Let's dive into a SPOILER timeline, with an episode called Journey into Mystery.
Beyond the Void
The episode ends with Sylvie and Loki enchanting Alioth and seemingly getting access to the castle hideout of the mastermind behind the TVA. It comes at a cost though -- Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) conjures a realistic illusion of Asgard, seeing his lost home one last time as he sacrifices himself to distract the scary smoke monster long enough for the enchantment to take hold.
Unlike last week's episode, there's no post-credits scene. I guess Marvel wants to keep us super eager for next week's finale. Well played.
In the comics, Alioth is a trans-temporal being that destroys all it touches (much like its MCU equivalent). Its presence makes it seem even more likely that the time-hopping Kang the Conqueror is the true villain, since the few comic stories in which Alioth appears have also involved Kang.
We get origin stories for three of the new Loki Variants, and each is excellent.
Classic Loki's story takes us back to the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos and his goons intercept the Asgardian ship while hunting for the Tesseract. Having made peace with his brother Thor, Loki uses his trickery to try to stab Thanos and the Titan murders Loki.
However, Classic Loki reveals how he added another layer of trickery.
"I cast a projection of myself so real, even the Mad Titan believed it," he says. "Then hid as inanimate debris."
With Thor and everyone else believing him dead, he lived in solitude on a remote planet "for a long, long time." When he got lonely and decided to find Thor, he tried to leave the planet and got snatched up by the TVA.
This suggests that original-timeline Loki pulled the same trick on Thanos, since surviving Infinity War wasn't his nexus event. Only when he tried to leave the remote world did he trigger the TVA's appearance, suggesting his Sacred Timeline fate was to live out his days alone -- "the God of Outcasts" -- which reframes the start of Infinity War. Trying to stab Thanos always seemed like a silly move anyway.
The Void is the kingdom of Kid Loki (Jack Veal), and his nexus event was killing Thor. Pretty straightforward, but I'd rather like to see exactly how that played out. Seems like fodder for upcoming Marvel show What If…?, which starts in August.
Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei) claims he defeated Iron Man and Captain America, then took all six Infinity Stones. Everyone thinks he's a big liar, and he betrays them all to President Loki (and his gang of bandit Lokis) shortly afterward. So he's a big jerk, and his nexus event was probably something innocuous like forgetting to brush his teeth.
Alligator Loki's nexus event was apparently "eating the wrong neighbor's cat." And then he chomps off President Loki's hand, snap-snap. This God of Reptilian Mischief was apparently a real diva on set too, according to director Kate Herron.
Uncovering the TVA's truth
Before Sylvie self-prunes and reunites with Loki, Ravonna tells her branched realities the TVA prunes aren't destroyed, they're transferred to a Void at the end of time.
"Where every instance of existence collides at the same point and simply stops," she says.
However, Ravonna doesn't really know why this is happening -- it's presumably a part of our mystery villain's ultimate goal. Later, she tells TVA mascot Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) to access files on the agency's formation and the beginning of time, ostensibly so she can protect the big bad from Sylvie. Since the TVA judge has just discovered her world is a lie, she probably wants to confront them too.
It turns out that Mobius (Owen Wilson) also ended up in the Void after his pruning, and he reunites with his best bud Loki. The God of Mischief gives Mobius their only TemPad so he can go back to the TVA and wreck the place -- he'll likely have a confrontation with Ravonna (or maybe a teamup?).
He should just blast in there on a jet-ski, though -- that'd learn 'em.
Observations, WTF questions and Easter eggs
Years visited: The end of time. The exact year is unclear, but it's filled with stuff from divergent timelines.
The episode's title is a reference to the comic series in which Marvel's versions of Thor and Loki made their debuts in 1962.
Richard E. Grant is absolutely riveting in this episode; every word he uttered has dramatic weight. Beautiful costume too; I need this guy in action figure form.
When Sylvie touches Alioth's mind in the Void, she has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it vision. She sees the big bad's castle close up and it pans to something glowing at the top.
The version of Avengers Tower in the Void was owned by Qeng Enterprises, a company that bought it from Stark in the comics. Qeng was run by "Mister Gryphon," who turned out to be a version of Kang.
As the Lokis go to their hideout, they pass the wreckage of the Thanos-Copter. The gloriously bizarre vehicle was used by the Mad Titan as he tried to get a Cosmic Cube in a 1970s comic.
When the camera pans from the surface to the Lokis' sweet bunker home, we catch sight of Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and a little Thor-like frog dude in a jar. This is Throg -- in the comics, Simon Walterson was turned into a frog by a witch and got a miniature version of Mjolnir. This turned him into the Frog of Thunder.
Throg was originally going to beat up Loki in the first episode, but the scene was cut, according to producer Eric Martin.
The arcade game Polybius can be seen behind Classic Loki's seat in the hideout. It's a non-existent '80s video game linked to an urban legend about a government-run psychology experiment.
President Loki is a reference to a Vote Loki, a comics storyline that satirized the 2016 US presidential election.
Alligator Loki biting off President Loki's hand is a continuation of the long-running MCU tribute to Star Wars, a franchise that regularly sees characters suffer amputations.
The Navy vessel that drops into Alioth's path is the USS Eldridge, which was in service during World War II in the real world. It was at the center of the Navy's alleged 1943 Philadelphia Experiment, in which it was supposedly rendered invisible and teleported, according to what seems to have been a postwar hoax. Maybe that's not the case in the MCU, where such an experiment seems more likely.
I hope Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and Mobius get back to their timelines somehow.
Despite Loki's speech about not betraying Sylvie once the TVA is beaten, there's still a whisper of a sense that either could stab the other in the back. It is delicious.
Join us for more Easter eggs and observations on Wednesday, when episode 6 of Loki hits Disney Plus. It's the season finale, so get ready for an mind-bending ride.