Arcane: League Of Legends Ending Explained: Of Sisters And Monsters And Weapons That Can't Be Unmade

"Arcane: League of Legends" is the rare video game adaptation that has managed to receive universal acclaim from both critics and audiences. The animated Netflix series, based on the Riot Games title, "League of Legends," enjoyed a three-week rollout in November, and it's already been renewed for a second season. In a year when the new "Mortal Kombat" movie earned a mixed reception, with some calling it outright bad, "Arcane" came along like a revelation and built up buzz for itself even among non-gamers (like this writer).

The first season of "Arcane" employs a three-act structure, with three 40-minute episodes functioning as one movie-length act, so that the season shapes up like a full film trilogy when all is said and done. Though the characters come to life in 3DCG, the talented artists of the French animation studio Fortiche painted the backgrounds and other textures by hand, giving the show an eye-catching, cinematic quality. Colorful visuals, coupled with strong character work and world-building by writers and creators Christian Linke and Alex Yee, make "Arcane" an engrossing tale right up until the end.

Of course, if you've kept up with the show from week to week, or binged it the old-fashioned Netflix way, then you already know that. We're here now to talk more specifically about what happens at the end of "Arcane"—again, with spoilers.

"A Story of Opposites"

"Arcane" cues up each episode with what looks like a steampunk jukebox, spinning out a record with the figure of two women on it: one red-haired and right side up, the other blue-haired and upside down. The record turns so that the red-haired woman is moving toward the top—and then the show goes into its cold open, before the credits and the catchy opening theme song by Imagine Dragons.

These figures represent our hero and tragic villain, the orphan sisters, Vi, and Powder or Jinx, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Purnell (with Mia Sinclair Jenness providing the voice of the young Powder). At the end of the first act, Vi abandons Powder, believing her to be a jinx, which is why she takes on that name. Their surrogate father, Vander (JB Blanc), owner of the neon tavern, The Last Drop, has just died, and this leaves Powder alone and traumatized.

Vi and Jinx grew up in "the undercity," Zaun, where they came under Vander's care after a failed rebellion against the topside oppressors of the utopian Piltover. Vander and the crime boss, Silco (Jason Spisak), fought together in the rebellion, but when Vander agreed to peace with Piltover, Silco wanted to keep fighting. For the greater good, Vander tried to kill Silco by drowning him in a river with toxic waste, which left Silco's eye damaged.

This dynamic comes back into play at the end of the season when Silco, who took in Jinx after Vi abandoned her, has an opportunity to bring independence to Zaun, if he's willing to sacrifice Jinx. "Arcane" is, as Silco himself calls it, "a story of opposites," which presents the viewer with several dichotomies in character and location.

The Heart of Arcane

"Arcane" juggles a sprawling cast of characters; there are over 140 "champions" in the game, each with their own character bio. The series winnows that number down considerably, and it's a testament to the show's storytelling prowess that the main characters all have a presence where you can feel the weight of history behind them, even though some of them, like Silco, are new characters who are not featured in the game.

When Ekko (Reed Shannon), the Black boy with bleached-blonde hair who used to hang around Vander's tavern, shows back up, older and decked in white face paint, at the beginning of the third act, it would be understandable if — after three weeks, in the absence of episode recaps — some viewers did not immediately recognize who he was. His showdown on the bridge with Jinx in the seventh episode sees him employ a temporal device (the Zero Drive, per his bio), which can map his opponent's future fight moves. Details like this go unexplained and rely on the viewer's background knowledge of the game or their willingness to go along with such random concepts within the tapestry of "Arcane."

Another pair of personalities in this story of opposites is the handsome academy student turned council member, Jayce (Kevin Alejandro), and his disabled scientist partner, Viktor (Harry Lloyd). Together, they develop a maverick new technology, Hextech, which can harness arcane magic. Yet as much time as the show spends on side plots with characters like these (and others, too many to enumerate), it's really Vi and Jinx who provide the emotional underpinning. They're the heart of "Arcane," and they're on a collision course that ends in a gothic candlelight dinner with Silco and Vi's girlfriend, the Piltover peacekeeper, Caityln (Katie Leung).

Sisters and Monsters

The eighth episode of "Arcane" ends on a cliffhanger, as Caitlyn comes out of the shower and finds Jinx's punk symbol drawn on her steamy bathroom mirror. Before, we heard Vi tell Caitlyn the story of how she and Jinx used to play a game as kids where they "pretended to be bigger and bigger monsters." The younger Jinx would get scared sometimes, so Vi promised her sister, "No monster's gonna get you when I'm here."

"Then a real monster showed up," Vi says.

Cut to Jinx in Frankenstein mode on the mad scientist's table. To save her life after her near-fatal encounter with Ekko, Silco allows her to be injected with the purple drug, Shimmer. Jinx is already mentally unstable in the way of the DC Comics character, Harley Quinn, who helped inspire her. She's a mercurial human weapon, forged by childhood pain, but Vi — who harbors her own guilt over abandoning her — holds out hope that her sister is not beyond redemption and will re-embrace the Powder side of herself.

It all comes to a head in the aforementioned candlelight dinner (which isn't really a dinner, more like a mad cupcake party, but definitely a denouement). Vi sits tied to her chair at one end of the table while Silco sits muzzled on the other side. Jinx brings out a covered platter, talking about how she paid Caitlyn a visit, as "Arcane" teases that it is about to go full "Seven" and have the villain gift the hero with their lover's head.

Jinx uncovers the platter, and false alarm: it's just a cupcake topped with a volatile blue crystal. Reading the viewer's mind, Powder says, "Sheesh! I'm not that crazy," and wheels in the very alive Caitlyn on another chair.

"Weapons Can't Be Unmade"

At one point in "Arcane," a character says, "Weapons can't be unmade, and they are always used." This applies to the unhinged Jinx, whose spastic hallucinations have taken on a more sinister edge now that she is juiced up on Shimmer. They taunt her with warped graffiti visions of the people she once knew and loved.

She's torn between two of those people, Vi and Silco, and she's torn between her own two chairs on opposite sides of the table. One reads, "Powder," and the other reads, "Jinx."

After Caitlyn, her equally blue-haired rival for Vi's affection, gets free and points a gun at her, it sends Jinx over the edge. She grabs the gun, clocks Caitlyn, and unloads the bullets on Silco. Yet even as her adoptive gang dad dies, this does not represent her killing the Jinx side of herself.

The title of the season finale is, "The Monster You Created," and this comes home in the dialogue, where the girl formerly known as Powder tells her sister, "[Silco] didn't make Jinx. You did." She chooses the Jinx chair; Powder is gone. If there were any doubt about that, what happens next lays that to rest.

Jinx plucks the blue crystal from the cupcake and loads it in her shark rocket launcher. She walks outside, and under the light of a blood moon, she aims the launcher at the tower where Jayce, Viktor, and the council have gathered in a unanimous vote for peace. Earlier, Viktor told Jayce, "In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good." Before the council can rectify that, Jinx blows it up.

It's a finale that is literally explosive, and together with the rest of the first season, it has ensured "Arcane" a place in the pantheon of game-to-screen greats. Hopefully, there will be more of those in the years to come, starting with "Arcane" season 2.