Kuroyuri provided a flashback that we didn’t really need but thankfully proved its worth for giving us a lot of insight into the backstory of some side characters and correcting one flaw I had with the previous episode.
I really like Lie Ren. He’s the classic strong, silent side character who gets to do awesome stunts when he’s called into combat, only speaks when it’s necessary and seems to have a good and sensible head on his shoulders. The sort of side character I’m always rooting for to get more screen time so that he can do awesome things and outshine the main characters by exuding epicness from his green bust. Which is why I was a little put out when he chose to leave his friends and divide the party into him and Nora, with Ruby, Jaune and an injured Qrow taking the dangerous path, rather than stand up brave and face his demons at the end of last episode, the sole flaw in an otherwise good episode. I didn’t expect an entire episode to be focusing on why he chose to do that, but Rooster Teeth gave us it anyway. So even though it’s putting off the climactic confrontation with what is sure to be a huge Grimm elephant as well as zero checking in with W, B or Y, I appreciate a long explanation.
It turns out that this is where Ren met Nora because where else would he have met her? They’ve always been inseparable so I suppose this makes sense, Ren is a bright-eyed enthusiastic child whose flaw is that he doesn’t take action when it is necessary and ends up making it worse because of the lack of action, something I’m sure is quite a familiar feeling. So we empathise with him. And then the Grimm attack his village and his parents and many of the villagers get killed. Which explains why he does not want to go back if the memories are too fresh for him. I must say, seeing Grimm horses, skeleton riders as well as the normal fare, it was really quite a scary spectacle, and having watched the video on the Great War just before this episode, the image of Grimm being attracted to negative feelings was strong in my mind, but it’s here that faced with being scared stiffless and with his father’s words that doing nothing leads to disaster, that Ren finds his semblance. Out of the original eight, aside from Jaune, he’s the last of the original gang to have his semblance known, and of course he was the one to demonstrate the concept of Aura right at the start, so we knew he knew his semblance from the beginning, he just never had an opportunity to show it. Presumably Jaune will get his in some very dramatic reveal but this quiet, flashback way to introduce his semblance speaks to Ren’s quiet nature, he can shield himself and others from Grimm and so is inclined to protect them. Including a cute moment where he gives Nora a small hammer and tells her that he’ll protect her. So him looking out towards Kuroyuri, I hope that means he’s ready to face his fears and beat the Grimm waiting there.
While Kuroyuri had Ruby, Jaune and Oscar all moving from place to place (with some intrigue being shown by the fact that Ospin says he knew the henchman of Salem’s that Oscar bumped into in a past life), it is mostly a Ren flashback episode and I count him among the characters for whom I’m interested in seeing a flashback for so that’s fine, even though, as I said at the beginning, it wasn’t essential, just something the volume benefited from them deciding to do. Bring on the battle next time though.