Family is an episode that brings a lot of characters discussing vague events of which we the viewer have no real knowledge as well as having no major fight spectacles, something very unusual for RWBY. Yet I think it is the best of this volume so far. Largely because it represents a vital step forward in two of the arc storylines and those character moments are crucial.
Let’s cover the Branwen part of this first. It seems natural and good storytelling that the reason RNJR have been travelling so well out in the dangerous wilderness (as narrated by Qrow in the 3.5 appendice episode, that wilderness is barely safe and villages fall like they did in episode 2 very easily without good defenses) and avoiding Grimm is that Qrow has been following them out of sight and dispatching the majority of the Grimm that notice them, staying at different inns to keep out of sight. That makes perfect sense, of course he’d be watching over someone as close to him as Ruby is and he’s the sort of independent who wouldn’t think twice about going into lone wolf mode to do so, but at the same time would absolutely not reveal himself because he knows Ruby wouldn’t appreciate being watched over.
Even then, the contrast between him and Raven is quite stunning. Here Qrow absolutely seems like the sensible and rational one, berating Raven for seeming to care about family but ignoring the fact that her daughter has lost an arm, while Raven desperately pushes for information without pleasantries, eventually leaving because she can’t get information out of him, responding to ‘we’re all going to die’ with the cold-hearted ‘and which we are you referring to?’ She is one very cold and mysterious character, I would love to see more of her.
We see more of that farm boy and hear Ozpin talking to him, so it seems certain that we’re not done with Oz yet, that boy could possibly be the Spring Maiden, if there are no other candidates… That clearly is something significant but we don’t know anything about it yet.
Finally, the part of the story taking place at Taiyang’s house was pretty wonderful. First off, we get to see Oobleck and Port having a part in the story and given that one of the best parts of Volume 3 was their banter in the commentary box and Oobleck’s proved himself consistently to be one of my favourite characters, this was very welcome, as they reminisce with Tai over days gone by, as well as have some initial awkwardness when Yang walks in that’s so very relatable, including (and I love this, which is why I made it the picture) their reactions of shock when Tai nearly crosses the line in hitting Yang with a joke that she reacts well to, instantly deflating the tension because she does so and opening up a line of conversation about the arm (and Port’s apparent musophobia). They also give some good information as to how the rebuilding of Beacon is going, and Tai seems even more like a likeable character as he reveals how he wants to go after Ruby but has to make sure that Yang will be okay first.
Finally, the episode ends on a good note as Yang finally tries on the arm. I expected this, there wasn’t much longer she could go on without trying it on unless she wanted to go fully down the one-armed warrior route but it seems like it’s leading to the training that we see her doing in the opening so it looks like we’re well on our way to getting a fully functional Yang Xiao Long on the front lines of the story again. Which will be quite brilliant.