“Loki” shows us various lives outside the TVA in S2:E5, “Science/Fiction.” Get your forks ready for spaghetti as we take a look at the penultimate episode of the season.
“Loki” S2:E5 – “Science/Fiction”
We open with Loki. Just Loki. He is the only person left overlooking the Temporal Loom when we last saw everyone with him. He scrambles around the TVA before time slipping again, frustrated that this is happening when we all believed it was fixed earlier in the season. After happening upon a TVA guidebook in the command room, spaghettification begins all around him, almost consuming him before he time slips at the last second.
Loki slips away from the TVA, ending up at seemingly random places in time in rapid sequence. Then, we begin slipping to the time/location of Loki’s missing friends. Each vignette shows us who these characters were before they were taken to the TVA and had their memory erased.
The first is Casey, who we come to find is a prisoner at Alcatraz. We then jump to see B-15 as a doctor. Then we see Mobius, somewhat predictably, as a jet ski salesman. Loki time slips in outside the shop, heading in to discover Mobius, who tries to sell him a jet ski before Loki disappears behind him.
We finally cut to O.B. as he attempts to purchase a book, The Zartan Contingent, which leads us to discover he was a science-fiction author. We follow him back to his home in a giant warehouse/factory. He almost runs into Loki as he time slips in right in front of him.
Loki then explains the situation to O.B., who sees it as a dream come true, as if one of his characters has come to life. O.B. is also a teacher of theoretical physics and helps Loki understand his predicament yet again. He theorizes that Loki should be able to control the time slipping if he could find the internal reason he seems to be ending up only in locations with his friends.
When this doesn’t work, they discuss another plan, bringing all of Loki’s friends to one place to use their temporal auras to get coordinates to the TVA. This means they need a TemPad, something O.B. should be able to make with the information in the TVA guidebook Loki grabbed earlier.
Loki then time slips away, ending up across the street from Mobius’ home, where he struggles as a single parent of two. Loki neatens himself before heading over to confront him. Mobius attempts to sell him a jet ski in his garage before Loki stops him to explain the situation. O.B. arrives through a time door, having built the TemPad, giving Mobius the confirmation he needs to go along with Loki.
Loki then jumps around time and space, convincing the remaining friends to return home to save existence. The last person to retrieve is Sylvie. Loki comes out of a time door outside Sylvie’s McDonald’s, where she reveals she still knows him, unlike everyone else.
After Loki struggles to keep in place, nearly time slipping, Sylvie invites him to talk at a bar. They then rehash their previous back-and-forth argument over free will. Sylvie maintains that now everyone is where they should be. Loki disagrees, and Sylvie relentlessly probes Loki as to why he is intent on pulling everyone back to the TVA, causing Loki to admit it is a selfish need to have all his friends together and not be alone.
Loki leaves, returning to O.B.’s, dejectedly telling everyone to return to their lives. We then cut to Sylvie as she heads to a record shop she frequents. After putting on headphones and sitting down to enjoy the music, we see her world begin to spaghettify behind her. The shop owner yells to her, pulling her out of her peaceful moment, and he spaghettifies in front of her. She then opens a time door just as the last of her timeline spaghettifies.
She appears at O.B.’s house, revealing that Loki is right and nowhere is safe unless they fix the Temporal Loom. With a newfound hope, they go to scan everyone’s aura but are unable to find the TemPad, realizing what happened to it as everything begins to spaghettify. Loki watches on in horror. When he’s the last one left and is grabbing at strands to no avail, he time slips a few seconds back. Realizing what he needs to do, he then intentionally time slips to right before it happens, revealing to O.B. that he can control it.
The episode ends with him slipping back to right before Victor steps out to fix the Temporal Loom in the last episode.
This episode felt like another one that could broadly be considered filler. As far as plot, there is not much that drives it forward other than setting up a new skill for Loki to use in the finale. This is an issue that many stories about time travel struggle with (excluding “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”). You go through some interesting bits, but when you go back in time, it seems to diminish the impact of it all. However, I think it still works for “Loki.”
The vignettes we see of characters’ lives have been integral to their internal struggle, knowing that their memories were erased. We get to see the opposite side of that struggle, people learning what they became outside of the lives they have now and how important that role was and could be.
And among those more serious topics, we glimpse the ridiculousness of it all. B-15 is a doctor, which makes sense. Mobius is a jetski salesman, tying back to his personal interest in retiring from the TVA and purchasing one. O.B. is a struggling science fiction author, initially giving us the impression that he’s nothing like his TVA self, until he reveals he is a theoretical physics teacher but out of necessity and not desire. O.B. also maintains his quirky personality, which we see in him helping Loki come up with a plan and explanation of what is happening with his time slipping.
I think the most interesting and funny bit of the episode is Casey. Casey, the timid, nerdy, kind of awkward clerk of the TVA. We see him as an inmate in his branched timeline life, a very different person. Not only is he an inmate in Alcatraz, but we find out that he is Frank Morris, one of the three men who famously escaped Alcatraz and were never seen again.
Where the episode really shines is, again, with Loki. The episode starts with Loki alone, walking through the TVA’s cramped hallways and usually bustling command center. Later, he has another serious conversation with Sylvie, initially seeming to be the same argument they have every time over what free will means and whether the TVA should exist. However, this time, Sylvie digs deeper at Loki, asking him why he is trying to save the TVA and what he really wants. Loki, frustrated with the questioning, realizes and reveals that the reason behind it all is that he wants his friends back and not to be alone. Looking back at the opening of the episode, knowing this, makes it sadder.
Ultimately, it’s that need for his friends that leads him to being able to control his time slipping, sending him back to the moment we thought all hope was lost. It was a tense ending, leaving me waiting, anxious but excited to see how the season will end with the upcoming finale. I give this episode 9 jet skis out of 10.