Loki: Episode 4 – The Nexus Event (Review) – Well, That Escalated Quickly

DIRECTOR: Kate Herron

CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia Di Martino, Sasha Lane

RUNNING TIME: 49 mins

PREVIOUSLY, ON LOKI: A “variant” of Loki (Hiddleston) has joined forces with the Time Variance Authority to locate and capture another rogue version of Loki, known as Sylvie (Martino). After setting off several charges across the “Sacred Timeline”, she and Loki manage to escape to the planet of Lamentis, which is about to be destroyed and where the pair cannot escape from. During this time, Loki learns from Sylvie that TVA agents were not created by the Time-Keepers as previously told, but rather taken from different timelines themselves.

IN THIS EPISODE: As they search for Loki and Sylvie, Mobius (Wilson) and other TVA agents begin to realise the horrifying truth about their pasts…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Last week, I predicted that the next episode of Loki would turn into a political thriller, on account of each episode thus far shifting neatly from one unpredictable angle to the next. As it turns out, I was kind of right.

The fourth episode of Marvel’s latest series – entitled The Nexus Event – has “political thriller” written all over it, from vast-ranging conspiracies to evidence of cover-ups and probable corruption to the bureaucratic system, and in true Loki fashion it all unfolds not quite as you may think, resulting in yet another winning entry in an increasingly impressive omnibus.

After largely staying absent from last week’s episode, the TVA are back in full swing, as is agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) who is eager to relocate and apprehend both his missing Lokis; the Tom Hiddleston-looking one that we all know, and the rogue variant Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), who are both currently awaiting their fate on the doomed planet of Lamentis. Of course, both end up surviving due to creating a “Nexus event” that alerts the TVA to their presence, and they’re whisked back to the bureau to, once again, await their fate. However, it isn’t long before Mobius and other TVA agents, including brutish enforcer B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), start to catch wind of the fact that the TVA, as revealed last week, might have been dishing out some untruths about the origins of their countless workers, namely that they’re not born and bred outside the Sacred Timeline but are instead snatched from several timelines instead. Suddenly, the biggest liars of all don’t seem to be the two variants of the universe’s most achieved liar.

This series is so good at paving its own storytelling path that while it might not be that hard to deduce that there was something off about the TVA from the very start, the fact that you are still very much on board to see where it’s ultimately going is commendable in and of itself. Every time you think you know what’s about to come around the corner, this series always finds a way to throw you off your scent, and there are multiple times in this one episode where you suddenly find yourself legitimately shocked that they actually did certain things you weren’t expecting them to do until at least a bit further down the line. As ever, it comes down to impeccable direction by Kate Herron, who seriously needs to be placed in charge of a major Marvel feature if this is the kind of strong pacing and firm focus she can bring to a short-form series in the same cinematic universe, and a script – this time by Eric Martin – which gives plenty of solid character moments to people who until this point you hadn’t even considered to be major players. Here’s an example: before this episode, Wunmi Mosaku’s B-15 was mainly just there to snarl and be permanently menacing as this enforcer, but here we find out a little bit more about her and what her life might have been like before she was somehow snatched up by the TVA, and from what little information we’re given it shows just how cruel and decisively inhuman the secret practises of the bureau can be.

Both Herron and Martin bring out some good character moments like that throughout this episode, including Loki himself who for a chunk of this episode is put in a torturous time-loop featuring a surprise returning face from the Thor series (and it’s extra surprising seeing how it’s someone who’s been absent for a number of years now), and also cannot seem to escape his own feelings for Sylvie, who may it be noted is a version of Loki from alternate universe. It’s easy to understand, seeing how they both shared great chemistry in last week’s episode, but it’s an enjoyable bit of development for a self-described narcissist who ends up falling somewhat for a variant of himself, and within the confines of this episode it builds to something that marks both a massive step for someone as reserved and arrogant as Loki, and a shocking twist that ties neatly into whatever the hell is going to happen next week (brief tip: you might want to hang on until the mid-credits for this one). It’s also great to see a bit more of Loki and Mobius swapping dry and witty insults between each other, with Owen Wilson getting to really stretch beyond some of his limits here to really make you root for his character, which isn’t so difficult when Wilson’s already such a likeable actor. Same goes for both Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino as our various Lokis, who even apart from each other for most of the episode still share such a strong connection that it might just literally break the entire universe.

Maybe it’s because I’m starry-eyed when it comes to most Marvel outings, but I am really struggling to come up with any legitimate criticisms for this series so far. When the worst thing I can say about a series is that its opening episode is chock-a-block with exposition, but the kind that is meant to give viewers more of an understanding about how this new corner of the MCU works, then it must be doing something right. So far, it’s been one hell of a ride: very well-written, gorgeously made, performed by very likeable actors, and taking full advantage of its game-changing concepts and premises, Loki has yet to falter in any way shape or form, which puts it in better shape than WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier which, despite their highs, did also have some considerable lows. Maybe those lows will make themselves known for the upcoming final two episodes, but until then I’m fully on board for what Loki has had to offer, with all of its weirdness and vast unpredictability.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Loki: Episode 4 – The Nexus Event introduces new truths which, regardless of their predictability, still remain engrossing because the writing, direction and performances are all on such top form that it’s hard to find any real faults in how this series is progressing, while the episode also sets up some very surprising things to come very soon.

Loki: Episodes 1-4 are now available on Disney+. Episode 5 will be available next week.

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