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Time slipping explained: Why is Loki glitching?

Loki's got a big problem on his hands after the the Loki series 1 finale, he's time slipping. Here's what that means for the God of Mischief in season 2 opener.

Rejoice, mortals, because the God of Mischief has returned to Disney Plus. Yes, Loki season 2 is upon us, but the former prince of Asgard has a bit of a problem on his hands; he’s Time Slipping.

What’s Time Slipping, you ask? Well, we don’t blame you for being a bit confused. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced plenty of bizarre concepts over the years, and adding time travel to the mix is a recipe for a migraine (And it makes knowing how to watch all the Marvel movies in order a nightmare).

Don’t worry, though; we’ve read our fair share of Marvel comics and Doctor Who books, so we’re masters at explaining the quantum mechanics of time travel in fictional universes. Warning, spoilers ahead for the newest Marvel series.

Why is Loki slipping through time?

Loki started to slip through time as a result of being kicked through a time door against his will at the End of Time by Sylvie.

While the exact mechanics of the situation aren’t explained in the first episode of Loki season 2, it seems likely to us (in our expert opinion as people who watch sci-fi stuff like this for a living) that traveling through time at the same moment the multiverse was being born played havoc with Loki’s body leaving him unmoored in time and space, causing his time slips.

Loki and Moebius confront OB about Time Slipping in Loki season 2 episode 1

Time Slipping explained

Time Slipping, as the name suggests, is when someone unwillingly slips backward and forwards through time. According to Ouroboros, Time Slipping is something that should be impossible, but Loki’s experience at the end of time appears to have achieved the impossible.

From what we see in the series, the rules of Time Slipping are pretty simple. Those affected are pulled at random backward and forward along a single timeline, with their body going through something Mobius describes as looking like “dying and being born at the same time.”

There are two caveats to the rules of time slipping. The first is that those afflicted don’t travel to alternate universes or divergent timelines. That means Loki can’t travel from the Sacred Timeline (Earth-616) to Earth-178517. He can only go backward and forward in time on Earth-616 while Time Slipping.

Secondly, it should be noted, though, that you don’t just travel along your personal timeline (meaning the events you experience from birth to death), as we saw when Loki traveled far enough back in time to when He Who Remains was running the TVA directly. Confused? Don’t be. We’ve provided a handy diagram for you.

Lokis eason2 time slipping explained

As we can see, normally, a person simply travels along the timeline in a linear direction from point A to point B, experiencing everything chronologically. When you’re time slipping, though, that isn’t the case.

Loki season 2 timeslipping explained

As we can see above, a person who’s Time Slipping experiences the events of Point A but can be sent randomly backward to Point B and then back to Point A before going to Point C. Do you have a headache yet? Or is it just us?

The only way to stop Time Slipping is to perform a Temporal Extraction, which is a bit like having a tooth pulled, but instead of having a piece of enamel ripped out of your head, they rip you out of time and reset your timeline. It’s exceptionally dangerous and involves pruning oneself, so we wouldn’t recommend it.

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Have we seen Time Slipping before?

No Time Slipping seems to be a phenomenon unique to Loki season 2.

That said, before the show premiered, some fans speculated that the time slips our favorite Marvel characters experienced were a live-action version of the glitching that the various Spider-People endured during the Spider-Verse movies. But that can’t be true, as Loki’s not traveling through different timelines and dimensions. He’s simply jumping backward and forwards along the Sacred Timeline.

Loki experiences Time Slipping in the first epsiode of Loki season 2

In the comics, Spider-Man once experienced a similar affliction as well after he interrupted one of Doctor Strange’s spells. It happens in ‘Amazing Spider-Man #500’, one of the greatest Spidey stories ever told, and the Wallcrawler was sent back along his own timeline and forced to relive all of his major battles one after the other.

In the end, he even saw how he’d die. (Don’t worry, we won’t spoil it here) Thankfully, Doctor Strange managed to put a stop to the jumps, but it didn’t involve Quantum extraction.

Need to know more about the God of Mischief? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve explained who we think was calling Loki at the end of episode 1, put together a list of potential suspects who may have pruned Loki, and even revealed the importance of where Sylvie went in the post-credit sequence.

That’s not all, though. We’ve ranked all our favorite Thor characters (Don’t worry, Loki makes an appearance), and if you prefer your heroes less Asgardian, we’ve also got a list of the best Marvel characters for you to enjoy. If you just want to know more about the upcoming Marvel movies, though, you should check out our guides to The Marvels and Avengers 5. Basically, if you need to know more about Marvels Phase 5, you’re in the right place.

Finally, why not check out our list of the best TV series of all time?