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Arcane episode 5 recap: Dirty cops, and dirtier deals

Arcane
(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 read our review of Act 1, or check out our recaps of episode 4 and episode 6.

Before we get to the meat of episode 5, it opens on a sharpshooting competition between a much younger Caitlyn and a still-living Grayson. Their conversation afterward, where Grayson reveals she is an Enforcer, plays a pivotal role in guiding Caitlyn to enlisting. Flashing forward to where we left off last episode, Caitlyn interrogates a now-imprisoned Vi about the clues she found at the scene of Jinx's bombing. Vi claims it has something to do with Silco and she can find the proof needed to lock him up if she's released. Though initially hesitant, Caitlyn accepts Vi's offer.

After the title sequence, we cut to Marcus, now a sheriff, delivering a eulogy at a funeral for the Enforcers that died in Jinx's bombing in Piltover during the last episode. After the funeral, Marcus meets Silco in the Undercity and the two argue as Marcus demands Jinx be arrested as she's too unpredictable. Silco counters, saying that if the Council needs a scapegoat, Marcus should lay the blame on the Firelights—that gang that flies around on hoverboards from the previous episode. Since the Firelights are a danger to both Piltover and Silco's operation, it only makes sense.

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Deals with the devil 

Inside the Hexgate, Viktor and Jayce are having their own argument. Jayce is obsessed with rooting out the corruption and smuggling happening in Piltover, while Viktor is upset that Jayce delayed the announcement of Hextech tools that'll directly improve the lives of the lower class—especially in the Undercity. Before anything else can happen, Viktor begins coughing blood and takes his leave.

Jinx, meanwhile, is tinkering with the spoils of her attack in Piltover: the stabilized Hextech crystal. She tries activating it, and the resulting explosion triggers flashbacks to the explosion she caused in episode 3 that killed Milo and Claggor. "It was a mistake," she cries. We later see Jinx arrive at the abandoned arcade the orphans used to frequent. Finding Vi's old boxing machine game, Jinx tries her best to beat his older sister's high score but fails, sending her into a fit of rage. Despite how far she's come, Jinx still can't escape Vi's shadow.

Hoping to uncover some concrete evidence, Vi and Caitlyn sneak into the Undercity and beat up some local thugs and steal their clothes to help disguise Caitlyn's Enforcer uniform. The two grab some grub from a local fish vendor who gives Vi a napkin with a mysterious symbol written on it. That symbol, Vi knows, leads to the back door of the Undercity's biggest brothel, where Vi seeks answers with the yordle who owns it. The two talk about the past and how Silco rose to power in the Undercity practically unchallenged. Vi asks about Powder, but the only clue the yordle can give is the location of Silco's lieutenant.

Viktor and Jayce reconvene at their lab where Viktor begins more work on the Hextech crystal. It's his belief that the crystals are far more powerful than Jayce and he initially believed and that the arcane energies inside can learn and adapt to fulfill new purposes. Jayce seems reluctant, though.

At a prestigious concert, councillor Mel Medarda informs Jayce that his meddling with the smuggling operations in Piltover have caused quite a stir among the nobility—most notably his fellow councillors, most of whom were importing illegal luxuries. "You've just made yourself everyone's common enemy, Jayce," Medarda says. Jayce despises the politics that come with his new role as councillor, but Medarda convinces him to see the value in bending the rules to make alliances.

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Jayce spends the evening striking deals with Piltover's elite and his fellow councillors. It becomes clear that Medarda might only be using Jayce as a puppet. But also maybe not. Back at her apartment, Jayce and Medarda sleep together. Meanwhile, Viktor is still at the lab, trying to unlock the mysterious Hextech crystal. He has another coughing fit and sprays blood over this workstation before passing out. The crystal reacts to his blood and triggers a new kind of magical reaction. Sometime later, Viktor wakes in a hospital bed with Jayce at his side. He doesn't have much longer to live.

Marcus returns to Silco's headquarters (now in The Last Tap) and spills the beans about Jayce's crusade to clean up corruption. It's only a matter of time before Marcus's dirty deals are uncovered, so Silco gives him one of Jinx's bombs he can use as evidence to frame the Firelights. Marcus considers triggering it to become a martyr and kill himself and Silco, but cowardice gets the best of him. As he leaves, Silco muses that Marcus is beginning to lose his nerve and he needs to find a way to weaponize the Hextech crystal Jinx swiped. Jinx, listening from the rafters, admits she's too scared to try. Silco takes Jinx to the river where Vander tried to drown him years earlier. He explains that on that day, the old Silco died and was reborn. He encourages Jinx to let Powder die, and baptizes her in the river.

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Vi tracks down Silco's lieutenant: It's Sevika, the woman who switched sides in Act 1 after thinking Vander had lost his will to fight. The explosion that killed Milo and Claggor also took her arm, which has been replaced by a Shimmer-enhanced robotic one. She and Vi fight savagely, but when Sevika explains that Jinx isn't Silco's hostage but his adoptive daughter Vi's surprise gives her the opening she needs. Sevika stabs Vi, mortally wounding her. Just before she can finish her off, though, Caitlyn arrives on the scene. Sevika flees.

Just before the credits roll, we're shown a flurry of scenes. Jinx, now ready to leave the past behind, works on the Hextech crystal and appears to be close to successfully activating it. Sevika arrives in Silco's office and informs him that Vi is back. "From the dead?" Silco exclaims, looking confused and terrified. Roll credits.

Be sure to check out our recaps of episode 4 and episode 6, and 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.