The RWBY: Volume 9 finale is here, and the cliffhanger in the previous episode left audiences with plenty to look forward to. How will Ruby be reborn? Who out of the human cast will return to Remnant? What have the writers done to build up hype for Volume 10?
‘Of Solitude and Self’ opens up with a memory of Summer Rose, where Ruby discovers that her mother’s last mission was a lie that she was told. It builds up a little intrigue and mystery around Summer Rose, but ultimately, what purpose does it serve for Ruby’s character arc? Honestly, the scene could have been edited out, and it wouldn’t have changed anything for the rest of Ruby’s time in the purgatory dimension. It might be addressed later, but at the moment, it doesn’t really serve a purpose.
Back at the fight with Cat, Jaune rejoins after figuring out that by burning the tree’s leaves, the smoke can induce a hallucination. Though this tactic doesn’t affect Cat, it does impact Neo, shattering their possession and revealing the Cat’s final form. Honestly, it looks a bit like Garurumon from Digimon but as a bipedal cat, with the colour scheme. It’s not a bad design, but not an amazing one either.
Ruby goes through her rebirth, coming out of her cocoon. She also has her mother’s medallion returned. Ruby said in the past that the medallion “contains a mother’s promise,” but she was fast asleep when Summer left it for her. How does she know? It might’ve made more narrative sense if Ruby was half awake when her mother left – if she was, the viewer isn’t shown this – or if she tried to follow her when she goes to leave the house.
Ruby joins the fight with Cat, Red Like Roses: Part 3 plays in the background, raising the hype for what should have been an awesome fight scene. However, apart from RWBY’s finishing move, the action could have been better. Cat reverts back to his normal form and gets eaten by Neo’s Jabberwalkers.
Neo stays in the Ever After and starts the same rebirth process as Ruby. It’s nice to see Neo get this happy ‘ending,’ but it’s doubtful that this will be the last time Neo appears. Maybe she’ll act as the Ever After’s new guardian now that Cat is gone, but it’s more likely that the writers will have her return to Remnant in some new form. Before the team enters the door, they meet a rebirthed Little named Somewhat, and the conversation they have with Ruby is a tear-jerker.
Jaune asks Somewhat to look after Juniper because she means the world to him. But Jaune’s relationship with his mount has never been properly established. There’s one line about Juniper saving him after Alyx poisoned him, but a years-long relationship being summarised in a couple of sentences isn’t good writing. The team meet with the Blacksmith one final time. The last third of ‘Of Solitude and Self’ is just exposition. The Blacksmith confirms what happened to Alyx, explains that the two gods of Remnant actually came from the Ever After, and returns Jaune back to his youthful form.
The fandom hypothesized the last part was going to happen, but what does the rest of the scene do? We get information about the gods’ backstory, but it doesn’t serve the plot. At best, maybe it contextualises how the Ever After and Remnant are connected. Also, really? Having the Blacksmith conclude her speech with Alyx’s knife, saying, “Such is balance”? Parroting Thanos’ balance quote feels cheap.
The team returns to Remnant, with the Blacksmith saying it’s not where they’ll go back but when they are needed most. So, a time skip is confirmed. They return to Vacuo, where a fleet of ships is hovering overhead. It looks like the Communications Tower from Volume 8 is among them as well. So, does that mean Maria and Pietro will show up in the next volume?
But what happened to everyone who fell at the end of Volume 8? Did the writers just forget about them? If they had shown that they didn’t survive, maybe Ruby stumbling across some bodies at the start of Volume 9 would have amplified the crisis of self that she went through.
Now, most of the finales usually feature an after-credits scene to build up hype for the upcoming volume. The only one that didn’t was Volume 7, which instead had a dedication to Monty Oum. Volume 9 instead has a trailer for the RWBY x Justice League movie. Some people will be curious about the crossover, but what about those who just want to stick with RWBY’s story?
It’s such a disappointment for those who were genuinely excited to see what’s next. They could have done literally anything else. Maybe have an old companion who stayed in Remnant come to meet them but aged up or scarred from battle to show how much time has passed or how dire the situation has become.
That sums up ‘Of Solitude and Self’ – disappointing. The rest of the volume managed to stay consistently competent. In previous volumes, the finales were always left on a cliffhanger or at least built up the drama in a final battle scene, but this finale felt like it was lacking something. Plus, the after-credits scene being replaced with a trailer was just an awful choice, and it really brings down the rest of ‘Of Solitude and Self.’
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It’s such a shame that Volume 9 didn’t finish with a bang, but a whimper. ‘Of Solitude and Self’ is weak compared to previous volume finales, and replacing the after-credits scene with promotion for a project some fans might not even watch is rough.
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