Three episodes into the third volume of RWBY and things are picking up real fast. The first two episodes were great set up, but now the big guns are coming out and we’re seeing the big conflict poke its head out. I’ll be entirely honest, of the episodes currently out, this is my favorite for that exact reason. There’s a bit of interaction between Ruby and Weiss, there’s a lot of plot, and there’s even a big fight that servers as more than just another competition fight.
The episode starts off with Weiss and Ruby going to meet Winter (voiced by Elizabeth Maxwell, who is known for her work on shows such as Ghost in the Shell, One Piece, and Fairy Tail). Weiss is obviously excited that her sister is there, and is happier than we’ve seen her in the entire series. When Winter comes out to great her, however we see more of their dynamic as sisters, namely that Weiss is the energetic, even peppy kid sister to Winter’s stern, harsh older sister. Winter is a very obvious part of the military, her demeanor cold and imposing even as she asks Weiss how she is doing and making sure she’s taking care of herself. There’s caring there, even if it’s expressed in a way that makes it seem like she’s being standoffish. The way both of the Schnee sisters act both around each other and just in general is extremely telling about how the family functions, which is interesting. More important to the story, however, is what Weiss says to her older sister when talking about Beacon. Winter can’t share much because it’s “Classified”, but Weiss comments that “the government and school are completely separate” and that “Beacon is different than Atlas (and Vale too)”. Both of these comments raise interesting points about the school and how Ozpin is running things versus how the rest of the world does it.
Winter starts to make her way into the school when she’s stopped by Qrow (voiced by Vic Mignogna, who is known for his work on shows like Full Metal Alchemist and Soul Eater). The two very obviously are not fond of each other, as both are almost eager to pick a fight with each other. The fight itself is fast-paced, but more a show than an actual fight. We get to see Winter use her semblance, which resembles Weiss’ in that they both use glyphs. However, we only see Winter use them a couple times, and one is in the big finale. The fight is stopped by Ironwood, who is then joined by Ozpin and Glynda. Ruby and Qrow interact, and I am forced to eat my words… Sort of. Last recap, I said Qrow was a dick. I still firmly stand behind this statement, but it’s clear that he isn’t as closed off around his nieces as last episode would have implied. He’s actually quite affectionate towards Ruby, joking with her a bit before Ozpin drags him to the office. It’s here that we start to get into some deep spoilers, so heads up. The next paragraph will be discussing some very big plot related content. This is, after all, a recap for the most part.
In Ozpin’s office, the two newcomers are chastised for their use of force. We also learn that they all seem to be working together, as Ozpin and Ironwood wonder why Qrow is at the Vytal festival after being out of contact “for weeks”. Qrow shares some knowledge, and Winter gets dismissed. It’s here the plot starts the thicken, and it’s here that I have some slight issues with how the exposition is handled. It feels heavy, with Qrow talking at Ironwood more than to him. Still, it’s necessary information, as it sets up some important world building. The biggest things to come from it are the fact that the group currently talking, as well as the leaders of “the other two academies”, are far more important than they let on. They work in the shadows to keep others safe, and this is where the conflict lies. Ironwood is many things, but discreet does not seem to be one of them (not many people would call bringing an army to a festival discreet, after all). It’s made clear that Ironwood was not part of the original group, but was brought in later by Ozpin. The headmaster delivers one of my favorite lines of the series so far while talking to Ironwood: “a guardian is a symbol of comfort, but an army is a symbol of conflict”. It sets up an air of paranoia, which is only heightened when we see a very familiar symbol pop up on Ironwood’s phone, which he had hooked up to Ozpin’s desk. It’s the same queen that showed up when Cinder hacked into the school’s network last volume.
The episode cuts to the villainous trio, where Mercury is relaying what he saw of the Winter/Qrow fight back to Cinder. In true evil mastermind fashion, she’s not at all concerned by the presence of either, fully confident that they’re not compromised. We get to confirm that the queen symbol is hers as well as see exactly what that means for the good guys. Cinder, who now has access to more of the system, is able to rig the next fight. She sets up Emerald and Mercury to fight against Coco and Yatsuhashi of team CFVY (who we saw helping with the Grimm situation at the end of last volume). The episode cuts there, leaving us with the same cliffhanger as it did before the JNPR fight.
RWBY Episode 3 is probably my favorite episode of the series so far, bar maybe the train/Grimm fight at the end of last volume. Yes, the exposition in the second half of the episode feeling a tad heavy-handed, it did what it was meant to and so I can’t fault it that. Besides, I am totally okay with a secret group of teachers and headmasters that help protect the people of Remnant by being sneaky and subtle. Other than that, the only thing I could have wanted from the episode was more team focus, but it’s early in the season and we had two episodes that showed us more of how both RWBY and JNPR are doing. There are many more episodes to come, and I’m intrigued to see how the kids will fit in with the new plot that’s shown up. It’s also good to note this episode is probably one of the longest yet, clocking in at almost 17 minutes (16:34). Seeing the longer episode times is nice, and it’s clear Rooster Teeth knows how to transition from five minute shorts to almost full length episodes. The pacing was on point, and hopefully one day we’ll get to see a thirty minute, full length episode of RWBY.