A complete review of all the retro-magical TVA tech in ‘Loki’


Wow, does this post have some spoilers — if you’re not up to date with Loki, turn back now.

For a show built around a master of magic, Loki sure leans on some retro-looking tech.

With the God of Mischief charged as a time criminal following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel’s Disney+ series spends a significant amount of time within the sprawling halls of the mysterious Time Variance Authority. The TVA spends its budget on ’60s and ’70s modernist-meets-space age interiors, flying cars, old-school computers seemingly able to track speech in real time but probably not play YouTube videos, and some nifty gadgets — all thanks to Loki production designer Kasra Farahani. The TVA’s files aren’t even digitised, with agents having to sort through folders upon folders worth of paperwork. But those Timedoors!

Burdened with glorious purpose, Mashable couldn’t help but obsess over the tech that He Who Remains has equipped the TVA with to dictate the “proper” flow of time. Their gadgets help with tracking Variants, gaining access to Nexus Events, and resetting anything outside the Sacred Timeline. Is this the greatest power in the universe? Maybe, but at the very least, the TVA’s got some good toys, including Ravonna Renslayer’s sweet AKAI stereo system (YouTuber JoJo Chuang did a great breakdown of the equipment used to create this).

From smartphone-like TemPads to the nifty but sinister Time Twisters, the TVA’s got its tech sorted. Hold onto your horned helmets.


TemPads

Mobius (Owen Wilson) loves using the TemPad’s flipped screen more than anyone in the TVA.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Like the smartphone of the TVA, TemPads are probably the most important device in Loki. They are in one sense, small versions of the large suspended screens in TVA HQ, constantly monitoring the Sacred Timeline, but come equipped with way more practical applications.

TemPads seem to be the main way to open a Timedoor (unless you have a nifty wearable version like He Who Remains), and they primarily monitor Nexus Events (when Variants step off the Sacred Timeline). Importantly, the TemPad screen shows the timeline branch and how many “units” of time the team has until they reach the red line, which indicates the time limit after which the TVA can no longer reset a Nexus Event — which, as Miss Minutes puts it, “would lead to the destruction of the timeline and the collapse of reality as we know it.” They can also measure variance energy and identify Variants, as well as scanning objects for anachronistic existence.

Design-wise, TemPads boast a damn fine wooden inlay and a screen that flips up like a Nintendo 3DS, with a keyboard, touchpad, and navigation buttons hidden beneath the screen (usable on both sides). A menu of very cute retro software icons let the user open a Timedoor (or many, as Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie does in episode 2), activate Miss Minutes, adjust Settings, or open a Directory. In the Action List, you can run different programs or clear your cache, suggesting these devices get pretty clogged up with all that time monitoring data. In the bottom left corner is the date, next to what appears to be coordinates for the “timeline segment.” The device can play video files, as Owen Wilson’s Mobius plays C-20’s interrogation file, though images appear very pixelated. Usually handheld, the device can also be worn on the forearm.

Just look at those keys.

Just look at those keys.
Credit: screenshot / marvel studios

But they can also do fun stuff! Mobius gains the trust of a child in 1549 in Aix-en-Provence by drawing then projecting an animated hologram of a walking stick figure. Mobius also uses this projection tech to brief the team on the guises of Loki Variants, flipping up the screen like a half-open Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The TempPads seem to have decent battery life, though this thwarts Sylvie when she tries to prune Loki in episode 3 and they need to source a huge amount of power on Lamentis-1, a desolate moon with limited power points. “The TempPad requires a massive power source, not a night light,” she says. Given the swift nature of TVA missions, they probably don’t need much power each time. This explains the frankly terrible UI of the device when it comes to battery — Miss Minutes doesn’t give a “low battery” heads up before you’re completely outta juice, but once the battery is dead, she pops up on screen. It’s pretty sturdy too, unless you’re being thrown out of a moving train by guards, in which case it’ll end up smashed and useless.

Timedoors

Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) has used more than a few Timedoors.

Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) has used more than a few Timedoors.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Timedoors are some of the most elegant pieces of technology in Loki, and one of the most useful for both solving crimes and hatching nefarious plans. Generated from a TimePad through the device menu, the Timedoors open up at a set destination saved or punched into the device — TVA agents and minutemen mainly open them at the points of Nexus Events to track Variants, but they can also be used to travel back to the TVA or anywhere in time, really.

They’re transparent yet solid-looking doors of a golden hue, and make a truly satisfying sound when opened or travelled through, and it seems to take little to no toll on one’s physical constitution to walk through one. As we see in episode 4, if the door is glowing red instead of gold, you’re headed for a bad memory prison. Just a heads up.

Miss Minutes

Miss Minutes is so much better than Alexa or Siri. Sure, she works for the TVA, but she's so friendly? Right?

Miss Minutes is so much better than Alexa or Siri. Sure, she works for the TVA, but she’s so friendly? Right?
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Like an AI digital assistant from Cuphead, which was itself inspired by 1930s cartoons, Miss Minutes is the sweetest last thing you’ll hear before being pruned as a time criminal. This adorable little clock character (voiced by Tara Strong) first appears in the TVA processing room for those arrested for crimes against the Sacred Timeline, providing a handy explainer on the multiversal war, the emergence of the Time-Keepers, and the Authority itself. But she’s more than a friendly tour guide.

Miss Minutes can be accessed in the TemPads, for whatever reason you’d need a quick explainer in the field. She’s on hand to pull up important files in a flash (the TVA library could really use a Miss Minutes) or test you with questions like, “What happens when a Nexus Event branches past the red line?” Like Siri or Alexa, Miss Minutes can be tailored to the user, using their name and tracking personalised progress in TVA training modules. One can also set a subtle security “skill” with Miss Minutes, as Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Judge Renslayer does in episode 5.

Importantly, she can reside within our space, walking with the user or sitting on physical objects like books, and tries to avoid being thwacked with a jetskiing magazine by Loki. (Luckily for Miss Minutes, the mischievous scamp doesn’t connect, and the digital assistant then transfers herself into the computer to hide, so it’s unclear what would happen to the little animated character if it were clubbed.)

In the season finale, it seems Miss Minutes is more self-aware then we thought, showing her allegiance to her creator, He Who Remains. So, what is Miss Minutes made of, exactly? “Can you hear me? Are you a recording, or are you alive?” Loki asks in episode 2. “Uh, sorta both,” Miss Minutes replies. Eep.

TVA Batons

Don't get on the wrong end of one of these.

Don’t get on the wrong end of one of these.
Credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Judge Renslayer, agents, and minutemen of the TVA rely on long batons to “prune” or reset Variants, sending them to the Void in what initially appears to be an atomic pulverisation of the target. On the end of each weapon sits seven half-dome lights, which seem to concentrate the substance for resetting, held in the lantern-like tip of the baton. They’re also used for incapacitating targets, as seen when Wunmi Mosaku’s Hunter B-15 slows Loki to 1/16th the speed of regular time in one of the most impressive shots of the series in episode 1 (Tom Hiddleston blew a raspberry for that shot, FYI).

Reset charges

The primary piece of technology used by the TVA to maintain the Sacred Timeline, timeline reset charges do exactly what it says on the label. As Loki smugly explains amid his TVA training in episode 2, “Reset charges prune the affected radius of a branched timeline, allowing time to heal all its wounds — which, by the way, sounds like a nice way of saying ‘disintegrate everything in its vicinity.'”

Once a Variant is captured, these reset charges, resembling tiny little lanterns, are used “to set time back on its predetermined path,” and erase anything and anyone connected with that timeline branch. Importantly, the charges must be set and detonated before the branch hits the red line on the TemPad. I will say, the amount of time the reset charges give the TVA agents to get the hell out of there and through a Timedoor is extremely slim. Whether this is adjustable or not, it really should be — the potential for an accidental workplace injury/life-altering reset is high.

Time Twisters

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). One has a Time Twister.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). One has a Time Twister.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

These gadgets create chaos in the first episode of Loki. A light, pocket-sized, gold, handheld device with a maneuverable disc protruding from its side, a Time Twister manipulates time for a singular target. They’re connected to the TVA’s version of an electronic house arrest ankle bracelet — in this case, it’s a collar, activated and deactivated by a button on the Time Twister. By dialling the Twister’s disc, the user can move its connected collar-wearer forward or backward through time but seems to limit this geographically to where the wearer has previously been.

The Time Twister doesn’t bring anything but the collar-wearer with it, as Loki hurls a chair at Mobius which continues through the air and through the Holoprojector 35 (we’re getting to that) as Loki is pushed backward through time. “The Time Twister just loops you, not the furniture,” says Mobius. Loki is able to steal Mobius’ device to escape the interrogation room and transport himself back into the hallways of the TVA where he originally entered with Hunter B-15 through a Timedoor. Because Loki had already been to this spot within the TVA, the Time Twister could take him there, but could not transport him out of the building or the timeline, it seems.

Unlike the Timedoors, it does not seem to be a pleasant experience to be Time Twisted. During Loki’s fight with Hunter B-15, he deactivates the collar and attaches it to her, then moves the dial with his finger like an iPod click wheel or tiny turntable, just to mess with her. The niftiest bit? Time Twisters seem able to be attached to the TemPads, as Renslayer pulls her Time Twister from her device in episode 4. It’s the coolest move! Even if it’s, y’know, a villainous one.

Holoprojector 35

Mobius uses the Holoprojector 35 to guilt-trip Loki. It kinda works.

Mobius uses the Holoprojector 35 to guilt-trip Loki. It kinda works.
Credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Amongst the TVA’s manilla folders and piles of paperwork lies a projector that’s at once extremely old-fashioned and seemingly high-tech. Used to interrogate the God of Mischief himself with some good ol’ guilt-tripping, the Holoprojector 35 shows Loki a highlight reel of his actions on the Sacred Timeline (“A sampling of your greatest hits, if I may,” says Mobius). Through what looks like an RCA cable (shoutout to pre-HDMI days), the sophisticated hologram projector is connected to an almost circular computer monitor that resembles a bright scooter helmet, equipped with a tiny screen that shows the current projection and a twin tape deck. The need for the actual tape escapes me, as the screen shows Loki’s reel “loading” at one point, but it fits in with the retro technology favoured by the TVA.

As for the image itself, the Holoprojector projects from three sources — a retro orange-cased central hub and two additional projectors on either side. Transparent PNG-like videos turn into large pixels between frames, and each image almost looks like you’re seeing it with 3D glasses. If the image is paused, it revolves like a 3D model, which is a nice feature but a kick in the gut for Loki when it pauses on a heroic pose from the Avengers.

I want me a Holoprojector 35, even if I can't explain the need for the keyboard.

I want me a Holoprojector 35, even if I can’t explain the need for the keyboard.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

It’s got a neat screensaver, showing little rectangles floating in space when not in use, and the image itself can be disrupted by physical objects — Loki demonstrates this by flinging a chair at Mobius and it dissolves into the screen.

One element of this tech I don’t get is that for some reason, the projector’s computer has a keyboard. You’d think this would be used to bring up Variant files but we already know it’s using a physical tape. Mobius hits play using a button on the monitor and Loki uses the keyboard to rewind and hit play, so maybe it can do both, who knows? All I know is that I want a Holoprojector 35 for Christmas, thanks.

TVA Variant screening tech

This robot has one job: to DEROBE.

This robot has one job: to DEROBE.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

When Loki gets hauled into the TVA under arrest, he’s put through many levels of screening before his trial — and there’s some tricky tech involved. First of all, Hunter B-15 cranks one of the most hectic looking elevator levers in screen history without pushing a button, so I’m going to guess that the massive camera on the panel did the work figuring out where they were going. In the elevator shaft room, Loki comes face-to-face with an enormous four-armed robot. It’s like Boston Dynamics meets a Bioshock Big Daddy with a sprinkling of the machine that unplugs Neo when he’s freed from the Matrix — but look at its little smiling animated face! It has robotic arms, speaks little, and functions only to undress Variants, relieving Loki of his fine Asgardian leather and sense of identity in a second. The robot uses the same golden substance used in the timeline reset charges and TVA batons to erase Loki’s clothes but not him, so it seems to be able to separate materials.

Variants must also pass through what looks like a metal detector but instead pulsates, offers up a photo flash, and produces a Polaroid that measures one’s “temporal aura” — this also helps the TVA identify particular Variants. Importantly, the machine would “melt you from the inside out” if you were a robot.

And for one last bit of screening tech, we’ve got to shout out the tiny lamp-like computer/fax machine combination that’s apparently able to track “everything you’ve ever said” in real time (and across time), but what’s the TVA agent using it primarily for? If you pause the screen in episode 1, you can see he’s playing Solitaire.

The Time-Keepers

Well, this was unexpected. Good tech!

Well, this was unexpected. Good tech!
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

If you got this far, you’re probably not worried about spoilers. In episode 5, finding out that the Time-Keepers were just robots was one of the biggest twists of the show! Nothing much more to say here than “woah, cool tech move” and no one tell the TVA about deepfakes.

Casey’s wearable

What do you do?

What do you do?
Credit: screenshot / marvel studios

Just a simple shoutout from a design fan. Seen in episode 1, desk guy Casey (Eugene Cordero) has an ambiguous wearable that looks incredibly useless and its purpose is TBC but it looks awesome. The face is made up of two slim vertical rectangles, which are for…something? Whatever it is, it’s going to be hard to read.

Loki is now streaming on Disney+ — and it’ll be back for Season 2.

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