Disclaimer: In this “Arcane” review series, I’ll be diving into every single episode of the show and dissecting themes, critiquing style and fanboying over every single League of Legends cameo. I want to avoid being overly explicit whenever I can, but obviously, some spoilers lie ahead for Episode 4 of “Arcane.”
Riot Games’ hit Netflix exclusive series “Arcane” entered into its long-awaited second act this past weekend, and I think I speak for most people when I say the show’s fourth episode was a ride from start to finish.
“Arcane” Episode 4 picks up a few years after the end of Episode 3, after the tragic events that transpired around Powder, Vi and their family. How many years have passed exactly? Still trying to figure that one out. Either way, all our favorite characters are older and, more importantly, the city of Piltover has changed alongside them.
In this review of “Arcane” Episode 4, I’ll be breaking down just what the heck happened between Act 1 and Act 2 and my thoughts on how “Arcane” escorted its viewers into the next part of its massive story.
Where are they now?
“Arcane” Episode 4, titled “Happy Progress Day!” opens with an older Jayce speaking with Heimerdinger in the lab. And, well, whaddya know? It looks like Jayce and Viktor’s idea to manufacture magic through Hextech actually worked. Now Piltover uses their new Hextech Gates, which seem to be a type of transportation portal, to make trading and traveling a hundred times easier. And for some reason, only Jayce was invited to give a speech on it all.
Together, Viktor and Jayce ended up changing the world, and even developed tools that are obviously Vi’s Hextech Gauntlets and Viktor’s mechanical laser arm. “Arcane” Episode 4 makes it clear that Viktor, who is now in terrible shape by the way, has been getting a raw deal. His focus is on improving Hextech and making discoveries that can help people in need as soon as possible. Jayce is caught between his dream and his public duties, lost in the pageantry of it all, but doesn’t seem as concerned about Viktor’s ideals, or his health. Jayce is the face of Piltover now and, apparently, also a bit of an asshole.
Checking in on how our Piltover Enforcers are doing, fans will instantly notice that the young, cheerful and naive Caitlyn we saw in Act 1 is a cop now. Yup. Nothing in this episode really explains how or why, but she’s an Enforcer and still has a close, and admittedly a bit creepy, relationship with her family friend Jayce. As an Enforcer, Cait has a curious mind and a knack for finding leads, as shown in her investigation of a crime scene in the episode, even if her new sheriff, Marcus (yes, that Marcus), would rather she be watching festival tents.
Speaking of festival tents, did you know Powder grows up to be Jinx? Wild. Anyway, the terrorist Jinx, who’s been under Silco’s care this whole time, is finally revealed in “Arcane” Episode 4 when she takes out a few goons from a renegade group called the Firelights who are trying to interfere with her group’s drug shipment. She later initiates an attack on a festival tent being guarded by Caitlyn, and uses that as a distraction to steal one if Jayce and Viktor’s Hextech gems to give to Silco.
As creepy as they were, I liked the moments we got of Jinx both alone in her workshop and with Silco because they did a good job showing how her past trauma still affects her. Silco knows this and uses it to influence her, but it really solidifies the path she’s ended up on.
A slow burn
With Act 2 being the middle of the show’s story, it makes sense that we would hone in more on the developments of other characters’ arcs. “Arcane” has done a wonderful job keeping viewers up to date with everyone’s story, and Episode 4 tells us that the focus will be more on the “why” of everything. More politics, less larger-than-life moments.
As tensions between Viktor, Jayce and the Piltover council rise, it’s inevitable that big developments in the realm of Hextech are on the horizon. On the other hand, we barely got a look at Vi this episode, but we know she’s behind bars. While I wish we had more moments connecting the events of Acts 1 and 2, Episode 4 was a hell of a ride and got me excited about some of the upcoming interactions between characters.