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Flicks With Nicki – Only the Loki

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Flicks With Nicki – Only the Loki

Nicki Salcedo. Photo by Dean Hesse.

“I hope you know you deserve to be alone, and you always will be.” -Sif

If we are going to mess with time, I’ll start with my final assessment of “Loki” to save you the suspense. Grade C+. I don’t like cliffhanger endings. Over the course of a show, I want the story arc to be complete. This one is not. C+. And yet I will tell spend the rest of this review telling you all the A+ things about “Loki” the third Marvel series available on Disney+.

We meet Loki in the first “Thor” movie from 2011. His backstory is complicated from the start. He is not the fair-haired beauty like Thor Odinson. He is pale with dark hair and shifty eyes. His gift is magic while his brother’s gift is strength. Like many of us born to perfect older siblings, we understand Loki.

He might be a conniving, craven, pathetic worm. He has certainly killed and lied, but we love this god of Asgard and want to know what happened when he disappears in “Avengers: Endgame.”

“Loki” the series starts at that exact moment when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes a choice and steals the Tesseract, a cube of limitless power that holds the Space Stone. Almost immediately Loki is arrested by a group we’ve never seen before. We meet the Time Variance Authority (TVA) who protects the “sacred timeline.” Our friend Loki has messed up that timeline and is classified as a Variant. The Time Keepers capture Variants and set things right.

Loki enters the bureaucratic process of the TVA. There are screenings, forms, and an empty waiting area with a winding and empty line that still requires the dreaded “take a number.” All the while an animated figure named Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) explains the history of the Time Keepers. Never has an asynchronous clock with a Southern drawl been more menacing. A+

Mobius (Owen Wilson) is a Time Keeper who saves Loki from being eliminated (pruned) in order to hunt a mysterious and powerful Variant who happens to also be Loki. Hence, we meet the best incarnation of a doppelganger ever brought to the screen, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). A Loki whose crime against the sacred timeline is being born a woman. Sister, ain’t that the truth. A+

Sylvie is strong and likely more powerful than our Loki. She haunted by judge and jury Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) as chased through time by a series of Time Keepers including Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). I love Hunter B-15 so much. She is my everything. I will likely be her for Halloween. A+

As with all good time manipulation stories, we must consider the concepts of destiny versus free will. We move into themes of self-actualization, enslavement, the meaning of love, and the consequences of loneliness. Marvel likes to give us a mind-bending experience, and we get one. A+

We meet many more Lokis. President Loki. Child Loki. Belligerent Loki. Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant). Alligator Loki. The story is playful and menacing. It makes me wonder how many versions of myself are there. How many versions do I allow myself to reveal in this life? The multi-verse happens when time and space splinter. What would happen if I could be all the versions of me in this life? A+

From the set design to the acting, this series is entertaining. I can believe that time is dictated by a bunch of suits in a 1970’s office. I can believe that we are all Variants in one way or another. I want to believe in Loki’s ability to change and grow, but the thesis of the show is centered around his loneliness and this is the mistake.

Loki has never wanted to be alone. He felt like an outcast his whole life. When he learns the true circumstances of his birth, he is wounded. No matter how much love he gets from his father Odin or mother Frigga, Loki feels alone. It’s not Thor’s strength that makes Loki feel weak, but Thor’s love. The show remembers that Loki is mischief and mayhem, but forgets that audiences connect to him because of his longing. We want to see him trust. We want to see him believe in friendship and love. We want to see Loki triumph. But the end of the story falters. There is no joy in watching Loki fail. Again.

Instead of fate and free-will, we get a mashup of “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Planet of the Apes.” “Loki” has a strong start that meanders in the middle and serves a big cliffhanger at the end. The ending felt like an insult to the earlier episodes. It is possible to tell a complete story and still have us wanting more. The beautiful cast and acting deserved more. I do want Loki to find love. I do want Loki to get that kiss. I am a romantic at heart. But this is not a romance or action movie. It is a philosophical thesis that left off the concluding paragraph. The writers veer too far from the best parts of the story in a feeble attempt to surprise us. Don’t feel surprise if you feel like falling asleep. It makes it hard to loop back and watch it again. For all time? Not sure. Always? Only time will tell. Unless I can steal someone’s TemPad, I must now wait an eternity for season 2. Grade A+ start with C+ finish.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.

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