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RWBY Volume Nine: “Confessions Within Cumulonimbus Clouds”

It is undeniable that the biggest thing we’ll remember about RWBY Volume Nine will be what happens in this episode. It provides a lot of important details about the Ever After, the Curious Cat, Alix, and Jaune, but that all feels irrelevant compared to the fireworks going off in the episode’s midpoint. You could say the episode gave off a real buzz.

The episode begins with Jaune falling into the abyss as his friends did, seeing Crescent Rose falling by in a ball of fire for some reason. Jaune dives for it, only to later awaken in the Ever After. Wandering into the woods, he comes across a tree where pocket watches hang from it like fruit. He picks one, only for the watch to stop and begins to reverse time around Jaune. As time speeds backwards, we see Team RWBY’s arrivals in reverse, explaining why Jaune is much older than they are. In desperation, Jaune stabs the clock with his sword, choosing to wait for his friends to arrive. Some time later, he sees two blue-coloured streaks of light approaching the Ever After.

Cutting back to the present, Jaune is thrilled to see his friends, though wonders if they are real. Their hug confirms it, though they barrage him with questions, including Weiss complimenting his mature looks. That could change the dynamic of their relationship. They head out to a field, where Jaune tells them what happened to Atlas (sans his involvement in Penny’s death apparently). The girls question their actions, especially Ruby, to which Yang tries to coerce her sister not to think like General Ironwood. Jaune asks them to hurry up, pointing out an approaching storm, wishing to get to his village before it reaches them.

Jaune has become a lot more decisive, blunt, and understandably dour during his time alone. This also extends to grudges and distrust upon learning the girls were aided by the Curious Cat. Said feline pops up seconds later, enraging Jaune enough to try to attack him. Jaune flips out when they mention their destination is the tree, revealing that it is in fact the source of the “ascension” concept explained last episode. As Jaune puts it, the tree absorbs people, erases their identities, and creates new ones. Team RWBY turn to the cat for an explanation, who reassures them that ascension will not harm people from Remnant. That is until Jaune angrily asks what happened to Alix’s brother Lewis – presumably a nod to Lewis Carroll.

The Curious Cat defends his lack of info-sharing, since the girls didn’t ask about Lewis. Now how could they do that if he isn’t mentioned in Alix’s story? The storm appears overhead, transporting Ruby, Weiss, Jaune, and his steed Juniper within the “ponder-storm”, a metaphysical manifestation of a mental or emotional problem as Jaune puts it, complete with physical puns and crooked pathways. But, Blake and Yang are elsewhere, dealing with their own problems. We’ll catch up with them later.

The group travel through the wobbly crossroads, passing by looking glasses that reflect their issues. We glimpse Summer Rose’s reflection for Ruby, Weiss views a destroyed Atlas, and Jaune sees Penny. Jaune explains the truth behind Alix’s story. She and Lewis arrived, but it turns out Alix was even crueller and selfish than described in the book. Lewis, on the other hand, was kind and clever. Jaune offered to act as their guide, realising he was the Rusted Knight in a bootstrap paradoxical manner.

The group visited the Herbalist, where Alix underwent his trippy vision quest, only to become even worse, distrusting everyone, and even poisoning Jaune. Our poor boy tried to get the story back on track, despairing that couldn’t even play the role of a make believe hero. After Jaune was poisoned, Alix, Lewis, and the Curious Cat abandoned him for the tree. Jaune theorises that the cat’s role in the Ever After is to convince them to go to continue their role, or go to the tree for ascension. Lewis’ fate is unknown, whilst Alix was the only one sent home.

Meanwhile, Blake and Yang find themselves at opposite ends of some rickety bridges in the middle of the storm. Needing to reach a plinth in the middle, the two discover they manifest steps forward by being open, honest, and, well, loving with each other. This scene is just pure bliss. Everything about it is heartwarming. For many years, the Bumbleby pairing has been a favourite amongst the fanbase. It can now be said that the ship has officially set sail!

The two compliment each other – Blake praising Yang for her bravery, good-humour, and commitment to her promises; whilst Yang praises Blake for never finding her intimidating, and how she never gave up on her loved ones, even when they hurt her. This alludes to Adam Taurus, who Yang has a little in common with as an intimidating figure, though devoted herself to lightening Blake’s shadowy world. Yang tries to speed things up by asking if there’s anything big they need to share, to which Blake’s smile and raised eyebrow says it all.

Yang has a moment of doubt, pushing the two further back. This comes from Yang’s fears, having given love to others freely, but being loved in return equally is a scary prospect to her. Both girls are well aware of their feelings for each other, but Yang is unsure of leaping into the unknown, describing the sensation as like falling down a cliff. Blake, however, states that they are already falling, encouraging Yang to take the leap.

Taking a breath, Yang finds her courage and confesses her love to Blake, who instantly reciprocates it. Finding themselves together on the plinth, Blake and Yang share their first kiss, surrounded by blossoming white lilies. Joyous jubilations aside, this scene was just fantastic, beautifully animated and lit, with Casey Lee Williams providing some lovely vocals in her song “Worthy”. The scene even turns funny, when you realise even the Ever After got fed up with them beating about the bush!

Back to the others, they confront the Curious Cat, asking him what happened to Alix and Lewis. The cat confesses he doesn’t know, but details that Alix promised to take him with her through the door to Remnant. Never mentioning Alix, the cat turns the tables on Ruby and Weiss, accusing them of using him solely for information. The cat promptly makes his exit, dispersing the storm as well. The group find themselves back in the field, finding Blake and Yang snogging (Blake’s leg even popped ala The Princess Diaries).

The group go to Jaune’s village to spend the night, where Blake and Yang are all lovey-dovey. Weiss is quietly giddy, whilst Ruby seems a little bamboozled by her friends’ relationship upgrade, since she didn’t notice signs earlier in the volume. Jaune steps in with a suitcase, revealing Crescent Rose inside, having found it years ago. Rather than be thrilled, Ruby stares at it in horror, almost having a moment of PTSD, as black tendrils slither about at the edge of her vision. She snaps out of it as her teammates cheer the return of her weapon, whilst Ruby can utter a forced thanks to Jaune.

Before Jaune goes to bed, Ruby asks him what happened to Lewis. Jaune says he believes that Alix sacrificed Lewis to the tree in order to get home, writing her brother out of the story. The episode ends with Ruby growing agitated and slamming her weapon case shut. As usual, this brings up many questions. Ruby remains lost about her identity and purpose. Despite previously wishing to find Crescent Rose, she may reject it, possibly seeing it as a symbol of her failures and misguided ideals of being a huntress. The other elephant in the room is what will she do if and when she finds out who killed Penny. Her trusted weapon could become one of vengeance and rage, or she even winds up like Alix, distrusting everyone around her.

Then, we have Alix and Lewis. The latter character was introduced rather abruptly, but it makes sense in context, as he does not exist in Alix’s story. Alix’s distrust and determination to get home could have led her to sacrifice Lewis to the tree. In terms of identity, Lewis could have become Juniper, or even the Curious Cat via some time travel shenanigans. No doubt we will learn the truth. This was probably the best episode of the volume so far for obvious reasons, but it presented fulfilling answers, and more troubles ahead for our heroes.

Now, please excuse me whilst I gush until the next episode.

What are your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? Are your thrilled by Bumbleby finally being canon? What or who do you think Lewis has become? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell