Loki (2021) s01e02 – The Variant

I have a list of the things I don’t like about “Loki” after the second episode. The show isn’t a “Doctor Who” riff, but it wants to use whole “Who” devices to get certain jobs done. Certain jobs the MCU might want done if actors are going to keep aging and maybe get sick of playing parts. It feels pretty craven, which would be impressive if they were having more fun with it.

“Loki” is not fun. It’s dreary, particularly with its Stallone Judge Dredd meets green-lighted Brazil production design (last time I thought it might have some Kirby influences—and it still might—but it just ends up looking like CGI Stallone Judge Dredd). Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson are both competent enough actors they can feign rapport, but they don’t actually have any. Hiddleston going from renegade thousands of years old Asgardian trickster god to new guy at the boring, albeit fantastic day job could be a narrative hook, except it’s all clearly filler to get Hiddleston to the next set piece.

Only “Loki”’s idea of set pieces is Hiddleston monologuing in boring locations (an empty supervillain warehouse—sorry, sorry, tent—in a Renaissance Faire) while Wilson makes confused faces at him. Except about halfway through the episode, Hiddleston figures out something about the case they’re on and the good guys are finally able to get a jump on the bad guy.

Of course, calling “Loki”’s TVA (Time Variance Authority, Timecop but worse attitude than Van Damme and no leg splits) agents the good guys is a stretch. They’re even more apathetic than Hiddleston plays it.

Now, “Loki” is a very desperate mix of a lot of things—“Legends of Tomorrow,” “Doctor Who,” “Westworld,” whatever show where the female boss has a thing with her troublesome male subordinate who’s fifteen years older than her (only Gugu Mbatha-Raw looks younger than thirty-eight and Wilson looks closer to mid-to-late fifties trying hard not early fifties)—and I’m trying to give it a chance. But it’s hard to get enthusiastic about Kate Herron’s direction because she’s boring. And the CGI composites are terrible so every time they go somewhere (except the Renaissance Faire) it’s Wilson and Hiddleston acting in front of obvious green screens.

The show desperately needs some slack and doesn’t do anything to get any.

Maybe if Hiddleston were giving some phenomenal performance, but it’s not even a good part. It’s Hiddleston in a bureaucracy—an all human, all English speaking guardians of the universe bureaucracy. It’s way too functional.

I mean, maybe it’ll be how Kang gets introduced and, yay, for long-form baton-passing but… “Loki”’s a slog with low middling special effects and really annoying music from Natalie Holt.

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