Loki Timeline Explained: Sacred Timeline and The Finale

Hi, this is Barry and here’s a running article that I’ll keep updated as the show Loki progresses. I’ll try and capture all the details of the show and explain the events in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, we wouldn’t have this show if it weren’t for the events in the MCU leading up to Endgame, where we saw time travel and the creation of a bunch of timelines. Here’s the series Loki and the Sacred Timeline explained; spoilers ahead.

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Loki: Updates from Avengers: Endgame

Let’s take it from the top. Loki, the series, exists because of the events in the movie Endgame.

And what happened in Endgame? The Avengers used Pym Particles to travel back in time and created a set of new timelines.

What are the rules of the time travel established in Endgame? Any attempt by a person to go back to their own past results in a new timeline. Why? Because your past is your past and can’t be changed; it’s immutable. The act of travelling back in time creates a new timeline. This concept was verified by the Directors and the Writers in multiple interviews. So there is no confusion there. The Prime MCU timeline results in many other alternate timelines, and it’s explained in this quick 3-min video below and in detail in this article – Avengers Endgame Time Travel explained.

Loki From The 2012-Timeline

Now, specifically, the act of going back to New York in 2012 creates one new timeline. This is where Prime-Hulk meets the Ancient One and convinces her to give him the Time Stone. This is where Prime-Steve steals the sceptre and says “Hail Hydra” in the lift only to meet his 2012 timeline version and fight him. This is where Prime-Tony tries making away with the Tesseract but is interrupted by the 2012-timeline version of Hulk, who’s hating on stairs. Loki from this timeline disappears with the Tesseract. And this Loki is who we’re following in the series.

Remember, in the Prime Timeline of the MCU, none of these messy incidents happened in the year 2012; there were no time travellers who visited. The 2012-timeline is diverged because of these variations in events. We know from the ending of Endgame that Steve managed to return the Mind Stone and Time Stone to this timeline as per their plan. So to quote Prime-Hulk, “from the perspective of that timeline, it’s like the stones never left“.

In the MCU & Loki: Difference between Timelines, Universes and Realities

There is no difference between “Alternate Timelines”, “Parallel Universes”, and “Branched Realities”. They are all synonyms. What are they? They are each an existence with their own set of people, places and events. Some of them would be relatively similar, others drastically different due to the causality of events. There are various reasons why a Branched Reality can come into existence – in Endgame, we are shown that Time Travel is one of the reasons. Alternatively, it could simply be that important choices led to a very different history. Each alternate choice could potentially spawn a Parallel Universe. The concept of Parallel Universes is not just fiction; it is drawn from actual science. The notion that there are infinite Parallel Universes with alternate versions of us is something that scientists talk about today, and some of these Parallel Universes might interfere. This study in Quantum Physics is why we see the concept of Parallel Universes appearing in fiction.

  • The TVA and the Avengers call them [Alternate] Timelines.
  • Kang called them [Stacked] Universes.
  • The Ancient One in Endgame calls it Reality.

Loki: What is the TVA, and who are the Time Keepers?

Time Keepers are self-appointed beings who have decided that all of the timelines in existence must follow a sacred path. And that is the only way, and any variations they consider is inappropriate needs to be purged. The Time Keepers create the organization called TVA (Time Variance Authority) that they use to ensure their grand plan of the Sacred Timeline is executed. The TVA itself is located in a place outside of time and is hilariously bureaucratic. The Time Keepers are revealed to be a false front for another force behind the TVA, Kang.

What does the Reset Charge do?

This is the most unclear portion of the show Loki. In Episode 4, Sylvie (Lady Loki) claims her reality was erased. Lady Loki belonged to a reality (timeline) created either because Loki was born a woman or for other reasons long before Lady Loki came into existence. Either way, erasing that timeline is the same as performing genocide on everyone who is part of that timeline at the instant little Lady Loki is taken away. 

Lady Loki series Timeline small
(click image to enlarge)

There is a king and queen of Asgard who exist with the knowledge that they adopted a daughter in that timeline. While in another timeline, an alternate king and queen exist, knowing that they adopted a son. These two kings and queens are two entirely different sets of people with alternate lives and memories, living in alternate realities. Erasing Lady Loki’s reality would also mean erasing the people, places and future events of that timeline. This is why I call it a “Timeline Genocide”. If everything and everyone is anyway erased, then why bother taking out the Variant before destroying that timeline? The TVA could simply leave the Variant in their own timeline and erase them along with their realities… unless they need the Variants for something.

If we consider Timeline Genocide, then its important to note that many of the people we saw in Endgame, for instance, everyone from 2012, like 2012-Cap and 2012-Ancient-One, is killed by the TVA when they arrest Loki in the first Episode. By extension, it would mean the TVA would erase all of the timelines created in Endgame. Remember Quill who is going to go looking for the 2014-Gamora? Well she’d be killed off by the TVA too along with the 2014-timeline. Timeline Genocide as suggested by Sylvie may not sit well in the MCU as Zoe Saldana is already signed up to play 2014-Gamora as we already know the 2023-Gamora is dead. The concept of “reset” might work best if it simply means removing the effects of the Variant from that timeline while the rest is left untouched. We’ll know more are the series unfolds.

What is The Void, and who is Alioth?

The Void is a place of nothingness where all pruned timelines meet to be devoured by a cosmic creature called Alioth. Episode 5 confirms the Genocide theory I’ve mentioned above, where a reset or pruned Timeline’s inhabitants and things are sent to The Void.

Loki: What is the Sacred Timeline and the Allowed Variance?

Sacred Timeline is the series of events or paths that all timelines must take, which is within the definition of “sacred” that the Time Keepers deem fit. Each timeline can have divergences, but they need to be within the standard deviation (allowed variance), which again is decided by the Time Keepers. This concept is explained using the below diagram in the series. You see those dotted lines? Those are the “limits” within which every timeline must remain. And the central fat line is the Sacred Timeline, or rather, the Sacred Path.

loki-sacred-timeline-explained

As long as any timeline falls into the allowed standard deviation (allowed variance) from the Sacred Path (Sacred Timeline), the Time Keepers don’t have a problem. When there is an event in any of the timelines that causes a divergence outside the “allowed” standard deviation by the Time Keepers, they find the event’s root cause and prune it using the reset charge.

Thanks to the wording, rather, the poor choice of phrasing, the series tends to mislead that there are no multiple timelines, and that there is only a single one. But this is not possible because we already know that various timelines exist, as shown in Endgame. The Sacred Timeline definition comes to us after learning that there are multiple timelines present out there, e.g., we already know that Nebula is dead in one timeline and that can’t be undone. So our interpretation of this definition must be made in the context of multiple timelines. Not to mention the next Dr Strange film is going to be dealing with numerous timelines too.

Loki: What is a Variant?

A Variant is any person who is responsible for an event that causes their timeline to deviate from the Sacred Timeline (or Sacred Path) beyond the allowed variance set by the Time Keepers.

We know from the series that the Time Keepers consider the acts of the Prime-timeline Avengers in the 2012-timeline to be allowed. However, the Time Keepers feel the action of 2012-timeline Loki (escaping with the Tesseract) to be inappropriate, and he’s marked as a Variant.

In the Prime MCU timeline, Loki was arrested, and he dies eventually at the hands of Thanos. That is within the limits of what is Sacred, according to the Time Keepers. Nebula from the 2014-timeline dies at the hands of Prime-Nebula. For the 2014-timeline, this is allowed according to the Time Keepers.

Who is Sylvie / Lady Loki?

Lady Loki / Sylvie is from a timeline where Loki was born a woman. Remember, Loki being born a woman is within the Allowed Variance defined by the Time Keepers. This is similar to the other timeline where Loki is a beast. Sylvie has been marked as a variant because she’s been setting up traps for the TVA and each time, she steals a reset charge. She’s causing events that can cause timelines to diverge drastically from the one deemed sacred by the Time Keepers.

Loki: The Story So Far

Loki: Episode 1 (Glorious Purpose) Explained

loki episode 1 explained a glorious purpose

2012-timeline Loki finds himself arrested by the TVA and is scheduled for pruning. Loki has been marked as a Variant by the Time Keepers for escaping with the Tesseract. Morbius, who has been trying to hunt down another Loki Variant, seeks the help of 2012-timeline Loki to locate and arrest this other Loki who’s been setting traps and stealing reset charges from the TVA. Loki plays along and agrees to help Morbius to stay alive as long as possible. In this episode, an important thing to note is that in 1549, Mobius finds a kid with a brand of bubble gum called Kablooie.

Loki: Episode 2 (The Variant) Explained

loki episode 2 explained The Variant

Loki discovers that apocalyptic events are so huge that a Variant’s presence there would not alter the course of events. This means that it becomes impossible for the TVA to read the temporal aura of a Variant in the vicinity of an apocalypse as any change to that timeline before the apocalypse would be too tiny compared to the apocalypse itself. 

To confirm with an example, Loki and Morbius head to Pompeii moments before the city is decimated by the volcanic eruption. They do this without informing the TVA. Loki creates a ruckus by screaming to the people about their impending doom. Normally, TVA would get alerted by such an event but as expected, TVA gets no alert about Loki’s interference in Pompeii. Compared to what Pompeii will go through, what Loki is doing has little to no impact on that timeline.

Morbius recalls Kablooie, the bubble gum, which was sold between the years 2047 and 2051. So Loki and Morbius cross-reference all apocalyptic events in these years and identify the 2050 catastrophic storm event in Alabama. The TVA heads to 2050 to sweep the storm shelter for the other Loki Variant. Morbius gets permission to take Loki along.

Loki finds that the other Loki is using enchantment to control the minds of different people in the store, including Hunter B-15, the operation leader. The reveal of Loki Episode 2 is that the other Loki Variant is a woman, and she triggers all the reset charges she’s been stealing to create impacts at multiple points in time to create numerous diverging timelines. She disappears through a time portal and Loki escapes with her.

Loki: Episode 3 (Lamentis) Explained

loki episode 3 explained Lamentis

Lady Loki returns to TVA to put an end to their operations. Loki follows along and proposes they work together. Lady Loki is uninterested, and the two of them begin fighting. Ravonna shows up and holds the two at gunpoint. Loki triggers the temporal pad that transports both Lokis to the year 2077 on Lementis-1, a moon about to be crushed by a planet. This is another one of the apocalypse events that Lady Loki has been using to hide. Unfortunately, the TemPad runs out of battery, and the Lokis are stuck. Lady Loki states that she calls herself Sylvie.

Using their abilities, the two gain entry onto a train that will take them to an arc with the right amount of power to charge the TemPad. Regrettably, Loki gets drunk and exposed and gets tossed out of the train; Sylvie leaps out with him as he has the TemPad, which is destroyed thanks to his fall.

As a final desperate move, the two try to get to the arc on foot, but a fragment of the planet destroys the arc before they can get near it, leaving the two doomed along with the other citizens on the moon.

Loki: Episode 3 discloses two key points:

  1. Loki and Sylvie have had different pasts and are indeed from alternate timelines.
  2. Sylvie states that the people working for the TVA are all variants who once had a life on another planet, like Earth. However the TVA folks don’t seem to know this.

Loki: Episode 4 (The Nexus Event) Explained

loki episode 4 explained The Nexus Event

We’re shown that Sylvie was only a little girl when she was abducted by the TVA. However, she escapes using Ravonna’s TemPad and has been on the run ever since, living her life behind apocalypses. Loki appears to have fallen in love with Sylvie, which could be why we see a giant Nexus spike on the TVA screen so tremendous that it stands out more prominent than the obliteration of a moon and its people. The TVA uses this Nexus event to locate the two Lokis and arrests them.

The TVA seems to have managed to erase the numerous diverging events created by Sylvie in Episode 2. Pfft. So much for that.

Loki is sent to a moment when Cif kicks him in his groin, which he’s made to live in endless loops. Morbius doesn’t trust Loki when he claims that everyone in TVA is a variant and not created by the Time Keepers. Morbius is, however, left with doubts because Ravonna tells him that C-20 lost her mind till she couldn’t talk anymore and died. And that this was because of the enchantment spell that Sylvie used on her. This is a lie that Morbius confirms by stealing Ravonna’s TemPad and going through the footage that shows C-20 was healthy and claiming that she had a life before the TVA.

B-15 also ends up recollecting memories from a time before the TVA as she too was a recipient of Sylvie’s enchantment spell. She goes to talk to Sylvie and confirms that the TVA has been lying to her.

Morbius tries to help Loki, but Ravonna purges him for treason.

Loki and Sylvie are taken to the timekeepers for their purging, but B-15 interferes, allowing the duo to gain the upper hand.

The three Time Keepers are disclosed to be mindless androids when Sylvie beheads one of them. We are left with the question of who actually created the TVA.

Before Loki can profess his love to Sylvie, Ravonna purges Loki. Sylvie takes Ravonna prisoner to get more answers.

The mid-credits scene: Loki wakes up in a place to face other alternate Lokis.

Loki: Episode 5 (Journey Into Mystery) Explained

loki episode 5 Journey Into Mystery

Loki is met by four other Lokis.

Old Loki: In his timeline, he didn’t get killed by Thanos. He faked his death and lived out the vast majority of his life alone on a barren planet. He eventually got lonely and decided to find Thor, and the TVA arrested and pruned him.
Alligator Loki: In a timeline where Loki was born an alligator, it ended up eating the wrong neighbour’s cat, and the TVA came for it.
Kid Loki: A younger Loki in his timeline killed Thor, and the TVA pruned him.
Boastful Loki: Well, he’s boastful and claims to have killed Cap and Iron Man and even collected the six Infinity Stones. Unlikely.

The four Lokis take Loki to their underground hiding place only to be attacked by a whole other set of Lokis who engage in a beatdown because of a series of hilarious backstabbings. Kid, Old and Alligator Loki exit the bunker.

Meanwhile, Sylvie learns from Ravonna that a Loki might be still alive in The Void and figures the only way to go after him is by pruning herself, and she does precisely that, but she takes Ravonna’s TemPad with her.

Ravonna is herself on the quest to find out who created the TVA. She questions B-15, who she’s holding prisoner, about Sylvie.

Sylvie reaches The Void only to be chased by Alioth, with whom she momentarily links in her desperate attempt to enchant it. She’s saved by Morbius. The two of them unite with Loki, Old Loki, Kid Loki and Aligator Loki.

Sylvie hands Morbius Ravonna’s TemPad, which he uses to head back to the TVA to burn it to the ground.

Kid Loki leaves after handing his magical sword to Loki. Loki and Sylvie join hands to hit Alioth with an enchantment spell while Old Loki distracts the beast with a massive illusion of Asgard. While Old Loki is consumed by Alioth, Loki and Sylvie successfully manage to enchant the beast, which gives way to a passage that takes them beyond The Void.

Loki Finale: Episode 6 (For All Time. Always) Explained

loki episode 6 finale explained for all time always

The Season-1 finale of Loki begins with dialogues from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which collapse into nothingness, and then we see other baby universes created and destroyed. This opening montage effectively represents the birth and death of multiple timelines.

Loki Season Finale: Who is the villain?

Loki and Sylvie go past The Void to the end of time to a house that guards the Sacred Timeline, where they meet He Who Remains. Who is “the villain”? This is Kang The Conqueror. But he’s technically not the villain; his alternate selves from many other timelines are the villains we’ll see in Season 2 of Loki.

Kang’s Story

In the 31st century, Kang is a scientist from one timeline who made contact with Kangs from other universes (or timelines). While a few of the Kangs were friendly and worked in harmony, other versions of Kang were evil and set out to conquer the parallel universes. This lead to an all-out multiverse war. To stop the chaos, Kang (from the Sacred Timeline) found the beast Alioth and harnessed it to obliterate every other timeline except one. He puts in place the TVA to ensure all other timelines are destroyed.

Despite having travelled through time to put together a path for Loki and Sylvie to reach him, Kang mentions he doesn’t know the future from then on. So he places two choices to Loki and Sylvie, much like how The Architect gives Neo in The Matrix: Reloaded.

  1. Kill him and allow the other Kangs to bring chaos.
  2. Help him run the TVA.

What has Kang been up to with the Sacred Timeline and the TVA?

According to Kang Parallel Universes / Realities / Timelines can coexist. He has no problem with that.

For example, Old Loki’s timeline. In his reality, he didn’t attempt to kill Thanos. Instead he played dead and escaped and lived in isolation for a very long time. According to Kang, this Universe was not in violation of the Sacred Path. So, he didn’t instruct the TVA to prune this Universe. But the minute Old Loki decided to up and go find Thor, that gave Kang the input (a Nexus event) that this Universe is going to deviate and will eventually take a path where an Evil Kang (The Conqueror) will be born. As a result, the TVA shows up in this Universe, takes Old Loki prisoner and destroys (resets) the entire Universe / Timeline / Reality. Then, at the TVA, Old Loki is tried for his crime and is eventually pruned and send to The Void. But he survives the creature, Alioth, and has been living in The Void. Each of the other Lokis have also had their Universes destroyed and they alone are the sole survivors of their respective Realities in The Void.

Sylvie says this to Loki – “I remember Asgard. My home, my people, my life. The universe wants to break free, so it manifests chaos. Like me being born the Goddess of Mischief. And as soon as that created a big enough detour from the Sacred Timeline, the TVA showed up, erased my reality, and took me prisoner.

Her Universe was destroyed along with everyone she knew. But up until the day she was taken, her Universe was allowed to exist because up until that moment, that Universe followed the Sacred Path. Something that Sylvie would have done as a child on that day results in a deviation and it would have lead to a path where an Evil Kang would be born. The TVA shows up, takes her prisoner and destroyed her entire Reality, but Sylvie escapes.

Kang’s solution is to kill innocent Timelines/Universes/Realities and their living beings in order to prevent one man from taking birth, in each of those Universes.

Sylvie vs Loki

While Loki feels that Kang might be telling the truth, Sylvie is blinded my revenge. After a brief fight and a kiss, Sylvie sends Loki to ‘a’ TVA and kills Kang. We soon see the Sacred Timeline branch out into infinite futures.

Loki Finale: What happed to Ravonna?

As we know, Ravonna in the TVA is a variant. For a short moment in 2018 (on what appears to be the Sacred Timeline), we see Ravonna, a teacher. B-15 (who has been freed by Morbius) uses this to let others know that everyone in the TVA is a variant. Back at the TVA, Ravonna gets some information from Kang. Morbius arrives and tries to prune Ravonna as she is against free will. Morbius fails, but Ravonna spares him and leaves to an unknown time/timeline in search of the truth.

Ending of Loki finale explained: Why don’t Morbius and B-15 recognize Loki?

The killing of Kang has unleashed other timelines. So the nature of how the TVA formed is also altered. This TVA that Sylvie sent Loki seems to be an alternate version run by a different Kang. So who we see in the ending of the final episode of Loki are alternate Morbius and B-15, who have never met Loki before and hence don’t recognize him. We also see a giant statue of Kang, which was not there in the TVA Loki knows. 

 

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