Loki Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Analysis: ‘The Variant’

Is it any surprise a show about Loki would have you guessing motives and true intentions during every scene? This week’s deep dive into Loki’s time at the TVA does just that, and our recap helps get a better sense of all the tomfoolery. After all, we are dealing with the God of Mischief. As always, this Loki Season 1 Episode 2 recap includes spoilers for both the show and related Marvel films.

The second episode opened with a quick recap of the premiere where Loki was last seen escaping his chat with Mobius before returning to the memory displaying room to see his eventual death in Avengers: Infinity War. Oh, and we also got the reveal that the on-the-loose Variant who just murdered a bunch of Minutemen in 1858 Oklahoma was another version of Loki. Fun times!

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Our Loki and the TVA

The latest Variant attack kicked off at a renaissance faire taking place in 1985 Wisconsin. A group of Minutemen casually strolled into the fairgrounds and used their nexus energy tracker to follow the Variant into a dimly lit tent. After realizing they’ve walked into a trap, the commander of the group, Hunter C-20, gets touched by a glowing green finger and begins fighting the rest of the team. As we learn later in the episode, the Variant is indeed possessing the person and continues to do so until, well, they’ve decided they’ve had enough and exits a now unconscious body. The Variant grabs the commander, opens up a time door, and strolls right on out of 1985.

But what does this have to do with our Loki? Understanding our Loki is the key to understanding the Variant, or as Loki likes to assume, the “lesser Loki.” This is a plan Mobius puts forth early on and eventually proves successful. A team including Loki, Hunter B-15, Mobius, and a group of Minutemen is assembled to return to the 1985 incident to find any noteworthy clues. Once there, Loki goes on an elaborate tale of being aware of your surroundings and playing into traps by blindly following leads. Mobius calls Loki’s bluff, and the group exits as a nexus charge is released, restoring the area to its natural state on the Sacred Timeline. Like most things that fly out Loki’s mouth, there’s most likely some truth to what he was saying!

As we see in the next set of scenes of Loki studying up on past case files of the Variant, Loki is still reeling from his discovery from the previous episode. In a world/space/existence where the Infinity Stones are mere paperweights, the Time Keepers who rule over the TVA are the most powerful beings in existence. Loki wants to meet them, and better yet, overthrow them for his own desires. Based on his chat with Mobius later in the episode, we see Loki is not a fan of the “three magic lizards” and their complete control over the TVA. It turns out Loki is a big fan of free will. And Mobius is a big fan of jet skis. 

The Variant’s Secret

We do have to bring up some timey-wimey rules that the show made sure to detail. Nexus charges are bomb-like devices that prune an altered area and remove anything that altered the timeline. That dial thing all the Minutemen have on their arms that has the orange timeline and the red outward moving branches? If a nexus event passes the red line, the nexus event can no longer be reset. 

Loki discovers a file on the eventual destruction of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok after he fails to get classified information on the TVA’s creation. It’s traumatic for Loki, but hey! This is where he discovers the Variant’s secret! An area or world that’s annihilated or completely wiped of existence by an apocalypse is the perfect hiding spot for a variant to shield their nexus energy. What you change or the people you interact with don’t matter as they will all be gone within the hour anyway. Your presence changes nothing.

Mobius and Loki head to Pompeii, Italy, in 79 AD to test the theory. Long story short, no nexus energy is detected even after Loki releases a few goats and throws some food around. With that confirmed, the duo start searching through apocalypse case files between the years 2047 and 2051. This corresponds with the manufacturing date of the blue Kablooie candy found at a previous variant attack. And bam! One disaster fits the description.

Loki Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

Showdown in the Future

After reluctant permission from the judge, the usual crew gears up and heads to Haven Hills, Alabama, where a category eight hurricane is set to destroy the town and everyone caught in its path in 2050. The town is sheltered in the massive Roxxcart shopping center and warehouse where the variant is likely hiding. You know, not outside where a water tower just slammed into an electronic billboard.

The time-traveling team enters Roxxcart and split up into teams while the Variant watches from the security cameras above. A timer for 20 minutes is set by the Variant on some sort of TVA device. Hunter B-15 goes with Loki while Mobius leads the rest of the team. Mobius eventually finds the kidnapped commander from the start of the episode in a catatonic state, repeating the phrase “it was real.”  Something is going down.

Hunter B-15 and Loki encounter a shopper that transports his green energy to Hunter B-15. It looks like the Variant Loki can speak through other people! Loki meets Loki, kind of. There’s a lot of revealing back and forth between the two as the Variant Loki continues to switch bodies with random shoppers. Ultimately, Loki proposes a deal with the Variant to take action against the Time Keepers, but the Variant, who makes it clear they believe they are the superior Loki, declines. They have other plans.

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After some fighting and some passing of time, Loki regains consciousness while the Variant tinkers with another TVA device nearby. With a minute left on the timer, the Variant takes off their mysterious hood and reveals themself as Lady Loki. In that same moment, Lady Loki’s timer and plan take effect. Reset charges scattered all around the store are set off just before each one is pushed through different time doors.

“Somebody just bombed the Sacred Timeline,” yells a worker as they monitor the situation from the TVA. Indeed they did. Mobius runs towards Loki and just misses him as he makes a last-minute decision to follow Lady Loki through a time door.

We’re quickly moving forward with Loki’s story, and the Disney+ exclusive show will continue to release each of its six episodes on a weekly basis. Catch each episode of Loki, along with our detailed recap, every Wednesday.