This next episode of RWBY slows down, pacing-wise, but not egregiously so. Its primary focus is Weiss Schnee, whose powers get fully utilized and shown off to stellar musical cues from all her in-show songs thus far. With the help of the reluctant pilot she bribed to take her out of Atlas, Weiss takes down several bee-inspired Grimm before their battle-damaged ship goes down as well … smack-dab in the middle of Bandit Territory.
I’m pretty sure that from this point on, each episode
will focus on one member of Team RWBY and hopefully, maybe culminate in their reunion towards the end of the volume. At least this time, they’re each doing interesting things.
While Weiss’s storyline took up a large portion of the episode, we were also given insights into other subplots, such as the exploits of Salem’s faction and the militant incarnation of White Fang. Rather inexplicably, Cinder’s voice returns and it is implied that Tyrian will be upgraded after he oh so colorfully mourned the loss of his scorpion tail.
But unlike Tyrian, Hazel Rainhart (the big scary guy who looks like Tukson but isn’t Tukson) is officially not a Faunus. At the very least, he’s human passing enough that Adam Taurus plans on framing him for the murder of the White Fang’s figurehead leader, Sienna Khan.
About that. It seems this episode focuses on the racists of this series: Weiss Schnee, pompous heiress to the Schnee Dust Company turned best friend and teammate of a Faunus, and Adam Taurus. My Tumblr correspondent Harold says that corner of the Internet lost its collective mind (ehehe, no pun intended) over the fact that Adam, a pale-skinned Faunus male, brutally murdered Sienna Khan, a Faunus woman of color in a position of power.
It behooves me to ask (not a Faunus pun), is Adam Taurus truly a racist?
Simple answer: yes, of course.
Complicated answer: Yes, but not in the way you think he is.
Killing Sienna Khan was a bold, unexpected move on the part of the writers, I suppose. She seems like an important character with quite a background story – not that that stopped the RWBY writers last time they decided to kill some fan favorites.
Adam Taurus is most definitely a racist because he’s a member of the White Fang’s most extremist, militant branch which believes that committing acts of terrorism against the entire human race. Sure, in his formative years, he likely experienced discrimination from people who happen to be human as well, and they were racists too. But Adam is taking his own racist sentiment (possibly fueled by trauma and resentment) to an aggressive extreme. His plan is to take his pain out on all members of humanity, regardless of their individual treatment of the Faunus community.
So yes, Adam is indeed a racist.
But what are Adam’s motivations for killing Sienna Khan? Obviously it’s to put himself in a position of greater power. (Also racist: framing a human guy for the deed to bait the Faunus community into rising up against the global human community.) Perhaps the writers are doing something subversive by having a Caucasian-looking Faunus man kill a Faunus woman of color.
Or maaaybe the fan community is taking this one completely out of context – no surprise if that’s the case.
But within the story, Adam’s motivation for murdering the White Fang’s supreme leader is not racially charged. It’s megalomaniacally charged.
Personally, as an egalitarian, I believe that everyone should be judged based on merit and not on factors beyond their control like ethnicity; likewise, I believe in equal opportunity for fictional characters to be expendable. However, I also think killing off such an important character might not have been the wisest thing from a writing / storytelling perspective.
What I liked about this episode:
Weiss being useful. Last volume, Weiss did very little. We saw her suffering under her authoritarian father’s thumb and having mutinous thoughts, but that was it. She, like the entire fourth volume, was at a low point.
New Grimm! While not as visually intimidating as the gorilla Grimm (or the scary thing on a horse Grimm) were in Volume Four, these smaller creatures show another side to these menaces. As the saying goes, good things come in small packages; and so does poison.
What I didn’t like about this episode:
Villain monologues. It felt like each of the “bad guy” characters was present in this episode just to give motive rants. Adam and Salem both did this.
Killing off cool characters way too soon. Considering, that Sienna Khan is a) a Faunus, b) a woman of color, and c) the leader of the White Fang until very recently, I wish we could still have an opportunity learn about her backstory, like how she rose up to that high position and if she encountered any glass ceilings that needed shattering along the way.
I suppose next up for a solo episode is Blake or Yang. Considering how Weiss’s episode ended, I really hope Yang will come to her rescue. Since that would make the most sense, I suppose we’ll actually end up with a Blake episode next. Oh well – let’s hope Sun and in-laws get along better. Also, if Weiss spends the rest of this volume captured by the Branwen Bandit Clan, I’ll be pretty mad. 😛