Arcane season 1, episode 2 recap – “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved”

November 7, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Recaps
4

Summary

“Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved” considers old events from new perspectives as the world of Arcane is fleshed out further.

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4

Summary

“Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved” considers old events from new perspectives as the world of Arcane is fleshed out further.

This recap of Arcane season 1, episode 2, “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved”, contains spoilers.


There are two sides to every story, and “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved” leans into this idea by returning to the lab heist from the premiere, but this time from the perspectives of Jayce and Caitlyn. We’re provided almost immediately with some backstory for Jayce, cracking a window into his headspace and his approach to scientific research. Caitlyn is a member of the family sponsoring that research. And, through Grayson, the two-timing Enforcer working with Vander to preserve peace between Piltover and Zaun, we learn that it’s illegal (all the best research is).

Arcane season 1, episode 2 recap

We’re still learning things about the setting; about Piltover’s governing body, the attitudes it has towards R&D, the truth of the idiom “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Everyone knows someone in Arcane, but it isn’t always a mutually beneficial relationship. Just as we saw in the first episode, all alliances are tentative. There isn’t much difference between rich and poor, between science and magic, between established orthodoxy and illicit experimentation. It’s all a thin line, fluid and flexible. In these early scenes, we’re introduced to Viktor, and also to Heimerdinger, the Academy’s dean.

We’re also reminded of the stakes. The orphans, because of their actions, are still being hunted by the Enforcers, which results in another impressive chase and some disagreements among the Zaun locals. The failed rebellion that resulted in the deaths of Vi and Powder’s parents – which we caught a glimpse of in the premiere – isn’t far from the memory of people like Vander. But some, like Svarka, want war, not peace. They want to reclaim what they believe is theirs from people like self-serving and ambitious aristocrat Mel Medarda. Others, like Caitlyn’s family, have other motives in defending someone like Jayce. It’s several complicated dynamics intertwined, but Arcane doesn’t feel hostile to the viewer, even one with no League of Legends knowledge, which is impressive given the breadth of the setting.

Jayce, we come to learn – as do the Council, during his trial – is trying to harness magic through science, a particularly risky and frowned-upon endeavour. Heimerdinger is particularly skeptical about magic given he has seen first-hand what it’s capable of, even if it represents an opportunity for someone like Medarda. Jayce has a family who cares for him, but he’s stymied by orthodoxy. This is, ultimately, what leads him to Viktor.

Meanwhile in Arcane season 1, episode 2, we’re more formally introduced to Silco, the black-eyed villain who was very briefly introduced at the end of the previous episode. His whole thing is using his pink cocktail to create giant mutants, and if we don’t include the mouse in the premiere, Deckard becomes its very first test subject.

There’s a clear sense in “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved” of threads beginning to intertwine; the revelations about Jayce’s experiments provide a new context for Powder’s possession of the mana crystals, and thus the eagerness of the Council to locate the orphans. The situation is obviously untenable. The time is coming when even those like Vander who’re trying to keep the peace are going to have to choose a side. Just as, back in the day, he led many of Zaun’s more enthusiastic citizens across the bridge leading to Piltover, he might have to lead once more – and if he refuses, Vi might lead in his place. Similarly, Jayce finds himself at a crossroads, contemplating taking his own life over his ruined reputation until he’s convinced by Viktor to change the world on his own terms.

By the end of the second episode, we find ourselves on the precipice of all-out war, with Vi planning noble self-sacrifice to the Enforcers in order to protect Powder from capture, and many other subplots threatening to spill over also. Despite only being the second episode, this feels like a penultimate installment, teeing up a major conclusion to the first “Act”, and lending a lot of credence to Netflix’s distribution strategy here.

You can stream Arcane season 1, episode 2, “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved”, exclusively on Netflix.

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