This week’s episode is all about second thoughts, second thoughts that characters have and characters who really should’ve been given second thoughts ages and ages ago.
We’re given a rare glimpse of Cinder’s cronies, Emerald and Mercury, who clearly grieve in different ways. Emerald, as predicted, is starting to recognize how futile her alliance with Salem’s faction is without Cinder’s protection. (After all, wasn’t she going along with this strictly out of loyalty to the sole mother figure in her life?) The feeling is apparently mutual apropos Salem and higher-up members of the team.
Mercury, on the other hand, shows himself to be heartless and greedy where Emerald’s finally realizing she has a conscience (or something). As they wage a clumsy, emotionally charged duel, someone in the CRWBY thought it was a good idea to have Mercury give a villain’s monologue further clarifying his origin story. No time like the present, I suppose, to learn some cool things like Mercury’s actual lack of a semblance — his father, who abused him, had a semblance of his own that could take others away. (Honestly, this sounds vaguely familiar, though I cannot recall where else in RWBY this might’ve come up. WoR, maybe?)
Their fight is disrupted by the craziest resident crazy of this crazy cabal, who gives some ironically helpful parting advice: “Do what makes you happy, children.” Evidently, being a murderous psychopath is what makes Tyrian happy; but if Emerald is so miserable…. I thought she grudgingly appreciated Ruby’s friendliness, somewhere beneath the marching orders of Cinder’s last nefarious plan. I detect a defection.
After this ominous sequence, we return to the exploits of Team RWBY and their allies. Qrow is, for the moment, missing; Oscar is also missing; and like always, Pyrrha is missing from each of our hearts — especially Jaune’s. And that’s the most important part of this episode, you know. Suddenly, after two volumes of barely addressing the loss of Pyrrha beyond some poorly-executed lip-service; after going through the heart of Pyrrha’s home kingdom with no talk of her loss or a conversation between Jaune and her grieving parents; we get to talk about Pyrrha.
….Because smack-dab in the middle of this random little city on the outskirts of the kingdom is a gigantic golden statue of the Great One.
Jaune stumbles upon this statue while searching the neighborhood for Oscar, who ran away from Jaune’s sister’s house some hours before. (But again, Oscar’s not important anymore.) Rather, he’s led by a single maple leaf. Here, Jaune meets Pyrrha’s mother, who leaves flowers at the memorial. We also learn that Pyrrha used to train in this city, which is why the statue was put up here.
Honestly, this feels like an afterthought on the writers’ part, in a mad dash to address Pyrrha while the characters are still in her old stomping grounds. At this point, I’m like, “Thank you for addressing Pyrrha; please talk about Penny more, because Penny can actually be brought back from the dead in the canon continuity for a change.” Pyrrha is, in every respect, dead, buried, and forgotten by this point — and until now, the attitude of the writers seemed to be just keep moving forward.
Plus, this came at the cost of a compelling “Where’s Oscar?” subplot, because when Jaune and company get back to the sister’s house after a fruitless search, Oscar is right there, giving the indication that he cured his hurt feelings with a bit of retail therapy.
Also, Qrow starts acting like an uncharacteristically grouchy old curmudgeon instead of cool, carefree/less uncle who happens to be middle-aged. The scene with Ruby telling him off just didn’t have the intended effect for me. None of this felt overly characteristic to me, but stress does bring out other sides of people that I simply may not have noticed before.
The episode closes with the important, albeit awkwardly executed message of not underestimating the youth. When we next see JN
PR, RWBY, Oscar, and Qrow, they’ll be “winging” a way to get into the Atlesian military outpost. Here’s hoping the falling action of this volume, which started out so strong, will be a bit less awkward in pacing than this episode was.