“You are no more a hero to them than you are in Asgard. You never will be. It was written in their mythology long before they met you.” – Mackenzi Lee, Loki: Where Mischief Lies
This recap contains spoilers for the first season of Loki. If you haven’t seen the new episode yet and want to avoid learning what happens, leave this page now. If you’d like to read all the recaps for the show, you can do so at this link.
Previously on Loki: The Secret History of the Thanos Copter was laid bare!
We open on the green version of the Marvel Studios logo again, but this time, the soundtrack is a series of quotations, both from the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline and our timeline alike: sound clips of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), and other MCU heroes are integrated with recordings of Neil Armstrong, Greta Thunberg, Maya Angelou, and others. Meanwhile, we hear snippets of music, including a bit of the theme for Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as well as other music.
Meanwhile, the camera pans in and out of the universe, flying through space (and the timeline)… until we settle on the weird donut-shaped planet where the Citadel at the End of Time is located. We see Our Loki Variant (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sylvia di Martino) standing before the Citadel before we head into the title card.
LOKI S1E6 – “For All Time. Always.”
After the opening titles, which are quieter than usual, we return to Our Loki Variant and Sylvie climbing through the surreal landscape towards the Citadel (watch your step, Lokis… you don’t want to end up like Howard the Duck).
The pair arrives at the door of the Citadel and pauses. Sylvie asks if Our Loki Variant isn’t going to tell her not to kick the door in, and Our Loki Variant remarks that it wouldn’t make a difference. Syvlie steels herself for the kick, but before she can follow through, the doors open simply on their own.
The two enter the foyer. The Citadel seems to be entirely comprised of marble that has broken and been repaired with gold, in the style of kintsugi pottery, possibly suggesting that the timeline has been fragmented and repaired repeatedly – and as you can probably guess, kintsugi technique takes a lot of practice and expertise. There are several towering statues of cloaked figures with clock faces – just like…
Miss Minutes (Tara Strong)! The orange hologram appears, seeming more incongruous than ever within the sepulchral Citadel. Miss Minutes remarks that He Who Remains has been expecting them. When asked to elaborate, Miss Minutes says, “he created all and controls all, and at the end, it is only He Who Remains.”
According to Miss Minutes, He Who Remains has been making a few “creative adjustments,” and goes on to offer Our Loki Variant and Sylvie a Faustian bargain: stop trying to destroy the Time Variance Authority and the pair can be re-inserted into the timeline, along with their desired narratives: Our Loki Variant can conquer the self-righteous Avengers; killing Thanos; laying claim to the Infinity Gauntlet. Meanwhile, Sylvie is given the chance to eradicate her lifetime of bad memories, replacing them with contentment.
It’s a textbook example of an institution attempting to dissuade an individual from destroying it by offering them the fruits of its own corruption… thus allowing the institution to continue its machinations unabated. You can tell that Our Loki Variant and Sylvie are tempted… but Sylvie denounces it as fiction.
“We write our own destiny now,” says Our Loki Variant.
“Good luck with that,” Miss Minutes replies, and vanishes.
The Terminatrix Objective
Meanwhile, back at the TVA, Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is still working on downloading the files that reveal the history of the TVA onto her TemPad. She glances at the stain left by Mobius (Owen Wilson) on her furniture before Miss Minutes appears on her desk, replying that “some things had to get worked out” when Renslayer asks where she’s been.
Renslayer says that the files downloaded to her TemPad aren’t the ones she asked for, and Miss Minutes replies that she knows, explaining “he thinks this’ll be more useful.” But who is he… and more useful to what end…?
At the Citadel, Our Loki Variant and Sylvie advance down a hallway as the camera rotates in a clockwise direction. In the distance, we hear a ticking clock. The pair arrives in another room, this one decorated with statues of the three Time-Keepers… although one has been toppled and shattered. Our Loki Variant runs his fingers through the dust on one of the statues and wonders if He Who Remains is even still alive…
Which is when an elevator door dings, opens, and reveals Jonathan Majors, wrapped in a purple cape and eating a green apple: He Who Remains. He Who Remains has a relaxed demeanor as he invites the pair into his elevator, and by extension, his office.
As the trio stands in the elevator, they note that he’s just a man… which Sylvie says makes him easier to kill. She swings her sword at him but he moves out of the way faster than the eye can see, reappearing behind them. He repeats the trick a couple more times before vanishing entirely… but when the elevator doors open at the top of the Citadel, he’s already waiting for them in the office (which has the fireplace, bookshelves, and windows you’d expect from the apex of the Citadel at the End of Time… plus a blackboard with some mathematical equations on it).
He Who Remains distributes drinks to both Lokis before taking a seat behind his desk… it’s a far cry from the boxed Roxxiwine Our Loki Variant enjoyed in the court of Kid Loki last week.
At the TVA, Mobius enters Renslayer’s office, armed with one of the wands that sends the victim to The Void. Mobius questions Renslayer’s motives in sending him to The Void, and she says it was in service to the Timeline – the same reasoning we saw Mobius renounce in the previous episode. Renslayer threatens to call Hunter D-90 to her office, but Mobius says that won’t work as well as she thinks, holding up the ballpoint pen from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School that he remarked on in episode two…
From there, we cut to a shot of lockers. Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) is in Fremont, Ohio in 2018, dodging other Minutemen in the hallways of Roosevelt High School (judging by the framed picture of FDR on the wall). B-15 enters an office that has a glass full of those ballpoint pens sitting on it. There’s a diploma on the wall from Ohio Sate University bearing the name, “Rebecca Tourminet.”
B-15 tells the other Minutemen that they’re living a lie… and that’s when Judge Renslayer enters. But she’s not our Renslayer, she’s a Variant… and the apparent leader of the TVA is a high school principal.
The Citadel at the End of Time
In the office of He Who Remains, Our Loki Variant and Sylvie continue their conversation with him. He Who Remains goes through a lot of that gleeful, knowing dialogue, working overtime to convince the pair that he holds all the cards and knows all the secrets. Sylvie tries to attack him again and he again time warps out of the way.
He Who Remains claims that they can’t kill him because he has impossibly complete knowledge: he already knows everything that will happen – so there’s no way to get ahead of him, because he already sees the whole dang path. To prove this, he shows the pair of Lokis another script, like the one we saw the Cat Man offer Our Loki Variant during his intake at the TVA back in episode one, that shows the dialogue they’re having already typed out.
Our Loki Variant claims it’s a parlor trick, but He Who Remains keeps up the game, insisting that he must know what they’re going to do, which is how he could load his TemPad with everything he needs to thwart them. He Who Remains goes on about how he knows every moment of their lives, throwing out some examples to prove the point.
Sylvie says that they broke out of his game and that’s how they got to the Citadel, but He Who Remains says that’s inaccurate – they’re merely proceeding according to what he has foreseen.
“I paved the road,” says He Who Remains. “You? You just walked down it.”
He Who Remains says he has the whole script already, and there’s only one way it can go. However, because the journey is necessary in order to achieve fulfillment of the quest, they must proceed along the path even it if is predetermined.
“So it’s all a manipulation,” says Our Loki Variant, and He Who Remains says its interesting that his mind would go to that. He Who Remains asks Sylvie if she can trust Our Loki Variant – or if she can trust anyone, period.
Back in Renslayer’s TVA office, Mobius says he thinks people are ready to hear the truth, but Renslayer asks, “What if… it’s a necessary [lie]?” Maybe the only way to maintain order is through the fiction of the Time-Keepers. However, Mobius says that after witnessing what happens to those who are pruned, there can be no justification for the actions undertaken by the TVA. Renslayer insists that only one person gets free will – the one in charge. Mobius tries to appeal to their friendship, and Renslayer says that she isn’t the one who changed, he is – he betrayed the TVA.
Renslayer has finished packing her bag, and she opens a TimeDoor. Mobius pulls out his weapon and approaches her, but Renslayer handily disarms him and takes the stick from him. But rather than send him to The Void again (where he might have reunited with Alligator Loki), Renslayer stands down.
Mobius asks where she’s going, and Renslayer replies, “In search of free will,” before stepping through the TimeDoor.
“A Ruler, A Conqueror, He Who Remains, A Jerk”
At the Citadel, He Who Remains admits that his actions have been deceitful, but that his purpose is true: without the TVA, the timelines will descend into chaos. Our Loki Variant asks what he’s afraid of, and He Who Remains says he’s afraid of himself.
He Who Remains says he has been called by many names, but the name isn’t what’s important. He drops a little animated blob of material that matches the Citadel on his desk, and it reforms into a tiny version of himself – the visual component for the expository tale he is about to recount.
He Who Remains explains that, before the TVA, a Variant of himself lives on Earth in the 31st Century. This Variant was a scientist who discovered parallel universes and subsequently made contact with themselves, and for a while they used their shared technological advances to create utopias.
However, not every version of He Who Remains was noble. Certain Variants were ruthless conquerors, and the peace between realities was soon shattered, with universes turning against one another.
“And then the Time-Keepers came along and saved us all,” finished Sylvie.
“Amen,” He Who Remains mockingly sings.
But then He Who Remains admits that this is where we diverge from the dogma. He Who Remains explains that a version of him found Alioth, “created from the tears in reality and capable of consuming time and space itself.” He Who Remains harvested the power of Alioth and experimented on it, weaponizing it and using it to end the Multiversal War.
With the timeline brought to bear under the leash created by He Who Remains, he established the TVA to ensure his preferred timeline was maintained via one of the most malignant forces in this (or any other) universe: bureaucracy!
“You’re welcome,” says He Who Remains.
He Who Remains says he knows they think they came to kill the devil, but he keeps everyone safe, and if they think that he is evil, then they should meet his Variants.
“Stifling order or uncontrollable chaos,” He Who Remains says, presenting the binary as the only two options. He warns that while they may be able to depose him, someone worse will take his place: he’s the only way that works.
But Sylvie is skeptical, suggesting he could be a liar. But He Who Remains says they have two options: kill him and replace one devil with an infinite amount, or, the two of them can run the whole circus.
Our Loki Variant asks why he would surrender control, and He Who Remains says he’s old and tired, and this game is for the young and hungry. He says he’s gone through many scenarios trying to figure out who the right person for the job would be… and it’s definitely the two Lokis, who can then return to the TVA as its benevolent, honest rulers.
Sylvie says that he’s playing games with people’s lives, and He Who Remains tells her to grow up, calling her a murderer and a hypocrite. He says they’re all villains here (but I sort of feel like this is ignoring the scale of the actions of He Who Remains when compared with the scale of the actions of the Lokis – and they’re even supervillains).
He Who Remains concludes that they’ve all done horrible things… but he can give them an avenue in which they can be done for a good reason. But then he pauses, and says they just crossed the threshold. He drops another glob on the desk and it just lands, lifeless.
He Who Remains admits that he only knew everything that was going to happen up to a point – the point of the threshold. Outside the window, the timeline begins to branch as He Who Remains candidly admits his ignorance.
The End of Time
The Lokis must decide if they are going to accept He Who Remain’s offer, or if they’re going to kill him (leading to another Multiversal War, and possibly concluding with the Sacred Timeline being reinstated just as it was). Sylvie accuses him of lying but He Who Remains insists that he is in earnest.
He places his TemPad on the desk between the trio.
Sylvie reaches for the TemPad and she and Our Loki Variant enter into a confrontation. Our Loki Variant has been convinced by He Who Remains, but Sylvie insists that he’s lying. Sylvie accuses Our Loki Variant of wanting the throne, but he says that isn’t the case.
However, Sylvie can’t trust Our Loki Variant, but he insists that it’s bigger than their experience. The two cannot reconcile their perspectives, and they’re soon battling one another.
Our Loki Variant insists that the risk is too great, and Sylvie says he’ll have to kill her and take his throne… but Our Loki Variant can’t do that. The pair continues to clash until coming to an impasse in front of the desk of He Who Remains. Our Loki Variant says he only wants Sylvie to be okay, and the pair shares a kiss as the music swells…
“But I’m not you,” says Sylvie. She’s used the kiss to distract Loki and pick up the TemPad, which she uses to open a TimeDoor and send Loki back to the TVA, where he arrives in a Time Theater, distraught.
Back in the Citadel, Sylvie draws her sword and throws the desk aside. She stabs He Who Remains, and in a shot that highlights the yellow circle on his chest, He Who Remains says, “See you soon.”
Sylvie falls to the ground (and we see He Who Remains was sitting at the apex of a triangle on the floor). Outside the Citadel, the timelines begin to grow, spreading further outwards…
At the TVA, Mobius and B-15 watch the splintering timelines on the screen, committing to the course of action they’ve undertaken. In the Time Theater, Our Loki Variant is sitting on the holoprojector before he seems to come to some conclusion…
Our Loki Variant proceeds through the TVA hallways, ignoring the Minutemen running past. He checks the canteen but there’s no sign of either Mobius or Casey (Eugene Cordero, missing since episode 2). Our Loki Variant finally finds B-15 and Mobius in the library.
“That’s, what, 63 new branches in this unit alone,” Mobius remarks.
“Does he just want us to let them all branch?” B-15 wonders.
“Well, at this point, how are we even going to stop it,” replies Mobius, possibly explaining the context for the upcoming Marvel’s What If…? animated series.
Our Loki Variant approaches Mobius and says they’ve made a terrible mistake… but as he tries to explain, it becomes clear that neither Mobius nor B-15 recognizes him.
“You’re an analyst, right?” asks Mobius. It appears as though Our Loki Variant has been eradicated: his existence has been scrubbed from the timeline and those closest to him have no recollection of his existence.
As Our Loki Variant attempts to take this in, he looks over at the location that formerly held the three statues of the Time-Keepers… and sees only a statue of Kang the Conqueror.
It’s getting all Quantumania up in here! All this hardly seems like a conclusion, and there’s a reason for that: it’s a cliffhanger. A mid-credits scene informs us that Loki will return in a second season, which leaves only one major, looming question:
All six episodes of the first season of Loki are currently available for streaming on Disney+.