Though last week’s ‘Worst Case Scenario’ wasn’t the best episode of RWBY’s current volume, it leaves a lot of room for improvement in ‘Cordially Invited’. Additionally, the fans have been looking forward to a ballroom dance scene since before the new season’s release, creating countless pieces of fanart and theories on just such a subject. How does it hold up? Let’s find out.
As ever, spoilers ahead for RWBY.
‘Cordially Invited’ opens up with RWBY quietly conferring amongst themselves at the meaning of Jacques Schnee’s dinner invitation, eventually concluding that something is too questionable about this move and ask Weiss to infiltrate the space, as she would be the only one who could go in without question, as well as debating the political balance. While this is an interesting development in the show’s plot, all this talk of political manoeuvring and espionage is not what made RWBY as a show so popular: at first, it was a group of Huntresses in training going through the trials and tribulations of school life, fighting almost comical villains. This is such a different angle to what made the show so good initially, though interesting all the same: it may be shaky at times, but the recent developments to make RWBY a more mature show works.
Events fast-forward to the gang attending the dinner party along with Ironwood and the Ace Operatives, who are met by Whitley Schnee. As well as being a little bundle of hatred, he is interesting as a character. Since Weiss and Winter defy their father’s ideals, it only seems right to have a character who embraces them. He also points out that Klein – the servant who was kind to Weiss and helped her escape in Volume 4 – was let go. On the one hand, the cast of RWBY is already so extensive that it would do well with some slimming down. On the other hand, Klein was an interesting character, since Weiss was inspired by the character of Snow White and Klein represented the seven dwarves, so it’s sad to see him go. However, with Penny coming back from the dead, it’s doubtful that was the last the audience will ever see of Klein.
While Ironwood and his entourage go to dinner, the Ace Ops go to patrol the party and instruct RWBY to do the same. However, Yang suggests they counteract that point. Surely that will go well. As Weiss goes to investigate the rest of the house, Whitley blocks her off, winding her up about her decisions while the rest of the group watch her questioning what to do. While this is happening, Jacques challenges Ironwood on Penny’s presence after her alleged attack and has invited Robyn to seemingly talk about the people’s problems but more realistically to gloat over his victory. However, why does Robyn challenge Ironwood on her losing the council position that went to Jacques? Granted, while Ironwood and Robyn butted heads over matters concerning the military and supply allocation matters, it wasn’t Ironwood’s fault that she lost politically. If anything, she should be angry with Jacques.
There is also some interesting symbolism in the dinner scene: the more ‘villainous’ side of the debate with Jacques are drinking wine, while our heroes are drinking water. Though Robyn Hill sits in the middle of the table, both literally and metaphorically speaking, she still sticks with water. This seems to hint that, despite everything, Robyn will turn to the side of the protagonists.
While Whitley continues to talk Weiss, the rest of the group organise a distraction to allow her to get in, which leads to Whitley being splashed in wine and another guest being covered in food. The whole set up of this scene is a nice bit of comedic alleviation from the more serious – and at worst, dry – parts of the episode. It’s also nice to see that little brat Whitley get a small comeuppance. Meanwhile, the debate at the table continues to escalate, resulting with Winter eventually snapping at her father, which he uses to further his argument against Ironwood and causes her to leave in a rage. Penny later goes to comfort her about her outburst. This brings up an intriguing piece of dialogue between Winter and Penny, who talk about the difference between Winter’s human emotions and Penny’s lack of understanding of them.
Somewhere else in the house, Weiss continues her investigation, going straight to her father’s office. It is in this scene the audience is introduced to Weiss’ mother: Willow. Much like Qrow, she has her own issues: her alcoholism been alluded to throughout the show’s previous seasons, and when she is introduced here, she is seen handling a full glass and half-empty bottle throughout her conversation with Weiss. However, in comparison to Qrow – who seemed more charming and ‘stronger’ when he was on the sauce – you can’t help but feel sorry for Weiss’ mother, describing herself as sick and stopping herself only when her daughter looks visibly uncomfortable to see her drinking.
In most traditional media, alcoholics are often seen as charismatic, roguish types, like James Bond or even Qrow in this show, almost glamorising it. However, in ‘Cordially Invited’, Weiss clearly resents her mother: both for allowing her father to get away with as much as he has and looking visibly uncomfortable when her mother goes to take a drink out of her bottle. However, it’s in noticing this reaction that Willow reveals that she put cameras all around the house, presumably to act as evidence if Jacques ever did anything to her. This discovery reveals Jacques’ meeting with Watts, providing Weiss with the evidence she was looking for.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city of Mantle, Watts overlooks the city in the pouring rain, deactivating the heating grid to the city from his scroll. Without the heating grid, Atlas is so cold that the rain in this scene instantly turns to snow – which realistically isn’t how thermodynamics works, but still comes off as a real threat to the populace, concluding the episode with the suggestion of a blizzard on the way. Though the audience didn’t get to the ballroom dance scene that the fandom were looking forward to, ‘Cordially Invited’ is still a very good episode that acts as a turning point in the volume, allowing more of the tension to brew among the heroes while Mantle continues to suffer.
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'Cordially Invited' is a stronger developmental episode in the current volume. Though the fandom may not get the ballroom scene they asked for, it still does enough to intrigue the audience, introducing characters that have been alluded to and allowing the drama to simmer.
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