RWBY V5 Ch. 12: ‘The Vault of the Spring Maiden’
This episode held quite the reveal. Vernal is not, nor ever was the Spring Maiden. Because her name was a red herring. It’s Raven.
But before we move to the end of this episode, I think it’s important to look at the beginning. Oscar smacks Lionheart around a bit, and Hazel takes issue with that. When the host goes to check on Ruby, Lionheart brings to Hazel’s attention that the little boy is actually Professor Ozpin.
A mild and rage-filled strip tease ensues.
We learn that Hazel wants Ozpin dead. Like, holy shit. I don’t think anybody wants Ozpin dead as much as Hazel does.
Since I don’t like Ozpin or even particularly want him to survive, I enjoyed Hazel hulking out, stabbing himself with dust crystals, and going into a berserker rage.
Hazel’s reason for hating Ozpin is simple. Ozpin sent Hazel’s sister on a training mission (i.e. a mission that really isn’t supposed to have casualties, opposed to normal missions in which Lionheart feeds Huntresses to the Grimm) and “she tragically lost her life”. “She tragically lost her life”. Probably brutally. It happened on Ozpin’s watch. I mean, he says “she tragically lost her life” the way you or I would say, “It tragically rained today and I had to use my umbrella for a couple minutes.” It’s clear he didn’t care, or at least, dismisses the girl’s death. Also, ‘lost her life’ is a great way to blame the victim. But it seems Ozpin chose his new host well, since Oscar is a victim blamer too.
Oscar, who is currently piloting his own body (an increasing rarity), lays all the blame on Gretchen. (Because Hazel and Gretchen are Hansel and Gretel.) Defending Ozpin is something people have done in this Volume when they really have no reason to do it. Yang and Weiss not believing any of Raven’s honest words in the tent scene comes to mind. Blaming the dead teenager for getting in over her head vs addressing the fact she probably shouldn’t have been sent on that mission…and just like that, any sympathy I had for Oscar/Ozpin has evaporated like breath on a mirror.
Like, have Nora, Jaune, and Ren been told that Ozpin and Qrow isolated Pyrrha in Volume 3? They made her swear to not mention the Maidens to anybody. Ensuring she was alone and without counsel when trying to make the biggest choice of her life?
Had Pyrrha even ever heard the name Salem? You know, before she signed on to being a targeted for the rest of her life; those she loves being targeted for the rest of theirs for leverage. It may just be me, but if I was going to drag a student of mine into a war, I’d tell her there was a war going on in the first place first. Ozpin has a TERRIBLE history of keeping children safe, regardless of their own savior complexes. He makes Albus Dumbledore look good it this category…that’s a bad thing.
RWBY is trying to present Ozpin as a protagonist. I’m not buying it. He may mean well, but his track record of getting children killed (or being responsible for children when they are killed by other belligerents) is quite stark. He also non-consentually takes over Oscar Pine’s body for the first time in this episode. As somebody who holds personal bodily autonomy as paramount, this was f**king disturbing. Though I doubt it’ll be addresed in the show.
On a side note: now we have some insight into why Raven possibly had such stringent rules, specifically about only saving Yang once, “because that’s [her] rule.” Even if Raven left Yang with her Raven’s baby daddy and his new girlfriend Summer Rose (probably her best friend) before she was a Maiden, becoming a Maiden meant that affection had to be scarce. Otherwise Yang would become a target. And even though Raven may lose all the best mom awards, the fact that her semblance works for Yang means she deeply cares about her daughter.
While the strongest adult on team ‘good guys’ is being rag-dolled, Jaune goes over to Weiss and activates his semblance. In the fandom, most people figured out his ability would be able to do something relating to healing. However, Calxiyn on YouTube got closest: “Aura splicing”. Also the big reveal about Cinder’s new arm.
Jaune’s ability is to recharge people’s Auras, thereby allowing them to rapid heal themselves.
Weiss will live! But holy hell am I annoyed with how they got to this aspect of the plot. Weiss being hurt/Jaune’s semblance has no real effect on the battle, since Hazel is a beast, and needs multiple people to take him down anyway. The last we see of Weiss this episode is her gulping down a big breath of air.
TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT
Cinder, Vernal, and Raven decide now’s as good a time as any and have Lionheart use his (Ozpin motif) pocket watch to trigger the elevator.
Cinder flirts with Vernal the whole ride down. Raven looks like an awkward chaperone and it’s great. Until Cinder flirts with her a little. It didn’t improve Raven’s mood.
Vernal bristles at Cinder’s excitement. She parrots almost exactly the spiel Raven gave Qrow last Volume about ‘tribe and family’.
Cinder turns her attention to Raven, saying that, “you conditioned her quite well, Raven.”
The Vault comes into view, and it looks glorious, in a way that says ‘silence is confidence’. Cinder remarks that it’s more dramatic than Beacon’s catacomb.
Cinder says that Vernal must put her hand on the door, for only the Spring Maiden can open the Vault to reclaim the Relic.
Vernal walks up to the vault slowly, almost hesitantly. Raven’s hand itches toward her sword, but Cinder addresses her, halting her slow draw. Cinder remarks that many people have said things about Raven. That she was smart, and strong. Cinder then says, “It’s a shame that they were wrong.”
She uses her power to encase Raven in glass. (I thought it was ice dust, but upon closer inspection, it visually differs from similar uses of ice dust. Also, glass is Cinder’s thing: Cinderella and the Glass Slipper.) Raven shouts, “VERNAL!” in the most desperate and emotion-laced syllable we’ve heard from her.
Also, it’s the first time we’ve ever seen someone get the better of her like this.
But it’s too late. Cinder has sunk the claws of her Grimm arm into Vernal’s abdomen as she turned at Raven’s shout. Cinder isn’t just brutally killing a shrieking Vernal, she’s trying to absorb the Spring Maiden’s power, the same she did to the former Fall Maiden.
Cinder waxes poetic about it not being personal, but says that Vernal doesn’t deserve the powers of the Spring Maiden, Cinder does.
While this is happening, Cinder forces Raven to watch as her only confidant writhes on the ground as Cinder digs her fingers further into Vernal’s abdomen. There is visible blood (a rarity on this show. Now twice in one episode.). This is the darkest moment of the show, easily. Sienna Khan’s death and Penny’s death come close, Weiss’ injury was dark too, but this is up close and personal. It’s intimate. It’s utterly disturbing.
I’d go as far as to call it sexual. As Cinder digs further into Vernal, she says, “I will take what is mine.” The nature of this murder is disturbing. I’m not sure if the writers intended the rape parallel. But it is absolutely there, and it’s hardly subtext considering Cinder’s flirtatious and light tone not two minutes earlier.
And Cinder is making Raven watch.
Very much viewer discretion advised. It may not carry the double meaning for young kids, but this is not a kid’s show anymore.
It can’t even pretend after this.
Vernal’s attempts to fight off Cinder fail as she lets out a breath and her hands drop to the bloodstained ground. Cinder falters, for the first time exuding less than confidence.
“Where is it? Where’s the power?”
The glass shatters as Raven straightens her posture, trembling with hatred.
“You won’t find it. Because Vernal isn’t the Spring Maiden…I AM!”
Two maidens are about to fight to the death if the writers let them…I’m on Team Raven.
Please avenge this girl.