Arcane episode 4 recap: Ghosts of the past

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Netflix's Arcane is finally here, and we're recapping each of its episodes. Each Saturday until November 20, a new act containing three episodes will premiere on Netflix. You can also read our recaps of episode 5 and episode 6, or check out our recaps of Act 1.

Arcane's first three-episode act ended with a horrifying bang. With Vander captured by Silco and his thugs, Vi, Milo, and Claggor staged a daring rescue operation that went horribly wrong and ended with the four trapped inside of a meat locker without much hope for escape. Powder, wanting to finally be of some use to her friends, snuck into Silco's lair and armed a magically-enhanced grenade she hoped would save the day. Instead it just killed all of her friends, seriously wounded her sister, and put Vander in a position where he had no choice but to sacrifice himself to save Vi. The two sisters, now orphans a second time, are then separated, with Powder joining Silco's ranks.

It was a grim ending to Arcane's first act, but we're not given much time to dwell on it because episode 4 kicks off with a big time skip. Years have passed since Vander's death, and now Vi, Powder, and the rest of the gang (those still alive, at least), are much older and much closer to becoming the champions we recognize from League of Legends. Just as importantly, Jayce's Hextech has transformed Piltover into a global wonder. Hexgates now magically connected the city to others all over the world, making it the center of the known universe. Because of his enormous contributions, Heimerdinger wants Jayce to deliver the keynote presentation at Piltover's big festival of science: Progress Day.

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

The pursuit of progress 

Jayce has come a long way from being a science pariah. He's now the face of Piltover and back in the good graces of his patrons, the Kirammans. Meanwhile, Kiramman's sole daughter, Caitlyn, is now a Piltover Enforcer—much to her parent's shame—and she's about to get her first big case.

On Piltover's shipping docks, Silco's lieutenant, Sevika, is running a smuggling operation to transport the mysterious pink liquid that mutates people into monsters (it's called Shimmer, by the way). Just as a new shipment is about to head out, the airship is attacked by a rival gang of hoverboarding badasses called the Firelights. The Firelights try to destroy the Shimmer, but are attacked by a grownup Powder. She's no longer a sniveling runt, but a psycho with a gatling gun and a love of explosions. During the chaos, she unmasks one of the Firelights and mistakes them for Vi, and her reaction betrays the fact that Powder is still very traumatized by what happened all those years ago. Jinx loses control of her emotions and shoots the airship to bits, destroying the smuggled Shimmer, as the remaining Firelights escape.

In Jayce's lab, he and Viktor show Heimerdinger their newest breakthrough on Hextech: Perfectly stabilized and safe Hextech crystals that can be used to power anything from mining lasers to construction equipment. Jayce wants to unveil it during his Progress Day keynote, but Heimerdinger warns against it, saying the technology is still too unsafe for everyday use. Jayce and Viktor are, again, frustrated and demoralized.

At the burnt remains of the airship Silco was smuggling on, Caitlyn does some sniffing around and turns up some interesting clues, including one that's still breathing. He was one of Silco's thugs that got shot by Jinx during her little tantrum, but before she can get answers, Marcus shows up. He's been promoted to Sheriff of Piltover now that Grayson is dead, and has the injured man sent to prison without any further questions.

In the Undercity, Sevika returns to The Last Drop, Vander's old bar that's been transformed into Silco's headquarters. She tries to convince Silco that Jinx is too unpredictable and should be cut loose, but Silco refuses to listen. After Sevika leaves, Jinx drops down from the rafters she was hiding in. She tells Silco what happened and he consoles her like a father, telling her that Vi is dead and she needs to move on. 

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Jinx obviously isn't okay, though. In her hideout, a broken industrial fan dangling over an enormous crevasse, she debates with herself about Vi's fate and is haunted by apparitions of Milo and Claggor. She's even created puppets of Milo and Claggor that she talks to. Fearing that Silco thinks she's weak, Jinx resolves to show him just how capable she is.

At a Progress Day party in Piltover, Jayce seeks advice from councillor Mel Medarda. She urges him not to listen to Heimerdinger. But during the speech a few hours later, Jayce loses his nerve and doesn't unveil the next generation of Hextech, disappointing councillor Medarda and Viktor. 

After the presentation, Caitlyn and her fellow enforcers are hanging out when they see a fire burning down the block. They rush to help, but it's actually a trap rigged by Jinx to lure the Enforcers into a burning building where a pile of explosives kills them all—except Caitlyn, who barely survives. Turns out the whole thing was a distraction so that Jinx could sneak into the building they were guarding and steal the stabilized Hextech crystal and Jayce's research. Back in Jinx's hideout, an enraged Silco confronts her for recklessly endangering his criminal empire. But when Jinx reveals the Hextech crystal she stole, he starts to see things differently. 

Enraged by the attack, Piltover's Council sees it as a sign that the Undercity is growing too unruly and needs to be kept in check. Just as concerning, Jayce reveals the Hextech crystal could be used to create a powerful weapon in the right hands. Faced with so many threats, councillor Medarda proposes that Jayce be elected as a new councillor. Heimerdinger backs the motion, and it passes. Now Jayce is in the big leagues.

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

He goes to visit Caitlyn, who should be recovering from the attack but is instead in full-on detective mode. Jinx's telltale spray paint was all over the crime scene at the docks and the Progress Day bombing, and Caitlyn thinks she can connect it to the rumors of the Undercity's new crime lord (who is Silco, obviously). There's just one problem: Her folks weren't so hot on her putting her life on the line for justice and pulled strings to have Caitlyn fired from the Enforcers. Jayce offers her a ceremonial position, but she refuses out of pride.

Not willing to give up, Caitlyn chases her only lead: the wounded thug she found on the ruined airship that was taken to Stillwater Prison. When she arrives, though, Caitlyn learns the thug had the shit kicked out of him by another inmate and won't be able to talk for weeks. Curious to know why he was attacked, Caitlyn requests to see the inmate that attacked him.

Can you guess who it might be? It's Vi!

And that's a wrap on episode 4 of Arcane. Be sure to check out our recaps of episode 5 and episode 6, our brush up on what happened in Act one with our episode 1, episode 2, and episode 3 recaps. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.