After six looooong weeks, the MCU finally returned last week with the first episode of the much-anticipated Loki or Marvel’s attempt to dip their toe in Doctor Who like storytelling. Sure, for some six weeks isn’t really a long time, but going from zero Marvel content for a year to ten weeks’ worth of content back to none is a bit trying. I’m pretty sure that’s how addictions are created or therapy groups. Maybe a little of both. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of distractions. The television landscape is pretty much a kid in a candy store type layout, there’s a little bit for everyone out there at all times. It’s borderline overwhelming to the point where you shut down and don’t watch anything or as I call this issue, Tuesday nights. During my six weeks, I threw myself alllll into Mare of Easttown which helped remind me that Kate Winslet is an absolute boss, Cruel Summer, which reminded me that high school is the worst and grown men are icky, and Schitt’s Creek, which has kind of restored my faith in humanity. But my heart was ready for some more MCU action as soon as humanly possible.
Which still ended up being six weeks. Cool.
Anyway, the MCU has returned and Loki was well worth the wait. It certainly seems like the God of Mischief is going to be providing us with an onion of a show. Not because of tears, but also those because who didn’t get choked up when Loki saw how his life played out (?!), but because it’s so deeply layered. One of my favorite aspects of WandaVision was how much there was to discuss episode by episode. Granted, a large portion of that discussion was wondering if a bunny or a fly were Mephisto but there were so many other aspects of the series to dissect. I couldn’t wait to dive into the philosophical nature of the show each week either through conversation, writing columns, listening to podcasts, or just wandering the interwebs. Loki dealing with timelines, the question if there is such a thing as free will, and whether time can actually be changed or does it have to fit the desires of a bunch of lizard people will lead to plenty of deep existential conversations.
Mixed within all that discussion that comes from such a bonkers first episode, there was one little nugget that seemed to have ruffled some feathers of fans of the Infinity Saga. Maybe more like six nuggets.
During a daring escape, that leads to Loki choosing to stay, or did he choose? Was that decided for him long ago or does being a variant truly make you a wild card? Loki meets up with The Good Place’s, Pillboi and discovers a desk drawer full of Infinity Stones. Which are basically dead batteries here at the TVA or as Pillboi tells us, paperweights spread throughout the office.
After twenty-something films, that kind of news can be a bit rattling. Thanos was basically searching for paperweights?! Ummm, that’s not a story worthy of ten years and twenty-something films. Maybe an episode of a sitcom worthy but not the deeply expanding narrative we were given. And the internet being the internet, took this possibility and ran with it assuming that the Infinity Stones meant nothing all this time. That the deaths of Black Widow, Gamora, and others were senseless.
Folks, folks… calm down. Loki in no way is contradicting the importance of the Infinity Stones. If anything, this is the show’s meta-commentary on how we’re moving away from the Infinity Stones and that we should focus on new problems like the eventual Multiverse of Madness which is certainly coming. And not just because it’s the title of the Doctor Strange sequel but also because it’s the title of the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel. Don’t forget, one of the showrunners for Loki, Michael Waldron, was a large part of Rick and Morty which is the king of meta-commentary. Season Four did a whole episode trolling fans about how stories are created for the show, Never Ricking Morty, and it was kind of like the Captain America PSA’s from Homecoming on fan expectations.
Outside of the meta-ness though, there is a very in-story reason why those Infinity Stones are dead as Black Widow and Gamora.
You can’t use magic in the TVA and the Infinity Stones are like the biggest kind of magic! If Loki can show up to the TVA with the Tesseract in hand is it so hard to believe that other Variants could be apprehended with Infinity Stones in their possession? If the lizard people are really directing the timeline, then they of course have been correcting the breaches where someone like Ronan or a dark elf end up with a Stone because we all know that Thanos was supposed to be the one who ended up with a glove full of gems. We know that the TVA ensured that outcome which, if you think about it, makes them kind of shitty. You know, for allowing the dusting of half of all the universe. Coooool guys, thanks for looking out.
Not to mention, if the multiverse is infinite then there are a gazillion timelines out there and anyone could be trying to nab the Time Stone so they can re-eat an apple. The TVA is out there making sure apples are eaten only once. With that comes the collection of the rogue Stones which the TVA office is using to keep their forms from blowing off their desk.
Additional fun fact, Infinity Stones only work in the universe they were pulled from. If you bring a Stone from World A to World B, it’s not going to work. The magic or the pull of the Stone only exists in World A. The TVA seems to be a nexus of all time and is a separate universe on to itself which would mean those Infinity Stones, much like Loki’s Tesseract, wouldn’t work there. Think of this place as the anti-magic.
Everyone just needs to take a breath. Loki is clearly going to take us on a journey, a journey that most likely proves that free will exists and we are in control of our own destiny, but it will not negate over ten years of storytelling. Kevin Feige is a smart man and he knows how stories work and how to move things forward. There’s no way he would negate his life’s work with one episode of television. It’s like the LOST finale all over again. Everything matters folks. Everything. Let’s see how the other five episodes play out before we denounce the entire Infinity Saga. In the meantime, let’s debate whether that cat was a flerken or not or maybe re-watch Mobius and Loki discuss life choices because if the whole series is going to be like that, then I’m all in.