This episode of RWBY clarified a few questions that had been simmering for a while.
We open the episode with Ghira Belladonna (voiced by Kent Williams) pacing the main room of the Belladonna manor with his speech script in hand. The passage of time has been one of those things argued about when it comes to different character POVs. For instance, last season Yang seemed to cross into a different continent (doing around the same travel distance as team RNJR) in a montage in the final episode. As far as Blake Belladonna’s story, we return to her the day after Ilia Amitola (voiced by Cherami Leigh Kuhn) gave her a final warning to leave Menagerie. Blake (voiced by Arryn Zech) evidently didn’t tell her mother Kali (voiced by Tara Platt) nor her father about Ilia’s warning.
Ghira is optimistic that the Faunus of Menagerie will hear his words and side with him. This seems a little foolish of him to be so trusting. Not because he’s dumb, but because he was essentially ousted from his position as leader of the White Fang by public opinion. After a little encouragement to push away his nervousness, he steps up to the podium.
I joke about the press here, but I think RWBY missed a chance for clever exposition. I’m sure we’ll hear of this speech from another character on another continent, but it would’ve been interesting to see which kingdom had a media presence on the “territory” of Menagerie.
This is not a bad stump speech, I’ll give Ghira that. He says they don’t know who is responsible for the “Fall of Beacon”, but they do know that Adam’s “powerful faction” of the White Fang was directly involved. The highlight of the speech for me is when he basically calls Adam Taurus a traitor to his race. He followed that with a dark sentiment, that the longer Adam Taurus remains at large “the harder it is to condemn those who look down on us.” I’d argue that the people “who look down on [the Faunus] are racist trash, but Ghira’s playing the field here and trying to unite them against Adam.
There are some platitudes about banding together in the aftermath of the “Fall of Beacon”, but for me, his condemnation of Adam was the part where we see a little bit of the man who one led the White Fang. I did also like how he refers to the White Fang as “an organization originally created to bring peace” and completely glosses over the assassinations and sabotages that Sienna Khan was certainly responsible for. The man is a politician, and it shows. Ghira clarifies that Sienna Khan did indeed directly succeed him as the leader of the White Fang.
The assassination of Sienna Khan weighs heavily on his speech. We now know that Ilia is in Adam’s camp as far as warring factions of the White Fang are concerned, as her scroll spells out the plan we saw carried out last week. Adam said he wanted to frame Sienna Khan’s death as an outsider murdered her, but with the press taking note of these allegations against him, will this spell trouble for Adam? I it’s the spark that burns him down…and Yang’s fists.
Ilia’s scroll also reveals that Adam’s attack on Haven Academy is planned for “roughly two months from today”. This lines up with what Ozpin says later in the episode. I initially wondered if Ilia’s scroll was a trap when they acquired it in the last Volume, but now I’m not sure either way. The Haven’s CCT (Cross Continental Transmit System) is one of their prime targets. Sienna Khan was upset about communications being disrupted by the destruction of Beacon’s CCT tower. Does the White Fang have an alternative means of communication? Has Salem gifted them one of those ‘Eye of Sauron’ Grimm?
Ghira divulges that he has sent “[his] swiftest messenger to the Kingdom of Mistral” which leads me to wonder exactly who this person is. Perhaps we’ll meet them through team RNJR’s eyes.
I lied, my favorite part of his speech is when he talks about Sienna Khan, since this is the closest to a eulogy I think we’ll ever get. He notes that he doesn’t completely condone her methods, but says that her declaration of intent is unimpeachable. She only ever fought for the equality of her people.
I’m sure we can all appreciate that there are those horrible times where violence is the only tool to establish some sense of social equality. Ghira certainly appreciates it, it’s why his voice tremors with pride when he speaks of Sienna’s dedication to the same cause that he serves. If Ghira found Sienna’s actions to be irredeemable, he would not have defended her so vehemently.
His final takedown of Taurus is “Adam Taurus does not seem to have that goal in mind.” Damn right he doesn’t. He follows this up with the phrase “snuff out this splinter group and restore the White Fang to what it once was”, and I’m intrigued by the layered language here. This is basically his re-election bid. Oh, he also wants to “go to Haven and protect it at all costs”. That’s a plus as well.
He has this little moment where he pulls himself back, and it’s a cross between hilarious, awkward, and endearing.
He invites Blake up to the stand to share her story. She is at once a former member of Sienna Khan’s White Fang and a survivor of the “Fall of Beacon”.
Ilia Amitola is wise to ensure nobody hears her story…from a certain point of view.
I’d like to say that Ilia has a point. She’s not entirely wrong. Why should it be the duty of the Faunus to protect Haven? It implies culpability. Ghira clearly came up with this on the fly; so how many of his people’s lives is he willing to sacrifice by starting a civil war with the White Fang for the sake of protecting human lives? If I were in this crowd, I wouldn’t know who to trust, but I know that I’d be leaning towards Ilia.
She reminds everybody that humans systematically oppress their people. “Where was their help when the dust companies treated out people like slaves?”
For all that Ilia supports Adam, I’m curious to know what she’d think of him taking orders from humans. (Though she may already know about that, we don’t know.)
“Where kingdoms when Faunus were being hunted for just being who they are??” “Where was my help when my parents were killed in a dust mine?”
Ilia is an extremist who is motivated by loss. For all we know, the Belladonna family hasn’t experienced loss like hers. (Maybe they have, we don’t know.) Ilia says that “the Belladonnas are the worst kind of Faunus, because they want to work with the people who hold us down.”
This whole situation is right on the nose in terms of America’s political landscape as of late. She asks that they all support Adam, who will bring about real change. I like that her final line didn’t go where I thought it would. She says, “If you are unwilling to fight, know that the White Fang will do it for you”. I thought she was going to be harsher to moderates. Ilia is a morally complicated character. On a personal level, I can’t really say she’s wrong on much, other than Adam deserves to die. On a big picture level, she’s part of an army fighting for the Dark Side. But her heart is in the right place…until she kills a character I like, and even maybe then.
Ilia Amitola doesn’t take out her weapon. (She has one on her person, but this is RWBY, everybody’s got weapons on them.) She isn’t making any threats to anybody’s safety. Ilia is merely saying that she (vehemently) disagrees with the Belladonna family about working with the humans, and that mobilizing en masse to save Haven is a poor idea. Ilia doesn’t draw a weapon, she is completely peacful and using her words to disagree with somebody who she believes is only furthering the status quo of brutality her people face.
Sun Wukong (voiced by Michael Jones), who Ghira Belladonna just vouched for, attacks Ilia. He yells “Shut up!” as he jumps to strike her.
Instead of trouncing him with violence, like she did last time, she grapple hooks outta there.
I wanted to bring attention that it was ‘one of the good guys’ who shut the free speech valve off. Not the ‘villain’, she was doing everything right, in terms of decorum. As far as the battle between these two will play out, I identify with Ilia far more than I ever will with a toxic masculine stock character like Sun Wukong.
The writers have been shortchanging Sun for a while. He had a decent introduction, but even his friend Neptune got more empathy from me than him. We haven’t seen Neptune since Volume 3. It’s a testament to the character writing in this show that the ones with shallow characterization feel like aberrations that must be purged. It’s a shame that they choose to rob the deeper characters of screentime. Screentime they devote to an amicable stalker who is interchangeable with hundreds of other stock characters on air right now. He’s basically Mon El from Supergirl, (A.K.A. the reason the second season largely failed me and many others) albeit with a monkey tail and better fighting skills.
Maybe Ilia chose to support a real villain in Adam. But from her perspective, I honestly can’t say I would choose different if I had the power to affect change like Ilia does. She’s trying to “bring about the future [her people] deserve”, so that there aren’t any more little girl orphans like her. Who am I to say she’s wrong, when Ghira’s way clearly made little progress in the past; and especially now that he’s going to sacrifice many lives fighting an organization who Ilia just said “will fight for you.”
Ultimately, the Belladonna family have a problem with the White Fang, but as of now, they aren’t offering a feasible alternative to getting equal rights. Until they come up with a sustainable plan, that is received well by Faunus and Humans, Sienna Khan’s “violence when necessary” is a persuasive answer.
Elswhere in Mistral, we come back to team RNJR right where we left them, badgering Oscar Pine (voiced by Aaron Dismuke) about being professor Ozpin. Qrow (voiced by Vic Mignogna) tells them all to stop badgering the poor kid.Ruby (voiced by Lindsay Jones) and Nora Valkyrie (voiced by Samantha Ireland) declare how weird this whole situation is. Oscar agrees. A moment passes and he tells everyone that “I’ll still be here.” Then Professor Ozpin (voiced by Shannon McCormick) takes over Oscar’s body to explain some things. It’s consensual. Oscar even asks that Ozpin not do anything embarrassing.
Ozpin quotes a line he said a while ago, that he has “made more mistakes than every man woman and child.” It turns out that he’s immortal after all. After each time he dies, his soul bonds with another, and they merge. He’s a lot like The Avatar in that regard of functional immortality. “For thousands of years I’ve walked the surface of remnant. Living, dying, and reincarnating into the body of a like minded Soul.”
I also got major Dreadnought (by April Daniels) vibes. Dreadnought’s power transfer is like the Maidens, and Valkyria’s power transfer is exactly what Ozpin is describing now. The codependency of two souls in a new body.
Can Ozpin merge with females? Is he a male because his last body was? I think a female Ozpin would’ve been awesome. So many themes. Missed opportunity for sure.
He then remarks on how it’s good “you children still have your sense of humor,” you know, because Pyrrha’s dead. Dick move professor.
He says the source of his immortal soul is a curse laid upon him by “the gods because I failed to stop Salem in the past.”
He wants to start by securing the Relic of Knowledge, which means making an alliance of sorts with the Spring Maiden, who has spent the last decade and then some killing villagers.
It wasn’t Lionheart’s irrationality that is worrying Ozpin, it’s his failure to follow certain orders Ozpin had for him. Ozpin quickly decides that there is something wrong with Lionheart, and that the circle of knowledge regarding Ozpin’s reincarnation will for now remain in this room. Superhero teams with secrets…I can’t seem to avoid them.
Ozpin closes the scene by saying that he’s going to be getting team RNJR into “fighting shape.”
Ozpin specifically points out Ruby’s lack of hand-to-hand skills and Jaune’s (voiced by Miles Luna) locked semblance.
They’re a little apprehensive.
We meet the Spring Maiden, Vernal (voiced by Amber Lee Connors) at last. She begins by saying that it’s “a shame you’re a Schnee,” because Weiss would make an ideal bandit, apparently. I don’t think Vernal should underestimate Weiss’ penchant for being a neat freak.
I love how the cocky male bandits shit themselves when Vernal is near them. One of them even hides his booze. Weiss assumes that they intend to sell her back to her father. Vernal says they usually don’t do human trafficking with the air that she doesn’t find it morally deplorable, just a hassle. Weiss then launches into the ‘you’re making a big mistake’ speech because her older badass sister Winter Schnee is in Mistral.
Vernal gleefully corrects Weiss; Atlas Dictator James Ironwood pulled all military back to Atlas. Weiss is truly alone now.
Well, Yang is somewhere en-route, I can’t wait for the reunions this Volume.
Weiss seems like she’s going to get a moment of freedom before either Vernal or Raven smacks her down again.
See y’all next week.
Come pester me on twitter @BellicoseEmpath