Warning: Spoilers ahead for Marvel’s Loki episode 2 “The Variant.”
Loki is only the third Marvel Disney+ show and Mephisto has already become a running joke among the MCU faithful–but what if he really had been one of the Time-Keepers and went rogue? Rumors of Mephisto appearing began during WandaVision‘s run when a number of seemingly coded clues and Easter eggs pointed to his existence, not to mention how closely his character is tied to the creation of Scarlet Witch’s sons, Billy and Tommy, in the comics. He ended up not appearing, disappointing a number of viewers and proving that sometimes, tea leaves are just tea leaves and there’s nothing to read.
With its more grounded story, the next series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, didn’t provide any opportunity for the Mephisto speculation to be rekindled. After all, it’s rather hard to work a demon who rules over another dimension resembling Hell into a story about Super Soldiers. But Loki, with its dive into alternate timelines and breaking open the multiverse, provides another opportunity for theorizing to begin once again.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Mephisto is unlikely to appear in Loki. After a decade of audiences clamoring for a movie or series that just focuses on Loki’s antics, taking the focus off the God of Mischief would be a misstep for Marvel. He’s also a major villain in the comics, one who has wreaked havoc on the lives of many Marvel characters, and an antagonist of that magnitude may be better served first being introduced in a movie. Still, with the multiverse now in play, it opens up a world of possibilities for the MCU, and theories can be genuinely entertaining thought experiments even if they ultimately don’t prove true. Given what’s been teased and the obscure mystery of the TVA, is it possible that Mephisto was once a Time-Keeper and this is how Lady Loki is pulling off her plan? It’s entirely possible. Here’s why.
In Loki episode 1, “Glorious Purpose,” there was a moment that many viewers took as a clear Mephisto Easter egg. In Agent Mobius’s introductory scene, he’s traveled back in time to a cathedral in 1549 France to investigate the murder of another team of TVA Minutemen and the theft of another reset charge. When Mobius asks a child at the scene if they saw who did this, the child pointed to a stained glass window depicting the Devil seated upon a throne and in all his horned glory, an exact likeness of how Mephisto appears in the comics.
It’s entirely possible this is merely symbolic. At the time of the episode dropping, there were just as many people who pointed out it very likely could have been a merely symbolic connection, with the horns in the stained glass image bearing a passing likeness to the horns of Loki’s golden helmet, and Loki being the rebellious son. Director Kate Herron debunked the Mephisto theory further, saying
It’s honestly just a super weird coincidence. Like, it’s genuinely a reference to Loki — the horns, he was cast out of heaven, that’s what it’s a reference to. Because we filmed that a long time before– I think WandaVision must have been in post when we filmed that. I did see all the stuff about that online and I was like, “Oh, this is going to be interesting.” [Laughs] But no, it’s more relevant to the themes of our show and it’s not a nod to that character.
Still, Mobius’s response to the child was phrased in an incredibly odd way. “Don’t worry, that devil’s afraid of us,” he says. “We’re gonna take care of him.” It’s possible he was just trying to allay the child’s fears, save for the fact the child didn’t appear to be particularly fearful. Instead, it comes across as hinting at some clear history between the TVA and whoever they’re chasing. Through two episodes, nothing thus far has indicated that the “Devil,” who has theoretically been revealed to be Lady Loki, is at all afraid of the TVA. In fact, it very much appears to be the other way around, with their enemy picking off TVA agents left and right and the variant (and/or whoever she may be working for) ten steps ahead. It’s also quite a leap that the child would have used the stained glass image that looks absolutely nothing like Lady Loki save for horns (that themselves don’t even resemble each other) to describe to Mobius who they saw. It’s entirely possible, but if that’s the case, it’s a rather awkward scene just to inject a bit of symbolism.
From the start, things have been fishy with the Time Variance Authority. Whoever the TVA’s mysterious Time-Keepers are, it’s clear they haven’t been fully forthcoming with what’s really going on, not even with their own agents. Their mission to track down and prune Lady Loki, if that’s indeed who she is, has the urgency of an all-hands-on-deck mission. Far from a routine minor pruning, the Loki variant is the focus of the TVA because of the destruction she could do. Her plan to timebomb the Sacred Timeline and blow the multiverse wide-open is far more than a bit of mischief; it’s closer to Loki’s universe-shaking plan to dominate the world and hand over two Infinity Stones to Thanos. It feels like a vendetta, and it’s a vendetta she can accomplish because she knows far more about the TVA and how it operates than she should.
This speaks to two sources of motivation behind her actions. The first is that she’s run across the TVA before and somehow managed to infiltrate their agency long enough to learn their secrets and to steal vital equipment. As Mobius said, no one knows about the TVA until they have to, meaning Lady Loki would have had to have spent quite a bit of time with them in order to understand where to hurt them. Then she somehow managed to escape and evade capture. It’s a plan that, as Mobius pointed out to Loki in episode 2 when the God of Mischief asked the agent if he was worried about Loki escaping, is silly, as Loki knows the TVA can just track him down again. But if this were the case and Lady Loki had indeed earned the TVA’s trust and then betrayed it, that would make Mobius bringing 2012 original Loki into the fold a lot less likely. There is simply no way an organization as cautious and paranoid as the TVA would let another Loki in on their inner workings.
That makes a second option perhaps even more plausible: Lady Loki is working with someone else. Someone who had access to the TVA equipment that Lady Loki initially used to set her plan in motion, someone who would have been high up enough in the organization that the TVA would recognize them on sight. What better way to accomplish a plan than to make a deal with someone who can hide behind enchanting people? It’s exactly Loki’s M.O. to strike a deal with another powerful being in order for them to both get what they want; there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t also be Lady Loki’s. In this case, the goal is to destroy the Sacred Timeline and expand the multiverse. It’s a goal that benefits both Lady Loki and Mephisto.
In destroying the Sacred Timeline (and in theory the Time-Keepers), both Lady Loki and Mephisto would get what they want, theoretically. In the comics, the Time-Keepers fear and are threatened by so-called “Nexus Beings,” people of immense power with the potential to bring the whole timeline and multiverse down. As a result, the Time-Keepers are determined to squash them from existence. One of those beings in the comics is Scarlet Witch and her unborn children, particularly Billy, a.k.a. Wiccan, and WandaVision appears to have set her up as a Nexus Being in the MCU, as well. Considering the damage Lady Loki has already done, it’s entirely possible she’s a Nexus Being, as well, and that she knows the Time-Keepers will destroy her if they get a chance. It gives her a reason to want the Sacred Timeline destroyed; creating an entire multiverse would make it impossible for the Time-Keepers to find her.
As for Mephisto, there’s also some basis to his wanting to see the TVA’s Sacred Timeline destroyed. Mephisto’s entire raison d’être in the comics is the harvesting of souls. Though he likes to enslave human souls, in particular, he’s not picky and will subjugate the souls of just about any living creature if it will serve his purposes and make him and his realm of Hell more powerful. Thus, he is constantly looking for ways to corrupt humankind. Destroying the Sacred Timeline would suddenly give humanity an untold number of opportunities to fall from grace, and the introduction of a multitude of other dimensions gives Mephisto the chance to enslave the souls of other entities or to rule over their worlds. If Mephisto had ever been one of the Time-Keepers, he knows this is the only way he can accomplish his goals.
There’s also some precedent in the comics for Mephisto and Loki working together. In the Siege: Loki Vol. 1 storyline, the Lord of Darkness, the God of Mischief, and Hela strike a three-way deal with one another. Loki harvests the souls of the Disir, i.e. Valkyrie, for Mephisto to use for 101 days. In exchange, he agrees to give Hela a slice of his domain for her to rule over as her new Hel for 1001 years. And Loki is stricken from the Books of Hel so that when he dies, he’ll no longer be Hel-bound.
Truthfully, it’s likely that Mephisto won’t appear in Loki. But there’s more than enough wiggle room in the details, leaving a clear opening should Marvel decide to later retcon the cathedral Devil scene or Mephisto’s ties to the MCU. It’s something Marvel has done more than once in order for a later movie’s narrative continuity to hold up with an earlier movie, or even to incorporate a fan theory and make it canon, such as Marvel’s after-the-fact confirmation that Loki had been under the control of the Mind Stone in The Avengers.
It’s also entirely possible that Mephisto wasn’t actually one of the Time-Keepers, but has been trapped in his Hell dimension by them and is desperately seeking a way out. An immortal demon with an eternity of time on his hands could do a lot of damage from his dimension–especially if he were to strike a deal with another powerful being with the ability to hop through dimensions, like Loki. At some point in the MCU Phase 4 or 5, Mephisto is bound to show up as the villain; he’s too important a character in the comics to not appear. Until then, it will be fun to see who is really behind it all as Loki continues.
Loki releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.
Read more: screenrant.com