Much of the current volume has been setting up for a grand battle between the forces of Atlas and Salem’s Grimm armies. Now, as that battle goes into full swing, ‘Gravity’ promises more of the adrenaline filled action fans have been waiting for all volume.
Spoilers ahead for RWBY.
The episode starts where the previous one left off, with Watts and Ironwood commencing their duel. This whole sequence is just hyped up awesomeness – with the use of gravity Dust crystals and the Colosseum’s biome system, the crew make full use of interesting camera movements. Along with Jeff William’s vocals and a heavy rock track in the background, this fight is just a treat to watch. It’s also clear that Watts feels betrayed because of Pietro, when he says to Ironwood “you chose a fat imbecile over me!”, clearly referring to the weapons design race mentioned a few episodes ago. It would be an interesting dynamic to see Watts and Pietro’s relationship in the past.
The ending of the fight is nothing short of glorious: Watts has Ironwood with his arm in a restraint that burns his arm if he struggles. At first, Watts thinks he’s won, assuming that Ironwood wouldn’t want to “add more metal to your body”, in reference to his cybernetic arm. However, Ironwood defies all expectations, freeing his damaged arm, beating up Watts and holding him over a lava pit, “I will sacrifice whatever it takes to stop her”. This dialogue is goosebump raising and is an excellent start to the episode.
The episode then goes to another battle: Qrow, Robyn and Clover going head to head with Tyrian. Again, the animation crew shows what they are best at in this fight with high speed combat and full use of the camera. Clover’s weaponised fishing rod is still a little distracting, even if it proves to be practical at points. Again, the battle has a satisfying end, with Tyrian’s aura dissipating after catching one of Robyn’s crossbow bolts in his mouth only for it to explode. The scene briefly shows a wounded Ironwood walking away in victory, sighing in relief when he hears Tyrian is in custody, but looks shocked when he sees something off camera.
Ironwood calls everyone back, where he reveals in his hand a black queen chess piece. Here, the tone of the episode completely changes from hopeful victory to grim despair. This was the same symbol that Salem used during the attack on Beacon in volume three, and Ruby points out that it’s black glass, a material Cinder is all too fond of using. Yang also reveals that she told Robyn about the communications tower.
All these revelations spread confusion among the group, and it seems like the episode is going to be dragged down by a scene of heavy dialogue before a seer Grimm comes out of Watts’ bag. How convenient that Ironwood happened to pick it up. A projection of Salem reveals herself, where she tries to bargain with Ironwood to give her the relics, before Ruby steps up and proclaims they will stop her. Salem drops a huge punch to the gut for Ruby and fans: ‘your mother said those words to me’. Up until this point, fans assumed the fate of Summer Rose to be either missing or killed in action, but this is a shocking revelation. It may also confirm different things about Summer’s character: being Ozpin’s champion before Ruby, or her going to head to head with Salem’s council, but there are too many speculations to just count.
It’s later revealed that the kingdom’s long-range detection systems have either been shut down or destroyed, alluding to Salem coming for them. With Ironwood’s trust in RWBY shaken and all hope seemingly lost, Ironwood decides to use the Staff of Creation to save Atlas and sacrifice Mantel. Ruby tries to warn everyone else, through her scroll but is quickly blocked out. The episode ends on one hell of a cliff-hanger, with team RWBY about to be arrested but refusing to go down without a fight, and with the reveal that Oscar has gone missing.
A problem that RWBY sometimes has is that it can sometimes get too weighed down by the dialogue. However, this episode shows a good example of writing being done right, bridging the gap between the battle for Mantle and how Salem’s revelations and careful planning reset the board, dividing the heroes even further. That, and the two fight scenes that make the first half of the episode are just absolutely delightful to watch. ‘Gravity’ is a nice balance between what RWBY was when it first started – energized fights which are visually pleasing to experience – and what RWBY is trying to evolve into – a plot driven story about the forces of good and evil going head to head in a political and military setting.
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‘Gravity’ may not have as much action as the previous episode would lead you to believe, but it perfectly balances elements that make RWBY an excellent show to watch.
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