Withnail and Lok-I: Loki “Journey into Mystery”
Previously: Loki and Sylvie are trying to spread the word among the TVA agents that they’re all mind-erased variants from extinct timelines pressed into TVA service. Sylvie’s nemesis, Judge Renslayer, seems to know something about this, as she’s been busy erasing everyone who caught a whiff of it and dumping them into a hell dimension—which, it turns out, is what those little tiki torch batons do. However, there’s some stuff that even she’s out of the loop about, such as the fact that her exalted Time-Keepers are nothing more than animatronic Disney World attractions.
We open on a sweeping camera pan through TVA headquarters, down the elevator, down into the bowels of the building with the severed head of a Time-Keepers still lying on the floor, and finally through this dimension of ruins that Loki finds himself in, with a big purple cloud in the background emitting a low roar. The elderly Loki (Richard E. Grant) tells him he’s in “the Void” (creative!) and the purple cloud, which is starting to take on the features of a big cat, is Alioth, and will eat them if they don’t hurry away.
Caught at swordpoint by a vengeful Sylvie, Judge Renslayer piques her interest with a story about where a timeline really goes when they prune it. Basically, pruning isn’t as low-emissions a process as it’s made out to be, and the pruned timeline’s leftover matter gets dumped in a landfill called the Void (hey! funny they both came up with the same name independently!). Renslayer is motivated to help Sylvie find the pruned Loki, because she had no idea the Time-Keepers weren’t real and she wants to get to the bottom of it.
The Loki Squad fills Loki in on Alioth, a living storm that eats matter, put there to make sure nothing from a pruned timeline ever escapes. The Void is full of Lokis because they’re natural survivors. And good thing, too, because in the absence of a TemPad, surviving is the only thing to do around here. And they can’t create a Nexus event to escape because no one cares what happens in here. This funny little kingdom is ruled over by a child Loki, who earned his exalted status by killing his brother Thor.
Renslayer and Sylvie deduce that if there’s a real string-puller at the TVA, he, she, or it is probably hiding beyond the Void, where changes to the timeline are no longer detectable. The judge says there’s an experimental spacecraft that could take them through the Void. She has Miss Minutes the hologram “look up the files” on it. But this is just a diversionary tactic meant to stall Sylvie until the Minutemen get there. Knowing all her favorite hideouts are sprung, she stashes Renslayer’s TemPad in her pocket, turns the tiki torch on, and prunes herself.
Back in the underground Loki Shelter, the Lokis are commiserating over some boxed wine. The elderly Loki says that his timeline diverged during Infinity War when he faked his death at Thanos’s hands, drifted in space for a while, and settled on a deserted planet to live out his days in solitude. He didn’t interact with anybody (and thus never created a Nexus event or got nabbed by the TVA) until many years later, when he got lonely and sought out his brother, wondering if Thor missed him as he did Thor. Such is the typecasting of a supervillain; according to the TVA, the Lokis only exist to move the protagonists’ arcs forward and be killed.
Our Loki merrily announces a foolhardy plan to kill Alioth and escape the Void. Undaunted at the other Lokis’ laughter, he charges out of the porthole and finds himself surrounded by more Lokis.
Meanwhile, Sylvie comes to inside an old wrecked bus. Alioth is hot on her tail, dropping little bits of purple cloud to vaporize all the matter. She runs and runs from the advancing column of purple until Mobius shows up in a pizza delivery car.
The crowd of Lokis at the door seems to have been summoned by the big black Loki. He betrayed his own Lokis to sell them out to the bigger group of Lokis, but the leader of the enemy Loki faction betrays him, and orders his own Loki army to kill the other Lokis. However, his own Lokis betray him, and everything devolves into a big Loki fight. In the confusion, Elderly Loki, Child Loki, and Alligator Loki all teleport away with our Loki.
Bitterly, Old Loki (Oldki?) rues the Lokis’ predilection for treachery and lust for power, declaring they’ll never change, and they’ll be outcasts from the Sacred Timeline forever. Loki says this is exactly why he needs to take down the TVA: because any Loki who tries to break out of a villainous characterization is nabbed by the TVA and sent here. Oldki agrees to help.
They approach Alioth while it’s feeding on the U.S.S. Eldridge.
Mobius and Sylvie show up too. Loki declares his foolhardy quest to kill Alioth, and the more grounded Sylvie thinks it might work better to enchant the monster instead.
At TVA headquarters, Renslayer dials up all the files on the beginning of time and the founding of the TVA. “Whoever created this place is in danger,” she tells Miss Minutes, “and I need to find them.” Wonder if she has some hidden agenda there? Probably not.
Loki and Sylvie are getting up close to Alioth to try and enchant him and find out where the TVA’s true founders are hiding. Mobius takes Sylvie’s stolen TemPad back to the TVA with promises to “burn it down”. Despite Loki’s efforts to distract the cloud, it looks like the monster is going to eat Sylvie up before she gets a chance to enchant it. But then, Oldki, who had previously promised only to get the party to the monster and then save his own skin, risks his own life to create a huge, illusory Asgard out in the middle of the wilderness. The monster turns and starts to bite the castles, which recede under his bite.
Sylvie grasps Loki’s hand, saying they’re going to enchant it together. “I don’t know how,” he says. “You do,” she says, “we’re the same.” Sure enough, he grasps a wisp of cloud and his hands turn that characteristic green color. They manage to turn the whole cloud green, signifying it’s enchanted… but not quite quick enough to step in front of Oldki’s heroic sacrifice.
With the cloud frozen, they see a gap through which Hogwarts Castle can be seen in front of an Aurora Borealis.
Next week: The mystery is journeyed into. A Chicken Loki shows up in the Void, and Alligator Loki is interested.