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Ke Huy Quan’s character is the key to making Loki season 2 work

‘You know what... that makes sense!’

O.B. (Ke Huy Quan) stands behind a cluttered desk in a cluttered R&A office Photo: Gareth Gatrell/Disney
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

Loki season 2 scripts were already written when Marvel casting director Sarah Halley Finn saw an early screening of Everything Everywhere All at Once in 2022. It was March 2022, the movie was just about to go nationwide and take over the film landscape for the next several months, and she was positive they had to snap up Ke Huy Quan. Fast.

“We had a lot of our casting, but we were starting to fill those new roles,” Loki executive producer Kevin Wright says. “[Finn] said, I can make you a list of other people, but I think you should meet Ke, I think it should be Ke, and you need to make an offer, like, this weekend, otherwise we will probably lose him because this movie’s about to blow up.

Wright says things moved fast from there: He and some other folks hopped on a Zoom with Quan on a Friday night, and sent him the pages for an early scene. Luckily for them, Quan was already a “giant Marvel fan” and was particularly fond of Loki season 1.

Really, it’s lucky for all of us — in just a single scene (in fact, the very one he got pages for) in episode 1 of Loki season 2, Quan not only proves again that he’s that good, but also establishes just how wacky and fun Loki can really be.

O.B. (Ke Huy Quan) sits on the ground behind a desk fiddling with a giant gadget, while Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) peer over the counter at him Photo: Gareth Gatrell/Marvel Studios

The scene is simple: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) are trying to figure out why Loki keeps time-slipping within the Time Variance Authority office, something that ought to be impossible. Ouroboros (Quan) is the guy in the research basement they go to see, who’s mostly taken aback that his old pal Mobius (who totally remembers both him and his nickname, O.B.) has come to see him again. As Loki continues slipping through time, O.B. slowly — slowly — remembers that, oh, that’s right, he’s actually seen that guy before! One time in the past, where Loki (and a younger O.B.) is right now! And come to think of it, he was having a time-slipping problem back then, too.

It’s the exact intersection of Marvel technobabble and banter that could easily fade into the background or make your eyes glaze over. But Quan keeps the whole thing afloat like he’s bopping a beach ball. As Mobius and Loki each independently try to keep him on task, he seems genuinely delighted with each revelation from his time-travel-altered memory. And with each turn of the scene — from the comedic to the genuinely plot-relevant — Quan is game and able.

With Quan as the funny backbone of the scene, Loki gets to engage in some classic time-travel humor with aplomb. O.B. reacts the same way in the past and the present to Loki’s slipping, or remembers that actually he has that doohickey right there, quite literally just for an occasion like this. It’s exactly what Loki needs. While the first season had a lot of ground to cover — setting up this Loki variant, and the other Loki variant, Sylvie, and the whole concept of the TVA, just in time for setting up Kang as the next big bad — season 2 can take a beat to indulge in just how comical these time knots are, even when the stakes are high. This being the first time Marvel has given a live-action show a second season, Loki is actually able to build on what came before, and have a little fun with its premise instead of just laying track for the next big thing.

While the TVA and its many players have their fun, no one gets to sit in the center of it like Quan does at that R&A desk. There’s a verve to his energy the show was missing, and a sense of whimsy, whether he’s hammering a thing or perfectly warning Loki (and, by proxy, the audience) of what happens should the mission fail. With a lesser actor, any single moment could come across as fake, and the whole TVA conceit would come crashing down. Luckily, we never have to worry about that timeline — or the one where you fall into a black hole and turn into spaghetti. As O.B. sagely warns us: “The less you know, the better.”

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