This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Loki.

Caught your breath yet? Episode 4 of Loki is easily the most groundbreaking one yet. After the previous episode concluded on the cliffhanger of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) all but left for dead on the doomed world of Lamentis-1, “The Nexus Event” upped the ante in a massive way. Having been rescued in a last-minute intervention by Mobius (Owen Wilson) and dragged back to the Time Variance Authority in handcuffs, the two Variants ultimately find themselves face-to-face with the mysterious Time Keepers themselves.

It’s here where we’re hit with three sledgehammer-like plot twists in quick succession: Mobius is disintegrated before our eyes by a now-unmasked Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who has apparently turned heel; Sylvie uncovers, to her horror, that the Time Keepers themselves aren’t even real in the first place and only “mindless androids”; and then there’s the ostensible disintegration of the Loki Variant we’ve been following all along, leading to the mid-credits scene that we simply have to talk about.

Seriously, spoilers galore are about to follow. Proceed only if you dare.

Midway through the credits, we’re treated to an unexpected scene where Hiddleston’s Loki wakes up in a ruined, Inception-like wasteland. Despite his fears of being stuck in the Bad Place, he’s not actually dead! He’s… somewhere else (hint: check out that ruined husk of Avengers Tower in the screenshot above). And what’s more, he’s got company.

“Am I dead?” Loki poses to himself. “Not yet,” comes the answer from a disembodied, yet oddly familiar voice. “But you will be, unless you come with us.”

As it turns out, there’s more Loki Variants out there in the rapidly-fracturing multiverse than we were initially led to believe. We’ve previously been aware of the fact that venerated actor Richard E. Grant would be showing up in Loki sooner or later, but none of us could have possibly expected such a hilariously shocking first appearance. Dressed in a classic throwback Loki outfit, Grant would seem to be none other than the original Loki, ripped straight out of the pages of the 1960s Marvel comics. Flanking him is Jack Veal, who appears to be portraying Kid Loki — the beloved character reborn as a memory-less child after his familiar adult counterpart sacrificed himself to stop his own villainous plans. There’s also Deobia Oparei, another Variant wielding an interesting-looking weapon. Credited merely as “Boastful Loki,” that surely looks rather Mjolnir-esque, no? In a branching multiverse with infinite potential, would it be terribly outside the realm of possibility that one version of Thor and Loki may actually be one and the same? After all, there’s also an alien crocodile Loki, complete with a horned helmet of his own.

Loki has finally dropped us in the deep end of the cosmic pool, folks, and it’s only going to get weirder and more fun from here on out.

Loki Poster

What Does This Mean Moving Forward?

So far, Loki has followed a rather straightforward course despite its timeline shenanigans. The first two episodes steadily lulled Loki into thinking that the TVA are exactly who they say they are: benevolent and predestined beings charged with the sole purpose of “pruning” variant branches of the Sacred Timeline and keeping order. Now, however, the secret’s out. Through her memory-manipulating powers, Sylvie reveals that every TVA agent is a Variant themselves. Rather than being created by the almighty Time Keepers and burdened with their own sense of glorious purpose, the truth is quite a bit darker.

After being stuck in that godforsaken version of New York City for who knows how long, it’s reasonable to assume that these new Variants are more than aware of the TVA’s treachery and will quickly get our Loki Variant up to speed on where exactly he fits into things. It’s been a clever progression from the outset, as the writers have carefully made Loki feel smaller and more insignificant in the face of time-bending and universe-sized conflicts far beyond his comprehension. This mid-credits scene is merely that same progression taken to the next logical extreme, as Loki will now have to come to terms with yet more versions of himself after only just seeing Sylvie for the victim, ally, and friend (and more???) that she is.

Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that Richard E. Grant’s original Loki and Kid Loki have well-established roots in the comics. That… isn’t exactly the same case for the other two variants. Marvel’s always played fast and loose with the source material being adapted for any given film or television series, so it’s only fitting that Loki serves as a jumping-off point where Marvel goes wildly off-script to deliver something truly original.

Personally, I have to imagine that this hammer-wielding Loki will serve as even more of a mirror to our own Loki as Sylvie has. For the resident narcissist with a penchant for falling in love with anyone up to and including, uh, himself, how could he possibly resist someone literally titled “Boastful Loki”? In terms of plot mechanics, everything is now up for grabs now that Renslayer’s facade has crumbled and the TVA will now have to reckon with their backstories. The bait-and-switch involving the Time-Keepers might just be the MCU’s most exciting development since our heroes personally led to the disbanding of SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the same way that that plot development led to more creative avenues moving forward, Loki has successfully set itself up for a thrilling dash to the end.

To this point, these Disney+ shows have been prime opportunities to really dig deep into the previously-unexplored psyche and inner workings of Marvel characters who maybe didn’t get reach their full potential in the MCU proper. When it comes to the God of Mischief, so far so good. We’ll have to wait until next week to truly see where the story goes next.

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