Alone in the Woods
Directed by Kerry Shawcross & Connor Pickens
As darkness falls on Brunswick Farms and the snow continues to fall, Team RWBY's morale is at an all-time low. The only thing worse than being stranded, alone in the woods ... is realizing you're not alone at all.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The underground waterways beneath Brunswick Farms can be access by jumping down the well and through a broken wall in the side of the farmhouse's underground wine cellar. The waterways are huge structures, held up by stone and wooden frames, with underground streams running through the centre of each tunnel. The tunnels branch off into a labyrinthine network that runs underneath the farm and which has surface entrances in the forest that can be blocked off. Not only are the tunnels many times the height and width of an entire group of humans, but they are absurdly large in size even by the standards of a major metropolitan centre, never mind a small, isolated farmstead in the middle of a forest.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the previous episode, Ruby notes that the large supply of alcohol in the farmhouse would be great for starting a fire. When Team RWBY flees the tunnels with Apathy Grimm hot on their heels, Weiss throws bottles of alcohol at the entrance to the underground cellar and uses Fire Dust to set the entrance and nearest Grimm alight. The house quickly goes up in flames as the gang escapes the farmstead.
- Creepily Long Arms: The Apathy Grimm are taller than humans, but their arms are so long that they drag on the ground. Their arms alone are therefore almost as long as a human is tall.
- The Darkness Gazes Back: Convinced by her team-mates that the Relic is more trouble than it's worth, Ruby succumbs to tiredness and starts to drop the Relic down the well. As she hesitates and looks into the well, a pair of glowing red eyes suddenly shine out of the black depths. Ruby is shocked out of stupor but loses her grip on the Relic, which tumbles into the well anyway.
- Deadly Gaze: At the end of Volume 3, Qrow tells Ruby that legend claims the Creatures of Grimm are afraid of silver-eyed warriors because the warriors are capable of striking the Grimm down with a single look. Qrow regards it as ridiculous, but Ruby did freeze a Grimm Dragon to Beacon Tower when the power of her eyes instinctively activated and Qrow isn't quite sure what happened. In this episode, Maria deliberately activates Ruby's eyes to save them all from the Apathy Grimm. Controlling her power for the first time, Ruby is able to reduce an entire room full of Apathy Grimm to particles with a single burst of silver light from her eyes. It does not destroy any Apathy Grimm that were not in the room at the time.
- Empty Eyes: When under the control of the Apathy's ability to drain the will to live, the eyes of affected people become dull and lifeless, their natural colour darkening and the pupils of their eyes becoming much wider. All the shine vanishes from the eyes.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Bartleby was so worried about the farm haemorrhaging money, that he decided to cut costs on Huntsman protection. Since that required the farm-dwellers to keep calm and as emotionless as possible, he tried to use a single pair of Apathy Grimm to dull everyone's emotional responses. Unfortunately, the other members of the Apathy Grimm's pack followed their missing members, killing everyone on the farm.
- After arriving at the farmstead, various characters start to complain about how tired they're feeling. This extends into complaining about anything that seems like too much effort, such as making breakfast or carrying on to Atlas with the Relic. Any time characters are in this tired, lethargic mood, their eyes become dull and lifeless with expanded pupils. These are early signs of the horde of Apathy Grimm that are living in the tunnels underneath the farm and their ability to kill humans by draining them of the will to live.
- Maria starts reading her way through Bartleby's diaries to pass the time. Every so often, she discusses what she's reading with Oscar. She tells Oscar that Bartleby was in charge of the farm and he had many odd schemes to try and keep the farm functioning and successful. This sets up the eventual discovery that the farm was destroyed because one of Bartleby's schemes to save the farm money resulted in the horde of Apathy Grimm living underneath the farm and killing everyone.
- When Ruby instinctively uses her silver eyes to prevent Blake from being killed, the activation is only momentary and barely affects the Grimm. It's enough for Maria to ask Ruby what colour her eyes are. Upon learning they're silver, Maria gasps then instructs Ruby on how to activate them, which destroys every Grimm in the room. At the end of the episode, Ruby asks Maria how she knew so much about the silver eyes; Maria tells her that it should be obvious by now that she also had silver eyes.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: When Ruby is looking into the well, she suddenly sees a pair of glowing red eyes staring back at her from the gloom; it's the first visual sighting of an Apathy Grimm. A horde of them are living underneath the farmstead. While they're not strong or fast, Apathy Grimm kill by draining a person of their will and are almost impossible to kill by normal means.
- Gone Horribly Right: Bartleby tried to bring back a pair of Apathy Grimm to help keep everyone calm so he could cut costs on Huntsman protection. He made the mistake of leaving it a night before sealing up the tunnels to trap the two Apathy underneath the farm. That gave the pack of the captured Grimm time to follow their missing members and join them underneath the farm. When Bartleby sealed up the waterways, he had no idea there was an entire horde inside the tunnels, more than enough to kill everyone on the farm — including himself.
- Heroic Willpower: People don't have to be face-to-face with the Apathy Grimm to suffer the effects of their will to live being drained. While everyone succumbs to tiredness and lethargy, Ruby consistently shrugs off the effects. Even when in their presence and being subjected to their paralysing screams, Ruby still finds the strength to crawl. When Maria realises that Ruby has silver eyes, she triggers Ruby's power by teaching her how to activate it: while the Apathy Grimm drains a person's will to the point where they feel nothing and simply lie down to wait for death, Ruby's power is triggered by the very opposite: the feelings evoked by thinking of friends and family, and the will to protect all life. Although the Apathy are affected by almost nothing else, they are disintegrated to dust by Ruby's power.
- The Horde: The Apathy living underneath the farm are described as a 'pack' but the size of the pack is impossible to determine. Everywhere Team RWBY runs in the tunnels, there are groups of Apathy to be found. Even when Ruby wipes out a basement full of them, still more pour into the room from the tunnels beyond. Weiss ends up setting the building on fire just to give them all a chance to escape the farm.
- Humanoid Abomination: Most of the Grimm are based on real or mythic animals, but the Apathy are humanoid in shape, so thin and sinewy that they appear skeletal. Their white mask covers their face and looks like a human skull. Their bodies are capable of twisting in inhuman ways, and they twitch with bone-cricking tics when they straighten up, just like the Nuckelavee and the God of Darkness.
- Immune to Bullets: When Ruby attempts to shoot the Apathy with her weapon's gun mode, she doesn't achieve anything. The Apathy don't fall, aren't destroyed, and keep moving forward as if Ruby did nothing at all. The team has no choice but to turn tail and run for their lives.
- Jump Scare: When Ruby looks into the well, she is snapped out of her lethargic daze by the sudden appearance of glowing red eyes peering up at her from the depths below. She jumps back with a shriek, but accidentally loses her grip on the Relic, which tumbles into the well.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The Apathy use a piercing screaming attack that drains the will to fight or struggle from anyone who hears it. Those afflicted cannot even raise their weapons to resist, and repeated screams can reduce the victims to lying helplessly on the ground, unwilling to even move.
- Monster of the Aesop: The team finds the farm while still reeling from the revelation of Ozpin's secret. They're angry, confused, upset and they don't know what to do next, or even if they should keep protecting the Relic. The Apathy Grimm exacerbate the emotions they're feeling, resulting in apparently out-of-character behaving making sense given the stress recent revelations have had on them and their morale. While the Apathy do not serve the greater plot, they do act as an exploration of the characters are currently feeling and to advance Ruby's knowledge of her special abilities.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Qrow's expression at the end of the episode, when he sees the Apathy horde on fire and realizes that while he was blackout drunk and absorbed in his self-loathing, his nieces and their friends were almost all killed by Grimm.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: The Apathy Grimm are lean and sinewy, but they can take a lot of punishment. Bullets fired at them do nothing, and being lit on fire merely slows them down. The only thing that works on them is Ruby's Silver Eyes. Her first use merely stuns them. Her full use only takes out the Grimm that are in the same room as them. Even with the Silver Eyes, the group is forced to flee the farmstead from the sill-oncoming hordes of Apathy.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Maria spends most of her time at the farm quietly reading Bartleby's diaries. When she turns a page and sees a picture of an Apathy Grimm, she gasps and her electronic eyes widen into huge pools of blue light, immediately understanding the danger they and the farm are in.
- When Ruby impulsively races off around a corner to recover the Relic that they dropped, her scream of horror so shocks her team-mates that it jerks them out of the effects of the Grimm-induced apathy that they'd been falling under.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Apathy Grimm are partially inspired by zombies. They move with a slow, lurching gait, and they have the appearance of an emaciated, skeletal humanoid. The white bones manifest like the skeletal frame of a humanoid, including ribs and skull. They also function as a group, moving together at a stead pace to overwhelm with numbers any living human they catch.
- The Power of Love: Ruby's Silver Eyes have been triggered only in situations that had people she loves being harmed or threatened and is implied to come from her desire to protect them. In this episode, Maria leads Ruby into using the Silver Eyes willingly for the first time by instructing her to think of her family and friends; the ones who love her and that she wants to protect.
- Run or Die: When Ruby tries to stand her ground and shoot the on-coming Apathy, they don't react to the bullets at all. They don't fall, they don't slow down, they just keep moving. After that, Team RWBY doesn't even try to fight them, they just flee. The mere presence of the Apathy in the tunnels is enough to drain the will to live out of the group, and hearing their screams causes people to collapse, unwilling to even move. When trapped in the wine cellar by them, their focus is on trying to blast through the locked doors and escape instead of fighting. When they finally get through the door, Weiss sets fire to the Apathy at the entrance of the wine cellar and the entire house, just to give them a chance to get out of the farm alive.
- Stone Wall: The Apathy Grimm species is not particularly fast or strong, which is what made Bartleby think he could trap a pair of them underneath the farm to control the emotions of the farmers so as to prevent other Grimm species being attracted to negative emotions on the farmstead. However, they're so tough that they can shrug off Dust-powered bullets and keep moving even when set on fire. With their ability to drain the will to move or even live from people, they don't need speed or strength to overcome their victims.
- Too Dumb to Live: Though he acted with the best intentions, Bartleby's final scheme to help the town overcome its hardship only ended up wiping it out. When separating a pair of Grimm from their pack, he failed to consider that the rest of the pack might try to follow the pair. These specific type of Grimm had the ability to drain the will from a living being with their sheer presence, causing its victim to either waste away or be left open to being killed. When Bartleby put the pair of Grimm in his cellar, he didn't bother to immediately seal up the tunnels, instead leaving it until the following day. This gave the pack plenty of time in which to arrive at the farm and locate their missing members. Bartleby therefore sealed in an entire horde of Apathy Grimm rather than just two. The sheer level of power emanating from such a huge pack saps the energy from the entire farmstead, killing all of them in their sleep, even Bartleby.