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RWBY: Hope Rises and Falls in “Amity”

Before we begin this episode’s review, it should be mentioned that RWBY’s eighth volume will have a mid-season break after episode seven airs. This is due to the impact of Covid-19, and the slower production rollout due to Rooster Teeth’s staff having to work from home. This makes perfect sense, giving the animators more time to finish the volume. The season shall continue starting February 6th, 2021.

In some ways, “Amity” feels like a mid-season finale. Goals set up in Volume 7 pay off now, the villains get a damn good thrashing, and we even end with a couple of cliffhangers that set up the next plot beats.

The episode focuses entirely on the launch of Amity Tower, as General Ironwood and Watts’ plan to take control of Penny. Penny, Pietro, and Maria are getting ready to take Amity up into the atmosphere, using the Dust mines beneath to act as a booster for the colosseum. It is great that Maria is getting some screentime, having played a background role in Volume 7. She is helping out using an advanced Paladin mech. Penny suggests she stays on the ground to help her friends, but a protective Pietro wants her to stay close.

Just as the countdown for launch ends, an explosion occurs, as Cinder, Emerald, and Neo arrive to kick some ass. Everyone is pinned down as the colosseum is blasted into the sky. With Amity reaching a higher altitude, gravity returns, and everyone gets into a brawl. Maria defends Penny, nearly making an Aliens reference, when Neo rams her ship into Maria’s mech. Emerald uses her illusion Semblance to cloak Neo’s ship, letting her disable the mech. Luckily, Maria proves she is still a fantastic, sprightly Huntress, her scythe hidden within her cane. Neo and Maria have the coolest fight in the episode.

Cinder puts up a good offensive against Penny as they fly around Amity, causing damage to the colosseum. Clueing in, Cinder starts sabotaging Amity and melting the support beams. Penny asks Cinder why she serves someone as evil as Salem, but Cinder claims she serves no one, claiming Penny would do the same if she was not created to do so. This seems a little contradictory to her grovelling towards Salem last episode (“Without you, I am nothing.”) Cinder may be projecting upon Penny, since the robot girl actually has an ability to choose who she fights for. Cinder never targets Pietro either, though this is because she does not view Penny as a person, so has no acknowledgement for her relationship with her dad.

Penny tries to freeze the support beams, but Cinder takes advantage, attempting to siphon the Winter Maiden powers with her Grimm arm. Penny is able to stop Cinder, takes out Neo, and is even able to counter Emerald’s Semblance. Penny summons storm clouds, and combined with her energy blaster, annihilates Cinder right into the wall, knocking her out. Emerald shoots her pistol at Penny, but misses her and Pietro. Penny allows the crying Emerald to flee with Cinder and Neo. Once again, Cinder never learns, and will have to face the consequences of her own continued arrogance. Whether or not they return straight to Salem, or go elsewhere, is up in the air.

Speaking of which, Amity is starting to drift thanks to Cinder’s rampage, and may crash. Penny suggests using her powers to push Amity back up into the broadcasting zone. Pietro objects, wanting Penny to live her life, to which she responds that she is trying to. Pietro agrees, as Penny flies out to save the day. After brief admiration of Atlas and the moon, she lifts Amity into the aether. As soon as the colosseum reaches broadcasting level, Pietro hits the play button to start a video broadcast from Ruby, which is televised to the entire world.

Although Ruby fumbles a little, her speech is full of the expected optimistic hope she forever believes in. She gives the lowdown on what is happening to Remnant. However, when Ruby brings up Ironwood’s treachery, the general promptly moves to hijack Penny.

As Ruby goes on, we see a boatload of familiar faces are watching: All of our heroes, Sun and Neptune in Vacuo, Illia Amitola (who receives a phone call from Blake’s dad Ghira), Taiyang and Zwei, Jaune’s family, and most delightfully of all, the return of Glynda Goodwitch and the Shopkeeper from Vale! Vale doesn’t seem all that bad, if the shopkeeper’s Dust business is still around. It’s a nice call back to Volume 1, since RWBY began in this shop. Whitley is shown watching the broadcast, though not from his room, but rather his father’s office. This is some clever, symbolic wordplay – he still is the heir of the Schnee family. Salem is watching too, but seems quite pleased with her identity being revealed to the world.

Ironwood presses Watts to finish up his plans. Watts had swapped out a microchip in Penny’s stolen sword, which operates on the same signal as Penny and Amity’s broadcast. Penny starts to lose control as her eyes flash red, caught in a battle for control. She ends up falling, cutting off Ruby’s message. Taiyang watches this in horror. Hopefully, his ex-wife Raven is around to offer a free portal ride straight to their children. Pietro can do nothing as Penny malfunctions, plummeting down to Atlas in a fireball, telling her father that she loves him.

Ironwood is baffled, asking Watts what he did. Watts is confident that Penny is merely rebooting, though Ironwood angrily throws his scroll at Watts. Winter, sporting new armour, is instructed to locate Penny with the Ace Ops. As the troops file out, Watts grabs Ironwood’s discarded scroll, beginning his path to throw a wrench into Ironwood’s plans.

In a final scene, Yang, Jaune, and Ren, who saw the broadcast, hear a loud crack. They run outside, discovering a black and blood red river emerge from beneath the ice. It is a river of Grimm, on a route straight for Mantle. What a grim sight. Rivers follow their routes down to the lowest point, which is the crater beneath Atlas, right where the Mantle refugees are staying.

Penny is likely still alive, but now under the thrall of Watts. She did cry out about needing to secure the Atlas Vault when being hacked, so she could end up as a very, well, robotic character, only following orders. This would cruelly rob Penny of her growing humanity. Whether or not Pietro would need to use the last of his aura to restore her is unknown. That would depend on if he and Maria can survive Amity, should it fall out of orbit.

Another question is who will come to aid Atlas? It would take half of the cast at least a couple of days to reach Atlas, depending on weather conditions and any Grimm encounters. Taiyang and Raven would logically get there first using the latter’s portal Semblance, if Raven is even around. Commander Cordovin, head of Argus’ military outpost, could realistically reach Atlas, but may not, since Ruby insults Ironwood.

What are your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? What fate awaits Penny, Cinder, and Atlas as a whole? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed!

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Mark Russell

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