My 2 Cents on RWBY: Volume 6 – Episode 13, “Our Way”
While the finale spreads itself thin by trying to wrap up so many story arcs, it manages to hit most of the right notes to end another enthralling volume in the RWBY saga.
(SPOILER ALERT: This is a full breakdown review for “Our Way”)
This is the thirteenth and final episode of Rooster Teeth’s anime-style fantasy-action web series, RWBY: Volume 6, lasting twenty-three and a half minutes. I believe the name refers to one of the last lines of the opening theme “Rising”: “As sun seeks day, we’ll find our way.” I must note that Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross, the longtime RWBY directors/writers, had announced this would be a two-part episode. It was structured much more like a single episode, though, so that was a little misleading.
The first scene shows Neo landing a Mistral airship in the middle of a forest. She’s wearing a dark purple coat, but then she materializes new attire in her signature white and pink patterning. Meeting her is Cinder Fall, whose grotesque Grimm arm is poking out from beneath her cape, and she mentions their plan to travel to the continent of Solitas (home of the kingdom of Atlas). Pressing her hand against the exterior, Neo momentarily masks the airship, which looks like it was built for pirates, as an Atlas airship. Its appearance reverts to the Mistral-style design when she pulls her hand away. They must be planning to cloak it at the end of their journey. As they board the airship, Cinder remarks that someone once asked her if she believes in destiny, and she confirms that she still does — a callback to Pyrrha Nikos asking her this very question in Volume 3.
Next we return to the trouble at Argus, where the Godzilla-like Leviathan Grimm is trudging through the ocean and Manticores and Griffons are swarming over the city. Yang Xiao Long and Blake Belladonna reunite with our heroes on the coast, where they are watching Caroline Cordovan stubbornly trying to free her mech out in the ocean. The heroes had jammed up the mech’s arm cannon with Dust in the previous episode, and as Weiss Schnee puts it, they just destroyed the only thing that can stop the Leviathan. When everyone takes off in their airship, there’s a moment where we focus on Ruby Rose, Blake, and Yang. Blake blames herself for the current situation, but Ruby assures her that it isn’t her fault and all that matters is she’s safe now. When they hug, I noticed Ruby exchange an endearing look with Yang, who then blushes a bit and glances away. I’m sure this is meant to confirm that Ruby is aware of Bumblebee and supports it fully.
Maria Calavera points out from the pilot’s seat that this is a good chance for them to escape Argus and fly straight to Atlas. However, Team RWBY is determined to stay behind and stop the Leviathan, reminding Maria of what she said about being a Huntress all the way to the bitter end. We get a shot of everyone in the city gripped in terror as the Leviathan approaches, including Jaune Arc’s sister Saphron, her wife Terra Cotta-Arc, and their baby boy Adrian. Everyone’s terror increases when the Leviathan breathes a beam of fire, breaking down the first of two holographic shields that the Atlesian Military has activated around Argus.
Ruby rushes into the cockpit and uses the radio to inform the military that she’s a Huntress and her team can help them hold off the Leviathan. A soldier replies that their airship is marked as a hostile and will receive no support, which Ruby accepts. Jaune uses his Semblance to boost Lie Ren’s Aura-masking Semblance, camouflaging the airship from surrounding Grimm as it flies towards the Leviathan. The airship turning black and white as a result of Ren’s ability is a neat detail. But then it has to pull away to avoid the next fire beam, which breaks down the second shield. Jaune and Ren have used up all their energy, so on the team’s next flight around, Yang and Nora Valkyrie shoot at the Leviathan to distract it, while Ruby zooms in on a Lancer summoned by Weiss and slows to a hover in front of the monster.
Ruby throws away her earpiece to get rid of her teammates’ chatter and closes her eyes, focusing on happy memories to fuel her silver eyes. We see a series of flashbacks to scenes from previous volumes: Team RWBY being thrilled over the arrival of Ruby’s Dog Zwei, the four of them eating together with a starry-eyed Blake drooling over her bowl of fish, Team JNPR joining them at the same meal (Jaune’s head is down on the counter in response to Nora’s massive burp), and Jaune putting himself through combat training with Pyrrha’s guidance (at least, a video of her instructions on his phone). However, sad memories start leaking in, like the sight of her exhausted friends, the robotic Penny Polendina’s dead body, and Pyrrha disintegrating in front of Cinder. Her concentration breaks, and the Leviathan begins to open its gaping maw around her. Darting a glance at the Relic of Knowledge clipped to her belt, she suddenly calls out for Jinn.
Time freezes around Ruby, and the genie-like spirit comes forth from the lantern. Ruby only needs a break to compose herself and doesn’t have a question to ask, but Jinn agrees to let her off this one time, admitting it was clever. As time around Ruby slowly reverts to normal and the Leviathan’s maw begins to close around her, she thinks of more happy memories, like Jaune in a ballgown dancing with Pyrrha at a Beacon Academy prom or Weiss offering a mug of hot chocolate, all the way up to what looks like an adult Ruby standing on a cliff in front of a sunset. This is her late mother Summer, who has the same silver eyes as her daughter. I recall the cliff being the location of her gravestone as shown in the beginning of Volume 4. She really does look like Ruby, and it makes me wonder if she also had a sniper-scythe; maybe she passed down Crescent Rose to her daughter.
Ruby builds up enough strength to wash the Leviathan in the blinding light from her silver eyes, the scene accompanied by an electric guitar-charged sample of Casey Lee Williams’s “Indomitable.” But it’s only frozen in stone for a few seconds before its head breaks free. It’s even more of a surprise when Cordovan’s mech stomps through the ocean, its arm cannon missing (Cordovan must have torn it off somehow), its other arm extending a large drill. Announcing that she was sworn to protect the people, the commanding officer thrusts the drill into the Leviathan’s chest, causing it to disintegrate. Before leaving, she implicitly absolves Ruby and her friends, claiming that the military won’t notice a missing airship while she files her lengthy report of the chaos — a satisfyingly redeeming turnaround for the officer. I also think her giving the final blow and the manner in which Ruby used the Relic were both smart ways to subvert expectations for the Leviathan’s defeat.
The trip to Atlas allows plenty of interplay to wrap up several arcs, starting with Qrow Branwen forgoing a swig from his flask, for which he receives an appreciative hug from Ruby. He also has a chat with Maria, expressing his regrets about not doing more to help. She reminds him he was there to help when they asked for it and was able to catch them when they fell, literally. Weiss says she’s sorry Blake went through her nightmare (with Adam Taurus), but she is glad Yang was there for her. “We were there for each other,” Yang amends, taking Blake’s hand. Then Nora comments, “Took the words right out of my mouth.” I’m okay with this, since I was not expecting a kiss or a verbal declaration of love, and the body language gets Bumblebee across to us well enough. Luna and Shawcross do need to develop it unambiguously next volume, though, or else this relationship might feel vapid.
In response to Ruby’s excitement over his nimbleness in crash-landing the airship earlier, Oscar Pine confesses that Ozpin’s soul had emerged to calm him down and guide him. It’s easy to tell that the others are disturbed by Ozpin apparently watching over them all this time, but it doesn’t seem to bother Oscar. The fan theory that Ozpin had secretly taken Oscar’s place may have been wrong, but this does confirm he’s lingering in the farm boy’s subconscious and watching everything. And remember, a few episodes ago Oscar went missing and then conveniently showed up in his fancy coat; I still wonder if Ozpin had anything to do with that.
The group finally arrives at Atlas, where the citizens reside atop a majestic, massive rock floating above a smoggy city below. You could compare it to the aerial city of Tiphares in the cyberpunk manga series Alita: Battle Angel. All the airships are encircling the kingdom as if expecting an attack. Then a voice announces from the radio, “Mantle Five-One, welcome home.” Why is Atlas awaiting the heroes in this fashion? Did someone give them a heads-up?
After the song “Nevermore” plays over the credits, we get the post-credit scene, which shows Emerald Sustrai joining Mercury Black in the meeting room of Salem’s castle. The place still looks trashed from the events of the fourth episode, “So That’s How It Is.” Mercury has this strange look of horrified shock on his face as he looks down from the shattered windows. Emerald starts to say something to him, but then she looks outside, her expression immediately echoing Mercury’s. What they’re witnessing is Salem summoning a Beringel, a Grimm gorilla, from a pool of goop down below and forcing it to grow a pair of wings. Looking briefly contented, she lets it fly off to join a horde of winged Beringels perched on crags — a total The Wizard of Oz homage. Up in the castle Hazel Rainart joins Emerald and Mercury and says, “There’s an old saying. If you want something done right, do it yourself.” The final shot is Salem summoning swirls of goop from the pool, which covers the screen right as a Beringel emits a haunting screech.
Before I go any further, I want to point out the great number of arcs that filled this volume: Ruby Rose the Leader, silver eyes, Bumblebee, the Relic of Knowledge, Salem, Ozpin, Ruby and Qrow, Saphron and Terra, Emerald and Mercury, Argus. Suffice it to say, “Our Way” does its best to include all those arcs but ends up feeling unfocused in the process. We’re reminded that Ruby is the Harry Potter of this tale — an aspect that sometimes got lost over the past couple volumes — as she embraces her leadership of the heroes and relies on the power of love and friendship to fuel her silver eyes. I’m 99.9 percent certain Bumblebee is shipping, which is funny, because I didn’t see this coming before Volume 6. It turns into such a heartfelt storyline, and I can’t wait to see how it grows in the next volume. The rest of the arcs are forced to make do with small, unjust slices of time.
I wish we had seen Tyrian Callows and Arthur Watts one more time. In the ninth episode “Lost,” they were heading off to Atlas to whip up trouble (I truly thought they were going to be involved with Penny’s resurrection in the post-credit scene), but I guess we’ll have to wait a while longer to see them again. This is generally the problem that RWBY has with juggling so many antagonists. The underwhelming post-credit scene does nothing to alleviate matters.
Ruby’s memory montage is one of the best things I’ve seen in Volume 6. A few of the memories revolved around Penny, which was pleasantly surprising. It reinforced the deep level of emotion that existed between them, and I would love it if Penny was brought back to life. It would make for an interesting plot for her memories to be wiped so she would have to gradually recollect her friendship with Ruby.
The moonlight gleaming off everyone’s hair when the airship reaches Atlas is a small but notable piece of evidence that the animation is richer than ever this whole volume. Hearing those few seconds of “Indomitable” and the entirety of “Nevermore” has made me keen for the soundtrack’s release. And now I’m curious about what will transpire in Atlas. Will General James Ironwood return to the story, or anyone from Weiss’s family, like her siblings Winter and Whitley and her father Jacques? Will there be political tensions, considering Atlas’s militarist attitudes and the Schnee Dust Company’s notorious abuse of Faunus? What roles will Cinder, Neo, Tyrian, and Watts play once they arrive?
The critical part of my brain can’t help but nitpick the imperfections of “Our Way,” but really, this is generally a good episode to end such a compelling volume. Check out the next post if you want My 2 Cents on RWBY: Volume 6 as a whole.
Windup score: 88/100