Review 2 (Arcane): Jinx's Downfall is Her Own Doing
Reviewing her descent into madness
Fresh off the Arcane League of Legends season 2 announcement, we will be breaking down every decision on-screen that turned Powder into Jinx.
1. Her carelessness and lack of hindsight
When we’re introduced to a young Powder, in Act 1 Episode 1: Welcome to the playground, she is on a heist with her siblings — Vi, Mylo and Claggor. Somehow, her hesitancy to leap across buildings was only as powerful as her determination to prove herself to the older kids.
Unfortunately, she makes a mess of the situation by tampering with unknown gemstones and blowing up the building they’ve just robbed, alerting nearby enforcers. This is clearly and purely an accident. But, her brother, Mylo, doesn’t let her hear the end of it. He goes as far as calling her a jinx, to which Vi defends her little sister.
However, in Act 1 Episode 3: The base violence necessary for change, Powder interferes in a rescue operation, led by her sister and brothers, to save their adoptive father, Vander. Powder, who was explicitly sidelined for her own safety, and some would say the safety of everyone else, desperately wants to help. After realizing that the explosion at Piltover’s Topside was caused by a gem, and that the tiny orbs held unimaginable energy, she decides to make a bomb to save her family. This is where she miscalculates.
Aware of the degree of damage a single gemstone could cause, she places not one, but four orbs into her makeshift monkey bomb. This is what causes the explosion that claims her father and brothers’ lives. Clearly, if one gemstone was enough to level several rooms, four gemstones would have been far too dangerous.
2. Her impulsiveness and codependency
Right after the tragic demise of her adoptive family, Powder, unaware of the damage she’d caused, boasts of the ingenuity of her monkey bomb to Vi. Realising that Powder had single-handedly wiped out their entire family, Vi flares up, calling her a jinx and hitting her across the face. Ashamed of what she’d done, but infuriated, Vi storms off to a corner to cry, while Powder hysterically pleads for her to come back.
A few seconds later, we see Silco, the man who orchestrated Vander’s kidnapping, tortured him and tried to kill her siblings, approach Powder to end her life. But to his surprise, Powder, distraught and believing her sister abandoned her, attacks him with a hug, stating:
“She left me. She’s not my sister anymore.”
Harsh words from a nine year old. Next, we see Silco slowly drop the knife he had intended to kill Powder with and hug her back, signaling the start of their father-daughter relationship.
3. Her need for acceptance
Jinx’s need for acceptance is what drives her. It always has, even when she went by the name Powder. It is what we see in Act 2 Episode 4: Happy progress day!, when Silco benches Jinx after her recent mission goes awry.
This makes Jinx think Silco perceives her as weak, and pushes her to create even more chaos during Piltover’s Progress Day celebration. Jinx succeeds in stealing the newest gemstone designed by inventor and scientist, Jayce Tallin, which she presents to Silco, before embracing him in a hug.
In Act 3 Episode 7: The boy savior, just after reuniting with her sister, Vi, they are both ambushed and Vi is taken away from her again. Jinx confronts Silco about lying to her and is infuriated by his insistence that her sister had died the night of the explosion, ten years ago. Eventually, Silco’s words get to her like they always do (smh). He worms his way into her head, turning Jinx against Vi once more by saying:
“I was protecting you. She and the enforcer are only here for the gem.”
He ends by telling her to fix the machine she’s working on for him, which she does. If the finale showed us anything, it’s that her need for acceptance pushed her down the path of destruction.
4. Her need to make Vi the source of her problems
Every time Jinx has been faced with the truth of what happened the night of the explosion she has refuted it. Even when Vi tells her she was kidnapped and thrown in prison all those years in Act 2 Episode 6: When these walls come tumbling down, she is adamant to believe her, allowing Silco’s words to ring louder in her head.
During a goodbye scene in Act 3 Episode 7: The boy savior, Jinx is shown tailing her sister, Ekko and Caitlyn. In another scene of the same episode where she converses with one of the voices in her head, she responds:
“Shut up, it’s just a goodbye hug. She wouldn’t do that. Not again.”
This leads us to believe Jinx still feels abandoned by Vi, even though the latter had no say in initially leaving her. This feeling of abandonment is a repetitive theme throughout the show, revealing that even if Vi is absolved of all crimes, Jinx would believe Silco over her.
This makes one wonder if Jinx is holding on to her abandonment issues as a way to avoid facing her grief and holding herself accountable for her extreme transformation into the psychotic assassin she allowed Silco fully mold her into.
In Act 3 Episode 9: The monster that you created, we hear Jinx tell Vi that she made her into Jinx, which is far from what Vi ever wanted for her sister. After all, Vi also needed to survive in prison, but never became a murderer. We never see Jinx take responsibility for her actions, only delegate them to someone else.
In the same episode, she acknowledges Silco’s contributions to driving a wedge between her and Vi when she says:
“He took everything from us. Right here he stabbed Vander in the back.”
Making it clear, and all the more disappointing that she chose to honour him with her final act of nuking the council room.
5. Her selfishness
Throughout the show, Jinx’s voice echoes one major question to Vi: ‘Why did you leave me?” Even when Vi answers this question truthfully, Jinx is still uncertain. She still tests Vi and puts her through agonizing trials. Jinx doesn’t stop for once to try to converse with Vi, but rather initiates violent and accusatory encounters.
One would expect that after being kidnapped by the Firelighters, Jinx would go looking for her sister, but she didn’t. Add to the fact that there’s barely are resolutionary conversation between the two. Even when she does find her, she doesn’t try to catch up on lost years or even ask about Vi’s time in prison and how she held up.
As much as Jinx is traumatised by the events of the explosion, Vi also lost her family and was ripped away from her sister without consent. Throughout the show, Vi is constantly advocating for Jinx, and going against her friends and companions to keep her safe. But, Jinx is too fixated on her problems to notice her sister’s suffering.
In Act 3 Episode 9: The monster that you created, we hear Jinx say to Vi about Silco:
“All the time saying you abandoned me when he knew the truth. Liar.”
But then, she forces her sister to choose between her and Caitlyn out of jealousy, even though the former wanted nothing more than to right the wrongs of her people and foster peace between their two factions.
She expects Vi to love her unconditionally and accept that she is a murderer just like Silco who, mind you, didn’t offer her the right support and added to her pain and paranoia. From their interactions together it is glaring that Silco fueled Jinx’s fears and controlled her by keeping her isolated from Vi.
In the final scene, we even see him aim a gun at Vi when she tries to undo some of the psychological damage he had aided by appealing to Jinx’s buried emotions. Yet, Jinx denounces her sister again after Silco’s death and ruins Zaun’s one chance at peace and prosperity in a twisted effort to honour him — the greatest evidence of their toxic and codependent relationship.
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