Loki Season 2 and the Art of a Perfect Ending
This column contains spoilers for Loki.
I am a hard sell on endings. I could give a long, detailed answer as to why that is, but mostly it boils down to the fact that I am a big baby who hates saying goodbye to her favorite characters. Still, there are quite a few impeccable closers to long-beloved stories out there. Very recently, Loki joined their ranks.
If you’ve followed along with this column, you’ve heard me harp multiple times about how good storytelling isn’t stacking up a bunch of fanservice or giving viewers exactly what they want, but is instead creating the dream scenario that they never could have imagined themselves. The Loki Season 2 finale achieves this in spades by giving the God of Mischief a perfect final bow. Even if I did yell “no!” the moment the credits rolled.
In the final moments of Season 2 (and very likely the series), we see Loki sitting atop a humble throne in Asgardian peasant wear, donning his comics-accurate crown and literally holding the universe together. He’s alone, despondent, and determined.
At that moment, I was very sad. All of this growth through two versions of the character for Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to end up alone in the way that he’s always feared? It’s devastating! But then, stories aren’t all made up of happy endings. And, more importantly, once the initial despair wears off, you start to realize that those final moments were actually quite beautiful. (Or maybe you’re a more evolved person than I and felt that way immediately, I don’t know your life! I, however, was bummed.)
There are infinite paths that head writer Michael Waldron and team could have taken when it came to Loki’s final moments. The one I would have asked for in that exact moment would have been a happy one that meant we’d see a Loki Season 3 and continue to see the Trickster continue his journey of self-discovery with Mobius (Owen Wilson), Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and the rest of the now-beloved TVA gang. But that wouldn’t have been the ending that best served the story, would it? A version of the series could have gone on, and I would have continued to excitedly tune in because, frankly, I think there is a severe lack of low-stakes buddy comedies in the superhero world. But it wouldn’t have been great in the way that this ending was.
Every aspect of Loki Laufeyson’s story is serviced in his final moments within traditional time and space. In the finale alone, we see him spend a century finding the exact path to save his friends, something that the Loki of the first Thor film wouldn’t have even considered. His whole life, he has only wanted to be loved. He learns all that there is to know about quantum physics before ultimately realizing that the wrong man went on a space walk, and sometimes love means sacrifice.
Loki has earned his loneliness in the same way that he has earned his ending. He never questions his villainy, or seeks redemption from those who he has wronged. There is a sad surety to the character as he steps out into spacetime to destroy the Loom (and therefore save the multiverse). He knows what he has to do, he knows it’s worth it, and he knows he deserves his fate.
There’s a level of cleverness here that expands beyond Loki himself, too. Kang, in all of his known variations in the MCU, is a destroyer. A conqueror. Timely himself may have had a moment of nobility, but we see that true nature after his betrayal of the woman he knows he will grow to love, and it’s easily argued that his desire to be the one to stop the destruction of time is because he believes he is the only one who can. Can’t continue your endless quest for knowledge if time doesn’t exist, after all. In Timely’s one single moment of progress in volunteering to be the one to fix the loom, not enough has been narratively shifted for him to shake the destiny awaiting him as yet another conqueror.
It always had to be Loki. Not because of his thirst for a throne or because he was burdened with glorious purpose (or even because it was his show), but because his character has grown beyond the desire for either thing. We have seen the god who tried to level New York City shift from tyrant to hero not once, but twice now. And, somehow, each journey happened in their own meaningful way without feeling redundant or overplayed.
Loki no longer wants power; he just wants his friends to be safe. And, in his desire to ensure that safety, he ultimately ends up as one of the most powerful beings in the MCU. He was always burdened with glorious purpose. He just didn’t know what that purpose was until his multiple ends.
That final end wasn’t at all what I wanted. I fully hated it in the exact moment — it didn’t help that the heavy wibbly wobbly timey wimey aspects early on weren’t my cup of tea either — but it took all of an hour for me to realize that, while it wasn’t the story I’d hoped for, it was exactly the story it needed to be.
It’s a pity to lose the most interesting character in the MCU. I’m not even sure if I’m over it, to be honest. But that sadness is a testament to the strength of the story, even if it was the exact opposite of what I had initially hoped to see.
Besides, there’s a whole century of Loki shenanigans that unfolded off-screen. Maybe an end isn’t an end after all…
Amelia is the entertainment Streaming Editor here at IGN. She’s also a film and television critic who spends too much time talking about dinosaurs, superheroes, and folk horror. You can usually find her with her dog, Rogers. There may be cheeseburgers involved. Follow her across social @ThatWitchMia
Author: Amelia Emberwing. [Source Link (*), IGN All]