Shows

Loki’s Self-Love Has Gone Too Far (Spoilers!)

Show Analysis:

Loki Season 1

Intro

If you want a spoiler-free review of Loki Season 1, check out this article. If you are looking for my promised spoiler analysis and thoughts on Season 1, you’re in the right place.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for Loki Season 1, Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: The Dark World, and Thor: Ragnarok. Continue at your own peril.

Background

Loki Season 1 was created by Michael Waldron and released in 2021. It can be streamed on Disney+.

Analysis

First off, I want to say that I rated this show a 10 out of 10, so I am not going to bash it. I will, however, poke fun at parts that deserve it. That is not to say these parts are cons or mistakes. They actually add a lot to the oddness and intrigue that makes up Loki Season 1.

This season opens in New York in 2012, where Loki manages to procure the tesseract and escape the Avengers. My immediate reaction is, oh great. This is the Loki without all the character development of Avengers: Infinity War and all that happened after 2012. This is the undoing of Loki’s poignant death scene in Infinity War.

Loki Dying in Infinity War

And for a moment, I was frustrated. Having an audience feel strongly about a character and then killing them off is not a bad choice for a writer most of the time. Bringing them back is almost always a bad choice becomes it leads the audience to believe future character deaths are reversible.

But Loki in this series is not the same Loki. Sure, it’s the same actor. Sure, he even has the same obsession with his glorious purpose. But this Loki is just another variant in a universe filled with different Lokis. The other Loki truly died, this one is a different (but similar) character with a different path.

What I appreciate from the 2012 New York scene is that the whole series was caused by Hulk being forced to take the stairs. Think about it. If Hulk hadn’t gotten frustrated about taking the stairs, Loki never would have gotten the Tesseract and teleported.

Which brings us to the next scene, where Loki is lying in the sand of the Gobi desert in Mongolia. Everyone keeps talking about how this scene is remarkably similar to another one in the Iron Man movie.

The TVA (Time Variance Authority) find Loki there and proceed to hit him, but also slow him to 1/16th time. So we get to see the strike’s effects in super slow motion and it looks super painful and weird. This would actually be a pretty effective form of torture since even quick strikes would have their effect stretched out much longer. No doubt the TVA uses those tactics for sketchy stuff, because even from the beginning they give off weird vibes.

At the TVA headquarters, Loki is treated like a product in an assembly line. A bot destroys Loki’s clothing, showing how carelessly and intrusively the TVA treats people. The bot even twitches, so it probably isn’t well-maintained and safe. It kind of reminds me of that scene from Thor: Ragnarok where Thor gets his haircut.

He’s next told to “Please sign to verify if this is everything you have ever said.” There is a compilation of papers that definitely could not be everything he ever said, because we all know Loki likes to talk. He even has to confirm he is an organic being, which confuses him to the point where he even wonders if people could not realize they were robots.

This does establish the business-like and cold atmosphere of the TVA. He even has to take a ticket even though he is the only one there.

Then we get an introduction to the kind of annoying yet unique and interesting Miss Minutes.

Even though I find her kind of creepy, I do think her character is well done. At times, she even seems sentient and shows emotions such as concern.

The cartoon where she is first introduced is old-fashioned and reminds me of the sort of thing Mystery Science Theater 3000 would make fun of.

We learn that the motto of the TVA is “For All Time. Always.” That doesn’t really make sense because the cartoon flat-out admitted that the TVA has not been around for all time. There used to be multiple timelines until they were merged and became one “sacred” timeline. The TVA only began its existence when the Time Keepers acted to create the single timeline.

Loki is then put on trial and asked how he pleads. To that he responds, “Madame, a god doesn’t plead.” This definitely isn’t true, since he “pleads” with Sif in a later scene to stop attacking him when he is caught in a time loop.

We get an explanation for why the Avengers’ journey through time was not punished in the same way Loki was. Apparently that was all went to be. The sacred timeline sure is convoluted.

Loki tries to use his powers, but they don’t work in the TVA. Lucky for them, because Loki is a pretty formidable foe to vanquish.

Mobius stops Loki from being pruned from existence because he has this odd obsession with Lokis in general and seems to enjoy playing therapist/mentor to narcissists. He asks Loki to trust him. Now that’s pretty ridiculous. I wouldn’t even trust Mobius, so why would the backstabber Loki be inclined to do so?

Trust is for children. And dogs.”

Loki

Loki is then questioned extensively by the wanna-be therapist Mobius, who proceeds to show him a montage of some of his worst moments, including future moments he would have experienced. He gets to see that his choices got his mother murdered, which had to be more disturbing than the robot stripping him naked or existential concerns about the potential of being a robot.

Poor Mobius trying to squish a couple movies of character development into one presentation. Which, ironically, is similar to what my English professors had to do for the poor novels that only got one or two classes worth of discussion. (I feel like a good novel deserves at least a week.) I don’t know if Mobius thought it would convince Loki, but again, that wouldn’t have convinced me, since they could have used their high tech to create fake footage.

Loki is only really convinced to behave when he realizes that the TVA uses Infinity Stones as paperweights and that even the Tesseract is useless here. The revelation that the TVA is stronger even then the Tesseract is like a slap in the face to Loki, whose desire for world domination is damaged somewhat.

Loki is convinced to use his skills to hunt down another Loki. The first time they try to rely on Loki is at a medieval festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he mostly just wastes their time. Once again, the only team Loki is truly on is his own.

One thing I do love about this show is the settings–whether it’s a festival, the TVA, New York 2012…everything.

We get to see the variety of Loki variants that have been pruned soon afterwards, some of which look very different from our Loki.

Loki is the one who realizes how the other variant problematic Loki has been surviving and hiding–staying in areas where apocalyptic events are occurring does not upset the timeline.

It’s not until they track the alternate Loki down to a disaster in Haven Hills, Alabama in 2050, that Loki realizes that alternate Loki is a woman. (Big surprise. I mean, this was pretty obvious, very Disneyish move.) Not only that, she goes by the name Sylvie. No doubt to make it easier for people to understand who the heck is being talked about when the season is discussed. Not complaining. It makes it easier to review to have different names or nicknames for each character.

Loki follows Sylvie when she tries to escape and they hide in another cataclysm. They get a little bonding time where we get to see that not only are they both full of themselves, they also are highly skilled and possibly ship-able. Which is uncomfortable because they are basically the same person.

It gets even more obvious Disney is setting this up to be romantic when Loki shows off his dumb fireworks illusion and they talk about all they have in common, like being adopted, bisexual, and woefully misunderstood. (He was confirmed to be bisexual and genderfluid by Disney, so that’s cool. That makes a lot of sense considering the inspiration of Loki from Norse mythology, which he came off as genderfluid even though they didn’t have that terminology at the time.) Also, we get to see Loki dance and sing, which is hilarious and definitely deserved to be on the Marvel to-do list.

When Loki gets drunk and falls off a train, their one way home is destroyed and they have to come up with another idea on the spot, which also happens to not work because giant freakin’ chunks of rock are smashing into the earth and blasts apart their ride.

Luckily, their combined presence, and perhaps the uncomfortable fact that Loki is falling in love with another version of himself, alerts the TVA to their location, and they don’t die. Surprise, surprise.

Loki is banished to a time loop for awhile to think about what he done–time out for Loki, I suppose. In it, we see Sif, which is awesome, because it has certainly been a long time. He cut off her hair in the past because he thought it would be funny, which kind of explains why she has always hated his guts.

When Mobius finally takes him out and tells him that Sylvie is dead, you can see the shock register before he plasters it over with an apathetic look. But Mobius is a very good wanna-be therapist and understands Loki’s true emotions. Loki’s self-love has truly gone too far, because he has fallen in love with another Loki. I don’t think I’ll ever feel super comfortable with them being in any sort of relationship, but hey…it’s not really a con. It’s just another aspect of weirdness in an odd but brilliant show.

Mobius’s reaction is priceless, abashed at Loki’s incredible narcissism. That may be the funniest part in the whole season, honestly.

Loki tries to convince Mobius that all the TVA agents are variants, which is surprisingly not a lie. Mobius doesn’t believe him until he did some digging for himself, and then he tragically gets pruned by the order of Ravonna Renslayer. I found this death unconvincing.

What’s even more unconvincing? When Loki gets pruned himself after they find out the Time Keepers are fake. Yeah, Loki has “died” plenty of times already and I mean, at least we would still have Sylvie, right?

When Loki is pruned and meets the other variant Lokis, all I can think is alligator Loki? Alligator Loki? How could they even tell it was a Loki? How the heck did it start a nexus event? Are all animals variants of people, and if so should vegetarianism be the norm in the Marvel universe?

He’s oversensitive like the rest of us.”

A Loki Variant

Also, the fact that Kid Loki’s nexus event was killing Thor–holy crap. Loki didn’t even manage that. In the end, he probably didn’t even want that. And this little kid murdered his brother? Yikes!

Sylvie prunes herself, because obviously the two uncomfortably similar lovers can’t be apart.

And the Lokis basically all backstab each other in a futile attempt at ruling a junk pile. The alligator eats President Loki’s (another Loki variant) hand, which is disgusting, but also gave the alligator Loki some vague purpose.

Sylvie, Mobius, and Loki all meet up to take down Alioth. Mobius gets the heck out of there and who could blame him? But first Loki hugs him, which shows how much the god of mischief has fallen, but is also kind of sweet.

Then Classic Loki (yet another Loki variant) sacrifices himself, and at this point the broadness and variety of Loki’s own personality is just insane, but okay.

Getting past Alioth only cost one Loki, so no biggie. Miss Minutes shows up like a freakin’ serial killer and tries to make a shady deal with them and they are like, um–no. Miss Minutes is creepier than Thanos. No joke.

Then they meet the actual He Who Remains, the real Time Keeper. And he’s eating an apple in a way that reminds me of Moriarty from Sherlock. Sylvie tries to kill him a bunch of times. Loki is not as keen on killing him.

The little detail that killing Kang the Conqueror–I mean He Who Remains (pretty sure everyone has determined he is Kang by now though)–will lead to multidimensional war, makes Loki hesitate. Especially since it means Kang will be alive anyway and multiplied a bunch of times.

Loki is a liar and can spot one, so he knows Kang is telling the truth. Sylvie trusts no one. At this point it’s super obvious Mr. Kang’s gonna die. The kiss was also expected but it seemed early and weirdly timed. I mean, if you are going to kill someone, why would you stop for a quick, passionate smooch? Maybe I just don’t understand love.

I don’t know what the right word is to describe two people who are basically the same person kissing? Is this coming close to incest? Or just narcissism at its worst?

Anywho, after all that kissing nonsense, Loki gets sent back through a portal to the TVA and Kang is killed by Sylvie. Loki ends up in an alternate timeline where Mobius has no idea who he is. That’s frustrating, and I have no idea where the MCU is going from here. But I am kind of excited to see what happens next.

Conclusion

These Disney+ series have impressed me so far. I am curious to see where the story goes from here. Let me know what you thought of Loki Season 1 in the comments, and as always, if you have any suggestions for reviews or analyses feel free to share.

Board Games

Board Game Review: RWBY Combat Ready

Board Game Review:

RWBY Combat Ready

Rating: 8.8 stars

Intro

When I heard there was a board game based on one of my favorite shows, I just had to play it! I ended up getting it as a birthday present. By now I’ve played it several times and found it challenging and fun every time.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

RWBY Combat Ready is cooperative board game for 2-5 players. It is based on the anime series RWBY, and its name comes from a quote by the character Penny – “I’m combat ready!” The game takes about an hour unless you are doing a campaign, which will take around 3 hours. It was made for ages 14 and up.

The publishers are Arcane Wonders and Rooster Teeth Games.

Gameplay (7 out of 10 stars)

In RWBY Combat Ready, players can each choose a character from the anime: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, or Penny. Each of these characters have unique fighting styles and decks.

In the base game, you can play against one of three villains: Roman, Cinder, or Adam. In addition, you will be fighting against groups such as Roman’s Henchman, the White Fang, or the Grimm.

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At the beginning of each duel with the villain, one player starts at the beginning of the Hero Fury Track. The villains starts at the beginning of the villain track. Supporting players can choose to assist or combo with the main player, using different abilities on their cards accordingly. Or they can take out one of the lesser villains such as a henchman or Grimm.

The Hero deck is made up of attack cards of various types. Some are ranged, making them effective against flying enemies. Some are melee. Others are dash attacks. Each have different advantages and disadvantages.

The attack speed on the card is probably the most vital part. If the attack speed of the hero is higher than the villain, the hero hits the villain. If the villain’s attack speed is higher, the villain hits the hero. If they match, nothing happens. Higher speed attacks tend to do less damage, but lower speed attacks may not hit.

The villain’s deck is made up of Subtle, Aggressive, Balanced, and Event cards. Subtle cards are tricky – they could be high or low speed or damage. Aggressive cards will be very high speed or damage. Balanced cards will be in the middle. Event cards are bad and generally amp up the game by making everything harder. You can kind of predict the villain’s attack speed and power based on the card types, but it is hard to know just how fast you will have to be, so it’s a bit of a gamble. After the heroes choose their cards, the top card of the villain deck is flipped and the attack speed is compared, after which the conflict is resolved.

The hero and villain move up one step on the fury track per damage each dealt. When characters move up the fury track, they get bonuses. Once a hero reaches the end of the fury track, they can use their ultimate move. When a villain reaches the end of the track, they can bash a hero out of the duel.

At the end of each duel, whether a character uses their ultimate move or is bashed out of the duel, the next player starts a new duel and the villain is returned to the start of the Fury Track.

It is worthwhile to note that each hero has a different Semblance power they can use to help out once during each duel.

Between duels characters can use experience points received during battle to upgrade their cards.

For each game, you can either play against one villain or complete a campaign scenario. Campaigns are against three villains and are much harder.

Design (8 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The miniatures in this game are great and detailed. They are colored to match the signature colors of each character. Still hoping to paint them someday when I get the time.

The boards are well-designed and the components are in general made expertly.

The cards are cool in some ways. The differing styles of design on cards reminded me of Pokémon cards, especially the old ones. However, some of the artwork was made with such artistic license that it no longer even looks like the character, like the one with the 7 speed shown above.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

The strategy in this game is extremely high. Deciding what attack cards to use based on the style of villain card rewards careful decisionmaking. Choosing when to combo or assist is an equally hard decision. Also, you have to remember the lesser villains such as the White Fang or they’ll deal damage to the main player at the end of a duel. You also have to consider when to use semblances and ultimate moves, and when to fight vs. when to retreat. You can even customize your deck by leveling up!

Originality/Creativity (10 out of 10 stars)

The dueling in this game is unique and offers tension and a feeling similar to the anime. It is a well-balanced game that even experienced gamers will find complex enough to enjoy. The speed-focus I have only seen in this game and makes sense for RWBY. The way that players can either combo or assist is also creative. Leveling up at the end of each duel is also something I have only seen in this game.

Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)

The replayability of this game is high due to the complexity of the dueling system, the existence of campaign scenarios, and the challenge of winning this game. Even with four players at full effort my family barely won each time we played.

Conclusion

I would recommend this game for anyone who enjoys the RWBY anime series, but also for those just looking for a challenging, engaging game.

Links

Shows

Loki’s Back For His Own Series

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Loki Season 1

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

When I heard about this series, I was concerned about whether it would be any good because I was worried it would take away from the character development we saw in other movies. Instead, it provided the means for more character development and showed a different side of Loki.

Warning: This review does not contain any significant spoilers for Season 1 of Loki, but it does include some plot details from Episode 1.

Background

Loki Season 1 was created by Michael Waldron and released in 2021. It can be streamed on Disney+.

Summary

Loki escapes the Avengers only to be captured by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and labeled a variant to the sacred timeline. To survive, he will have to use his wits and his own self-knowledge to capture an enemy of the TVA.

Pros

  • Enjoyable characters
  • Strong character development
  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting
  • The show is unpredictable and strange, which is fitting for a series centering around the god of mischief
  • Well-chosen music

Cons

  • There are no specific cons I would like to point out. This series does stretch believability, but considering the god of mischief is the main character, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Observations

  • Inspired in a lot of ways by the comics

Review

Characters

Loki wins the prize for most character development out of everyone from this series. Watching his character unfold was like watching a narcissistic caterpillar turn into an equally narcissistic butterfly. Yeah, he does remain a narcissist, but he’s forced to re-evaluate his entire worldview and come to terms with who he truly is.

Mobius is kind of patronizing at first, but once you figure out what makes him tick, he’s easier to understand and appreciate. He kind of fulfills a mentor role to Loki in that Loki does learn some things from him, but he’s not the stereotypical old dude fulfilling his duty to pass on unwanted wisdom.

Miss Minutes is the holographic mascot for the TVA, explaining its mission to maintain the sacred timeline to Loki when he first is captured. She handles looking up information in the TVA’s databases, but is more than just a tool. Often, she acts like a sentient being with her own feelings and concerns.

Acting

The acting was impeccable, especially by Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, and Sophia Di Martino. Hiddleston using a range of complex expressions to get across Loki’s reactions to pivotal events was especially effective.

Setting

The TVA as a setting was perfect. It combined a bunch of old-fashioned propaganda posters, dated cartoons, and futuristic devices to make a unique atmosphere. It was a perfect blend of old and new to make the setting seem timeless and immersive.

Plot

The plot throws you for a lot of loops. (And not just time loops.) Every time everything seems chill and like things are going to go one way, things escalate and the stakes become even higher.

Music

The quirky and thematic music of this season added to the atmosphere. There is currently a soundtrack out for Episodes 1-3 called “Loki Volume 1” and it can be found on Spotify.

Inspiration

The whole concept of the TVA and the Timekeepers, as wells as many of the characters were inspired by the comics. I love that Disney is taking into account previous works in the Marvel Universe rather than taking an entirely new path.

Conclusion

If you like Marvel, then you will appreciate this show focused on one of Marvel’s most enduring characters.

Rating System

If you’re interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Life

The Colby Chronicles

Intro

This is part 2 of my college stories. Part 2 is all about one guy that I met at college, who I will call Colby, and all the awkward interactions I had with him. Just so you know, I decided to use fake names for everyone involved. Hopefully these stories are as entertaining for you as they are for me in retrospect.

The Motorcycle Story

I met Colby by accident, when I walked into my first ever class at college. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right room. It turns out he was just leaving at the end of a different class, so when I asked him if this was the right room for my class he didn’t know. Boring interaction. It should have ended there.

But I met him again, in the cafeteria, where he suggested I was stalking him because he saw me everywhere. Not the best way to start a conversation. We exchanged names and chatted briefly before parting ways again. So far so good, relatively commonplace conversation that was going nowhere.

The third time I met Colby was a different story. I was sitting alone at MAP cafeteria and he asked if he could join me. I said sure, why not. I’m shy but I don’t mind unexpected company. And what could go wrong? I didn’t know at the time this guy was a creep.

We engaged in small talk about classes and our differing religious denominations. (At my college, religious topics could end up being heated discussions, especially in this case since he was Protestant and I was Catholic, but we were both pretty chill.) Then he started talking about his motorcycle.

Now, I don’t care much about vehicles, so I was far from impressed that this guy had a pretty motorcycle. Meh.

Then he asked me if I wanted a ride on his motorcycle, and I said no, because I knew almost nothing about this guy and wouldn’t have wanted a motorcycle ride even if he was my best friend.

He continued to suggest we go on a motorcycle ride. He explained that he had once had a friend who was very shy like me, and that she had ridden his motorcycle and loved it. I declined again and again with decreasing politeness until he gave up.

After dinner, I had to go to Rathburn for a meeting, and he asked to escort me. He had no idea where Rathburn was, and I had a sense of humor, so I said sure. Unbenownst to him, Rathburn was the building right beside the cafeteria where we were, so all we did was walk outside and I was there.

The motorcycle nonsense didn’t end there. It turns out my mom knew a friend of his mom. They got to talking, and my mom found out that Colby doesn’t even have a motorcycle. I was more wary of him after that. I don’t know what he would have done if I said yes, and I don’t like to think of what could’ve happened. All I can say is, I’m glad I trusted my instincts.

The Cafeteria Story

Colby had a habit of asking to eat with me and my roommate Afina any time he saw us in the cafeteria. We attempted to avoid him after the whole motorcycle fiasco but were rarely successful.

Colby always wore this leather jacket, and one day he used it to smuggle food out of the cafeteria for his sick roommate. (This was before the pandemic, before there was takeout as an option.) He had asked to eat with us, and told us about what he had done. He had hidden napkins full of onion rings in his jacket, and for condiments had sucked ketchup up straws and bent the tops and hid those in his jacket too.

During the same lunch, he berated Afina for having an unhealthy salad. It was a salad that had hamburger in it, but she just shrugged and said she hadn’t meant for it to be healthy.

The Seduction Story

This one is Afina’s Colby story. She was in the cafeteria, and Colby sidled up to her and asked her if her hair was naturally curly. She explained that it was, especially if she had braided it beforehand.

Colby proceeded to ask her where she lived, and she said MEP. She politely asked where he lived and he listed off one of the men’s dorms and asked if she had ever been there. When she said no, he was astonished.

“What, are you saying you never go there to seduce the men?”

Needless to say, Afina tried to end that conversation quickly.

The Ice Cream Story

One time Colby asked my roommate Afina if he and his three friends could join us in our booth. We were in the line for icecream, and Afina just shrugged and said “Paige is the boss.”

Colby came up to me, and asked again. Now these booths are meant for four people max, and him and his friends plus us would be six people. There was no way I was going to let that happen.

Without looking up from scooping my ice cream, I said no firmly and ignored him until he walked away.

The Notoriety Story

One time I was eating with a group of four girls I did not know well. We got to talking about our strange experiences with a certain guy on campus. Twenty minutes into the conversation we realized we were all talking about the same guy–Colby, and that we all had experienced his flirting and strange behavior. It was certainly a revelation and we got a good laugh out of it. The girls all decided I was his favorite because he didn’t argue much with me. Lucky me.

Conclusion

Those are some of the most memorable moments I’ve had at Grove City College, even if they are not great memories. Whether Colby was holding the door open for thirty people or trying to hack the scheduling system for courses, he always made an impression. After sophomore year I never saw him again, so I assumed he transferred or quit. I’ll never know what happened, but I don’t mind.

Feel free to share your college stories in the comments!