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“What can men do against such reckless hate?” -Theoden, King of Rohan.

RWBY V5 CH.10: ‘True Colors’…Part I of II

Q&A: Ruby Edition

Just to get this out of the way, I teared up a little watching this episode. It provided a dose of anti-cynicism I desperately needed going into the final turn of the holidays. Blake (voiced by Arryn Zech) is facing off with Ilia (voiced by Cherami Lee Kuhn), but we’ll get to that later. I figured I should also put my bias upfront, this is my favorite episode of the show thus far.

To start the episode off, we have a little scene where Ozpin (now voiced semi full-time by Oscar Pine’s voice actor, Aaron Dismuke) and Qrow (voiced by Vic Mignogna) are having a conversation about the way humanity has been losing its hope of late. Ozpin is optimistic, but Qrow mentions that every hunter he believed he could rely on in Haven have been sent to their deaths. He asks Ozpin if Salem has become so powerful, “what does that say about humanity?”

If there weren’t enough Star Wars parallels, Salem=The Dark Side of the Force.

Ozpin’s next line is delivered with some poetic flourish, “That there are indeed a misguided few who have filled their hearts with malice.” It sounded lyrical, and I love that sort of thing. Though it’s interesting to hear the theme of hatred echoed in humanity’s crisis. Qrow wasn’t talking about the White Fang and the larger crisis of conscience among the Faunus, he was talking as Aragorn and Boromir loved to about the hearts of men. We haven’t been shown much of this crisis of malice. We know that even the humans who serve Salem don’t do so out of a sense of malice, but because they crave certain things. It would be nice to get some Cinder backstory to know what made her so obsessed with acquiring power. I hope it’s handled well.

Ruby (voiced by Lindsay Jones) interrupts the adults. She mentions that she and the others have been talking about the Spring Maiden and the Relic at Haven. But the young huntress isn’t as troubled by that as the others are. She’s curious about the Fall Maiden.

Ruby, don’t take this the wrong way, but Murderous Intent looks terrifying on you. – a friendly viewer

Ruby is a cheerful girl. So when she makes a ‘murder face,’ it’s something to pay attention to. She gets over her momentary pre-occupation with killing Cinder and actually becomes the voice of the fan theories for a couple minutes. She asks if the Relic at Beacon was retrieved by Cinder, and in the possesion of Salem. Ozpin says that the protective mojo he laid about the Beacon Relic was naturally more powerful than the other schools. By which he means that he’s the king of hiding things. The Relic there is safe for the moment.

Ozpin asks if there’s anything else, and before Ruby can articulate her real burning question, Ozpin cuts her off with a gently, “My cane is not the relic.”

“I have no more question.”-Ruby Rose

Ruby has no more questions. He says that his cane is indeed powerful in a way we the audience haven’t seen yet, it’s no relic. Though in fairness, he’s the Wizard of Oz: he could be lying.

Qrow recieves a call on his scroll (smartphone with extra abilities) from Lionheart (voiced by Daman Mills). It would seem that Raven’s plan of ‘lure them into a trap’ is working according to plan. Qrow and Ozpin don’t feel too good about this.

There’s been a conspicuous lack of Oscar Pine, the boy who’s being possessed by Ozpin. Can someone tell me how this doesn’t scream unsettling? Like, seriously, the show has yet to acknowledge the HUGE isuue of concent over bodily autonomy in this scenario. From my perspective, it looks like Ozpin is slowly (not slow anymore though) but surely going to absorb Oscar Pine’s soul, essentially killing the boy for his own gain. It’s not an original story (e.g. Illyria from Angel or Valkyria from April Daniel’s   Nemesis Book Two: Sovereign)

“It’s treason then.”-The Emperor

Treason talk.

We get a short scene with Raven Branwen (voiced by Anna Hullum) and Lionheart where they discuss  their respective treachery. Raven says that she didn’t think Lionheart had the “courage to betray Oz.” She then asks what Salem has on him.

Lionheart responds that he serves Salem for the same reason Raven now does (sort of, since there’s like multiple betrayals probably gonna happen): he’s afraid. Raven snaps back with, “I’m not afraid, I’m smart.”

Lionheart’s next lines echo the ginormous parallel between himself and Ilia Amitola. He says that he’s already betrayed Oz so badly, that there are things he’s done that cannot, and should not be forgiven. He doesn’t know where to go from here. He doesn’t know what else to do.

“Choose Life,” -Renton from Trainspotting

He asks her which of them she’s trying to convince by that little declaration. Raven’s not pleased, and walks out without another word.

This World Needs More of Kali Belladonna

Everybody loves Kali.

While there’s a lot of flame wars going on about Ilia (so much anti-gay sentiment in this fandom, whether overt or not), and frankly many of the other characters, main or not; I haven’t run into the people in this fandom who dislike Kali Belladonna (voiced by Tara Platt). She’s spectacular, and this episode gives her some room to shine.

She’s in the middle of a firefight, and last we left her, one of her guards got shot, so she picked up his weapon in stride. But she runs out of ammo, so she picks up a tea tray. A tea tray that can deflect bullet fire.

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”-Winston Churchill. And beat them half to death with tea trays.

It’s a moment that makes me think of the question, ‘how often do I see mothers and/or fathers taking up arms to fight alongside their main character daughters in animation/anime/my media?’ The answer I can come up with is this is the first time since Legend of Korra‘s third season.

Yuma the bat Faunus drops in and takes down another guard.

Don’t mess with Kali.

Kali doesn’t hesitate. Armed with her tea tray, she charges the bat Faunus, who did not see that coming.

It was at this moment, he knew…Kali won’t hesitate.

Main Event Time: Blake Belladonna vs Ilia Amitola

“Stay out of my way.”-Blake

We cut to Blake and Ilia. Ilia has the high ground. Blake asks if Ilia was in the room alone to hide. Ilia doesn’t deny it, but she says that she didn’t want any of this. Blake throughs back that Ilia’s here anyways.

Ilia’s voice hardens as she shouts at Blake “I don’t have a choice!”

“Of course you do!”

Blake means it too. Ilia flinches, drawing in a stuttering breath. The added layer of emotions in this encounter is great. Ilia is clearly still in love with Blake, and while she doesn’t believe she has a choice, being here, in Blake’s house, in the middle of a fight…it kills Ilia on the inside.

I’d like to take a moment and praise Blake and Ilia’s voice actresses Arryn Zech and Cherami Leigh Kuhn for this episode. Every sentence said between the two is loaded with emotion in a way that just wrings my heart out.

Blake tells Ilia to stay out of her way, and the fight begins.

Blake uses her shadow substitute semblance to dodge the opening attack.

Ilia’s weapon is a whip, and the similarities between hers and Blake’s Gambol Shroud are immediately apparent. Blake manages to deflect most of Ilia’s lashes before she jumps into the air and uses the tether on her blade to wrap around Ilia (like a whip) and land a hit kick that sends the chameleon Faunus across the room.

When Ilia regains her feet, they lock blades. Blake beseeches Ilia why it’s necessary to “hurt people to get our way?” And Ilia immediately responds with, “Because it works.”

This is the real ‘Battle of the Heroes’.

Blake doesn’t deny this, but she says in a softer and sadder tone, “That doesn’t make it right.”

Ilia breaks the deadlock by using electric Dust to shock Blake’s sword out of her hand. Blake dives for cover as Ilia rains lashes down around her.

She yells out a Blake, “Stop lecturing me!” I wonder if they had conversations like this towards the end of Blake’s tenure in the White Fang.

Symbolism

Ilia uses her Faunus power to turn her whole body the color of darkness. She then turns out the lights. She took off her mask to sell the stealth maneuver.

It was mentioned in Volume 1 that all Faunus could see in the dark. However, the context of that discussion was how the Faunus War was bad from a Human perspective. In this fight, Blake may be able to see movement in the darkness, but not when Ilia is using here powers of near perfect camouflage.

After a small skirmish in the dark, Ilia yells out from cover, (in a choked up, trying not to cry sort of way) “Why couldn’t you just leave??”

Blake stands up strong and for the first time since her character’s been introduced, she acknowledges one of her greatest faults. “Because I run away too much.”

If only Yang could hear you.

I’m not sure how often Blake thinks about Yang, and the consequences of leaving her, but I’m sure she’s been thinking a lot about how badly her leaving Ilia behind affected the orphaned chameleon Faunus.

Blake mutters a quick apology to her father before starting a fire. So she could see. Well, it worked.

I spy with my little eye…

They tangle a few times, clearly on equal skill level. Perhaps Blake is a little more level headed, but not much separates these two in the fight.

This shot is amazing.

They continue exchanging blows. Blake backs up and fires on Ilia from distance.

Ilia’s a badass, ok? Okay.

But Ilia can give Jedi and Sith runs for their money with her casual deflection of Blake’s bullets.

She shouts at Blake, “Stop taking pot shots and fight me like you mean it!”

Needed a breather.

There’s a lull in the fight that Blake uses to get behind cover for a moment.

So I’m breaking this episode into two articles primarily because there was so much to talk about.

Assorted Thoughts:

The main emotional thrust of this Volume is clearly the Blake and Ilia storyline. One of the biggest problems with this show is that they don’t do balance very well since Volume 3. Last season, Blake’s story was far less eventful than team RNJR’s journey through the wastelands, fighting villains and at risk all the time. Ilia showed up only at the end of the season. The characters are dispersed across the world, until recently, and every time there’s a split between the Haven crew and Ilia and Blake, the Haven bits are even more like treading narrative water via exposition dumping. The episode with the reunion was an exception, that was beautiful.

 

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Nathan Levine

Nathan is from Culver City, California. Follow him on twitter @BellicoseEmpath.

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