(This article contains major spoilers for "Loki" on Disney+, through the second episode)
When the Time Variance Authority, or TVA, was introduced in the "Loki" premiere last week, I couldn't help but wonder if they were too powerful. They've got godlike control over the flow of time, and seemed to be able to enforce that control with ease. But the show was quick to demonstrate that these folks can, at least, be outwitted.
Enter Lady Loki (Sophia Di Martino), who was the one doing the outwitting.
A lot of surprising things happened all at once at the end of this episode, starting with the reveal that this Loki variant who's been stealing all those time grenades from the TVA is able to possess people, demonstrating this power by, well, possessing several different people, one at a time, while talking to our Loki.
And then we learn that this Other Loki is a woman. That was a nice surprise, and we'll talk about her comic book background in a minute. But those two big reveals were just the beginning, because at that moment Lady Loki was ready to make her big move.
We see that she's taken all those time reset charges she stole and placed them around this big store she's been hiding in (you can read more about that whole thing here). And then, all at once, she opens a time portal for each charge, sending them to various points in the timeline, where they do...something.
While we don't find out exactly what it was she did with the charges, we get a look at the effects back at TVA. Lady Loki's big plan has spawned a huge number of new branching timelines, potentially destabilizing the Sacred Timeline if any of those branches branch too far.
What we witnessed there, we think, could very well be the beginning of the multiverse in the MCU. And that, in turn, is probably the first step toward the arrival of the Fantastic Four, mutants and anybody else Marvel wants to pull in from the multiverse. Like the MCU's presumed next cosmic big bad, Kang the Conqueror.
But that's something that we can't quite calculate all the ramifications of just yet. It's a huge idea, and we just got a snippet during an exciting cliffhanger. But if the multiverse didn't exist before now -- and the way the TVA talks about the Sacred Timeline it appears that it did not -- then that timeline with all those dozens of branching lines looks like a pretty solid candidate for its origin.
But let's hold that thought until we learn more, or until we think it through a bit more. Let's talk about Lady Loki for a moment instead. We've seen this iteration of the character in the comics -- as Mr. Mobius said in this episode, there are a lot of different Lokis, and they generally don't look like Tom Hiddleston. So a female Loki is not itself all that shocking.
In the comics the events leading to Lady Loki began with the 2004 Ragnarok storyline in the "Thor" ongoing series that ended with (shocker) Asgard destroyed, and every single Asgardian except Thor killed. In accordance with an ancient prophecy, it was all Loki's fault -- he was responsible for letting the enemies of Asgard in to do their thing in the first place.
Ragnarok brought the "Thor" comic book to an end. But he returned in 2007 with a new ongoing series, written by J. Michael Straczynski, that began with his quest to resurrect the lost Asgardians and restore the kingdom. This is where Lady Loki comes in.
In "Thor" Vol. 3 #5, Thor has already resurrected the Warriors 3 and Heimdel, but is obsessed with bringing Lady Sif back too. He ends up in rural New Mexico where he learns that Loki is back too -- in the form of a woman. Loki doesn't explain how she's a woman now, other than that "I am not truly of Asgard but rather the child of frost giants."
Loki also insists that having already fulfilled her purpose to bring about Ragnarok, "this is a new start. A new beginning for both of us," and asks Thor for the chance to prove her worth. "I have no more schemes in me. Nothing to scheme for. I wish only to live and be happy," Lady Loki claims.
Unsurprisingly, Lady Loki can't be trusted, and at the end of the issue it's revealed that she's working out some kind of evil (yes, back to evil) scheme with Doctor Doom. Then in 2009's Marvel Comics-wide "Dark Reign" storyline, they've both joined Norman Osborn’s supervillain team Cabal, which leads to a whole lot of headaches for Marvel's superheroes.
Annnnnyway, (inhale), it eventually comes out that Loki's resurrection as a woman is something of a con. In 2009's "Thor" #601, Loki prepares to assume male form again, and tells Thor that his female form came from a body originally intended for a resurrected Lady Sif.
Yes, that Lady Sif, played in the MCU by Jamie Alexander. Don't expect that comic book lore to carry over, though, since Sif is still alive in the MCU and is set to appear in "Thor: Love and Thunder."
In any case, perhaps Lady Loki's most intriguing trait is her ability to possess people, which is not something we've seen anybody do in the MCU before now. Mind control? Yep, Loki has done that. But actual possession? That's new.
In the comics, we've only ever once seen Loki fully possess another person -- and we're using "seen" pretty loosely here, as it only happened in Loki's first comic appearance in 1949 in an issue of the "Venus, Goddess of Love" comic book.
In Marvel Comics lore, there are very, very few people who are able to do something like this. Most are demons (duh), including Mephisto -- you may recall that a lot of folks theorized incorrectly that he was the secret villain in "WandaVision." There's also an Inhuman named Jailer who can do it.
So what's next? We don't know any more than what we've already discussed. Makes us really wish we could just binge this thing instead of having to wait for more next week.