The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to shady organizations.
In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” S.H.I.E.L.D. — what was supposed to be a trustworthy, do-good government intelligence agency — was revealed to have been infiltrated by the Nazi terrorist group Hydra. The group had been thought to be defeated in World War II with Steve Rogers’ sacrifice being the exclamation mark in the sentence of Hydra’s extinction.
Marvel’s television series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” further explored Hydra in relation to S.H.I.E.L.D. and explained how the organization had double agents since its early days.
These narratives showed that even the best, well-meaning organizations could be susceptible to evil because of the power involved. And “Loki” may have just added another questionable agency to the MCU.
“Loki” episode 3 spoilers ahead.
“Loki” formally introduced the Time Variance Authority into the MCU. The TVA was created by the Time-Keepers as a way to monitor the Sacred Timeline and any threats to it. The TVA takes action to stop any occurrence that threatens the Sacred Timeline.
If the TVA were the U.S. government, the Time-Keepers would be the legislative branch, determining what events make up the Sacred Timeline. TVA agents, analysts and Minutemen would be the executive branch, enforcing the timeline that the Time-Keepers have determined by arresting variants and monitoring and resetting timelines. The TVA’s Judge Renslayer would be the judicial branch, handling variants’ trials and crimes against the timeline.
The difference, however, is that the Time-Keepers still have all the power, because there is no balance of power. There are no checks and balances.
While the intentions of maintaining a singular timeline that prevents reality’s collapse seem good and well-meaning, are they? Were they ever? Is that even the purpose of staying true to the Sacred Timeline? Or is it just a means to have control?
The TVA has control over time. It’s an immense power to have, and episode 3 of “Loki” just proved that the TVA — or perhaps, more so the Time-Keepers — is not a trustworthy organization.
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The Real Truth About the TVA’s Employees
During episode 2, Loki and Agent Mobius have a conversation about where they come from. Mobius says he was created by the Time-Keepers for the TVA, but that statement was proven false in episode 3.
The other Loki variant, who reveals she goes by “Sylvie” and does not want to be referred to as a “Loki,” informs Loki that C-20, the Minutemen hunter whom she kidnapped in episode 2, was once a regular person on Earth — one who evidently loved margaritas. This takes Loki by surprise because of what Mobius had previously told him. But Sylvie refutes Loki’s point and tells him, “They’re all variants, just like us.” Loki then states that the TVA workers are unaware of that information.
The fact the TVA employees have all been manipulated into thinking their whole livelihoods exist for the TVA is concerning on its own. The way Mobius spoke of his duty to the TVA in episode 2 revealed how his entire identity and purpose is to serve the organization. The Time-Keepers have done whatever it takes to strip any sense of previous humanity from their TVA workers.
Given the power the Time-Keepers hold, it’s not a surprise they can have that kind of control over variants. How these variants are chosen and brainwashed into working for the TVA remains to be seen. It helps explain why the files concerning the TVA’s creation are classified and inaccessible to Loki. But this is just another contributing factor to how the TVA cannot be trusted.
The TVA Propaganda
When Loki is brought to the TVA, he learns of the agency’s purpose and the Sacred Timeline by watching an informational video narrated by the animated clock character Miss Minutes. The clip has a propagandist tone to it, emphasized further by the closing tagline of “For All Time. Always.”
The video is also sponsored by the Time Variance Authority Narrative Commission. According to the Nerdist, the Time Variance Authority Narrative Commission “seem(s) to be a self-censorship and approval body that decides what stories from time can and can’t be told and how they should be presented.”
It’s entirely possible that the TVA’s purpose truly is to “protect and preserve the proper flow of time for everyone and everything,” but that power alone makes it tough to ignore the potential for inauthenticity and mistrust. After all, the propaganda is not limited to just the Miss Minutes-narrated informational video.
The TVA’s walls are filled with propagandist posters that give off the impression of an Orwellian Big Brother rather than a warning made out of safety and security. Loki himself says in episode 2 that “Your TVA propaganda is exhausting.” Loki might, at this point in the show, be closer to a villain than an anti-hero — but he has a point.
The Time-Keepers could just be hiding its true, potentially totalitarian motives for the TVA behind its Miss Minutes mascot: a light-hearted cartoon character with an affable southern drawl — voiced by Tara Strong. Assuming all variants follow the same process Loki did upon getting to the TVA, the anthropomorphic clock is one of the first encounters that variants have after being taken into custody. Having such a character be one’s introduction to the TVA could help give a more amiable impression.
The Secrecy of the Time-Keepers
As far as “Loki” has shown, Judge Renslayer is the only one at the TVA who has met and interacts with the Time-Keepers. C-20 may have told Sylvie where they are and how to find them at the TVA, but this doesn’t mean she has ever had an actual encounter with them. In fact, even Mobius — who seems to be a high-ranking analyst at the TVA — has never met the Time-Keepers.
It’s unrealistic to think that everyone working at the TVA would, at some point, meet the Time-Keepers. After all, not everyone at a Fortune 500 company meets the CEO. But “Loki” has given the implication that a meeting with the Time-Keepers in any regard is for a very select few. Considering the events of the series thus far, it’s seeming like the reason for that is because the Time-Keepers have a lot to hide.