LOKI S1E4 – “The Nexus Event”

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” – Madeline Miller, Circe

LOKI S1E4 teaser poster: The Time-Keepers

This recap contains spoilers for the first four episodes of Loki. If you haven’t seen the episode yet and want to avoid learning what happens, leave this page now. If you’d like to read all the recaps for the show, you can do so at this link.

Previously on Loki: Earlier this week, Loki writer Michael Waldron revealed that “Kablooie” brand gum is a reference to Calvin and Hobbes:

After the green version of the opening Marvel Studios logo (standard theme music edition), Loki S1E4, “The Nexus Event,” opens on Asgard. Or an Asgard, anyway: we soon see a young Sylvie (Cailey Fleming) playing with her toys. But soon, a Timedoor opens behind her and a Hunter version of Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) steps through.

Renslayer identifies Sylvie as “their Variant” and arrests her for crimes against the Scared Timeline before reseting her timeline, disintegrating everything in it (including little Sylvie’s adorable Fenrir toy… this is as bad as those Imperials messing up Lumpy’s stuffed Bantha during Life Day).

Soon, Sylvie has been brought into the Time Variance Authority and is subjected to the same intake procedures we saw our Loki Variant (Tom Hiddleston) undergo in the first episode of Loki. Like our Loki Variant, she sees another Variant being brutalized by a guard, and shrieks for someone to help him… but this institution isn’t in the business of helping individuals.

After being subjected to the Cat man and the robot-melting device (apparently Sylvie is not a robot, either – better luck next time, Arcade), we see Sylvie in Time Court. However, as she is about to take the stand, she stomps on Renslayer’s foot and absconds through a Timedoor with the Hunter’s TemPad.

Renslayer in LOKI S1E4.

Years later, in the present day (if that’s how time works in the TVA), we see an anxious Renslayer standing within the golden elevator. The doors open and she steps into a mist-filled room. The three Time-Keepers sit upon glowing thrones… And we cut to the opening title.

LOKI S1E4 ­ “The Nexus Event”

After the opening title, we seem to have had a time skip (again, is that how time works in the TVA): Renslayer comes back out of the elevator and meets Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), who immediately beings demanding information.

Renslayer tells him that the Time-Keepers blame Renslayer for Sylvie’s machinations, and she emphasizes that they are the only things standing between the Sacred Timeline and multiversal chaos. Still, Mobius insists that he needs access to Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane): he wants to know what her verbal repetition of “it’s real” meant… but Renslayer tells Mobius that C-20 is dead.

Renslayer explains that C-20 had been enchanted, giving her the brain scramblies. Mobius insisted that she seemed fine, but Renslayer tells him that her condition declined after she returned to the TVA, and explains that it was kept a secret to avoid general panic. In other words, Renslayer is acting extremely suspect.

Meanwhile, back on Lamentis, our Loki Variant and Sylvie are sitting together on a few rocks as more meteorites rain down from the purple skies. The pair reflect on their situation, and Sylvie says that it was simply the fact that she was born as the Goddess of Mischief that she created a Nexus Event: her gender was sufficient to create a branch off the Sacred Timeline, that eventually attracted the attention of the TVA.

Sylvie confirms that she has spent her life on the lam from the TVA, hiding out in various apocalypses, and laments that she will now apparently be dying on Lamentis-1.

In the TVA control room, Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) anxiously watch the monitor in the Sacred Timeline control room. As more debris falls towards the surface of Lamentis-1, Sylvie wonders if Lokis are meant to lose, and our Loki Variant insists that they are not losers, they’re survivors – even in the most bleak of circumstances.

That’s when the TVA begins to detect Variance Energy on Lamentis-1 in 2077. As the collision goes full Majora’s Mask, our Loki Variant and Sylvie hold each other’s hand. Our Loki Variant and Sylvie gaze into each other eyes, and the branch off the Sacred Timeline grows even more pronounced, attracting the attention of Mobius. B-15 confirms she’s never seen anything like it, either.

On Lamentis-1, just before our Loki Variant and Sylvie are crushed by the debris of the oncoming shockwave, two Timedoors open for the Tricksters…

The Man in Black Fled Across the Desert…

Sylvie and our Loki Variant are subsequently apprehended, placed in Time Twister collars, and brought back to the TVA. The pair are separated, with more Minutemen guarding Sylvie than Loki (leading the latter to complain to Mobius, who accompanied him).

LOKI S1E4 – busted!

Mobius and Loki arrive at Time Theater 5, where Loki wonders which “folksy, dopey” insult Mobius will hurl at him next. Mobius calls him an asshole and a bad friend and opens a sinister red Timedoor. Before Loki is forced through, he tells Mobius that the TVA is lying to him… which as far as we know, is accurate! Nevertheless, Mobius sends him through the door.

Inside, Loki finds himself in an Asgardian-looking courtyard. Soon, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) appears. She’s livid with Loki, apparently for cutting her hair, and she verbally eviscerates him before punching him in the gut and moving on.

This might be bad enough, but then it happens again… and soon it becomes clear that it’s going to keep happening. On the one hand, this is another weird form of temporal punishment, and it looks a lot like one of the ChronoGuard techniques from Jasper Fforde’s The Woman Who Died A Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (in which it is revealed that the chain-store TJ-Maxx actually stands for “Temporal-J, Maximum Xecurity,” in which time criminals are punished with “Closed-Loop Temporal-Field Containment”).

On the other hand, this is a great way to symbolize the central crisis of Loki’s character: just when it seems like he’ll finally grow beyond his shortcomings, he makes the bad decision again, stealing the Cosmic Cube, stabbing an ally in the back… or even just violating the trust of a friend by cutting her hair when she was asleep.

But thanks to the bad-memory time loop, Loki is subjected to the consequences of his bad decision over, and over, and over again… a pretty awful punitive measure, if you think about it. And Loki will apparently have a lot of time to think about it…

Elsewhere in the TVA

Mobius visits Renslayer’s office as Loki softens in the Time Cell. Mobius wants to interrogate Sylvie as well as Loki, but Renslayer denies his request, saying she’s too dangerous. Clearly, Renslayer is hiding something, but Mobius won’t let it alone, but Renslayer just tells him to “work your Loki.”

Mobius and Renslayer in LOKI S1E4.

Instead, Mobius visits B-15 in front of Time Theater 47. Mobius remarks to B-15 that they’ve brought in Kree, Titan, and vampires, but no Variant has posed the same challenge as this pair of “orphan demigods.” B-15 and Mobius compare notes, and both have become suspicious that the TVA is lying to them.

In the Time Cell, Loki attempts to reason with the Sif duplicate. He admits that he craves attention because he’s a narcissist and is scared of being alone. In response, Sif helps him to stand… but it’s only so she can deliver a savage verbal blow. The TVA sure does like their psychological abuse, don’t they?

Mobius arrives and releases Loki from the Time Cell, bringing him back to Time Theater 5. Loki accuses Mobius of being in a metaphorical loop of his own, with the pair using threats and abuse to try and coerce one another.

Mobius attempts to better understand the nature of the relationship between Loki and Sylvie. Mobius threatens to put Loki back in the Time Cell, and Loki capitulates… claiming that he was pulling the strings all along. Mobius claims that Sylvie’s been pruned by B-15, and Loki is plainly heartbroken, even though he tries to pretend otherwise.

Soon enough, it becomes clear that they are attracted to each other (like, they “like-like” each other… I’m paraphrasing Mobius here, but pretty closely). Mobius admits that Sylvie hasn’t actually been pruned while mocking Loki for being so narcissistic he fell for himself.

“I went back to last night and met the me of that time for a drink. One thing led to another and we ended up at my place, or should I say our place.” Time Travel Duplicate Love in Bender’s Big Score.

Loki insists that both he and Sylvie simply have a common goal of overthrowing the Time-Keepers, which he suggests may be necessary. Mobius is taken aback but Loki insists he’s telling the truth… before finally shouting that they’re all Variants, not created by the Time-Keepers but kidnapped by them.

As the dawning realization overtakes Mobius, he attempts to deny that Loki is speaking the truth… but he doesn’t look like he can keep believing the lie of the TVA, does he? Loki calls him out for lying to himself as he is shoved back in the Time Cell.

It’s Variants All the Way Down

B-15 in LOKI S1E4.

Outside Time Theater 27, Hunter B-15 is going through it herself. She anxiously stares at one of the TVA propaganda posters before drawing her weapon and entering. Sylvie attempts to start with some banter but B-15 simply opens a Timedoor to Haven Hills, Alabama in 2050, beckoning Sylvie to follow.

Incarcerated Sylvie in LOKI S1E4.

In Renslayer’s office, Mobius is distracted by the knowledge Loki has imparted to him. Renslayer says the Loki/Sylvie case is closed and tosses the file aside as she raises a toast. She asks Mobius where and when he would go if he could anywhere, and he replies by inquiring why he wasn’t allowed to interrogate Sylvie.

Renslayer has plenty of perfectly valid reasons that Mobius shouldn’t interrogate her, but Mobius is unconvinced. Renslayer says that the Time-Keepers want to oversee the Loki Variant’s pruning personally, and that they want Mobius in attendance. This information does not quite placate Mobius, who asks another question about C-20’s deterioration.

Renslayer insists that it’s “mission accomplished,” and tells him to relax, but Mobius says something seems off. Renslayer tells him that she’s trying to protect him from the Variant, especially after what happened to C-20… Mobius wonders if it’s the truth and Renslayer tells him he’s spent too much time with Lokis. She uses TVA mantras and fellowship to insist that the two of them are friends and allies… but it all rings so hollow, doesn’t it? Mobius acts like he’s buying it, but is he really?

Renslayer adds Sylvie’s sword to her trinket collection and Mobius leaves, in spite of the fact that Renslayer suspects that he suspects something.

In the Roxxcart parking lot in 2050, B-15 and Sylvie stand in the parking lot as the Category Eight hurricane approaches. B-15 says that she saw something when Sylvie was in her head, and Sylvie says that she showed her the life she had before conscription into the TVA.

Sylvie tells B-15 that the Time-Keepers didn’t create B-15, they took her previous life away from her – everyone working for the TVA are Variants, the same as Sylvie or Loki are. B-15 asks to be shown, and Sylvie touches her head, giving her a vision.

The music is melancholy as B-15’s breath catches. We don’t see what she sees, but she sobs, “I look happy… What now?”

Mobius steals Renslayer’s TemPad in LOKI S1E4.

In the library, Mobius sneaks between the stacks and pulls out Renslayer’s fancy TemPad. He searches for information on C-20, and finds she is classified as “Deceased.” He accesses the file with her mission debrief for the Roxxcart Disaster and finds a video of her insisting that the memory Sylvie showed her was real, and stating that she (and everyone else at the TVA) was a Variant and declaring that she’s leaving… before Renslayer leans into the shot.

In the Time Cell, Loki is resigning himself to being abused by the Sif duplicate when Mobius enters. Mobius asks Loki if he believes he deserves to be alone, but Loki says he doesn’t know. Mobius tells him to figure it out, because he believes the Nexus Event causes by Loki and Sylvie falling for one another could be enough to bring the TVA down… and he uses “we,” indicating that he’s finally be won over to Loki’s TVA-subverting side.

Mobius says that Loki was right about the TVA and that if Loki trusts Mobius, they can rescue Sylvie. Mobius tells Loki that he can choose who he wants to be, and that self-determination lies with him: he doesn’t have to be a lackey or a prop to raise the Avengers to their apotheosis.

But they leave the Time Cell and are confronted by Renslayer and a cadre of Minutemen. Renslayer accuses Mobius of taking her TemPad and he surrenders it, although Mobius tries to pay dumb. Mobius tells Renslayer that if he could go anywhere, he’d go wherever it was he’s really from (maybe there’s a jet ski), revealing to her that he knows he is a Variant.

But with great knowledge comes great disintegration, and Renslayer orders one of the Minutemen to prune him… and Mobius is unceremoniously eradicated.

The Great and Powerful Time-Keepers

Loki is lead away by Minutemen, but when Renslayer arrives at Time Theater 47, she finds Sylvie alone. Renslayer states that B-15 has been compromised by the Variant and puts out an alert for her.

Sylvie in LOKI S1E4.

Renslayer brings both Loki and Sylvie to the golden elevator and then dismisses the Minutemen. As the trio rides upstairs, Sylvie asks if Renslayer remembers her. After confirmation, Sylvie asks Renslayer why she was brought in – what was her Nexus Event? Renslayer says it doesn’t matter, and Sylvie insists that it must have been important to take her life from her. Renslayer says she doesn’t remember.

It’s a perfect demonstration of how institutions allows certain “privileged” individuals (like Renslayer) to exert systemic control on other individuals (like Sylvie), even though there is no actual reason this should be so (Renslayer doesn’t even remember Sylvie’s Nexus Event, the stated justification for her abuse)… especially since it seems most likely that like B-15 and Sylvie, Renslayer is actually another Variant – another equal.

The elevator doors open and all three characters enter the mist-filled room from the cold open (hey, another narrative loop… who saw that coming). Renslayer addresses the Time-Keepers, and the three Time-Keepers begin to flaunt their authority over Loki and Sylvie.

Loki says he doesn’t fear death, and the rasping Time-Keepers continue to scoff at them before stating they should be deleted…

But then the golden elevator doors open and B-15 enters the misty room. She deactivates the Time Twister collars around Loki and Sylvie’s necks, and then tosses the TVA slogan at Renslayer and Sylvie’s sword to its owner. B-15 is incapacitated by the Minutemen before Loki and Sylvie begin sparring with the guards.

Sylvie and Loki manage to prevail over the guards and Renslayer. They turn on the Time-Keepers and decapitate the one at the apex of the trio… only to discover that they are “mindless androids.” We’ve been Oz’d, people!

As Loki and Sylvie contemplate the implications, Loki declares that “it never stops,” but before he can elaborate further… Renslayer pops up and prunes him!

Sylvie looks crushed (but not too surprised) before she seizes the weapon from Renslayer and turns it on the TVA boss. Renslayer tells her to go ahead, but Sylvie demands some answers… and the credits roll.

Go Then, There are Other Worlds Than These

But then we get an after-credits sequence that suggests that those weapons used by the TVA may not be as fatal as they at first appear! Our Loki Variant awakes to find he’s in a ruined version of New York City (including a burned-out Avengers Tower), and being menaced by four Loki Variants: an older, onsie-wearing Loki (Robert E. Grant), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), what may be a combination of Loki and Thor (Deobia Oparei), and… alligator Loki?

Are we heading for a full-on Asimov cascade of Loki Variants, or is this more like Sean Ferrell’s Man in the Empty Suit? Are we going to get Cat Thor Loki? Somebody open me a Timedoor to next Wednesday, already!

 New episodes of Loki are available on Disney+ on Wednesdays.