Warning: This article contains spoilers.
“Loki” returns to the Time Variance Authority to get down to business in S2:E4 “Heart of the TVA.”
“Loki” S2:E4 – “Heart of the TVA”
We return to Renslayer at the end of time as Miss Minutes plays back a holographic recording of the past. It shows Renslayer with He Who Remains in the very room they are in. As it plays, it reveals the moment where He Who Remains has Miss Minutes erase Renslayer’s memory, making her forget that she helped him create the TVA.
We then cut to Victor Timely arriving at the TVA, Mobius, Loki, and Sylvie in tow. They head to engineering to meet up with Ouroboros and Casey to see what the next step to fixing the Temporal Loom is now that they have Victor. Ouroboros and Victor share a very confusing starstruck introduction that goes both ways before Victor steps in to help finish the device Ouroboros has been working on.
B-15 has a discussion with Judge Gamble on what they should do about General Dox and her crew now that they have been detained. After some encouragement, B-15 extends an olive branch to Dox, reminding her that they both care about the TVA more than anything and should be focusing on that to help save it together. B-15 leaves to give Dox time to consider her proposal.
Storming off after blowing up at Mobius and Loki, Sylvie finds herself lost, ending up in the wall-to-wall pie room. Loki arrives to help her realize that there is hope for the TVA and that they need to protect it in order to protect the free will she is fighting for in a surprisingly poignant and introspective speech. Sylvie equates this responsibility to “playing god.” Loki reminds her that they are Gods.
Renslayer arrives in the holding cell where Dox and her minutemen are held with an ultimatum. Now fully convinced that the TVA should rightfully be under her authority, she draws a line in the sand: join her or be her enemy. Brad is the only one to step up and join her. Miss Minutes then activates the shrinking box machine, using it to eliminate Dox and the minutemen as Brad struggles to ignore the horrifying scene.
Victor Timely steps away for a hot cocoa break but is taken by Brad to be interrogated by Renslayer and Miss Minutes. Victor puts on his timid and innocent facade to no avail, as Renslayer is no longer interested in mercy. Miss Minutes uses her control over the TVA to separate Loki and Sylvie, who are on the hunt for Victor. This brings us back to the moment from episode one, revealing that it was Loki who pruned his time-slipping self.
O.B. reboots the system, not only taking Miss Minutes offline temporarily but also taking down the security systems. This allows Sylvie the chance to enchant Brad, making him prune Renslayer while they retrieve Victor.
After rushing to the temporal loom, Victor is scanned, unlocking the blast doors and making it possible to send someone out to fix the Temporal Loom. Victor offers to go out to make the repair himself, suiting up to head out into the Temporal Radiation. Unfortunately, the radiation has increased so much, that we watch in horror as we finally get to see the spaghettification mentioned in Episode 1.
With Victor gone, our crew stares on in horrified confusion as they slowly realize that their last hope has been taken from them. The Temporal Loom fails, exploding, and we watch as it consumes everything, and the episode ends.
We’re left with such an intense cliffhanger that it’s hard not to be frustrated waiting for the next episode. However, looking past that, “Heart of the TVA” plays yet again to the strengths of this series.
Loki is front and center in all of the important beats. When Victor is terrified to go with them to fix the Temporal Loom, Loki steps in. Tom Hiddleston excels at these little moments where Loki has to step up. In just a few words, we feel the intensity of the subject, but still see the soft and comforting side of Loki that has developed over the series as he convinces Victor that he needs to come with them.
We also see Loki step in to help Sylvie, who is still struggling with the path set before her. She does not believe that Victor is the answer. She believes the TVA cannot become a force for good. Loki talks to her and, in that same intense but comforting demeanor, presents the situation to her, emphasizing what she is missing. Loki even reflects on Thor, bringing up how after Thor’s banishment, he saw the change Thor went through as a weakness. Loki has developed so much over this series, and Tom Hiddleston has always and continues to be in sync with this character.
The most interesting aspect of this episode is how it pushed slightly into darker territory. Death is obviously something present in the entire series, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. We watch action sequences with bullets or lasers flying everywhere and even swords slicing and stabbing through people. That sort of death has just been normalized in this genre and medium. “Heart of the TVA” avoids stepping into a more gory depiction in favor of striking you psychologically.
We start to see Dox and her minutemen being pushed together, but it cuts away to avoid seeing them completely crushed. Instead, we focus on Brad as he has to stand by and see just how excruciating and terrifying this scene really is. Rafael Casal does an amazing job, which makes it all the more intense.
Even the more ridiculous death of Victor is a bit darker. Again, they successfully avoid crossing the line into gory with the absurd nature of the “spaghettification” that happens, but the intensity of the moment is what gets to you. The hope is abruptly ripped away, and then the slow focus is on everyone individually as they stare on, confused, terrified, and resigned. It all pushes at your psyche.
Personally, I think this is the best episode this season (so far). It’s filled with the typical lighthearted banter between characters, which just makes it all the more intense when it takes a turn and pulls you back into the seriousness of the situation. I wait, impatient and full of dread, but ultimately excited, to see what comes next.