Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the fourth episode of Disney+'s Loki.
In a somewhat similar move taken by Marvel's WandaVision, Tom Hiddleston's Loki used its fourth episode to drop a slew of game-changing moments and reveals on audiences. Not only did fans witness Lady Sif's quasi-return and the introduction of several new Loki variants, complete with a non-human iteration, but we also finally "met" the mysterious Time-Keepers and witnessed the tragic pruning of Owen Wilson's TVA agent Mobius, as ordered by Gugu Mbatha-Raw's increasingly villainous Ravonna Renslayer. To be expected, those two incidents sparked many questions and theories, so of course CinemaBlend tried to get some key info out of Loki director Kate Herron.
With two episodes of Loki still left to go, there are still myriad secrets and reveals still in store for viewers regarding, well, just about every major plotline in the MCU drama. And here's what we learned from director and executive producer Kate Herron about the Time-Keepers and the TVA's pruning.
What's Up With Loki's Time-Keepers?
Ever since their collective name was first referenced in Loki's first episode, many fans have had an inkling that there was something potentially fraudulent happening with the Time-Keepers, despite their legitimate existence in Marvel Comics' history. The suspicions were certainly helped along by the seemingly powerful entities not making a physical appearance throughout the first three episodes, and were at last confirmed in Episode 4 when Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie decapitated one and revealed the trio to be robots. And because that Time-Keeper reveal seemed to indicate that someone else is behind the curtain pulling the metaphorical strings, I asked Loki's Kate Herron what she could say about it. In her words:
I would say that it was really just that fine thread across the first three episodes, sort of leading people with the right questions, which I've seen the audience are asking. Which is like, 'Why do we ever see these Time-Keepers? Who are the Time-Keepers?' And then obviously, we see them in Episode 4. And I think, honestly, it's really just when everyone should be at if what you're asking me is like, 'Who's behind the TVA?' And yeah, we will answer that. It's something people would have to stay tuned to see. But I think it was definitely fun bringing those characters to life, but making sure, obviously before we realize they're not real, that they feel real because they're based on the characters from the comics. And I think it was really just about that fine line and making sure that it didn't just look like they were talking to animatronic robots; they're talking to these sentient creatures, or at least we thought they were. So yes, I think that was really the fine line in terms of the storytelling, but in terms of the actual question [of who is behind the TVA], I would say again you have to stay tuned.
It would have been something of a miracle had Kate Herron fully laid out the show's narrative scope for the Time-Keepers, but she did at least confirm a few key elements. For one, Loki's creative team was aware that viewers would have doubts about the Time-Keepers throughout the early episodes, so this wasn't like Iron Man 3's notorious Mandarin switcheroo twist. (In any of the ways.) And second, Herron confirmed the show will reveal there's a certain someone who is behind the TVA's actions, as opposed to trying to say the organization was run completely by artificial intelligence for the last however many years. One would think this mastermind needs to be extremely important to this story and to the MCU as a whole if the Time-Keepers' comic book history was snuffed out by bringing them to live-action.
So who's it going to be? Did Ravonna Renslayer take over the TVA at some point after her promotion to judge? Will this be the long-awaited introduction of Kang the Conquerer ahead of his appearance in the upcoming sequel Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania? Could it be a super-evil Loki variant that we haven't met yet? Here's hoping Episode 5 can prove or disprove these guesses.
How Does Pruning Work, And Did Ravonna Set Up Mobius' Exit?
Up until the final scene in Loki Episode 4, it was a foregone conclusion for many fans that getting pruned by the TVA meant getting wiped out of existence. However, Loki's arrival in a destroyed New York during the mid-credits scene implied that pruning does not automatically mean death. So what does it mean? Director Kate Herron was quick to cheekily dodge this question, though she did reveal the answer is coming sooner rather than later.
I will say you will all have your answers next week. [Laughs.]
By all means, Kate Herron & Co. could have stalled on delivering pruning answers until the season finale, similar to the way Sylvie's timeline attack was downplayed during her and Loki's bonding in Episode 3. But it sounds like fans will understand more about that process in Episode 5, where it will hopefully be revealed that Mobius isn't dead at all, but is actually doing some jet-skiing in whatever body of water is nearest to his actual Earthbound hometown (even if Owen Wilson isn't a big fan of jet skis himself).
To that end, I asked Kate Herron if Ravonna was actually preparing for Mobius' eventual pruning during their conversation in her office when she asked where he'd most want to go on the sacred timeline. I can't help but believe Ravonna asked him that question because she recognized a change in Mobius' loyalty to the TVA and was preparing for the worst, but also that her feelings for Mobius were genuine enough that she would allow him to dictate his post-pruning destination. (The pain on her face was definitely present once he was erased, as it were.) But if that is indeed the case, Herron isn't fessing up quite yet. In her words:
I would say for us, I think it's connecting to their game, right? 'If you could go anywhere, where would you go?' I think that it's more just about their relationship and who they are as characters at that point. And I think that's the beautiful thing about it is that we've heard them have that conversation in such a different context earlier on, and then now, it's like, 'Oh, actually, you know where I would go?' Yeah, I feel like he knows, maybe, what's coming, but I think he's gonna go out swinging, basically.
I can certainly buy that Owen Wilson's TVA agent was being defiant in his final (or not) moments before Ravonna, but that still doesn't quite explain why Gugu Mbatha-Raw's character brought that line of questioning up in the first place. So for now, we wait.