Analyze Thyself || Mobius Meta
Like a lot of people, I was thrilled to hear Owen Wilson would be playing Mobius M. Mobius in the Loki series, but I never expected to be so damn impressed with the execution. He's a trickster, and while it's appropriate, I don't think anyone expected it.
Not just because of Wilson’s comedy background, either, but because Mobius has all the painfully earnest, embarrassing energy of a youth pastor trying to "rap" about Jesus to a troubled orphan. Like he’s the type of guy who wants to settle your argument about whether or not Midnight Run is the best romantic movie of all time over a heated game of checkers. But thankfully, Mobius is nowhere near as boring a fella.
For one thing, he gives two conflicting motives for his behavior. What's the truth? We don't know yet for certain, so we have to look at his actions. And while finding out the truth will surely inform his character to a degree, finding out what he's wrong or lying about is just as revealing.
It's only fair, given that he's an analyst, that we all turn that microscope around and ask: what makes Mobius tick?
For Loki: Episode Two, “The Variant”
Also, I’m not gonna entertain a lot of unknown-unknowns, because assuming everything is a plot twist is just maddeningly unhelpful.
To begin with, the first action I think begins cracking this character open is his willingness to stick his neck out on the block to become Loki's handler. It’s risky behavior, to say the least. Is his reputation on the line? Or job? Or more? We don't quite know, but agreeing to babysit that bundle of chaos is, even in the best circumstances, like agreeing to catch a bullet in your teeth.
He’s clearly not stupid or reckless, so that means Mobius believes the rewards for doing this, whatever they may be, outweigh the risks to himself. He thinks whatever might happen to him as a result of this action is an acceptable cost.
Conclusion #1: Good or bad, he's not strictly a selfish man.
Mobius gives a lovely little speech in this episode about how he has perfect faith and trust and gratitude in the TVA. Unlike Loki during Avengers, he has conviction in what he does. He lives for the TVA, he'd die for the TVA. He believes that the "Sacred Timeline" should be defended and thus will do whatever it takes to stop the threat of the Very Dangerous Variant.
Order out of Chaos. Peace. Contentment. For all time. Always.
If Mobius gets his way, the Variant is caught, obviously. It's all the motive he needs but... it’s not all the motive he has.
At the beginning of the episode, Mobius catches Loki stalling to let the Variant get away. He’s then hauled into Renslayer's office where he argues for another chance for Loki and swears he's only doing all this because it's a good strategy. That he isn't being a softy, that he has no esteem for Loki, and that if Loki betrays them again, Mobius will be the one to take him out.
Renslayer and Loki both call bullshit -- they think they see an exploitable Achilles heel, here. And according to Renslayer, Mobius has a history of this kind of behavior. She’s worried about him, though, and she has good reason. You see, Loki is the antithesis of everything the TVA believes in. Not only is he the God of Mischief -- the one called Lie-Smith, Mr. Chaos -- he's also a variant.
In fact, the prime entity he's a variant of is the same as the Very Dangerous Variant who's attacking the TVA. Which means that if Mobius loves the TVA and has perfect faith, commitment, and conviction in the Sacred Timeline, logically, he should hate Loki.
Later in the episode, after Loki's done some genuine helping and he and Mobius have gotten to bond over their detective work, Mobius is excited. It's a clever as hell idea, that someone could hide from the TVA in apocalypses, and they now had a real shot at catching the Variant.
But that's not the extent of the excitement. Because, aww, look: Loki's helping. Willingly and with a good attitude. He's doing the work, he's focused, he's genuine. He has a knack for the job, and Loki's proud of himself.
And Mobius is proud of him, too. He's beaming about Loki’s progress, insisting he should be there on the field op, almost past caring how he foolish looks at this point. He feels vindicated. He even gives Loki a couple of daggers, he's that convinced of Loki's progress.
But then? Then he fights B-15 when she wants to split them up. He insinuates that Loki's up to shit and that B-15 can’t handle him, proving that he both doesn't trust Loki to behave on his own and thinks Loki belongs on the op. Meaning he must be there, but Mobius must be by his side.
Because Mobius believes Loki needs him-. Wait, wrong accent: Mobius believes Loki needs him. Him, specifically.
Conclusion #2: Mobius is invested in more than just the timeline.
So we've established that "Mobius doesn't care about Loki" is the false statement. What's the point of that? Well, it recolors some of his behavior.
For one, the confusion about his motives can be read as either a lack of self-awareness on his part or as a clever ruse to keep Renslayer from canceling his risky "takes a Loki to catch a Loki" experiment and to keep Loki from believing he can exploit Mobius' fondness for him.
I'd err more on the side of it being a bit of both, though. He seems aware that he cares about Loki, but not that it's clouding his judgment or that it has anything to do with a personal predilection for "broken things."
But affection for Loki isn't the only thing complicating Mobius now. We're shown two instances of him bearing witness to the nigh-apocalypse, and he is thoroughly uncomfy with it.
Both Loki and a hunter are shown being callous toward people they know are about to die, people they know they can't save, and Mobius doesn't like it. Even when he was just rifling through files, the frequency of great tragedies that he knows all about but isn't allowed to help with is beginning to affect him.
I mean, it's hard enough when you're staring at bodies in a branch timeline that's about to be pruned, but knowing you can save living people who are about to be wiped off the map but can't because you believe the Fabric of Reality rests on maintaining the timeline? That's painful. Makes it hard to keep one's convictions, don't you think?
Conclusion #3: Mobius is more complicated than even he knows.
I don’t like to call shit this early, but If I had to take a wild stab about Mobius right now, I'd say that the cornerstone of his character is an unconscious desire to feel needed, and thus an irresistible weakness for people in crisis. That his devotion to the TVA is based on this weakness, but that it's also this weakness that will undermine his devotion -- if not because of his desire to help Loki, then by his desire to help other people harmed by the "natural" course of time.
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