We have, admittedly, been comparing Loki to Doctor Who for quite some time. To an extent, that’s an inevitability: when you’re making a TV series in which time travel is a central plot device, the six-decade-old show is the blueprint for success. Only a fool would ignore it.
Clearly the writing team behind Loki isn’t foolish, then, because the level of the MCU‘s inspiration from the veteran sci-fi series is abundantly obvious. Time loops, paradoxes, and moral quandaries about changing the flow of time (not to mention Loki’s use of the haunting, alien-sounding theremin)? This is Doctor Who’s bread and butter, and always has been. What we never expected though, was that the Loki season 2 finale would so blatantly copy its predecessor’s greatest-ever episode.
In case you needed convincing, that’s 2015’s ‘Heaven Sent’ from Peter Capaldi’s time as The Doctor. This is, and will always remain, writer Steven Moffat’s masterpiece, and the defining triumph from his time as the showrunner of one of the best TV series of all time.
In the episode, the 12th Doctor is caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of death and defeat as he attempts to escape imprisonment from a water-locked castle. He spends four and a half billion years dying and being reborn, dying and being reborn, dying and being reborn, inching closer to escape at the end of every cycle.
You’ve already got the picture. In the finale of Loki season 2, the most dastardly charismatic trickster in the universe also finds himself caught in a cycle of death and destruction. Attempting to prevent the explosion of the Temporal Loom (and therefore the TVA, and the rest of time and reality) he revisits the same point in time over, and over, and over again. He spends centuries learning to become a master of quantum and temporal mechanics, enduring the harsh passage of time in a determined effort to save his friends.
You could (and no doubt someone will) make a montage of the two episodes side by side as Loki and The Doctor live through the same moment endlessly. But you don’t need to do that: the connection between the two is obvious anyway. Don’t make any mistake, either. Loki’s decision to use a plot point so similar to ‘Heaven Sent’ is brilliant, and welcome. It’s the best part of the finale.
When Doctor Who returns to screens with season 14 (or is it season 1?) after the 60th Anniversary specials, that inspiration could flow in the opposite direction. Kate Herron, the director and executive producer of Loki season 1, will be involved in the 15th Doctor‘s adventure. The relationship between the two series will grow increasingly intertwined.
What’s more, if you’re outside of the UK and Ireland, you’ll be able to watch new Doctor Who on Disney Plus, right beside its thematic sibling from the MCU. So, if you’re sad that Loki’s over, new Doctor Who will be its spiritual successor. Likewise, if you’re a Doctor Who fan who can’t wait for the arrival of the new episodes, you can get your fix in the meantime with Loki. It’s a win-win.
For more on Doctor Who, check out our guides to the Doctor Who 60th anniversary and Doctor Who season 14. Or, learn about all the upcoming Marvel movies, and learn about the prospects of a Loki season 3.