Spotting the Infinity Stones in a desk drawer at the TVA strikes at the heart of Loki’s greatest insecurities – here’s why it affects him so much.
Warning: SPOILERS for Loki episode 1.
In the first episode of Loki, he spots the Infinity Stones sitting in a pencil-pusher’s desk, and it’s this that finally breaks him – here’s why. The story picks up exactly where it left off in Avengers: Endgame, with Loki picking up the Tesseract and BAMF-ing to parts unknown. Those parts turned out to be Mongolia, where the Tesseract unceremoniously dumps Loki into the Gobi Desert, seemingly free. Free, that is, until agents of the Time Variance Authority show up and apprehend him, slapping a time collar around his neck and dragging him to TVA headquarters.
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Being suddenly tossed into an incredibly strange, seemingly dire situation would be enough to completely rattle anyone. Not Loki. The silver-tongued God of Mischief continues to cajole and condescend to those around him in an attempt to talk his way out of custody. In return, Mobius tries to break Loki by showing him videos of his life in the “normal” timeline, but nothing gets through to Loki that the TVA is a powerful entity not to be messed with. Throughout the episode, Loki continues to scoff at the notion that any one body, particularly one he’s never heard of, could control the universe. Even learning he can’t use magic within the confines of the TVA doesn’t faze Loki for more than a moment; he remains undeterred in his belief he’ll easily escape. It takes him spotting some Infinity Stones in a desk drawer that finally breaks him.
It was a curious moment. One minute, Loki is scheming to escape; the next, he’s stunned into compliance. It’s surprising that the sight of the Infinity Stones, things Loki had been around often, have such an impact on him. But Loki’s entire existence for the past few years has been all about acquiring the Infinity Stones for Thanos. Thanos is one of the only beings in the universe, maybe the only being, who Loki fears, and Thanos can only wield the Infinity Stones by wearing a gauntlet. Loki himself is the only other being in the entire MCU to ever wield two Infinity Stones at once, a significant sign of how powerful he is considering even so much as touching a single Infinity Stone instantly kills most creatures. Yet here the Stones are, laying casually discarded in some pencil-pusher’s desk like trash. The sight of his efforts reduced to that is what finally deflates Loki to the point of no longer trying to escape.
The Infinity Stones being tossed into a junk drawer also strikes at the heart of Loki’s insecurity. Loki is powerful enough to use two Infinity Stones simultaneously, but, as is later revealed, the Mind Stone influenced him in return. The Loki in the series is the 2012 version of Loki immediately after the Battle of New York. He may be many things, but stupid is not one of them. By now, Loki has been apart from the Mind Stone long enough to have realized it had been influencing him, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. Secretly, he has to know that the Stone had bested him. He, Loki, God of Mischief, brilliant trickster, hadn’t been strong or clever enough to not be affected by the Infinity Stones. But the TVA is, making it impossible for Loki to avoid the truth that the TVA is more powerful than him. Much more powerful. And if that’s true, then maybe the rest of it is true, too: Loki has never actually been in control of his own story.
Lastly, Loki spots not just one set of Infinity Stones, but multiple sets. It means that not only has the TVA collected the Infinity Stones from one timeline, but they’ve collected them from multiple timelines again and again. For the TVA, it’s just another mundane day at the office, the equivalent of making a spreadsheet. It’s all of these gobsmacking realizations that hit Loki simultaneously and, for once, stun him into submission – though it likely won’t last long.
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