So far, the eighth Volume of RWBY has continuously built upon its strengths and resolved its weaknesses. The story is advancing well enough, and despite a few problems here and there, Volume 8 continues to be a promising season. With the latest episode, ‘Fault’, being the longest so far, it has a lot of room to build upon the story, but how does it succeed?
‘Fault’ opens up on Robyn, Qrow and Jacques in their cells, with Robyn idly cracking jokes. At first, the tone doesn’t seem quite right. The last time the audience saw these characters, Qrow threatened to kill Ironwood. The dialogue afterwards fit perfectly: Qrow tries to explain to Robyn that in the events of the volume 7 finale, everything was happening so fast before Clover was stabbed. While that may be the case, it’s still questionable that Qrow would make a deal with his nemesis to fight his ally, especially since it does seem that Clover’s presence had a positive impact on Qrow. Maybe it was just a case of his bad luck Semblance acting up.
As the scene goes on and Watts is dragged back to his cell, this confusing trend seems to continue. Harriet sees Qrow handling Clover’s badge, saying how he shouldn’t get to keep that. But even as the scene finishes, she lets Qrow keep it. It’s clearly supposed to be symbolic of Qrow’s guilt, but it surely would’ve been confiscated by the team during the interim between volumes 7 and 8. Also, there’s a few comments that don’t sit right either.
First, there’s Harriet’s retort to Qrow: “it was your weapon covered in his blood.” Granted, there are places in the RWBY universe which have limited technological capabilities, but this is Atlas, a city which features the height of technological development in this story. Surely some form of forensic science exists. The Atlesian military revealed that they had a file on Tyrian in the previous volume, so why would they not have something like fingerprints? Even Robyn offers Harriet to use her semblance so that she can find out the truth of the matter, but that’s blown off.
Harriet has proven to be hot-headed in the past and easily blinded by rage, but wouldn’t she want to know the truth about what happened to her friend and leader? However, this also provides for some interesting character conflict: Marrow doesn’t harbour any antagonistic desires like Harriet, and he’s the only reason an argument with Robyn and Harriet doesn’t escalate into a fist fight. It’s a scene which feels a bit odd upon reflection. However, the tension between the Ace Ops will be interesting to see develop without their leader.
However, the scene changes to ‘Fault’’s strongest point: a bike chase with Jaune, Ren and Yang in pursuit of The Hound. With the bikes struggling under the cold conditions, the team do what they can to slow it down. This is where the creature shows another one of its powers: its howl is able to summon Grimm to help it. This chase scene is nothing short of pure high-octane energy with the team struggling to deal with the hundreds of Grimm as they try to save their friend. The chase concludes with The Hound getting away with Oscar and Ren only just able to save Jaune and Yang as they tumble off the edge of a cliff.
Ren temporarily activates his semblance to hide them from a lunging Teryx, but then quickly deactivates it. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Ren has shown that using his semblance takes a lot of concentration, but why quickly deactivate it right then and there? There’s still Centinels on the cliff edge, which can easily tunnel through rock, and flying Teryx that can easily pick them off as soon as Ren deactivates his semblance. It’s a minor note to an otherwise kickass scene.
Meanwhile, the remainders of team RWBY and May take a wounded Nora to the Schnee manor, much to the chagrin of Weiss’ brother Whitley. It’s nice to see her establish control over her toxic sibling, first by pointing Myrtenaster in his face when he tries to act tough before telling him to go to his room when he concedes to letting the group have the house. More tension is created as Ruby tries to reach out to Yang on her scroll to no avail.
This develops more on Yang and Ruby disagreeing at the start of the volume. While it didn’t seem right that the two would fight, it’s nice to see some worry and regret welling up in Ruby now that she’s not able to freely communicate with Yang. It would be interesting to see how her developing worry for her sister affects her ability to lead her group.
As Ruby’s scroll rings out, ‘Fault’ moves to Yang, Ren and Jaune in the middle of a tundra. As their aura levels run dangerously low, they make their way to an outpost Ren saw, taking the only bike they have left with them. Here, character tensions continue to brew as Ren’s bitterness causes the group to argue. Again, it’s an intriguing angle to go along with, seeing a bunch of friends who worked so well together finally starting to unravel. It feels like the volume is going to get to a point where this disconnect causes the group to suffer a huge defeat where they may lose someone and are forced to unite.
The next scene change feels comical at first, if only for a brief second. Ozpin whispers to Oscar “Don’t panic. We are going to be ok,” just as the latter wakes up to see Salem in front of him, as he’s hanging from The Hound’s mouth. It shouldn’t be funny, but Ozpin’s line as he wakes up in the most dangerous place he could be is unintentionally amusing. The rest of the scene is tense and filled with peril, especially when Salem starts torturing Oscar for information about the Relic of Knowledge – also, a lightning effect to torture him? Feels like an oversaturated trope to use.
The scene ends on quite the conclusion. In a previous volume, it was established that Hazel Rainart’s purpose for joining Salem was to get revenge for his sister Gretchen, who died on a training mission under Ozpin’s watch. As ‘Fault’ draws to a close, the audience gets to see Hazel unleashing that rage on Oscar: “That was for Haven Academy. Everything that follows will be for my sister.”
As Salem and The Hound leave the pair, they bump into Cinder and Neo. Cinder begs Salem to go after the Winter Maiden with no success: The Hound even lunges at her when she keeps trying to push her luck. However, despite this, she decides to go to Amity Colosseum, saying to Neo that they’ll be back before anyone realises.
While Neo seems conflicted on the subject, Emerald overhears all this and is too eager to join. Since Cinder is going to the same place that Penny is going to, it’s easy to see that Cinder’s plan is going to backfire on her, whatever the outcome of their meeting. If Neo does stay behind, perhaps she’ll become Salem’s latest minion after she loses faith with Cinder.
‘Fault’ concludes with Jaune, Ren and Yang finding the outpost and taking shelter. Though Yang was lucky enough to find parts to fix the bike, there’s still tension in the group: Ren seems to regret lashing out his friends, Jaune is worrying for Ren and Oscar, and Yang ponders over the decisions of her actions. At first, the audience is led to believe that she’s thinking about what Ruby is thinking of her, but then it’s heavily implied she’s actually thinking about Blake.
Though the first couple of episodes focused on this divide between Ruby and Yang, it’s nice to see some time given towards Yang’s feelings for Blake. ‘Fault’ ends on Jaune’s ominous words as the camera pans to some ice cracking nearby: “Thanks, I just have a bad feeling. Things always seem to get worse before they get better.”
There are some faults in ‘Fault’. There’s a couple of pieces of writing that don’t seem to fit – opening up this episode on a comedic note seemed odd, and it doesn’t make sense that Atlas wouldn’t have some form of forensic science – and it might make the viewer feel a little bit disconnected from the show at times. But these are overall mostly minor notes in comparison to the rest of the episode. It proves to be a promising advancement for the rest of the volume, with some intriguing developments in the relationships between characters, as well as dissension in the enemy ranks potentially jeopardizing Salem’s plans.
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Though it’s far from a flawless episode, Fault builds upon the volume with healthy doses of drama, action and peril.
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