Loki episode four “The Nexus Event” finally pays off the character development of the first three episodes and particularly the relationship between Loki and Sylvie introduced in last week’s episode. While the episode’s plot works really well to build on the electricity between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), it does not further explore the first canonically queer character in the MCU.
The episode starts with a flashback to a little girl being taken by the TVA as she plays with toys on what looks like Asgard. The little girl, assumed to be a young Sylvie, is taken by Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) back when she was still a hunter and is put into the TVA Variant prison suit, only to escape. The story flashes back to the present as Sylvie explains her origins to Loki, and how being stolen as a child meant she was alone her whole life, jumping from apocalypse to apocalypse.
The two sit on Lamentis-1 together as they watch the moon fall into the planet and discuss what it means to be a Loki. What makes the conversation so interesting is the air of loneliness it brings to being the villain. Sylvie asks Loki whether “a Loki” is always about losing; he says it’s about survival. The tone of their conversation as they watch the world burn emphasizes the loneliness they both experience. Still, they are together. They hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes, causing a “nexus event,” a severe divergence from the standard time line.
Loki and Sylvie loving each other is a major nexus event because it means the Lokis are expressing love and joining together, something that a Loki has never had before. The idea of the two falling for one another is a good way to explore self love and forgiving yourself. Last week, it was confirmed that Loki is bisexual. It was also confirmed that his queerness would not be explored further. Loki is a canonically queer character; still, it would have been nice for the two to only have tension sexually while still allowing room for Loki to explore romantic relationships with characters of the same gender.
In their nexus event, the two are saved from certain doom and brought back to the TVA. Loki seems to have a new sense of purpose. Before he is thrown into a time cell by Mobius (Owen Wilson), he tries to communicate the secret he learned—the Time agents are really just variants plucked from their place in the sacred timeline and wiped of their memories.
In the time cell, Loki is subjected to what at first appears to be a random memory in which Lady Cif (Jaimie Alexander) yells at Loki for cutting her hair off telling him he will always be alone. Loki too is amused that this is the memory chosen to torture him with, but after hours it becomes clear that she is the perfect way to torture Loki.
Over and over Loki is reminded of how alone he will be and it puts the spotlight on Loki’s insecurities. He doesn’t want to be shown his failure to make a bond in his life, and his inability to move beyond his villain persona.
Mobius talks to Ravonna about Sylvie and interviews her, but Ravonna refuses, saying that talking to her made the Hunters crazy, and she doesn’t want that for her. Mobius, being the naturally curious person he is, starts looking into what happened. Deciding to interview Loki, he starts to see the truth Loki was trying to tell him about the TVA being all variants. After eventually freeing him, the two go to see about bringing the TVA down, only to be confronted by Ravonna and more hunters who “prune” Mobius.
Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) goes to talk to Sylvie, finding out that the images projected into her head in episode two were real memories. The scene skips to Sylvie and Loki being brought before the Time Keepers for their execution only for Sylvie and Loki to be set free from their collars and fight against them. In the big plot twist, the timekeepers are revealed to be robots, making it unclear who is actually pulling the strings, disappointing the variants. Loki decides that after being confronted with his loneliness he will choose companionship and begins to confess his feelings to Sylvie only to be “pruned” by Ravonna.
The episode nicely explores Loki’s true desires and fears, showing that deep down, Loki and Sylvie just want to be loved. Rather than the expected outcome that the Lokis would try and betray each other they have a genuine bond in their mutual understanding of how lonely they feel.
A mid-credits scene reveals that the “pruning” does not kill anyone, but sends them to an alternate world. Loki is confronted with four variant Lokis: Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), and Reptile Loki. The reveal of this means that next week might end in a Loki battle.
As a metaphor, the best company a Loki can have is himself, which is funny and helps explore what it means to love yourself truly. It is disappointing that Loki is only being portrayed as queer in his words rather than his actions, considering there is only one Lady Loki, and because of the MCU’s track record when it comes to LGBTQ representation. Hopefully, the theme of self-love will lend itself to create a possible visual LGBTQ representation.
Loki airs new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.