BY MATT TUCK
Loki fans are waiting with baited breath for the series finale tomorrow. Who is behind the TVA and in the castle at the edge of time? Here are nine of the best theories the internet has to offer.
Loki is rounding the final turn and entering the home stretch to the finish line this week. The show has plenty of loose ends to tie up, as time-travelling and inter-dimensional plots tend to create. No question, the biggest mystery centers on the mastermind behind the Time Variance Authority, and it looks like we will finally meet the culprit in Episode Six.
The series is firing on all cylinders heading into the finale. Last week’s episode left fans with plenty to ponder from the Thanos-copter to the Living Tribunal’s disembodied head. Loki variants abounded, including President Loki complete with his “Vote Loki” button pinned to his jacket.
In Episode Five’s closing moments, Loki and Sylvie, with a little help from Classic Loki, enchanted the guardian of the Void, Alioth. The closing moments saw Loki and Sylvie open a portal, where a castle at the end of time awaited.
Ever since the Time-Keepers were revealed to be robots - which, ironically, the TVA vaporizes upon entering their trans-dimensional headquarters - all plot lines have essentially been tied to discovering who or what is controlling the TVA and, thus, time itself. There are numerous fan theories making their way across social media, and some are quite intriguing. Let’s take a look at nine and place bets on which one will hit closest to the truth.
I’ll start with my own contribution to the Loki theories. All signs point to Immortus. In the comic universe, he is one of an infinite number of Kangs roaming the Multiverse. This version began life as a villain, but he evolved into more of a force of nature as he took up the guise of the “Master of Time.” His job is to preserve the flow of time, and even Kang himself referred to Immortus as the omnipotent gardener who prunes the branches of time. Considering that the TVA uses “pruning” as a euphemism for sending variants into the time prison that is the Void, it seems like a dead giveaway for Immortus.
The other clue is the castle seen in Episode Five. Guess who lives in a castle at the end of time? That’s right: Immortus, and he resides in Castle Limbo.
Of course, Marvel Studios does enjoy toying with us fanboys and theorists. Those clues could have been deliberately planted as a red herring so that the big reveal is even more surprising. I’m fine with that as long as they don’t hit us with another “Bohner” joke.
This has been the most prevalent assumption since the first episode. Anytime Marvel deals with time travel, it is natural to think that Nathaniel Richards could be involved. Why not? In the Marvel Comics Universe, there are a huge number of time travelers, but none are as prevalent as Kang the Conqueror.
Hailing from the distant future, Nathaniel, a relative of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, has conquered his world. The problem is most of it has been decimated by war, so Richards adopts different monikers and travels to the past to subjugate Earth before the planet is scorched by warfare. His most famous alter-ego is the purple and green-clad warlord, Kang.
Since Marvel confirmed months ago that Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors will portray Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, assuming the time traveler will arrive in Loki is a safe bet.
Since this is Marvel, and after the swerves in the previous Disney+ shows, Kang almost seems like too easy a choice. Granted Immortus is a version of Kang, it would make more sense for a show about variants to be controlled by a variant himself. Still, seeing Majors appear in full Kang costume would be amazing, but I predict that Marvel will have something less obvious up its sleeve.
Out of all the theories floating around the world wide web, this one is both the most likely and the least riveting.
This idea comes from the show’s trailers. Keen viewers spotted a Loki that we have yet to see in the series. This one wears golden armor and appears to be sitting on a golden Asgardian throne. Fans have since dubbed this as King Loki.
All through the series, Loki has been befuddled by the idea that his “glorious purpose” is to fail so that others can reach their full potential. King Loki, then, is the one variant who achieved his goal and won. When Sylvie and Loki enter the mysterious castle, they will find Loki sitting on his throne where he has been manipulating the sacred timeline all along.
Just because King Loki was seen in a trailer does not mean that it will be featured in the show. It is not uncommon for footage that finds its way into an early trailer falls on the cutting room floor during post-production. That could be the case with King Loki, but it is unlikely. This is the odds-on favorite for the Loki conclusion.
While I don’t anticipate this happening, it is one of the more popular rumors and theories making the rounds.
As soon as the castle was revealed in Episode Five, many fans drew the connection to one of Marvel’s most famous castle owners, Victor Von Doom. Could it be that the portal is not at the end of time but rather is taking the God and Goddess of Mischief to Latveria? There is a growing number of theories pointing to just that, particularly since the castle is similar to Doom’s in the comics. Of course, most comic book castles look alike, so that’s not the best reason to believe this one.
Although the theory does not necessarily follow Doom’s comic roots, many speculators point to Episode One for evidence of the TVA’s fear of the FF villain. In the comics, Doom frequently uses androids/life model decoys rather than risking his safety by appearing in the flesh. Some theorists suggest that the threat of Doom-bots is precisely why the TVA scans and destroys all artificial life before entering the facility.
In one of the more heart-wrenching moments from the first episode, Loki sees his own demise at the hands of Thanos in Infinity War. Then in Episode Five, Classic Loki brings his past to light, explaining that he used his magic to trick Thanos by conjuring a projection so lifelike that even the Mad Titan was fooled. It could be that Classic Loki was not the only God of Mischief capable of such an illusion.
What if the Infinity War Loki wasn’t actually killed by Thanos? Could it be that Classic Loki’s story was a clue that everyone’s favorite God of Mischief used the same projection to trick Thanos and escape without even Thor’s knowledge? One Tik-Toker goes so far as to point out that Loki used his left hand to try and stab Thanos in Infinity War; up to that point, Loki had consistently used his right hand. It is a minor detail, but it could add up to a major moment for the series in the end.
That leads to the theory that sitting on the throne at the end of time is none other than Loki himself. While I am not a fan of that particular scenario, it would fit with the theme of the show and the numerous Loki variants. It also would be another demonstration of why he is the one and only God of Mischief.
In a show revolving around numerous Lokis, it would only make sense that the culprit is, in fact, another Loki. Similar to the Original Loki theory, this prediction suggests that Classic Loki faked his death. Since this is a Marvel show, there is little guarantee that anyone is dead, especially when it comes to Loki.
At the tail end of Episode Five, Classic Loki appeared to give himself a hero’s death as he conjured the entirety of Asgard in order to lure Alioth away from Sylvie and Loki. With the cloud monster descending upon him, Classic Loki triumphantly shouted, “Glorious purpose!” All that was left was his trademark helmet.
Or was it? Considering that he tricked Thanos into believing he was dead, it is possible that Classic Loki projected the same illusion to fake his death a second time. That would mean that this particular Loki could have been manipulating the TVA and the other Lokis the entire time.
Marvel has shown that it loves having the villain right under the audience’s nose the entire time. The studio enjoys subverting lofty fan expectations while misdirecting the viewers as much as possible. They did it with Agatha Harkness in WandaVision after intentionally leading fans to believe that the X-Men Fox-verse was incoming. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s big reveal was that Sharon Carter was leading a double life in Madripoor as the vicious Power Broker. It would not be out of the question for the real power behind the Time-Keepers was their most loyal follower, Judge Renslayer.
While on the surface, she may have appeared to be puzzled by the Time-Keepers being robots, but underneath Renslayer could have been pulling the strings the entire time. That would mean that she knew all along that the TVA agents were kidnapped from their timelines, and she established the lies and myths of the sacred timeline to keep everyone in check. Posing as an agent rather than the Master of Time, Renslayer would be able to monitor the TVA without anyone ever knowing. It’s like the MCU version of Undercover Boss.
It’s long been rumored that Marvel is planning another massive MCU crossover years down the line, namely Secret Wars. The speculation began shortly after Endgame hit theaters, and the Russo Brothers announced an end to their Marvel directorial careers. However, the duo did mention that they would be interested in returning to direct a Secret Wars adaptation.
While nothing has come of that tidbit since then, there has been another interesting development in the animated world. Last year, Laurence Fishburne was cast as the voice of the Beyonder in the cartoon, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Little is known about the Beyonder’s role in Moon Girl, but casting such an accomplished and well-known actor as Fishburne to bring the part to life does raise eyebrows. Since the Beyonder initially appeared as simply a blinding light and a voice, then we could see that version in the MCU, albeit a stretch to imagine him appearing in Loki.
From a different perspective, the Beyonder’s presence would make for an interesting bit of foreshadowing in Episode One. After discovering that the Infinity Stones had no power inside the TVA, Loki asked, “Is this the greatest power in the universe?” On the comic side of things, the greatest power in the universe lies with the Beyonder, and it could be that this cosmic being will be the answer to Loki’s question.
Out of all the improbable theories on today’s list, this may take the prize for the least likely to occur. All the same, this may be the most fun theory to imagine happening.
Much of the theory is based on the concept of the sacred timeline being built after a war in the Multiverse. It is similar to 2015’s Secret Wars, which saw Doctor Doom ascend to god status after he claimed the Beyonders’ combined power. As realities crumbled, God Emperor Doom used his powers to salvage what was left of the Multiverse and combine them into one primary universe. It was a mixture of Marvel and Game of Thrones with variants of the superheroes across a multitude of worlds that came from different timelines. This would be the one version of Doom that would fit as the Master of Time.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.