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RWBY Volume Nine: “Rude, Red and Royal”

The journey through the Ever After continues to be unpredictable, perilous, and a little misfocused. Team RWBY found one of Penny’s blades in the previous episode, surrendering it to the guards of the Red King as a birthday gift. The girls continue to question whether or not to follow Alyx’s path, with the increasingly jaded Ruby reluctant to play the role.

They reach the Crimson Castle, where they are presented to the Red Prince, an obnoxious, bratty half-pint who manages to be comically threatening. Turns out that the king is presumably dead, with one guard openly blaming the girls for being human – something which the Red Prince doesn’t catch until later on. The guards present the prince with Penny’s sword, but he immediately chucks it away due to it being green, then has the gift givers beheaded offscreen. Ruby is stopped from retrieving Penny’s sword. Hopefully, it will not become a forgotten plot point.

Believing they need the Prince’s help to reach the tree, Ruby pulls out some of her old charm, suggesting they play a game. The game certainly teases the potential for Ruby to hone her non-combat skills in strategy, especially since she plays games as a hobby. The Prince challenges Ruby to a variant of chess, navigating her white pieces across to his side of the board, but must “dispose” of those in the way. Of course, the Prince has the game rigged as the white pieces don’t put up much of a fight.

The arrogantly puny prince then shrinks Weiss, Blake, and Yang down in size to act as spare pieces for Ruby. There are some fun little details here, like Yang punching herself in the face when she is shrunk, or Blake landing like a cat. Ruby starts to lose the game until her friends step in to wipe the floor with the Prince’s pieces. During this, the Prince interrogates Ruby about her motivations, until it becomes obvious to him that they are humans. His face and façade cracking, the Prince sicks both red and white pieces on the team.

What follows is a great, creative and fun fight scene accompanied by a jazzy number by Casey Lee Williams. Ruby has a brief moment of despair, but refuses to lose another battle, motivating her teammates to up their game. Weiss uses her glyphs to sprout Nevermore wings, as she and Blake launch a sword-wielding Yang at the pieces to win the game. The Prince angrily flips the table, ordering his guards to execute the girls. That is until the Curious Cat materialises, with the distinctive voice of Robbie Daymond. The cat soothes the prince’s temper, instead convincing him to spare them, leading instead to their exile.

As the Prince throws a colossal tantrum, Ruby tries to push forward their deal. The cat tells her that “Promises are like birds. They taste great but always escape.” The cat leads Team RWBY on a topsy turvy escape through the castle, until they reach a hidey hole. The Curious Cat comments that how things change, alluding to the changes that the characters must undergo in order to leave the Ever After.

In a flash of light, Team RWBY are transported outside, though Weiss, Blake, and Yang remain small, complaining that they are stuck in the fairy tale’s sequel. The cat asks what they are, but quickly grows bored when Ruby tries to give a logical answer. Realising that the cat is their ticket to continuing their journey, Ruby gives chase when he runs off.

That is not the end of the episode though. We catch up with the Jabberwander runs across a very ornate bridge between two realms that seem to reference the Two Brothers, the gods that made Remnant. It enters the ruins of a settlement, saying it must “fix” either itself or the area. Just then, Neo crash-lands in the Ever After. The Jabberwander approaches, but Neo discovers her semblance works different in the Ever After, creating obedient clones of herself, which she sends to attack the panicking Jabberwander. It is unusual why Neo’s semblance would work differently, but likely means she will become the biggest threat in this volume.

The episode delves back into the jaunty fun and choreographed fights that the show is known for. However, it cannot rely on the action alone. The episode was the perfect opportunity for Ruby to begin to deal with how she feels, as well as focus on other skills beyond her combat skills. The Red Prince ends up eclipsing Ruby completely, being less lead strategist and more of a cheerleader whilst her friends fight.

Past volumes demonstrated that whilst over-reliant on Crescent Rose, Ruby still could utilise her wits and semblance in battle. Volume Five had Ruby learning some hand-to-hand combat from Ozpin. Her sense of helplessness relates to her grief and loss of hope. One too many losses, betrayals, and a lack of morality in others can have an impact on even the most virtuous of heroes. It is likely that Ruby Rose will undergo a change as the Curious Cat implies, for better or for worse.

There is also the notable presence of butterflies in the episode, which have wing patterns matching those of playing cards. Butterflies tend to be symbolic with change, transformations, and dreams. Who knows what transformations await for Team RWBY in episodes to come. Neo will likely tie into that theme of change, but hers may become a threat or a blessing to the Ever After.

From what has been seen and said, humans only bring disaster to the fairy tale world, as described by Alyx’s actions. So far, Team RWBY have upset two separate factions, and may have to face the consequences of their choices. They are both bound and unbound by Alyx’s story, trying to defy and overcome the mistakes that she made, whilst making their own.

What are your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? What changes will Neo bring to the Ever After? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell