It’s finally over; the Loki finale is available on Disney+. And it’s just as brilliant as I had expected. Episode 6 contradicts what Marvel taught us to believe after WandaVision. It delivers a fantastic conclusion to the series, giving Loki (Tom Hiddleston) a second arc that’s just as impressive as the one from the movies. It might be even better than that. But, most importantly, the final Loki installment provides the missing answers about the multiverse. For that reason alone, Loki is a must-watch MCU chapter. It sets the ground rules for the multiverse adventures that will follow soon.
All the complexity of the Sacred Timeline, multiple realities, and time travel is beautifully explained. And once you piece everything together, you end up with the realization that Loki’s influence on the MCU is bigger than just Phase 4. What happens in the finale might make possible that amazing dance scene at the end of Avengers: Endgame between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Before we take a deep dive into Endgame, Loki and the multiverse, Ill remind you that massive spoilers follow below.
The Endgame timeline
We can’t explain how the Loki finale impacts Steve’s retirement before reminding you of the Endgame timeline. What we’re interested in is the actual passage of time from the Time Heist to the moment Steve dances with Peggy.
The 2023 Avengers realized they could go back in time, steal the Infinity Stones they need, and return to their present to fix things. They could spend years back in time, but it would only be a few seconds in 2023. Indeed, some need more time (Tony and Steve), while others get the job done with just a time jump.
After they return, they quickly assemble their gauntlet, and Hulk brings everyone back with a snap of his fingers. That’s when 2014 Thanos drops in from the past to battle the 2023 Avengers in a quest to obtain the Stones.
In the days after the battle, Steve embarks on his final mission. He goes to the past to put the Stones and Mjolnir hammer back. He finishes the job and returns a few seconds later. But he’s now Old Steve. He tells Sam he retired and gives him a brand new Captain America shield. It’s only then that the audience finds out where Steve disappeared: The dance.
What matters here is that from the moment the Avengers left on their Time Heist to the moment Steve left to return the Stones, only a few days would have passed. It’s unclear how much time Steve spent returning the Stones to their rightful places until he met Peggy.
Loki finale fully explained the Sacred Timeline
From the first Loki episode, Marvel started explaining what the TVA does. We learned immediately that what the Avengers did in Endgame had to happen. Loki stealing the Tesseract? Not so much.
We’re told the TVA preserves the Sacred Timeline by stoping Nexus events, stopping variants from creating new branches, and pruning the new branches. We learn later that the Reset Charges have a limited effect and that the TVA needs to act before a branch reaches the red lines, the point of no return. After that, a branch can’t be killed.
Episode 5 further tells us that Reset Charges can’t destroy branches entirely. They reach the void, where it’s up to Alioth to digest them.
But we’ve been wondering all along whether the Sacred Timeline is just one reality or multiple ones. The Loki finale makes it clear. He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) explains the multiversal wars that preceded the Sacred Timeline. Kang tells Loki and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) various variants of himself engaged in these massive wars. And he makes it clear that the Sacred Timeline is a single timeline, with no branches, that he essentially micromanaged for eons.
Steve’s timeline wouldn’t exist in Kang’s version of universe stability.
Time passes differently at the TVA
The Loki finale has an amazing audio opening that reminds us of some of the main events in the MCU until now, including the Steve-Peggy dance in Endgame. It’s a reminder that everything is connected. It’s also an ominous warning. Everything, absolutely everything in the universe, flows in a predestined order.
Kang lives out of time in that Citadel at the End of Time. A lot like the TVA is experiencing time differently. We learned that in episode 3 when Sylvie tells Loki that she pulled the memories of Hunter C-20 (Sasha Lane) dating back to hundreds of years before capturing her. But the young woman lived on a relatively modern-day Earth before forcefully joining the TVA. That revelation told us that TVA agents age a lot more slowly, if at all, at the TVA.
Even Loki acknowledged before the finale that he has no idea how much time he spent with the TVA. It could have been weeks or months,
Kang tells Loki and Sylvie that everything they did until then happened according to his plan. He made sure they could come to see him, choosing them as his potential replacements to manage the TVA. It’s during one of Majors’ terrific monologues that we find out the so-called villain has run out of time as well. We’ve reached a point where he no longer knows what happens next to him. Almost at the same time, the timeline starts branching out outside the castle.
How does it all connect to the Steve and Peggy dance?
Right after Loki episode 2, I speculated that one of the Reset Charges that Sylvie sent back might have impacted Steve’s retirement reality and allow it to exist. Maybe chance allowed that branch to exist. It might have reached the point of no return before the TVA could fix it. But the Loki finale gives us a much better explanation.
We know from Marvel that Steve hasn’t settled with Peggy in the primary reality. They’re not in the reality that Kang and the TVA call Sacred Timeline. And since Old Steve came back with the shield, that reality did not experience a reset. It could have been wiped from existence once Steve decided to stay. But once it crossed the red lines, it continued growing into its own reality.
What if Sylvie’s decision to kill Kang is the deciding factor that made that dance possible? Again, the TVA and Kang are all disconnected from the regular flow of time. The moment Kang relinquishes control over the Sacred Timeline, all hell breaks loose, with the “freed” Sacred Timeline breaking into multiple realities at amazing speed.
The key event in the Loki finale
We see the branches giving off other branches and intersecting with everything else. It’s just what the TVA warned us about in the first episode. Madness might follow — and it will. One of those branches might be Steve’s retirement home.
From the moment he stole the Tesseract, Loki spent a few weeks to months with an organization that does not experience time and chronology like the Avengers do. The finale gives us the key moment where the Sacred Timeline breaks off in branches. We experience it all from Kang’s secluded home, which sits out of the regular flow of time. But any amount of actual time could have passed in the primary Avengers reality. And those branches and subbranches evolved at tremendous speeds in the finale, further proving how fragile the whole equilibrium that Kang imposed really is.
It’s, therefore, possible that the hours, days, or weeks Steve needed to restore the Infinity Stones and then see Peggy were enough for him to avoid causing a Nexus event of his own. From the TVA and Kang’s perspective, by the time Steve and Peggy had that dance, Sylvie had already killed Kang, initiating the multiverse chaos.