I’m going to state this right off the bat: Arcane is a work of art. When I first found out that Riot Games had spent six years creating an animated show based on the League of Legends video game, that concept seemed ridiculous. After all, how often have video game adaptations been translated to the screen successfully? However, when I sat down to see this season, I couldn’t believe six years was enough. Not only are the visuals spectacular, but they pack an emotional punch that pivots between tugging your heartstrings and pummeling them. Most importantly, not only are the characters unique, but they come alive on the screen like real people. This show has no filler; it’s ruthlessly edited to a knife’s edge. It is universally compelling entertainment at its finest. With that all said, one of the aspects of the series that stood out to me the most was how Arcane respects the complexity of parenting, particularly the power of fatherhood in a child’s life. As a daughter, I see how rare it is that fathers are positively portrayed in the media today, where empowerment and political agendas often take priority over compelling storytelling that touches on the humanity of people. Arcane respects the depths of complexity in both mother and father roles, and it isn’t afraid to show the strengths and flaws of both.
The strength of love knows no bounds; it leads to some of the best and the worst acts committed by human beings. It is an emotion so powerfully complex that it can uproot everything in our lives. Love is beautiful, yet extremely dangerous. Oftentimes, caring about another person can lead to one’s own undoing. We’ve seen many examples of this in different situations: stories, games, movies, TV shows, and even in our own history. Today, I will be discussing one such example of love’s undoing: Silco. Silco is an extremely compelling antagonist, though he’s written so well that by the end of the series, I didn’t even see him as an antagonist anymore. The moral gray area everybody operates in the series is laid out beautifully, and while Silco may come off as a ruthless villain at first, over time we see that this is not the case. He initially lacks the understanding of a familial bond, especially after he was betrayed by Vander, one of his closest friends. In the past, they once had the same goals, fighting for sovereignty for the nation of Zaun. They were like brothers; However, Vander grew tired of the war and realized that to protect those he loved, he needed to back down. Vander began to value family over others, and let go of his fighting spirit in order to be a father figure. Silco, on the other hand, grew ruthless, violent, and angry. He thought Vander was a coward for letting go, for betraying him, for stopping the fight. He felt lonely and betrayed, but on the day he almost drowned, he let a weak man die. He grew strong, willing to do whatever was necessary to reach his end goal. He shed his weakness and became a fierce and merciless force. Then he found Jinx. Abandoned, alone, and betrayed, just like he was. He saw himself in her, so he took her in, nurtured and cared for her, doing his best to make her strong so that she never had to feel the way he felt for so many years. So that she didn’t have to be alone through her struggles, through her suffering. He ultimately became what he hated in Vander: a father. He taught her how to fight, how to embrace what everyone else ridiculed her for, the same way he did.
While his teachings were misguided at best and morbid at worst, his main goal was to support her. He began to love her like a daughter. Sevika regards Jinx as Silco’s daughter herself in Act 3, telling him that she’ll come to him when she’s ready, as every parent has difficulties with their children. When he thought that he was going to lose her after her fight with Ekko, he was in shock. He began to slip, unable to think straight, unable to function. He lost his edge, which is only natural when you think your daughter is going to die. He grew desperate and took her to the Chemistry, ready to do whatever necessary to save her. But she survived, so all is well--or, as well as all can be when a civil war is brewing. Until it was finally time for him to achieve everything he’s been working towards: he was told that he could have Zaun, his independence. He could rule the city and do as he wishes. However, everything means nothing because it comes at a cost: Jinx. He has to sacrifice his daughter for everything he’s ever wanted, and therein lies the tragedy, because now his daughter is more important to him than everything else he’s been working for. After all, this time, she means more to him than anything else does. He now knows the love of a father; the importance of that connection is clear to him now. He knows what Vander felt all those years ago. He knows why Vander did what he did; now he understands his brother and is willing to go to war for Jinx. This scene encapsulates it perfectly: “Is there anything so undoing as a daughter?”And horrifyingly enough, in the end, it’s Jinx who gets him killed. The daughter he raised and loved, ended his life. Everything crumbled away, but it didn’t matter, nothing mattered, as long as she was okay. She may have led him to his demise, but that’s the way it goes. He wasn’t angry, he didn’t hate her for it, and he told her that he was never willing to let her go:“I wouldn’t have given you to them for anything.”
It’s honestly tragically poetic, the way he meets his demise is the same way Vander met his. Vander died fighting for the children he loved and Silco died fighting for the child he loved; both were willing to fight to the death because of their love. Vander grew accustomed to his difficult situation in order to protect Vi, Powder, Mylo and Claggor. He was willing to give up his dreams of independence. When we see him for the first time, he’s a tired old man who’s been through more than he should have in his lifetime. He’s even had to make deals with the enforcers to ensure the safety of his family. Silco despised Vander for opposing his belief and willing to do whatever it took to fight for his goals, but over time, he finally came to understand him: “Don’t cry, you’re perfect.” All in all, Silco is one of the most well rounded, well written, complex, and beautifully executed antagonists in any recent media I’ve ever seen. An extremely compelling and standout character developed to near perfection. He’s vile, evil, ruthless and fierce, yet he’s not flat and predictable. He’s a dynamic character with many shades and sides, and above all else, he feels so incredibly human. That’s what makes him such a realistic father.