REVIEW: Loki – Season 2, Episode 5, “Science/Fiction”

With “Science/Fiction,” Loki has what is easily its best episode of the season and one of the best of its entire run. That’s faint praise because it isn’t great, and the show remains confusing and inconsistent, but this week’s installment is enjoyable in parts, especially when focused on the supporting cast (something I never thought I’d say about this show).

After the Temporal Loom explodes, Loki once again finds himself hurtling through time, but this time, he’s also moving through space – or, to be more accurate, the multiverse. As he struggles to figure out how to stop his interdimensional travels and prevent the multiverse from collapsing, Loki will have to find his friends from the TVA, wherever they may be.

“Science/Fiction” begins with a familiar scenario. When Loki opens his eyes after the Temporal Loom explosion, he finds himself in an empty TVA headquarters, once more flitting through time. More anomalies occur, like Loki seeing himself before disappearing and becoming the self he just saw. This might have been more interesting if it were the first time it happened, but after the tedious season premiere, it’s more of the same. Fortunately, it doesn’t last very long, and Loki is thrown to some disparate – and more interesting – locations.


Loki is being sent to the various universes where the TVA members were taken and sees his friends (it still annoys me when they say that, as if any of these relationships has been satisfactorily developed) in their previous lives. Mobius is a jet ski salesman and enthusiast raising two sons on his own; B-15 is a pediatrician; Casey is a prisoner trying to escape Alcatraz; and OB is a failed science fiction writer who supports his dream with a day job as an astrophysicist. This is the high point of “Science/Fiction” because, ironically, the supporting characters have never been more interesting than they are in their mundane lives. This is partly because the show has failed to make any of them three-dimensional, so just seeing their normal jobs fleshes them out more than anything has so far. B-15, for example, is barely in the episode, but seeing her treat a little girl’s wound says more about her than any of her TVA activity. And Owen Wilson is a much better fit for a suburban RV salesman than Mobius, the sci-fi time enforcer.

The biggest beneficiary of these glimpses into everyone’s former lives is OB, whose quirkiness makes much more sense now. He’s a struggling writer so desperate to get his books out there that he brings them to bookstores and pretends to buy them. But it’s not a vanity thing; he believes in the craft and the science fiction genre, and he wants to contribute to it. It’s endearing, and when Loki finds him and talks to him, OB is no longer a glorified prop with some stunt casting but an actual human being. This is where Ke Huy Quan shines on the series, finally getting to show his humanity. And it doesn’t take a big, dramatic scene; OB reveals himself through light dialogue and jokes, pontificating about sci-fi literature, and annoyance that he has to be a physicist to pay the bills. This is the kind of role Ke Huy Quan deserves, and it’s a shame that it’s probably over now, but it’s a lot of fun to watch while it happens.

Loki Science/Fiction

The exception, and the drag on “Science/Fiction,” is who you’ll probably guess: Sylvie. She is the only one who remembers Loki and knows what’s going on, which makes sense because she was never a member of the TVA with the accompanying memory wipe. She’s also as obstinate and condescending as she’s always been, and Loki tries and fails to convince her that she needs to help him gather everyone and try to save the TVA. She comes off as stupid; Loki tells her that all of the universes in the multiverse are going to be destroyed, and she just pats herself on the back for giving everyone free will. Yes, we get it; you’re George Washington. Perhaps you can stop everyone, including yourself, from dying too? How does a schlubby nobody like Mobius understand this, but an Asgardian god doesn’t? Sylvie doesn’t come around until her universe starts collapsing because she’s selfish and not overly bright, but the show doesn’t seem to get that.

This is where “Science/Fiction” stops being as much fun. The various characters are no longer being themselves but assembled in a room so Loki and OB can figure out how to get them back to the TVA. It’s another bout of confusing sci-fi babble that we’re, I guess, supposed to take on faith will eventually make sense. But it’s not terribly interesting because, while we logically get that there are stakes, none of it feels real. It never has; when the Temporal Loom blew up last week, it didn’t have the impact it needed, and while it’s great seeing the characters in more interesting settings, their immediate reemergence once again makes none of it feel urgent. It’s time travel, so these are past versions of the characters, but it’s a big sign that everything will be alright, so there’s no need to worry.

Loki Science/Fiction

But “Science/Fiction” is a step above the rest of the series for another reason: Loki is the character driving the narrative, the one trying to put everything right, gathering the lost TVA members and spurring them on to be the people they need to be to save the multiverse. And by the end, he realizes that he is the key to saving everyone, that he has it in him to travel through time and worlds. How any of this works is still a mystery, but I’m glad it’s focusing on him. Tom Hiddleston is such a good actor that he makes even the most frustrating parts of Loki work, and while my ideal vision of the God of Mischief isn’t him crying in a bar about how he wants to belong, Hiddleston makes the scene work. I hope somewhere down the line, he gets something to really sink his teeth into so his return to the MCU lives up to everything he brings to this universe.

Loki – "Science/Fiction"

Plot - 7
Acting - 8
Progression - 8
Production Design - 8
Entertainment - 8



“Science/Fiction” finally gives the supporting actors something interesting to do and allows Loki to drive the plot, but Sylvie is still a drag, the stakes don’t feel real, and it remains confusing.

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