Loki season 2 episode 2 has plenty of great ideas but doesn’t know how to execute any of them, resulting in an often disappointing hour of TV.
Helen Keller famously said “ideas without action are useless”, and I bring up that quote because I think it might just encapsulate how I feel about Loki as a whole. It constantly features countless brilliant, imaginative ideas but I rarely feel like it gives them the execution that they deserve. Too often I walk away from an episode thinking to myself that it was almost good, that it nearly amazed me, and unfortunately, season 2 episode 2 does continue that trend. It may have plenty of great ideas up its sleeve, but Loki’s continued inability to give them the development and pay-off that they demand just means that the show keeps falling short for me, despite me constantly feeling like I should love it.
It’s absolutely not helped by the MCU’s fascination with the 6 episode miniseries format that, according to recent reports, it thankfully seems to have given up on. The whole season is far too brief to do justice to any of its ideas, meaning that so much potential just gets thrown down the drain in order to ensure the pacing remains intact. There’s never any room for the characters to breathe, meaning that these big moments get wrapped up absurdly quickly, undercutting any kind of impact they could or should have. At this point, it feels like destiny for these shows to spend their first episode setting the stage for an incredibly intriguing season, only to spend the rest of its runtime disappointing its viewers.
Perhaps I’m being overly negative, but it all stems from a place of disappointment, because so much of what episode 2 introduces, I adore conceptually. Take, for example, the episode’s titular character, Brad Wolfe (Rafael Casal), a former TVA Hunter who’s abandoned his post in favour of becoming a famous horror movie actor on the sacred timeline. It’s an idea that on paper I really like, and the time Loki spends exploring the era in time that he situated himself in is remarkably charming, but we’re pulled away from it all far too fast in favour of more time spent in the offices of the TVA, an area that in season 2 is starting to get a bit stale.
Another idea that’s explored in season 2 episode 2 which I adore is the exploration of Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) darker side. At this point in the show’s run, it’s so easy to forget the villainous roots of this character. I mean, as mentioned in the episode, he was literally the main antagonist of the very first Avengers movie, but now, after years of being presented as another quirky protagonist, it feels like a genuine breath of fresh air when we see Loki being, well, Loki. Whilst the writing can feel a bit heavy handed, with Loki quite literally stating that he is a villain, it’s great that we get to see both the character and the actor embrace this more mischievous, ruthless side.
Tom Hiddleston is obviously having a ball, which helps massively in making the scene engaging, but I just wish they pushed it that little bit further. The MCU obviously has a reputation for playing things quite safe, and I couldn’t help but feel that massively anytime they teased Loki doing something slightly villainous. Simply put, there was no tension, and I can’t begin to describe how much that hurt the scene when it so desperately needed it. I’m all for Loki committing more reckless and dangerous acts, I just want to feel like he might actually do them, and not like I’m just being teased in an incredibly predictable manner.
Then there’s the Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) of it all. I’m still not sure of what to think of her season 2 storyline. In some ways, it’s remarkably touching – her desire for normality after a life of extremity is a feeling that I think most people can get behind. Yet, the constant McDonald’s product placement makes it feel so much more cynical than it should. Not to mention, she’s pulled out of the storyline so fast that we never get to see how living a far more mundane life than she’s used to is affecting her. Again, it’s a brilliant idea on paper, but when the show just rushes through it, it has no impact in the slightest. Season 1 made me care for Sylvie, so I want to see her living this life, I want to see how it affects it. What I don’t want is for it to be skipped through in favour of more visually dull, overcomplicated TVA shenanigans.
Hopefully my criticisms will be addressed as the season progresses, because I do love so much of what season 2 of Loki is trying to do. It’s just a shame that the show seems to have so much on its mind that it can’t do any of its ideas justice. Part of me just wants to sit it down, put a hand on its shoulder and let it know that it doesn’t matter how many good ideas it has if it can’t execute any of them. It ultimately feels like a show being crushed by the limitations of its own format; I can tell just how desperately it wants to be more than a mere 6 episodes. In a week where we’ve heard all about the fact that the MCU is changing their approach to television, Loki season 2 episode 2 proves just how needed that change is.
Season 2 Episode 2 of Loki is now available to watch on Disney Plus.