Loki season 2 episode 3 has plenty of good ideas up its sleeve, but is let down by a frankly poor performance from Jonathan Majors.
As I watched season 2 episode 3 of Loki, my mind couldn’t help but flash back to the mid-credits scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), which established the existence of a whole horde of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) variants. At the time, the scene filled me with a lot of dread, almost entirely thanks to Majors’ performances as the various different versions of the iconic villain. Whilst his portrayal of the more stereotypical interpretation of the character which prominently features in the film was admittedly pretty great, it was how he chose to depict these other variants that just didn’t work for me. It all felt so needlessly over-the-top, desperately trying to ensure that the performances are different enough to each other but in the process creating several of the most irritating characters imaginable.
On my way back from the cinema that day, I hoped and prayed that what I just saw wasn’t a reflection of the future of the MCU. Maybe that was just Majors trying to get to grips with the unusual demands of the role, and he would figure it out as he went along. There was simply no way we could go from Josh Brolin’s phenomenal performance as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) to, well, whatever Majors seemed to be attempting. Fast forward a few months to the premiere of episode 3 of Loki season 2, and unfortunately all of my worst fears seem to have come true. What on earth is Majors doing here?
In the episode, we’re introduced to Victor Timely, a scientist from the 1800s and a new variant of Kang the Conqueror/He Who Remains who briefly appeared in Ant-Man’s post-credits scene. He serves as the central focus of the episode, with the main dilemma of the cast being what to do with him. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) want to bring him back to the TVA in order to use his aura to fix the Loom, the returning Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) wishes to get him to take the place of He Who Remains, whilst Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) obviously wants to finish what she started in season 1 – killing him. I have to say, after watching the episode and experiencing Victor Timely first-hand, I can’t help but side with her.
Throughout the entirety of episode 3, Jonathan Majors just feels out of place. His performance is so needlessly exaggerated and over-the-top that no matter what is going on, he sticks out like a sore thumb. His brief exchanges with a terrifying Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) are conceptually interesting but they’re robbed of any kind of potential atmosphere purely down to the fact that Timely is such a caricature. It’s the bumbling mad scientist archetype pushed to the extreme with no consideration given to how it meshes with any of Loki’s other elements. If this is any indication to how Majors plans to handle playing dozens of different villainous variants in the upcoming saga of films Marvel reportedly has planned, I can’t say I’m feeling particularly enthusiastic.
Outside of Victor Timely, with season 2 episode 3 Loki continues to feel like a show that just hasn’t yet found its footing. The ideas are there, but it’s all still a bit too messy for my liking. Again, the 6-episode format feels like it’s doing a number on the pacing, robbing us of more time in what promised to be again a great setting for the show.
As much as I despised Majors’ performance, I loved the idea of there being a version of Kang who is this maniacal scientist who feels like he’s stuck in the past, even if it’s all he’s ever known. He wholeheartedly believes that he’s a genius and his only problem is that technology just hasn’t yet caught up to his brain, and that’s an incredibly fascinating concept for a character, especially one who we know from prior movies and seasons has a few screws loose. However, the format demands constant progression, and so yet another interesting idea seemingly drifts away, having completely failed to live up to its apparent potential.
I must stress that despite my negativity, there is really nothing too noticeably wrong with Loki as a show. In terms of entertainment value, it’s easily one of Marvel’s stronger and more consistent offerings, especially if you’re a fan of its titular character. However, it is that sense of quality that you just don’t get in Marvel’s other Disney+ productions that makes me yearn for more, that makes the repeated disappointments hurt so much more, that make bad performances like Majors’ stick out as badly as they do. I’m not mad at you Loki, I’m just disappointed, and I desperately hope that one day, you get to be as good as I think you can be.
Season 2 Episode 3 of Loki is now available to watch on Disney Plus.