Spoilers below for the final episode of Loki Season 1, so be warned if you haven't yet watched!
Though one might not automatically use the same breath to speak of Tom Hiddleston's easter egg-filled MCU series Loki and David Fincher's 1995 thriller Se7en, there is indeed connective tissue to be found. From its distinction as a conversation-driven genre project to its detail-focused credits scene to that specific piece of music used in Episode 2's library scene, Se7en is in this show's bloodstream. But when it comes to Jonathan Majors' arrival as He Who Remains being wildly comparable to Kevin Spacey's arrival as John Doe, Loki director Kate Herron says it wasn't a direct homage.
I mean, think about it for a second. In Se7en, John Doe makes his trope-eschewing arrival earlier in the narrative than audiences expected and has dogmatic conversations with Morgan Freeman's Det. William Somerset and Brad Pitt's Det. David Mills ahead of forcing one of them into a tragic and vengeful dilemma that ends with the antagonist dead and no one being any better for it. On the flip side, Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Sophia Di Martino's Sylvie are approached by a literal John Doe in He Who Remains very early in the finale (eschewing the MCU's own trop of villains appearing in post-credit scenes), after which he had a dogmatic conversation with them that ends in the two variants facing a tragic and vengeful dilemma that ends in Sylvie killing He Who Remains, and everyone in the Multiverse is worse off for it. It would HAVE to be a big homage, right?
Nope. Or at least not an overtly conscious one. When I asked Kate Herron whether my Se7en-fueled assessment was on the money or not, she could not take credit for the villainous arc being a full-on reflection of David Fincher's second feature. In her words:
It's so weird, right? Because for me, Se7en was such an influence early on in the show. And it's weird, like with He Who Remains, we always knew they were going to meet He Who Remains and that the Multiverse is going to be freed. But how that happened, we were always looking at it and working [it] out. And like, I don't know whether maybe it was just like me in my mind, and the writers' minds, and it just found its way into that situation. [Laughs.] For me. I don't think it was a conscious reference, but I think it was just so in the DNA of the show, I mean, it has to have been. Because it's funny, right? When you make something, people are like, 'Oh, this is it,' and you're like, 'Oh, yeah, you're right, I guess it is referencing that.' Because I mean, it definitely was a heavy reference for us.
Considering Se7en is one of my very favorite movies of all time, I'll take a hundred unintentional mega-homages like this over the alternate. And I think it's still interesting to consider how John Doe's plot jibes with He Who Remains' eons-long arc, at least in terms of what happens during their final hours. Both Loki and Sylvie could have technically avoided going to the Citadel, the same way Somerset and Mills could have avoided that last ride with John Doe, but in both cases, there was a major unknown element that couldn't go unaddressed. And both John Doe and He Who Remains give the respective projects' protagonists a choice, though Sylvie's family died long before, while Mills' grief over his wife's twisty death was very fresh.
In any case, Sylvie and Mills both made the same tragic decision that felt like the only right decision in the moment, but was also a decision that came with a host of regrets. Having put himself on the same moral plane as the murderer he was trying to bring to justice, Mills was arrested and shipped off to jail, while Sylvie's attempts to get payback for her own disrupted timeline lead to the entire sacred timeline coming undone, with untold numbers of evil variants (like Kang the Conqueror) being unleashed. In the long run, it's probably safe to say that Sylvie made the worse choice.