Review: Loki Episode 1, Glorious Purpose (Disney+)

Marvel’s third series in their new foray into a televised shared universe features Tom Hiddleston as appropriated quasi-Norse god of mischief Loki. Hiddleston has always been entertaining to watch in this role even if the scope of the character was a bit limited in the first two Thor movies. For those who haven’t watched them, events from the Thor films, as well as the first and final two Avenger‘s movies are shown in this episode.

To recap: In the first Avenger’s film Loki was the archetypal bad guy bent on world domination using the power of infinity-MacGuffin known as The Tesseract (as well as an additional infinity-MacGuffin in his staff). Loki and the tesseract are captured by the end of the film but…in the final Avenger’s film Endgame, time-travel shenanigans by the heroes lead to Loki escaping with the tesseract. The new show launches at this point, which means the character we meet is the recently defeated quasi-fascist Loki rather than the more complex and occasionally heroic Loki featured in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. And that’s all good really — the premise of the character is a being who is changeable, a trait emphasised with the chaotic shifting typography used for his name in the opening titles.

It is episode 1, so where the show goes and what it will be like remains unclear. There is a lot of setup and exposition to be done. We get to meet Marvel’s timeline police, the TVA along with key employees of the agency, Owen Wilson as Mobius, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer and Eugene Cordero as Casey (a TVA underling who has drawer full of infinity stones).

It is an entertaining episode mainly on the strength of dumping talented actors into a wacky setting. It’s not as strong as episode 1 of WandaVision but does a much better job of setting expectations than episode 1 of Falcon & The Winter Soldier. There’s nothing startlingly new here nor is the show commenting on the sources it borrows from but neither is it really re-hashing existing material from the Marvel movies despite pulling material directly from them.

Overall, promising and if the show does little more than let entertaining characters bounce off each other then I’ll enjoy it. You’d think nobody could really mess that up and yet Falcon & The Winter Soldier kept short-changing its audience on exactly this point.

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35 responses to “Review: Loki Episode 1, Glorious Purpose (Disney+)”

  1. I enjoyed Episode 1 as well. By the way, there is a big easter egg in the show which non-Americans might miss and if you do some poking around, there are a few articles which reveal it.

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    • You could call it an Easter egg in terms of the bit they showed in the trailer, but in the episode Mobius straight-up explains it. I mean, he says “You were _____? That’s great!” making it pretty clear that that’s a historical person.

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  2. I just can’t get past the use of the “TVA” initials for a large bureaucracy. For me that will always mean Tennessee Valley Authority, which runs the power for East TN (I lived in Knoxville for more than 20 years), also does a lot of economic development stuff throughout the state, and has always played a big roll in TN politics. It is still the largest regional planning agency in the entire US government. So I wish these guys had chosen a different acronym!

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  3. I laughed out loud through those first few TVA set pieces, where the mundane time-guarding bureaucracy is completely unimpressed by the preening, posturing, bellowing “god” suddenly dumped in their midst.

    Also, Tom Hiddleston may not have Chris Hemsworth’s muscles, but he’s still one fine-looking man. *fans self*

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  4. @Contrarius, yes, Owen Wilson indeed hails from Dallas, but that is definitely not an East Texas accent. I think of his normal speaking voice in roles as quintessentially Southern California (not Southern), though that’s partly the influence of his laid-back, surfer-dude delivery style.

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  5. For the record, my wife Deirdre, who’s from Southern California (making us a mixed marriage, given that I’m from NorCal ;-> ) says Wilson’s accent sounds to her most like that of the upper Midwest, not SoCal. Which (merely speculating, here) could easily reflect voice coaching or Mr. Wilson on his own, cultivating a “neutral” American accent in place of his original East Texas, for professional purposes. The US Midwest accent (a la Tom Brokaw of South Dakota) has traditionally served the same role in American broadcasting culture as does the RP accent in Blighty.

    Deirdre says that Wilson’s parents were from Boston.

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  6. I found it amusing and entertaining. The “using Infinity Stones as paperweights” and the utter indifference of everyone in the TVA to Loki’s speechifying and posturing were great. And some swell acting by Hiddleston when he saw his death and realized he didn’t have any glory.

    I liked the sort of “Brazil”-esque beginning of the check-in process, and the whole 60s vibe of the office.

    Was annoyed at one mistake: Owen speaking to the little girl in modern French would have been incomprehensible, since a) it was the Middle Ages b) it was in Provence, and she would have spoken Provencal/Occitan, not French.

    I wonder how that exchange went in the French dubs?

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    • Which they would have also known because they apparently know every language on Earth and elsewhere. Which they can’t possibly do from their own brains. Which means there’s a tool that they use that lets them convert what they say and hear. So you can hand wave it Doctor Who style. 🙂

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  7. I’m a little mixed on it. I enjoyed it overall and Tom and Owen have great chemistry. The jokes about Disneyland and little nods to various movies were fun. But I am uncertain on the premise. It’s setting up for the larger Marvel multiverse but in a quasi-religious way that I do not enjoy.

    There seems to be an interesting mystery to the very bureaucratic employees of the TVA. They aren’t necessarily human and they seem to be raised to work in the place. I don’t know if the six episode show is going to get into that much with the TVA characters, but it’s actually the part that has me the most curious.

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