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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Arcane "League of Legends" Series (Review)

                

The "Arcane" series finally explains Jinx and Vi origin story.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

League of Legends  is a 2009 multiplayer online battle arena video game developed by Riot Games. Inspired by Defense of the Ancients, a custom map for Warcraft III. The "Arcane" series is a prequel to the "League of Legends" game.. 

A brutal skirmish between the technologically advanced city of Piltover against its savage underbelly Zaun causes orphaned sisters Vi and Powder to be taken in by Vander, a barman and the leader of the rebellion against the upper city, alongside several other orphaned children, including Mylo, Claggor, and Ekko. Over the next few years, the children learn to make a living by stealing from the city above. However, a heist goes awry when some loot, revealed to be unstable magical crystals, cause an explosion. 

While most of the haul is lost in a fight with a group of thugs, Powder manages to keep hold of the crystals. However, unbeknownst to Vander and the children, the thugs that they fought were working for a crime lord named Silco. Silco, along with his chief scientist Singed, intends to launch another revolution against Piltover through a new drug called Shimmer that turns people into savage monsters.

A student at Piltover's academy named Jayce is revealed to be the one who crafted the explosive crystals that were stolen by Powder and Vi, and is called by Piltover's ruling council to testify for illegally experimenting with arcane magic. As he was saved by arcane magic as a child, Jayce believes it can be a new resource to advance Piltover to greater heights, but is expelled from the academy for endangering the city, and his research is expected to be trashed. 

Jayce's beliefs are renewed, however, when Viktor, the disabled assistant of the academy's professor Heimerdinger, offers to help him complete his research. Back in Zaun, Vander is pressured by enforcers of Piltover to reveal the culprits of the robbery, as well as by other Zaun citizens to fight back against the officers overreaching their boundaries. He chooses to keep his family safe and remain neutral, although Vi does not agree with his passivity and eventually decides to turn herself in.

A flashback reveals that Silco and Vander once fought together in an attempt to free the undercity from Piltover as the nation of Zaun. Their partnership ended in violence when Vander reached an agreement to end the battle with the enforcers of Piltover and was forced to put Silco down when he attempted to continue the fight. In present day, Vander decides to turn himself in instead of Vi, but is attacked and taken hostage by Silco and one of his drug-enhanced goons. Vi, Mylo, and Claggor go to rescue him, but leave Powder behind for her own safety. 

Back in the upper city, Jayce and Viktor secretly work on their attempt to harness the arcane under the discretion of councilor Mel Medarda. They finish their work just as Heimerdinger breaches their lab, inventing a new form of arcane technology known as Hextech. Back in the undercity, Vi, Mylo and Claggor narrowly reach Vander, but are cut off by Silco. Vi successfully fights off Silco's goons and the group almost escapes before Powder, attempting to help, detonates one of the crystals in a massive explosion. 

Claggor and Mylo are killed and Vander is forced to fight off Silco personally, injecting himself with Shimmer and ultimately saving Vi before dying from his injuries. In her grief, Vi berates and hits Powder, calling her a "Jinx" before walking away. She eventually realizes her mistake and attempts to come back for her sister, but is captured by an enforcer named Marcus, leaving Powder to be taken in by Silco.

A few years since developing Hextech technology, Piltover is prospering ahead and is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a holiday called Progress Day. While initially hoping to reveal his and Viktor's latest and stabilized hextech gemstone technology at the ceremony, Jayce decides to postpone the announcement after a warning from Heimerdinger on the dangers it could possess. Elsewhere, Powder, who is now a teenager and goes by the name Jinx, lives with Silco and helps him smuggle materials into Piltover, most notably Shimmer. 

When a job goes awry thanks to the involvement of an undercity gang known as the Firelights, Jinx attempts to impress Silco by stealing Jayce's hextech gemstone and setting off several grenades that kill six enforcers in the vicinity. Jayce is given a seat on Piltover's ruling council to protect their people from the stolen gemstone. Caitlyn, an inexperienced enforcer and Jayce's childhood friend, travels to Stillwater prison to speak with one of Silco's goons in order to gather information about Jinx. Instead, she encounters an imprisoned Vi.

Due to Vi's expertise of Zaun and her knowledge of the symbols left behind by Jinx from her explosives, Caitlyn releases her from prison and works with her to find Silco. Arriving in an underground brothel, Vi encounters an old colleague and learns of her sister's relationship with Silco. Meanwhile, Marcus, who is now the sheriff of the enforcers, is coerced by Silco to allow Shimmer to be smuggled in return for his rise up the ranks of Piltover's military, and is forced to put the blame of the Progress Day bombing and hextech robbery on the Firelights. 

When Jinx refuses to work on the new hextech gemstones out of fear of seeing flashbacks of her family dying from her first successful bomb, Silco takes her to be "reborn" in the lakes of Zaun, allowing Powder to accept her identity as Jinx once and for all. Back in Piltover, Jayce decides to partner with the other councilors upon realizing that he risks becoming a target of their corruption and starts a romantic relationship with fellow councilor Mel Medarda. All the while, Viktor grows drastically ill as he attempts to learn more about the potential of hextech technology.

After Viktor collapses in the lab from his illness, he and Jayce begin to study the secrets of a new hextech rune he was working on, dubbing it the "Hexcore." They discover that it reacts to organic matter and can potentially heal him of his illness. However, Heimerdinger attempts to have the hexcore destroyed due to the potential devastation it could bring, prompting Jayce to betray him and convince the other councilors to unanimously vote him off the council. At the same time, Viktor approaches Singed, who he once worked with as a child, to help perfect the hexcore. 

Marcus is blackmailed by Silco into eliminating both Caitlyn and Vi on the threat that his daughter will be harmed if he doesn't. He takes charge and, knowing this conflict will lead to a battle with Zaun, prepares Piltover's defenses. Underground, Vi and Caitlyn find a safehouse so Vi can recover the injuries she got from Sevika, Silco's henchman from the brothel, but Silco himself finds them after bribing the locals with Shimmer. 

The pair escape by destroying the safe house, after which Vi suddenly spots Jinx using a flare she gave her as kids. Having recently learned about Vi's return after interrogating Sevika, Jinx was prompted to use the flare in order to find her. The two sisters reunite, although it is short lived due to the appearance of the Firelights, who steal the gemstone and kidnap Caitlyn and Vi.

The leader of the firelights reveals himself to be a battle-hardened Ekko. He explains to Vi that Powder is gone and only Jinx remains, dedicated to Silco, while he's been at the forefront of keeping Shimmer off the streets. Jinx almost turns against Silco for hiding Vi's return, but he gaslights her into continuing to do his will. Following the growing unrest and violence between the two cities, Mel convinces Jayce to work on Hextech weaponry. At Singed's suggestions, Viktor uses Shimmer to enable the Hexcore to modify his failing body, in the process growing distant from an untrustworthy Jayce. 

Ekko and Caitlyn seek to return the Hextech gemstone to Piltover, meeting with Marcus on a bridge while Vi returns to look for Jinx. After Marcus betrays Caitlyn, Vi heads back to help her, convincing an onlooking Jinx that she has betrayed her for Caitlyn. Jinx detonates a massive swarm of robotic insects on the bridge, killing Marcus and the enforcers and wounding Caitlyn and Vi. Ekko holds Jinx off as Caitlyn and Vi retreat to Zaun; he successfully beats her, but is unwilling to deliver the final blow, allowing Jinx to detonate a grenade and grievously wound them both.

Silco reveals his genuine care for Jinx in the aftermath of her fight against Ekko and discovers that she managed to steal back the hextech gemstone. He takes her to Singed, who informs him that he can save her but the process will be demanding. Meanwhile, Mel's mother arrives in Piltover following the assassination of Mel's brother, and attempts to prepare her for the brewing war with Zaun. As Jinx endures the treatment for her wounds, she hallucinates that the pain is being inflicted on her by Vi and Caitlyn, and her eyes turn purple from a massive injection of Shimmer. 

After being retired from the Council, Heimerdinger visits Zaun in an attempt to help the struggling locals, coming across and helping an injured Ekko. Viktor's efforts to improve his body through Hextech allow him to run, but also results in the death of his childhood friend and assistant Sky. His guilt almost drives him to suicide before Jayce intervenes. After her testimony to the council fails to convince them that Silco is a threat, Vi teams up with Jayce to take down Silco's Shimmer production. The two fight an army of Shimmer-enhanced goons with their Hextech weaponry, but in the process Jayce accidentally shoots and kills a child worker. Having been left by Vi, who claimed the two were "like oil and water," Caitlyn is kidnapped by Jinx.

After their disastrous raid of the Shimmer facility, Jayce comes to realize the human cost of potential war between Piltover and Zaun, resolving to broker a peace agreement with Silco instead. When the two of them finally meet, Jayce offers to give Silco Zaun's independence in exchange for Jinx, who he insists must pay for her crimes. Ekko reveals his hideout to Heimerdinger, and the two agree to begin work helping the undercity together. Silco laments his situation to a statue of Vander, struggling with the choice between Zaun and Jinx, who is secretly listening. 

Armed with Jayce's hextech gauntlets, Vi confronts Sevika and brutally defeats her, but is subsequently abducted by Jinx. She awakens in a room with a gagged Silco and dolls of Vander, Mylo, and Claggor. Jinx wheels out Caitlyn and gives Vi a pistol, telling her to choose between Caitlyn and Powder. When Vi refuses to kill Caitlyn, Jinx threatens to kill her personally, allowing Silco to speak as she makes up her mind. As Vi and Silco both attempt to appeal to Jinx, Caitlyn escapes her bonds and attempts to arrest Jinx. Jinx knocks Caitlyn out, and is about to kill her as Vi pleads with her to stop. 

Silco breaks free, grabbing Jinx's pistol and almost shooting Vi before Jinx guns him down in the confusion. As Silco dies, he confesses to Jinx that he never would have given her up, and that he truly did love her. Finally accepting her new identity and acknowledging that she and Vi have diverged from one another, Jinx leaves her behind with Caitlyn. Having successfully weaponized the arcane crystal into a rocket launcher, she fires it into Piltover's council chamber right as the council agrees to grant Zaun its independence.

REVIEW:

Even if you have no prior knowledge of the "League of Legends" games series, you don't need to enjoy this series. This series is a beautifully crafted creation that mixes cutting edge art design with a wonderful storyline, and well written characters. When watching "Arcane", it's easy to fall in love with the world and characters within it. It seem like a lot of thought went into this series, and I believe it definitely shows. If you haven't seem this series you are missing out on not only a wonderfully crafted world of fantasy, but most definitely missing out on a very emotional story of two sisters torn apart by life and choices.

5 Burning Questions We Need Answered in Season 2...
  1. What's Silco's and Vander's feud all about?
  2. What are Singed’s goals?
  3. What's happening at Noxus?
  4. What was Sky researching before she was killed?
  5. Who will lead Zaun with Vander and Silco gone?

Available now on Netflix.

"Arcane" Official Trailer


Arcane: Season 2 Announcement

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