Hello and welcome to another RWBY review: Today we are looking at the fourth episode: “Family”.
I will cut right to the chase, parts of this one made me question the direction of RWBY as a whole and it revolves around the main portion of the story dealing with Yang. The Yang portion starts off with a nightmare that fits this type of characterization: Yang is attempting to fend Adam off but fails and panics as it looks like Adam is about to kill her. It’s generic but serviceable. What happens afterwards is a bit odd. See, Oobleck and Port come to visit Taiyang and talk about the old days when Yang comes down after her nightmare. The conversation consists of random comedic jabs and some more serious talks about Yang’s fears. The comedic bits are actually amusing. They are similar to how RvB handled it’s off hand mentions about past events: generally absurd and stupid things that have happened to it’s cast. Then we get to the serious bits of the conversation with Taiyang talking to Yang; this is when tonal dissonance starts to rear it’s ugly head. Taiyang makes a comment about how Yang isn’t an adult yet which is fine in of itself and Yang comments on how generic the statement is but then comes a particular line from Taiyang.
“If you think you are ready to go out there on your own, hum, i guess you lost some brain cells along with that arm”
That line right there stops all jovial tones and makes Taiyang out to be, to be blunt, an asshat. They try to pass it off as a joke but I could hear the actors strain themselves to try to laugh. In addition, it also marks a focus on how Yang is dealing with her problems: she argues that the loss of the arm and her confidence is a new state of normal but Taiyang and the teachers try to make her realize that she shouldn’t let fear stop her. The frustrating part is that the statement works too well; Yang is seen wearing the robotic limb the next day. In terms of storytelling, it makes Yang’s trauma look minor since they could be solved with just a pep talk and also cheapens any sort of quest towards self growth.
The other side stories aren’t as terrible but they leave the audience in too much of a state of confusion. The farm boy is shown again, this time talking to a mirror and being greeted by Ozpin’s dismembered voice. This implies some sort of state where Ozpin is alive but either in a spirit form or possessing another body.
In addition, Qrow and Raven actually meet and talk. This portion leaves some odd plot details. The first is that Raven is basically a “survival of the fittest” archetype; she believes in the strong surviving and actually led a group of, presumably, bandits that actually attacked the town Ruby and the team visited. Raven and Qrow came from the same bandit group but Qrow left. The second is that Raven is questioning Qrow about the same relic that Salam is after. This means that Raven might get involved in the final conflict.
Regardless, this episode left a few questions for the audience which would normally not lead to a negative view of the episode but Taiyang’s interactions make this episode uncomfortable to sit through. Combine that with Yang using the arm and I have concerns about how they plan to do character development for the future.