(SPOILERS for Disney+’s Loki and the MCU will be found below.)
It’s about damn time that Loki‘s now atoning for his time crimes on Disney+. The show’s premiere episode began the entertaining-yet-complicated process of explaining the multiverse, which apparently is where the MCU wants to be, big time, going into the future. Sure, we already had to know that this would happen, given that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the title of the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring sequel to come. And to a lesser extent, Kevin Feige linking up the MCU and the FOX superhero universes in WandaVision may have been a move in the same direction.
Yet what matters, for the moment, is that Loki is here to explain all the multiverse stuff, and Luke Wilson is doing a lot of that heavy expositional lifting. He’s not done yet, either, nor are the other Time Variance Authority’s employees, who are adding useful and not-so-useful bits along the way. Marvel fans received a shock with that Infinity-Stone joke (that many fans felt was a gut punch regarding Black Widow), and the show ended with a mystery. Why on
Earth Midgard did this series take a side trip to Oklahoma?
Let’s review what led up to this moment, and that includes a conversation between Loki and Wilson’s TVA Agent, Mobius, who’s seeking to protect the Sacred Timeline, which Loki disturbed by snatching the Tesseract at the end of Avengers: Endgame. It’s very important to remember that the Loki in this Disney+ show — and he is referred to as a “Variant” — is not the same Loki who Thanos killed in Avengers: Infinity War, so there are no time shenanigans at least for that detail. Yet we’ve long since known that Loki is capable, as the God of Mischief, of replicating himself all over the place, so how does that tie into the show’s trip to 1858 Salina, Oklahoma?
That’s part of the mystery here. Mobius tells Loki that “fugitive variants” have been killing Minutemen at various points in time. He adds, “The variant we’re hunting is… you.” That can be taken in a few ways. It’s clear that Mobius, who engages with Loki in a buddy-cop dynamic, wants time-criminal Loki to help track down an even worse time-offender, one who is killing TVA representatives. That’s a risky proposition. It’s also possible, however, that Mobius is as crafty as Loki is, and he’s perfectly aware that he needs to beat Loki at his own game while hiding an ulterior motive.
Before we can think about those possibilities for too long, the episode’s final scene blips to Oklahoma around the time of the oil rush, where Minutemen noted that there’s an “anachronistic” (out of time and place) artifact in the field, which is “early third millennial,” for what it’s worth. A Minuteman wonders if some “jackass” used a time machine to come back and steal oil, and then a mysterious figure (obviously, a variant) drops a lantern and sets the oil field on fire, torching the group.
Weird. All of it. Oklahoma is now part of the MCU (and that’s canon, so the Sooner State is really on the map now), and who knows if the state will mean anything at all in the grand scheme of Loki. Yet it’s a dramatic note with which to end the premiere, which earlier detailed variant-murders in 1548 France. There’s no telling whether a variant purposefully used the Oklahoma setting because it’d be really easy to kill TVA agents who are standing atop oil. Yet this was an effective way for the variant to easily nab the TVA device that would have “reset” the timeline.
As for whether there’s any other significance to this venue, that’s still left in the open. I would guess that Loki doesn’t want to dive deep into the history of Salina (and any Civil War implications), and that this is more of a case of wanting to bring a firefight into the show because that’s a big visual moment. Also, yeah, Salina was the first place in Oklahoma where oil was discovered (by accident) in 1859. If I was a variant who wanted the TVA to mistake me for a “jackass” who simply wanted to steal oil before its official discovery, then sure, I’d make a trip to Salina, too. Yes, it appears that this was simply a ruse to fool the TVA and easily dispense with several agents, but hopefully, we’ll receive clearer answers next week.
Disney+’s ‘Loki’ will stream new episodes on Wednesdays.