Tensions run high for Team RWBY in the eleventh episode of Volume Eight. As the title indicates, risks are being taken by the characters in their war to save Atlas. But, distrust and division have torn apart friendships and alliances. In the last episode, General Ironwood crossed the moral event horizon by threatening to nuke Mantle unless Penny fulfils her duty as the Winter Maiden. If she does comply, Mantle will be left to fend for itself. Either way, the old kingdom faces annihilation. With only one hour left to decide Atlas’ fate, Team RWBY are left in a corner, unable to make a decision.
The episode begins with Ironwood and Winter, following Ironwood’s announcement, which all of Atlas heard. Winter appears to have been let off for her act of treachery, as we never see Ironwood reprimand or punish. This is presumably because Monstra was destroyed, allowing the payload bomb to be repurposed. The Ace Ops have mixed opinions about Ironwood’s plan, assuming he is bluffing. When he admits he intends on destroying Mantle, Marrow finally snaps and calls out his comrades for their ruthlessness, comparing blind loyalty to Ironwood to wearing a collar. A rather relatable comparison, considering Marrow is a dog Faunus, and was treated with disrespect by the other Ace Ops.
The other three have their own views. Vine suggests that Ironwood’s deadline may convince Team RWBY to see “reason”, Elm is more on the fence but comes to agree with Vine, whilst Harriet is still a colossal butthead. Just as Ironwood is about to re-enact the ending of Old Yeller, Winter punches Marrow and puts him in handcuffs. She drags the “traitor” off to put him in the brig, though it is obvious Winter did this to save Marrow’s life, and no doubt makes moves to defect from Ironwood’s side. The other Ace Ops members are particularly disturbed by this turn of events, Elm in particular looking unsure of who to follow.
Things aren’t much better for Team RWBY, with the clock ticking down before Ironwood drops the bomb. Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, Oscar, and an observing Emerald discuss what they should do. Backed into a corner, the group seems lost for options. Emerald is particularly unimpressed with the lack of motivation and planning, though her snide comments only make things worse. Ruby is particularly frustrated by this, concluding that they are right back where they started, with discord amongst the group when the volume began. She runs out, followed by Yang.
It feels odd that Team RWBY are making the choice, when it should be up to Penny to make the call. Penny has been denied a lot of agency in the volume, often by other characters, including Pietro, Ironwood, Watts, and even Ruby. The virus has been pushing her into obeying commands against her will, and she has been struggling to decide what her own purpose is in the world: Protector of Mantle, or the Winter Maiden.
Upstairs, Team JNPR have reunited, but things are just as tense. Jaune is unable to erase Nora’s new scars. She angrily calls out Ren for pushing his teammates away, prompting him to confess he was in the wrong. Ren reasons his bad attitude was due to his own frustrations, fear of failure, and not being as strong as the Ace Ops. He apologises, his biggest failure being how he hurt Nora. Jaune takes this as his cue to awkwardly exit, leaving Ren and Nora to talk about their relationship. Nora begins to criticize herself, but Ren expresses how kind, caring, and supportive she is, finally telling her (with some difficulty) that he loves her.
Nora, though moved, turns away. She explains that when her mother abandoned her, Ren found her, and they became the dynamic duo we know and love. But, when alone, Nora is unsure of just who she is, and intends on finding out on her own. Ren, being the best boyfriend ever, agrees to support her, and boops her on the nose as she once did to him back in Volume One (as boop means love!)
Qrow and Robyn locate their weaponry and stalk the halls of Atlas Academy in search of Ironwood. Qrow is adamant on slaying Ironwood to avenge Clover, but Robyn reasons that the situation is bigger than both of them. She tells Qrow that he is the better Huntsman compared to Clover; he was doing the right things for the right reasons, whilst Clover just blindly followed orders without ever questioning them or considering other options. Just then, the elevator doors open behind them, though we do not see who is inside, but they are enough for Qrow and Robyn to lower their weapons. Presumably, it is Winter and Marrow.
Yang catches up with Ruby, discussing the true nature of the Hound, revealed to be a silver-eyed Faunus. Although Yang tells Ruby not to worry about it, Ruby contemplates that the same thing happened to Summer Rose. Salem discovered she could use the silver eyed warriors as weapons upon meeting Summer, explaining why she wanted Ruby to be kept alive. This revelation reduces Yang to tears. Ruby curses herself for her supposed childish optimism, believing the use of Amity failed. Yang encourages Ruby not to lose hope, acknowledging they took risks that didn’t play out how they wanted, as did Summer Rose when she left hope to stop Salem.
Jaune suddenly dashes down the stairs, revealing Penny woke up and leapt out the window to fulfil the virus’ commands. Ruby grabs Penny before she can take off, everyone working together to stop Penny from flying off, Weiss using her gravity glyphs to hold her down. Penny activates her Maiden powers, though Emerald chains her down with her weapons, telling Jaune to amplify Weiss’ aura to keep Penny down. Penny tells Ruby to kill her, as it will pass on the Winter Maiden’s magic to her.
Nora tells Penny that she has been resisting the virus, as there is more to her than just being a robot. Ruby gets an idea, telling Jaune to boost Penny’s aura to temporarily suppress the virus. It works, and everyone has a big group hug. Emerald speaks up, stumbling her way through a motivational speech, expressing how she would be gutted if Team RWBY gave up just as she switched sides, much to Oscar and Yang’s amusement.
Speaking of Oscar, he requests that Professor Ozpin address the team for the first time since bailing on them two volumes ago. Ozpin uses an old fairy tale as an allegory to apologise for running away from his allies after the truth of his past was revealed. He failed to take a risk and trust others. Or as Weiss puts it, trust is a risk. Ozpin hopes Ruby and co. will take a risk by trusting him again, which they confirm. Penny’s virus still fights within her, and with the clock ticking, Nora states the only option is to take Penny to the Vault. Ruby has a flash of inspiration, concluding that going to the Vault is a risk no one considered.
The episode concludes with Ruby calling Ironwood, telling him that Penny will come to the Vault. Cinder and Watts overhear the conversation by hacking an Atlesian sentinel, learning Ironwood wants Penny to come to Atlas Academy alone. Neo arrives, earning a confident smile from Cinder. The final moves of this chess game are about to occur, with the Relic of Creation up for grabs. The finale of Volume Eight is at hand, and it is probably going to be quite the ride.
What were your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? Which character interactions did you enjoy? Who will win the Relic of Creation? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed!