Infinity stones scene breakdown
This scene has been on my mind since seeing the first episode of the Loki series. It’s just such a good scene, and does so many things, that I wanted to talk about it some more.
First up, Loki quietly enters the office. You can hear an old phone ring in the background. Loki pauses, shuts the door quietly, and then looks around hoping not to be noticed.
He spots Casey and goes over to him, and whispers “hey” to catch his attention. This is odd, because why would you attract the attention of the person you’re about to attack, but I think Loki doesn’t know enough about this place yet to be sure of where the tesseract might be. He’s probably assuming it’s been moved to some high security facility. But then Casey is oblivious to Loki’s sneaking and loudly, and it seems without much concern, says “hey” right back to him, “I know you, you’re that criminal with the blue box”.
This surprises Loki and he grabs Casey by the shoulders and pushes him down behind the desk, out of sight of the rest of the office. All while shushing him. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the shushing in Ragnarok.
We then get this odd exchange, where Loki first asks Casey what his name is. Casey is somewhat confused, but answers, and seems more annoyed than alarmed at this point.
Loki then glances around the room with this uncomfortable look on his face, before he musters up the… something… to threaten Casey - “Give me the tesseract or I’ll gut you like a fish, Casey!”
What’s going on here? He’s partly keeping an eye on his surroundings here in case one of the hunters arrives, and to make sure no-one is walking to close to hear him say what he knows is going to be somewhat louder than the previously whispered conversation. But we’ve seen Loki be quiet and calculating before, and this is not that. He looks very uncertain, and clearly uncomfortable. I think part of that is because he knows he doesn’t have access to his magic, and he knows these people are strong enough that he can’t easily overpower them physically, so this is a huge risk for him. Will Casey be cowed into doing what he asks? Is he threatening enough to him? Or will Casey shout out to the office for help?
This is also setting the scene for the later conversation with Mobius about not enjoying hurting people. Here we can see a dramatic change of expression and body language as he prepares for the threat. He gathers himself, takes a deep breath, and then focuses all his attention on Casey - getting in close and looking down on him.
Casey responds “What’s a fish”
Loki is completely thrown by this response, and flips right out of Threaten Mode - “How do you not know what a fish is?”
“Well I’ve lived my entire life behind a desk”
“Well, what difference does it make?”
“I want to know exactly what I’m being threatened with before I comply.”
“Death, Casey. Violent, painful death!” And now that they’re back on familiar ground Loki engages Threaten Mode again. But only briefly, because as soon as Casey stands up to open his cart Loki loses his intimidating look and goes back to looking fearfully around the office in case this conversation has attracted too much attention.
Casey opens the lid, and asks “This it?” as he hands it to Loki. Loki is still crouched on the ground and the drawer is at eye level. When he glances in the draw his focus is on the tesseract and he doesn’t see the rest of the contents. He takes the tesseract and sighs in relief, examining it for a moment.
Once he’s sure it’s the real thing he looks back down into the drawer…
…and sees the infinity stones.
He leans over and grabs the edge of the drawer and I love the sad little clunk that the collar control makes as it hits the metal edge of the drawer. What was a second ago the most important thing in Loki’s world - the tesseract, his means of escape, his way home, and the bargaining chip with Thanos - suddenly forgotten about.
He says this in such a flat tone of voice. Carrying his confusion, disbelief, and that sense of well-today’s-been-full-of-ridiculous-things-against-me-so-why-not-another-one.
He puts down the control for the time collar and his hand just hovers over them. I love how this just shows how unprepared he was for this. He’s not immediately scooping up an handful, he’s shocked and processing, and thinking about why they would be so casually stored in this unprotected drawer. And why there would be so many of them.
This is where the music picks up, having been unnoticeable up till this. A kind of eerie wail that seems very appropriate, and also appropriately mystical for these items of such extraordinary power.
And then I think this is the moment when he realises that whatever is going on here, that if a handful of infinity stones are just thrown in a junk drawer, then any hope he had of escaping through using the tesseract is gone.
“H-, how…, how do you have these?” He’s temporarily at a loss for words, and his voice is so low and flat, no inflection at all. No plan. No hope at all. This is the moment when reality sinks in, that there’s no alternative but to do what he’s told (for the meanwhile at least). This is the moment that leads him to voluntarily go back to the Time Theatre and wait for Mobius.
He turns to Casey for an answer, but his tone of voice says he’s not expecting good news.
“Oh, we actually get a lot of those. Some of the guys use them as paperweights.”
Loki looks back in the drawer and he almost looks like he wants to cry or shout in frustration and confusion. That feeling when everything’s against you and there’s nothing you can do about it. He picks up one of the time stones to examine.
The slightly sad music of the TVA starts playing as he drops the time stone back in the draw, a little bit angry at them for existing, and deeply disappointed.
He looks up from the drawer and around the office, but this time actually paying attention to what he sees. Re-evaluating these dull office workers. The music picks up here with the strings joining in.
All the while Casey is just watching. He might not understand this significance of what just happened, but he clearly no longer feels in any danger from this weird prisoner. He closes the lid of the drawer and then follows Loki.
Loki has clearly forgotten about Casey. He has bigger things to think about. He stands up and wanders out into the middle of the office, not concerned about any of the staff worrying about him. Feeling every bit of his insignificance at this moment.
He wanders over to the screen showing the sacred timeline. No-one takes any notice of him.
And I love the look on his face here, though I don’t have quite the right words to describe it. You can see that he’s been devastated by what he’s just seen, and he now has to build himself up from the ground. There’s a sort of grief here too, for his world that has completely changed, and possibly a little sliver of hope, or recognition of potential opportunity, but at a scale that he’s not even sure how to engage with just yet.
And I think he’s thinking if this is true, then what of the things Mobius said might also be true. If they can have multiple infinity stones lying around then perhaps the future he showed wasn’t a lie. He realises there’s no point in fighting anymore and I think if Hunter B-15 didn’t walk in the very next moment he probably would have just wandered back to the Time Theatre to find Mobius to answer all his questions.
I love Casey’s little head bob of acknowledgement that Loki’s right - this is the greatest power in the universe.
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