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“I’m more than a name.”-Weiss

RWBY V5Ch.11: ‘The More the Merrier’

This won’t end well…

‘Women’s Trauma = Men’s Character Development’ Trope: The Episode (Me Ranting)

Super quick recap of Chapter 11: The kids and Qrow (and Ozpin, who’s possessing a little boy) are led into an ambush.

You guys are dumb….

(Because Ozpin and Qrow haven’t a tactical thought between them) People fight, and Cinder Fall impales Weiss so Jaune can have character development, and no other reason. Well, actually since Jaune is voiced by one of the showrunners, it makes sense he’d show extraordinary favoritism towards the whiny white boy (or shounen protagonist), like every show the world over. He couldn’t even land a hit when he had ALL THE ADVANTAGE.

Who tries to stab people in the head, instead of cutting it off? ONLY THE HOPELESSLY STUPID. Yes, Jaune is very much in that category.

I’m so disappointed… This episode revolved around Jaune. It’s no coincidence it was the weakest of the season. And in my opinion (which I’ve long stopped pretending to temper), I’m having trouble thinking of a worse episode in the show as a whole…oh wait. That STUPID arc that Jaune got in Volume 1, which most people try (in vain) to forget. The worst episodes are Jaune episodes, categorically at this point.

I’m so angry at this episode. The fights were lackluster (except for the little we see of Weiss vs Vernal), and this was just not RWBY at it’s best, unfortunately. And it really shows the terrible pacing that’s happened on the Team RWBY side of things this season, since many of the character interactions that happen in this episode were worthy of far more screen time.

I hated this the end of this episode. I found it truly repulsive in how they handled Weiss’ potential death. (Even though most of the fandom including me ‘knew’ this moment was written to give Jaune a semblance) It was shamelessly emotionally manipulative with Weiss assuming the exact position on her knees Pyrrha Nikos did when she died. Since that juxtaposition was so lazy, we know the showrunners also have the gal to try and use this moment of horror to jump-start a potential romance between Weiss and Jaune. Which would not only render moot much of the exemplary character work they’ve done with Weiss post Volume 2. But it would structurally invalidate Pyrrha as a character (who was also fridged for Jaune’s character development), since she was dead on arrival.

So much of storytelling post-Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead relies nearly entirely on a very narrow-minded type of tension: who lives, who dies (and who tells their story…I couldn’t help it).  Frankly, that’s quite basic. When the most pertinent questions about the show are bandied about among friends, ‘who do you think is gonna die next,’ is more indicative of a soap opera than not.

Am I freaking out for no reason? Perhaps. I won’t rule it out, I only truly know my own thoughts.

This Volume of RWBY has had some of the BEST storytelling this show has ever done, and this episode could’ve been great. No, really, it could have, but as a standalone, as a cliffhanger, it falls. And it fails because they’ve proven extremely recently how to do effective and emotional storytelling right. It’s not that they’re incapable, it’s that the showrunners have chosen to fall back on lazy tropes they’ve so far done a good job (except Pyrrha!!!) of avoiding. By which I mean not killing off the one lesbian character (Ilia) during the conclusion of the Menagerie arc.

This is less of a recap since I had too many angry feelings about this episode’s path, and some directorial choices (like why did we see so little character interaction between people who have histories? Why were all the fights in the background (except Weiss getting out-classed by a far superior opponent)? Who thought Ozpin and Lionheart deserved so much time when Emerald and Mercury’s fights with Yang and Mercury easily could’ve been an episode filled with previously developed emotional context).

It may seem like I hate this show, but if you go back and read my other reviews, you’ll find that it’s because I love this show that I’m so frustrated with how weak this episode was.

Important Things that Happened in this Episode: Emerald Takes the Stage

“I love Cinder more than I fear Salem”- Not quite Emerald’s exact words, but everything that’s happened with her recently paints this quite clearly.

One of the more curious and previously hinted at is Emerald’s relationship with/to Cinder. During the back and forth between Emerald and Ruby, the silver-eyed girl asks Emerald why she serves Salem.

“Wanna fight about it?”-Supergirl on red Kryptonite

Emerald replies point-blank she doesn’t give a damn about Salem, but she owes Cinder “everything”. We got a brief look at Emerald’s past. Aladdin is her reference character. So we can assume she’s referring to Cinder pulling her out of her street rat life and onto team Salem. We see a snippet of that happening in Volume 3, when Cinder corners a petrified Emerald as the police close in on her.

In Volume 3, Emerald has an encounter with Team RWBY before the Vytal Tournament. It’s a pleasant one. But she walks away from it grumbling enviously to Mercury, “How can they all be so happy all the time?”

I think that Emerald and Ilia (and by extension Blake and Weiss) are actually not too different. I’d be very much okay with an Emerald Sustrai redemption arc.

Can we just…not?

Nora and Ren reluctantly engage Hazel. Hazel wasn’t too thrilled to begin the fight anyways. He seems pretty chill if I’m being honest. It was a cute moment of solidarity between the two enemy parties.

Vernal, I don’t like you anymore.

Meanwhile, Weiss is categorically outmatched by Vernal. Which, wasn’t a surprise, since Vernal is perhaps one of the more powerful opponents we’ve seen on the show. She wasn’t even trying. Also, Weiss’ combat style was not a good match for this 1v1. Vernal destroy’s Weiss’ Knight Patronus and then shoots away her aura from close range.

It’s time to d-d-d-d-DUEL!!!- Yu-Gi-Oh! announcer. Conversely, ‘Let it rip!’-Beyblade.

Oscar/Ozpin confronts Lionheart, who’s a cowardly little shit about this whole thing. Before the fighting commenced, Qrow got Lionheart to confirm it was indeed him who sent most of Mistral’s Huntsmen and Huntresses to their deaths. Cinder also confirms it was Lionheart who entered her, Emerald, Neopolitan, and Mercury into the Vital Tournament of Volume 3. In other words, Lionheart needs to die, there is no redemption to be had for him. Oscar proceeds to beat the shit outta him with Ozpin’s cane.

I thought that was bullshit. But then I thought about it again. Coward or not, traitor or not, Ozpin’s Lieutenants should be able to fight off the attacks of a farm boy who’s had less than 3 months of combat training of any sort…right? But then I realized what an incompetent leader Ozpin is, and it all made sense. He’s a terrible leader who can be blamed (and I do) for Pyrrha’s death, and the Fall of Beacon. As well as the ‘Battle of Beacon’ which happened at the end of Volume 2 where Grimm attacked the city.

Jaune isn’t worthy of such a shot. Equating him to Cinder is a joke, and a bad one, where people just walked away.

Not long after this, Cinder decides to stop playing around with Jaune, and Ruby’s (extremely poorly established deus ex machina silver eyes power) eyes light up and Cinder staggers, clutching her left arm in agony.

Poorly established deus ex machina, ACTIVATE!

On a side note, the fact that Ozpin and Qrow didn’t even try to train Ruby to use this power; that Ruby didn’t ask about it at all, is a colossal writing failure. It’s a disservice to make these characters so stupid this volume.

Emerald knocks Ruby unconscious before she does Cinder any real damage. Seriously, she could have decapitated Ruby if she wanted, possibly. Since Ruby’s Aura was down, Emerald could’ve and probably should’ve done more damage. But Ruby’s got plot armor.

Plot armor is strongest and most noticeable not when characters suffer damage that should kill them, but when smart villains make extremely poor and out of character choices that save our heroes form peril. Exposing your back to the enemy is a good way to die.

But because Ruby is down for the count, she can’t stop what happens next: Cinder impales Weiss. In fairness, Jaune could have stopped it, but he chose not to. And while his semblance may save Weiss, his actions essentially let her die.

RWBY is at its worst when it focuses on the men. It always has been. It may always be.

Weiss’ severe injury SHOULD NOT have been for the development of any male character. ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ falls into this trope as well in a serious way.

I’m not upset that Cinder critically injured Weiss. Okay, I am. But that’s not why I’m livid. I’m livid because Weiss’ trauma is the sacrifice for Jaune to grow as a character. THAT SHOULD NEVER BE THE CASE. And the writers thinking this is okay? That’s problematic.

I expected better from this show. I continue to expect better from this show. Ilia and Blake’s story this season proved to me that this show is in good hands.

For now, RWBY chose to say no to the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. But I’d be remiss if I let other harmful tropes displayed this episode go by without comment.

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Nathan Levine

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

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