The first season of Arcane has come to a close, and although it’s going to be some time until we can get our hands on season two, Riot Games confirmed the next chapter of the series is currently in production.
The League of Legends show relies almost entirely on its top-notch animation to convey its story, which is advantageous considering Arcane is one of the most visually stunning animated television shows. From its raucous beginning all the way to its gut-wrenching end, Arcane perfectly blends elements of beauty, brutality, and heartbreak.
Arcane’s first season is loaded from front-to-back with some nearly perfect episodes—most of which can stand alone as nuggets of entertainment even without the greater context of the show. Here are all nine episodes of Arcane’s first season, ranked.
9) “Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved” (Episode two)
Our first glimpse at the inner workings of Piltover get off to a sluggish start, with a lot more telling being done instead of showing. Our introductions to characters like Heimerdinger, Jayce, and all the members of the Piltover Council are filled with wordy expositions that don’t necessarily stack up to the action-packed A-plot down in Zaun.
8) “When These Walls Come Tumbling Down” (Episode six)
Episode six’s greatest flaw lies in its desire to constantly jump between plotlines. With so many characters’ stories fragmented at this stage in the season, a bit of jumping around was inevitable, but episode six goes overboard at times. When Jinx and Vi fight together against the Firelights in the episode’s final moments, it’s a satisfying scene, but not enough to carry one of Arcane’s otherwise weaker episodes.
7) “The Monster You Created” (Episode nine)
If there’s any gripe to be had with the Arcane finale, it’s the massive cliffhanger the show’s first season ended with. Throughout the course of all three acts, it was hard not to think that the season would tie up all of its loose ends before it came to a close. So, when a literal bomb is dropped on the series during the final moments of season one, it’s hard not to hold your breath and feel a little disappointed.
6) “Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy” (Episode five)
If you’re watching Arcane for its political intrigue, this episode is for you. Not only is the audience given a look into the politics of Piltover (and Runeterra as a whole), but we finally get the chance to see, in full, who’s playing whom, who’s doing the most double-crossing, and which characters are actually aligned with each other.
5) “Welcome to the Playground” (Episode one)
Arcane jumps right into the bulk of its story immediately, with the series premiere holding no punches when it comes to its characters, backstory, and world building techniques. Right from the get-go, Arcane dials its story up to 11—it grips you and refuses to let go.
4) “Oil and Water” (Episode eight)
Arcane’s penultimate episode in season one shows worlds colliding in an extremely intricate way, with Vi coming face-to-face with the Piltover Council. If you’re a sucker for watching the A-plot and B-plot come together, this episode’s payoff is incredible. Plus, the climactic fight sequence where we finally get to see Vi show off her gauntlets and Jayce use the Mercury Hammer is one of the series’ highlights.
3) “The Base Violence Necessary for Change” (Episode three)
The first act of Arcane is punch-for-punch the weakest of the three, but the final stinger that the third episode ends off on is otherworldly. The final moments of episode three signal a clear tonal shift for Arcane—one that symbolizes the story’s “point of no return.” To see such a dark episode so early in the show’s run shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially when the heavy thematic elements of the first two episodes are taken into account.
2) “Happy Progress Day!” (Episode four)
After learning almost exclusively about Zaun and its underlying politics in the first act of Arcane, the first episode of the second act dives into Piltover and what makes it tick. The second act of the show features a time skip, with the effects of Powder (now known as Jinx) and Vi’s fallout felt across the series. The way Arcane practically introduces an entirely new show and provides context as to what happened during the skipped time over the course of the final six episodes is brilliant.
“Happy Progress Day!” begins with an explosive firefight on a Piltover airship, giving the audience its first real taste of the conflict between Piltover and Zaun that’s going to drive the rest of the series. Eventually, it ends with Caitlyn visiting Vi in Stillwater Hold—a symbol of the connection between the two cities and how their unity and allyship could prove beneficial in solving their longstanding feud.
1) “The Boy Savior” (Episode seven)
The seventh episode of season one is easily the strongest among the nine, with practically every shot and still capturing the essence of Arcane. If you could frame a 40-minute TV episode and hang it on a wall, this would be our top choice. Not only is “The Boy Savior” beautiful from start to finish, its plot can stand on its own two legs better than any episode in the show’s first season.
Arcane’s story comes to its climax in the beginning of act three, with practically every character coming to a major crossroads in their own personal storylines. From Viktor’s decision to embrace the “glorious evolution,” to Ekko’s decision to join forces with Caitlyn and Vi after years of hiding, each character in Arcane faces the music in episode seven. Plus, the fight scene between Jinx and Ekko is easily the best-animated sequence in the series, and it’s not even close.
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