(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “So That’s How It Is”)
Rather than progressing RWBY: Volume 6 through another significant point in its journey, “So That’s How It Is” feels more like three mild scenes straggling along the road to the next episode.
This is the fourth episode of RWBY: Volume 6, lasting for thirteen and a half minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t maintain the strength of the previous episode, “The Lost Fable,” which pretty much blew me away with its condensed presentation of Salem’s backstory and her relationship with Ozpin. It’s almost as if “So That’s How It Is” dangled off the ending and then broke off completely to form a lukewarm footnote.
Now that the lost fable in question has finished, everyone is mad at Ozpin for keeping secret his past with Salem. Ruby asks him for his plan to defeat Salem, but he responds that he doesn’t have one. Qrow is especially angry, telling him that “needing you is the worst luck of my life” and delivering a punch to his face. Ozpin then relinquishes control to a perplexed Oscar, who tells everyone that Ozpin has locked himself deep in his head. Before the discussion can continue, Maria Calavera, the elderly woman with the peculiar goggles, points out a trail that they can follow through the snowy forest. Ruby agrees with this, and everyone packs up for the hike. Ruby hands Ozpin’s staff to Oscar, who asks whether he’s just another one of Ozpin’s lives. Ruby tries to encourage him by saying that he is his own person, but Qrow grimly tells her, “Don’t lie to him, Ruby. We’re better than that.”
In the realm of Grimm, an airship files past a Nevermore flock and lands to let Hazel, Emerald, and Mercury disembark. At the entrance to Salem’s lair, they meet Tyrian, who takes note of Cinder’s absence; they are all under the impression that she is dead. Visibly inflamed by his taunts, Emerald threatens Tyrian with her guns, and he gets a bit of a sociopathic thrill from grazing his cheek on a blade built into one of her guns. Clearly he’s still the wonderfully maniacal villain who creeps us all out. Mercury stops the argument, and everyone enters the lair to meet Salem and Watts.
Salem asks how Hazel, Emerald, and Mercury failed so spectacularly, referring to their attempt to steal the Relic of Knowledge from Haven Academy’s vault. Hazel initially blames the Faunus militia, but when she cute him off and asks whose fault it is, he takes full responsibility. Knowing that he’s lying, Salem summons a puddle of ooze from the floor beneath his feet and traps him in grotesque arms. Upon further interrogation, Emerald admits that Cinder failed. Almost everyone except Tyrian, ever faithful to the word of their “divine savior,” is shocked when Salem reveals that Cinder is alive. She starts to mention something about a sword under Vacuo’s academy, but Hazel interrupts her with the news that Ozpin is also alive and he’s leading Team RWBY and Qrow to Atlas with the Relic of Knowledge. The windows start to crack, Salem emanates a blackish smoke, and she forcefully orders everyone to leave. They do so before she unleashes her rage with a scream and shatters the windows.
The final scene is Team RWBY, Oscar, Qrow, and Maria taking refuge in an abandoned town with an entrance archway that reads “Brunswick Farms.” This looks like a perfectly eerie place for harboring Grimm.
“So That’s How It Is” does the job by moving things along and showing us the villains’ side of the story, but much of it is very dry. Hopefully the next episode will rise back up to RWBY‘s high standards. I would also like to see Jaune, Ren, and Nora return to the action soon.
Windup score: 72/100