(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “Dead End”)
Encountering a barrier on the trip to Atlas, learning more about the power of silver eyes, coming across fractures that leave our heroes on an ominous cliffhanger — all in all, another well-written episode for RWBY: Volume 6.
The eighth episode of Volume 6, lasting almost seventeen minutes, begins where the previous one, “The Grimm Reaper”, ended: the Atlesian Military base off the coast of Argus. Upon trying to gain entrance so that they can move on to Atlas, Team RWBY, Qrow Branwen, Oscar Pine, and Maria Calavera are blocked by the Nubuck guards, a pair of men who speak in unison. They refuse to lend our heroes any help, stating that the Mistral-Atlas borders are closed, until Qrow claims that they want to get Weiss Schnee back home to her family in Atlas, which makes her briefly uneasy. The guards march away to fetch their commanding officer, whom Maria reveals is an enemy of hers.
The best way to describe the officer, Caroline Cordovin, would be to imagine what Edna Mode from The Incredibles might be like if she had been enlisted in the military — a diminutive figure who feels irrepressible passion and pride for her kingdom. The enmity between her and Maria is crystal clear from the get-go with their biting, sardonic dialogue. With yes-men support from her guards she obstinately forbids the group from traveling to Atlas, even when Team JNR shows up; Jaune Arc and Lie Ren are holding back a furious Nora. The argument also alludes to the many people who blamed Atlas for the Fall of Beacon, the Atlas embargo, and the general mistrust that has grown around the militarist kingdom. Cordovin won’t even let the group meet General James Ironwood, who Qrow knows well. She does give Weiss a chance to come home but says this wouldn’t be the same for her friends of questionable status, a suggestion that gets an unfriendly reaction from Weiss. The scene ends with a grumpy Qrow going for a drink, Ruby promising they will never leave Weiss’s side, and Team JNR assuming that Ozpin can help them. Anyone who has watched the astonishing Ozpin-Salem backstory in “The Lost Fable” will understand why the others appear so uncomfortable in response to Team JNR’s presumption.
The next scene takes place at the Arc household. The backstory has been revealed to Team JNR, and they are pretty frustrated, to say the least. Ozpin had lied to everyone about his relationship with Salem and the fact that she can’t be killed, and now he has locked himself away in Oscar’s head. Jaune is the most frustrated of all, going so far as to accuse Oscar of lying the whole time about what he knew in regards to Ozpin. He even gets a little physical with Oscar, grabbing him by the neck and pushing him against the wall. It doesn’t go any farther than that before he storms upstairs with Nora and Ren trailing behind him. It’s intriguing to note that, up to this point, no one had blamed Oscar. They knew he was merely a body for Ozpin’s soul to inhabit and what Ozpin does has no influence on him. He can’t even access any of Ozpin’s combat knowledge unless the former Beacon headmaster himself fully takes over his body. The circumstances have changed now that Jaune has threatened the boy, an action with repercussions that will be felt very soon.
In the backyard Ruby tries calling Qrow, who isn’t picking up, and throws her phone across the yard. Then she turns her attention to Maria, who calls out to her from the yard. Ruby joins her for a lengthy discussion that gives us insight not only into their silver eyes but also Maria’s background. She never attended an academy like Beacon, but she received a fair amount of training thanks to her father, an old soldier from whom she inherited her silver eyes. Her Semblance is what she simply calls “reflexes”, a heightened awareness of her environment and the capacity to anticipate her opponent’s attack. I bet Daredevil would be proud of that. She also informs Ruby that the God of Light is the source of the power in silver eyes. A flashback shows the god himself disintegrating Grimm in the third episode of Volume 6, “The Lost Fable.” Maria goes on to say that this shouldn’t be thought of as the ability to destroy evil but rather to preserve life and it can only be activated in the presence of Grimm. Ruby objects to this last point, since she used her eyes against Cinder in Haven Academy.
And then the episode ends when they head inside the house and find out that Oscar is gone.
What he did makes sense if you think about it. He doesn’t know whether the rest of the group will fall into Jaune’s line of thinking. If anything happens where they hurt him or desert him, he can’t rely on Ozpin to take over his body and defend him. I can sympathize with the disheartened Jaune and the reasons for his suspicion towards Oscar, but where he’s wrong is how he went over the edge and berated the boy. How will our heroes recover from these unrelenting setbacks?
With humorous characterization for Cordovin and her Nubuck guards complementing their role as an obstacle in the Atlas journey, deeper development for Maria’s roots and the power of silver eyes, and Oscar going MIA, “Dead End” shows off the best of RWBY and keeps us leaned forward keenly for the next episode.
Windup score: 93/100