DISCLAIMER: This recap of Loki Season 2 Episode 5, “Science/Fiction,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
What happens when none of your friends know who you are? How do you bring them back to the place where it all began? The penultimate episode of Loki, “Science/Fiction,” endeavors to answer these questions. It’s a solid outing, even if it doesn’t do much to propel the narrative. If anything, I wonder about its placement in the season. Perhaps this outing should’ve happened earlier. I just hope everything can be resolved in one episode, especially since we’re essentially back where we started in episode four.
My doubts about its placement aside, it is fun to see where our main characters would live/what they would be doing if they could have normal lives outside the TVA. It cracks me up that Casey is a convict — easily the opposite of who he is as a TVA employee. Mobius working as an enthusiastic jet ski seller also cracks me up.
The visuals in this episode are also a ton of fun. The shredding of each dying branched timeline is reminiscent of spaghetti, which I will use quite a bit in this recap. Sorry, not sorry.
Ready to delve into “Science/Fiction”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) standing before the Temporal Loom in the TVA. It just had a massive meltdown. Our titular god of mischief looks around, noticing his friends are nowhere to be found. He wanders through the corridors of the TVA. He doesn’t encounter a soul. Unfortunately, he starts time slipping again. At one point, he spots himself standing near the screen that reveals the various branched timelines. The room begins to vanish, falling apart in literal shreds. It looks like spaghetti. (RIP, Victor Timely.)
Meanwhile, Casey (Eugene Cordero) tries to escape Alcatraz with some buddies in 1962. In this branched timeline, he goes by Frank. Loki’s time slipping brings him to Casey’s location. However, Casey has no idea who he is. He’s merely trying to flee prison. Then, Loki disappears, his time-slipping out of control. He lands in the spot where Mobius showed him footage from his life in Season 1. He even briefly arrives in front of a watersport vehicle store. Hmm. Could Mobius work there? Is he selling jet skis? That’s my wish for him.
Next, we see Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) in another branched timeline: NYC in 2012 after the Battle of New York. Here, she’s Dr. Willis, treating a little girl’s broken arm. Aw, B-15 has an excellent bedside manner. After treating said girl, B-15 walks into the hallway to see Loki appear and vanish in seconds. This could’ve been Loki’s timeline if it wasn’t branched.
Later, Mobius (Owen Wilson) sits on a jet ski in 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s Don in this branched timeline, and he’s a single dad of two young boys. Mobius is super passionate about selling jet skis. When Loki lands here, he briefly looks like the tall, inflatable dudes outside car dealerships. He tries to chat with Mobius but doesn’t get much time before the time slipping kicks in again.
Meanwhile, O.B. (Ke Huy Quan) is in Pasadena, California, in 1994. This branched timeline finds him as A.D. Doug, a writer who tries to surreptitiously plant copies of his latest sci-fi book, The Zartan Contingent, into his local library. Unfortunately, the librarians catch him, so he must head home with a boatload of books. Loki arrives in O.B.’s studio/lab. He explains why he’s there. Fortunately, O.B. believes him. After all, he writes science fiction and teaches theoretical physics at Caltech.
Loki wants to return to the moment before the Temporal Loom melts down. However, O.B. thinks this is impossible. How can you go back to a place that no longer exists? O.B. believes Loki’s time slipping isn’t a curse but a blessing. What if Loki can control it? It’s specifically bringing him to his friends at different points in time. Our god of mischief attempts to force himself to time slip. Unfortunately, he just looks like he’s constipated. Well, it was worth a shot.
Next, O.B. surmises that if Loki can get everyone together in one place, perhaps a read of their collective Temporal Aura will allow them to return to the moment before everything went pear-shaped. He uses a cluster of pens, a rubber band and a mug to demonstrate this. Aw, you can take the O.B. out of the TVA, but you can’t take the TVA out of the O.B. Loki hands O.B. a copy of his TVA Guidebook so the latter can construct a TemPad. They must travel across the branched (and dying) timelines to collect their friends.
While O.B. is hard at work, Loki returns to Cleveland in 2022 to visit Mobius. Mobius is busy disciplining his sons. Well, trying to, at least. Loki introduces himself as the guy from Mobius’ business keen on purchasing an ATV. Mobius shows Loki his two jet skis. He’s willing to part with one of them. Wow, that’s quite the sacrifice. Loki explains why he’s there and who Mobius really is. Naturally, Mobi is incredulous. Loki tells him his sons will be in danger if they don’t protect the TVA. Saving the TVA means having protection from whatever comes next.
Then, O.B. reunites with Loki and Mobius via a time door. He created a TemPad in no time flat. Loki persuades a reluctant Mobius to join him and O.B. The trio also collects B-15 and Casey. Everyone hangs out at O.B.’s studio/lab in 1994. Loki informs the group that there’s one more person he needs to grab.
So, he arrives in Broxton, Oklahoma, in 1982. Before his arrival, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) notices her food vanish before he unlocks her pickup truck. It’s already starting here. When our titular hero arrives, Sylvie states she remembers him. It makes sense that these two didn’t lose their memories with the Temporal Loom malfunction. After all, they’re variants and gods. Sylvie drives Loki to a bar for a drink. Fun fact: one of the arcade games in the pub is for Zaniac, based on Hunter X-5/Brad Wolfe’s film.
Anyway, Sylvie feels that Loki should leave everyone in their respective timelines. They’re finally living the lives they’re meant to without TVA or He Who Remains’ interference. They tackle the subject of free will. Loki counters that Mobius was perfectly content with his life at the TVA because it gave him a purpose. Is it a glorious purpose, though? Sylvie stands by her opinion. She asks Loki to dig deep — why does this really matter to him? Loki gets to the root of it all. He doesn’t want to be alone. His visible emotion and distress are heartbreaking here. On a similar note, I’d love for the series to address his and Sylvie’s relationship at some point…
Sylvie departs, leaving Loki with his thoughts. Meanwhile, at O.B.’s place, Casey ponders popping out for a spell via the TemPad. He can travel anywhere he wants to, right? Although, he’s more concerned about the bank he’s supposed to rob with his buddies. Finally, Loki reappears. He calls the whole thing off, claiming they should all return to their lives. Mobius is bewildered. He thought his kids were in danger.
At the same time, Sylvie visits a local record store. The shop owner recommends an album from The Velvet Underground. She listens to it with headphones while her timeline starts falling apart at the seams. The spaghetti shreds hath returned. Admittedly, this scene looks pretty damn cool. The shop owner calls out her name as the world turns into pasta. She whirls around and grabs his hand, but it’s too late — he vanishes. Heartbroken that her home is gone, Sylvie summons a time door and departs.
Later, Mobius attempts to understand why Loki has suddenly pivoted from his mission. Is the world actually ending? O.B. can’t find the TemPad he created. He assumes Casey stole it. Sylvie barges into the room and confirms that everything’s going to sh*t. Her timeline is now gone. They must put their heads together to fix this. Loki excitedly reminds O.B. that everyone’s together. They can do the pens in the cup thing! Unfortunately, O.B., Mobius, Casey, B-15 and Sylvie turn into time spaghetti. Loki is alone.
Suddenly, Loki summons all his might to control his time slipping, as O.B. suggested earlier. He returns to the moment when Sylvie arrives. Then, he tries to go back further. This time, he winds up in the TVA with his buddies minutes before the Temporal Loom explodes. I’d wager it’s also before Victor Timely attempts to attach the Throughput Multiplier to the launcher and tragically vanishes.
Can our heroes right what once went wrong? Can they save the Time Variance Authority to protect the multiverse from Kang the Conqueror and his variants? Will Mobius ever ride a jet ski on the water? Only time (and one more episode) will tell.
Loki drops its season finale on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at 9 pm EST/6 pm PST, only on Disney+.