This episode of RWBY is the darkest this show has been yet. Up until now, the only named people who have been killed or injured this season have either been robots or have had bionic parts. Now, we have an actual maiming and at least one on screen death.
What happened last week?
Oh, no big deal, just dragon Grimm, Ruby taking five levels in badass, Ren and Nora leading the rest of the supporting characters into battle, Jaune following Pyrrha to what must be certain darkness. Just another beautiful day in Remnant last week, nothing to see here.
What happened this week?
Actual carnage, that’s what. Also, my theory about Cinder, Ozpin and Pyrrha was confirmed, my Adam Taurus to Kilgrave comparison was very much established, Weiss finally taps into some of that trademarked Winter Schnee power, Ironwood survived falling out of the sky because he’s at least half robot himself, Velvet’s weapon is finally revealed after a season of buildup, and Oobleck and Port remain missing.
Oh, and no big deal, Torchwick got eaten and Yang lost an arm.
We need to talk about this episode of RWBY like we all need air in our lungs. Holy crap, everything happened during this episode. What is the finale going to even do? This is like episode nine of every season of Game of Thrones right now.
So first off, let’s deal with the casualties. For one, Torchwick got eaten by a weird griffon! Can we talk about how Torchwick got eaten the second after he finished this speech?
Roman: You’ve got spirit Red, but this is the REAL WORLD! The real world is COLD! The real world DOESN’T CARE ABOUT SPIRIT! You wanna be a hero? Then play the part and DIE LIKE EVERY OTHER HUNTSMAN IN HISTORY! As for me, I’ll do what I do best. Lie. Steal. Cheat. AND SURVIVE! [immediately gets eaten]
Yeah, no. Sorry, Torchwick. That’s what happens when you’re monologuing and beating the crap out of a little girl when you should be watching for giant Grimm you helped send there. Talk about being hoisted by his own petard.
Sure, he could still be alive in there, but for now I’m counting him as dead and out for the season just because it’s easier for right now. This could really go either way, because digestion is a bad way to go, but we never saw a body. I’m still convinced a certain Star Wars character is still alive just because we never saw their body, so even though I’m counting Torchwick as dead for right now, I don’t really think he is.
Neo also got launched off the ship by her own weapon, which is all fine and good since her weapon is an umbrella and she’s little person tiny, but she’s going to be okay for the same reasons Ruby was: she used her weapon to get to safety. Ruby was pretty badass this episode, since she used her smarts to get Neo out of the fight, knowing that she probably couldn’t beat her where she is now if Neo could curb stomp her sister. She also just kicked a Nevermore in the face, and it simply left without putting up more of a fight. These are the giant birds it took four people and a complicated plan to take down back in season one.
I actually thought Neo was a robot like Penny until Cinder’s speech in episode 9, making her even more invincible. How else would an in-universe juggernaut like Yang get so ass-reamingly destroyed by her?
Speaking of Yang, her maiming got the biggest reaction from the community. I, like many other viewers, was completely shocked by this turn of events. Then I really thought about it, and honestly, this season has been excellent at deconstructing Yang and showing just how being a juggernaut can get you into trouble, culminating in this episode. If you thought Yang was a Mary Sue, this episode clearly shows that she’s deeply flawed and more than capable of having her ass handed to her.
Let’s go back about six episodes to Never Miss A Beat, the last episode of fun and really of the festival proper, where we see Yang get worked up over Neon’s excessive trolling. Sure, she kicks her and Flynt’s asses without much of an issue, but we clearly see her temper get pushed to the limit. This brings us to Fall, and we all know what happens there. Cinder must have watched her very closely and picked up what her Achilles’ heel was, and told Mercury and Emerald just what to do to set Yang off. Because Yang has never really reined in that temper at all, it worked like a charm.
In subsequent episodes, Yang maintains her innocence, which makes sense because she is, but she never took enough of a step back from the situation to see that she had no proof, and her best course of action might have simply been to wait until Mercury exposed himself for what he was, which he did pretty quickly in Destiny. All she had to do was wait, but her temper doesn’t really allow her to do that. She’s like Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender before he goes good and becomes Aang’s firebending teacher. She’s letting anger fuel her admittedly very powerful Semblance, even for things as trivial as her hair being messed with. Imagine how powerful she could be if she let something else fuel her in battle, because this way is getting her into a lot of trouble, especially in this episode, where she loses an arm. (We’re going to assume Yang’s arm is gone and will be staying gone, since Mercury lost his limbs permanently and there’s no indication that Auras work that way. Even if they did, Adam basically sliced right on through it.)
Losing a limb would be hard on anyone, especially on people in this universe, with their ridiculous weapons and their future Hunter/Huntress careers. But think about just how much harder losing an arm would be to someone like Yang. Her whole thing is punching with gauntlets that shoot bullets, and now Adam Taurus has chopped off an arm.
I still believe that Mercury and Emerald are going to switch sides at some point. When that happens, I see Mercury and Yang bonding over their lost limbs. After all, Mercury’sa guy who focuses on kicks a lot, and he has bionic legs that may or may not actually be part of his weapon. On top of that, as long as he doesn’t get his clothes burned off the way he did in The Beginning Of The End, he can hide that. We went two whole seasons with him hiding it. Yang can’t hide the loss of an arm the way Mercury can hide the loss of both his legs. Even Ironwood, who’s at least forty percent robot, can hide it under his uniform.
However, even though Mercury seems well adjusted to his whole leg situation, he might not have always been okay with it, especially considering the way he was introduced to Cinder. His shared situation with Yang, combined with all of the beautiful ways that they foil each other (they’re both the force to their partners’ finesse, her arms to his legs, her hot temper to his cold detachment), could lead to a beautiful friendship. Hell, Mercury shares a color association with Yang’s current partner Blake, who has her own issues with complicated relationships. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where the Yang and Mercury of it all goes in the next season.
Speaking of Blake, hot damn.
We finally get to see the relationship dynamic between Blake and Adam, and the comparison to Jessica Jones and Kilgrave more than holds up. Adam’s come a really long way since the Black trailer, and he’s so delightfully creepy to watch. Just going on this episode, one could assume that Blake simply friendzoned him, but I don’t think so. I think at one point, Blake was just as much in love with Adam as he is with her.
Remember the season premiere of season 2? The first time you see Blake, she’s doodling in her notebook, and they’re all pictures of Adam. She never shows them to Yang when she asks, either. The Black trailer shows that Blake, while she hates what the White Fang are doing, cares about Adam very much. She’s never come forward on screen to the rest of her team about the relationship, and I’m pretty sure Yang has no idea what Adam means to Blake. She’s going to have to now considering what Adam has done.
On top of that, she doesn’t look at him like he’s some nameless villain. Her first instinct before Adam almost kills the nameless student to provoke her is to run, so she doesn’t have to fight him. Sure, we can interpret that as Blake not wanting to fight her ex-boyfriend and mentor because she thought she’d lose, but there’s a very good chance she almost passed up on that fight because she genuinely still cares about him. That puts her reluctance to move forward with Sun into really sharp perspective, not to mention everyone being up her butt about going to the dance with him. The incident on the train happens at the same time Cinder, Mercury and Emerald show up in the White Fang camp, so it can’t have happened that long ago, and the seasons aren’t necessarily taking place over months or even weeks. She’s probably not really over Adam yet.
That being said, she’s absolutely terrified of him here. The animation does a really good job of showing in Blake’s face that she cares about him, but she’s also very scared of him. Keep in mind, while Adam has been obsessing about her, Blake has been moving forward with her new life in Beacon. She’s got a will they or won’t they situation going on with Sun, and even a borderline sapphic connection going on with Yang that the fandom just goes crazy for. Yang did get that arm chopped off while protecting her. Remember when Blake was scared to throw her lot in with Yang because she’s done that with Adam only for her to be wrong about him? Now, the two people she was comparing have met, and Yang proved herself loyal in a healthy way. Go, Yang.
Also, if your ex boyfriend brought a horde of soulless creatures to your school and to your new friends and revealed that his personal motivation was to destroy everything and everyone you hold dear, you’d be really scared, too. Tell me Adam’s lines, said in the right voice, wouldn’t scare the crap out of you.
Adam: This could’ve been our day! Can’t you see that!?
Blake: I never wanted this! I wanted equality! I wanted peace!
Adam: What you want, is impossible! But I understand, because all I want, is you, Blake.
There’s one thing I’m a little unclear on, though: why wasn’t Adam surprised to see Blake? All he said was “hello, my darling,” before this episode. Sure, Cinder could have told Adam that Blake would be there, but how would Cinder know Adam lost a girlfriend with whom a fight would be personal with? My only conclusion is that the villains must talk about relationships when they’re not busy flawlessly executing a plan to wreak havoc on Remnant. Adam, being the gender flipped Yandere that he is, probably would have gone into excruciating detail about their relationship and about Blake in general. Maybe Cinder was even the one who got into Adam’s head and made his love for her more twisted to keep him in line. Keep in mind, the only reason Adam fell into line with Cinder was because she decimated a good chunk of his people to show her power. Cinder is smart enough to know that a guy like Adam wouldn’t fall into line out of fear forever, so she got into his head.
Now I want to see a villain sleepover, where everyone spills to Cinder about their relationship woes. I want to see Adam crying to Cinder about how Blake left him over pancakes like Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. I want to see Torchwick and Neo get set up by Cinder because she thinks they’d look good together. I want to see Mercury complain about Yang and wonder why he hates her so much with Cinder just smiling knowingly. I want to see Emerald rolling her eyes at all of this. I’m so here for villain bonding.
I could go on and on about Blake and Adam, since they’ve fascinated me from the second the Black trailer dropped, but I’m going to move on now specifically because if I don’t, this entire recap will be the micro-expressions of the Tauradonna ship. Now, let’s move on to the fight with everybody else, where Velvet’s weapon is revealed, we finally see Qrow’s scythe mode and Weiss’s Semblance and character development get taken up a notch.
First, Velvet’s weapon is insane. Basically, she’s a blue mage capable of copying the capabilities of every weapon she takes a picture of. It renders her a bit impotent during smaller scale fights because her weapon is simply too huge and requires charging, but during huge fights with robots and White Fang and Grimm, Velvet is basically perfect for that sort of thing, because she can do things from copy the poses and fighting stances of Team RWBY to get a handle on and successfully use a weapon as game breaking as Penny’s. Also, hard light is awesome.
That’s all well and good, but what’s more interesting to me is that Weiss finally got to summon, and the way she did it not only lampshades just how much she’s grown since the Crater Face incident, it foreshadows what eventually happens to Yang.
We only knew that Weiss was capable of summoning from episode four, when she summoned a tiny knight’s sword, like the one in her trailer. Winter shows us what that ability is capable of in full force when she has full control over it, which Weiss emphatically does not between her inexperience with the ability and her stamina. However, that knight is admittedly huge and she did a really good job for her first try, and that arm sliced through a robot effortlessly. That’s not the interesting part, though. Think about who Weiss is, and what she does this episode.
Weiss is a Atlesian girl from the powerful but morally bankrupt Schnee family, and her experiences growing up within that family haven’t given her the best impression of the Faunus. She didn’t grow up freedom fighting outside the kingdoms like Blake, but her family situation isn’t all that great. Even Winter understands where she’s coming from when Weiss doesn’t want to call her dad for money. Now, think about the princess who got into a huge fight with Blake over the White Fang, and then look at the same girl laying down her life for a Faunus by getting in front of an Atlesian robot. She didn’t even mean to summon the knight, she just did it on instinct, which is huge for the girl who planned every strike back in season one and got upset when anything or anyone became a spanner in the works. She’s come such a long way in three seasons.
While all of these things are huge and are worth talking about in greater detail, we have to get to the culmination of Cinder’s plan. She’s now the Autumn Maiden, and things are now very bad.
First off, Jaune reacted to that whole vault thing surprisingly well, and the only time he lost his cool was when the machine started hurting Pyrrha, and the second he turned around, Amber was dead. Now, let’s be real here. There’s only so much an inexperienced guy like Jaune can do against half a Fall Maiden, even with the many levels in badass he’s taken during this season alone, so I’m happy he turned around. I’m also happy that Cinder killed Amber when she did, because if they’d been any further in that process, Pyrrha would have died too. I was fully expecting her to die the second the machine closed on her, but other than that, I think my predictions held up. However, once Cinder takes the power, she and Ozpin send Jaune and Pyrrha away, and something really interesting happens.
Cinder: This whole time, right beneath our feet … she was right about you. Such arrogance.
Who is she, Cinder?
There’s a very good chance that the “she” is Raven, Yang’s mother. This is right in line with my theory about Raven being Cinder’s boss, or Cinder even having a boss to begin with. Raven, being one fourth of the “coolest team at Beacon” and Qrow’s sister, probably would know all about Maidens and magic, and it’s consistent with Qrow’s assessment of her. On top of this, this further cements my theory that Ozpin is the old man in the story who gives the Maidens their power. My question is: where did Ozpin come from, and why was he a hermit in the first place?
Now, onto some little things because this recap has to wrap up at some point.
- I love that Neo and Torchwick text each other. Also, Torchwick is the only person we see Neo actively communicating with. His death, depending on the nature of their relationship, is going to break that poor girl. I actually feel bad for her.
- Speaking of Neo, her colors in general were a lot brighter this episode.
- That poor Atlesian student. He had no idea he’d be caught in the worst fight between exes in Remnant.
- Can we talk about how Ruby was up in the skies fighting criminals by herself with no one knowing where she was, and Yang, her protective big sister, chose to look for Blake instead? She heard Blake and White Fang mentioned together and immediately went to go find her partner, knowing that Weiss had Ruby taken care of once she got her strength back. Now, that’s a team.
- We have a fully staffed Wizard of Oz cast in Remnant. We’ve got Ozpin the real wizard, Glynda the Good Witch, Ironwood the (partially) tin man, the Scare Qrow, Cinder the Wicked Witch of Mistral (which is in the east according to the maps but I’m not here to nitpick), and Port as the lion. Oobleck doesn’t really fit since he’s a clear reference to a Dr. Seuss book.
- Why does Ironwood have metal abs?
- The smoke when Ruby’s running off the ship was awesome looking.
- Oh hey, we actually got to see just what the cliff launching stunt of season 1 was preparing them for. It looked insane back then, but watching Ruby save herself effortlessly in free fall without missing a beat puts that first test into perspective. Sure, you’re shooting kids off of a cliff now, but they know how to think on their feet later.
- Pyrrha cried when she was trying to steel herself to get into a pod. She’s a world class athlete who outfights most of her classmates, but she’s still just a kid like the rest of them. She’s just a kid who can fight in a corset and heels.
- For the whole season that Blake has been out of focus, she made up for it in this episode.
- The way they showed Yang getting her arm cut off was really powerfully done.
- So far, we’ve had two of the fights in the intro happen, Yang/Mercury and Blake/Adam. When is Weiss going to fight Emerald? Also, in what way to those two connect? Blake and Adam have their romantic history, Yang and Mercury have all the ways that they foil each other, and even Ruby and Cinder have a red motif. What do ice princess Weiss and street urchin Emerald have in common?
- Ren and Nora are out of focus again. So, so sad.
- Special shoutout to Sun, who was the only one who really got to be funny.
- Where’s Taiyang Xiao Long?
The season finale is tomorrow, little hunters and huntresses. Hold on to your butts.
[via Rooster Teeth]