Episode 2 of Loki, entitled “The Variant,” dropped a whole lot of surprises and new mythology in its final moments. But the entire episode was also packed with much subtler clues and references. In a video on the New Rockstars channel, YouTuber Erik Voss runs through the many hidden details that fans of the show might have missed on initial viewing.
As Voss points out, the very first scene of the episode includes a cheeky nod—and no, he is not talking about the “that’s Agatha” theory circulating online. The renaissance fair in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is taking place in 1985, which just so happens to be the year that the iconic comedy Back to the Future was released, a movie which would help to popularize time-travel storytelling in pop culture moving forward, and become a touchstone for the ground rules of the form.
Speaking of time-travel rules, while Loki is busy trying to swat Miss Minutes with a rolled-up magazine, the screen on his desk is displaying a TVA test question involving Thanos and some apples. This is both a discreet way of the show illustrating the TVA’s world-building, and also a possible reference to Doctor Strange, in which an apple was eaten and then uneaten as Steven Strange experimented with the Time Stone.
In the scene where Mobius cycles through different holographic representations of different Loki variants, we see a number of alternate Lokis. One of them has blue skin, which is actually true to Loki’s origins as a Frost Giant. No explanation yet for the Loki who appears to have won the Tour de France, but this scene also provides some helpful exposition regarding the Loki variants: namely, that they each have unique powers.
When the TVA “reset” events at the renaissance fair, a TVA screen shows the timeline returning to normal—and in addition to Oshkosh, other locations that can be seen include Midavellir, the space forge from Avengers: Infinity War, and Sakaar, the Grandmaster’s planet from Thor: Ragnarok.
During perhaps the funniest scene of the episode, in which Loki wreaks havoc in a pre-apocalyptic Pompeii, he releases some goats from a cart, telling them: “Go free, my horned friends!” While primarily there to offer some levity while also confirming Loki’s theory, Voss says, this moment also foreshadows how he will ultimately allow the horned Lady Loki to get away at the end of the episode.
And once Lady Loki’s plan comes to fruition and the time-bombs all go off, we get another shot of a TVA screen showing all of the different locations where she’s disrupting the timeline. These include Knowhere (the skull-in-space from Guardians of the Galaxy), Niflheim (Hela’s prison dimension from Thor: Ragnarok), Vormir (the Soul Stone planet from Infinity War and Endgame), Ego (the living planet and father of Star-Lord), Titan (Thanos’ homeworld), Hala (the capital of the Kree empire), and finally, the birthplaces of Thor and Loki respectively, Asgard and Jotunheim.
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