The third and final episode brilliantly concludes Arcane’s first act. With a rather explosive ending, Arcane Episode 3 pushes the narrative in a way that leaves the audience feeling uncomfortable. But despite this discomfort, the viewers find themselves wanting to learn more about the world. The question of what will happen next rings oppressively loud. Arcane episode 3 wraps up character arcs while leaving plenty left to explore.
[Related: Arcane Act 1 Overview]
This article contain heavy spoilers for Arcane episode 3.
For readers who have not watched the third episode yet, avoid this breakdown.
Swimming in Violence
In the beginning of Arcane episode 3, Silco falls deep in water, grasped by the water around him. Entering a peaceful slumber as he sinks, he recalls his struggle when fighting Vander off. “Have you had enough?” This question rings in his head, changing his life forever. Rather than focusing on hatred, he reforms his mindset, evolving and ascending beyond.
This scene is the birth of a psychopath, set on destruction. Through violence and intense struggle, Silco adopts Vander’s methodology for change. Ironically, Vander awakens the very thing he attempts to prevent. Strangling Silco, Vander hopes to quell the danger that threatens all of society. Ringing true with the title of episode 3: The Base Violence Necessary for Change, Vander is responsible for the cycle of change that eventually takes over everything. Throughout Act 1, Vander attempts to stop this cycle. But his initial act of violence began a domino effect that he can no longer stop.
Back to Benzo’s Shop
Vi sits in the middle of the shop, waiting for the enforcers. Vander storms in, gives Vi some heartfelt words, and proceeds to throw her into the basement. When the woman enforcer, the one who negotiates often with Vander, comes in, she states, “without you down here, it all falls apart.”
Vander replies, “Benzo will handle things.”
Little do the characters know, but the wheels of the plot train have already begun spinning. What they assumed to be a nonviolent capture of Vander turns into a bloodbath when Silco enters the scene. Immediately, the mediating enforcer is killed, alongside Benzo. So much for Benzo handling things. The situation between Piltover and Zaun is already far out of Vander and Benzo’s control. The cycle that Vander began years ago cannot be resisted, and the world that they know collapses.
Vi watches it all happen, as does Ekko in the shadows. Silco hands Marcus a bribe, as he walks away from the corpses littering the street. In Silco’s eyes, Piltover cares only about money, therefore the bribe settles Marcus’ qualms. Silco doesn’t even look back, disregarding Marcus and his potential future influence in his grand plan.
Marcus throws the coins onto the ground, and his shoulders slump down. Just as Vi and Jayce’s shoulders sunk down with responsibility, Marcus’ shoulders droop baring the weight of his actions. He needs to make this right, no matter the cost.
Vi drops to the ground, crying. The scale of the predicament becomes too much for her to fathom, and all she can do during the moment is scream into the darkness. Even when facing previous predicaments in Act 1, Vi remained standing. But with her crutch, Vander, having been taken away, she can no longer bare the weight.
The Biggest Mistake
Ekko walks in, visibly broken. For the first time, his shoulders are slumped as well. Having someone to share the burden with, Vi stands up. She faces her almost parental role, and holds Ekko. Despite being broken herself, Vi ceases crying. Her eyes become resolute, set on saving Vander.
Vi runs down to the basement, where she meets up with her gang who are finding refuge there. The moment she lays eyes on Powder, Vi’s eyes shake like they’ve never done before. She’s lost her parents, lost Vander, and she is afraid of losing Powder now too. Especially with Vander’s words ringing in her head, Vi is deadly afraid of losing Powder.
As she packs Vander’s gaunlets, her eyes become resolute once again. “I need you to sit this one out, Powder.” Vi believes that by having Powder in the basement, she will be safe. A logical conclusion on paper. Powder attempts to talk back, stating “But families stick together. You said it yourself. I want to fight. I can help.” Powder’s eyes look resolute, more than they ever have before. Looking towards Vi, her eyes are lit with a passion. Vi destroys this burst of energy by shouting “you’re not ready.”
Powder has always relied on Vi throughout Act 1. Following right behind her, each step of the way. And Vi has always supported her, cared for her. Those who have watched
By going back on Vi’s own words, she creates the tragedy of the conclusion of the last episode.
Jayce and Viktor’s Scientific Magical Adventure
The two scientist work arduously to discover a break through. When Viktor tells Jayce that his research is soon to be disposed of, Jayce responds by stating “that research is everything. My… my whole life.” The irony of this statement is that Jayce still has his mother, his family. Though the family isn’t super well off, they live in Piltover, which automatically positions them higher than the people of Zaun.
Rather than focusing on the things that Jayce has, he selfishly chases after a dream. The very magic that saved his mother’s life, rather than cherishing his mother, Jayce focuses his life on chasing the power he witnessed.
The two sneak around, attempting to access Jayce’s equipment. When caught by Councilor Medarda, she states “willing to risk exile for your endeavor. That’s quite the conviction.” As the viewer, we know that councilor Medarda has interest in their experimentation. But from just this line on its own, Viktor and Jayce could not possibly know that. Her sly execution of her own agenda through word play cements her political astuteness.
As the conversation continues, Jayce notices the lack of negativity in her voice. He asks, “what about you?” To which she replies, “I recognize that any worthwhile venture involves risks.” Rather than expressing her explicit approval of Jayce, which she clearly supports shown through the narrative, the councilor simply states “One night, gentlemen. Impress me, or I’d suggest you pack your bags.” This adds pressure to the situation, which pushes Jayce and Viktor forward in their research. Instead of using her power to blatantly buy them time, which she could easily do, Councilor Medarda instead continues to play in the shadows.
The Glorious Success
Jayce adds the magic stone into the contraption, and the gears begin to spin. There is some fancy animations, and long story short, Jayce manages to successfully control the magic with his science. Flashing back to the hooded Wizard and mimicking his movements, the blast becomes contained, resulting in Jayce and Viktor levitating in the room.
At this point, nobody knows whether the wizard that Jayce saw was actually good or not. Heimer’s flashback in episode 2 showed a similar wizard laying waste to an entire region. But Jayce attempts to follow after a wizard’s footsteps, despite the countless warnings he received from literally everyone else.
Heimer storms into the room, stating “this is not what Piltover’s future looks like, my dear boys.” The wording in his warning is essential to analyzing his intent. Heimer does not state something like “this might result in something bad.” No. Heimerdinger is certain of what is to come next. He warns Jayce and Viktor that the happiness and thrill of the moment is not all there is to this, and that terrible things are sure to come next.
Councilor Medarda makes her prudent entrance, stating “that’s for the council to decide. Perhaps it’s time, for the era of magic.” Jayce corrects her, and states “Uh, Hextech. For the era of Hextech.”
As many League of Legends fans know, Hextech is the foundation of powerful technological advances used as weapons in many of the champions. Jinx, for example, uses Hextech in her laser gun. And League players know the mischief she creates with such a weapon.
The stones glow a beautiful blue light next to Vi’s doll. Powder cries hysterically, throwing a tantrum normal for a child her age. But the lack of music leaves an eerie feel, only her desperate screaming filling the scene. She throws her monkey invention, which hits the wall, and falls to the ground. The scene shows the invention headless on the floor, with Powder in the back losing her mind.
Those who have seen Jinx’s initial debut music video know this invention. This is the first invention she has ever been seen with, clapping it’s instruments together while marching mindlessly forward. Powder pounds her head, and the music comes in. The string instrumental paints a wonderful debut of madness, as Powder continues to flail around. The stones land on the floor, shining the same beautiful, hopeful blue once again.
Powder recognizes the potential of power within the stones, flashing back to the initial robbery. In episode 1, When Vander asks, “Was anyone hurt,” the enforcer replies, “a building was blown to bits. What do you think?” What she didn’t know, since she was shielded from the facts by Vander, was the amount of devastation that explosion created. The amount of anger in Piltover from this instance snowballed the entire plot of Arcane forward. Once again, the responsibility lies in Vander and Vi’s futile attempts to shield Powder from the responsibilities of the world.
The scene ends with, “I can help them.”
Vander drags on the floor, looking up at Silco’s lair.
“It’s a little crude, I’ll admit. The base violence necessary for change.” Silco then continues to discuss his motivations, plights, and ambitions. Vander says “you’ll get people kill. For what, pride?” Silco spits out “for respect. Opportunity. Everything they’ve denied us.”
This paints a parallel with Jayce and the people of Piltover. The young man was granted an amazing opportunity, but cursed himself for blowing it. At a certain point, he even attempted to kill himself. Meanwhile, Silco would quite literally kill to be in Jayce’s position. So many of the people of Zaun would. But that is the thing about power. Even Councilor Medarda, who has the most power in Piltover, yearns for more. It is a never ending cycle, which only results in violence. After all, “it’s a little crude. The base violence necessary for change.” This theme goes along with every story line in Arcane. The audience has simply yet to see the violence that will result from Jayce’s scientific breakthrough.
“Can you imagine what it’s like? When your blood mixes with the filth and the river toxins eat through your nerves. Oh, I hated you for you’d done. But as time passed, so did my hate. And I was left with an understanding. The only way to defeat a superior enemy is to stop at nothing. To become what they fear. I hated you, but you kept my respect.”
This exert reveals volumes about Silco’s character. Eyes reflect a person’s resolution in Arcane. And Silco’s eye is literally mixed with the essence of Zaun, the filth that the people of Piltover correlate with. Silco represents Zaun’s anger and frustration over unfair treatment. He embodies the discriminations the undercity went through day after day.
While discussing with Vander, the shot shows Vander’s left eye. It is bruised and closed, unable to see out. Compared to Silco’s left eye, which is in a unblinking, unwavering stare towards his resolution. Vander states, “I’m just.. Not that man anymore.” In essence, Vander lost his will to fight for the equal treatment of his people long ago. Shown throughout Act 1, Vander would rather keep his children safe than risk anything to create change. But as Silco very wisely states, violence is necessary for change.
Act 1 Climax: The Hexplosion
Vi and the gang go to save Vander, who is locked in an electric chair. The young fighter proceeds to beat the life out of all the henchmen sent by Silco’s, excluding the massively steroided beast. Sporting metal gauntlets, Vi’s posture foreshadows her rise to hero which is sure to happen later in the story.
Meanwhile, Mylo attempts to free Vander, and Powder climbs up the wall. Vi flees into the cell, and locks the door. Craggor attempts to break open the wall to escape, and Mylo tinkers away at the lock holding Vander captive. Powder sends her invention down, powered by the blue stone, and the explosion levels the entire building.
A scientist quietly sitting becomes engulfed by the explosion. Many theorize him to be Singed. Craggor gets headshot by the lightning explosion, immediately dying and lying limp on the floor. Mylo gets punctured in the chest by debris, and attempts to remove the debris. He looks over at Craggor, dead on the floor. Around a second later, the ceiling collapses, crushing the two boys leaving only small limbs sticking out.
Jinx falls down from the building, staring at the explosion. A satisfied look takes over her face. The invention worked. Her expression reflects an epiphany of sorts, realizing her own potential.
Many of Silco’s henchmen are still alive. The only two that died for certain were Mylo and Craggor. Even before Jinx realized it, she was aiding Silco’s side in the fight for change. Vander charges after the henchmen, fighting them off. Vi lays on the floor, stuck beneath rubble, staring at her dead friends. Mentioned numerous times in the breakdowns was the analysis of responsibility tied with weight. In this case, Vi is quite literally crushed by the weight.
Vander get stabbed, nearly dies, and takes the potion to turn into a beast. In doing so, he manages fend off the other deformed fighter. The fascinating part about this transformation lies in Vander’s eye. Taking the potion opened both of them, when before one had been closed. Just as Silco preached, “the only way to defeat a superior enemy is to stop at nothing. To become what they fear.” And that is exactly what Vander does.
When faced with killing Silco or saving Vi, Vander jumps after his adopted daughter. After landing, Vander lies on the floor once again with only one eye open. In the end, he decided to save his child instead of committing to Silco’s method of thinking.
The End of Act 1
“Vi, it worked! My monkey bomb finally worked.”
“You did this? Why? Why did you do this?” Jinx notices Craggor’s goggles laying on the floor, covered in blood.
“I was saving you. I only wanted to help. I only wanted to help.”
“I told you to stay away.”
“Why did you leave me?”
“Because you’re a jinx. Do you hear me? Mylo was right.”
Vi walks away.
“No. No. No. No. Violet, please.” For the first time, Jinx calls Vi by her real name. No longer the underground figure that the others looked up to, just sister to sister. Vi walks away, and Jinx falls to the ground wailing. Her guiding light, gone.
Silco enters the scene, firmly grabbing a knife. He stands menacingly over Jinx, and Violet attempts to save her. But Marcus enters, knocking Violet out, stating “He’ll kill you if he hears you.”
“Hello, little girl.” Silco carefuly approaches Jinx, almost as if she were a street dog. “Where’s your sister?”
Jinx continues crying, then pounces onto him. She holds onto him tightly, “she left me.” Silco and his gang look pitifully at Jinx, and Silco reveals his hand without a knife. He reaches around her, and holds her tightly.
For the first time, Silco’s left eye, the yellow tainted one, begins to shake and waver around. He begins to see how Vander wanted to protect the children, but he states “We’ll show them.” His eye starts to waver once again, but quickly revert to his resolute firm stare. “We’ll show them all.”
Jinx’s eye mimic his stare, filled with hatred. As tears begin to well up in her eyes, her glare wavers. Silco, despite easily being the antagonist of the series, keeps a soft spot for the people of Zaun. His motif is not pure violence and chaos. Justice for his people fuels his actions, and he recognizes Jinx’s plight, her loneliness and despair.
Just as how the beginning of episode 1 began with an hextech explosion in Piltover, beginning the key elements of the story, the hextech explosion in Arcane episode 3 concludes the initial act. Though Jinx stood at the middle of both explosions, the events leading up to both explosions were a result of various character’s involvement. Their mistakes, their ambitions, and even their negligence all lent a hand in the tragedies that occur.
In a story about segregation and discrimination, Arcane Act 1 paints a picture of inequality and the constant struggle for power. Utilizing different narratives and life views to highlight various points of contention, Arcane episode 3 beautifully builds anticipation for the next three episodes.
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