This recap of Arcane season 1, episode 8, “Oil and Water”, contains spoilers.
Peace is relative. Preventing war doesn’t mean preventing sacrifices, and some, usually the lower classes, sacrifice much more than others. As Arcane approaches the end of its first season, this idea begins to come to the forefront. Piltover and its undercity, the Nation of Zaun, are not openly in conflict, but they’re in a war of ideas, priorities, resources, and perceptions. They’re the oil and water of this episode’s title — incompatible, perhaps forever.
Arcane season 1, episode 8 recap
The introduction of Mel’s much bigger, much more severe mother illustrates this. Mel has an idealistic view of progress. She thinks everyone can just get along. But her mother is different. A flashback that opens the episode displays her unique style of parenting. She has only come to Piltover because Mel’s brother is dead, war is coming, and she needs to accelerate the development of Hextech weapons to protect herself. To Lady Medarda, war is constant, unavoidable; everyone is there to be fought with.
Vi has the same viewpoint, only from a different angle — below, looking up. Caitlyn takes her home to meet her snooty parents and recover, and they both pitch the idea of addressing the Council, letting them know that Silco is responsible for everything. Mel proposes a diplomatic solution, but Vi is adamant that it won’t work with someone like Silco, and she’s right since Silco also thinks in the exact same terms. Topside and bottom, oil and water.
Silco, while we’re on the subject, finds Jinx badly injured on the bridge after the climax of the previous episode, and takes her to Singed. His thoughts on medicine are the same as his thoughts on everything else — whatever it takes. This is, essentially, accelerating Jinx’s ongoing arc of being at war with herself. The procedure will save her life, but cost her something in return. Compromises will have to be made. It’s worth noting that, with Jinx, is the Gemstone — she stole it from the canister that Vi and Caitlyn were able to make off with during the battle. She remains in possession of it even as she might no longer be in possession of her own faculties. We don’t see the outcome of the procedure in “Oil and Water”. Silco doesn’t, either, since he’s sedated for his own sanity. Having to witness it would be too much.
With the Council dragging their feet and Vi’s firm belief that Silco isn’t going to play ball diplomatically, she goes to Jayce. He’s the only high-ranking member of Piltover’s Council who seems to want to get things done, and those things include taking out Silco’s Shimmer manufacturing facilities to loosen his hold on the undercity. Jayce and Vi head there with a team of Enforcers, and a big, very cool-looking battle breaks out, Vi with her new gauntlets, and Jayce with his giant hammer, both fighting off creepy Shimmer experiments. But all battles have casualties. This one is a young boy, one of the workers, whom Jayce accidentally kills in the brawl. This might have been the only way to secure peace. But peace, as we said, is relative after all.