How Time and Time Travel Work in LOKI’s TVA

Loki‘s first season established the TVA as a place outside of normal time and space. He Who Remains and his servants didn’t age over eons inside the Machiavellian bureaucracy. Mobius wasn’t even sure exactly how long he’d been protecting the Sacred Timeline, since “time moves differently” at the TVA. Combined with Multiversal War, the Citadel at the End of Time, Variants, branches, and pruning it was a lot to make sense of. Now Loki‘s second season is showing we didn’t even know as much as we thought.

What exactly is going on with time at the Time Variance Authority? What does all this new information mean for the MCU’s multiverse? The TVA’s own past, present, and future? Here’s what every episode of Loki season two has revealed about how time does—and sometimes doesn’t—work in the strange world of the TVA.

Loki and Mobius talking in the TVA in Loki
Marvel Studios

Episode 1

Time Slipping

Time slipping is when someone is violently ripped through the past, present, and future. It’s supposed to be impossible inside the TVA, a place where magic doesn’t work and countless Infinity Stones are nothing more than colorful paper weights. O.B. and Mobius solved Loki’s time slipping problem by extracting a pruned Loki out of “every strand of time and space.”

The TVA’s Own Linear Timeline

Loki’s time slipping explained why Mobius didn’t recognize the God of Mischief at the end of season one. It also revealed the TVA still has its own self-contained timeline. The organization exists outside of normal time and space, but people in the TVA still live a linear timeline with a past, present, and future.

Loki prunes a wall in a TVA office to reveal the face of He Who Remains
Marvel Studios

When Loki went into the past he went into the same TVA’s own past. That was a period when He Who Remains didn’t hide his identity from his workforce. When Loki went into the future it was the same TVA’s future. His travels through TVA time also made it possible for Loki to help save himself from time slipping. He told O.B. about his problems in the past, which made it so O.B. in the present had the Temporal Aura Extractor ready to go.

Mobius attached the Extractor to the most important device in the TVA, machine that weaves entire branches together.

Temporal Loom

Owen Wilson's Mobius looks scared inside an astronaut suit on Loki
Marvel Studios

The “heart” of the TVA is the Temporal Loom, a device that refines raw time into a “physical timeline.” The death of He Who Remains caused the Sacred Timeline to branch off. Those new strands then began to overload the Temporal Loom, which is not designed to handle that many strands at once.

Read More About Loki Season 2 Episode 1

Episode 2

The Secret Brad Wolfe Life of Hunter X-5

Hunter X-5 holds his armor while standing next to the sitting Dox at the TVA on Loki
Marvel Studios

The season premiere saw heavily armed TVA hunters under General Dox’s command go through a Timedoor. Episode two revealed their mission was to blow up all the new branches. One of the Hunters who went on that mission originally was X-5, but Mobius learned he’d abandoned his post entirely in the second episode, which took place immediately at the first within the TVA’s own timeline.

That’s not how much time had passed for X-5, though. He’d left the TVA to make a life for himself as a actor on the Sacred Timeline in 1977 London.

Mob of people entering a a theater under a marquee for a movie called Zaniac with a green hairy monster on Loki
Marvel Studios

X-5, now known as famous Zaniac star Brad Wolfe, had much longer hair than he had in the first episode. Between his notoriety, success, and lengthy follicles it was clear he lived a long time on the Sacred Timeline even though very little time had passed for his former colleagues in the TVA. The same was true of Sylvie. Despite killing He Who Remains just days prior within the TVA’s own timeline, she’d already established a life on a new branch in 1982 Oklahoma.

Time Discrepancy Between the TVA and Normal Life

Brad Wolfe in his tux readies for a fight as two Loki shadows with horned helmets appear on a brick wall behind him
Marvel Studios

The implications of this time discrepancy between normal life and the TVA are terrifying. Someone could theoretically leave the TVA, live an entire life on a branch for many years, and then return to the TVA mere moments after they originally left it. What kind of damage could someone do to the Sacred Timeline if they could do what they wanted for decades before the TVA even knew they were gone?

We’ll have to wait for future episodes to find out. That’s also when we’ll learn whatever else it is we don’t already know about time in the TVA.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter and Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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