The Spool / Recap
Loki gets outplayed

On his quest to find Sylvie, TVA bad elements outmaneuver the God of Mischief in “Breaking Brad.”

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.

After an episode spent almost entirely in the TVA, Loki Season 2 Episode 2 immediately opens with getting the boys back out in the field. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) with Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), hidden away as backup land in London in 1977 on the still intact Sacred Timeline. They’re on the path of X5 (Rafael Casal), who has gone AWOL on the timeline.

It turns out that not only has he gone rogue, but he’s adopted a life as movie star Brad Wolf. As fun as Casal was last episode playing a jerky company man, he’s so much more enjoyable when he adds some squirrely weaselly energy to things, as he does here.

When Brad clocks them at a film premiere, he takes off running. Before long, however, he finds himself dealing with an array of rough London types, including classic punks, blue-collar workers, and soccer hooligans. When he decides to fight back, it’s immediately apparent they’re just constructs created by Loki. That knowledge doesn’t help much as shadows wearing the God of Mischief’s classic horned helmet grab him and pin him to the wall. The whole scene is a treat, again demonstrating how much Hiddleston can still indulge Loki’s dark side while he’s on the side of angels.

Loki Season 2 Episode 2 (Disney+)
Eugene Cordero is a by the book sort of guy. (Gareth Gatrell/MARVEL)

They drag Brad back to the TVA and attempt to figure out what the former agent did to soup up his tempath. They believe his explanation that the additional circuitry was to cloak himself, but Casey (Eugene Cordero) immediately recognizes that whatever reason Brad messed with, it wasn’t for cloaking. Recognizing tech isn’t their strong suit, they leave the device with Casey and go to interrogate Brad in person. B-15 comes along, but sadly, the show mostly sidelines her this episode.

Brad tries to unravel them psychologically rather than tell them the truth. He seems to frustrate Loki, but the God keeps himself relatively in check. When Brad goes after Mobius for not trying to find out the life he should’ve had, the usually chill TVA-er loses his temper quickly. Loki has no choice but to pull his partner out of the room for some pie so they can regroup.

The scene is an odd one. Wilson does a great job finally letting Mobius crack a bit. However, when Casal goes at Hiddleston, the dialogue doesn’t sell the emotion. To be blunt, Brad’s attempts to get under Loki’s skin are weak sauce. The idea that the God of Mischief would give a damn seems unlikely at best. Hiddleston plays the beat right, but screenwriter Eric Martin’s idea of what would be a sick burn to toss at Thor’s angry baby bro fails both Hiddleston and Casal. Wilson breaking after that means the scene ends on a high note, redeeming it, but the Loki part doesn’t work.

Wilson does a great job finally letting Mobius crack a bit.

The follow-up scene, however, even more effectively buries that misstep. In it, Loki does get curious about why Mobius wouldn’t want to know who he could’ve been if not plucked by the TVA. Wilson wonderfully makes his reasoning sound both honest and sound. Still, he modulates his tone just enough to leave the door open to the possibility that he’s lying to Loki and possibly himself about how little he cares about that other life.

We briefly check in with OB (Ke Huy Quan) and see him still working hard. It turns out that with He Who Remains dead, the only way to override the blast doors is to get Miss Minutes to do it. The doors protect the TVA short-term, but they can’t permanently solve the out-of-control Time Loom with them closed. We also learn that OB is the writer of the TVA manual. Interesting, considering how the organization was supposed to be Kang’s whole thing.

Loki Season 2 Episode 2 (Disney+)
Rafael Casal, literally shadowboxing. (MARVEL)

Then, the action returns to Loki and Mobius taking another run at Brad. This time, they wheel in a device, apparently designed to torture. Loki tricks Mobius into leaving and locks him out. Then, he starts to play with the machine himself. It generates cubes that shrink, crushing stools or people when it gets too small. Brad doesn’t hold out for long when Loki captures him in one. He spills where he found Sylive (Sophia Di Martino) before deciding not to turn him in and become a movie star instead. Once he breaks, Mobius walks back in. Turns out, the partners were running a scam. That makes a lot of sense when you realize no jail cells would ever lock from the inside.

Loki and Mobius bring Brad with them to Broxton, 1983, to find Sylvie. Brad seems even more jumpy than usual when they arrive, continually walking behind the other two and glancing at the sky. The trio finds Sylvie still at the McDonald’s, now working as a cashier. Things are awkward as can be, but she agrees to talk to her male counterpart when she has a break.

[H]ow [Mosaku] plays the horror of those deaths is the only thing in the episode that really sells the audience on the vastness of the tragedy.

Things stay uncomfortable when she takes her break. The two don’t have much time to work through their issues, though. Instead, she touches Brad and learns of Dox’s (Kate Dickie) plan to prune every errant timeline. While B-15 watches on in horror, Sylvie, Loki, and Mobius rush to where Dox is staging the attacks. They stop her, eventually, but not before billions of people die. Again, Mosaku is underused in this episode, but how she plays the horror of those deaths is the only thing in the episode that really sells the audience on the vastness of the tragedy.

After all the rogue TVA agents are rounded up and put in holding, Loki tries to talk with Sylvie further. She points out how this tragedy is, yet again, the fault of the TVA and storms off. Thankfully, her timeline survived, so she returns to her life there, preferring it to the life of “heroics” Loki wants her to take up.

Loki Season 2 Episode 2 (Disney+)
Somehow Sophia Di Martino makes this MacDough’s look work. (Gareth Gatrell/MARVEL)

Moments From the Sacred Timeline

  • B-15 gets too little to do here, but her knocking Brad on his back while dressed to the nines in an awesome dress is a wonderful moment.
  • The idea of Loki chasing someone down is just inherently funny to me. Like he obviously could’ve plucked Brad off the street immediately but wanted to have a little fun flexing instead.
  • Love that in Brad’s world, Marvel launched a successful Phone Ranger film in the late 70s.
  • The revelation that Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) and Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) are off somewhere working together isn’t especially surprising. However, I’m still excited to see what kind of hell they can raise in collaboration.
  • Big fan of Wilson and Hiddleston hopelessly trying to fix a tempath.
  • Loki’s flippant explanation for what happened in the first Avengers film gets so much done at once. It showcases the character’s penchant for fooling people, including himself, how much he’s moved away from the God he used to be, and how smart he is at knowing what his friend Mobius needs to feel ok about losing his temper.
  • Loki and Mobius tricking Brad into confessing is an excellent way to show how the two have influenced each other and become a better team. That said, how cool are we with our heroes using the threat of torture to get information?
  • This is a wild idea, but if OB wrote the TVA manual, could he be a Kang? And if he’s a Kang, is that an easy way for Marvel to recast, thus resolving Jonathan Majors’ continued role on the show? Plus, how cool to see Quan get a chance to go villainous?
  • McDonald’s, near as I could find, didn’t do a sign update in 1983. However, if they did, 45 billion appears to be roughly accurate judging by their 1982 update and the subsequent ones from ’84 to ’92.

From the Lips of Gods

  • “It’s ok to have a drink while we’re down here. Because we’re still working.”
  • “Is he running?”
  • “Knock, knock.”
    “Who’s there?”
    “Brad who?”
    “That’s showbiz.”
  • “It’s cinema, thank you very much.”- Good line well delivered by Casal and a fun meta joke.