We Need To Talk About Loki Laufeyson.

TV The new entry in the television anti-chamber of the MARVEL cinematic universe began yesterday and at least in the first episode it's everything I hoped it would be, essentially a Gallifrey episode of Doctor Who in which the titular trickster is caught up in the bloody minded, rigid philosophy of a God-like species keeping watch on the timeline.  What is Owen Wilson's Mobius but in charge of a kind of Celestial Intervention Agency?   What are the security people if not a Prydonian guard?

But I'm not here to discuss the similarities between the series, and here we're heading into spoiler filled waters so if you're in any way squeamish, turn your ferry around and head back to port.  Or go and watch Loki then come back.  Seriously, this is one of those occasions when Lucy Mangan doesn't know what she's talking about and that headline (which she presumably didn't write but nevertheless) is a disgrace!

Isn't it good?  Isn't the Butterscotch Stallion just the perfect foil to Hiddleston's wall bouncing and basically having this post-Incident Loki copying most of us during one of the various lockdowns and rewatch the MARVEL films in chronological order in order to get up to speed character-wise just wonderful as well as heart-breaking?  As every nerd with a NordVPN sponsorship has pointed out, that key moment from the trailer was just a flashback to a prank shows we do not know what's coming next.

Except, do we?  The title Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness exists and there's plenty of evidence from other corners of the MCU that by the end of this series that there will be more than this one "sacred" timeline and that what we're watching here is the creation of that realm so rich with possibility.  But how will this happen when this all powerful agency exists, protecting the timeline from intervention since the beginning of time it seems.

Here's my theory.  Loki's going to herald the multiverse.  More than that, the figure glimpsed at the end of the episode isn't just a Loki, it's the Loki who we've been following in this episode.  At a certain point he realises that these super-beings have no right at all to dictate how time and reality work just to save their own skin and so he hatches a plan, or more's to the point follows the plan he's already watching evolve.

So it's this Loki who's travelling through time, toppling soldiers in order to steal the glowy boxes on the assumption that with enough of them he'll be able to destroy the Time Variance Authority and set the multiverse back on track, including realities were he lived, Frida lived, he's king of Midgard and all manner of other outcomes.  From a certain point of view the Time-Keepers could be viewed as incredibly fascistic, destroying variants because they don't fit their plan.

One point of confusion I've seen is how there can be one sacred timeline when we've already seen other realities already in the MCU, notably in the obviously canonical Agents of SHIELD but also during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 as Stan Lee describes some of his adventures to multiple Watchers, each presumably keeping track of their own reality or timeline.  How can these realms exist if there's a sacred timeline?

Well, because there was a single sacred timeline until there wasn't.  Even taking into account that the TVA themselves can time travel, or at least manifest themselves in any time period which I don't suppose is the same thing, Loki is pulled from the timeline in 2012, which means that Loki is set before the alternate reality episodes of SHIELD and Guardians of the Galaxy, not to mention whatever the results of the time travel in Runaways was (and yes that's canonical too).  

Once Loki's topples the TVA, they're replaced by the Watchers, presumably an infinite number of them, observing the timelines and only intervening in the most dire of cosmic circumstances.  Which means the What If? series isn't going to be just some fun anthology show, but a key part of the overall narrative going forward, demonstrating that there isn't one correct timeline but numerous possibilities.  Perhaps Jordan Peele's voice will cameo as a "live action" Watcher in Loki.

I appreciate to some extent all of this is me trying to make fetch happen again, after it turned out the Evan Peters Quicksilver was just some guy and so there isn't yet some grand plan to co-opt MARVEL movie and TV content past and present into the MCU and explain the mechanics of the Sonyverse.  But it'll be fun to look back at this blog post in five episodes time and see how wrong I was again anyway.

Sorry, but I just don't think the same way some of you do.

Life Every couple of weeks, or at least it feels that way, someone has the revelation on social media that not everyone in the world has an internal monologue which speaks in whole sentences. Here's a page on The Poke from last July which pretty much covers all the basis, from the shock and awe to the "well how other people think" to deep dives into the biological mechanics.

My reaction was the opposite. I've always thought internal monologues, in fiction, in books, comics and on screen, were a narrative affectation, a way of communicating information without having to produce tortured expositions scenes between characters who're already aware of the what's being talked about. Those thoughts which Spider-man could never communicate, even to Mary Jane.

But no, it turns out there are people in the world who's brains are constantly chattering, having a conversation with themselves about everything which is happening to them during the day. It's how they think things through, from what to have for breakfast in the morning, to solving maths problems to considering what's happening in a film while they're watching it. Often it manifests itself in the form of a conversation, especially if there's a choice to be made.

Which I honestly don't understand and can't imagine because I'm in the other crowd, the ones who don't have these internal conversations, don't have a voice in their head reading a book to them and even as I type these words, the first time I know what's going to be said is as I tap the keys. Since we seem to be in the minority, the key question we're asked it always, how do you think about, well, stuff.

To which I can only answer, we just do. After writing that mini-sentence, I paused before writing something else and then the right word just occurred to me and I began typing again. I can't explain how. It's a bit like having a talking to someone, knowing that the words are there and what I want to say and then my language skills make it happen. There's no real pattern to it, and I honestly can't describe how it works. It just does.

If I'm deciding what to eat, I just look through the freezer until I see something and then get it out to defrost, and this only becomes a conversation if its going to be a meal for more than myself in which case I'll talk to others. When I'm doing crosswords or sudoku, the answers are either there or not. When I'm watching a film, even if it's a mystery, I don't think about what's happening internally.

The closest I come to experiencing the internal monologue is when I talk to myself. Then I'll sometimes consider my way through something, like how the plot mechanics of a film are constructed, but out loud, commenting to the no one else who's in the room. Most often this is an explanation, "Dear God!" or something linguistically stronger. Or at the start of a film, I say what I think the ending will be out loud.

Honestly, I don't know how I'd cope if I had to listen myself chuntering from a sedentary intellectual position all the time, like a demented back bench MP. There are occasions after work, when I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice and I'm happy to just sit with my mouth closed letting the world, and more important my senses, do without the noise of my generic northern vowels and consonants.