‘Loki’ Pulls a ‘Wizard of Oz’ in a Wild Episode 4

Loki and Sylvie Romance Episode 4 Theories
Loki and Sylvie upend the TVA in Episode 4 of Marvel’s Loki. Marvel Studios

Warning: Spoilers for Marvel’s Disney+ series Loki

The construction of each individual Marvel series on Disney+ thus far has been fascinating to observe. WandaVision used Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) as a vessel for a story about grief and mental health. The series tried to teach audiences that we should embrace our pain rather than run from it. Wanda retreated into a fantasy rather than face reality and her attempt to circumvent her true feelings had disastrous results. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier passed the Captain America torch from Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) while reckoning with America’s ugly history of race relations. In the end, despite the weight of the mantle’s legacy and the country’s mistreatment of the Black community, Sam chose to reinvent the symbol in order to strike a new path.

While Loki is a redemption story at heart that wants audiences to know they can be anything they choose to be, even a hero, it doesn’t yet have a grand unifying theme or larger statement of intent. And that’s perfectly okay with us as this series has arguably been the most purely enjoyable of the Disney+ Marvel shows thus far. As Episode 4, “The Nexus Event,” continues to reorient our understanding of the MCU, we’re mapping out the major beats to keep up.

Loki Episode 4 Recap

Still marooned on Lamentis-1 mere minutes before its destruction, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) engage in the type of real talk only the doomed truly understand. She tells him how she was arrested by the TVA when she was a mere child and sentenced to pruning, but escaped. From there, she spent her life hiding in thousands of apocalypses, unable to return to the life where she had been erased from the timeline. The two bond, recognizing their soul’s counterpart in one another, and form a strange but understandable romantic connection. Their physical touch, in classic time travel paradox fashion, creates a Nexus Event which begins to branch the timeline in a way the TVA has not encountered. Moments before annihilation, the TVA sends portals to Lamentis-1, allowing Sylvie and Loki to escape, but into TVA custody.

Over at the TVA, Loki tells Mobius (Owen Wilson) that the TVA has been lying to him before he’s sent into a time loop where Lady Sif beats the crap out of him over and over. Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) informs Mobius of Hunter C-20’s death, though he remains dubious of her account. He pushes for more information, but Renslayer attempts to manipulate him with talk of friendship and a promise of finally meeting the Time Keepers.

Mobius continues digging, switching out their time pads and discovering that Loki was telling the truth: TVA employees are indeed variants. Meanwhile, Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), shaken from her enchantment at the hands of Sylvie, takes her to the RoxxCart in 2050 in order to hide in the looming apocalypse. There, Sylvie shows her the truth about her past life as a variant. Though they don’t know it yet, B-15 and Mobius are now set on the same path of resolution.

Mobius frees Loki from the time loop in order to bring down the TVA, but is confronted and pruned by Renslayer. She brings Loki and Sylvie to the Time Keepers, but Hunter B-15 intervenes and all hell breaks loose. It turns out that the three Time Keepers are nothing more than mindless androids. As Loki gathers the courage to tell Sylvie how he feels, Renslayer prunes him (more on that below). Sylvie, furious, demands answers from Renslayer.

Loki Episode 3 Explained
Loki and Sylvie in Episode 3 of Marvel’s Loki. Marvel/Disney+

Loki and Sylvie Romance

Yes, it’s weird. Loki and Sylvie are variations of the same being. As Mobius accurately notes, it’s a “sick, twisted romantic relationship…what an incredible seismic narcissist.” But it’s also kind of…perfect?

The purpose of Loki’s time loop punishment isn’t just that he gets kneed in the groin over and over (though that’s an added bonus). It’s so that he can further reflect on the choices that led him to that moment and, by extension, the inner flaws and insecurities that drive him. Loki the series is all about a self-reckoning for our eponymous lead character. He recognizes that he craves attention, is a roaring narcissist, and is afraid of being alone. Is it any wonder that he would fall for his more morally right equal (or, dare I say it, his superior?).

Love is a messy and chaotic ordeal of the heart. But ironically, out of that entropy comes peace, as the pieces of your life neatly fall into place. Loki has always needed structure, balance, and a support system in his life to unlock his best self. Here it is, albeit in an unexpected fashion.

Loki and Sylvie Romance Episode 4 theories
Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in Loki. Marvel Studios

Loki Episode 4 Theories

The biggest reveal of “The Nexus Event” is that the omnipotent Time Keepers are nothing more than robotic puppets. Much like The Wizard of Oz, there is someone or something else pulling the strings of the Time Variance Authority. Our main theory, detailed back in April, is that the true puppet master is none other than Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conquerer.

Kevin Feige has confirmed that Majors has been cast as Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but this is Marvel, a franchise that loves nothing more than interconnected breadcrumbs between projects. It would be perfectly on brand to either introduce Kang himself or at least knowledge of his identity here before his big screen debut. As we wrote in April:

“Rather than the despot who traverses time in order to destroy and vanquish, it’s entirely possible that the MCU version of Kang could be hellbent on preserving the timeline as the head of the Time Variance Authority (TVA).”

What better way to assume and maintain power than by pruning any potential threats that may arise? Loki is the perfect opportunity to introduce a fan favorite comics character with the potential to be Marvel’s next Thanos.

Loki Episode 4 after credits scene
Loki variants. Marvel Studios

Loki Episode 4 Post-Credits Scene

In a post-credits scene, Loki wakes up in a desolate region after being pruned by Renslayer and asks, “Is this hell? Am I dead?” He’s met by three Loki variants, including what appears to be King Loki played by Richard E. Grant, who tells him, “Not yet. But you will be unless you come with us.”

The other Loki variants include a child Loki played by Jack Veal and a Viking-esque Loki played by Deobia Oparei. Let the converging variant timeline madness begin! ‘Loki’ Pulls a ‘Wizard of Oz’ in a Wild Episode 4