Marvel Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we explore Loki Episode 5 (“Journey into Mystery”) and examine the smoke monster guarding the Void (Alioth). Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.
We’re through the looking glass. Last week, in Loki Episode 4, the titular God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston) got pruned and awoke in the Void. Staring down at him were four other versions of himself — each one more perplexing than the last. An alligator! But all offering our Loki reflections through which to reexamine his life. “Glorious purpose” ain’t what it used to be.
Together, these Loki variants stumble through the wasteland where all reset realities and their nexus-event-causing individuals tumble. The Lokis bicker and squabble and enjoy the prattle almost as much as they enjoy hearing their own voice alone in the dark. Finally, they have a realm where they could rule. The only problem, they all want to rule.
Loki Episode 5, entitled “Journey into Mystery,” reveals the dark secrets behind the Time Variance Authority. They cannot erase matter from existence, but they can contain that unwanted matter at the point where and when the one-true timeline ends. And beyond that climax, some mysterious figure threatens to write their utopia. The TVA puppetmaster bent the universe to their will, and the universe that comes next will be a paradise for one.
However, after eons of collecting Lokis in the Void, they’ve finally collected two too many. Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), the female Loki variant, pins Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with a pruning stick. The TVA lackey doesn’t seem to know who or what concocted her organization, but her gut instinct tells her to toe the company line. She cooperates with Sylvie only long enough for her goon squad to arrive.
When they do, Sylvie prunes herself and drops into the Void where she meets up with Mobius (Owen Wilson) and the other Lokis. It takes them a minute to group together — our Loki must endure the embarrassing in-fighting amongst his clan, spearheaded by the swagger-licious President Loki — but once the Loki gang assembles, they direct their muscle toward the swirling smoke monster that guards the Void’s outskirts.
Who is Alioth the Usurper?
Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant) refers to the cloudy brute at the center of Loki Episode 5 as “Alioth.” It’s a name that rings familiar to comic book fans and hints at who is most likely waiting for Loki and Sylvie after they enchant the monster and walk past his dimensional gate. One more time, say his name with me: Kang the Conqueror.
Introduced in Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective, published by Marvel in July 1993, Alioth the Usurper was the first being to escape time. Removed from temporal constraints, Alioth could control those that were still shackled to it. He built an empire that extended from 2000 BC to 6000 AD.
Alioth’s only challenger was Kang, the despotic time-traveler and constant Avenger thorn. He imprisoned the beast in Limbo, but when Kang was knocked into a coma during a conflict with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Renslayer, his one-time girlfriend, assumed his form via hologram. She attempted to rule Kang’s temporal empire in disguise, but she accidentally freed Alioth when she peeked into Limbo.
The ravenous cloud nearly consumed Renslayer’s domain, forcing her — and her future-self, named Revelation — to revive Kang. The three baddies were then forced to collaborate with the Avengers to halt Alioth’s destructive appetite. Still unable to defeat the beast, Thor unleashed another Limbo entity, Tempus. Made from the very substance that surrounds them, Tempus devoured so much of Alioth’s energy that he transformed into a barrier, once again preventing the Usurper from breaking into the timestream.
Who is the next Thanos?
Comics are weird. Too weird for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Alioth in the series is obviously not one-to-one with his comic book counterpart. As presented in Loki Episode 5, this Alioth is a lapdog for the show’s ultimate villain. And he is the final wink indicating Kang’s eventual reveal in Episode 6.
With Renslayer and Alioth in play, Marvel Studios is laying track for their next Thanos. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier offered clues as to where the MCU is heading, but Loki is about to cut a massive fork in the road. And ever since Jonathan Majors was announced as Kang for Ant–Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, fandom has been itching to see his introduction here in Loki. It’s going to happen.
This is not like seeing Mephistos in every WandaVision nook and cranny. Renslayer and Alioth are major Kang associates. And we’re gearing up to meet the wizard behind the Time-Keepers. While it’s still possible that the final boss could be another Loki, as we considered last week, there are already enough whacko doppelgangers in Episode 5 to alter our hero’s worldview. One more Loki jerkwad won’t make much difference for his journey.
Being dragged into the light by Loki and Sylvie, Kang the Conqueror will jumpstart the latest MCU cosmic threat. He does not need Infinity Stones. They’re trinkets in comparison to the power he craves and already controls.
What is Kang’s deal?
In his scramble to rule over all, Kang manipulates time and space. He’s reckless. You can only chop and cut time so much before it snaps and unravels into a multiverse of madness. His machinations could be responsible for not only the many Lokis we’ve met this season but also an endless Kang council.
Kang is not a singular threat. He is legion. And while there have been a few dapper Kangs here and there (the Iron Lad who assembles the comic book Young Avengers is a teen Kang), most are real bastards. If you thought Loki in-fighting was awkward, wait until you meet a few dozen of these egomaniacs.
We wait for Loki Episode 6 to reveal all. This week’s episode ends with Alioth enchanted and docile. We see a dimensional split in the Void and a mansion on the other side. Within its walls rest the TVA’s architect, and if it’s not Kang, I’ll eat my hat or rewatch The Matrix Reloaded as punishment for my speculation.
At the very least, Loki and the Void have served as a preview for the shattered mirror universe the MCU is becoming. There are so many twisted easter eggs in Loki Episode 5: from jumping Thor frogs to background Thanos helicopters. What happens next will spill out into Quantumania as well as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider–Man: No Way Home.
We’re only getting started with meeting mirror people. And, dammit, it’s all Kang’s fault.
Loki Episode 5 is now streaming on Disney+.