* Warning: HUGE spoilers ahead for season one of Arcane *
I’ll be the first to admit it; it’s hard to keep my bias at bay when it comes to the new Riot Games animated show, Arcane. League players have been waiting for this release as long as they’ve been waiting for Teemo to be removed from the game. Of course, we’re all going to be hyping it up as fans...and come on, I main Jinx in the bot lane and Vi in the jungle. How could I possibly stay neutral?
Still, the show HAS to be talked about. Arcane quickly made its way to the top features list on Netflix after its initial release on November 9th, and has since been steadily keeping its spot. This release gave fans just a taste of the series. Split into three acts, Netflix premiers a new arc each Saturday, with the finale revealed on November 20th. Fans’ building anticipation dangled on a ledge until the release of that last arc. Even with the season ending, the last episode has left fans with more questions than answers as speculation runs rampant on social media, from lengthy Twitter threads to wild Reddit posts. So, what do we know about some of these characters, and what do LoL superfans believe is to come
One of the show’s main protagonists is Vi, a hot-headed, yet protective criminal. During the first part of Arcane, she can usually be found caring for the kids around her in her own (slightly aggressive) way, including her younger sister Powder. The show sets up her full character arc by first focusing on these formative years as a child. After a mission goes wrong, her life begins to fall to pieces. Her need to control the situation as the mature older sister figure backfires, and she soon loses everyone she once loved, with only her sister escaping alive. While she manages to find “Powder” later in the series, she quickly realizes the girl she left behind no longer remains. However, she may have found something beautiful in the strangest of places. We know that Vi becomes an enforcer for Piltover, and to see her relationship with Caitlyn develop into something deeper could easily be her motivation for joining the organization she once saw as the enemy .
Jinx may be set up as the villain of the plot in theory, but many fans struggle to see her in that role. Previously known as Powder throughout her childhood, the young girl spent most of her time fiddling with scrap tools to create weapons of destruction. Everything changes when Vi chooses to leave Powder behind in a rescue mission gone wrong. Having been abandoned by everyone in her life, Powder turns to the real monster of the series, who helps mold her into the Jinx fans know today. A near death experience on the bridge between cities seals her true fate as it brings her to the door of the resident mad scientist Singed. The audience now knows that Jinx has been chemically altered in order to survive, but to what extent? Jinx has fallen into a pit of madness so deep she can no longer climb her way out, but what can be blamed for her final push: psychological trauma, or a growing addiction to a new chemical, shimmer?
Another fan favorite ADC in league, Caitlyn makes an appearance early on in the show as a young noble of Piltover and friend of Jayce Talis. Her impressive sniper skills land her a position as an enforcer. It isn’t until Jinx first leaves her signature artwork at a crime scene that Caitlyn finds herself pulled to Zaun. In order to track down the mysterious criminal, she frees Vi from Still Water Hold. Their relationship follows a typical enemies-to-lovers path as they go from fighting in the Lanes to spending the night together in Caitlyn’s room. Jinx even refers to Caitlyn as Vi’s “girlfriend” as she brings the two together for a horrifying dinner nothing short of a Mad Hatter tea party gone wrong. Though the ship may not be confirmed, the two have as much chemistry between them as Jinx has hatred for Cait. One thing is for sure; bot lane matchups between Caitlyn and Jinx will now hold a whole new meaning.
Though Jinx and Vi’s biological parents died early on in episode one, Vander acts as a father figure for the two during their childhood. A badass fighter and loveable caretaker, he becomes well renowned in Zaun as both a leader and protector. He meets his tragic demise in episode 3 as he dies right in front of Vi's eyes...or does he? Many fans think Vander's death is actually the birth of another LoL's character, Warwick. After all, the lore lines up. Before his transformation into the beast, the human who became Warwick was a criminal in Zaun until Singed found him and used his body for experimentation. Plenty of characters hint at Vander's vigilante past throughout the first two episodes, even referring to him as the “Hound of the Underground" in episode one. The final episode shows Singed looking at a clawed beast in his lab. It's hard to believe these hints were placed accidentally. Knowing Riot Games, the clues must be purposeful. Will the beast be unleashed in season two?
Though his plot line may not seem as action-filled as those of our protagonists, Ekko (aka "Little Man" in his early years) holds an incredibly important role in Arcane. He can be seen in every pivotal moment of the series. It's Ekko that originally slides the idea of ransacking Jayce's lab to Vi. It's Ekko that saves Vi and Cait at the battle on the bridge with the enforcers and Jinx. And it's Ekko carries Vander's legacy as he dedicates his time to improving life for the citizens of Zaun impacted by Silco's reign.
His position as leader of the Firelights shows just how much he has grown since his days of innocent childhood rebellion. Hopefully, we'll see more of Ekko's optimistic character as he works with the retired scholar Heimerdinger on turning Zaun into a city of progress as well. Or, at least, one worth living in.
While he may not be the main focus of Arcane, innovator and academic Jayce Talis catalyzes the entire plot of the series. The lab ransacked by Vi and Jinx in episode one turns out to be Jayce's. Inside, he has secretly begun exploring arcane magic through hex crystals stored behind the backs of the Academy. Barely escaping a fate of exile from Piltover once his secret comes to light, Jayce continues his studies with the assistant of another scientist, Viktor.
Together, they pioneer the use of hextech as an energy source. Jayce intends for hextech to be used for good. However, when in the wrong hands (for example, our loose cannon Jinx), its power can be manipulated at ease. The pretty boy of Piltover now must decide between war and peace with Zaun. He does everything in the name of progress, but can Piltover and Zaun further progress when both are terrorized by the constant threat of violence?
Despite being commonly known as a villain in LoL lore, Viktor's presence in Arcane feels fairly innocuous. While originally backed by good intentions, the determined scientist eventually utilizes the hexcore he helped create for his own benefit. His once human body begins transitioning into a hextech-fueled machine as his blood cells become chemically altered. In the mind of Viktor, this could be all in the name of science. An inspired endeavor meant to test the farthest limits of hextech technology. He could never have predicted his own assistant would perish at the lightning strikes of his own creation.
The death of Sky leaves Viktor just as mentally damaged as he is physically. Clearly, the character has a higher moral code than one would image for a notable bad guy. The question then remains: is the death of Sky enough to turn him into a villain, just as the mass extinction of Jinx's family was enough to change her? Or have we yet to see just how damaged Viktor will become as a result of his own innovation?
Though never named aloud during the series, fans knew the identity of Silco's right-hand man pretty early on (whether from context clues, characterization...or maybe his name being used in the subtitles...). He remains a side character throughout the series. Not often is he seen, but Singed secretly carries the plot of the show in the same way Jayce does. Jayce has his hextech, while Singed has his chemtech. It is also his scenes that most hint at future characters to come. We've already discussed the possibly of Warwick. Additionally, fans theorize that the rat Singed injects shimmer into in the first act could be Twitch, a chemtech-infested, toxic ADC from LoL. Also, in the scene where Silco brings a dying Jinx to the scientist's lab, Singed claims he once had a daughter. We again see a mention of his daughter in the final episode. Singed looks into a photograph of a girl resembling Orianna, a mechanical midlaner nicknamed the Lady of Clockwork. In the lore, Ori fell gravely ill in the city of Zaun. While she was not saved by chemtech, her body was miraculously replaced with mechanics, allowing her to survive. It's possible Singed has no idea his daughter is alive somewhere. Though he may not be the focus of season one, Singed may be more intertwined with this story than Arcane leads us to believe.
Thankfully, season two has already been confirmed. Arcane as it exists has offered little in the form of closure. We have already seen hints at what's to come, and if we have learned anything from Riot's past, it's not irrational to assume these prevalent fan theories will come to fruition in upcoming episodes.
by Ashtyn Layne