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Loki episode 1 ending explained — what just happened?

Loki episode 1 ending explained
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Loki episode 1 ends with a blaze of ... well, it wasn't glory — so take this as your Spoiler Warning! Beyond this point lie plot points from the first episode of Disney Plus' Loki series. If you want a spoiler-free take on the show, check out our Loki episode 1+2 review.

So, now that it's just me, you and our TVA-authorized collars, let's talk about what just happened. The first episode of the Loki TV series may have been an utter delight, but it also ended with a big, ominous conclusion, which seems as if it could be the start of Loki's own mystery box-like format, similar to how WandaVision kept people guessing until it was Agatha All Along!

A fugitive Loki that's a danger to the timeline

As we saw in the closing minutes, a hooded figure attacked Time Variance Authority (TVA) hunters, setting fire to a field. As we learned earlier from Mobius (Owen Wilson), this figure is believed to be Loki. Well, not the Loki who's working with the TVA, but another variant. 

This fugitive variant seemingly has it in for the TVA, and while that might fit with Loki, why are they so sure that's who this person is? Yes, that child Mobius met (at the sixth attack that week) pointed at a stained-glass devil, but Loki isn't the only horned character in the MCU.

Well, we have to look back to the start of the episode. Remember when Loki had been brought into the TVA, and had to go through several levels of security? One clerk passed him through a gate, and created a snapshot of his temporal aura. It took me a while to hear that phrase clearly (temporal aura is right up next to 'rural juror' for hard-to-say phrases), but it's basically the fingerprinting system of the TVA, and how they manage to link variants to each other. 

While the audience, and Loki, had to be taught about the nexus events, it appears as if the timeline variant is much more aware of the work of jumping between timelines and the risk of a “multiversal war” that Miss Minutes told us about. We wonder if the fugitive variant Loki is actually trying to throw the universe into haywire?

And so that's the big mystery headed into the next Loki episode. Who is this fugitive variant? Are they actually Loki? What is their goal. We doubt all of these questions will be answered.

Loki's other concern: survival

Loki Laufeyson's other issue at the moment is getting out of the TVA's captivity. He's trying to talk his way out of it all, but the judge (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) doesn't believe him, and neither does TVA Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku). Mobius, though, seems to really care about Loki, and has done his homework about the misdeeds done by Thor's (adopted) brother.

Doing this will likely require either Mobius changing someone else's mind about Loki, or this Loki changing something about himself. The Time Variance Authority's goal is to protect the sacred timeline, which doesn't seem to have much room for variants. 

To quote Miss Minutes:

"Long ago there was a vast multiversal war! Countless unique timelines battled each other for supremacy, nearly resulting in the total destruction of.. well... everything! But then the all-knowing time keepers emerged, bringing peace by reorganizing the Multiverse into a single timeline, the sacred timeline. Now the time keepers protect and preserve the proper flow of time for everyone and everything. But sometimes people like you veer off the path the time keepers created. We call those... variants."

That makes it sound like the TVA is going to have a hard time accepting the continued existence of anomalies, which variants most definitely are. If the variant Loki we're following were allowed to leave the TVA's clutches, we're sure he would cause a nexus event. 

So, it stands to reckon that our variant Loki needs to find a way to remove his variant status, if he wants to survive.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.