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RWBY: “The Final Word” is the Eighth Volume’s Devastating Finale

We come to it at last, as the finale of RWBY Volume Eight comes to an end. It has been a long road for the volume, the FNDM, and most importantly, the talented folks at Rooster Teeth. The past year has been one hurdle after another for the CRWBY, forced to work from home due to Covid-19, and then left without power when Texas froze over a month ago. As such, the volume was split in half with a two-month hiatus to give the animators time to complete production. The results have truly been special. RWBY has come a long way in terms of its storytelling and worldbuilding. Volume Eight is the series at its best, particularly in the animation department.

The CRWBY should be praised and applauded for their commitment to the series, even in the most difficult of circumstances. The showrunners and writers, Miles Luna, Kerry Shawcross, Eddy Rivas, and Kiersi Burkhart, have done a phenomenal job guiding RWBY and have done wonderfully keeping Monty Oum’s creation going.

As such, “The Final World” is a devastating blitzkrieg of cliffhangers and tragedy. That might be overstating the tension in the episode, but it rivals the fallout of Volume Three’s finale. As Penny said a volume ago, “It’ll be just like Beacon again!”

In the previous episode, the Atlas evacuation went to hell when Cinder attacked Team RWBY. Yang ended up falling off the paths and fell into the abyss to an unknown fate. There is not doubt that she, and the other characters who follow, will survive the fall. Where they will end up is another mystery.

Winter and General Ironwood have their battle in the Vault, both protecting Atlas in their own ways. Ironwood complains that he has sacrificed so much for the sake of Remnant, but no one has appreciated his efforts. Winter retaliates, blaming him for all that has happened, including shutting down Atlas’ borders and pushing Mantle to the brink. Ironwood does come off as an irredeemable monster, but is really a tragic villain. Compare him to Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, as a hero pushed to the brink until he becomes the villain.

Ironwood’s long-term paranoia, need for obedience, loyalty, and control, have been present since his debut back in Volume Two. A chain of events have slowly lead to Ironwood’s tragic fall, including his own decisions. It is a shame he was denied a redeeming moment, but not every hero deserves one.

Qrow tries to stop Harriet from deploying the bomb, though she won’t hear his explanations about Clover’s death. Robyn’s ship flies behind, with Vine and Elm catching Harriet’s. Elm asks her not to go through with it, unwilling to lose another friend to questionable orders. It seems Clover’s lucky charm saves the day, stopping the payload before it falls off the ship. However, Watts then remote activates the bomb’s countdown.

Vine boards Harriet’s ship, tossing her out to Elm, making the decision to sacrifice himself to stop the bomb. Vine has been an undeveloped character, but his sense of calm rational shines through in his final moments. Using his semblance, Vine wraps it around the whole ship like a barrier, containing the bomb’s blast, dying a hero.

Of course, the big battle is between Team RWBY, Team JNPR, and Penny versus Cinder and Neo. Jaune and Nora prioritise evacuating the civilians. Jaune sends Nora through the Vacuo portal for reinforcements, unaware it is a one-way exit. Penny decides to act as bait, knowing Cinder wants her powers. Cinder’s response pretty much sums up her entire character: “I want it all!”

Neo is on the warpath to avenge Roman Torchwick, disarming Ruby, casting Crescent Rose into the abyss. Ruby then asks the odd question of “Whatever you wanted, I hope it was worth it.” You would think she could figure out Neo wants to avenge Roman, believing Ruby murdered him. The hat gives it away. Perhaps if Neo had tossed the hat at Ruby’s feet, it may have cleared things up. But, Ruby’s question is a trick, as she flips under the platform to blindside Neo. Cinder then blasts Ruby off, leaving her clinging to Neo’s legs.

Cinder, in typical fashion, betrays Neo, claims both Relics, and knocks Neo off the platform. Ruby is nearly saved by Blake, but Cinder sends both girls tumbling into the unknown. Weiss attacks Cinder using Gambol Shroud, but her broken aura is no match for the Fall Maiden. Jaune and Penny join the fray, only for Cinder’s Grimm arm to go crazy, confirming Salem’s resurrection. Running out of time, Cinder cuts off Penny with flames and then impales her with her Grimm claw, appearing to absorb her Maiden powers. However, this can only succeed if the Maiden is entirely dead, as in Amber’s case.

Unwilling to let Cinder claim her magic, Penny asks Jaune to help her in what can best be described as an assisted suicide. Cinder gains the upper hand on Weiss, only to freeze when Jaune lets out a horrified cry. Judging by the tears and blood, Jaune fulfilled Penny’s request. We cut to a white void where Penny meets Winter, passing on her Maiden powers to her friends. It is a bittersweet end for Penny, but she ended her journey of self-discovery by making a human choice to help another.

Winter awakens before Ironwood, who claims the decision he made for her has occurred. Winter denies this, asserting that her new status was a gift from Penny. She promptly wipes the floor with Ironwood, before flying through the portal to confront Cinder. Cinder fights Jaune, shattering his sword Crocea Mors, his family heirloom. Cinder and Winter have a wild Maiden duel, dropping the Relic of Creation. Cinder then targets Weiss and Jaune, causing Weiss to fall off the bridges after her teammates. Winter is too slow to save her.

Armed with two Relics, Cinder makes her escape, causing Ambrosius’ portals to begin collapsing. Winter makes it through the portal, but the path vanishes, sending Jaune falling into the abyss. Winter arrives in Vacuo, glancing tearfully at her family, before attacking the swarm of Grimm. It should be noted when the portals vanished, all physical objects still in the dimension fell, including Penny’s body. Imagine what will happen if and when Ruby and co. find it.

In the Vault, Ironwood awakens to find Cinder with both Relics in hand. Salem appears, Cinder grovelling to her. In what maybe the biggest gamble of her life, Cinder outright lies to her master. She claims that Team RWBY used Jinn’s last question, and Neo killed Ruby. Salem, though appearing sceptical, congratulates Cinder. The two ladies make their exit as Ironwood tries to aim his pistol at them. Salem asks Cinder what she used the Relic to create. We cut to the Atlesian command centre, revealing Arthur Watts is trapped inside, slowly being consumed by flames. It makes sense for Cinder to eliminate Watts, even if he still had his uses.

Before leaving, Cinder turns to Ironwood, commenting with, “And that’s checkmate.” This is a dark call back to when she left a chess piece in Ironwood’s office, pushing him over the edge. Realising his efforts were for nothing, Ironwood collapses. Just like a captain going down with his ship, General Ironwood goes down with his kingdom. Atlas falls from the sky, crushing Mantle beneath it. A torrent of water soon floods the whole crater, soon to freeze it solid. Salem and Cinder fly away victoriously, as Qrow, Robyn, and the Ace Ops watch on in horror.

That is where Volume Eight comes to an end. But, there is a brief post-credits scene, revealing Crescent Rose has landed in a tropical location, under an enormous tree. Did the characters fall through the world and wind up in Remnant, or have they landed in a new realm?

We have lost several characters along the way, sacrifices have been made, and journeys have reached their end. But, from endings come new beginnings. Wherever Team RWBY, Jaune, and Neo wound up, new adventures and dangers await. Where did they go? How will they escape? Who will claim the Relic of Destruction? We will just have to begin our long wait for RWBY Volume Nine.

What were your thought of the season finale? Are you looking forward to RWBY’s ninth volume? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed!

About the author

Mark Russell