Martin Carr reviews the third episode of Marvel’s Loki…
People talk a lot in episode three of Loki. Conversation is key, inquiring minds interrogate and psychiatrists would have a field day. As literal variations on a theme sit across from each other in first class, sipping champagne and playing mind games, the world burns. Barren landscapes, extinction level events and gaudy techno steampunk production design set the bar. Witty word play, mental sparring and a tacit degree of trust is built up in the tight thirty eight minute run time.
Sophia Di Martino hits the ground running, fighting and vaporising at every turn. Channelling a strong Doctor Who vibe prior to the arrival of Tom Hiddleston, this episode hinges on their chemistry. Unfortunately, set pieces, exposition and pure plot leaves little room for such pleasantries. From TVA headquarters to a desolate wasteland, location changes are swift and VFX aid our tag team protagonists in their selfish goals.
Notions of love, debates around sexuality and divergent life experiences bring depth to their bond as audiences are propelled towards the conclusion. Although the chemistry is slow to establish itself through mounds of dialogue, once in place it proves invaluable. That being said, although there is a lot of walking alongside all that talking, episode three remains the right side of dynamic.
World building is exceptional as production designer Kasra Farahani combines dilapidated junkyard chic with neon soaked Blade Runner throwbacks. Lamentis-1 is realised in snippets of screen time considerately deployed to augment this particular reality. VFX never feel like a distraction, although the physical elements go some way to enriching performances from our dynamic duo. As they begin to depend one upon the other, rendering both parties powerless, relationships change. This no win situation needs more than vain parlour tricks and hedonistic impulses, if both are to survive.
As events evolve from a convoluted smash and grab into reluctant team up tactics late on, Loki gets inventive. A game changing tracking shot melds with multiple on screen elements, as things take a decidedly dangerous turn. Talk is jettisoned in favour of explosions, carnage and falling debris. Run ragged and running out of options, audiences will be left hanging as those credits roll and everyone is left dangling for another week.
Two things come out of this intentional cliff hanger as we cross the half way point. One is the unshakeable faith Marvel have in their leading man Tom Hiddleston, who remains its central cohesive factor, forever finding new shades in a character of infinite appeal. Another has more to do with their perpetual desire to noodle in a universe, which possesses untold momentum and boundless potential.