The final judgement of the gods. All their deeds – and crimes – rewarded and punished here. Most are guilty, and so almost all perish, but few without some deserved glory.
Thor is permitted to die with a smile on his lips, having finally been allowed to prove his strength against the Midgard Serpent.
Baldr and Hod, the truest and purest of the gods, go in the other direction, from death to life, as a reward for their good hearts and endurance of suffering. They will emerge from the underworld once the battle is over. In the unjust world in which they first lived, Hod was seen as the murderer of Baldr and was punished. Now the judgement is reversed and Loki, the one who tricked Hod into causing Baldr’s death, is killed in his place.
Loki dies also with a smile on his lips, believing he has brought about the end of everything, but he is mistaken in this. He cannot even comprehend the rebirth of the world which is to come, in which he will have no place. He believes the final darkness that swallows him engulfs the whole world forever too, and he is satisfied.
Perhaps Loki hated Baldr because he simply couldn’t understand him or anything he stood for. Can a being really be so good and pure? What’s his angle? And the world that Baldr will inherit will struggle to understand what place such a vicious god as Loki could have in any world, and why such evil was ever tolerated.
The story of Ragnarok is the tale of a world saying goodbye to a force that it has undoubtedly required since the beginning of time: the chaotic evil of a trickster god. But great changes must be made, great upheaval endured, before the elimination of “necessary evil” is made possible. What is a world without chaos? Without suffering? And who in the world of the present – gods help us! – could even bear to live in such a world?