Silco from Arcane: Detailed Character Analysis
Silco is one of the many characters to populate the disadvantaged Undercity in Piltover’s shadow. Piltover exploited, subjugated, and neglected the Undercity, resulting in an appalling standard of living for Silco and his community. Silco’s charisma, drive, brutality, and intelligence made him into a crime lord that is hard to classify as either a hero or a villain.
“The only way to defeat a superior enemy is to stop at nothing.”
In his youth, Silco worked together with his “brother,” Vander, to rebel against Piltover. They dubbed their movement “the Nation of Zaun” and called themselves “Zaunites.” The movement culminated in a violent confrontation between the two cities.
The Piltovers sent enforcers across the bridge into Zaun, and with their superior firepower, they easily defeated the Zaunite insurgents. Many lives were lost.
Vander had second thoughts about rebellion when he saw the human cost. He adopted Piltover children orphaned by his insurgency and turned his efforts to peaceful coexistence between the two cities, becoming complicit in the unequal status quo. In exchange, he hoped to create a relatively safe climate in which his children could grow up.
Silco was outraged at Vander’s change of heart, seeing it as a loss of nerve. As close as brothers, the two friends fought in one of Zaun’s polluted rivers. Vander, the larger and stronger of the two, overpowered Silco and began to drown him. Silco’s injured eye was contaminated by the polluted water.
Silco managed to get Vander’s knife and shivved Vander, causing the bigger man to loosen his grip. Still wielding the knife, Silco was able to slip away. The encounter left Silco both emotionally and physically scarred. He considered this moment a personal rebirth. Ever after, he talked about his former brother Vander as a traitor.
In the following years, Silco worked to consolidate power in the Undercity. He planned to mount a second attempt at Zaunite independence. Although Vander was the de facto leader of the Undercity, Silco lured many of Vander’s former subordinates to his side by playing on their disappointment in Vander’s passivity towards Piltover. He also hired the scientist, Singed, who formulated the drug Shimmer. Silco saw Shimmer as a way to power, at first to create super soldiers, and later, as an addictive commodity.
An opportunity arose for Silco to seize power from Vander. Piltover’s enforcers were hunting Vander’s children, and Vander would take the fall. Silco conspired with an enforcer, Marcus, to be there when the arrest occurred. He planned to make Vander and his children disappear and spread the rumor that they had fled the Undercity, leaving Silco as Vander’s heir apparent.
Before the meeting, he goaded one of his impressionable teenage henchmen, Deckard, to take Singed’s experimental drug. The drug turned the young man into a formidable monster. With Deckard at his side, Silco intercepted Vander and the enforcers.
All the enforcers were killed, save Marcus. Marcus objected, saying that he never intended for Silco to kill his coworkers. Silco dismissively threw money at him and left, taking the captive Vander with him.
Silco brought Vander to his hideout, a warehouse with a growing supply of Shimmer. He crowed over his captive audience, telling Vander that fighting Piltover with Shimmer-transformed monsters was “the base violence necessary for change.” He revealed his plans to use the monsters to terrorize the Piltovers, keeping them out of the nation of Zaun and earning their respect.
He condemned Vander for acting like a ”lapdog” to the Piltovers, keeping Undercity crime local in exchange for peace. He then obliquely offered his brother a second chance to join the Zaunite rebellion, but Vander turned him down. Silco still had the misconception that Vander had lost his nerve, not understanding that Vander’s passivity came from a desire to protect the orphaned Zaunites and Zaun as a whole. Silco threatened to show Vander who he was, meaning that he would drive his brother back to violence, whether he liked it or not.
Silco then lured Vander’s adopted family to his lair, using Vander as bait. The kingpin, motivated by revenge, enjoyed Vander’s pain of watching his children fail to rescue him. The would-be rescuers did fail but caused quite a lot of damage in the process.
Silco again goaded Deckard into taking Shimmer, transforming Deckard into a terrifying powerhouse. As Deckard brutalized Vander’s adopted daughter, Vi, Vander begged Silco to keep the fight between the brothers. Silco refused. Vander escaped from his restraints with the help of his lock-picking adopted son, Mylo. His other adopted son, Claggor, had created an escape route through a wall. However, before they could use it, the good intentions of his last adopted child, Powder, interfered.
Powder deployed an explosive device, which detonated, causing explosions in the warehouse. The first of these explosions killed both Mylo and Claggor, and trapped Vi under the wreckage. It nearly killed Silco, but his subordinate, Sevika, pushed him out of the way, losing her arm in the process. A secondary explosion blasted Singed with a massive amount of Shimmer, but aside from some scarring, he seemed unhindered by it.
Silco ordered Deckard and his surviving henchmen to kill Vander and Vi. This finally prompted Vander to fight in earnest. Silco watched Vander’s return to animalistic violence with rapt attention. When Vander turned his back, Silco stabbed him with a knife similar to what he had used in their parting fight years ago. Vander turned and choked Silco, just as he had before. Finally, just as before, Silco shivved Vander with the knife. Vander passed out and slumped off the bridge they were fighting on. ”I knew you still had it in you,” Silco whispered. And so his threat to show Vander who he was had come to pass.
The fight was not yet over, however. On hearing that Vi was still in danger, the barely conscious Vander drank a vial of Shimmer. Like Deckard, he transformed into a terrifying monster. Unlike Deckard, however, he didn’t go berserk or attack his allies. He used his new strength to stop Deckard from killing Vi. When Silco saw what Vander had become, he looked frightened and retreated. Enraged, Vander almost followed him but chose to save Vi instead.
Silco found Vander again, lying dead outside the wreckage of his warehouse. The girl Powder was weeping over him. Still hoping to kill Vi, Silco asked Powder where her sister was. Unexpectedly, the child threw herself into Silco’s arms. “She left me. She is not my sister anymore.” Having just relived his fraternal betrayal, Silco was moved to pity the girl. He took Powder in as his daughter, thus beginning an intense, codependent, toxic relationship.
In the seven years that mainly occurred offscreen, Silco’s position rose immensely. As the one who controlled the addictive Shimmer supply, Silco fairly printed money. Moreover, he had the slavish loyalty of addicts who would do anything for a fix.
The Shimmer epidemic further deteriorated the quality of life in Zaun, the home which Silco had so fiercely fought to liberate. However, he overlooked it. Like the Piltovers before him, Silco built an empire on the backs of exploited Zaunites.
Zaun was not the only place Silco peddled his drug. He had kept a tight hold over Marcus, the corrupt enforcer who had once helped him capture Vander, resulting in the death of the old sheriff. Marcus had become the new sheriff, and in this position, he reluctantly facilitated the smuggling of Shimmer through Piltover’s Hex Gates (teleportals), sending the drug all over the world.
Marcus also frustrated Piltover’s investigations into Silco’s activities, allowing the kingpin to pass for an upstanding industrialist. Marcus resented the role Silco had cast him in but was fixed to it by a combination of blackmail, threats, and blood money.
Meanwhile, Silco’s father-daughter relationship with Powder (now called "Jinx") had deepened. Under his wing, she continued to advance her STEM skills until she could create many deadly and complex gadgets for battle. She had outgrown her adolescent clumsiness and become an incredible fighter and free runner.
Silco installed her as one of his most senior subordinates. While Sevika was his true right-hand woman (pun intended), even she could not say a word against Jinx without risking Silco’s deadly ire. Jinx was mentally unstable and reckless with the lives of her fellow gangsters, but even when she caused severe harm, Silco would defend her against anyone else in the gang. He trusted Jinx so completely that he even allowed her to administer his medication, which had to be injected in a vulnerable spot: his eye.
Jinx caused Silco and his gang trouble when she murdered half a dozen enforcers in a terrorist attack. However, this was in pursuit of a great boon for her father: a Hex Gemstone. Smuggling between the undercity and Piltover temporarily ground to a halt while Councilor Jayce from Arcane investigated Jinx’s attack.
When Silco confronted Jinx over the trouble she had caused, his angry demeanor was quite in contrast to his calm defense of her in the presence of others. She dismissed him with a smirk, looking for once like the archetypal snotty teenager and the stern father. When she presented him with the Hex Gemstone, Silco forgot his gripe, and he accepted a tender hug.
Not long after, Sheriff Marcus confronted Silco in the Undercity, demanding that Jinx be arrested for killing his underlings. Sheriff Marcus needed something to appease his Piltover masters and obfuscate his relationship with the kingpin. Silco refused to betray Jinx and put forward another gang as a possible scapegoat. This gang, the Firelights, held disrupting the Shimmer trade as their primary objective, so their downfall would be a double benefit to Silco.
Later, Sheriff Marcus returned to Silco, warning that Jayce Talis might soon discover their illegal cooperation. “If I’m discovered, we’re both finished,” he warned. Silco gave him one of Jinx’s explosives, crafted in her distinctive art style, and suggested Marcus use it to implicate the Firelights. Silco’s cool demeanor didn’t crack, even as he correctly perceived Marcus’s desire to detonate the device and kill them both. Marcus ultimately accepted Silco’s orders and left without violence.
Silco spoke to Jinx, who had been discretely listening to their exchange, opining that she needed to weaponize the Hex Tech soon. Jinx confessed that she was struggling with the project due to the trauma of killing her family with a similar device. Silco insisted that she be the one to crack it, saying that Jinx was the only one he could trust with the gemstone.
Silco took her to the river where Vander had once tried to drown him. He explained to his daughter, and not for the first time, that this was the spot where his brother had betrayed him, much like Powder felt betrayed by her sister. Then he told her something new: the old Silco, the weak Silco died on that day. A new Silco was reborn, one without fear of pain. He encouraged his daughter to let “Powder” die and be reborn as “Jinx,” a strong, perfect woman not controlled by fear. He then gently baptized her in the river.
This baptism seemed to be the breakthrough Jinx needed since she made great headway on the Hex Gemstone shortly after. However, on that same night, Sevika brought Silco unwanted news: Vi, Jinx’s sister, had returned to the Undercity. Silco’s usually relaxed demeanor cracked in the face of this threat, a threat to what had become the most important relationship in his life. If Jinx returned to Vi, would she turn her back on him? Silco ordered a search for Vi and her companion, Caitlyn Kiramman, a former enforcer from Piltover in Arcane.
While this manhunt was ongoing, Silco decided to rattle Marcus’s cage. He would usually meet his pet sheriff in the Undercity, but this time, he went uninvited into Marcus’s home, even playing with Marcus’s young daughter. Long ago, Marcus had been ordered to dispose of Vi.
His conflicting motivations had made a mess of things--he neither freed Vi nor killed her, but instead hid her in a miserable prison for seven years. In a cold fury, Silco threatened Marcus and his daughter. Marcus begged for a chance to fix his mistake, and Silco accepted, with the implication that Marcus’s daughter would die if he failed.
Meanwhile, Jinx had learned of Vi’s return from Sevika, despite Silco’s attempt to conceal Vi from his daughter.
Vi and Caitlyn were hiding in a massive ghetto in the Undercity. The population there was badly addicted to Silco’s drug. One of the addicts recognized Vi in Arcane and, though he helped her at first, ultimately betrayed her to Silco for a draught of Shimmer. Silco and several henchmen arrived at the dilapidated structure where the women were hiding.
Showing that old grudges were still on his mind, Silco called Vi “Vander’s Prodigy.” He also sang Jinx’s praises to her, calling Jinx “more than I ever imagined.” He sicced several Shimmer-mutated monsters on her, and Vi ended the fight by bringing the building down on all their heads. The collapse nearly killed Silco and allowed Vi and Caitlyn to escape.
The threat to his relationship with Jinx cracked Silco’s usual relaxed demeanor. When he saw Vi had escaped, he vented his rage on his henchmen, beating and kicking them without restraint.
On returning to his office, he found an angry message from Jinx. Sevika was on display, hung from the ceiling with LIAR scrawled across her brutalized body. He knew what his daughter was mad about.
Jinx was reunited with Vi, who showed her all the forgiveness and grace Powder could have hoped for. However, Jinx’s insecurity and paranoid delusions derailed the meeting. When Firelight vigilantes interrupted them, Jinx’s new delight in violence was on full display, shocking her sister.
The Firelights kidnapped both Vi and Caitlyn before the sisters could resolve their differences. Still, the meeting that Silco dreaded had occurred. He was anxious to smooth things over with his daughter.
However, other concerns would not wait. Silco’s captains, a motley council of gang leaders called the Chem Barons, became disgruntled with his leadership. Jinx’s terrorist attack had triggered a breakdown of commerce between the Undercity and Zaun, putting a stranglehold on the captains’ lucrative smuggling. They saw this as a failure of Silco’s, and Finn, the youngest Baron, galvanized the others to turn on Silco.
His cool mask back in place, Silco dominated his captains by gassing them out of the room and leaving them gasping for air. He said it was a reminder of the horrible living conditions inflicted by Piltover, but it is also a reminder that he holds their lives in his hands. This scene revealed the positive effects of Silco’s quest for power. His words implied that Piltover's exploitation had been much more oppressive before he began his work.
Jinx waited in ambush in Silco’s office. He was resignedly preparing to inject his medication, a job which usually fell to Jinx, when she suddenly appeared, snatching it out of his hand. He did not physically resist her as she used the sharp point to torment him.
Instead, he used emotional manipulation to talk her around. He reminded Jinx of how he had cared for her, protected her, and needed her. He cast doubt on Vi’s intentions, suggesting that Vi only wanted Jinx’s gemstone, not Jinx herself. He predicted that Vi would betray Jinx a second time and that only her father would stay faithful to her. Jinx’s anger was replaced with anguish, and she seemed to at least partially accept Silco’s words. After properly administering his medication, she left Silco alive in Arcane.
Jinx is Injured on the Bridge. Silco Fears he Lost His Daughter in Arcane
Jinx observed Vi from a distance as she tried to transport the Hex gemstone across the bridge into Piltover. Piltover enforcers heavily guarded the bridge, and due largely to Marcus’s double-agent status, a fight broke out between the enforcers and Vi’s group. Jinx joined the fight, sending tiny explosives disguised as fireflies, killing many Piltovers, including the treacherous sheriff.
After the explosions, Jinx wrested the gemstone from Vi’s group. Jinx’s suspicions of Vi and Caitlyn were further crystalized, and she took the gem to do as her father asked her: weaponize it. She and her sister parted on bad terms, and then Jinx was severely injured, unable to leave the bridge under her own power.
Silco arrived and found Jinx lying among the dead. His eyes widened in panic as he called her name and rushed to her. He saw that she was breathing and pulled her into a hug. Silco stared down Vi over Jinx’s shoulder, holding his daughter in a possessive manner. Silco barely spared a glance for the Hex Crystal that still lay in Jinx’s hand, focusing instead on Jinx and her dire condition. Although his larger and stronger henchmen were there in support, Silco carried Jinx off the bridge personally.
After Almost Losing Jinx, Silco Carried Her Body to Singed for Treatment in Arcane
He carried her to Singed’s laboratory. When he arrived, his calm demeanor was utterly fractured. His habitually neat hair was in sweaty disarray. He was panting from exertion and wild-eyed with distress.
Singed seemed to perceive this and knew that an overly emotional Silco would hinder Jinx’s treatment. He prepared a sedative and asked Silco, “Are you prepared to lose her?” When Silco answered negatively, Singed sedated him, saying, “This is for your own sanity. I, too, once had a daughter.” He proceeded to operate on Jinx while Silco was unconscious. It was a tortuous process, but he saved the young woman’s life.
Silco awoke to find Jinx had gone and the doctor cleaning bloody surgical instruments, leading him to fear the worst. The misunderstanding was quickly cleared up at knifepoint. However, Jinx was still beyond Silco’s reach.
Meanwhile, while Caitlyn was in the custody of the Firelights, she befriended them and learned of Silco’s actual position as the kingpin in the undercity. This set off a chain of events that brought the force of Piltover against Silco. Councilor Jayce Talis, Vi, and Piltover enforcers attacked one of Silco’s Shimmer manufacturing facilities.
They killed many of his henchmen and workers, including the child of one of his captains. In the presence of Silco’s captains, Sevika hinted that the kingpin was losing his grip on the reins of the Undercity, especially with their pet sheriff dead by Jinx’s hand.
Silco tetchily retorted that they would buy another sheriff. Renni, bereaved of her son, demanded justice from Silco. He attempted to soothe her with words in the glory of the Zaunite cause, but her resentment of the father-daughter duo remained clear.
Not long after, Renni, Finn, and Sevika came uninvited into Silco’s office, cornering him. Finn took the time to gloat while Sevika moved into position to kill her once commander, or so Finn thought. Appearing unflustered, Silco responded by talking to Finn about loyalty. This was an indirect appeal to Sevika’s better nature.
Sevika, perhaps in response to this, or possibly following her unchanged intentions, turned her blade on Finn instead of Silco. This attack sent the shocked Renni into retreat. Silco heartlessly commented, “I would have had your son killed for this, though I suppose we’re ahead on that account.” As Sevika affirmed her loyalty, Silco considered an invitation from Councilor Jayce Talis on his desk.
Silco went to Jayce with a list of demands: free trade routes, blanket amnesty, unrestricted access to the Hex Gates, and most importantly, Zaun sovereignty. Silco made such bold requests because he sensed Councilor Talis’s unwillingness to fight. Councilor Talis said that his reluctance to fight didn’t come from weakness.
After his battle in the Shimmer manufacturing facility, he realized that a war between Piltover and Zaun would be a one-sided slaughter. “I’m trying to save you from annihilation,” the councilor warned. This echoed Vander’s warning to Silco, and Silco’s reply—that he did not need to beat the Piltovers through an outright military victory, only scare them enough to accede to his demands.
Councilor Talis met Silco’s list of demands with a list of his own: to discontinue the production of Shimmer, to return the gemstone, and surrender Jinx to the Piltover authorities for punishment. Silco objected to the last request, but the councilor left the meeting, believing they agreed.
Silco still had not seen Jinx since her surgery at the mad doctor’s hands. He went to a statue commemorating Vander, the one-time beloved leader of the Undercity, to mull over his feelings. He told the absent Vander that he had long imagined this opportunity, the sovereignty of Zaun, but never at such a price. He mused aloud, “What do I lose but problems? Is there anything so undoing as a daughter?” He was referring not only to Jinx, but also to Vi.
Vi had been Vander’s undoing under similar circumstances. Vander had once led a violent rebellion against Piltover, championing the Zaunite cause, until Vi became personally important to him. To protect her and the other orphans, Vander had turned his back on the cause.
What Silco had once seen as a loss of nerve, he now understood to be fatherly love. And now, Silco’s dedication to the cause was being undone, too, and by the same feeling. Unbeknownst to Silco, Jinx was lurking nearby and overheard his remarks. She mistook his words to mean that Silco would trade her to Piltover in exchange for Zaunite sovereignty. Silco, the father in Arcane who had pledged never to betray her, seemed to be throwing her away.
Jinx was in a heightened state of paranoia and despair due to the tortuous surgery and Shimmer injections she had endured at Singed’s hands. She kidnapped three people in this frame of mind: Caitlyn Kiramman, Vi, and Silco himself. Jinx then staged a dramatic confrontation between them all at the site of the tragic explosion which had first set her in Silco’s path. She told them that this moment would decide her fate: would she be Vi’s Powder, or Silco’s Jinx?
The disturbed woman put a gun in Vi’s bound hands and urged her to kill Caitlyn. Silco, Sevika, and Jinx’s demons suggested that Caitlyn was Vi’s replacement for Powder. By twisted logic, if Vi would choose Powder by killing Caitlyn, then the two sisters could resume where they had left off.
Vi, of course, refused. She offered to take Power away from the city and put everything behind them, including Silco. Silco, bound and gagged, let out a muffled objection. The disturbed woman finally ungagged him, and he made his case. He said that this woman was Jinx and would never be Powder again. Moreover, Vi would realize Jinx’s true nature after spending time with her, and on realizing it, she would abandon her sister in disgust.
Silco made a heartfelt appeal in Arcane, telling Jinx that he would never trade her to Piltover, not even for Zaunite sovereignty, which he had chased his whole life. He told Jinx again that everyone would betray them, and only they, as father and daughter, would remain true to each other.
Before the madwoman could consider a decision, Caitlyn freed herself and threatened her with a weapon. In the confusion, Silco also got hold of a gun. Vi pled for Powder to remember her family, but Jinx imagined them as demons that tormented her. When Silco fired his weapon at Vi, the madwoman responded in panic and confusion, spraying Silco’s side of the table with bullets.
Vi was unharmed, but Silco had been mortally wounded. She immediately regretted it, rushing to him, weeping and apologizing. Silco, a man whose life was a brutal treatise, spent his last words on love and forgiveness: “I never would have given you to them. Don’t cry, you’re perfect.”
Silco from Arcane is one of the most discussed by fans and is often debated in the context of his relationship with Jinx. Was this relationship genuine? Was it predatory? Was it toxic? Some even question whether it went beyond what is shown on screen in many disturbing ways.
Silco’s fatherly feelings towards Jinx are genuine, in this writer's opinion. Some confounding factors cast doubt on this, especially in the earlier chapters of their story. First, the physical closeness of Silco and Jinx leads viewers to wonder if there is a sexual component to Silco’s love. Second, Jinx is useful to Silco. Her incredible talent as a tinker and fighter gives him power he otherwise might not attain. Third, Jinx is, in a way, an avatar of Vander, and Silco might be taking extended revenge on Vander by corrupting his adopted daughter. These doubts are laid to rest as the story progresses, and the viewer sees more of their relationship on screen.
As for the first concern, from beginning to end, Silco is never shown to cross a sexual line with Jinx. Jinx’s fragile mental state would leave her vulnerable to grooming if that were what Silco desired of her. They are often touching each other—they have tender embraces, she sits on his lap, she administers his uncomfortable medical injections, and he baptizes her in a river.
However, Silco’s touches are always gentle and fatherly. The baptism scene, in particular, shows a tenderness between them that is pure. Jinx has a moment of fear and lets out a small gasp as Silco lowers her into the water. She is in a state of complete vulnerability. Silco looks down on her with a loving expression and gently lowers her into the water. He treats the moment with religious reverence, inappropriate thoughtings seemingly the furthest thing from his mind.
As for the second and third concerns, many warning signs are sprinkled throughout the series. Silco is often unkind towards children—Marcus’s daughter, Renni’s son, and his child laborers are prominent examples. He is shown beating a young henchman in a moment of rage.
Moreover, Silco is prone to holding grudges, particularly against Jinx’s earlier father figure. Further, Silco’s tendency to manipulate is often displayed, like how he controls sheriff Marcus: first with dirty money, then guilt, then subtle threats towards his family. He also works young Deckard into throwing his humanity away for the cause, masterfully playing on the boy’s ambitions. His calm yet threatening demeanor silences the room when he enters, showcasing his powerful charisma.
However, manipulation only works when the target is conscious enough to receive it. Any doubts over Silco’s true feelings towards Jinx should be laid to rest when he finds her unconscious on the bridge. His demeanor at that point shows his true feelings. There is no one of significance around to observe his feelings and thereby be manipulated by them. His usual mask of masterful calm is cracked in two, and he shows frantic concern for his daughter. He hardly spares a glance for the valuable Hex Gemstone in her hand, focusing only on Jinx and her injuries.
Singed even has to sedate him, believing that Silco’s panic would interfere with Jinx’s treatment. And Singed’s assessment carries some weight since he does not strike the viewer as overly sentimental.
With those scenes in mind, one can look back on Silco’s earlier actions with a new lens. Over and over again, Silco went to bat for Jinx when others cast aspersions on her. Silco defended her to Sheriff Marcus when he wanted to arrest her.
He defended her to Sevika whenever she wanted the girl removed—or punished—for being a hazard. He sang Jinx’s praises to Vi when Jinx was not around to hear them. He ignored his captain Renni when she hinted that she wanted Jinx punished, much to Silco’s cost later. He defended Jinx to Councilor Talis, saying (falsely) that everything she did was at his order. This faithful defense wasn’t because Silco needed her or was using her. It was because he felt genuine, fatherly protectiveness towards her.
However, just because Silco felt genuine fatherly love for Jinx doesn’t mean the relationship was healthy. In many ways, Silco was a failure as a father.
Powder had a poor sense of self and little moral compass, taking on the values of whoever was caring for her. Under Vi’s care, she emulated her sister and became a thief. Her family valued physical strength and agility, and since Powder lacked those, it led her to devalue her natural STEM talents and feel insecure.
Under Silco’s care, Jinx adopted a new value system. On the bright side, she came to be more confident in her tinkering, which Silco highly praised. On the dark side, she helped him distribute an addictive drug and profiteer on the desolation of their community. She happily killed those who stood in the way of the Zaunite movement or of Silco’s personal agendas. She seemed to feel no guilt about violence towards her father’s ends, only regretting the violence she committed by accident, such as when she injured Silco’s henchmen during a psychotic episode.
This highlights another toxic factor in this father-daughter relationship, enabling Jinx’s dangerous mistakes. Silco is very familiar with Jinx’s instability. He knows she is unpredictable. She often acts on her initiative without considering the consequences of her actions.
Moreover, when put in tense situations, she sometimes attacks her own allies. Another father might have been more stern with Jinx and curtailed her responsibilities until she proved she could handle them. In contrast, Silco continually puts weapons in his daughter’s hands. In some ways, his death at her hands was entirely predictable, the consequence of his enabling.
Silco’s reluctance to reign Jinx in may have been due to his strong projection of himself onto her. He strongly identified with Powder: she was betrayed by her sister; his brother betrayed him. She was thrown away, and so was she. One feels that Silco is speaking to himself when he speaks to Jinx, soothing his inner child with the words he would have wanted to hear. And so, he rarely says “no” to her. “No” is an essential tool in a parent’s toolkit, but Silco lets his daughter run wild.
The most toxic factor in their father-daughter relationship is Silco’s outsized need for Jinx. In a healthy parent-child relationship, the child outgrows the parent, and the parent lets them go. The parent ceases to be the most important thing in their child’s life as the young adult turns to study, work, romance, peers, and community.
The parent is always preparing for the moment of separation, seeing it as a success, as evidence that they have prepared their child for the world. Silco, on the other hand, jealously guards Jinx’s love and attention. He feels fulfilled when he is all Jinx has, and vice versa.
A man of little trust, he chooses only to trust Jinx, and he drills into her head that she should only trust him. Vander’s betrayal has deeply scarred him, so he cannot see that it is unhealthy for a person to have only one love. To him, a supportive family with many members would only mean many points of vulnerability.
Therefore, when Jinx has the opportunity to reunite with her sister, Silco doesn’t welcome this as a chance for his child to experience more love or live a fuller life. He sees it as a threat to their exclusive relationship. He needs Jinx; he cannot let her go. This dangerous co-dependence is the seed of tragedy that dooms his love, even though it is genuine. Silco loves Jinx and wants the best for her, but it is not best for her to be in Silco’s orbit with no other support or love.
Silco embodies or acts many familiar tropes.
The Cain and Abel trope runs strongly throughout the series, particularly between Silco and Vander.
He acts out the Nerves of Steel trope in almost every scene. His demeanor is cool and calm, yet somehow threatening, projecting out of a slight frame in an outsized manner. With his menacing charisma, Silco can silence a room by merely entering it.
This calm demeanor remains in place despite almost any danger or temptation. It only cracks in response to another trope, the “berserk button.” Silco’s Berserk button is Vi, representing a threat to Silco’s precious relationship with Jinx.
This relationship is the most important thing to Silco. Silco finally shows unrestrained emotion when Vi escapes, and he vents his rage on his henchmen by savagely beating and kicking them. He also takes the mask off in very private moments with Jinx—such as when he shows annoyance with her when she plays loud music, when he shows his tiredness to her after Marcus leaves, or when he shows tenderness towards her during her baptism.
He embodies the “became their own antithesis” trope in a slow evolution from the first act to the third. At first, Silco hates Vander for abandoning the Zaunite movement and enforcing the unequal status quo. Silco saw Vander’s change of heart as a mere loss of nerve. What he didn’t see at the time was Vander’s love for Vi and his other children, which undid his resolve to fight for Zaun.
Vander turned his back on the movement to protect his children. It was love, not cowardice, that drove him. Later, Silco comes to love an adopted child—Vander’s child, no less! And just like Vander, Silco finds his resolve undone by his daughter. Councilor Talis offers Silco Zaunite independence on a silver platter in exchange for Jinx. Silco cannot betray Jinx, so he turns his back on the movement like Vander before him. Ironically, Silco was unable to forgive Vander when he was alive.
He is an “Anti-Villain” or “Well-intentioned extremist.” He has a legitimate grievance against Piltover, and most of the evil he perpetrates is towards a noble goal: freeing Zaun from their subjugation at Piltover’s hands. His strategy to intimidate Piltover is straight-up terrorism: “the only way to defeat a superior enemy is to stop at nothing.” He only wavers from this goal at the very end, when he chooses between Zaun and his daughter.
He acts out the “kick the dog” trope, a way of showing the audience that a character is bad by having them abuse an animal in an early scene. Silco encourages Singed to experiment upon animals, allowing a cat to be brutalized by a Shimmer-mad rodent.
In a move reminiscent of Westworld’s awakened robots, who remember their pasts with heartbreaking clarity, many of Arcane’s characters simultaneously seem to live in the past and the present.
When Silco comes into conflict with Vander, their scenes are cut with scenes from the past that mirror the present altercation. Silco’s unchanged feelings over the years are conveyed more intensely through this interesting art direction.
Images Courtesy of Riot Games.