Loki season 2 is finally out, with the first episode now streaming on Disney Plus. The Loki 2 premiere includes a credits scene, as I already knew. What I didn’t think was possible was for Marvel to introduce a new time travel rule that contradicts what we saw in the MCU so far, specifically in Avengers: Endgame
I can’t explain it before warning you that big spoilers will follow below. Make sure you watch Loki season 2 episode 1 before going any further.
Endgame’s time travel rules
Between the Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame premieres, the prevalent theory was the Avengers would travel back in time to beat Thanos (Josh Brolin) and undo the snap. Those rumors were almost accurate. Little did we know at the time that Endgame would present time travel differently than what we expected.
Going back in time would not change the future, as Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) explained to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) in a hilarious scene.
By the way, that scene has been completely changed now by the big Secret Invasion reveal. The War Machine in Endgame might have been a Skrull all along, which makes his passion for time-traveling movies all the more interesting.
We then learned that going back to the past will only create an alternate timeline like the one where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) retired at the end of Endgame. Any small change made to the past will create a new branch of reality where events flow differently.
Time flow and the TVA
It wasn’t until Loki season 1 that we learned what changing the timeline means. Under the direction of Kang, but not knowing whose orders they’re following, the TVA has been systematically pruning alternate timelines, essentially wiping out billions of living beings from existence. They did it to prevent other Kang variants from emerging, which would inevitably lead to multiversal wars.
Thanks to Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), those wars are here, and only Loki (Tom Hiddleston) seems to have realized it.
The Loki season 1 finale also showed us where the He Who Remains Kang variant lived. He resided outside of time, which allows him complete control over the flow of time. He doesn’t age so he can live for eons, policing the timeline’s past, present, and future. Well, everything can be considered the present from his vantage point.
Similarly, the TVA doesn’t perceive the flow of time. It’s still unclear where the location of the TVA is. But Loki season 2 just told us the TVA has a similar vantage point as Kang. Therefore, they don’t really experience time.
Hilariously, we learned that Mobius (Owen Wilson) first met OB (Ke Huy Quan) some 400 years ago. But the former has no memory of that meeting since Kang systematically erased everyone’s memory over the years.
Time travel within TVA
However, time does pass at the TVA, even at a different rate than in a regular timeline. Think about it: the people serving Kang have to have some construct of time. There must be a yesterday and a tomorrow. That OB tells Mobius exactly how long it has been since they last met proves that point.
On the other hand, Kang continuously erasing the memories of TVA agents means they won’t remember everything in their TVA career.
This is where the MCU time travel anomaly happens. Loki is being pulled through time, visiting the TVA’s past, present, and future. When going back to the past, he can change the future by having a conversation with OB about his condition.
Past-OB comes up with a fix that’s then available in the present time instantaneously. And Present-OB conjures memories of a past meeting with Loki even though he technically just met him for the first time. It all happens in real-time, as the two OB variants separately talk to Loki and Mobius.
It can all be mind-boggling, especially given the Endgame rules. Again, changing the past of a timeline will not change the future of that timeline.
But it works at the TVA, given the organization operates outside of the regular flow of time. This is the only place where you can change the past to modify the future.
Also, this explanation prevents Marvel from having to come up with alternate TVA organizations, each governing a timeline from the universe. Instead, there’s just one entity policing the multiverse. And having a crisis of conscience now that Loki and Sylvie exposed the truth.
That’s why time travel in Loki season 2 is not a plot hole, not yet, at least. And not as long as it happens at the TVA.