- Loki season 2 introduces new concepts to the MCU’s time travel, including time-slipping, rewriting the past, and erasing oneself from history.
- Loki’s time-slipping rewrites the TVA’s history in “real time,” bringing a heightened sense of causality to the organization.
- The Avengers’ time travel rules only apply to everything that exists within the Sacred Timeline, whereas the TVA has its own time travel rules given that they operate outside of time.
Warning! This article contains spoilers for Loki season 2, episode 1.Loki season 2 adds a new layer of complexity to the MCU’s time travel. After finding out the truth behind the Time Variance Authority and witnessing Sylvie kill He Who Remains, Loki faces new challenges in Loki season 2. Time-slipping, rewriting the past, and removing himself from time are all concepts that even Loki finds difficult to wrap his head around. After all, time is a highly flexible thing at the TVA, as it exists independently of the MCU’s main time-space continuum.
Time travel was first introduced in the MCU during Avengers: Endgame, where the Avengers’ time-travel technology established that interacting with the past doesn’t alter the present. Instead, any trip to the past causes the timeline to branch out and create slightly different realities — unless the changes are undone. This is why the Avengers are able to pluck the Infinity Stones from the past and return them once they’re done with them in the present. However, Loki season 2’s lore reveals that Avengers: Endgame‘s time travel rules only apply to everything that’s inside the Sacred Timeline. Since the TVA headquarters are located outside of time, time travel works differently there.
How Loki Time Travels In Loki Season 2
After being sent back to the TVA after visiting the Citadel at the End of Time, Loki goes through what Ouroboros calls “time-slipping”, a phenomenon that brings Loki back and forth between the past, present, and future. Apparently, Loki season 2’s time-slipping is a rare anomaly that afflicts individuals who have had atypical interactions with time. Loki’s presence at the TVA’s headquarters is displaced from their flow of time, causing him to blink in and out of existence, like a flickering light or a glitching computer file. To make things more mind-boggling, Ouroboros suggests that Loki’s time-slipping has precedents, but none of them have taken place at the TVA.
Unlike the Avengers’ time travel, Loki’s time-slipping affects other points in time. For instance, the information Loki gives to Ouroboros during Loki season 2, episode 1 begins to be recorded in O.B.’s memory in the present despite the fact that Loki is talking to him in the past. So, instead of creating a diverging timeline or causing a hard reset, Loki’s time-slipping rewrites the TVA’s history in what an outside viewer would call “real time”. Time didn’t matter too much at the TVA prior to Loki season 2. Now, Loki’s time-slipping brings a heightened sense of causality to the organization.
How The TVA Time Travel In Loki
Loki season 1 suggests that, at some point in the TVA’s past, He Who Remains abducted dozens of variants and turned them into TVA agents, providing them with highly advanced technology. The TVA harnessed the power of time travel with TemPads — the handheld devices that allow TVA agents to access any point in the Sacred Timeline. The TemPads seem to work similarly to the Avengers’ Time-Space GPS, as both devices pinpoint a specific moment in time as a landing spot. However, the TemPads open their own portals (called “Timedoors”), whereas the Avengers need a Quantum Tunnel to transport themselves to their destination.
How Time Works In The TVA & The Void
The TVA has access to other places outside time and space. Their pruning sticks send variants to the Void, where they’re abandoned for eternity. However, bypassing Alioth also allows Loki and Sylvie to enter the Citadel at the End of Time, which overlooks the Sacred Timeline itself. The TVA, the Void, and the Citadel at the End of Time exist outside time and space, which means that they don’t exist anywhere within the MCU’s chronological timeline. But despite their disconnection from a specific timeline, these places seem to have their own past, present, and future, which is why Loki can time-slip within the TVA’s headquarters.
Outside of time, the TVA can shape the Sacred Timeline to their liking with the help of the Temporal Loom — a machine that streamlines the flow of time to create a single continuity. TVA agents can spend hundreds or even thousands of years protecting the Sacred Timeline and pruning any rogue branch that puts it at risk. But now that the MCU’s Sacred Timeline has gone out of control and multiple branches have turned it into a spiraling multiverse, there’s little the TVA can do to fix it. Loki’s time-slipping in the MCU’s Loki season 2 only proves that not even the TVA’s headquarters are exempt from changes in the flow of time.
New episodes of Loki release every Thursday at 6pm PT / 9pm ET on Disney+.