A few more entries have been added to my list of favorite Volume 6 moments thanks to the time that “Seeing Red” devotes to Ruby Rose’s leadership arc and the heartfelt Bumblebee ship amid the high-energy action.
(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “Seeing Red”)
“Seeing Red” is the twelfth episode of RWBY: Volume 6, the anime-style fantasy-action web series from Rooster Teeth Productions, and lasts almost fourteen minutes. Let me point out that the name has a good, introspective quality, since it refers to Ruby’s red color theme, Adam Taurus and the red-black splash screens used quite often for his fight scenes, Yang Xiao Long when her eyes turn red, and Caroline Cordovan when she “sees red” in response to the perceived unruliness of our heroes. As per the structure of the past two episodes, the story here focuses on Ruby and company fighting Cordovan’s outrageously huge mech, followed by Blake Belladonna and Yang (I’m rooting for you, Bumblebee!) facing off against Adam.
First we get a glimpse of the Argus soldiers watching Cordovan’s mech on a computer monitor and cheering her on (one of them gives a fist-pump). Then the scene shifts to the battle on Argus’s coastline, where Ruby uses her sniper-scythe Crescent Rose to climb the cliff that she’s hanging onto and rejoins her team up top. Jaune Arc and Nora Valkyrie are just coming back as well, the former looking especially tired from having his Aura break in the last episode. Maria Calavera is still piloting the airship around the mech with Oscar Pine in the cabin. He formulates a new attack strategy that concentrates on crippling the mech by shooting the missile launcher when it pops up from the arm cannon. Moments later Maria, who is flying the airship directly at Cordovan, tells her through the comms channel that she has one missile and she knows exactly where she’s going to stick it. Ruby leans out the airship’s open door and fires a single bullet from Crescent Rose, but Cordovan retracts the missile launcher into the arm cannon in the nick of time, and the bullet deflects off the edge.
Cordovan follows this up by firing a beam of electrified Dust at the airship, which not only overloads the system and makes it crash onto the cliff but also disrupts Maria’s techno-goggles and leaves her blind for the moment. The beam cuts across the cliff and barely misses Qrow Branwen, Team JNR, and Weiss Schnee. Qrow turns into a crow and flies off to the airship, finding his niece heading towards the mech at the edge of the cliff. He tries to stop her, and this is when we get a split-second shot of the Relic of Knowledge clipped to her waist; she’s continuing to guard the crucial item all through this chaos. But Ruby firmly tells her uncle, “I need you to trust me.” While he stays behind with Oscar and Maria, Ruby marches onward to face Cordovan’s mech in a David-versus-Goliath analogue, as captured in the screenshot above, and give her a speech about how they need to fight on the same side.
The events of Volume 6 have given Ruby an increasing number of opportunities to embrace her role as the head of the crew, certainly much more than we’ve seen in past volumes in spite of her being RWBY’s primary protagonist. This is exemplified by the courage with which she attempts to persuade Cordovan to join her crew. Unfortunately Cordovan says, “I’ve heard enough,” and aims the arm cannon directly at the Huntress. However, she uses her speed Semblance to zoom into the arm cannon, hooks Crescent Rose into the interior walling to station herself, and fires the Dust building up ahead of her, jamming the whole cannon with ice and black Dust. By then the momentum of the shot has sprung Ruby out of the cannon. Weiss projects a series of black glyphs to slow Ruby’s fall as she arcs towards the cliff, and Qrow catches her. I’m pretty sure both Ruby and Weiss’s Auras break at this point, considering that both of them crackle with light for a second in the same manner as Jaune last episode. As for Cordovan, her mech is stuck in the ocean, weighed down by all the chunks of solidified Dust that burst through the arm cannon.
Now we move on to Blake and Yang, who are still holding hands and standing strong against Adam on the stone bridge in front of the waterfall. For a couple seconds there’s a shot of a sweet little hand-squeeze between them. Adam points out that Blake made a promise to be at his side, and look how well she kept it. Yang rhetorically asks whether or not she made her promise to the person he pretended to be. I must point out the, for lack of a better term, videogamish coolness of the split-screen shot that shows both Yang and Blake sprinting at Adam. The struggle is as action-packed as ever, and it comes to the point where Blake gets smacked into a stone wall and falls onto a ledge below the bridge, the purple crackles of light on her body indicating that her Aura has also broken.
While Blake climbs the stone wall, Yang and Adam carry on the combat. “Do you think you’re stronger than you were at Beacon?” is one of his remarks, and we do see her prosthetic arm quiver. The constant Fall of Beacon references are a good reminder of how the Yang-Blake-Adam arc is coming around full circle. “What does she even see in you?!” is another line of his, which is a good sign for those who are hopeful for Bumblebee shipping it. Blake used to be his partner, and he must have been able to read the signs during all the time he spent stalking the crew, so now he feels jealous. He uses his sword to emit a red energy blast at Yang, but she blocks it with her prosthetic arm and only gets pushed back a bit. Also, her eyes momentarily turn from violet to red right before the blast hits her — a reminder of her Semblance that allows her to absorb and store battle damage, then unleash her charged-up power against the adversary.
Adam bounds at her with his sword at the ready. When the dust literally settles, we see that Yang has grabbed the blade in mid-swipe with her prosthetic arm and her red eyes are glowing as furiously as her blond hair. Her Semblance has been noticeably absent over the past few volumes, but now this fight has left her fully fueled. I love the way she growls “Gotcha!” before she rears back her other arm and then gut-punches Adam down the bridge. Just like Blake, Ruby, Weiss, and Jaune, his body crackles with light, meaning his Aura has broken too. When he gets up, Yang throws his sword off the bridge (bye-bye, Wilt!), and he immediately chases after it. But when he reaches the edge, Blake jumps up from below and kicks him backward. She lands, and we see the cloven blades of her trademark weapon Gambol Shroud on the bridge. All three fighters race for it in unison. Both Huntresses end up recovering the blades, and Blake stabs Adam’s chest at the same time that Yang stabs his back.
The shot lingers for quite a few seconds, almost as if to let the fact that Blake and Yang have killed Adam wash over our astonished minds. When they pull the blades out of his body, he stumbles forward, plummets off the bridge, collapses on some rocks below, and limply splashes into the river. He doesn’t even mutter any last words, which I think is completely appropriate for his death. Then Blake falls to her knees and starts crying. When she and Yang hug, Blake says, “I won’t break my promise, I swear.” Yang responds, “I know you won’t.” The way they’re holding each other and touching their faces, the genuine emotion pulsing through this sequence — again, the Bumblebee ship is most certainly unfurling the sails. This feels so definitive that I’m not certain they will kiss or declare their love for each other in the finale. But if this is where Bumblebee leaves us until Volume 7, I’ll be quite satisfied nonetheless.
For the last couple minutes we return to Argus’s coastline, where Cordovan commands her soldiers to attack our heroes. We can hear her through the airship’s radio, which actually shakes in response to her yelling. However, a soldier joins the comms channel and informs her that the military base has been trying to contact her about an incoming Grimm invasion. Not only are Griffons and Manticores descending from the sky, but a Leviathan — the creature that Salem might have created after subduing Godzilla — is trudging towards Argus from the ocean. We could use Cordovan’s gigantic mech right about now, but coincidentally Ruby just put it out of commission.
I called the mech fight “fun” and “foolish” in My 2 Cents about “The Lady in the Shoe.” That’s perfectly fine, but I think the adjectives “hearty” and “enthralling” are proper for the second part of the mech fight. Even though the action sequences themselves were less technically intriguing, they focused much more on Ruby and how strong she can be at a demanding time like this.
I had thought it possible that Adam would be an inch away from killing either Blake or Yang and then the other Huntress would swoop in at the right moment and shove him off the bridge, stab him, et cetera. Instead Blake and Yang stab him simultaneously. Neither is the savior or the victim; the two of them kill him together and stand on an equal plane of strength. And they’re killing him out of self-defense, not out of ruthlessness, because he has made it clear that he won’t leave until they are dead.
While we’re on the topic, I think it’s great that Adam’s role as a villain has been appropriately presented. In the past some RWBY fans seemed to have misinterpreted him as the cool guy with the dramatic splash screens, although I always saw him as being a brutal and spiteful antagonist. His death appears very absolute, so it will be disappointing if the post-credit scene shows him coming back to life in some cornball fashion. It’s one thing if he was merely stabbed and then fell off the bridge. After all, Cinder Fall had apparently been turned to ice and fallen into a pitch-black pit, and she survived anyway. But Adam hit the rocks before he sank into the river, and I don’t think he could physically survive that.
I can’t tell if it’s the hostility of the conflicts with Cordovan and Adam or the orders of a villain like Salem or Cinder that has brought the Grimm to Argus. Don’t forget, they are also drawn to the power of the Relic.
Another note I want to make is about the interesting parallels between the two conflicts. Ruby and Bumblebee offered Cordovan and Adam, respectively, a chance to stand down, which they both refused. Yang told Adam that she may not be stronger than him, but she’s smarter, which she proved by outwitting him with her Semblance and baiting him with his sword. Ruby used her wits similarly to defeat Cordovan.
I like how Rooster Teeth’s animators are becoming more experimental, e.g. the Bumblebee split-screen shot and Adam’s splash screens. They also applied their talents well to Ruby’s facial expressions during the speech she gave Cordovan.
Perhaps the only flaw I can nitpick is that “Seeing Red” feels more like one segment of a long string of climactic events instead of a complete episode that can stand by itself, an issue that the last few episodes of each volume often encounters. And how will the finale this weekend have enough time to wrap up Volume 6 when all these Grimm are arriving? I’m predicting it will imitate the structure of the Volume 3 finale, which had the first part cover the end of the Fall of Beacon (the climax), and then the second part cover Ruby awakening from her unconscious state at her father’s house (the resolution).
Just tossing out a few fan theories for the post-credit scene — Tyrian Callows and Arthur Watts, two members of Salem’s faction, arrive in Atlas to set in motion their devious machinations; Penny Polendina, the robot whom Pyrrha Nikos inadvertently killed in Volume 3, is revived in a fully-repaired body; or, even more daring, Tyrian and Watts arrive in Atlas to oversee Penny’s revival. The RWBY community is debating tons of other theories online, so definitely check them out. And I still can’t tell if Ozpin has secretly taken over Oscar, what with the discrepancies between certain things he did in this episode. Or maybe I’m merely focusing too hard on this theory.
All we have is the two-part finale for RWBY: Volume 6, and then we will have to wait eight months or so for Volume 7. But gen:LOCK, Rooster Teeth’s upcoming sci-fi mecha web series, does launch the same day, so I’m looking forward to that.
Windup score: 94/100