The End of LOKI's Season 1 Finale Explained - Nerdist
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The End of LOKI’s Season 1 Finale Explained

“Someone is coming. Countless different versions of a very dangerous person. And they’re all set on war. We need to prepare.”

Mobius and Hunter B-15 didn’t ignore that warning at the end of Loki‘s season one finale. They didn’t understand it. Neither of the TVA members knew Loki at all. Why didn’t the two, who moments earlier celebrated the fall of the Time Variance Authority, recognize him? And why was the TVA suddenly adorned with the face of He Who Remains? Because that very dangerous someone has already won the new Multiversal War Sylvie started. And they now control time and all reality.

Sylvie looks at Loki in a room with purple lightsMarvel

War and the Origins of the TVA

The head of the TVA, the person living in the Citadel beyond the end of time, was a man of flesh and blood from Earth. A scientist who first lived during the 31st century and discovered “universes stacked on top of his own,” an infinite number of them. Other versions of himself in those parallel universes also made the same discovery at the same time. They then began traveling to each other’s different dimensions. Their initial “narcissistic, self-congratulatory” peace led to the sharing of knowledge and technology between worlds and realities. But not every Variant of the scientist sought the same thing. To some, “new worlds meant only one thing: new lands to be conquered.”

A small model of He Who Remains looks at different universes stacked upon one another in LokiMarvel

Eventually a Multiversal War broke out between the Variants. Each “fighting to preserve their universe and annihilate the others” no matter the cost. The cost was almost the end “of everything and everyone.” He Who Remains claims he alone avoided armageddon. As well as a much worse version of himself from seizing control over every universe.

He did that by using a monster the war itself created. The fighting between universes caused “tears” in reality. Those rips gave birth to the monster known as Alioth, the storm Loki and Sylvie enchanted in episode five. That tempest could “consume time and space.” The scientist harnessed the beast’s power and weaponized it to end the Multiversal War. Once he won he isolated his own timeline as the Sacred Timeline of all existence. He then had to “manage the flow of time and manage any prevent further branches.”

Miniatures fight each other on a desk in LokiMarvel

A Variant in any parallel world who created a nexus event, no matter how small, threatened to start another war that could destroy existence. A single misplaced domino could result in all of time crashing in on itself. But with him in charge, no Variants, especially his own, could be that domino.

To protect time, He Who Remains created the TVA, which, like the Citadel, exists outside of time. He created holy, purely good Time Keepers to be the face of the agency. They hid the truth of the evil origins and villain holding the universe together. And he wiped the memories of the Variants he turned into judges, hunters, and analysts. It didn’t matter if they lived a lie. So long as they played their role in securing existence.

The Search For a New Leader

He Who Remains lived “a million lifetimes” from his perch past time, where age could not get him. He knew “it all” and he had “seen it all.” But after so long he grew tired. Protecting existence from his Variants and other troublesome beings was a “young” person’s game. And after going through “every scenario” for a way to escape his kingdom, he was confident the only option that protected the multiverse from tearing itself apart was the TVA. Because without him and the agency “everything burns.”

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains sits at his desk ans mimics an explosion with his hands and mouth on LokiMarvel

After countless failed attempts to find a replacement, he finally realized he needed two people to do his job. He found them in Loki and Sylvie and created a path for them to find him. They were worthy successors. Like He Who Remains, both Loki and Sylvie are villains who have done horrible things. They are formidable foes who can triumph where their Variants have failed. Only now they had a chance to do evil things “for a good reason.”

He Who Remains gave Loki and Sylvie two choices. “You kill me and the Sacred Timeline is completely exposed, Multiversal War,” he said. “Or you take over and return to the TVA as its benevolent rulers. Tell the workforce who they are and why they do what they do.”

He Who Remains sits at his desk with his head on his hand smiling on LokiMarvel

Together they could take the throne over all of time and reality. And do so without maintaining the TVA’s many lies to the people who served it. Or they could start another war between realities. A battle that would be inevitable without the TVA pruning branches and Variants. Loki wanted to choose what he saw as the lesser of two evils. Quite literally. He Who Remains said, “If you think I’m evil, just wait till you meet my Variants.” Sylvie wanted her vengeance and to free the universe from the TVA’s control.

A New War Begins and Ends

He Who Remains knew everything that would happen right up until the three people inside the Citadel crossed a threshold of time and existence. He had brought them to that point, when branches began forming on the Sacred Timeline. But what happened next was a mystery to him. It was up to Sylvie and Loki to decide what would happen next. However, while their choice remained a mystery to He Who Remains, what would follow either option was not.

He Who Remains winks at Sylvie as she stabs himMarvel

“You either take over and my life’s work continues,” said the TVA’s king. “Or you plunge a blade in my chest and an infinite amount of me start another Multiversal War. And I just end up right back here anyways. Reincarnation baby.” Sylvie chose the dagger. And with his final breath as this incarnation, He Who Remains told her he would see her “soon” with a wink. The ramifications of her decision began—and ended—almost immediately. Because while you are outside of time, everything inside of time happens at once. In an instant Mobius and Hunter B-15 went from watching the TVA burn to the ground to once again working there. The war happened. Only this time it had a different outcome.

As Loki ran to find Mobius to warn him about a “dangerous” person coming, Hunter B-15 asked Mobius, “Does he want us to just let them branch?” The ruler of the TVA in this new reality, where the Sacred Timeline was suddenly breaking into infinite variations, was not hidden behind three robots. The statues of the agency now bore the face of He Who Remains. One of his other Variants had won the war.

Loki looks at a giant statue of Kang at the TVAMarvel

A Variant that is the “something even worse” Loki feared. All of time, existence, and reality, might now fall under the domain of Kang the Conqueror. When He Who Remains told Loki and Sylvie he loved “all this honesty” because it felt “like a fresh start,” he was more right than he seemingly knew.  He did not end up back in charge of the TVA. If he had it would have been exactly the same as before. Statues of fake Time Keepers would have stood. Hunter B-15 would not have asked what a single person wanted them to do. The new Multiversal War, already waged and won inside the confines of time, did not form a perfect loop. It either broke the loop, or showed one never actually existed.

Strangely, that is a sign of hope for the universe. All of them.

The Future of Time and Its Only Hope

Strands of color fill the sky outside a mansion on LokiMarvel

The Multiversal War that began with Sylvie’s dagger changed everything inside the TVA instantly. Because inside the TVA all of time is simultaneous. But Loki remembered the past, even though Mobius and Hunter B-15 did not. That suggests only a few beings in all of existence know the truth about what happened. Sylvie, last seen in the Citadel past the end of time, is one. Judge Renslayer, on her quest to “find free will” after getting mystery files from He Who Remains, might be the other. Everyone else has seemingly already had their reality reset by the TVA’s new ruler. (If she still exists, Miss Minutes might also remember. With whom a lying anthropomorphic sentient hologram clock’s loyalties lie is anyone’s guess.)

What this means for the continuity of the MCU remains to be seen. It seems unlikely everything that has happened previously no longer counts, has been undone, or is different. Not everything about the TVA is different. The same people work there with the same purpose. Other small changes could have also happened in the new Sacred Timeline too though. Dead characters might now live. While other heroes are now dead or never took up the mantle at all. Or everything before the Multiversal War of the 31st century could all have happened exactly the same and only the future is different.

Owen Wilson stands behind Tom Hiddleston near the library of the TVAMarvel

What we do know for sure is that if Kang the Conqueror rules the TVA, he is much worse than his Variant who preceded him. But time is not a continuous loop destined to play on repeat. Things can change, for better and for worse. Even if a dangerous Variant can win this time, they don’t always have to.

At least a couple of people know that. And they know kang needs to be stopped. They just have to figure out how to do it. And hope they can do it in time.

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