Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Loki.
Episode 4 of Loki could easily be considered a major turning point for the show. We've learned that the TVA agents aren't who they think they are already, but Episode 4 proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. But the episode gave us so much more, namely learning that the TVA itself isn't anything like we've been told. The Time Keepers as we know them are only robotic creations, but who is their creator? That's the big question.
Well, that's one of the big questions. The other one is what the heck happened to Loki (Tom Hiddleston)? Was Loki pruned — right when he was trying to tell Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) something important? Is Loki dead? It looks like Loki was indeed pruned, but he's still alive somewhere. Where is Loki? And just what is pruning anyways?
What does pruning mean in 'Loki'?
So far, we've been thinking of pruning as something similar to the Retroactive Cannon used by the TVA in the Marvel comics. Pruning itself is a term made up for Loki, but the Retroactive Cannon essentially bombarded someone with anti-temporal rays, sending them back through time and erasing them from reality. In Loki, this is what we initially thought was happening to variants when they were pruned.
However, that no longer seems to be the case and perhaps never was. In Episode 4, we watch Loki get pruned by Ravonna (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). He then awakens in the episode's post-credits scene in a new place, surrounded by other Loki variants. When Loki asks if he's dead and in hell, he's told by another variant, "Not yet."
This gives us a clue as to what might have happened to Loki. We know he's not dead, but he might have indeed been erased from reality. He could be in a place that exists outside of time and space, as the TVA seemingly did. Or he could have been sent to a different timeline that functions as a sort of prison world. In the post-credits scene, we see a crumbling Avengers tower. Could this be a timeline in which Loki won the Battle of New York?
This may be a prison world that's Loki-specific. He has to live in a world where he constantly has to see the damage he inflicted, where the only people that are really left to suffer are Loki variants. Of course, that leaves us with the question of where Mobius ended up when he was pruned. Does he get his own prison world?
Are Loki and Mobius dead?
Although we haven't seen Mobius yet, it seems that he's likely "not yet" dead, just like Loki. Knowing that Loki is told that he's not yet dead means that where he is right now might be transitional. Since TVA agents are variants, does that mean that they were pruned? Did they have to go through a transitional place before they became what they are now? If so, it means that Mobius has been pruned before, but he likely doesn't remember.
On the other hand, the "not yet" may have meant that death eventually comes to those who are in the world Loki is in now. Perhaps there's a time limit on how long someone can remain in that reality, or there are other deadly forces at play that are controlling where that strange cattle prod sends you. The same person or thing that built the Time Keepers is likely powerful enough to build yet another reality that they can control.
We'll have to watch it all play out when new episodes of Loki are released every Wednesday on Disney Plus.