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RWBY Volume Nine: “The Parfait Predicament”

We are halfway through RWBY Volume Nine already. Whilst the volume has been a little unbalanced with its tone and pacing, the deeper story at play has been very good, continuing onto into the fifth episode. One of the most prominent themes for this volume is that of purpose and identity. Ruby Rose has been struggling with her own, but has yet to have the proper outlet to express herself. She is without her weapon, very much a crutch for her, and a defining part of her as a person. The previous episode tempted her with an option to remake herself, only to have the Curious Cat prevent it. Such other roads appear here, as more detail on the Ever After’s structure unfolds.

The cat immediately explains what the heck happened to the Herbalist after he fell through the floor. If a person in the Ever After fulfils their purpose or is unable to do so, then they shall be remade anew, to find a new purpose, but will have no memories of their past lives. Death is apparently also a foreign concept, the Curious Cat describing their end as an “ascension”, which implies the characters either reincarnate or are literally remade by the world. I wonder if any other characters have undertaken such a change…

The group travel by lily pad to a market, situated under a gigantic lotus flower, which is fittingly symbolic for rebirth. The cat further explains that the Red Prince underwent the same changes, his purpose being to win his games. They search for the ingredients for the growth parfait needed to resize Weiss, Blake, and Yang, passing by a bird that sells mud cookies. Needing to split up to collect the parfait, Ruby and Little go to find some leprechaun’s nose hair from the Teapot Lady, whilst the others keep the cat’s attention on the shopping spree. The lotus market is a very colourful location and has vendors who remind me of the Kokiri from The Legend of Zelda.

Ruby sets off on her own to the third floor, only for her surroundings to slowly go dark and quiet, until only the sound of a hammer is heard. Ruby suddenly finds herself in the workshop of the Blacksmith (Kimlinh Tran), an automaton-esque character, who may play a role in the “returning” of characters, forging some butterfly wings. This is a very atmospheric scene, with the Blacksmith’s presence being very ominous, as Ruby is again offered alternate paths to the uncertain one she remains on. Penny’s blade hangs on a wall, Ruby surprised to see it, to which the Blacksmith states that nothing is truly lost. The Blacksmith asks Ruby several questions, asking if she is alone or lost, if Little is her guide, and remarks on the burden that Ruby carries.

Ruby is aware of the weight on her shoulders, but claims that she can handle it. Interestingly, the shot focuses on an axe-gun weapon hanging in the background. The Blacksmith invites Ruby to choose another weapon and set her burden down. Ruby declines the offer, still regarding Crescent Rose as her weapon, though the Blacksmith remarks that she still found her way to the workshop regardless – implying that Ruby may want another weapon, or another purpose/identity. Penny’s blade transforms off-screen into Alix’s dagger, which Ruby sets down. However, she is drawn to the axe-gun, where Summer Rose’s reflection appears.

This may imply that the axe-gun was Summer’s. Does this mean she is in the Ever After and was repurposed? Or it might be more of a symbolic gesture. All of the weapons have reflected their owners, all people who Ruby admired, and personify the fairy tale heroes she longed to mirror. But, as Ruby found out, life isn’t like a fairy tale. Both Penny and her mother are dead, whilst Alix is hinted to have been an unpleasant character. Summer’s weapon could actually be Crescent Rose in disguise. The Blacksmith could be responsible for remaking characters in the Ever After, which can work for outsiders as well. Alix’s fairy tale mentions that she was not the same person she was, implying she may have undergone a repurposing herself.

Anyway, Ruby suddenly finds herself back in the market with her friends. They meet the Teapot Lady, only for the Jabberwalker to attack. As residents flee, the Teapot Lady starts sucking up all of her wares. In a panic, Ruby offers her silver rose-shaped badge as payment, claiming it has a “mother’s promise”. This badge has always been a part of Ruby’s outfit, but has never had significance until this moment. Presumably it was a gift from Summer. The Curious Cat is especially terrified of the Jabberwalker, as if it eats any Ever After residents, they will not ascend but will actually die. They quickly throw together the parfait, allowing the girls to regrow a little, though the cat warns not to eat too much or they’ll have to shrink them back down.

The Jabberwalker hand jives his way into battle, knocking Team RWBY aside, and grows larger when covered in the parfait. The mud cookie bird suddenly flies in and attacks the Jabberwalker, the Curious Cat explaining he gave him a temporary new purpose. It seems that the cat has much influence over the Ever After. The bird also has blue streaks of light coming from his eyes when he attacks. Perhaps the Curious Cat has a connection to one of the Relics? He is able to influence and even push characters into making choices. The Relic of Choice might be capable of this power.

We next meet the Rusted Knight, who bounds to the rescue on a gigantic jackalope. Team RWBY regain their full size and aid in battling the Jabberwalker, only for it to vanish, revealed to be Neo’s illusion. Then, even more Jabberwalker clones show up. The Curious Cat tells the girls to flee, whilst he and the bird stay behind to fend off the intruders. But, as Ruby looks back, the bird gets pinned and eaten, whilst the cat is nowhere in sight.

The group and the Rusted Knight flee to the lotus, where Weiss has a moment of sorrow, comparing the market’s destruction to that of Atlas and Beacon. This time, it is Ruby who gives her comfort. The girls follow the Rusted Knight under the lotus into a tunnel, where Blake expresses her joy to meet him. But, as it turns out, the girls know him rather well. In a twist that everyone admittedly guessed, the knight turns out to be our old buddy Jaune Arc. The catch is that Jaune has significantly aged, sporting a greying ponytail held by Pyrrha’s sash, a beard, and some very rusted armour. His giant jackalope is named Juniper after his teammates. Oh, my heart!

Jaune was the last character to fall into the abyss, but appears to have been in the Ever After the longest. He is most likely the same knight described in Alix’s story, so he has been there for years. As for his armour, it likely rusted thanks to a lot of rain – as the weather is affected by a person’s emotions, and Jaune probably had a lot of tears to shed. He carries his broken sword with him, still using it, perhaps as what he conceives as a penitence for killing Penny.

Many questions and emotions will likely be explored next episode, especially between Ruby and Jaune. Weiss mentioned that Jaune “tried to help”, but may have not given the full details on his role in Penny’s death.

Did you like this episode of RWBY? Will Ruby choose a new weapon? What are your thoughts on Jaune’s new purpose? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell