RWBY Volume 9 - Episode 9 ‘A Tale Involving a Tree’
The penultimate episode of RWBY: Volume 9 is here. With Ruby seemingly gone, RWBY is leaderless. With the volume so close to the finale, what will this mean for our heroes? Will they ever make it back to Remnant?
‘A Tales Involving a Tree’ opens up with Summer Rose (voiced by Morgan Lauré Garrett) reading the story of Alyx to a young Ruby and Yang. Though Summer’s partial reveal was unexpected, it’s welcome. She has had a presence throughout the show, but this is the first time viewers see her interact with her children, even if they are sleeping in the flashback.
It then cuts to Jaune and the rest of RWBY heading towards the tree, where they come across the Genial Gems, who are evolved versions of the Paper Pleasers. Now, the group’s dialogue about Ruby’s potential rebirth is fine when they meet the Gems. But what is going on with the lead-up to this? RWBY have literally just watched their leader and friend be consumed by the tree, yet the only one who seems remotely affected by it is Jaune.
Weiss has been trying to support Ruby throughout this volume, and Yang is her older sister. She should be absolutely raging or heartbroken at the potential loss of her younger sibling. Instead, they barely seem inconvenienced – Yang’s little sister literally disappeared before her eyes, and yet she ends up comforting Jaune in his personal crisis!
This is slightly mitigated when the team is brought to the tree. Yang is the first one to find Ruby, who is wrapped in a cocoon of bark. She frantically tries to pull at the branches around her sister to get her out, and she’s distraught when she can’t do anything. That should have been the tone of the previous scene. But also, why is Weiss the one to say that it’s up to Ruby what happens next? In Ice Queendom, Ruby tried again and again to save her teammate. But now that the positions are reversed, Weiss doesn’t have that same determination? She’s not even going to try and think of something?
In her cocoon, Ruby encounters the Blacksmith from ‘The Parfait Predicament,’ who acts as an avatar for the tree. The design of this world is a standard purgatory-esque dimension, and the dialogue is serviceable for the purpose of the scene. But what happened to Little? In ‘The Parfait Predicament,’ she says her purpose is to guide Ruby, so having the pair navigate this purgatory together would’ve made more narrative sense.
Back in the Ever After, a door is opened, and it’s revealed to be the exit to Remnant. The Cat/Neo hybrid tries to go through but is unable to, so their goal is to take over Ruby’s body instead. They also reveal that Lewis went through the door while Cat killed Alyx. It’s dramatic during the moment but doesn’t make sense upon reflection.
The Cat wanted to possess Neo or Ruby so they could go to Remnant. The Cat specifically says they can’t go back with Neo’s body, as there is nothing for her to return to. So instead, they want to possess Ruby, as deep down, she wants to return to Remnant. So, what stopped them from possessing Alyx? The writing says it’s because she chose to fix her mistakes in the Ever After, but there was still something for her in Remnant – surely, she wanted to see her family when she corrected everything.
The ensuing fight between the team and Cat/Neo is intercut with Ruby’s conversation with the Blacksmith. The fight choreography is ok, and it’s interesting having the Cat conjure up images of Penny and Pyrrha to distract Jaune. But Weiss accidentally knocking him off the tree felt more amusing than shocking. Meanwhile, back in Purgatory, the Blacksmith offers Ruby a range of weapons, and ‘A Tale Involving a Tree’ concludes on a cliffhanger with Ruby reaching for her mother’s weapon.
It’s saddening how disappointing ‘A Tale Involving a Tree’ is. The writing throughout most of the volume certainly had issues, like the meta jokes Cat makes in ‘A Cat Most Curious,’ but the episodes themselves ranged from passable to enjoyable. However, the intro to the episode where Ruby’s teammates have little to no reaction to her ‘death,’ the dialogue between them, and Cat killing Alyx just didn’t really work. The reveal of Summer Rose was a pleasant surprise, but that was it. Hopefully, the final episode makes up for this.
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‘A Tale Involving a Tree’ suffers from bad character writing and is a low point compared to the rest of the volume.
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