Spoiler alert: This story includes a discussion of major plot developments in Season 2, Episode 4 of “Loki,” currently streaming on Disney+.
When Eric Martin began writing the first season finale of “Loki” (along with then-head writer Michael Waldron), he already had a feeling that the Marvel Studios show would continue for a second season.
“There was definitely some rumblings about it while we were still in the writers room for season one,” Martin says. “It didn’t become a certainty until we had coronavirus.”
During the forced pandemic hiatus — Martin estimates they filmed “about a third of season one” before the shutdown — Martin says Marvel Studios executive Kevin Wright approached him about becoming the head writer for season two. Starting to work out where we should take the next half of the story.
This effort reaches a dangerous turning point in this week’s episode, “The Heart of the TVA,” as the titular Timeloom — the mechanism that harnesses the energy of time to power the TVA and connect the Sacred Timeline — explodes under the pressure of the Sacred Timeloom. An infinitely branching multiverse; The ensuing eruption appears to sweep away Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his compatriots before the episode cuts to black.
This disaster is the direct result of the decision made by Loki’s alter ego Sylvie (Sofia Di Martino) in the Season 1 finale to kill the TVA’s creator, He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) – which precipitated the creation of the Multiverse.
“When tyrants are overthrown, when regimes collapse, there is chaos,” Martin says. “Problems always arise in those situations that no one could have expected, because the system was silently taking care of them.”
It’s part of Martin’s overarching theme for season two, which is to examine what happens when characters and TVA itself are pushed to their breaking point. “Can people change? Can institutions change? What happens when that system breaks down, and you have to build a new system? That’s really what we’re looking at,” Martin says. It all goes back to the idea of chaos versus order, which makes a lot of sense, because we’re dealing with a lot of chaos.
Since Loki himself is the god of mischief, this dichotomy plays directly into how the “Loki” series aims to deconstruct one of the most popular characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“We’re bringing back more of the old Loki’s hurt, but he’s still fighting for something bigger than himself,” Martin says. “Reinventing and discovering oneself is really the main theme of our entire season.”
Martin discussed with diverse How he put “Loki” Season 2 together, his experience with the Marvel way and the mysterious rule that governs his approach to the show.
“I want you to wonder”
Easily Martin’s biggest addition to Season 2 was Ke Huy Quan as Ouroboros (aka OB), a technician living in the lowest depths of the TVA as head (and, apparently, sole employee) of the Reforms and Advances Department. The character arose from Martin’s interest in expanding the scope of TVA as an institution.
“I felt like in the first season, we’re just on two different levels,” he says. “We see it as this wide, expansive place. So who are the people who work at the lower levels?
Martin got the idea for OB from his relatives. “I come from a family of engineers,” he says. “That’s a very special kind of person. Like, OB stood out in my mind as someone like my uncles. They love the technical aspects of their work and only focus on them when they do it. At TVA, no one gets old; time just kind of stands still. Well, what “If there’s someone who’s been out there for a few hundred years doing all these things and he’s having so much fun because he loves what he’s doing? He’s surrounded by all his tools. That’s what he loves.”
While OB is responsible for the design of the vast majority of TVA instruments, the Timeloom was supposedly invented and built by He Who Remains – a pretty nerdy statement that raises an even stranger question: What did the Timeline look like? before Time mode?
“I want you to interrogate,” Martin says. “The loom is one of those things that’s like: ‘How did this work before?’ How did all this setup work before? Trying to wrap your head around it can cause some headaches. But I think what you can understand is, well, what can we trust “What the rest said and what we can’t trust? I don’t think we know, do we? We’re finding out all about that now.”
“What’s an amazing way to handle this character?”
Perhaps the second biggest addition to Season 2 involves the introduction of Victor Timely, a different version of Who remains living as an inventor in late 19th century Chicago. Both Timely and He Who Remains are versions of Kang, who is supposed to be the central villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Multiverse Saga. But while Martin says he knew he couldn’t “end things for the character,” he also wasn’t given any parameters on what to do with Timely.
“There wasn’t really a conversation on the front end about like, ‘Hey, you can or can’t do this with the character,'” he says.
Early on, Martin said that season two was designed to be “an introduction to a multiverse war and leaned heavily into Kang’s multi-personality aspects.” But ultimately, he felt that this was a pretty clear trend.
“I felt like, what’s a surprising way to handle this character, something that’s a little left of center, after we meet He Who Remains?” And this is where Victor Timely really came in. “In the comics, there’s the character Victor Timely. He’s very thin. He’s just kind of a version of Kang who went into the past and had a stupid plan.
To deepen the character, Martin and the writers conceived him as a Nikola Tesla by way of a con man.
“When you’re so far ahead of everyone else, what you’re doing doesn’t make sense to them,” he says. “So you have to trick people a little bit to get some money, and then you can go and work on your projects.”
“I would like to have more control over everything”
With so many interwoven narrative threads emerging this season, Martin decided he had to write all six episodes of the season.
“These things can be very difficult,” he says. “Basically, we’re doing three Marvel movies and that can get out of control. So I decided, ‘Okay, maybe I need to create each of these scripts myself to try to put this thing together.’
As production began to pick up steam, writer Catherine Blair joined Martin to complete Episode 4. When Martin contracted the coronavirus, production designer Kasra Farahani and his writing partner Jason O’Leary finished work on Episode 3, which Farahani directed to the end of the production schedule.
But while Martin was the head writer for Loki’s second season, and a near-regular presence on set in London, he was not the showrunner — a unique distinction for Marvel Studios, which has so far approached its own TV series for Disney+ Through the feature film model, the final say goes to the producers and directors, not the writers. In the case of Loki, this meant that Wright and directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead oversaw production logistics, while Martin ran the writers’ room.
“There are a lot of Marvel mechanics that drive things and make a lot of the decisions that a showrunner might make,” Martin says. “I was there for those too. I’m not the one who has the final say on them.”
Marvel recently decided to shift its television production back to the traditional show model, starting with “Daredevil: Born Again”; When asked how he felt about not being a “Loki” showrunner, Martin graciously shrugged.
“Like everyone, I would like to have more control over everything,” he says. “But I went into it very cautiously about everything and looked at it as an opportunity. When you’re a showrunner, you have to make a lot of non-creative decisions. By not having to deal with keeping the trains running, I can focus on the creative and stay there while working on the scripts.” over and over again. So I tried to look at it as a benefit in that way. I did my best to focus on the scripts and try to tell a great story and give all my collaborators what they needed to do their best work. And get a few extra hours of sleep by not having to Be the only person at the top of the business doing all of this.
“There is a very specific logic about what is happening now.”
Since “Loki” deals with the multiverse, Martin technically has the ability to solve any plot conundrum through time travel and resurrecting alternate characters — a storytelling trick that’s as convenient as it is unsatisfying. When asked about this dilemma, especially regarding the end of Episode 4, Martin smiled with a knowing smile.
“There is a very specific rule that I have in mind during this stage of the season and beyond,” he says. “I won’t talk specifically about what it is now because I don’t want to spoil things for you. I put standards there because I think it forces you to be more creative, rather than having everything at your disposal. But there is a very specific logic to what is happening now.” .
So what should we expect in the final two episodes?
“I’ll just say — obviously the story continues,” Martin says. “Just don’t expect a straight line.”
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