Chapter 4: Lessons Learned
It’s John’s turn, sportsball fans!
Last Episode ended with Cinder revealing that she could control the “randomized” tournament selector, setting up a fight between the doubles team of Emerald and Mercury vs Coco and Yatsuhashi. Now, I know we’re all big fans of Team CFVY (Pronounced ‘Coffee’) but I think we all knew how this fight was going to go. We get to see Mercury really cut loose, easily handling his two opponents alone until Emerald could get into place. Ultimately, a fun battle to watch, but also revealing to the participants’ methods. Coco, while definitely a brawler(with super strength, maybe?) relies on Yatsuhashi to defend her while she fires away with her gatling gun(which was ultimately ineffective in this battle). Unfortunately for the both Coco and Yatsuhashi, they seem to be unable to cope with their opponents’ more agile speed. I also love the music for this fight, which is obviously an ode to Mercury(“I’m the one / Who was born in a nightmare, a murderer’s son / Got no gun / But I gleam like a blade and I’m harder than iron”) and foreshadows his backstory.
Next up we have a small interaction between Weiss and Winter, showcasing the, as it turns out, hereditary glyph abilities that all the Schnee family possess. We see Winter use an ability that Weiss has not yet learned, summoning what appears to be a white Grimm from a Glyph. We also get to see the two sisters interact without anyone else watching, at it seems much less strained than their initial meeting last episode. While Winter seems reluctant, she does tell Weiss that she is proud of her, and also gives her advice on improving her abilities. She also laughs at their father’s reaction to Weiss leaving for beacon, again shedding light on a less-than-loving family environment. But enough about Daddy Schnee, I’d like to see more Weiss and Winter interaction in a battle situation, perhaps where they can show off the implied teacher/student aspect of their relationship.
Ah, Ruby and Qrow...what a bunch of goofballs. It honestly reminds me of my relationship with my younger sisters. Am I going to take it easy on them? No. But will I also make sure they grow and become better and stronger for it? Absolutely. Even during their small bout of competitiveness, Qrow, Ruby, and Yang clearly show their love and affection for one another, especially Ruby’s almost hero-worship of her uncle.
Thrown in we also have Qrow’s critique of their jobs thus far as “Huntresses.” I enjoy how he manages to admonish their mistakes without discouraging them outright, and actually makes them try to understand exactly what’s going on, helping them draw some conclusions about the situation the city finds itself in. We also get a (possibly skewed?) look at a Hunter’s job, through Qrow’s story to the girls. While before we’ve seen Hunters as noble protectors of the land, in the story, they seem little better than mercenaries for hire, perhaps showcasing a future conflict or storyline where the public loses trust in the Hunters. But I get ahead of myself. The scene ends with Qrow letting them know that things will only get harder, even past graduation, and that they will go far. Classic big brother move, in my book. Give them real-talk about how messed up the world is, how difficult things can be, then tell them they’re going to be fine. They become aware of the hardships they will face, but feel encouraged and inspired. I like watching scenes with these three. Plus, Qrow is a sassy bitch who likes to drink, so, you know. He’s me.
Back to Weiss and Winter doing their sister-teacher/sister-student thing, along with a great explanation of how their semblance functions. We also become aware of the contrast between the sibling relationships on the show: We have Qrow/Ruby/Yang, who love and support each other, with a lot of sass, inappropriate storytelling, and frank advice. Then we have Winter/Weiss. They are much more formal, and there is an air of disapproval that Winter seems to maintain despite her very clear love and affection for her sister. This is also an indicator of two very different upbringings. While Ruby and Yang had a very close-knit and loving family environment, we can guess that Weiss and Winter did not. Weakness was something that was not tolerated in their household, and like many assholes, their father saw open displays of love and/or affection as such. So we see Winter doing everything in her power to prepare her sister for a world where their father still plays a major, controlling role by being just as unyielding and aggressive as their father is(we assume). In this exchange, we see Winter giving advice, boiling everything down to a single choice Weiss has to make. And Winter, unsurprisingly to those who have paid attention, seems to encourage Weiss to stop relying on her father’s money and influence, perhaps even advocates cutting him out of her life entirely.
This moment, I feel, is an indicator of just how bad their father is. It’s not a physical abuse we’re seeing here, but an emotional one, that Winter will do everything in her power to make sure Weiss won’t got through it the way she did. I can understand that choice, and am familiar with it, intimately, and this was honestly a difficult scene to watch. Especially their goodbye, a more affectionate interaction than we’ve seen from these two thus far. They hug, and begin walking away, together. They then turn and walk in opposite directions of each other, showing the possible decision Weiss is making to break from her family. The musical accompaniment is also poignant and beautiful, like the entire fucking soundtrack to this show.
The soundtrack is probably my second favorite thing about the show. As background music, it is emotionally charged enough get the audience involved, but if you actually listen to the lyrics, we can see that specific characters are mentioned. There is foreshadowing, there are portrayals of internal conflict, it’s an entirely new layer of storytelling. Because the creators are also involved in the music, we get an intensely layered story, where every aspect is used to tell, explain, foreshadow, and even at times confuse the story. This episode in particular could be seen as filler, but I think it is incredibly important, even more so than the actual action episodes. In this episodes, we see Ruby, Yang, and Weiss learning from what they’ve seen. The two contrasting teacher figures we were introduced to last episode very quickly were utilised to their fullest extent. Just by their words we have been shown that their experiences can only help our heroes, and we see them do so. This episode is definitely in my Top 5 for this Volume, possibly even my Top 3. I really can’t wait for what’s coming next!