Entertainment

Who Was That Variant at the End of 'Loki' Episode 2?

The big character reveal guarantees chaos, as well as tons of questions.

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

This recap for Loki Season 1, Episode 2 (“The Variant”) contains major spoilers. Proceed with caution.

OK, now we’re finally getting somewhere. If you’re here, it’s probably because you just finished watching this week’s episode of Loki, and you’re frantically googling to find an explanation for what you just saw. We know now who the Time Variance Authority is hunting-or, at least, we know what she looks like. But who exactly is she? Is she a Loki variant like the TVA thinks? And if so, how does that work? Is she one of the alternate versions of Loki who have appeared in Marvel Comics before? Or is this someone else entirely?

In Episode 2, Loki assists his new best friend and novelty energy beverage drinker, Mobius (Owen Wilson), in tracking down a variant, purportedly of himself, who has been taking out squads of TVA agents throughout time. He deduces that their target has been “hiding in apocalypses,” meaning that the variant has been using world-shattering events made up of enormous amounts of chaotic energy (e.g., the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii) as a kind of smokescreen, as seismic moments briefly make the TVA’s little meters unable to pick out anything that’s not actually supposed to be there. Thanks to the Kablooie gum Mobius took from that little French child in Episode 1, they’re able to pinpoint exactly where and when the variant will be hiding next: inside a Roxxcart department store in a small Alabama town during a hurricane in the year 2050, which they call a “Class 10 apocalypse.”

After getting approval from Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a TVA strike force heads to the Alabama store and splits up to cover more ground. Loki soon finds this variant-or rather, the variant finds him. The variant possesses the bodies of his TVA comrades so that the two of them can chat and, eventually, fight. And then comes the reveal: The variant is a short-haired blonde woman in a green outfit who has rigged the entire building with the TVA’s pruning devices. Just before the whole thing is erased from existence, an intrigued but perplexed Loki follows her through the time portal she’d opened and, of course, the episode ends.The character is played by Sophia Di Martino, but we still don’t have a name. She’s just listed in the credits as The Variant, which also provides the title of the episode. Can this really be a variant of Loki? Yes! Earlier in the episode, Mobius briefed Loki about their quarry, or rather, multiple quarries, all variants of Loki with powers like shape-shifting, illusion-projection, and duplication-casting. He scrolled through some examples, and no two looked the same, and a few didn’t look anything like the Loki played by Tom Hiddleston. So, who is the variant Loki hops through the portal with? I’ll go ahead and say here that it’s probably one of two major comic characters.

The first option is Lady Loki, a female version of Loki who has appeared in numerous Thor comic arcs causing trouble wherever she goes. Fans have been clamoring for a Lady Loki for years, and, knowing the characters’ shapeshifting tendencies, it wouldn’t be difficult to find a place to introduce her into the narrative. For one thing, the TVA likely knows of endless versions of every MCU character, as they do for Loki. Also, Di Martino is wearing an almost exact replica of Loki’s Avengers costume, down to the shiny chestpiece and horned diadem. (Now we know that the stained-glass window depicting the Devil that Mobius’ little French friend pointed to in Episode 1 simply meant someone with horns, not the Marvel big bad Mephisto, as tons of fans postulated as soon as Loki’s first trailer debuted.)

We do run into a couple of problems with this theory, though. First, Lady Loki canonically appears in the body of Sif, who has been portrayed in the Thor movies by Jaimie Alexander. She’ll be returning to the role in Thor: Love and Thunder, so obviously she’s still in the mix. Second, Mobius, who has been hunting this variant for a while, hasn’t had much luck catching her, which, if he’s so well-versed in Loki lore, maybe should have been easier for him. Third, and this to me almost disqualifies this variant from being Lady Loki, she’s blonde.That brings me to the second option. Who is a blonde, green-wearing Marvel villain/antagonist often connected with Thor and Loki in the comics? An Asgardian sorceress named Amora, who goes by the name Enchantress and has magical abilities that rival even those of Doctor Strange. Enchantress is constantly messing around with Thor, whom she’s infatuated with, and Loki, who she can pretty easily cajole into helping her out. To be fair, she is kind of a girl version of Loki: (mostly) evil, powerful, manipulative, sneaky, and absolutely obsessed with Thor.

WandaVision and its lead-up to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has, seemingly, kicked off a more magic-focused storytelling route that the next MCU phases will follow, and Loki has made it clear that Loki’s magical powers are more vital to the plot than they’ve ever been-in this episode, he even explains the mechanics of how his abilities work. If you’re going mystical, why not introduce one of the comics’ most powerful magic-wielding antagonists into the mix?

We also know that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is playing Ravonna Renslayer, a comics character who has strong ties to Kang the Conqueror, a Marvel villain we already know will be introduced in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (played by Jonathan Majors), and who is a main antagonist of the Young Avengers, an outfit that the MCU’s Phase 4 narratives seem to be setting up. YA members Wiccan and Speed were introduced in WandaVision, Cassie Lang (Scott Lang’s daughter) in Ant-Man, and Eli Bradley in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with Kate Bishop (in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series, played by Hailee Steinfeld) certainly on the way, and also, probably, Kid Loki.

The kicker here, and the reason I’m really leaning toward the variant actually being Enchantress, is that an actress named Cailey Fleming is listed in the credits as “Young Sylvie,” probably meaning Sylvie Lushton, a human who gains magic abilities from Loki, takes on the appearance and general vibe of Enchantress, and joins the Young Avengers. It all fits!! If my theory isn’t proven correct and Enchantress doesn’t show up in this show, I will eat my Loki conspiracy wall.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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