Source: Episode 4, Arcane
By: Beata Garrett | @clearsummers
Welcome to Part Two of my analysis on Netflix’s original animated show, Arcane. You can read Part One of “Arcane Family Dynamics” here if you’re interested: https://theanimeview.com/2022/04/27/arcane-family-dynamics-vander-and-vi/
Part Two focuses on the other integral father-daughter relationship in the series, that of a grown-up Powder, who goes by Jinx now, and Silco. It’s a tragic and complicated relationship about two people projecting onto each other. For Jinx, Silco is a father figure who has replaced Vander and Vi in her life, guiding her and mentoring her in the way that they might have if they were able to. For Silco, he sees himself and Vander within the supposed betrayal Vi committed against Jinx.
One of the things that makes the storytelling in Arcane so successful is its many parallels between multiple characters. Silco begins the show as a one-dimensional villain and there’s also no question that he remains an antagonist as we see that his love for Jinx neither redeems him nor makes him more empathetic towards other people, including other families.
Jinx and Silco’s relationship begins in Episode 3 as they hug one another in the ruins of a building where Vander has just died. Years later, we see how both of them have been forged in their reactions to the betrayal of those considered their family. While we’re not shown exactly what happened in the years that Silco raised Jinx, we’re given a taste in the way he speaks to her and protects her from everybody else. There is a possibility for unconditional acceptance and love there and there’s an argument to make that Silco does actually offer Jinx unconditional love in a way Vi can’t. However, I believe that, for most of the series, Silco only wants a Jinx that he understands and one that mirrors him.
Source: Episode 4, Arcane
Episode 4 and 5 show just how close the two have become. In Episode 4, Jinx messes up during a mission and accidentally destroys the cargo that Silco’s group were smuggling when she hallucinates her sister. She demonstrates no remorse about this and smirks at Sevika, Silco’s right-hand woman, because she knows that Silco is always willing to clean up after her. Sevika sacrificed an arm for SIlco but it’s pretty clear that he has no loyalty towards her. When Sevika recounts this event to Silco, she tells him, “She fired on us” to which Silco dismissively replies that “There are always mishaps in battle” (Episode 4).
It’s also shown that this isn’t the first time it’s happened as others throughout the series point out that Jinx is becoming progressively unstable. It’s interesting to note that Silco’s consistent choice to ignore Jinx’s behavior and instability directly contradicts Vander’s style of parenting. Vander made sure to impress the nature of a leader’s responsibility upon Vi and to remind her that her actions ripple and affect everyone else in the vicinity. While Vander protected his kids by making sure they understood the consequences and world they lived in, Silco protects Jinx by covering up her mistakes.
Despite Jinx’s blunders, Silco continues to demonstrate unshakeable trust in her and even tells her “You’re the only one I can trust with this, Jinx” (Episode 5). This trust is underscored by how Silco always seems calm and composed when in front of others, but he reveals his concerns and true self to only Jinx. The meetings he has with various people under his control demonstrate this as he appears unbothered in front of characters like Marcus and Sevika but then turns immediately to Jinx, who’s always watching from the rafters, and tells her how he truly feels. She is his confidante and the only person he can show any kind of vulnerability to, which makes him overly dependent and overprotective of her.
Source: Episode 5, Arcane
There is perhaps no scene better to showcase Jinx and Silco’s relationship to one another than the river baptism scene. In Episode 5, Silco brings Jinx to the river where Vander almost killed him and gives her a symbolic cleansing reminiscent of a baptism. He tells her “Jinx is perfect,” a phrase that will come up again in Episode 9 when he dies, and “You need to let Powder die. So the fear of pain will no longer control you.”
Silco isn’t talking about any kind of pain either, but emotional pain, specifically that of betrayal. Jinx had just confided to him that she messed up the mission because she hallucinated Vi so Silco is attempting to make Vi meaningless to her. He wants her to rid herself of any attachment to her old family, that which Powder was part of, to become more like him.
Unfortunately for Silco, Powder is not entirely gone and Vi’s return to Zaun complicates matters for his relationship with Jinx. After being broken out of jail so she can help Caitlyn, Vi sets out to find her sister again. In Vi’s mind, her sister has been kidnapped by Silco and is suffering under him or is even dead. She finds Sevika and fights her, demanding to know where Silco is “keeping” her sister. Sevika responds that Jinx works for Silco and that “She’s like his daughter” (Episode 5). When Vi actually meets Jinx for the first time in years and is promptly taken from her again, she realizes that her sister isn’t quite the same. Everyone around her, including another childhood friend of both Powder and Vi, tell Vi that her sister is unstable. The childhood friend, Ekko, even says, “Powder’s gone, Vi. All that’s left is Jinx and she belongs to Silco” (Episode 7).
On Silco’s end, he’s disturbed by the news that Vi is alive and has returned. Silco sees Vi as a threat not physically or politically in the same way that someone like Jayce is, but even more personally as a threat to his standing with Jinx. He knows what power Vi holds and he’s right to be scared of her swaying her sister. Silco understands that Vi represents hope and that Jinx may want to reconcile with her sister, partly because, as I like toI believe, he felt the same way with Vander.
We see Jinx being torn between family, the one that “betrayed” her and hasn’t been with her for years and the one that has been there all along, but which killed her father. This is visually symbolized by pivotal shots of Jinx against the sky or heading to higher ground in some way, such as when she shoots the flare that Vi gave her as a child, and her at the river with Silco, who’s associated with the deep, dark river where his current self was formed.
Jinx’s conflicted loyalties are also shown in how Vi and Silco approach her and what both offer. Vi sees her as Powder, as the child that she saw her last as, and offers her a chance to return to those times when she was more innocent. Silco offers her acceptance for who she is now, including all of the terrible things that she’s done (that he pushed her towards, undoubtedly), and a deep emotional understanding based on the trauma both of them have been through.
Source: Episode 7, Arcane
Another important visual symbol for Silco’s relationship with Jinx are eyes. Throughout Episode 4 to 7, we see that Silco needs to inject shimmer into his eye to either lessen the pain or keep the infection at bay. He trusts Jinx to administer it whereas, in Episode 1, we saw him injecting himself with it. This shows the intimacy between the two and how that intimacy can be used against one another as a form of punishment. After Jinx finds out that Vi is alive and that Silco lied to her, she punishes Silco with the medication syringe. As they talk and Silco eventually calms her down, it says a lot that Silco doesn’t resist even though his hands are unbound. It’s as if he understands that this is how she’s punishing him and that he accepts it.
There’s also the idea that neither Jinx nor Silco can see the full truth of the “betrayal” that happened to them and that this is reflected in Silco’s infected eye and Jinx progressively being shown with one eye as her hallucinations become more violent and stronger. In Episode 7, the mirror she’s looking at herself in fractures as she’s torn between deciding whether Vi is truly back for her or setting her up to be arrested.
Source: Episode 7 (top), Episode 1 (bottom)
After Jinx almost dies and has to be saved through a painful surgery requiring shimmer, her eyes begin to glow in a way that’s reminiscent of Silco. During the surgery, Jinx hallucinates that Caitlyn is the one actually hurting her while Vi watches. She’s unable to trust her sister, in no part thanks to Silco’s insistence that only he is her family, and ultimately forces Vi to choose either her or Caitlyn. Up to this point, there may still have been some hope to make Jinx understand that she still had a future with Vi and that she didn’t have to follow in Silco’s path.
Nothing So Undoing as a Daughter
Source: Episode 9, Arcane
Everyone in Arcane that has a family is vulnerable. In Episode 6, Silco threatens Marcus’s daughter after finding out that Marcus didn’t kill Vi as promised. The encounter just lampshades his own relationship with Jinx and how the same vulnerability he’s using to control Marcus is also one he’s not quite able to see within himself yet. Silco is very good at prying into the weaknesses of people but doesn’t know his own.
This is shown in how Silco’s focus on making Zaun independent shifts to protecting Jinx at all costs. At one point, Silco says, “I’m doing this for us, Jinx. All of us” (Episode 4). This use of “us” is fascinating as it comes up a few times when Silco is reassuring Jinx. While he initially means all of Zaun by the “us” used here, it becomes clear that he sees himself and Jinx as even more separate, as them against the world.
Near the end, Silco is rightfully called out by his fellow leaders for preaching loyalty to others about “sacrificing for the cause” (Episode 9) when he’s unwilling to reprimand Jinx in any way. When Silco actually makes a deal with Jayce to allow Zaun to function as an independent nation, he’s willing to do everything Jayce asks for until he tells Silco that Jinx needs to be handed over to pay for her crimes.
This mirrors Vander’s own dilemma in the first three episodes. Silco even talks to Vander’s statue and connects with the man for the first time in a while, saying, “Is there anything so undoing as a daughter?” (Episode 9). This is right after we see Silco being scared for another person for the first time as Jinx undergoes her surgery so it’s made even more obvious that he genuinely cares for her. What follows is the most tragic episode of Arcane besides that of Episode 3.
Source: Episode 9, Arcane
Throughout Arcane, everyone says, “[Jinx’s] like his daughter” but Silco never acknowledges it until Episode 9, the finale. During this episode, Jinx betrays Silco because she thinks he’s planning to hand her over to Piltover and shoots him when the sound of him pulling out a gun to kill Vi triggers her. It’s one of the most devastating scenes in the show as Jinx immediately regrets it and rushes to him, crying.
At this point, Vi has demonstrated a level of care for Caitlyn that Jinx didn’t want to see and Jinx has realized that Vi is a different person than the sister that would always put her first. She wants unconditional love and isn’t sure how to regulate the idea that someone could care for multiple people. In the end, Silco gives her the kind of love and acceptance she’s looking for as he tells her “You’re perfect.” I find it very important that he didn’t say, “Jinx is perfect” like he did in Episode 5. In his final moments, I believe Silco saw her in her full entirety, as both Jinx and Powder, and did accept all of her.
Source: Episode 9, Arcane
Silco’s death is the second death of her family that Jinx has been directly responsible for, and we see the immediate effects of it on her. Without saying anything, she chooses to sit in the “Jinx” chair, an action that directly rejects Powder and, by extension, Vi.
Throughout the season, Jinx has been working on an ultimate weapon for Silco. She finishes the weapon by the final episode but the irony is that Jinx herself is a weapon.
In the finale, she solidifies herself as Silco’s daughter and his legacy. Silco’s voice and words are the last dialogue we hear this season as Jinx remembers the first words he spoke to her in Episode 3: “We will show them all.” Remembering these words and choosing to shoot the weapon at Piltover while thinking of her first meeting with Silco is a sort of homage to him. There is no doubt that Silco was a father to her and the only person that understood the deepest, darkest parts of her. Jinx doesn’t choose to hurt Caitlyn or Vi in this moment, but chooses to finish the job Silco gave to her.
Source: Episode 9, Arcane
There are many things I love about Arcane, but the character of Silco and his relationship with Jinx is probably my favorite. The show tells us so much about their influence over one another through visual cues and the ways in which they react to the events around them. These are two characters that deeply bonded over shared trauma and Silco, while he did offer Jinx a kind of love, also worsened her fear of pain. As much as he tried to erase this fear for both of them, the two remained tied together by the fear of more betrayal, this time from each other.
What I love most are those genuine moments of tenderness between the two, like Silco keeping a mug Jinx made for him at his desk or Jinx hugging him in Episode 4. These are moments we don’t even see from Vander when he’s with Jinx and humanizes Silco beyond the typical antagonist. For better and worse, Silco was Jinx’s father and it undid them both.