“Journey Into Mystery” ups the stakes still further, as we’re taken to the end of time, which is full of fanservice, and asked to ponder what might be beyond the Void.
This recap of Loki season 1, episode 5, “Journey Into Mystery”, contains spoilers.
In, through, and up the TVA’s golden egg-timer elevator, the camera of Loki‘s fourth episode, “Journey Into Mystery”, sweeps past the detached head of a Time-Keeper, exposed in the previous episode as android puppets, and out into a ruined landscape of rubble and smoke, where Loki, Loki, and Loki flee from a snarling monster looming out of the smog. How’s that for an opening?
It’s suitably stylish, anyway, and a bit ominous to boot. But Loki’s survival after being pruned by Ravonna Renslayer was revealed in a sneaky post-credits scene — the show’s first — after what was already a decent cliffhanger, and it’s there we return next, with Sylvie holding Ravonna at baton-point and demanding answers about what’s really going on. As it turns out, though Ravonna is as interested in answers as everyone else. She wants to know who has been lying to her about her entire existence, and the best way of finding out that information is a team-up. Oh, and rescuing Loki, obviously, who is chilling in a void at the end of time where the TVA dumps all the pruned branched realities so that it can’t continue to diverge from the Sacred Timeline. The Time-Keepers were ostensibly planning to turn that nexus of all possibilities into a utopia, but never quite got around to it — instead, it’s basically a temporal landfill.
That landfill is guarded by Alioth, the giant smoke monster that the various Lokis ran from earlier. “We’re in a shark tank, and Alioth is the shark,” says one of them, to the minor offense of the alligator Loki, who would prefer to be the apex predator in analogies. All these Lokis have been pruned from their various timelines for causing Nexus Events that include killing Thor, but they’re also not exactly flush with ideas for how to get out of this dump. Instead, they sit around in a garish little hidey-hole, and just… wait.
Luckily, Ravonna and Sylvie are on the case in Loki episode 5. They theorize about how to get through the temporal void and find Loki on the other side, but Ravonna and Miss Minutes play for time, so TVA backup is able to flood into the room. Out of options, and carrying Ravonna’s TemPad, Sylvie prunes herself. This is just as well, really, since Loki isn’t getting anything worthwhile out of any of the Lokis. They discuss their own realities, Thanos, and their current predicament, and everyone seems resigned to it. When Loki gives a grandiose, inspiring speech about his plans to kill the “shark”, everyone laughs at him. But when he clambers out of the bunker’s hatch to do the deed alone, he’s greeted by even more Loki variants peering down at him.
So, he needs Sylvie, really, the only Loki Variant who seems to be on his wavelength, but she’s currently being pursued by Alioth in a torrent of CGI. Luckily, though, Mobius arrives out of nowhere to spirit her away. He lives! Half of the Lokis seem not to, though, thanks to a leadership dispute. President Loki — fittingly the bad guy — reneged on the terms of a deal he had made with Boastful Loki, and now it’s all kicking off. Alligator Loki bites off his hand, which seems too obvious an homage to Hook to be ignored, and there’s a brawl full of green special effects that amounts to a lot of chaos and a brief escape window for Loki, Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Alligator Loki.
The Lokis and Sylvie all have the same idea — head towards Alioth, rather than away from it. Luckily they run into each other pretty much straight away and hash out their plans for dealing with Alioth. Loki wants to kill the cloud, which seems a ridiculous idea, but Sylvie wants to enchant it, believing it’s essentially just a guard dog protecting the Void at the end of time, and beyond that Void, she assumes, is who they’re really looking for. As for who that is, well — could be anyone at this point. Even Ravonna seems clueless. She interrogates Hunter B-15 about it and gets nothing but fangirling for Sylvie, and then requisitions from Miss Minutes all the files on the foundation of the TVA from the beginning of time, just for some light reading.
Just as we’re in danger of getting lost in all this exposition and fan service, Loki season 1, episode 5 finds a moment of quiet connection and reflection between Loki and Sylvie, neither of whom knows exactly what they’re doing but seem to be enjoying it either way. Is this a romance? A friendship? It’s difficult to say, really. The cozy blanket Loki conjures for them to share might not be snuggly, but it does help to make their closeness literal. Are they falling for each other or just realizing there’s more to life than personal ambition? Like, say, saving the entire Universe? As Sylvie says, there’s no need to be dramatic, but it’s a good point.
“Journey Into Mystery” features a scene that’s pretty symbolic of the specific Marvel alchemy that somehow manages to make truly ridiculous ideas seem emotionally resonant; all of the Lokis, Sylvie, and Mobius lined up on a hill looking out at Alioth while the music swells in the background should feel trite and silly — there’s even an alligator present, for crying out loud. But I got a lump in my throat! And it only got a bit bigger when Classic Loki and Kid Loki decided to stay behind — the latter gives Loki his golden dagger — and Mobius heads back to the TVA, sharing a warm parting hug with Loki as he goes. He plans to burn the whole place to the ground, while Loki and Sylvie head right towards Alioth to see what he’s guarding. It shouldn’t work, but it really, really works.
So, too, does the plan. Loki causes a distraction for Alioth while Sylvie attempts to enchant it, but just as it looks like that scheme is going to backfire, Classic Loki, having had a change of heart, summons an entire illusory facsimile of Asgard as the distraction, which gets Alioth’s attention. Loki and Sylvie work together to enchant the beast, but they take their time about it and Classic Loki is devoured. But they get there in the end. A green rift opens in reality, and together, hand in hand, Loki and Sylvie step through, which is where Loki season 1, episode 5 ends. Now what?