Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Loki.
We all know that Marvel loves to throw in as many easter eggs as possible, both to give us hints about what might happen in the MCU, as well as to throw us off. But one of our favorite things about the Loki series is the sheer amount of real-world Easter eggs, such as the USS Eldridge seen in Episode 5.
When Loki, Kid Loki, Classic Loki, and Alligator Loki decide to go into the belly of the Alioth beast in Episode 5, they’re in luck when a giant ship appears out of nowhere in their path for Alioth to go after first. On the ship’s side, we see 173 USS Eldridge, but what does that mean?
The USS Eldridge in ‘Loki’ is a nod to the “Philadelphia Experiment.”
The “Philadelphia Experiment” was a Navy experiment in 1943 that’s largely considered a hoax, since there’s absolutely zero evidence to confirm that it actually happened. But basically, in 1955, someone using the pseudonym Carlos Miguel Allende purported that he witnessed a secret Navy experiment at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard.
In this experiment, the Navy attempted to use Einstein’s unified field theory, which suggests that by altering gravity and electromagnetism around a specific object, it could be rendered invisible.
In the supposed “Philadelphia Experiment,” the object used was the giant USS Eldridge. Not only did it appear invisible in the experiment, but Carlos claimed that the ship also traveled in space and time to Norfolk, Va. 10 minutes prior.
The “Philadelphia Experiment” is a conspiracy theory about the USS Eldridge.
However, since Carlos shared his theory with the world, “researchers” and storytellers continue to build on it. All stories of the “Philadelphia Experiment” include accounts of crew members who got sick, damaged, or even went missing during the experimentation. Supposedly, some crew members were found embedded into the steel of the ship, while there were other sailors who went “bananas.”
Bystanders later claimed that they observed a green fog in place of the USS Eldridge when it was rendered invisible. Another account claims that when the USS Eldridge disappeared from Philadelphia, it landed in Norfolk in plain view of a few crewmembers of the SS Andrew Furuseth before it reappeared back in Philadelphia.
However, there is no evidence that the USS Eldridge was ever in Philadelphia. During the time of the supposed experiments, the ship was actually in the Bahamas.
One of the reasons the experiment got so popular was that in 1979, Charles Berlitz, who wrote on the Bermuda Triangle, and a ufologist, William L. Moore, collaborated on a book about it. The book went into depth on Carlos’ account, government cover-ups, and Einstein’s lost unified field theories, but there is no proof the “Philadelphia Experiment” ever actually happened.
The “Philadelphia Experiment” and the USS Eldridge fit neatly into ‘Loki.’
Loki loves playing around with both Marvel and historical Easter eggs. We see Loki as D.B. Cooper in Episode 1, the man who jumped out of a plane with $200,000 never to be found. In Episode 2, there is a Loki variant likely holding the stolen trophy from the 2008 Tour de France. Both instances explain unexplainable events in our world.
So, the USS Eldridge appearing in the Void is another way to explain an inexplicable event! If the “Philadelphia Event” really did happen, it’s possible that the USS Eldridge could have ended up in the Void when it traveled through time and space.
That's why the crew members on board were so messed up after it returned. On the other hand, it could just be a fun nod to another piece of time traveling history.
The final episode of Loki streams on July 14 on Disney Plus.