The following contains minor spoilers for the first episode of "Loki" and the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame."
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken to the small screen their recent character-driven Disney+ series like "WandaVision" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." Both presented equally enthralling and self-contained narratives that pitched the characters of the feature films into more personal trials confronting sacrifice, grief and legacy. The shows have given fans a deeper look into the Marvel universe and the continued stories of certain characters outside of the films. The streaming service's latest series, "Loki," details the consequences surrounding the God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston) after his unexpected escape in "Avengers: Endgame." As its premiere episode shows us, "Loki" is primed to uproot the MCU and its fourth phase of storytelling like nothing else before it.
If you are at all confused about where in the expansive Marvel timeline "Loki" exists, its first episode catches you up right away by depicting the events that find the titular demigod embarking on a new and unexpected journey. After stealing the Tesseract, that glowing blue cube seen across numerous MCU films now, during the events of 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," the version of Loki seen in the first "Avengers" film finds himself captured by the cryptic Time Variance Authority or TVA. In charge of regulating the timeline of events and preventing catastrophes that create alternative ones, the TVA enlists Loki to help hunt down a fugitive working to disrupt the natural flow of time.
While the premiere episode of "Loki" works primarily to introduce fans to the TVA and further unspool the time travel concept explored in "Endgame," it also clues us in on the current state-of-mind of this version of Loki. Right away, the show establishes that this is not the same Loki we have seen in the past few films he has been featured in, including the last two "Thor" films and "Avengers: Infinity War." This version of the character has not had the heart-to-heart with his brother Thor that would come to somewhat change his outlook on being a full-fledged villain; Nor is he the reformed anti-hero we see pleading for his brother's survival before meeting his fate at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos. Instead, he is still the same trickster out for his own survival, burdened with glorious purpose and seeking to bend the wills of humanity in hopes of ruling...well, the entire galaxy.
The episode kicks off by showing just how naive and stubborn this Loki is after being apprehended by the TVA, certain that he is above the bureaucratic organization and can easily outwit them. He quickly learns that that is not the case and that the organization is far more powerful than he expected. Introduced to Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson), Loki is clued into not only how past misdeeds have influenced his role in the universe but also his would-be future, including his eventual demise. Mobius questions the demigod's reasoning for continually hurting innocent people, with Loki's only answer being that he has always sought to instill fear in those around him. Through his own form of therapy, literally watching his life unfold before his eyes before it has even happened, Loki begins to question his motives as a villain and contemplates if that is all he is meant to be.
Aside from all of the episode's exposition on timelines and multiversal wars, it is in the cathartic opportunities such as this that we find the reason why Loki's continued story deserves to be told in this format. While Loki's role in igniting another multiversal war might be essential to the overall MCU, but seeing him take stock of his own experiences and confront his known destiny lays the groundwork for the series to explore where Loki goes next. Much like "WandaVision" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," the central characters of the show evolved into arguably their better selves, leading them on a path toward uncovering their true potential, sustaining a legacy left for them to pick up or bringing about massive changes to the established universe they occupy. With Loki undergoing his own journey towards catharsis in a daring and uncertain new territory of a growing multiverse, the series seems primed to make fans rethink who Loki is and readjust our expectations about just how expansive the MCU really is.
Anchored by superb chemistry between leading man Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson, "Loki" promises not only a thrilling crime caper through space and time but also an intriguing character study, much like we got with the last two Marvel series. While we might know where the God of Mischief ultimately ends up, the journey there might hold a few more surprises yet.
New episodes of "Loki" premiere on Disney+ every Wednesday.