Arcane season 1, episode 3 recap – “The Base Violence Necessary For Change”

November 7, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Recaps
4.5

Summary

“The Base Violence Necessary For Change” is a dynamite ending to Arcane‘s first Act, packed with both action and emotion.

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4.5

Summary

“The Base Violence Necessary For Change” is a dynamite ending to Arcane‘s first Act, packed with both action and emotion.

This recap of Arcane season 1, episode 3, “The Base Violence Necessary For Change”, contains spoilers.


I cannot think of a better argument in favor of Netflix’s chosen distribution strategy for Arcane than “The Base Violence Necessary For Change”, a third episode that feels like a finale. Building to a crescendo of violence and emotional poignancy, with several character arcs and subplots crisscrossing after two prior episodes of careful build-up, this is an excellent episode of television by any metric. In a video game adaptation, it’s almost miraculous.

Arcane season 1, episode 3 recap

From quite early on, this episode becomes in large part about Vander. Even Silco’s opening flashback to an attempt on his life concerns the big man; Vander tried to drown him. As we catch back up on the events that occurred at the end of the second episode, it’s Vander who prevents Vi’s attempt at self-sacrifice, deciding to take the fall in her place. It’s him who’s taken away by the Enforcers, despite Grayson’s reticence. It’s him who is then taken away by Silco when his monstrous pet Deckard slaughters all the Enforcers except Marcus, who is particularly horrified at the deal he has supposedly made in exchange for his life.

Vander has a long history with Silco. Once upon a time, they shared the same dream of elevating the Undercity to a nation equivalent to Piltover, by force if necessary. Silco’s pink mutant serum, dubbed Shimmer, is part of that plan – with it, he can build an army so strong and terrifying that Piltover would have no choice but to bow to it. Back in the day, though, Vander betrayed him, attempting to drown him in the polluted rivers, and they’ve been enemies since. Silco, like several other characters we’ve met, believes that Vander isn’t the man he once was – that he has become soft.

In the meanwhile, Jayce reaches a critical turning point in his own personal world-changing subplot, and with the help of Viktor and Medarda he’s able to complete his experiment and stabilize a mana crystal, harnessing magical power through science, just as he claimed he would. The implications of this, though, are considerable, and a matter for the Council.

Speaking of considerable implications, the time spent establishing Powder’s frustration at being underestimated by her peers pays off in a big way in “The Base Violence Necessary For Change”. Told by Vi to hide away from the coming fight, she instead incorporates one of the mana crystals in one of her homemade grenades and quickly catches up with the others, who are attempting to spring Vander from captivity. This whole sequence is dynamite. Vi dons Vander’s giant metal gauntlets to fight off Silco’s goons while Claggor creates an escape route. Eventually, to save Vi from a mutated Deckard, Powder deploys her makeshift grenade, which triggers a cascade of explosions that send Silco’s Shimmer manufacturing plant up in flames and result in several deaths, including those of Claggor and Milo.

All that, and Deckard makes it out alive. However, this tees up the grand culmination of Vander’s arc. After squaring off against Deckard, he’s blindsided by Silco and thrown onto a bunch of Shimmer. Seeing no alternative he downs the liquid, and in his new, mutated form, he is able to not only defeat Deckard but save Vi.

He isn’t, though, able to save himself, and his death tips Vi over the edge, especially when combined with the fact that Powder was responsible for the explosions. Enraged and devastated, Vi slaps Powder, declaring her a jinx just as Milo always claimed. In so doing, though, she pushes Powder into the waiting arms of Silco, who quietly promises her, “We’ll show them.” Fans of League of Legends might know where this is going, but it’s undeniably well-executed all the same.

You can stream Arcane season 1, episode 3, “The Base Violence Necessary For Change”, exclusively on Netflix.

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