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The Most Paused Moments In Netflix's Arcane

The best kinds of shows are the ones that surprise you with how well-executed they are. Case in point: Netflix's "Arcane" came out of nowhere in the final stretch of 2021 to ample acclaim. Set in the same universe as the wildly popular game "League of Legends," the show expounds upon the backstories of the in-game playable roster. However, one of the show's main strengths is that you can enjoy it without having played the game.

The show's 1st season throws us right into the conflict between the pristine city of Piltover and the steampunk slums of Zaun. It's amidst this friction that we meet the principal players of the series — Vi and her sister Powder. Over the course of its inaugural season, "Arcane" excels due to its stellar voice acting and gorgeous animation. In addition to its impressive visual qualities, the story is a wonderful hybrid of science fiction and fantasy interspersed with enthralling action. These are just a few of the pause-worthy moments in the 1st season of "Arcane" — be warned, spoilers ahead!

Jayce and Viktor's breakthrough

Throughout the first act, which encompasses the first three episodes of the series, we see the development of Hextech at the hands of Jayce and Viktor. Aside from being a major element of Season 1's plot, Hextech is a perfect metaphor for "Arcane" itself. Just as the show is a crossbreed of magical lore and steampunk technology, HexTech is described as a fusion of magic and science.

Ever since Jayce and his mother were saved by a mage during a blizzard, the aspiring inventor is fixated on studying and harnessing magic. After his materials result in an explosion in Piltover — due to Vi and Powder's meddling -– he is banished from the academy. Completely cut off from his research and assets, things look bleak for Jayce until Viktor approaches him. The latter sees great value in Jayce's research and opts to help him reclaim his work and bring his experiments to their conclusion. It's a truly wonderful and beautifully animated moment when the duo, much to the shock of Heimerdinger, actually succeed in their endeavors amongst the glowing blue light of their creation.

Powder's big mistake

During the events of Episode 3, "The Base Violence Necessary for Change," Powder finally gets one of her inventions to work. Unfortunately, this success comes with an unintentionally tragic side effect –- the death of most of her friends. Throughout the first act of "Arcane," a recurring plot element is Powder's struggle with her various gadgets and inventions. All Powder wants is to help Vi and her other friends, proving that she is not a jinx. She aims to amend this stigma by utilizing another one of her inventions, which has been upgraded with one of Jayce's crystals she'd stolen. 

However, due to the dangerous nature of the mission — saving Vander — Vi benches Powder for her own safety. Despite this, Powder still follows them and attempts to help using her new invention, which finally worked. Her Monkey Bomb causes a gigantic explosion that results in the deaths of her two friends, Claggor and Mylo. This fact is temporarily unknown to her as she is caught up in the moment of one of her inventions finally working. Her feeling of accomplishment interspersed with her friends and enemies getting wrecked by the blast is both heartbreaking and powerful.

Vander's last stand

It's very clear by this juncture that Episode 3 of "Arcane" is where things fly completely off the rails for its characters. The conclusion of the show's first act sees several major deaths and developments that reverberate throughout the rest of the season. One of the most significant amongst the ones featured in this episode is the death of Vander. From the opening scene of the first episode, it is made clear that Vander was at the center of a past conflict. That conflict was a failed uprising of Piltover that left countless Zaun citizens dead, including Vi and Powder's mother, leaving the sisters orphaned. Vander adopted the two as his own, making it his mission to keep the peace and keep them safe.

Vander attempts to turn himself over to the authorities in place of Vi for the trouble she and her friends cause in Piltover. However, he finds himself kidnapped by his former friend/quasi-brother Silco and beaten within an inch of his life. Fatally wounded amidst Vi and her friend's rescue attempt, Vander consumes some Shimmer to heal himself and increase his strength. He ends up sacrificing himself in order to save Vi, dying in front of her and simply asking her to protect Powder. It's an utterly heartbreaking loss, animated beautifully and shown in all of its gut-wrenching glory — to many viewers' dismay.

Vi abandons Powder

Oh joy, the heartbreak continues. If you enjoy getting your heart broken, then buckle up, because this scene lets every viewer know just how much this show can hurt. After Powder's crystal-powered Monkey Bomb explodes — killing both Claggor and Mylo — she finds a wounded Vi and dead Vander outside. She is quick to tell her sister how her invention finally worked but is hit with a sobering bit of reality. Her actions inadvertently result in the deaths of their friends and cause Vander to sacrifice himself.

Vi, after realizing just what her sister has done, reacts about as well as anyone would — with immense anger. Not only does Vi smack Powder square in the face, but she also confirms that Powder truly is a jinx! These are her final words before abandoning a heartbroken and traumatized Powder in the pouring rain. Powder reacts with a painful display of sadness and desperation — the first signs of her crumbling mental stability. This is where she is found by the villainous Silco, who, in a bizarre turn, proceeds to comfort her. It's a powerhouse scene — the perfect way to close out the show's first act and a wonderful tease of what is to come.

Jinx's first appearance

If there was a character who hardcore fans of the "League of Legends" game were waiting to see, it was Jinx. At the conclusion of Episode 3, it's clear that Powder is in mental shambles, and the pieces are picked up by Silco. Following his sinister adoption of Powder, the series flashes forward in time, revealing that Powder has since undergone a transformation. No longer the sweet little tinkerer introduced in the first three episodes, she is now a skilled fighter with a penchant for explosives!

Her introduction during the opening of Episode 4, "Happy Progress Day!", definitely gets the ball rolling for the show's second act. Everything about Jinx's first appearance tips off the viewers how far removed she is from her former life as Powder. From her new crazed appearance to the new deadly functionality of her inventions, it's clear Powder has left the building. We were quickly shown just how far she's come since being abandoned and where Silco's influence has led her. This is also the first taste of Jinx's utterly eclectic mental state, which is sent into freefall by the sight of a Firelight who resembles Vi. It's only a preview of her shocking actions to come, but still a grand introduction for Jinx.

Vi and Powder reunite

Despite the series' large cast of characters and increasingly bombastic moments, it never forgets to allow certain emotional moments to breathe. A perfect example is when Vi — finally out of jail thanks to Caitlyn — finally reunites with her sister Powder, aka Jinx. The scene is directed masterfully, with both characters' voice actors giving their all and truly showcasing a wide range of emotions. Both sisters have fittingly appropriate reactions — Vi reacts with tearful relief, and Powder reacts in stunned disbelief. Despite their last encounter being emotionally traumatizing, they still embrace with equal amounts of love and sadness.

This is quickly upended by the arrival of Caitlyn, an Enforcer, whose presence immediately sends Jinx into a psychological tailspin. Vi immediately vouches for her and assures Jinx that Caitlyn has come specifically for her and not the crystal. Unfortunately, Vi's final attempt to get through to her is interrupted by a gang of attacking Fireflies, which incites Jinx into showing off her psychotic streak. The scene ends in a frenzy of bullets and panic, leaving Vi to see the bloodthirsty monster that Powder has become. It's a wonderfully executed moment, and even out of context, it's a superb example of the series' strengths.

Jinx versus Ekko

After Vi and Jinx's less than stellar reunion in Episode 6, things go from zero to 100 really quickly. Episode 7, "The Boy Savior," marks the beginning of Season 1's third act, and it definitely kicks off with a bang. Ekko, a childhood friend of Vi and Powder, is shown to have grown up to be the leader of the Firelights. Later on — after a heated incident on a bridge in Piltover — Ekko convinces Vi and Caitlyn to run. This leaves Ekko to confront his former childhood friend Powder, now Jinx, in a gloriously animated fight sequence. Set to the song "Dynasties & Dystopia," Ekko uses his memories of their childhood to avoid Jinx's attacks, quickly subduing her. Despite this, Ekko still can't bring himself to finish Jinx off, giving her time to activate a grenade — resulting in a gigantic explosion.

It's worth noting that this moment resonates even more if you've watched the music video produced for Imagine Dragons and JID's song titled "Enemy." The video is set to the series' theme song and serves as a pseudo-prequel showcasing Zaun before the events of Season 1. We see some visual teases for future events — Powder's Monkey Bomb being a key one — and some extra character insights. Throughout the video, we see Powder and Ekko having fun as kids, which serves as a counterpoint to their confrontation later on.

Jayce and Vi clean house

What is quite curious about "Arcane" is just how little one needs to know about "League of Legends" in order to enjoy it. Despite the show's evergreen nature, it still manages to slip in some very welcome references to its source material. It's in this scene that Jayce and Vi act in a manner befitting of their interactive multiplayer counterparts — mainly through their weapons. It's a cool moment to finally see Vi and Jayce, both isolated in mostly separate narratives, finally interacting in a major way.

Jayce and Vi find themselves temporarily aligned in their shared goal of destroying Silco's production of Shimmer — a Zaun-made superpowered healing chemical. They storm Silco's manufacturing facility and, armed with combat-ready Hextech, begin cleaning house side by side! With Jayce wielding a gigantic hammer and Vi utilizing two gauntlets (much like Vander), the two are a force to be reckoned with. Much like every other action scene in "Arcane," the fight is expertly paced and animated and complimented perfectly by the show's soundtrack. Even out of context, this eye-popping scene is a perfect microcosm of the series' visual strengths. Show this scene to anyone and it will serve as a perfect catalyst for them to check out the 1st season of "Arcane."

Vi versus Sevika: Rematch

Sometimes a legitimately awesome action scene is all you need, and "Arcane" has plenty to satisfy any viewer. After their explosive encounter in Episode 5, "Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy," many viewers were itching for a rematch between Vi and Sevika. Unlike their previous encounter, where Vi found herself overpowered by Sevika's Shimmer-fueled arm, things are different this time around. Equipped with her newly procured Hextech gauntlets, Vi storms into the Last Drop and, without even saying a word, makes her intentions clear. Sevika asks the bar to empty out, and the two immediately begin utterly battering each other.

Now on equal footing, the Vi and Sevika exchange a barrage of punches and kicks, decisive blows, and environmental attacks. The fight even includes a hysterical moment where Vi breaks from the action for a brief moment to slurp down a drink. The fight continues until Vi, severely beaten and down a gauntlet, seems to be soundly beaten by Sevika. That is until a vision of the deceased Vander motivates her to get back up, allowing her to win the fight. The scene is capped off with Vi ripping Sevika's robotic arm clean off her body to score the decisive win. It's a top-tier fight from a show that knows how to pack a scene with equal parts sizzle and substance.

Heimerdinger meets Ekko/The Firelights

A simple moment, but one that provides a much-needed dose of levity during the very dark third act of "Arcane." After his unceremonious exile from the council, Heimerdinger seeks o help the residents in the undercity of Zaun. This newfound quest leads him to the other side of the river, where he happens across Ekko, injured after his fight with Jinx. The two quickly bond over their shared technological interests and their recent hardships, motivating Heimerdinger to help Ekko get home. The home is the main base of operations for the Firelights, which contains a large tree at the center.

This all serves as a major eye-opening moment for Heimerdinger, whose reservations about drastic progress had been made very clear. In regards to their base's quick development, Ekko explains to Heimerdinger, "It's not how much time you have, it's how you use it." After seeing both characters go through both physical and emotional turmoil, the pair's meeting comes as a welcome reprieve from the show's darker moments. Whether or not the collaboration between the two will result in positive developments for Piltover and Zaun remains to be seen. Still, it's a wonderful moment and a needed bit of optimism amongst the shocking developments in act three.

Silco's death

It takes special talent in terms of writing and presentation to make villains even moderately identifiable, but "Arcane" found a way. From his first moments onscreen, it's clear that Silco would be a fascinating character and inaugural antagonist for the series. In act one, we learn that he and Vander — former friends — had very different ideas on how to contend with Piltover. This pushed Vander to try and drown his friend in the polluted rivers of Zaun, leaving Silco's eye infected and deformed. Silco survived this and — utilizing his supply of Shimmer — crafted his own army while remaining in the shadows. One of Silco's most significant acts in the 1st season was adopting Powder after Vi abandoned her in Episode 3.

Following this, Silco and Powder — now known as Jinx –  form a rather twisted but endearing father-daughter dynamic. Jinx eventually turns on Silco after learning he lied about Vi's true fate and lead her to believe she is dead. During the twisted faux dinner scene in the season finale, Jinx, torn mentally between her two lives, ends up shooting Silco. Their final moments together are a tearful affair, as Jinx immediately regrets her actions and comforts Silco as he succumbs to his wound. His final line, "I never would've given you to them," shows that he truly did care for Jinx, even up until the end.

Jinx fires a missile at the Council

If you're going to do a cliffhanger ending, you'd better leave your audience with something substantial before cutting to black. Sometimes this can result in frustrations, like with the 6th season finale of "The Walking Dead," but not so with "Arcane." The creators of the series knew that their final note for the show's inaugural season needed to pack a serious punch, and it most definitely did. After killing Silco, Powder chooses to fully embrace her identity as Jinx, even taking the seat with her name painted on it. She finally acknowledges that her relationship with Vi cannot go back to what it used to be and walks away from her. Following this callback to the end of act one, Jinx arms herself with a rocket launcher and heads outside.

In a truly resonant moment, Jinx fires a missile that is supercharged by a magic crystal at the Piltover Council's chamber. The music builds and builds, perfectly complimenting the monumental nature of the scene, and shows there is no turning back. Just as the missile cracks the chamber's glass, we see Jinx's distorted mental graffiti take up the screen before crashing to black. It's an appropriately powerful moment to end "Arcane" Season 1 and a wonderful tease of what's coming next in Season 2.