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Caution for spoilers of episode two ahead. 

In ‘Glorious Purpose,’ we were introduced to the concept of the ‘sacred timeline.’ Also, that there is a natural order to things as ordained by the Timekeepers. A certain, pragmatic trickster calls it all into question. As a god himself, or for any person, when the concept of free will gets threatened, that’s when anxieties come into play. As Loki finds out about his eventual future, he calls everything into question. This theme continues in the second episode named ‘The Variant.’ We have to remember that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) still is… well, Loki. There’s an uneasy alliance between himself, Mobius (Owen Wilson), and the TVA. While Loki has agreed to help them track down this variant (presumably, himself), it’s not farfetched to think he has another agenda.

Through Loki’s studies, we learn more about nexus events and that if they reach a ‘redline,’ they can no longer be reset. That’s the foundation for this episode’s escalating issue. Not only is the variant going through time, but they take a soldier and reset charges for some purpose. Whatever it is, the TVA is running out of time to stop them. The relationship between Loki and Mobius is further developed in this episode as they work together. Loki is there to challenge his set of beliefs.

Remember, he thinks that the whole concept of the TVA is unnecessary and wants to use his experience to meet the Timekeepers. Mobius stays locked on the mission at hand and has fully accepted his purpose as a TVA agent. A break in their conversation speaks about how he likes jet skis, but him riding on one would create a branch in time. Something as simple as enjoying yourself would create a rift? This particular conversation is reminiscent of someone who believes in a type of religion. Mobius has never seen the Timekeepers for himself, but he believes in the order that they serve. Loki constantly pushes back on that, and it seems like it reaches Mobius to a certain degree.

In the conversations that Mobius has with Ravonna (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), part of him truly believes that Loki can change. That, somehow, him helping the TVA track down this variant is his own redemption arch. To where he’ll put his job on the line for it. Ravonna represents that hard line where the Timekeepers word is law, and she won’t stray from it. Neither will Mobius. Mobius and Ravonna have history and while it’s founded on the TVA, could this backfire on Mobius down the line? Writer Elissa Karasik uses a clever plot point in tracking the variant down. When Loki discovers what happens to Asgard during the events of Thor Ragnarok, he sees that times of disaster are great hiding spaces for someone who wants to cause time disruptions. Think about it, if a massive earthquake comes and destroys a city, what happens a few minutes before may not register as much as far as importance.

‘The Variant’ has a bit of comedy and some action sprinkled in at the end of the episode. Most of its highlights are more of the cerebral kind. Regarding this variant’s abilities, there’s a bit of insecurity with Loki. Is it possible that the variant is a better version of himself, doing things he couldn’t pull off? That would certainly threaten somebody with a god complex. When they meet, Loki discovers they don’t have the same end goal. Lady Loki (Sophia Di Martino) last words are “it’s not about you.” Loki is in a world that is bigger than his own selfish goals, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles it.

Loki himself has plans to overthrow the Timekeepers, because why wouldn’t he? To have absolute power over all of time would be ‘glorious’ indeed. But who is the real villain? The show keeps it on the ambiguous side for the time being. A cloudy and ominous specter hangs over the Timekeepers. Few people have seen them, and files on the creation of the TVA are classified. Is it possible that Lady Loki’s grandiose actions help more than hurt?

Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel