Tales From The Loop Episode 1 Ending, Explained

‘Tales From The Loop’ begins with Russ (Pryce) looking at the camera and addressing the viewers directly. He is the founder of MCEP, an experimental physics center in a tiny, Ohio town. MCEP is locally referred to as “The Loop.” Russ shares how The Loop aims to unlock the mysteries of the universe. He states that The Loop affects various people in the town and that the stories of these people will be depicted.

Tales From The Loop Episode 1 Recap:

Loretta is a schoolgirl, and through her eyes, the viewers are shown robotic machines in the town. She hears thumping noises when she lies down and puts her ears on the pier of a frozen lake. Upon returning home, she overhears her mother, Alma being accused of stealing a piece of “The Eclipse” by a man. The man tells her that she is putting Loretta’s life in danger and that there is a right and wrong way to look for answers.

At night, the power goes off. Loretta sees her mother doing something on her study table. Something emanates light on the table and the window cracks. A shot of a black slab floating in space is shown. Loretta gets an A in one of her school tests. Then, she waits outside MCEP for her mother to leave work. But Alma does not turn up. On a patch of land that appears to have been under a crater-like object, Loretta finds a small, matte black, rocky item. When she touches the ground, she sees a vision of her mother waving back at her.

Loretta runs into the woods nearby where she finds a boy roughly her age. The boy, Cole follows her and asks what she is doing in the woods. The two reach a house which Cole thinks is haunted. Loretta enters the house and finds a tiny heap of snow. Particles of snow from the heap are shown floating and rising upwards to the sky. A few bricks from the roof and the chimney also start to rise upwards.

Cole offers Loretta help in finding the latter’s mother since his parents work “underground” at the MCEP as well. When Cole takes Loretta to his house, his mother is busy talking to Russ and cannot entertain her son. Russ is Cole’s paternal grandfather. Loretta sees Cole’s father with a prosthetic arm. Cole introduces Loretta to his brother who tells her about black holes. The house in the woods is shown again. This time, it is completely rising upwards, piece-by-piece.

Loretta shows Cole the rocky object she found and tells him that her mother stole it. The object starts floating in the air. Loretta and Cole go to the MCEP to inquire. The security guard makes a call and informs the kids that Loretta’s mother does not work at the MCEP. When Loretta and Cole leave, the guard calls Cole’s mother and tells her about Alma.

Loretta opens Cole’s mother’s box in the latter’s study room. Cole’s mother is at the site where Loretta found the rocky object. Loretta finds the test paper that she had gotten back from her school earlier. It appears to be a copy since Loretta has her own test paper. It is revealed that the name of Cole’s mother is Loretta! Cole’s mother tells her husband that Loretta is her. From this point forward, we would be referring to the child Loretta as Loretta(C) and the adult Loretta as Lorretta(A).

Loretta(A) finds Loretta(C) at the house in the woods. Loretta(A) tells Loretta(C) that she knows everything is confusing and reassures her that Alma leaving wasn’t her (Loretta(C)’s) fault. Loretta(C) asks Loretta(A) if she is her. Loretta(A) tells Loretta(C) that Alma did not want to be their mother. Loretta(C) tells Loretta(A) that Cole thinks the latter does not want to be his mother.

Loretta(A) takes Loretta(C) to the MCEP and takes her underground. She shows her a huge orb called “The Eclipse” made up of several matte black pieces. Loretta(A) tells Loretta(C) that The Eclipse is the beating heart of The Loop and responsible for everything including Loretta(C)’s presence. Loretta(A) tells Loretta(C) that she will remember this as a dream and would find a little girl looking for her mother when she grows up.

The Eclipse is where Alma stole the rocky object from. When Loretta(C) releases the object, it floats back into its place in the orb. Loretta(C) is suddenly transported back to the site where she found the Eclipse particle at the same time she found it. At night, Cole sees Loretta(C) sitting on the dining table. When he switches the light on, Loretta(C) turns to Loretta(A) in a split-second. Loretta(A) tells Cole that her mother left her when she was a child but she (Loretta(A)) will always be there for him.

Ending Explained: Who is The Real Loretta?

The first episode of ‘Tales From The Loop’ introduces viewers to its wildly outlandish and extremely intriguing premise. The final scene of the episode poses another mysterious question in the readers’ minds. Cole sees Loretta(C) sitting in the dining room. However, upon switching on the light, he sees Loretta(A) sitting in Loretta(C)’s place. So, who is the real Loretta? The answer to that question is slightly complicated. Here is what actually happens:

Loretta is a mother of two, married to Russ’ son. She works at the MCEP. A childhood version of herself meets her son, Cole while looking for her mother. Both the Lorettas soon realize that they are the same person. The exact nature of Loretta’s reality should be gradually revealed as ‘Tales From The Loop’ progresses. However, as the title suggests, there is some form of time loop at play here, making the events cyclical. Hence, the events depicted in the episode would keep repeating. Loretta(C) in the episode would soon grow up and become an adult. Then, a childhood version of her (let’s call her Loretta(C2)) would come inquiring about Alma and meet a grown-up Loretta (C). Then, the cycle would repeat again. Loretta(C2) would grow up and become an adult and a childhood version of her would again come inquiring about Alma.

The above explanation obviously raises more questions too. What about all the other characters? Do they have a couple of versions as well? For instance, there ought to be two versions of Loretta’s husband as well, according to the above logic.

Apart from that, there is also another possibility based on the final scene. Could Cole seeing Loretta(C) turn into Loretta(A) indicate that Loretta(C) stops existing completely after this point in time? Does she merge into Loretta(A)? At this point, that does not seem to be the case as this theory does not take into account what Loretta(A) tells Loretta(C): that she will find a little girl looking for her mother when the latter grows up.

Hence, the final scene could either be a narrative tool or another strange occurrence. The latter seems more likely. Perhaps, Cole seeing Loretta(C) turn into Loretta(A) is another effect of The Loop. A more concrete reasoning for such an occurrence would only be provided when the show reveals the exact nature of The Loop. Hence, there is only one way to find out all the answers! Well, two, because you can also choose to read Stålenhag’s original art book. 

Read More: Tales From The Loop Episode 1 Review