Chapter 2: New Challengers…
We kick off with the match between Teams JNPR and BRNZ, and man oh man my darling Nora kicks some major ass. Though this isn’t my favorite fight sequence of the season, it has several really clever moments where Jaune demonstrates how much he’s grown and improved since Volume 1. Weiss even comments on this during the battle, which I found to be a bit odd given her history of snubbing him or ignoring him completely.
Now, I really hate when one-off characters are treated like puppets, but Rooster Teeth has a decent history of developing their minor characters just enough for them to not come across as fake. Thankfully, Team BRNZ keeps with this pattern, as each of the members have apparent personalities. Their weapons are pretty neat, too, though I do have to question the practical application of Roy’s sawblade gauntlets…
The match begins, and each member of JNPR goes up against different members of BRNZ. May immediately takes cover in the trees and starts harassing Team JNPR with sniper rounds, so Jaune calls a retreat to try and regroup.
Nolan duking it out with Nora for a hot second is one of my favorite moments, if only because of the face he makes when Oobleck reveals that her semblance is electricity immediately after Nolan hits her with his shock baton.
Speaking of Nora’s semblance, I’m in love. It’s very appropriate given that her character is inspired by Thor, the Norse god of thunder, and the reveal mid-battle was so satisfying. Kudos to Miles and Kerry.
I appreciated the humorous nod to JNPR’s ship names toward the end, when everyone stops fighting to argue about what their team attacks are called. I ship Flower Power so had, y’all. Nora is the character I identify with the most out of my favorite characters, and her dynamic with Ren reflects so many of my personal relationships…it makes me nostalgic, I think. Anyway. BRNZ gets miffed at being ignored and reminds our bickering JNPR that they still have a match to finish, so they do. With style.
Next up we have my lovely boys, my yahoos, my troublemakers. Team SSSN are so very dear to my heart, and I’m still not entirely sure when I developed such an attachment to them, but I did and here we are. We finally get to meet the other half of SSSN, Sage and Scarlet, and Scarlet is seriously #goals. I wanna be a pirate boi.
As much as I adore Team SSSN and the choreography of this scene, I really had much higher hopes for it, probably to an unrealistic degree since both teams are made up of supporting characters, but still. My first issue is the fact that Sage squeezes exactly one line in before he’s eliminated, and we do not hear him talk again for the rest of the season. My second issue is that there is literally almost no team interaction or cooperative fighting amongst Team SSSN. None. Aside from Sun yelling at Neptune to get over his fear of water for the entire match, none of the members talk to each other. And this saddens me.
But anyway. Before the match even begins, Neptune manages to make an ass out of himself while flirting with NDGO, and we get an adorable little quip from Scarlet about getting sand in his shoes. As the ocean biome is announced, we suddenly learn that Neptune, named for the Roman god of the sea, is terrified of water. Who’d’a thunk?
He rushes to gain higher ground.
The remaining boys leap into action and we get a brief look at Dew and Sage trading blows before Dew whips up some sand twisters and tosses Sage out of the ring like he’s yesterday’s lunch. I’m so upset. We don’t even get to see what his mysterious clock sword does!! And I call bullshit on that sandstorm. What the heck, Rooster Teeth? At least let Sage have a chance to do shit before you toss him aside with a fucking twister.
Sun and Neptune scuffle with Octavia for a hot second before she gets eliminated, and we pan over to Dew giving Scarlet the same treatment she gave Sage, only Scarlet can apparently fly? It’s unclear whether that’s his semblance or if he has some sort of dust magic woven into his clothing, but either way I think it’s really cute since he’s based off of an older Peter Pan.
He swoops on over to the mainsail of the shipwreck and Nebula follows him up and they engage in a beautiful homage to swashbuckling sword fights everywhere.
He knocks Nebula off the post and uses the grappling hook on his pistol to hoist Gwen up and away from where she can throw her knives at his teammates, and nearly slices his face open when all of the knives fall out of her skirt panels and onto the ground around him. Meanwhile, Sun and Dew are at it again, and Sun goes for the classic coconut projectile maneuver. It doesn’t work. Well, not on Dew anyway. Scarlet gets caught in the crossfire of her deflection and, well…
So it’s Sun and Neptune versus Nebula, Gwen, and Dew. Sun’s reeeeally exasperated by this point, and Neptune is his usual melodramatic self, and finally Neptune does the thing I’ve been screaming at him to do for the entire fight. The girls all end up in the shallow sea area of the biome, so he tiptoes over at Sun’s insistence and uses his trident to charge the water and knock out the three girls via electrocution. It feels like a bit of a cop out, personally, but I understand that the fight needed to wrap up somehow. And Team SSSN emerges victorious!
Then we have the moment I’ve been waiting for since his design was revealed at RTX 2015. Lovely readers, put your hands together for Qrow Branwen!
Of course, we don’t officially know that this mysterious grumpy man in a bar is Ruby’s mythical Uncle Qrow quite yet, but the implications are pretty heavy-handed.
The reveal effect is a bit lost on me, since I first watched this episode almost an entire year ago and any surprise I felt has been lost to time, but I do remember that I really wasn’t sure what to expect of Qrow. Yang and Ruby had mentioned him a couple of times, but no real expectations were established other than that he’s crazy talented at wielding a scythe. I’m so delighted that the writers went with the scathing drunkle angle.
He comments on SSSN’s match, calling it a mess, and the bartender inquires what fight he’s there for. All we get in response is a cryptic ‘That one.’ and a jerky nod toward an Atlesian airship approaching in the sky behind him before he staggers out of the building, presumably to look for that fight.
So yet again, we have a decent episode. It’s obviously a filler episode, but given what happens in the next chapter, the lack of true plot advancement is more than acceptable, in my opinion. Some say that a show is only as good as its filler episodes, and I’m inclined to agree most of the time. Even though it gives us a break from new plot points, it still captures the audience’s attention and offers JNPR and SSSN some time to shine, which I am very thankful for in light of the back half of Volume 2, which was resoundingly absent of substantial JNPR action.
I’m still super salty about the soft bullshit that was Team SSSN’s and NDGO’s fight, but again, SSSN aren't main characters, so I get that Rooster Teeth can’t spend too much time developing them. Honestly, it’s a pretty good fight for what it is, which is filler, but I have a right to be salty about my darlings. Hmph.
Before I end this, though, can we please talk about the final moment were the airship flies over the stadium and Weiss makes this face after softly breathing out, ’She’s here!’
BECAUSE I GET REALLY EMOTIONAL ABOUT THAT BIT BECAUSE THE TONE SHE USES IS VERY SIGNIFICANT GIVEN HER IMPLIED HISTORY WITH HER FATHER AND HER VOICE IS FULL OF SO MUCH LOVE WHEN SHE REALIZES IT’S WINTER’S SHIP. Ahem. So that’s how I feel. Catch y’all for the next episode!