Arcane had a cast that stuck out to me on more than one occasion. Seriously, the first season alone gave me months worth of material for analysis. But of all the characters, none struck me more than this one.
By all accounts, Silco is the villain of the story. All you need to do is look at him to figure that out. Though his appearance is only half as horrifying as his actions. He is as serene as water, even when he’s manipulating someone, brutally torturing them, having them murdered, so on and so forth. He is among the smaller characters in stature, yet his presence is as demanding as any giant. His being so collected all the time only makes it even more impactful on the rare occasion where he is clearly concerned, afraid, or angry. His goal may be good in nature: to secure freedom and independence for the oppressed people of the Undercity. However, his actions are anything but good.
But it isn’t his cold demeanor and occasional bursts of violent emotions that makes him memorable. Rather, it’s his humanity. Specifically how he loses it, and how he accidentally gets it back.
We aren’t told much about Silco’s backstory. We know that he and Vander started an uprising, leading the Undercity to strike out for independence. Some disagreement between the two caused them to split in the most violent manner possible, as the two parted ways after attempting to murder each other. It was in that moment, drowning beneath the water by the hand of the man he considered a brother, that Silco adopted the cold and calm nature we see him display in the show.
On that day, both Silco and Vander changed. Silco abandoned all morals he may have held before, becoming a monster hated by just about everyone. Vander, on the other hand, abandoned violence for morality, choosing to protect the Undercity, specifically the children he took under his wing, rather than instilling further violence. Neither one understood the decision the other made, and it only drove them further apart.
Their division eventually became so severe that Silco saw Vander not as a brother, but as an obstacle in his path that he needed to remove. He concocts a clever and evil ploy to do just that. One that ultimately succeeds. Although there are a few hiccups. The biggest one taking the form of a small child playing with powers that she doesn’t understand.
And it is that very small child that would change Silco forever.
Powder is very much a reflection of Silco. When the Undercity crime lord stumbled upon her, the little girl had just been rejected and pushed away by her own sister, just as Silco had been by his brother. Neither one is aware that said sister would have rushed back to save Powder in that very moment, had fate not taken a turn for the worse. Thinking herself completely abandoned and alone, the little girl turns to Silco out of pure heartbreak and desperation.
This stirs something in Silco. Some modicum of humanity that he thought long lost. He knows exactly what Powder is going through and he can’t help but want to help her. The man is a cold-hearted bastard more than willing to do whatever it takes to win, no matter how brutal. But when faced with a crying little girl, abandoned by her only family, we see a hint of the man Silco may have been in the past; a gentle, compassionate soul who can’t stand to see those around him suffer and cry. So he takes her in and gives her a new name: Jinx.
From there, Jinx became the sole crack in Silco’s armor. For every step she takes that helps him in his aims, she takes three that sets him back. Her uncontrollable nature made his allies question him, threatening his grand schemes. Hell, she’s so chaotic and dangerous that even he is afraid of her! But even through a fear, he shows love and loyalty towards her. He believes that they are the only two who can properly understand each other.
Eventually, he reaches the end of his road. His end goal is within reach. Equality and independence for the Undercity. All he needs to do is sacrifice one thing: Jinx.
And he can’t do it.
Everything Silco wants is right there in the palm of his hand. His enemies are willing to hand him all of his terms without any other terms. Everything he worked for, sacrificed for, is right there. All he needs to do is give up is a psychopath that threatens his plans more often than she helps them. Even if that psychopath is a woman he considers his own daughter.
It’s in this predicament that Silco finally understands why Vander became as he was. Why he gave up on his revolution. It’s in this moment that Silco lets go of the monster inside him and gives into the man dwelling beneath it. Before, he was a ruthless revolutionary. But the father he became had far more power than that man. In the final stretch of his crusade, he chose his love for his daughter over his determination.
Unfortunately, just like Vander before him, that love was the death of him. And in that death, he finished creating a monster far worse than he could ever have been.
All of this is why Silco made for such a memorable antagonist for me. He was a cold-hearted bastard, but he wasn’t made of stone. He could feel fear, he could feel anger, and he could feel love. And it was the latter-most emotion that led to his destruction. Yet it is that very love that fills him in his final moments. In a way, he is more at peace in his final moments than he was at any point in his violent crusade.
Arcane has a cast full of memorable and interesting characters. And sooner or later, I’ll get around to most of them. From the heroes to the villains, they’re all remarkably fascinating to me. Silco more than any of them.
Granted, season two is going to happen. So I should probably hold off until that before I dive any deeper.
Unless I only want to cover the dead ones…