Loki Season 2 Episode 5, “Science/Fiction,” is a penultimate episode with much to love. This episode begins the work of bringing this story full circle, flaws and highlights together. This is the perfect episode to demonstrate what a strong ensemble cast this series has, even if individual members aren’t always given a chance to shine. In a way, this is a bittersweet story showcasing so much of what could have been for each of these characters throughout space and time.
What makes this episode so compelling is the fact that it showcases each of these characters at different times and under different circumstances. Changing contexts for characters can be such a useful tool to deepen relationships and development. This gives Loki (Tom Hiddleston) a chance to show himself as the unifying force he has become. Watching him serve as a kind of guide adds a dimension to this character that hasn’t been as fully fleshed out until this series.
Relatedly, this episode demonstrates how to effectively make use of multiple timelines. Not since Spider-Man: No Way Home has Marvel had a grasp on what to do with the multiverse in a practical way. It is also further proof that this series would have done well as a movie, perhaps, or a different series structured around each character’s other lives within the multiverse. This also brings up an interesting hypothetical for this series. Perhaps in another universe (if you will), each chapter could have focused on these individual characters and where they find themselves in the multiverse before coming together.
Loki Season 2 Episode 5, “Science/Fiction,” also makes use of gargantuan stakes by making them feel so deeply personal. It’s easy to feel the loss of such infinite timelines through Loki’s eyes. It is truly a shame that these characters haven’t been given more time to explore their own stories to heighten these dramatic stakes. The building blocks are here. However, even in the short time that they’re shown, the lives of each of these characters are evidently filled with so much meaning and its devastating to have this part of the multiverse ripped away.
The emotional core of this story remains Loki and Mobius’ (Owen Wilson) relationship. Watching them reconnect across time and space is proof that they need each other deeply. Watching Mobius confront the loss of his other life is so heartbreaking. His destiny lies in something greater. The differences between these two characters is highlighted here. This only deepens their relationship, and makes it all the more poignant.
Finally, this episode continues to establish a way forward for this series without Kang. While this episode could have established a franchise villain, it instead charts a path forward centered around a time and space that does not have this character involved at all. It makes sense that these stories are left open-ended for another villain to fill the void. There are plenty of characters who are able to step up to fill this space.
With one episode left, Loki feels like the entire Marvel franchise at a crossroads. This feels like a precipice for these characters and this story. The future of space and time never rested on more capable shoulders. While opportunities may be left on the table, this penultimate episode features everything that continues to make this series so endearing.
Loki streams Thursdays on Disney+.