As RWBY approaches the end of its seventh volume, tensions are at an all time high. ‘With Friends Like These’ promises more action as RWBY tries to save the city Ironwood has abandoned – but with the heroes divided, it seems that the city of Mantle is doomed to fall in darkness.
Spoilers ahead for RWBY.
‘With Friends Like These’ begins with Ruby’s call coming through to the airship carrying Tyrian. With a secondary scroll announcement that RWBY and the rest of her friends are wanted criminals, Clover goes to arrest Qrow. Robyn reacts angrily to the announcement of martial law, which causes the three to go head to head. In the chaos, Tyrian escapes captivity and causes the airship to crash. While everyone expected something like this to happen, Tyrian makes this scene amusing to watch with his comments before being released: “A free ride AND a show!…It’s taking a very long time for this show to get to the good part.” Though it makes for a tense fight, despite the turn of events, the priority is naturally the very dangerous serial killer that was in custody.
On the way to the Winter Maiden’s hospital room, Winter receives the news of RWBY becoming wanted criminals, shocked for her little sister. Here, the audience is treated to another conversation between the differences between AI and humanity with a focus on morality. Although she was built as a weapon to defend the city and appears to be quite intelligent, Penny still has a child’s naivety and questions the general’s decisions to leave Mantle to perish, while Winter focuses on her duty and expectations as a soldier, arguing that her personal feelings on the subject don’t matter.
Elsewhere, Harriet locks down Ironwood’s office, forcing the rest of the Ace Ops and RWBY to fight. Here, the animators show their true strength with another battle sequence between the best huntsmen in Atlas and team RWBY. Coupled with the intro of another one of Jee Lee William’s songs, ‘War’, the scene promises another awesome fight scene.
Back at the crash site, Qrow walks out seemingly unharmed to find Robyn knocked out. Clover also stands a distance away without a scratch, and the two prepare to fight, though it seems that Clover is hesitant to do so. Tyrian, who still had his hands restrained, breaks his thumb to slip out of his binds, something which he seems to take great pleasure in. While a well established sadist, this is the first example of masochism the audience sees from the character. Soon, he joins the fray. Here, Tyrian and Qrow make a temporary truce to take Clover out of the fight before settling their personal score. This scene feels a little bit off: sure, Qrow is prideful and impulsive, but never to the point of allowing his duties as a Huntsman to come between his personal matters.
The fight in the office still rages on. At first, the teams seem evenly matched before Blake and Yang team up and take down Vine, surprising everyone. While RWBY seem to work as a team, playing off each other’s strengths, the Ace Ops seem divided. Though they are the best in Atlas, they are individually prideful, seeming to want to go one on one with the exception of Vine and Elm. Additionally, they are divided in their mentality, with half of them wanting just to arrest RWBY, while the other half want to beat them into submission.
Yang – who was impulsive and reckless in the first volumes – cements her position as a more level headed fighter in ‘With Friends Like These’, which has been a long time coming after her character arc in Volume 4. At first, she goes to activate her semblance and punch Elm, but smashes the floor underneath her at the last minute, meaning Blake and Yang can both take her down. After losing her arm in Volume 3, it’s nice to see the character still paying heed to the mistakes of her past.
Eventually, team RWBY defeat the Ace Ops, though with great difficulty. They plan to stop Ironwood while moving the bodies of the unconscious Ace Ops. Comedically, Calavera and Pietro come in at the last minute, with Pietro holding a scroll displaying the group’s Wanted notices. Calavera jokingly concludes the scene by saying “this is the part where they ask us to help”.
Meanwhile, Jaune, Nora and Ren go to look for Oscar after finding his room in tatters. They seemingly find him. However, they find a doppelganger coming around the corner and swing for him, revealing that it was Neo using her camouflage semblance. Nora seems to know who she is, which is odd considering they have never met in previous volumes. Though Jaune says “we haven’t heard good things” (about her), it still seems a little weird. The scene ends with them about to fight.
Elsewhere, Winter and Penny prepare the transfer of the Winter Maiden’s powers, where they continue their discussion of emotions and how it makes them human, a concept that Penny struggles to grasp at first but learns eagerly. However, the transfer is interrupted by Cinder Fall, who forces her way into the Maiden’s room. The scene ends with the three preparing to duke it out.
‘With Friends Like These’ finishes with a huge blow. As Tyrian and Qrow continue to do battle with Clover, despite holding his own, the result is inevitable and Qrow punches Clover, deactivating his aura. Qrow and Clover debate about doing the right thing and following orders, despite them being wrong. This, however, is cut short – literally – with Tyrian taking Qrow’s blade and stabbing him through the back. The scene freezes on a beautifully drawn monochrome silhouette, with the only hint of colour being Clover’s blood. This is also the first depiction of blood in RWBY.
Qrow lashes out in anger, but the scene doesn’t quite have the impact intended. Though gut wrenching, it loses some of the seriousness by going against Qrow’s character. Again, he wouldn’t allow his pride to get in the way of his duties as a Huntsman, especially to the point of teaming up with his nemesis against a former ally (and potential love interest, according to the fandom). Seeing an airship flying overhead, Tyrian flees, believing it to be the authorities. Qrow promises Clover that Ironwood will pay for causing these events to happen, with Clover wishing him “good luck”, before dying in his arms. The episode finishes with the sun rising and Qrow crying out in mourning.
Though it doesn’t quite have the impact intended by the writers, ‘With Friends Like These’ is still a good episode to watch, despite its flaws. The fight scenes are a treat to watch and there are some truly beautiful shots. However, the whole conflict with Qrow, Tyrian, Robyn and Clover doesn’t really fit and seems to go against Qrow’s character. Hopefully the volume finale will see Qrow receive some sort of redemption.