Strange things are happening to Team RWBY as their journey through the Ever After continues. The first episode of Volume 9 plonked the girls in a bizarre Wonderland-inspired world that appears to be a fairy tale. Episode two picks up when the last ended, with the team trying to make sense of where they are. Ruby, unusually apathetic, scoffs at the idea, until the others point out Little. Weiss tries to enforce logic to their situation, until Yang reveals her arm was stolen by Jinxy, a talking raccoon who drives a purple, trash-filled wagon. Weiss provides a lot of comedy in the episode, which she hasn’t done much since the earlier volumes.
Blake realises they are in the Ever After, the setting for the fairy tale “The Girl Who Fell Through the World”. The events they have endured so far mirror those that the story’s protagonist Alix went through. Yang lists other moments – beating the Red King at a board game, meeting the Curious Cat, a rusted knight, before escaping via the giant tree. Little suggests the Jinxy may also have Crescent Rose, so the group set off to a nearby village to find him.
Being a bookworm, Blake cautions the girls that they should avoid repeating Alix’s actions as in the book. Yang and Weiss both criticize the character, describing fairy tale morals as too simplistic. Such rules may apply within the Ever After. Yang recalls how Jinxy stole her arm after she crash-landed in the world – a fact which Blake finds hilariously, even taking the time to flirt a little with Yang via witty banter. They even get close to holding hands. “Bumbleby” (i.e. Blake and Yang’s blossoming romance) will hopefully soon pay off.
Unfortunately, Ruby doesn’t notice this development, caught up in her own failures. She promises Weiss that they will get home, but it dawns on Weiss that she doesn’t have anything to go back to aside from her family. Atlas is gone, as is everything associated with it in a physical and cultural sense. As Weiss points out, Team RWBY’s hasty plan to evacuate any entire kingdom without proper organization had its flaws, not to mention they don’t know the outcome. Although Weiss tries to steer the conversation towards Penny, neither she nor Ruby are ready to talk about it.
The team come to a rickety bridge that crosses to the next “acre” as Little calls it. Ruby suggests Little returns home, but the mouse admits she wouldn’t know how to go back, concluding she might just have to start a new life by building a house. Little has no idea about architecture, which ties in to her lack of a purpose yet, which seems to tie directly in to a person’s name and characteristics in the Ever After. A frustrated Weiss invites Little to join the team.
They venture into the new acre, where everything is red. The village is home to sentient board game pieces, whilst posters announce it is the Red King’s royal birthday. They soon find Jinxy’s wagon and talk strategy. Whilst Yang wants to rough up the raccoon, Blake says that they may have to barter with Jinxy to win Yang’s arm. Jinxy is a charismatic wheeler dealer who offers rare items, Blake noting they are likely just junk disguised as valuables to dupe his buyers. She also points out Jinxy looks older than described in the book, hinting that some time has passed since Alix traversed the land. The three items on auction are a pink, diamond-encrusted rabbit, a golden sceptre resembling Yang’s arm, and a jade green marionette, which Ruby is drawn to.
The method of payment is based on emotions and memories, Blake explaining that Alix bought her stolen dagger in exchange for her happiest and saddest memories. Jinxy quickly sells the rabbit to a random bystander for a hug. Little agrees that hugs are very powerful, hugging Ruby’s hair. An enthusiastic Yang throws her lot in for her arm, opposite one of the Red King’s toy soldiers. But, Jinxy says the price is “knowing what it is to feel loved”, which shocks Yang. This ties in to her romance with Blake, but also her lack of love from other places, such as her mother Raven. Yang will likely have to acknowledge her feelings towards Blake. Yang’s hesitation to give up such a sensation causes her arm to be sold to the soldier.
Ruby requests the jade marionette, until Jinxy pulls out a glass jar and asks her to fill it with hope. Ruby immediately lowers her arm, Jinxy guessing she doesn’t have enough hope anymore. This confirms that Ruby has lost her sense of hope, which has slowly been chipped away across eight volumes. The crushing loss of Penny, the fall of Atlas, and the increasing sense of loss and despair she and her friends have felt are taking their toll, as seen throughout this episode. Normally, Ruby would at least be marvelled by the Ever After, but here, she is despondent and curt.
Luckily, an opportunistic Little, who pointed out that Jinxy steals from her village, steals the marionette in turn. From Little’s perspective, the raccoon takes things when no one is looking, which she regards as fair, so she does the same. Jinxy catches Little, telling her not to touch the marionette, as its magic will wear off unless his transactions are complete. Sure enough, his magic reveals that the marionette is one of Penny’s blades, whilst the sceptre and rabbit are actually Yang’s arm and another mouse, who couldn’t care less about being an inanimate object.
As the crowd threatens to riot, Yang gets into a fight with the soldier for her arm, much to Blake’s horror. Ruby retrieves Penny’s sword with help from Little. Though she is devastated to find the blade, Ruby gives Little a thankful smile. As the Ever After appears to tie into Ruby’s emotions and psyche, it is possible that Little may personify her lingering hope.
The girls then make their escape into the woods; Yang enthusiastic to have her arm back, Blake panicking that the will mess things up like Alix, while Weiss wants to reinforce logic to speed things up. Ruby follows, giving the team pause as it starts to rain again. Weiss tries to head for the tree, but gets stuck in a spatial loop like Ruby did last episode. She angrily tries throwing a rock at the tree, only for it to loop around and hit in the head.
The toy soldiers show up on hobby horses, planning to arrest the team and take them to the castle. Ruby announces that they wish to go to the Red King’s birthday party, offering Penny’s sword as a gift. In a moving eulogy, Ruby describes her dear friend as a great warrior, who was “touched by magic, took a message of hope to the stars, and saw the world through better eyes”. The soldiers are reduced to tears, agreeing to take Team RWBY to the castle.
Ruby decides to follow the path they have been given, muttering that they need to stop pretending that they know what they are doing. This bitter statement seems more aimed at herself rather than her friends. This slow burn towards Ruby’s breakdown is going to be painful to watch. I feel a bit bad previously complaining that Ruby wasn’t suffering enough. The question is what will become of Ruby in this volume, will she regain newfound hope, or be rewritten as hinted at in the trailers.
Team RWBY appear to be on a set path, re-enacting the fairy tale, likely to undergo personal transformations. If this is the case, have Jaune and Neo gone on the same journey, or have they been “adapted” into the story to take on roles within the fairy tale.
What are your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? Do you think Ruby will regain her hope, or find something new? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed.
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