Another week means another Act for Netflix’s Arcane. This week saw the release of Act two which gives us three more episodes, that being, Episode 4 “Happy Progress Day”, Episode 5 “Everybody Wants To Be My Enemy”, and Episode 6 “When These Walls Come Tumbling Down”.
If you missed my review of Act one you can find it here. I highly recommend you check this series out, even if you aren’t a big League of Legends fan.
With episode 4 ‘Happy Progress Day’, we have jumped some years into the future of Piltover and Zaun. So much has happened in the time since we last saw our characters. Jayce and Viktor have tapped into the power of Hextech and have launched Piltover into one of the most technologically advanced cities in the entire world. With the creation of Hexgates, powerful surges of energy that now allow near-instantaneous teleporting, they’ve created mass trading, brought scholars from distant lands, and reignited passion in the arts and science. Piltover has never looked better.
Caitlyn Kiramman has grown up and has a cute familial relationship with Jayce as he teases her about becoming an officer in the Piltover police force, not exactly where she’d like to be, being stationed as a glorified security guard. Her position has been obtained through the power of her family name, although Caitlyn is rather frustrated that she can’t escape the influence of the privilege that comes with her family name. While Catilyn’s parents want her to be something more of a politician or groomed to carry on the legacy of being a Council member, it’s clear that she wants nothing to do with any of that. What she truly wants is to go out into the field, conduct investigations and detective work to bring peace and stability from an ever-growing corruption that has found its way into Piltover.
Marcus has taken Grayson’s role as Piltover Chief, and while he’s less brash and impulsive, he has gotten himself deeper and deeper into Zaun’s undercity corruption and has become entangled in Silcos machinations, so much so that it is bleeding over into Piltover. The topside officers are paid by Silco’s goons to look the other way as they send out barrel after barrel of Shimmer, the highly addictive drug, which presumably is now being mass-produced.
We’re also introduced to some freedom fighters called Firelight. Their job? Thwarting Silco’s pseudo general Sevika and his goons and their operations. They’re cool and mysterious, riding hoverboards as they soar through the skies with green smoke trails like a band of hornets. As of this moment, we don’t know who they are under their masks, although their leader, sporting a sharply designed Owl mask, does give me a sneaking suspicion that we know who this is. My bet is on Ekko!
The Firelights have a long rivalry against Silco’s goons and I’m one hundred percent here for them wreaking havoc and mayhem on them.
Unfortunately for Firelight, Silco has groomed and trained a new ruthless agent for his cause, the downside’s she’s a bit unhinged. Remember our little Powder? Well, she’s all grown up and she goes by the name Jinx now. Jinx is devoted to Silco but simultaneously haunted by the guilt of that fateful night she inadvertently killed her family which has left her psyche fragmented. She’s a cold-blooded killer mixed with a childlike lethal playfulness that bleeds and visits her more and more as the episodes progress.
My beloved Victor is withering from his illness, hair disheveled, dark circles under his eyes, and a mechanical brace to help him walk as his posture as well as his entire body has deteriorated. What hasn’t changed is his close partnership with Jayce and his passion for science. They’ve managed to harness Hextech crystals into Hextech gemstones to put the magical energy into the hands of the common man, as it has been refined to eliminate its volatile properties and fortified for safety. Now anyone can use these magical batteries to power everything!
While Victor withers and shies away from the spotlight, Jayce basks in it as he’s hoisted to being the golden boy of Piltover, and rightfully so. He’s handsome, young, smart, and the reason behind all the advancement, but as the leaders of Piltover become divided and the balance of power begins to come into question there are those who seek to manipulate Jayce as he naively trusts that everyone has Piltover’s best interest in mind. This is the perfect opportunity for Lady Medarda to weave a plan of her own by proposing Jayce become a member of the Council. With some hesitation by its members, he does achieve it.
But what about Zaun? Silco has turned it into a high octane wonderland of grunge and debauchery making a class system of his own and taking over The Last Drop Bar and for all intents and purposes, he has put Zaun on the map realizing an evolution of his own.
Caitlyn, headstrong and determined, declines Jayce’s offer to recruit her as an officer for Talis Security and instead does her own investigative work by going to a maximum-security prison and after some digging, she comes face to face with an inmate who may have all the answers she needs. This dangerous inmate is none other than Vi.
The pieces are falling into place. The world of Zaun and Piltover is almost unrecognizable in their scope of evolution and reformation.
Coming to episode 5, ‘Everybody Wants To Be My Enemy’, Caitlyn confronts Vi to further her investigation as she takes the reins into her own hands unbeknownst to her superior, Marcus. At first interaction, they are both at odds with each other. Caitlyn viewed Vi as just another Zaun criminal and Vi harbored hatred and resentment toward Caitlyn for being just another corrupt enforcer. When it comes down to it, the only way for Caitlyn to get the information she needs is to go down to the undercity and she’s definitely going to need Vi. With reluctance and a little help from Councilor Jayce Talis, she is able to free Vi from her cell.
Making their way into the undercity, Vi is still a parkour master and Cait is a little inexperienced as she struggles to keep up. They butt heads several times with Vi seemingly not taking this “mission” seriously and Cait being out of her element and very uptight as they continually bicker.
The tension between the two heats up rather quickly as Vi takes Cait to a place where “all the secrets are spilled”, a high-end brothel. If Cait was out of her element before she certainly is now. My shipper censors went full throttle as Vi checked Cait out telling her, “You’re hot cupcake”, and cornered her against the wall. Giving her a smoldering flirtatious look, she asked, “What’ll it be? Man or Woman?”
I am totally here for such bisexual energy radiating off the two. Caitlyn goes by the name Matilda, and let’s just say Cait needs to work on her flirting technique because it’s terrible but it’s also hilarious to see these two interacting with each other in this kind of setting.
We got even more bisexual energy after the two helped each other during battle. With Vi getting injured, Caitlyn helps her and the two continue to flirt. Even when Caitlyn tells Vi to stop calling her a cupcake, Vi just leans into it more by explaining, “But you’re so sweet, like a cupcake.”
That’s it, folks! Caitlyn and Vi supremacy! The cherry on top has to be Caitlyn letting out a little laugh and flirtatiously telling her to shut up. I can’t handle these two anymore. I need fan art!
Marcus and Silco’s partnership of navigating secret dealings between Zaun and Piltover is starting to have a power imbalance as Jinx created too much chaos and ended up killing 6 of Marcus’ men. The weight of the death toll Marcus is wracking is beginning to make him desperate but Silco continues to call the shots. Meanwhile, Jayce is catching on to the corruption that seems to have been slipping under the Councilors’ noses.
At a luxurious theater gathering, a Violinist performs and the backdrops and the falling synthetic snow are so beautiful and grand, I wish I could attend such an event or at the very least see it in 3D. The theater is filled with council members and other high-ranking Piltover nobles. Medarda begins to fill Jayce in on the politics of his position. I knew Medarda felt sketchy, especially in this particular episode as she gently manipulates Jayce into doing her bidding, by cleverly walking back his initial idea into carefully monitoring the trading and forcing his hand to create a secret and beneficial partnership to corrupt the nobles, starting with Amara (a noble allowed to have leniencies for trade in exchange for generous Academy patronage). He coins the phrase “Hextech Partners”, and I know this is going to end badly as he negotiates and wins over the rest of the council members unbeknownst to Heimerdinger.
Viktor’s condition is growing worse, he’s frailer. He’s coughing up blood and having hallucinations but his passion for Hextech has not deterred. Viktor theorizes that Hextech may even be sentient in that it can learn. While he slaves away at his research, Jayce and Medarda get it on. The coinciding scenes are stress-inducing. Viktor collapses and his blood is absorbed by the Hextech, which cannot be anything good, and also the simultaneously implied meaning of Jayce and Medarda consummating their “partnership” was very clever from a narrative standpoint.
Jinx has stolen a Hextech gemstone and Jayce’s notes on Hextech, as she tries to place it into one of her grenades. It becomes incredibly unstable as the blue light electrifies everything around her. The weight of guilt haunts her and Powder’s persona breaks through as she apologizes and cries. The scene is heart-wrenching. She’s breaking at the seams and it’s so well done. Mylo and Claggor haunt her. She’s made figures of her dead friends that she talks to and argues with. Holding onto her sanity is growing more and more difficult. Silco later has a sinister and yet heartfelt moment with Jinx as he explains that It’s time for Powder to die, as he baptizes her in the murky and toxic waters of Zaun. This gives her the push she needs to harness the power of the Hextech gemstone much to the danger of everyone.
Episode 6, ‘When These Walls Come Tumbling Down’, opens with a focus on Viktor. His brilliant mind and passion for science was not always a solo journey before meeting Jayce, in fact, he had another mentor that guided him as a child, the scientist that developed Shimmer alongside Silco. While Viktor and his teacher had similar outlooks on the power of science, Viktor was horrified at the lengths his mentor would go to preserve and “enhance” life, even if it meant being a shell of the person you were. At the time, Viktor’s horror for a beloved beast named Rio was what drove him away from such a mentor’s influence.
With Viktor’s health deteriorating, he’s lost hope and Heimerdinger tries to console him. And while I know this is not the end of Viktor, I am nervous and also excited to see how his transformation will shape him as his desperation for living drives him to make questionable ethical decisions. The Hextech whispers and calls to him, showing him visions as his blood in the Hextech crystal is somehow changing and manipulating him.
And while Medarda is upset with Jayce, he does confide in her that Viktor is “like a brother” and he’s going to lose him if he doesn’t find a way to harness the Hextech to increase his health and longevity. He feels guilty and sad and shares that he’s essentially in love with her. The strange thing that came up is the painting that Medarda has nearly finished showing ships with red sails leaving a kingdom that looks strikingly like Noxus. Medarda further shares that she is an exile, falling below her family’s standards. Could this be her way of gaining power? Infiltrating the Council, gaining wealth, and now wooing the brightest star in all of Piltover? After she’s attained all of that, what is her end goal?
Hextech continues to develop as Viktor discovers that they respond to organic matter, creating entire plant life which blows Jayce’s mind, the downside, however, is that the plants reject the transmutation and immediately die. But it leads him to create an adaptive rune matrix, Hextech that evolves, called Hexcore. Jayce and Viktor are proud, and they can use this technology to cure him but Heimerdinger can see this path is leading them, to destruction and orders it to be destroyed. This becomes Heimerdinger’s undoing as Jayce uses his council member status to pull a unanimous vote to have him removed. The look of disappointment and heartbreak is written all over his face and I wanted to hug the tiny yordle during that scene.
Jinx learns through Sevika that her sister is alive and that she’s with an enforcer. Sevika taunts her with this information saying that she’s been replaced. This sets Jinx off, as her childlike Powder personality experiences shock and disbelief at such a revelation. It’s clear that she’s an homage to Joker and Harley Quinn and her unhinged nature makes her scenes so fun and dark. The beauty is that you never really know where Jinx stands at any given moment because even she doesn’t know that herself. Her maniacal threatening with a giant machete as she traces Sevika’s good arm and then her fake random sneezing breaks the tension as she laughs. But it all feels so jarring and confusing as you’re both scared for Sevika but entertained at the sheer randomness of it all.
Caitlyn is helping a bloody and seriously messed up Vi escape Silco’s goons. As they try to venture down into the darkest depths of Zaun, Caitlyn’s horrified to find crazed, light-fearing, groaning, drug-addicted fiends. They’re covered in filthy rags and have lost all sense of their humanity, almost as if they’ve gone back to base instincts. Many are covered in sores and disease has ravaged them. An old friend of Vander’s agrees to help Vi by taking her to a mysterious shaman savage who has learned to manipulate healing properties from Shimmer.
The climax of the final episode in Act 2 of Arcane begins as Silco tracks Vi and Caitlyn. Jinx stands above a tower in Zaun hoping and praying her sister will come to save her as she lights a flare for her. The beauty of Woodkid’s song “Guns For Hire” blares its cinematic orchestral melody as Zaun tightens its bridges, Silco goes into a savage frenzy at losing Vi, and Viktor finds his old mentor again in an incubated state, presumably having undergone shimmer experimentation. His mentor does look like the League of Legends champion Singed. Turns out, the theories were correct. Singed has a history with Viktor and these two mad scientists will go on to create unspeakable horrors if the lore is followed.
With Jinx turning on Silco, proclaiming him a liar, her flare goes out and my heart sinks. Damn you, Arcane. Crushing my hopes and dreams at every chance you get (please don’t stop). But just at the last moment, Vi arrives, calling her Powder, and I couldn’t control my emotions. They’re finally together again. The moment takes its time to focus on their embrace and the revelation of what happened that night. Jinx can’t even believe she’s real. The moment is so raw and tender but we can’t have nice things in Arcane, can we?
Caitlyn catches up to Vi and immediately Jinx loses it, knowing Vi has teamed up with an enforcer. Caitlyn’s appearance throws everything into a tailspin with Vi caught in the middle and Jinx losing grip of her sanity as the voices begin to become too loud for her to control and she becomes increasingly more violent and paranoid. The name “Jinx” is the very symbol of her sister’s betrayal and now it enslaves her, binding her to years of Silco’s manipulations and abuse. How could her sister really be there for her? Maybe she’s come just to take back the Hextech gemstone she stole? Her paranoia eats her alive.
In this moment of vulnerability and the edge of turmoil, the Firelights come to put a stop to Jinx and an all-out war ensues. Caitlyn tries desperately to retrieve the stone amidst the gunfire, meanwhile, the two sisters stand back to back facing the Firelights, their ruthlessness in full swing. But Jinx shows no mercy to the point of scaring Vi. In a moment of fear Vi is knocked unconscious and ordered to be taken away by the Firelights. As Jinx watches her sister leave her, she screams in anger and the harsh neon and scribbles briefly appear with the sound of TV static making it clear that Jinx will be merciless and stop at nothing to get her sister back.
As we exit Arcane Act II, I can’t help but feel that all the pieces are falling into place. Everyone has their motivations now whereas in Act I everyone was facing the world with eyes full of hope and idealistic views on what life should be like. However, the harsh reality of tragedy and trauma has shaped every single character into new beings and it makes me so excited for the Final Act.
Where will the characters be when the dust settles and can the narrative find a road to happiness and closures? Probably not. But if anything is certain it’s that I’m strapped in until the end!
Author: Micah Carrillo
Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
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