One of the problems the previousepisodes of volume 7 had was that it wasn’t clear what the antagonists Tyrion and Watts were doing in the background of each episode. However, ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ answers that question as well as providing some much-needed fluffy moments and further exposition.
Spoilers ahead for RWBY.
‘Pomp and Circumstance’ opens up with the team and Ace Ops regrouping with Ironwood after the mine operation, only to be interrupted by Jacques Schnee in all his douchebag glory, butting heads with Ironwood over the political situation in Atlas while still having the time to cut down his daughter Weiss when she tries to stand up to him. Even though the audience haven’t seen him since volume four, he still has a powerful presence, playing the part of a controlling businessman and emotionally abusive dad so well. Seriously, can Jacques Schnee just die already?
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, with the team going nuts over watching the Ace Ops in action and Ruby pointing out how she would love to get to that level with her team one day. Also, nice shipping joke from the writers when it came to Nora and Elm Ederne from the Ace Ops. I’m sure the fandom won’t go nuts over that. It is also during this talk that Ironwood reveals that figures who have been speaking out against him have been turning up dead, finally giving an answer to what to Tyrion was doing at the end of each episode. More of this will add up later on in ‘Pomp and Circumstance’.
During the debriefing, Ironwood pulls the team aside to officially gives the team their Huntsman licenses and leaves them to celebrate. As Yang pointed out in this scene, ‘I almost forgot this is what I wanted’ and quite frankly, it feels the same from an audience perspective. There has been so much going on in the previous volumes – Ruby and the remainder of team JNPR travelling, Yang recovering from her PTSD, Weiss escaping from her family home, Blake fighting against the White Fang – that it’s easy to forget where the protagonists came from and what their original goal was.
However, it also shows the development of the conflict of the show, that what they wanted from life at the start of the show seems so much smaller in scale to the situation they find themselves in now. Almost comically, the Ace Ops help RWBY and their companions by picking their first official missions, with Jaune being tasked to walk a group of pre-schoolers to school while others get to clear out a Sabyr infestation in the sewers. Let’s see how this pans out, I’m sure nothing will go wrong.
It’s also during this scene that a little character development is given to Ruby and her uncle Qrow. As well as some uncle-being-proud-of-his-niece moments, there is also some information given about Summer, Ruby’s mother who was apparently killed in action. However, Qrow very specifically says that she ‘never came back’, so for all we know, Summer is still out there, waiting to make a surprise reappearance later on in the series.
‘Pomp and Circumstance’ concludes with Arthur Watts walking forcibly into Jacques Schnee’s home and giving him an offer. The symbolism as this scene opens up is a little on the nose: Jacques drinking Whiskey as if in defeat, despite his grand speech to Ironwood, and the scene opening up with a shot of Jacques looking onto a chessboard. It’s also amusing that Watts points out how Whitley is just as much of a creep as his dad is.
It turns out that Watts was assumed dead and since Jacques seems to know Watts on a personal level, talking fairly amicably to each other (at least for Jacques) it can only be assumed that he had a high position in the Atlas hierarchy, whether that be political or military. Watts also reveals that he knows that Jacques is looking for a seat on the Atlas council and wants to strike out against Ironwood for losing his profits thanks to the embargo, with Watts closing the episode on offering him a solution.
Here, it looks like Salem’s plans in Atlas are finally made clear: the plan seems to be for Tyrion to take out as much support against Ironwood as possible to create unrest, that much was said in the episode. However, with Watts entering the picture with his honeyed words, its looking like he will try and help Schnee in his political stand off by offering him support in exchange for possibly supporting Salem and her plans in the future, or more likely kill him when Jacques has lost his usefulness. To add to all this, all this negativity and violence will draw in the forces of Grimm. Jacques was a detestable character to begin with but making him a powerful ally to Salem could mean danger to Atlas at the least and the world of Remnant at the most, especially to team RWBY with Weiss being his youngest daughter. Though all this political cloak-and-dagger dialogue and setup is a little bit different to what RWBY is known for, it is still going to be interesting to watch all these events unfold.
While it eases up on the action yet again, ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ provides a nice needed happy moment for our heroes who have quite frankly earned a break after their journey during the last few volumes. Plus, the villain’s movements are finally made obvious to the audience in a few cool revelations.
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Pomp and Circumstances is a strong episode in terms of plot, relationship and exposition development for volume 7, and features a return of hated characters to balance out the loved ones.
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