How many Lokis are too many? That’s the question Loki Episode 5 puts to the test, bringing Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief into contact with not one, not two, not three, but countless other Loki variants.
Picking up immediately where Loki Episode 4 left off, the latest installment of the Marvel series sees Loki navigating his way through the desolate wasteland he woke up in after being pruned by the Time Variance Authority. Once there, he runs into not only a number of other Loki variants but also learns about — and later confronts — the powerful being that lords over the realm.
It’s the episode where Loki fully embraces the absurdity of its multiversal premise — and at the center of it is a comics character with major ties to, you guessed it, Kang the Conqueror.
Warning! Major spoilers for Loki Episode 5 ahead.
Loki Episode 5: Welcome to the Void
Loki Episode 5 doesn’t waste much time before explaining where exactly it is that Loki was sent at the end of Episode 4. As explained by Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in one of the episode’s opening scenes, the TVA’s pruning sticks don’t actually erase variants from existence. “When we prune a branched reality, it’s impossible to destroy all of its matter,” Ravonna says.
So instead of erasing its captured variants, the TVA instead sends them to “a void at the end of time.” It’s a place “where every instance of existence collides at the same point and simply stops,” and where the TVA can send all the remaining matter from the universe’s various branched realities without worrying about them continuing to grow. It’s essentially a purgatory for all of the universe’s many, endless what-ifs.
But that’s not to say that the Void is a place where all the TVA’s pruned variants can just hang out peacefully. As a matter of fact, they all live in constant fear of being consumed and destroyed by a temporal being known as Alioth.
What is Alioth in Loki Episode 5?
Depicted as a massive, sprawling purple cloud with a beast-like head, Alioth rules mercilessly over the Void — providing a constant threat to all its inhabitants. However, as Loki Episode 5 eventually reveals, Alioth’s role in The Void isn’t just to instill fear in all the variants unlucky enough to be sent there. He also acts as a guard dog, protecting and shielding the entrance to a cosmic mansion where the TVA’s mysterious leader, presumably, resides.
In the comics, Alioth is even more terrifying and powerful than he’s shown to be in Loki Episode 5. He’s the first being in the universe said to have freed himself from the constraints of time, and his empire is said to be two to three times larger than even Kang the Conqueror’s. In fact, Alioth’s presence is the key reason that Kang never expanded his dominion too far into the timeline in the comics, even creating a barrier specifically designed to keep Alioth from invading his empire.
That barrier was accidentally destroyed by Ravonna Renslayer (yes, the very same) following Kang’s death in the comics. As a result, Alioth began to threaten not only Kang’s empire but various other temporal realms throughout the timestream, which led to Kang being revived and working with the Avengers to stop Alioth’s conquest.
In other words, Alioth’s presence in Loki Episode 5 is just the latest instance in which the Marvel series has included a comics character with major connections to Kang. So does that mean that Loki will actually — as many Marvel fans have theorized — reveal next week that it’s Kang who has been behind the TVA all along?
Loki has, admittedly, included a noteworthy amount of comics connections and references to Kang across its first five episodes. But WandaVision also proved that borrowing elements from certain comics storylines doesn’t necessarily mean the villains associated with them will also be used. Given how massive of a villain Kang is, it seems unlikely that Marvel will introduce him for the first time in one of its Disney+ series.
With that being said, it’s certainly not out of the question. Stranger things have happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there’s plenty of evidence at this point to suggest Kang has been pulling the TVA’s strings from the very beginning.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait much longer before finally finding out if that’s actually the case or not.
Loki Episode 5: The Mansion at the End of Time
Capitalizing on a massive distraction caused by Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), the closing moments of Loki Episode 5 see Loki and Sylvie succeeding in linking with Alioth and enchanting him. That causes the protective barrier maintained by Alioth to crumble and part open — revealing the entrance to the cosmic mansion Sylvie had briefly glimpsed during her first run-in with Alioth earlier in the episode.
And that’s where Loki Episode 5 ends, with Loki and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) closer to discovering the truth about the TVA than they’ve ever been before. All that remains to be seen now is how Loki’s final few TVA revelations do or do not alter Loki and Sylvie’s ultimate plans to tear the organization down.
Fortunately, as Loki Episode 5 makes explicitly clear, it’s not a mission they have to worry about doing alone.
Loki is streaming now on Disney+.