(This article contains spoilers for the fifth episode of "Loki" on Disney+)
The penultimate episode of "Loki" really didn't give us many answers about the TVA, who created it, or who's controlling the variants and the flow of time. But it did give us an Easter egg that has some fans speculating about a potential candidate -- however unlikely he may be.
So, a quick recap. When Loki was pruned last week, he didn't end up in Battleword as we suspected, but in a place called The Void. As Renslayer explains it, "When we prune a branched reality, it's impossible to destroy all of its matter. So we move it to a place on the timeline where it won't continue growing."
That means that those timeline reset charges that they've been using throughout the series -- you know, the ones Sylvie used to bomb the sacred timeline that we STILL don't know the fallout from? -- weren't actually reseting any timelines. Instead, they were transferring them to The Void, a place just before the end of time.
In other words, they get moved way, way, way into the future.
So, in The Void, our Loki discovers multiple variants of himself who take him under their wings (or horns) to protect him from Alioth. Alioth is a big, terrifying smoke creature that eats those who live in The Void. And since Alioth is huge, this Lokis need to have a good hiding spot to live in. It's on their way to that spot that we get a pretty big Thanos easter egg.
As the four Lokis -- our Loki plus Kid Loki, Classic Loki and Boastful Loki, as they are credited in the show -- move to their underground bunker, there's a helicopter off to the side of things. It's easy to miss, as it's a quick shot and definitely a background item. In case you didn't spot it:
In most cases, that helicopter would mean nothing. But look closer at the tail -- that tail definitely says "Thanos" on it. This almost certainly isn't telling us anything about the plot, but is rather just a fun little joke reference to an obscure bit of comic book lore. It's the so-called "Thanos Copter," which has been a meme for a while now.
The Thanos Copter first appeared in 1979 as part of "Spidey Super Stories #39," written by Nick Sullivan, Michael Siporin and Jim Salicrup. The story is called "The Cat and the Cosmic Cube" and in it, the Mad Titan used his "Thanos Copter" -- yes, really -- to attack Hell-Cat and try to steal the Cosmic Cube, which we know as The Tesseract. Naturally, Spider-Man also shows up in the story, racing Thanos to get the cube and by the end, Thanos is taken away by regular cops. It's a far cry from the genocidal purple maniac we know in the MCU.
The Thanos Copter also showed up in an issue of Deadpool, and was made into a toy, which you can still find on eBay. Over the years, it's actually become a beloved reference for fans, memed into oblivion because of how silly it is. But what does it mean in the context of "Loki"?
There's really no way to know. It's impossible to tell if the Thanos Copter ended up in the Void because it was part of a pruned timeline or if it ended up there naturally -- because The Void is an actual stop on the timeline, presumably most of the buildings and stuff were there before the TVA started dumping variants there. And we obviously never see Thanos himself, so all the helicopter tells us is that the version of him that used the helicopter existed in some reality, nodding directly to those comics. And that makes sense -- given what we know, there's variants of everyone in the universe.
There is still the question of who's in that fortress, controlling Alioth at the end of the episode, but frankly, there are far better options than Thanos. There have been plenty of mentions of the Infinity Stones in "Loki," but given the role they played in the first 23 movies in the MCU, it'd be weird if they didn't pop up in some way in next week's finale.
Odds are, the Thanos Copter was just another comic book Easter egg, and will have no real bearing on the story. But there's still one episode left, and we still know virtually nothing about what or who is controlling everything. I guess you can never say never, but we seriously doubt a return of Thanos is imminent.