The 6th and final episode of Loki brings Loki and Sylvie face to face with He Who Remains, the one who created the TVA. But there’s more
The epic finale of Loki takes place inside the citadel of He Who Remains. And it is none other than what was rumoured for some time now i.e. Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror. What follows is an intense conversation between him, Loki, and Sylvie. New things come to light. And new branches sprout.
He Who Remains is Kang’s Variant
Rumours take the form of reality as we find out that it is indeed Kang the Conqueror who is behind the TVA. However, he is not the villain. Rather he was doing all this so that he could stop the real evils from destroying the universe.
He begins with the mentions a variant of himself who lived in the 31st century. Keeping Kang’s comic history in mind – we know his alias Nathaniel Richards lived in the 31st century. But he also mentions that there are other variants of him as well that are from other universes. In the future, they came together to share their technology and improve their worlds until some of them intended to gain new territories.
Watch: Kang Explains Multiverse Origin to Loki & Sylvie – Loki Episode 6
An all-out war broke out among universes until He Who Remains, who claims to be the first variant from the 31st century, found Alioth, weaponized it, and used it to end the war. He then isolated our timeline, where Loki and Sylvie belong, and created the TVA to manage the flow of time and prevent any further branches for eternal peace and harmony.
However, there is a question. When did Kang create the TVA? Did he travel back to the beginning of time? Or did he go back to the moment when he discovered the multiverse? And how did he do it? After all, travelling back in time would mean he would have to meet his past self. Did he kill his past self? Or did he destroy, or “reset”, that entire timeline from branching, and instead of exploring the multiple universes, created the Time-Keepers and the TVA? This seems to the sanest explanation.
Loki and Sylvie- One or Two?
Before entering the citadel, Sylvie tells Loki that she was pruned before Loki even existed. How is that possible? Is Loki a variant of Sylvie then? Or is she not a Loki variant? Well, we have to wait to find out.
Sylvie doesn’t believe all that Kang told them but Loki does. This ends up in a quarrel between them and Sylvie sends Loki back to the TVA. Yet a “glorious” moment takes place before that. They kiss.
This is one strong way to show Loki’s highly narcissistic nature of loving himself which manifests in the clearest form now. But this doesn’t hold if we believe that Sylvie isn’t a Loki variant which is one possibility if we consider her words when she said that she was pruned before Loki even existed. She even tells him, “but I’m not you”…what does this mean? Is she really a variant? Or isn’t she?
She then stabs Kang who lets her know that he will see her soon, and if we are to believe him, we know that she will, and that “he”, one or more of him, will be far worse than the one she just killed.
The Villain Who isn’t the Villain
After all the events of Loki, we thought that the one behind all this, the one who remains, will be a villain to be humongous and have a larger-than-life presence. But it is just the opposite. A simple guy with a certain knack for humour controls the flow of time. And he isn’t really proud of it.
He is just doing the job which if not done, according to him, can lead to a multiversal war. Millions of people pruned, hundreds of timelines destroyed does sound too much for someone who claims to prevent a war that may or may not happen, but does it really? The cost of peace is high. And the greater the need for peace, the higher the costs. We can only imagine what a multiversal war will look like. Kang has seen it. This is why he is doing all this.
We are stuck in a dilemma here. Is all that he has been responsible for befitting the outcome? Steve Rogers’ words echo to us that he told Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier after discovering Project Insight: “Every time someone tries to stop a war before it starts, innocent people die. Every time.” This is exactly what we have seen seeing throughout Loki.
In order to prevent a multiversal war, millions of people are pruned. Whether we find it useful or not is up to us. Can we compromise the present for a better future? Or are we prepared to face a worse future for the sake of a better present?
The moment Sylvie stabs him, neither do we nor does she have that sense of peace that we should have. Instead, it’s like she did something wrong by setting forth the wheel of time that would lead to multiversal death and destruction.
The End is Not the End
The name Kang is not mentioned even once throughout the episode. He only mentions that he has been known by many names, ruler, conqueror, He Who Remains, jerk, among others. However, “conqueror” does make sense provided his past (or future) matches with that of Kang AKA Nathaniel Richards in the comics. So it is definitely him, Kang the Conqueror.
At one point, Kang tries to put them both in his chair saying that he is old for all this. Meanwhile, he reveals that they have crossed the threshold beyond which he doesn’t know what will happen. At this point, we also see multiple branches sprouting out of the sacred timeline. This means more possibilities and more futures. The multiverse is now open.
Kang the Conqueror is essentially the one who wreaks havoc all around the multiverse. So the one we saw here is a variant of the villainous Kang the Conqueror and not Kang himself.
Loki in a Multiverse of Madness
When Mobius and Hunter B-15 are unable to understand a word of Loki, he is puzzled. To his shock and perhaps horror, he finds the statue of the same guy (Kang) where once stood the statues of the Time-Keepers. It cannot be a different timeline or universe because there can be only one TVA. Does this mean Loki has been sent to the past? If it so then it must be way back in time when Kang controlled the TVA! Or, it can also be that Loki has turned up in one of the new branched realities where the real Kang, the conqueror, is the ruler of the TVA. We don’t know for sure.
The Return of Loki
The mid-credits reveal that Loki will return in Season 2. But this will be only after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania where Kang will be the main antagonist. That will be another Kang variant, a real villain.