Infinity War is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most heartbreaking films—from beginning to end, it’s leading to an endgame that we know will likely hurt (which it does, a lot). And in more ways than one, Loki’s Season 2 penultimate episode, “Science/Fiction,” is the show’s Infinity War, snap-like scene included. So much of Loki’s journey from the first Thor movie to this very episode is a hero’s crossing, but it’s a little terrifying to think of the kind of path this specific episode is setting up when the show essentially reminds us of what we lost in Infinity War.
Viewers don’t lose Loki to a snap, but instead, we lose him directly in the hands of Thanos after he promises his brother that the sun will shine on them again. Here, in Loki’s Season 2 penultimate, “Science/Fiction,” he tells his found family that he’s uncovered a way to keep the timeline from collapsing. But has he? Will the MCU truly allow this when we know we’re headed toward yet another battle where this is only the beginning stages? It’s hard to predict, but what’s clear as day is the fact that Loki Laufeyson, Odinson, is a hero.
In Loki’s Season 2 Penultimate Episode, “Science/Fiction,” a Perfect Hero’s Journey Equates to a Found Family
Loki succeeds as a series because it takes us back to the root of the MCU, reminding viewers of one of the reasons we keep coming back to the films. It’s about the outcasts finding people who love and care for them after heartaches and perils take control of their lives. It’s what Spider-Man: No Way Home ultimately defines, and it’s what the Guardians of the Galaxy stand for in all films, but especially in the third.
In last week’s episode, Loki reminded Sylvie of the importance of holding on to hope despite how challenging it might be. Today, he’s openly allowing himself to be vulnerable enough to admit that he wants his friends back—that he doesn’t want to be alone because he doesn’t know how he belongs without them. It’s everything we could’ve hoped for and more. So much more. A hero’s journey is all about growth and community. It’s about understanding what you want when it comes to preserving something (in this case, the TVA), and it’s about finding people to love and fight for amidst a grand battle. Loki has been on this journey since Thor: Ragnarok, but his life was tragically cut short once (technically twice-ish). Our variant of Loki is the character who escaped from Avengers: Endgame, disrupting time and space in more ways than one, now fully understanding that actions have consequences and no human is meant to be alone.
The growth process we see here is utterly riveting because the foundation of his development is cemented entirely on love. In the first season, he learns about how far he’s come, and in Season 2, he fights to keep going. He is already a hero, but the journey we’re watching might also be one of the best redemption arcs within the MCU because it’s the most realistic. (Though, hi, yes, let’s hope it doesn’t fall into Aristotle’s Tragic Hero case because nobody wants or needs that.) Instead, this Loki deserves every bit of the happy ending possible with the people he loves surrounding him because the bravery in allowing himself to be vulnerable is bigger than anything he could achieve with physical powers. No tesseract, no stone, nothing could compare to the people beside him.
The culmination of an explosive ending like this in Loki’s Season 2 penultimate is a direct result of thoughtful writing by Eric Martin and Michael Waldron and brilliant performances. Tom Hiddleston continues to outdo himself in every way with a depth that’s rarer now in the MCU, allowing us to understand facets of the character that aren’t yet spoken aloud. What we see in this episode is everything that we’ve picked up from the start of the season, understanding the profundity of his compassion and how much Loki now cares, wants, and needs to hold onto people. He knows far too intimately what it’s like to lose people, not to hold on for dear life. He knows how fragile life is because he’s experienced every threat possible multiple times at this point.
Hiddleston doesn’t miss a beat in bringing Loki’s humanity to life, acting with every bone in his body to ensure that we see everything that’s brewing within. He’s broken, confused, and trying his absolute hardest to make matters right, which is why the ending is as impactful as it is. When Loki says he’s going to rewrite the story, we feel it—we see it. We understand the weight of those words because so much of this is also his choice to take back all the wrong choices he made. Hiddleston makes it painstakingly clear that Loki’s growth is undeniable now because the very softness he once mocked is the strength that keeps him going. The penultimate episode is undoubtedly leading to the kind of finale that’ll change everything, but the titular character’s growth is already fully formed to represent strength in an unchanging way.
Now streaming on Disney+: What are your thoughts on Loki’s Season 2 penultimate episode, “Science/Fiction?” Let us know in the comments below.