“Arcane” Act 3 (Episodes 7, 8, & 9) Review

 

Arcane Part 3 Review

This is it, my friends, the moment we’ve all been waiting. I can’t wait to talk to you about Arcane Act 3 (Episode 7 “The Boy Savior”, Episode 8 “Oil And Water”, and the season finale, Episode 9 “The Monster You Created”). The final act is the darkest, the bloodshed amped up to eleven, the parallels captivating, and the final journey, bittersweet.

Beginning with episode 7 ‘The Boy Savior’, while Caitlyn is bound and bagged, Vi is brought before the Firelights leader and Immediately we learn that the owl masked vigilante is none other than “Little Man”, Ekko. Their reunion, while tense at first from the years of hardships and struggle, soon softens as they come to admit how much they’ve missed each other. Their embrace after letting their guard down is heartbreaking as Ekko struggles to keep his composure, tightly gripping her as he can finally let himself be vulnerable. The parallels of this compared to young Ekko as he held onto Vi after seeing Benzo murdered and crying to her all those years ago filled me with so much sadness. Why must my favorite characters suffer so? 

Ekko has made a safe haven around a massive thriving tree against all odds, much like himself. A secluded paradise blocked off in secret from the danger and corruption of Silco’s streets of Shimmer, a very real light in the darkness. He did what no one else could. He made a home for the broken, the lost, the hurt, and the addicted to forge new lives and protect them from harm. His people creating a mural of those they have lost and right in the middle of it, Vander, Benzo, Claggor, Mylo, Powder, Vi, and so many others. The animation is so beautiful and vibrant and speaks to the good in the world and how we can honor those we’ve lost as we forge a brighter future amidst adversity. 

Arcane Act 3 Review Netflix

Arcane Act 3 Review Netflix

Ekko and Caitlyn are the embodiment of two different cities uniting in one ideology, realizing that their respective worlds are screwed up, that violence begets more violence and this cycle will never stop if they tread down the same path as those that came before them. Caitlyn comes to Ekko with compassion and a want to do good but while Ekko is extremely distrustful of a privileged Piltover officer he does eventually listen to reason as these three are ready to heal their cities and agree to take the Hextech gemstone back to Jayce so that no one can use this kind of power for destruction, on one condition, however, Ekko will be the one to accompany them and deliver it himself. 

In the Undercity, Viktor meets with his old mentor Singed, who offers him Shimmer and a piece of advice to go further into his Hexcore technology and to change his approach to his experiments concerning them. Meanwhile, Jayce slaves away forging a new Hextech hammer like the ones his family use to forge, only this is a Hextech Hammer. Medarda confronts him, telling him that it’s time to weaponize Hextech to stop the threat of the denizens of the Undercity, something that was never meant for Hextech to become. Privately, Elora, Medarda’s assistant delivers a letter to her as her Noxus war leader mother is set to arrive in Piltover. 

Silco is summoned to a meeting of the Chembarons, powerful crime lords of the Undercity who claimed power only by Silco’s will and have grown fat from complacency and opulence, their wealth stifled as topsiders now feel unsafe exporting Shimmer which creates friction among the Chembarons and Silco as they offer an idea to remove Silco for his perceived softness and weakness. Silco, the badass he is, decides to suffocate them all in clouds of fissure pollution as a reminder of the slums they came from, eventually showing them mercy but a nevertheless humbling experience for all of them. The Chembarons are such an interesting cast of characters, with Finn being the coolest looking design-wise. What Opulence looks like in the hands of Chemtech crime lords is such a cool interpretation.

The rather disturbing father/daughter relationship between Silco and Jinx is fractured as she has found her father to her a liar, lying about Vi’s whereabouts, jamming his eye injection needle into his face repeatedly, and eventually falling victim to his pleas and rather obscured reasoning. Jinx is so traumatized it hurts. The level at which Arcane goes to exhibit her misery and turmoil is unbearable at times. You just feel so sad for a girl who was left so unprotected. Her fragile psyche completely exploited on top of the manipulation of her deepest rage and using all that trauma to weaponize her makes both of them so frustratingly compelling, a sick individual polluting the mind of another was incredible to behold being told in such a manner.

On the bridge to Piltover, night has come and the unsettling fog fills the air around them. Vi decides that she’ll go back to the Undercity to save Powder, and never leave her again. As she says goodbye to Ekko, there’s a familial feeling to her saying goodbye, but to Caitlyn it’s this beautifully shown, deep, romantic concern for each other’s well-being. It’s tender and sweet and I find myself living for such moments between the two. 

Marcus as a character was one that I didn’t initially care about one way or another, but as his giant officer spotlight blinds Ekko and Caitlyn it’s clear that he is at a moral impasse. If he allows these two to make it to the council he will be exposed in his dealings with Silco making him a traitor to the city he is sworn to protect but if he stops them and kills them, his secret will be safe but he will have the blood of a councilors daughter on his hands. There is no winning in Marcus’ story, he has reached a dead end. As he shoots Ekko and turns his gun toward Caitlyn, he just can’t pull the trigger, the small details of sweat and lip biting as the weight of his next move emotionally weighs on him. He grinds his teeth trying his damnedest to pull and the moment feels so heavy. 

Jinx watches angrily as Mylo and Claggor invade her psyche filling her with teasing and ridicule at being replaced by Caitlyn. Her anger visibly boiling as the TV static and white scratches begin to toy with her sanity once again. The shadows of the imaginary Mylo and Claggor growing, as if to show that they have increased in power over their influence on Jinx. Another small detail but effectively hitting home on the message that our Powder is very much not okay and she’s getting worse by the second. 

Arcane Act 3 Review

The confrontation between Jinx, Vi, and Caitlyn was done impressively well. Jinx walked through the fog menacingly as if to play executioner, humming the haunting song she sang as a little girl back in episode 1, only this time, she is the cause of all this bloodshed and misery. With Jinx out for blood, Ekko appears, leading to one of the most iconic, beautifully choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever seen in any form of animation. The light and shadows bouncing off of each other, contrasting the two with their signature colors green and purple violently colliding. The smirks they give each other because they know they are equally matched. Their childish forms appearing, as I sit here and wonder how we ended up down such a path to misery. Highly stylized, harshly colored scenes and “Dynasties and Dystopia” playing as the two characters play an innocent game of paintball, but in reality, their adult selves battling to the death.

Coming to episode 8 ‘Oil And Water’, when thinking of Noxians in League of Legends lore and from what little has been described of them in Arcane, we typically think of brutal militaristic warriors hellbent on conquering, and for most intents and purposes, you’d think right. But the brief moment of Medarda’s rather traumatizing (literally everyone needs therapy) childhood displays her mother, a Noxian war general, giving her the choice to spare a native of the regime they conquered or to slaughter her to prove their might and unwavering domination. While Medarda chose to be merciful, her mother slew their captive anyway, and presumably, she was exiled after such a choice to prove herself to their family legacy as conquerors. To be fair, she now sits on the Council and has become the richest woman in Piltover. She’s built her empire without the help of her family. She’s a self-made woman. Her arc left me suspicious of her as to where her loyalties lie because I love our main characters and to see someone topple an entire city from within, while devastating and an impressive feat, would honestly make me despise her for hurting my favorites. 

The disgraced Heimerdinger and his scurrying away to the Undercity to lend his help to a city he ruled over and never knew the conditions they were in was heartfelt. He met the poverty-stricken, saw the violence, and witnessed the innocent just trying to survive. When a little girl brought him a bunch of cogwheels, nuts, and bolts and he used some Yordle magic to turn it into a top for her, my heart melted. I just need everyone to protect Heimerdinger at all costs. His relationship with Ekko somehow became one of my favorites; two inventors, roughed up by the people they were closest to. I desperately need more of them. 

I think Mrs. Medarda served a refreshing breath of air. Not only in her unapologetic ruthlessness or her opulent indulgences but she just commands the scene anytime she appears. The addition of a Noxian, especially a warlord, gives the briefest look at the world beyond Piltover and the Undercity.

Arcane Act 3 Review

Arcane Act 3 Review

Vi and Cait have some funny and tender scenes in episode 8. Sneaking in through Caitlyn’s window only to be bum-rushed by Mrs. Kiramman’s rifle aimed squarely at them was hilarious. Caitlyn’s family dynamic was so great to see. The gentle malewife father and the girl boss Councilor wife/mother was a nice change in roles. And Caitlyn’s passion for bringing to light all the atrocities that Piltover has turned a blind eye to made me want to rally all of Piltover to save the Undercity from the clutches of Silco. Vi and Cait have a moment in her bedroom as Vi opens up to her. The gentle face caress and the hand holding were so pure and tender. It leaves no room for doubt that these two are confirmed in love. I applaud Riot for going there with their Champions, telling inclusive stories concerning the LGBTQ+ community and making them heartfelt, beautiful, and most of all, human. Their love for one another brings them before the Councilors explaining that Silco wishes to claim independence and calling it The Nation of Zaun, our first time hearing this name for the Undercity. The council refuses to listen and their breakup, in the downpour rain was so dramatic but I was here for it all.

Jayce and Vi team-up. As the Hammer and Hextech metal boxing gloves team, they waste no time targeting Silco’s Shimmer distribution factory, facing off against unspeakable odds of Chemtank assassins. The fighting is surreal. It’s highly stylized, 3D animation with the use of neon green and purple being eye-catching and explosive. It’s like a high adrenaline fight club. What more could you ask for? 

Silco forcing Singed to “save” Jinx’s life was one of the hardest scenes to watch. She’s struggling to stay alive and only to be further injected with toxins, excruciating, torturous pain, all so Silco could save his “daughter”. It was almost too much to handle. It felt like I was watching some kind of snuff film at the sheer gruesomeness of the procedure. I just want someone to save this girl. She’s gone through so much pain it’s hard to even believe that the mind could stay intact after so much trauma, torture, guilt, and heartache.

In the season finale, episode 9 ‘The Monster You Created’, we see that morals and righteousness come at a cost. Jayce learns this the hard way as their fight ends up killing a young boy who worked in Silco’s Shimmer distribution facility. The death of one innocent was enough to make him stop, but Vi’s pleaded for him to understand that if he stops now, more innocents will die, never knowing what’s like to feel freedom and safety. To that, she’s right. Vi knows firsthand what happens when a bad man decides to make a city his playground and the devastating loss of good people who choose to stand up.

The tragic scene of Viktor losing Sky and seeing that she was the real MVP helping him in secret to find a way to support his research only to be obliterated into dust gives him the realization that he is going down a path he will never return from and the hold that the Hexcore has is all-consuming. The Hexcore has taken so much blood from him that it’s almost becoming flesh-like, as it transmutes its magical energy to Viktor’s leg and hand, almost like a magic metal. Viktor, what have you done? 

The parallels in Arcane are just genius. Viktor going to his safe place, grief-stricken and filled with guilt ready to end his life and jump off the ledge only to have Jayce interrupt him just as Viktor did for him all those years ago. These two men are living with fear and regret that they lost their way, in search of a better future. They both flew too close to the sun.

I have to admit that up until this point I have been rather skeptical of Mel Medarda’s schemes. She has given me major sus vibes. But when she confronts her mother, slapping her wine out of her hand and across the floor, I was surprised. Mel stood up for not only herself but for Jayce and for the wellbeing of Piltover. Her mother explained her true intentions for arriving. The family’s in grave danger, and she wants the Hextech to be weaponized to stop this mystery man, who has a hit on the Medarda family. I suspect the mystery man could be the Noxian general, Jericho Swain, who is an awesome character in his own right.

The exchange between Silco and Jayce felt so stressful, two leaders, from two different sides who have every reason to want to kill each other as they speak of negotiations. It was a nail-biting moment. Will they kill each other? Will they betray one another’s trust? Jayce manages to actually agree to Silco’s demand because he’s seen what war will look like if the two cities fight again, and both want to avoid such an event at all costs. Shimmer’s production will cease, the gemstone returned, and the pitfall of it all… Jinx must pay for what she’s done.

Jayce assembles the Council, addressing them all without the flowery talk. His character growth is perfect here, as he agrees to step down, and that all of them should disband as a Council and to propose, with Viktor, I might add, one final agreement, “Jayce has brokered a peace with Silco, in exchange for the Undercity’s independence.” The slow-motion montage of the entire council being up in arms in utter disbelief and rage shows how jaded the Council had become, always believing their power was absolute. And all it took was a couple of guys with a dream who broke away from the bonds of their influence and politics. Just wow. Powerful.

More parallels as grief-stricken Silco laments to a statue commemorating Vander. The divine karma of Silco reaching the place that Vander had reached all those years ago, his ideologies leading him to sacrifice his “Daughter”. As sick and twisted of a person Silco is, I found it so sad but also just that his downfall would be the very thing he tried to destroy in Vander’s life.

Arcane Act 3 Review Netflix

The final showdown between Vi and Sevika is one that I won’t forget. The 3D animation killed it here. Sevika throwing bar chairs. Super Saiyan punches into the bar walls. Vi throwing an entire damn table. And the brief break she takes to treat herself to a shot of whiskey. It was so badass. Is this what watching the Super Bowl is like? Because I finally understand.

The final pivotal moment of the series is Jinx’s Alice in Wonderland-themed torture tea party, located squarely at the place that changed their lives forever that fateful day at Silco’s warehouse. The music is haunting as a music-box-like melody plays softly and Jinx traumatized and distraught slowly walks through the darkness of haze and dust. As she hops from place to place, almost as if to teleport, her glowing purple eye, uncovered by her hair looks terrifying.

The scene featuring a broken Jinx, a pleading Vi, and gagged Silco is animated to perfection. The camera pans out to show the rest of the tea party guests. Jinx was very thoughtful to include botched dolls that look like Claggor and Mylo, her old and worn out bunny, and even Vander’s photo with his pipe and old fist gauntlets. The show did such a beautiful job of showcasing Jinx’s horribly fractured psyche through such a tea party horror fest. Vi’s reactions perfectly encapsulate the audience as we look at this scene in sadness and shock over what an innocent and vulnerable little girl had to endure to reach such a point.

Of course, Jinx also brought Caitlyn to the party which led to Jinx asking Vi to kill Caitlyn to prove they were still sisters. With Silco trying to manipulate Jinx, the entire scene’s quite intense, with Jinx being pulled in two directions.

Arcane Act 3 Review

With Jinx making a decision about what to do about Silco, she’s completely dead inside. Sitting in the “Jinx” chair, after realizing how she and her sister has changed, I think the song choice was perfect with “What Could Have Been” by Sting featuring Ray Chen.

Jinx’s not finished yet, and the finale has her aim her rocket launcher at the Councilors assembly, the final parallel showing the Councilors unanimously vote for peace with Jinx dealing with a Hextech crystal having the ability to destroy all of that. This is a moment powerful enough to shape these people into Legends. And just before the missile shatters the Piltover skyscraper’s glass, the episode ends. 

I just can’t believe this show. It’s been a wild three weeks covering all three acts of Arcane. While Act 1 and Act 2 were phenomenal, Act 3 transcended beyond just a League of Legends show. It truly became a masterpiece of storytelling. It’s a love letter to what the world of Runeterra has the capability of being. Bravo to everyone who was a part of this project. It was expertly tailored and wonderfully animated with the writing and narrative being top-notch. The voice acting was true to each character. I desperately need more and thankfully Arcane season 2 has been confirmed for a planned 2022 release.

What did you think of Arcane season 1?

Let us know.

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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