless continues to claim that she is something different. Also, we couldn’t help but notice she explains her power and not her past when Loki asks for a token of trust.

The name she’s chosen to use is an obvious nod to Sylvie Lushton, a Marvel Comics character introduced in 2009 who also goes by the name of Enchantress — not be confused with Amora, the earlier Marvel Enchantress, or DC Comics’ Enchantress, June Moone, played by Cara Delevingne in Suicide Squad.

Although an average young woman from Oklahoma, Sylvie’s fortunes changed when Asgardia, a modernized version of Asgard its people used after the fall of their homerealm, settled in a geosynchronous orbit above her hometown. She soon developed powers of her own, which, it turned out, were gifted to her by Loki for some unknown purpose. When he later explain himself, Loki says she is merely a whim because he wondered what would happen if a human suspected they were Asgardian. Also, Loki seemed to enjoy the fact she was susceptible to dashed hopes.

Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Favoring green clothing and blonde hair, the Marvel Cinematic Universe Sylvie certainly resembles the Marvel Comics version (particularly after she abandons the horns during the fight on the train), but diverts in a couple of key ways. For one, a brief shot in episode 2 refers to her as “Sylvie Laufeydottir,” indicating she is indeed a Loki variant who presented as female very early in her existence. From what little she offers Loki on the train, we also get the impression she did not have much of a family either in Jotunheim or Asgard; she refers to memories of her mother as something out of a dream. Second, her primary power appears to be something Loki terms as an enchantment. As she later explains, she gets into people’s memories via physical contact and begins a dance within them to get what she wants. But, as she mentions, the other person is also in control. Sort of. This differs wildly from Sylvie Luston’s varied suite of powers.

Also, we can’t help but notice she instinctively chooses to fight whenever a conflict presents itself.

All of which should add up to Sylvie not being Loki; in fact, there’s still room for her to be a variant of Amora or even Sylvie Lushton. Hell, we’ll even throw in the possibility of Angela for good measure. But we’re still not inclined to go in this direction yet because Loki lies; therefore, everything Sylvie has said so far could just as easily be a lie.

But then there’s the reference to being on a mission and sticking with it even above her natural hedonistic tendencies. Is it possible her years-long effort to assault the Time-Keepers is, in fact, someone else’s scheme?

Margaritas Pour from a Hunter’s Memories

Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

Last week, Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) kept saying “it’s all real,” which led us to believe Sylvie somehow revealed to her that she was not created by the Time-Keepers but was, really, a variant press-ganged into working on their behalf.

This appears to be true as she tells Loki she dug into C-20’s memories from before she worked for the TVA in order to get the location of the Time-Keepers’ special elevator. While we are keeping the Loki tendency to lie in mind, that we actually see Sylvie using C-20’s memories of margaritas leads us to believe this is, in fact, the truth. Also, it’s just narrative satisfying for Loki to discover everything Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) told him about TVA history is a lie.

If the Time-Keepers have been forcing variants into their service, what is their true aim? One option is the simple preservation of their own existence by manipulating the timeline. If we accept the multiversal war as a truth within their larger lie, it is possible they were destined to lose and use the “Sacred Timeline” as a means of forestalling their defeat. But even within that, there is some ambiguity about their intentions as the stated goal of avoiding another war could still be benevolent. Then again, co-opting variants and robbing them of their memories hardly sounds like something impossibly powerful but benevolent beings would do.

Well, presuming they even really exist and are not part of a massive con perpetrated by Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and, potentially, Kang (Jonathan Majors).

And since we’re talking about the Time-Keepers, was Sylvie’s time-bomb really just a means of distracting enough of the TVA to get to them? The bomb seemingly caused enough havoc as to upend the Sacred Timeline entirely — which would be as worthy an objective as actually killing the Time-Keepers themselves. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the bomb’s effects next week.

The Variants Encounter the Mysteries of Lamentis-1

Scene from Marvel Studios' LOKI

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Most of the episode takes place on the soon-to-be destroyed Lamentis-1. The name “Lamentis” is a relatively obscure pull as a similar world appeared in exactly one Marvel Comic — Annihilation: Conquest Prologue #1. As part of the 2007 Marvel event storyline, Annihilation, it sees the techno-organic Phalanx forming a barrier along the edges of Kree-controlled space. Lamentis is an outworld on the extreme edge of their borders, so Quasar — already there on a mission — sees the shockwave as it passes the planet on its way to the border.

The actual Annihilation story features Annihilus, a perennial Fantastic Four foe, attempting to expand his empire by reaching into the positive matter universe and using the negative-charge counterpart to the Power Cosmic (something we’ll talk about another time). But by the point of Annihilation: Conquest Prologue #1, he had been defeated and was recuperating in the safety of the Negative Zone, a realm which may matter to the eventual Fantastic Four film.

With the comic book mentioning Annihulus and featuring both the Phanalax and Quasar (and the Spaceknights for that matter), invoking the planet Lamentis in this episode could indicate some future happenings in the MCU. The Phalanx, for example, is generally associated with the X-Men. But as with everything else on Loki, it could be also be a master class in misdirection.

But there are some questions worth asking about Lamentis-1 and how it relates to the MCU. Is it in Kree-space? None of the humanoids we saw in the episode were blue, the general skin tone of the Kree in the MCU. But being blue is not a requirement to be Kree and nothing says Lamentis has to be a Kree colony for it to be controlled by the Kree — well, presuming the Kree treaty with the Nova Corps still stands in 2077. If it’s not Kree at all, then from where do all the humanoids Loki and Sylvie encounter originate? Is the show suggesting Earthers will be out among the stars in few decades? Granted, that is possible in the MCU with all the aliens and alien tech known to the world.

Since Sylvie can only hide in naturally occurring cataclysms, we know no force purposely brought destruction to Lamentis-1, but the end of the Ark sure looked purposeful. Is it possible the Time-Keepers (or something else) were playing some long game to keep any survivors from escaping that world?

“Love Is a Dagger”

Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

While Loki’s metaphor for love is not as profound as he thinks, it does lead to an interesting new wrinkle about the character — love isn’t really something he’s familiar with. Sure, there is the familial love Frigga (Rene Russo) showed him throughout her life, but that’s clearly not the sort of thing he or Sylvie were discussing. Thanks to his experiences, if not his nature, Loki cannot perceive romantic love as anything other than a long con or, indeed, a weapon. And though he indicates some short affairs — he also self-identifies as bisexual — the notion of a predominately aromatic protagonist is definitely appealing. In the middle of Marvel Studios’ most technically ambitious hour of television yet, it almost makes sense to declare it will also take romantic stakes off the table for the character going forward. No one, say a Doctor Doom or Annihilus, can ever threaten the life of Loki’s version of Jane Foster or Luke Cage. That person does not exist.

It would definitely be a bold storytelling choice considering how important romantic stakes tend to be in television shows, but it is also possible this episode’s discussion of romantic love is merely winding-up for a punchline about Loki loving himself. Well, provided Sylvie is a Loki variant.

Is an Old Loki in the Wind?

Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.)

As we’ve now have a tradition of highlighting characters who could appear in Loki‘s future, this week’s candidate is a future Loki. Appearing in the Loki: Agent of Asgard series as “King Loki” or “Old Loki,” this variant comes from a future where Earth is in ashes thanks to his scheming, but Thor ascended to the throne of Asgard and ushered in an era of peace among the other Realms. In the early part of the series, Old Loki stated to the ruling triumvirate of Asgardia, the All-Mother, that he merely wished to bring about this era of peace sooner by forcing his younger self to accept the villainous path. The All-Mother agreed to assist even as they locked him up in Asgardia’s dungeon.

His existence — and his ability to work around the All-Mother’s “Loki-proof” prison cell — brings us back to Sylvie’s “mission.” Is she acting on orders from Loki’s future self? Did he create her to appear as a Loki variant to the TVA? And, if so, is all of this just really part of his infinitely-long game to get control of the Time-Keepers’ power?

Richard E. Grant

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

To a certain extent, it is more likely than Kang revealing himself. Some already believe Richard E. Grant (pictured) — whose first appearance is expected in next week’s episode and who appeared as General Pryde in Disney film Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker — will emerge as Old Loki and the true mastermind behind these events, motivated by the moment his younger self realized the power of the TVA was stronger than the Infinity Stones.

It is a good hypothesis as it keeps things squarely on Loki and the series’ examination of his nature. Indeed, Agent of Asgard pondered on this, too. The title character rebelled against his presumed role as villain while Old Loki reveled in it. This may yet prove to be the central conflict of the series should Grant turn out to be a variant trickster himself.

And now that we think about, what better moment for Old Loki to reveal himself than when all seems lost for Loki and Sylvie?

Loki episodes debut each Wednesday on Disney+.

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