While WandaVision took its own creative risks, it's pretty safe to say that Loki remains the most ambitious series effort from Marvel thus far. It's intergalactic scope, it's relatively deep questions of identity and destiny, as well as thoroughly examining the Marvel villain complex, all in a visually varied and colourful package - it's a lot for six episodes. And now that the journey is over (for now), it's time to reflect on it, and see how this ambitious effort stacks up.
Loki's debut season is a fast show, meaning that while it does offer up several quiet moments of more meaningful exposition and exchange, it does sacrifice some depth for breakneck pacing. It means that it never dwells too long on its narrative mistakes, but it neither gives us time to take in and fully understand some of its more ponderous moments. It is, therefore, classic Marvel, in a way.
But one cannot fault the variety of the journey from start to finish. Loki takes us from the 60's inspired halls of the TVA bureau to apocalyptically, almost Guardians of the Galaxy inspired dying planets, from shopping malls caught in a deadly storm to places beyond the edges of time. Despite some uneven CG work in some episodes, it's a brilliantly realised show from start to finish, making the more grounded look and feel of Falcon and the Winter Soldier look frankly dull by comparison, as if it's inherently constrained next to this wild and colourful journey.
The pacing is still the flaw though, as it sometimes mixes it's emotions too quickly for them to truly resonate. It even hampers the dialogue at points, making you question whether a truly heartfelt exchange is actually ironic and comical, only to find that it's just because you exited too quickly from a comedic scene to fully appreciate the gravitas of the drama. It's a delicate balance, particularly with this short of an episode count, but largely it's both enjoyable to watch and efficiently put together.
While the delivery can be spotty here and there, particularly from Tom Hiddleston, who often is simply brilliant, but stumbles a few times, mostly due to the writing, it's generally acted really well. Owen Wilson gives us one of his best performances in years as Mobius, and Sophia di Martino is excellent as well. There's even a secret character at the end, who is simply mesmerizing during the series finale. He's seriously worth all the wait, and then some.
One area where the show definitely underdelivers though, is through its fight scenes. Frankly, while Loki does throw spells around, and needs to knock a few heads together from time to time, physical combat isn't really closely associated with this trickster anyway, so to see interesting scenes devolve into poorly choreographed rambles is just... Well, it's disappointing, and almost all of these fights are way, way below expectations for a Marvel project. Particularly in one scene, it's so poor that you can actually see the stunt performers aren't actually hitting each other, which made us feel like there was an illusion going on, like it was intentional - but alas.
Luckily, there aren't too many of these in Loki's debut season, and most of the time is spent asking big questions. Especially Loki coming to terms with his own role in the MCU as a villain, a murderer and one who's destined to lose eternally, is an interesting approach. Persevering one specific timeline is exciting too from a comics perspective, seeing as Loki really does seem to be the opening salvo from an MCU, which will lean more heavily into the multiverse going forward. It's quite nice to be able to thoroughly say; you need to watch Loki to appreciate all that comes after in the MCU, which hasn't really been the case before.
It's been an enjoyable ride. Not a life-altering precious one, but a really good one. Loki is well put together, most of the time, and asks interesting questions of its characters and its audience. For that, it's worth the relatively short watch time.