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RWBY Volume Nine: “Tea Amidst Terrible Trouble”

Once upon a time, there was a girl with a lot of problems. Although Alyx is the focus of “The Girl Who Fell Through the World”, it is Ruby Rose who follows in her footsteps. In one of the series’ darkest episodes, Ruby is kicked to curb in every possible way by both a vengeful Neo and her own mind.

After breaking down in front of her friends, Ruby ran off, coming to the conclusion she is not fit to be a huntress. Little attempts to ease her pain, only for Ruby to chase her off, warning Little she’ll likely die if she sticks around. O’ dreaded foreshadowing, leave me be! Wandering into another acre, Ruby is drawn to a bright pink, fairy tale mansion. Inside, spotlights reveal paintings depicting Neo’s life as told in the side novel Roman Holiday.

In short, Neo was called Trivia Vanile, was abused by her parents. Seeking freedom, Neo crossed paths with Roman Torchwick, murdered her parents, and joined her new partner in a life of crime. Admittedly, it would have added an extra layer to give Neo’s backstory focus within the series. Still, these paintings are quite lifelike – so much so that Torchwick springs to life to address Ruby. Good old Torchwick is voiced by Chris Wehkamp, who voiced him in Ice Queendom, and the late Billy Kametz, whom the episode is dedicated too. Both do a fantastic job with Torchwick, whose return is more than welcome, even if he’s just an illusion. The ”painting” style on Torchwick when he’s in the painting is outstanding.

Roman isn’t the only one back for a reunion. A spotlight turns on behind Ruby, revealing a tea party where all her dead friends are seated – Penny, Pyrrha, Ozpin, Ironwood, Clover, and strangely, Leo Lionheart. They are all slight exaggerations of the real characters, but it is enough to put Ruby on edge. Torchwick reminisces about the old days with Neo and how their days of freedom ended in tragedy. Ruby angrily realises Neo still blames her for Torchwick’s death. But, rather than explain what really happened, she instead just pushes for a fight.

Torchwick waltzes across the table, pulling out a leaf from the tree, dropping it into a tea cup. He explains that Neo does not want Ruby dead, but to be broken down and pushed to ascend. Neo appears, she and Torchwick reunited to exact a slow and painful vengeance upon Ruby. Despite the darker connotations of the scene, seeing Neo all perky and happy to be with Torchwick is strangely sweet.

We briefly cut back to Weiss, Blake, Yang, Jaune, and Juniper tracking down Ruby. Yang is oddly confused by Ruby’s outburst, but Weiss has it pegged. They relied on Ruby to get them through the hard times, returning the favour with well-meaning words of encouragement and reliability. As a result, Ruby bottled up her emotions or was unintentionally sideswiped to focus on that of others. They hear gunfire, unaware that Ruby is getting the beatdown of her life.

Neo sends her illusionary minions after Ruby, not just attacking her, but also mentally and emotionally. Ruby has no time to pause to face her situation and those attacking her. To her, they are all symbolic of her failures. Yet, these are untrue. Pyrrha, Penny, and Ozpin all made their own choices to give their lives, Ironwood was undone by his own fear, Clover died as a result of making the wrong choices, and Lionheart was just a coward. Ruby has no reason to feel guilt for Lionheart’s death, but perhaps Neo just needed extra hands to feed Ruby’s crumbling mind. Then, the fake Penny goes for the jugular, blaming Ruby for failing to save her twice.

After another brutal beatdown, Ruby angrily lashes out with Crescent Rose, only to see she has fatally struck down Oscar. Neo’s minions then all transform into Ruby’s teammates, creating the impression she just murdered an innocent person. Neo presents Ruby the cup of tea to Ruby, only for the Curious Cat to show up to save the day. Or not. Because, surprise, surprise, the cat turns out to be a villain. Being cursed with curiosity, the cat wishes to possess an “empty” human body, so he can go to Remnant and confront this creators, aka the Gods of Light and Darkness. This confirms that the Ever After was created by the Gods, and then abandoned, just as they would repeat with Remnant.

The cat has been trying to whittle down Ruby’s mind so he can take over, deliberately disrupting past offerings of ascension in order to continue his work. This explains why he disrupted the Herbalist and stopped the Red Prince from killing Ruby. This reveal is quite sudden, feeling a bit rushed considering what is happening. Little appears, biting the cat’s tail long enough for Neo to repel him. But, before Little can make any impact on Ruby’s psyche, Neo makes her own impact by stomping on Little. Someone’s been watching The Green Mile.

This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Ruby, her little warning of death coming true before her eyes. Her friends dash in, only to just there and pose. Ruby, presumably viewing them as more illusions, contemplates Torchwick’s words that the world would be better off without her. Before Yang’s horrified eyes, Ruby Rose downs the tea. The tree consumes her, Crescent Rose, and Little’s body (which emits a faint green aura by the way). There is not a chance in hell that this is Ruby’s last hurrah. Perhaps her friends will disrupt her ascension, but for now, she is gone.

You would think Neo would be over the moon that her enemy is gone. Neo is so utterly stunned by Ruby’s actions, that Torchwick’s words to take over the Ever After fall on deaf ears. It turns out Neo’s entire life was motivated by revenge. Turns out it was empty after all. Neo is so shaken up, she falls into a catatonic state. The enraged cat claws at the tree roots, reminding Jaune that you can’t go to the tree, for it’s a “place you know”, whatever that means.

Noticing Neo, the cat chooses her as his backup. Blasting away Team RWBY, the cat goes all Bill Cipher and leaps at Neo – forcing his way down her throat in horrific fashion. This moment is nightmarish to the core. Jaune tries to stop the cat, but fails again. The new Neo-possessing cat, with his wicked smile, combines their powers and flies out of the mansion to bust down the tree. That brings the question of whether or not the cat will be able to reach Remnant, and what havoc he could wreak there.

By no means is this the end of Ruby’s journey, though is potentially the start of a new one. Will her ascension be prevented by her friends, or will she return as someone new? With only two episodes to go, there is still a lot to wrap up in the Ever After.

What were your thoughts on this episode of RWBY? Who or what will Ruby become she is ascends? Were you thrilled to see Torchwick return? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed.

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Mark Russell

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