Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back was very much two steps forward for the show without taking any back after, bumping things back up after a fairly average episode last week.
Part of that was of course because, for what I THINK is a first this season, we see all four main characters and their arcs in one episode. Now obviously they don’t get a lot done in either but each of them made a significant stride forward such that instead of two storylines taking up the whole episode with little feeling like it got done, it felt that all storylines made major leaps forward this week. Pacing is balanced very right in this episode.
The one that least felt like that was Yang’s, although that was probably inevitable as it’s been a while since we’ve checked in with her and stuck at home yet with a loving family her arc of regrowth is probably the one with the least meat in it. But to counter the lack of plot development we got a lot of character development. We got a good scene of her training with Tai, a reminder of the healthy relationship she shares with him. If only Professor Oobleck had checked in again, that was a delectable moment from this volume. But my love for history professors aside, we got a good discussion on how Yang doesn’t strategise using her semblance enough and relies on it like a crutch, which Tai rightly points out does not always work. It seems like Yang’s semblance is very overpowered but only in the circumstances she’s yet faced, and it didn’t save her from Adam. So she needs to learn not to fall back on it. That’s good character growth and it’s also a bit of fight strategising talk and any form of strategising talk gets me interested, it was great hearing them talk techniques and hopefully Yang is learning from that for when she returns to the fray. Additionally, Tai talked about Raven, something you could see was hard for him to do as he admitted that she was the one who tore STRQ apart. That is leading to some thrilling plot once Yang decides she’s ready.
And yeah, I generally have more to say on character development rather than plot development so I’ll just go through what I liked about the action scenes of the next three. They’re all good because this is experienced RWBY with good animation and the feeling that the consequences are quite weighty.
Weiss’ was pretty great, not a whole lot to say beyond Whitley continues to plumb new depths of insufferability, I feel every inch of what Weiss is feeling right then. And of course yes yes bring on the summoned Mirror Mirror knight to fight for Weiss Schnee and her glorious cause to rule the Schnee dynasty. I knew Weiss was getting powerful but she’s really advanced herself quickly.
Blake and Sun faced danger with a White Fang member who can change skin colour. Taking down an armed opponent when they did not have their weapons on them and had to rely on Sun’s semblance is impressive fighting, although Sun looks like he could be in trouble. I guess he’ll pull through but you can’t tell with the tone the show has taken anymore. The music, a riff taken from From Shadows felt quite heavy and meaningful, this could be significant for Sun, who did look like he was struggling to keep his semblance effective.
Similarly, I was half sure that Qrow would give up the ghost on the stretcher that Ruby and Jaune are carrying but it looks like he’s stayed alive long enough for Jaune and Ruby to think that splitting the party and going to a destroyed village that Ren wants nothing to do with is a good idea. You do not split up in dangerous territory. Either carry the stretcher over the mountain (my preferred choice) or just tell Ren to man up because this is a mission for the fate of the world here. Still, I guess Jaune and Ruby will be fighting an oliphaunt for their troubles next episode. I’m down with that. It wasn’t a bad part of the episode, I just take a lot of mileage from characters making stupid decisions.
Now I’ve been trying to figure out what the title’s actually in reference to. Yang and Weiss are making steps forward, Blake has some information but has Sun in danger and Ruby is clearly going to be in danger now she’s with only Jaune and heading towards Grimm, maybe the fact that two of the four are in danger is why the title is the way it is. But regardless, this was a good outing for the show, I’m confident in it again.