After escaping New York with the Tesseract in 2012, Loki finds himself trapped within the confines of the Time Variance Authority Headquarters.
In Loki Season One Episode One, ” Glorious Purpose,” directed by Kate Herron, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally gets introduced to the Multiverse concept. ” Glorious Purpose” starts during the Avengers: Endgame Time Heist when Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Scott Lang travel back to 2012 when Loki attacked New York. Episode One reveals that after Loki grabs the Tesseract, he transports to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The Time Variance Authority (TVA) arrests Loki for messing with the Sacred Timeline. Loki is now considered a “variant” because he was not supposed to escape Thor. Now Loki can either help Agent Moibus M. Mobius (performed by the comic genius Owen Wilson) to catch a rogue version of himself or be re-set. Whatever that means.
” Glorious Purpose” contains many MCU and Marvel comics Easter Eggs because the pilot introduces us to the world of the Time Variance Authority and the Multiverse. Many of the Easter Eggs come from Avengers: Endgame starting with the first few minutes of the episode, which features the 2012 Time Heist. At the end of the pilot, Loki threatens the TVA receptionist Casey with death. Casey shows Loki who is the God of Mischief all of the time stones that the TVA confiscated. Time Stones are Easter Eggs for the Guardians of the Galaxy and the last two Avengers movies. The other references come out of the Time Theatre, where Agent Mobius shows Loki all of his “greatest hits.” The “hits” mean times when the adopted Asgardian hurt or manipulated people, including his own family. Some of these scenes are from Loki’s past, and others are from his future. The first Easter Egg comes from The Avengers, a.k.a. his past. After our heroes defeat Loki by destroying the Chitauri mothership, he jokes about wanting a drink. The most heartbreaking Easter Egg is from his future. The Dark Elves kills Loki’s adopted mother, Frigga, in Thor: The Dark World. He accidentally ordered the death of his mother. At first, Loki refuses to believe that his mother will be killed in the future because of his actions. Loki may constantly be trying to take over the universe, but he adores all of his family, even his brother, the Avenger Thor.
The Marvel comics references start when Loki watches an “employee training” style cartoon that explains variant’s crimes. A little clock cartoon named Miss. Minutes tells him that a long time ago, there was a Multiverse War where all the different timelines battled for supremacy. The world almost ended. Until the “all-knowing” Time-Keepers created the Scared Timeline. The three “gods” continue to work to maintain everybody’s life path. In Marvel Comics, the Time-Keepers were formed by the TVA director He Who Remains right before the universe ended. His first attempt led to the birth of the Time-Twisters, who destroyed numerous realities. Thankfully, Thor fixed the situation by splitting reality in two. In one of those realities, the Time-Twisters died, and the three Time-Keepers protected the timeline. But in Loki Season One, the Time-Keepers created the TVA and all its employees. The TVA’s job is to maintain the Sacred Timeline by arresting anybody who steps out of their pre-determined life path.
The aesthetics of Loki Season One is a mixture of the MCU and the surreal FX television Marvel show Legion. The out-of-time design of TVA headquarters pulls the viewer into the world of the television show. The aesthetic harkens back to early video recording technology. The lobby and all the other rooms in the headquarters have a colorful 80’s corporate vibe with these supremely old-fashioned-looking computers and equipment. Even the receptionist has a bright orange desk that could be from the ’70s movies. The Miss Minute “employee training” style videos look straight out of the 1950s. At the same time, all of the TVA worker’s uniforms, technology, and the city in the middle of the headquarters look futuristic. For example, Loki and all prisoners wear a collar that allows the agents or guards to transport them back in time while everything else remains in the present.
The surrealistic element happens throughout the story, but especially during Loki’s intake procedure. There is an oddness to it reminiscent to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. One of the TVA guards pushes Loki into an elevator with a robot that has a Tamagotchi-style face. The robot incinerates his clothing. Next, Loki falls into another elevator, fully clothed in a prisoner’s uniform. This new elevator looks like some bureaucratic 80’s office with a White mustache man in a suit. A cat sleeps in the corner. Loki has to sign a pile of paper that states everything he has ever said. Whenever he opens his mouth to complain, another paper prints from the Line Printer. When Loki finally signs the documents, the floor opens. He falls right in front of a traditional airport full-body scanner. A little person asks if he is a robot or not. If Loki turns out to be a synthetic being, he will explode when he walks through the full-body scanner. Thankfully Loki walks through the scanner unscathed. The first episode tells the viewer that this new MCU world will be strange.
Loki Season One Episode One, “Glorious Purpose,” is an excellent gateway into the surreal TVA. Still, so far, only the main character and, to some extent, Agent Mobius feel like real people. The pilot is full of exposition and creates a tone for the MCU show, but hopefully, character development comes next. There need to be fully-fledged characters for viewers to be sucked into a story.