“I thought we could unite our kingdoms one day. Bring about an alliance, bring about a permanent peace – through you.”
From the first time I saw the movie Thor in the theater, something about this line from Odin bugged me. Something about it just was not right. Lately I’ve gotten back into Wars of the Roses history and all the monarchical politics, the scheming and maneuvering, and tonight I was thinking about that line and it hit me what Odin really planned.
Odin took a baby that he knew to be Laufey’s son. He raised him among people who are racist against Frost Giants, and it’s fairly obvious from Thor’s attitude at the beginning of the film that Odin didn’t make much effort to teach his sons differently. Why take a frost giant baby and raise him not knowing what he is and hating his own people?
He told them that they both had a chance at the throne – “Only one of you can ascend the throne, but both of you were born to be kings.” Yet it was obvious that he had chosen Thor from early on. So why make Loki think he had a chance at the throne Odin never meant to give him?
He emotionally neglected Loki, made the boy (and later man) desperate to please him, to get some kind of parental approval that he never quite got.
Loki was the son of the jotun king, yet he hates frost giants and even the story Odin told him about how he came to have Loki seems calculated to make Loki hate and resent the Jotun even more – especially Laufey.
Now how exactly could Loki have been any kind of binding factor between Asgard and Jotunheimr when despite his own jotun blood he considered himself Asgardian and scorned the jotun – hated them, in fact? How could a boy who hated the jotun become some symbol of peace, son of their king or not?
He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. That’s not what Odin took him for. Odin wasn’t thinking alliance. He groomed Loki to overthrow Laufey and take the throne of Jotunheimr. The fact that Loki is the son of Laufey might settle some of the resentment of the jotun, but let’s face it, we know they would never really accept him. Laufey wouldn’t take him back, son or not. No, the only way Loki would be safe in Jotunheimr or be able to create or enforce any kind of ‘peace’ was with an Aesir army at his back.
I think that’s exactly what Odin intended.
Odin didn’t take Loki as some common binding or symbol of peace. He made Loki hate the Jotun, made him hunger for a throne and for Odin’s approval, all because he intended Loki to be his puppet king to rule over Jotunheimr yet still be obedient to Odin. He made Loki hate Laufey so he would be willing – eager – to kill him in revenge. He made Loki hate the Jotun so Loki would feel no qualms about ruling them with an iron fist to please Odin.
Maybe, just maybe, with old age and some measure of unexpected paternal caring, Odin rethought those plans. Nonetheless, at one time that has to be what he planned. And really, if he had adopted Loki out of mercy and nothing more, why not try to soften the blow? Why not teach his sons that the frost giants were onetime enemies but are not monsters?
Is it really surprising that Loki ended up killing Laufey and attacking Jotunheimr when you take into account that’s what Odin was grooming him to do? He just didn’t do it the way Odin planned – instead of killing Laufey to take his throne, he killed him and then tried to destroy Jotunheimr. That ensured Loki would never rule there because even if there was anything left worth ruling, the survivors would rise up as one against the man who’d committed genocide against them.
Maybe that’s why Odin was so pissed off when Loki was brought back to Asgard – because Loki had (unknowingly) screwed up the plans Odin had for him. It does rather explain the choice of “Laufeyson” as insult, doesn’t it?