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Recap / RWBY V7 E13 "The Enemy of Trust"

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Volume 7, Episode 13:

The Enemy of Trust
"All I want to know is how we save Atlas next."
Written by Miles Luna, Kerry Shawcross & Eddy Rivas
Directed by Kerry Shawcross

"The single quality that is common across every living creature on this planet... is fear. It’s funny then, that as common as fear is... we so easily underestimate its power."
Professor Ozpin

Drastic decisions are made as the heroes and villains fight for the fate of the kingdom, Relics and Winter Maiden.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • All for Nothing: Every decision Ironwood has made in the last few chapters winds up being for naught. Ordering the heroes to be arrested gets his best agent Clover killed and allows Tyrian to escape custody. Neo takes advantage of his arrest order for the heroes to confront Oscar and get away with the Lamp of Knowledge. Sending Winter to claim the Maiden power led Cinder right to where Fria was being held and ultimately causes the power to go to Penny, who sides with the heroes due to Ironwood's extremist methods. And Salem was far closer than the general realized, so even if things had worked in his favor it still would have failed.
  • Barrier Warrior: Oscar's fall through the Vault of the Winter Maiden leads to him unlocking the ability to create a green barrier in the shape of a sphere, even though his Aura has already been broken. With it, he is able to crash through the base of the shaft and into the open air. He is then able to activate again in time to land safely on the ground in Mantle.
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  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Penny gently helps and comforts Fria as she's about to pass away. Seeing Penny's kind and noble personality is what causes Fria to choose her as the next Winter Maiden.
  • Become a Real Boy: When Penny first revealed she was a robot to Ruby, she described herself as not being 'real', something Ruby dismissed because she could feel Penny's soul. However, Penny only has a partial Aura, pieces of Pietro's Aura that he has given to her so that she can function as intended. When Fria gives Penny the Maiden power, she links hands with Penny and her Aura is briefly shown to travel from her arm to encase Penny's. Maiden powers are linked to Aura and the soul; it's implied that receiving the Maiden power means that Penny now has a full Aura of her own, which is a very important element of defining life on Remnant and means that this is the moment Penny 'becomes a real girl'.
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  • Bequeathed Power: Fria's ailing mental health and poor memory means that, while she doesn't remember who exactly is supposed to inherit the powers from her, she trusts Penny to use them wisely. This is the first time on-screen that the Maiden powers have been willingly transferred between two individuals the way they're supposed to be.
  • Body Horror: When Cinder first revealed her Grimm arm back at Haven, it stopped mid-way up her left bicep. When the arm is damaged it goes all the way up to her shoulder, where the muscles are completely exposed.
  • Bookends: The volume starts with the protagonists approaching the floating city of Atlas in a stolen Manta-class airship. The volume ends with the protagonists flying away from the floating city of Atlas in another stolen Manta-class airship. The same number of people are on board the airship on both occasions. At the beginning of the volume, the passengers include Qrow and Oscar. In the finale, the passengers include Pietro and Penny instead of Qrow and Oscar. Together, the two scenes mark the beginning and the end of the first part of the Atlas arc, which is focused on the themes of trust and fear while set against the backdrop of protecting Mantle.
  • Burning with Anger: Cinder is extremely angry during her fight with Penny and Winter and becomes increasingly rage-filled the longer the fight continues and the less likely it is that she will obtain the Maiden power. The fight ends when she's forced to retreat; as she leaves, she can be seen spewing flames as she screams in frustration.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the Volume 2 episode "Welcome to Beacon", Ozpin and Ironwood's first interaction in the series, Ozpin greeted him as "General" and Ironwood asked him to drop the formalities between friends. When Oscar calls him "James", Ironwood states only his friends call him "James" and that Oscar should use "General". He then shoots Oscar, signifying the end of their friendship.
    • The spherical barrier Oscar manifests to break his fall is the one Ozpin used during his Volume 3 battle with Cinder; although weaker and only partially formed, it still packs a punch and releases the green lightning that characterized Ozpin's use of the barrier.
  • Chiaroscuro: When confronting Ironwood, Oscar steps out of the shadows and into the area lit by the altar's torches, reflecting how he's being completely clean and honest with him. By contrast, Ironwood steps out of the light and into the shadows while backing Oscar towards the ledge and finally shooting him, illustrating his descent into extremism.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end of the episode and volume, Oscar asks Ozpin how can they save Atlas. Meanwhile, Salem makes her grand entrance on a gargantuan flying Grimm whale, accompanied by an army of winged Grimm.
  • Critical Hesitation Blunder: When Neo escapes from Oscar with the Relic of Knowledge, Ren has a perfect chance to hit Neo, who stole the Relic by masquerading as Nora. Although Neo had her natural eye colour, when she sees Ren about to strike, her eyes change to Nora's turquoise colour and she looks at Ren with an expression of horror. Ren is shocked into hesitating, allowing Neo to counter him and escape. As the team flee approaching soldiers, Ren has tears streaming down his face.
  • Darkest Hour: General Ironwood turns on Team RWBY out of paranoia and a sense of betrayal and issues arrest warrants for Team RWBY and their allies. Clover is killed by Tyrian, who escapes the authorities that come to arrest Qrow and Robyn; he leaves behind evidence that frames Qrow for Clover's death. Team JNR and Oscar lose the Relic of Knowledge to Neo, who then gives it to Cinder. Mantle is still under siege and evacuations haven't finished, while Ironwood's plan to abandon Mantle to fly Atlas as high into the sky as possible backfires before it's even begun: Winter fails to obtain the Maiden power, which instead goes to Penny who leaves with Team RWBY. Then Salem arrives on Atlas's doorstep with an enormous army of Grimm, threatening both cities, the Relics and while Atlas has an army that's already exhausted from the battle to evacuate Mantle.
  • Death Glare: Upon getting to Fria's chamber, Weiss and Ruby run into Cinder with her Grimm arm on full display, about to attack Penny and injured Winter. While Weiss is startled, Ruby instantly puts two and two together and gives Cinder a glare that quickly becomes literally deadly as her silver eyes activate. Intimidated, the Grimm-augmented Maiden blasts off through the roof before Ruby's light can seriously damage her again.
  • Die or Fly: When Ironwood shoots Oscar at point-blank range, the force sends him off the cliff edge and shatters his Aura. As he falls, he taps into the power of his cane and unlocks powers he never knew he possessed. He is able to create a sphere of energy around himself that allows him to both break out of the base of Atlas and land safely on the ground of Mantle below. He also unlocks Ozpin in the process, who tells him that he did not activate any of this power for Oscar — Oscar did it by himself.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After ranting about Oscar opposing his plans and thinking he's filled with fear, Oscar tells Ironwood he's becoming as dangerous as Salem and calls him 'James'. Quietly, Ironwood tells him that only his friends are allowed to call him that, before quick-drawing his gun and shooting Oscar. The force of the hit shatters Oscar's Aura and blasts him off the edge to fall into the shaft below. Ironwood merely watches with a bland expression.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": When Ironwood first arrived in Ozpin's office in Volume 2, Ozpin called him "General" and he responded by telling Ozpin to dismiss the formalities between friends. When Oscar realizes just how far Ironwood is willing to go to defeat Salem, he states that Ironwood has become as dangerous as Salem. However, he calls Ironwood "James", something he's never done before. Ironwood reflects that only friends call him "James" and that Oscar should call him "General". He then shoots Oscar off the ledge he's on, shattering both Oscar's Aura and their friendship.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: During the confrontation between Ironwood and Oscar, Ironwood's eyes retain their customary sheen. When Oscar tells Ironwood he's become as dangerous as Salem and calls him by his first name, Ironwood comments that "James" is what his friends call him. Then all the light disappears from his eyes as he tells Oscar to refer to him as "General". His eyes remain lifeless as he raises his gun and shoots Oscar.
  • The Fog of Ages: Fria doesn't remember much of her situation or what's going on, just that she had a responsibility to safeguard the power of the Winter Maiden.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Discussed. When Oscar and Ironwood argue about the global consequences of Ironwood's decision to abandon Mantle, Oscar uses Ironwood's first name for the very first time; this is how Ozpin used to address Ironwood, who had insisted on it in Volume 2, stating that formalities should be dropped between friends. Ironwood mulls over Oscar's choice of address, observing that only friends call him "James" and that Oscar should address him as "General", thereby rescinding his friendship with both Oscar and Ozpin.
    Oscar: Then you're as dangerous as she is, James.
    Ironwood: James is what my friends call me. To you... it's General.
  • Healing Factor: Cinder's Grimm arm can't be protected by Aura, so Winter is able to cut it off when she strikes. However, the arm quickly regenerates, although Cinder screams in pain while it happens. A close examination shows that the event accelerated the Body Horror in Cinder's arm.
  • Heroic BSoD: Qrow is still distraught over Clover's death when the authorities arrest him and Robyn. When they sit in the back of the prisoner transport vehicle, all Qrow can do is look down at Clover's lucky badge, while Robyn tries to comfort him.
  • He's Back!: While Oscar is falling from the Vault's ledge without any Aura left, he momentarily appears to give up until he hears Ozpin call his name. He finds a way to trigger a barrier ability he never knew he possessed, which enables him to fall safely from Atlas to Mantle without injury. As he falls, he hears Ozpin talking about the power of fear. Upon landing, he asks if the power and memory he just experienced means that Ozpin has come back and saved him. Ozpin states that it was Oscar who saved them this time. Before he can say anything else, Oscar asks for his advice on how to save Atlas.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The volume focuses on the heroes, Robyn and Ironwood all having different ideas about how to protect Atlas and Mantle. When they finally come together to help evacuate Mantle, the truce quickly falls apart once Ironwood realises Cinder is in town, Salem is on her way and Team RWBY leaked intel to Robyn. He orders the arrest of the heroes, the forcible extraction of the Winter Maiden powers, and the abandonment of Mantle to save Atlas. As a consequence of his extremism and paranoia corrupting his judgement, he loses the Relic of Knowledge, the Winter Maiden, almost all of his allies, and stands alone when Salem arrives on his doorstep.
  • An Ice Person: Fria's response to being awakened by Cinder's attempt to steal her power is to create such an intense blizzard in her hospital room that it creates a massive pillar of ice that bursts through the roof and spirals towards the heavens. The cold is so extreme that Winter's glove is burned off her hand and Cinder's Grimm arm can't handle the power. Penny is able to cope due to her inorganic body and using her thrusters to keep her legs from being frozen.
  • Idiot Ball: When Team JNR and Oscar confront Neo, Jaune tells Neo to give up because they've got her outnumbered. The team then proceeds to attack Neo, one after the other, as individuals. Neo therefore has plenty of time to dispatch each member before the next one decides to attack. When guards spot them, they are forced to run. However, Oscar is so exhausted, he cannot keep up with Team JNR and loses sight of them. Despite the fact they were supposed to protect Oscar and the Relic, this oversight makes him easy prey for Neo who easily obtains it. In the previous episode, Team RWBY defeats the strongest Huntsman team in Atlas yet Team JNR fails to defeat Neo, a single opponent who makes them look like amateurs. In order to set up the loss of the Relic to create a new conflict for Volume 8, it requires Team JNR to be incapable of team-work despite the fact that its leader, Jaune, is supposed to be the natural tactician amongst the heroes of both teams.
  • Irony:
    • Leo served Salem because he was too terrified of opposing her. When Oscar first tells Ironwood is okay to be afraid, Ironwood tells him he has no intention of ending up like Leo and speculates if the key to defeating Salem is to sacrifice his humanity. Instead of caving in to Salem, Ironwood shuts down his humanity and begins making cold decisions, such as abandoning Mantle to save Atlas, sacrificing the Winter Maiden's life to put the powers under his control, and arresting the heroes for opposing his decisions. During his final confrontation with Oscar, Oscar tells him that he's become as dangerous as Salem. Ironwood rescinds his friendship with Oscar, and shoots him. In the end, Ironwood got his wish: he didn't become Leo, he became something much worse.
    • James promised Oscar when they first met and he learned that Ozpin was... uncooperative that together, they would get him to come back. Most of the general's interactions with Oscar this volume were to jog Oz loose, either by mock combat or revisiting familiar places. In the end, he does succeed in making Ozpin come back; right after he severs ties with him and nearly kills Oscar.
    • In "Cordially Invited" Ironwood claimed that Penny was completely under his control. Penny's decision to run off with Teams RWBY & JNPR proves that, no, she wasn't.
  • Mercy Lead: When the heroes refuse to surrender to Atlesian police, Winter tells them to run for their lives and offers them a head start.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: When Penny becomes the Winter Maiden and Ruby uses her eyes to make Cinder flee, an injured Winter demands their surrender. Weiss rebuts that they won't be doing anything of the sort, and Winter regretfully gives them a head start before warning the authorities. Penny subverts this by joining the heroes, while Winter begrudgingly plays it straight.
  • The Needs of the Many: Invoked by Oscar, who points out that raising Atlas will mean Salem will have free reign to slaughter the millions of people left on Remnant. Ironwood, however, dismisses the debate as "philosophical".
  • Never Mess with Granny: Despite being left bedridden and losing her mental faculties in old age, Fria's mastery of her Maiden abilities is still enough to easily force back Cinder even though Penny and Winter together struggle to hold their ground against her.
  • Never My Fault: As Oscar tries to talk Ironwood down in the Relic Vault, the latter blames everyone, Robyn, the council, the Altas Kingdom and even Oscar, for not seeing the bigger picture and getting in the way of doing what he thinks is right. Not once does he stop to consider that he himself may have had a role in things escalating as badly as they did.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Winter's interference in Cinder's attempt to steal the Winter Maiden powers leads to her being beaten to a bloody pulp by a berserk Cinder.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cinder goes through a succession of shocks which she unsuccessfully tries to recover from with renewed rage every time. Realizing that she was too late to get Fria's powers after beating up Winter, she tries to bury her shock by directing her anger at Penny. Then Ruby shows up, which is another whammy for Cinder, who tries to intimidate Ruby by preparing to attack, only to be reminded in a hurry that Ruby has Silver Eyes, forcing Cinder to flee as they flash.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: When Cinder blasts Penny and Winter through a wall, the music switches to dramatic orchestral chanting for the aerial battle that then takes place.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: A spiritual version of the trope. Fria's blizzard freezes out Winter and Cinder, but Penny passes through on account of her android body. She soon proves to be the one worthy to be the Winter Maiden by showing kindness and compassion for Fria's wellbeing.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Far from her normal smug attitude towards her opponents, Cinder seems to actively hate the elite Atlesians, and pursues Fria's power as desperately as if she were physically starving for it.
    Cinder: You think hoarding power means you'll have it forever, but it just makes the rest of us hungrier! And I refuse to starve.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Having held the Winter Maiden's powers for decades, Fria is far more skilled with it than what any of the other Maidens have demonstrated. Despite being near death and senile, she manages to create a pillar of destruction so cold that normal humans can't even enter.
  • Power Glows: When Oscar concentrates over his cane as he falls, the cane begins to glow from the cogs in the handle. The glow eventually extends to envelope Oscar's entire body like a golden aura before fading away. It leaves him with the ability to create a spherical barrier around himself that protects him from an otherwise lethal fall from Atlas right down to Mantle's surface.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Cinder degrades further and further into this as Fria edges closer to her death and she desperately attempts to claim her powers for herself.
    Cinder: [sees Penny cradling a moribund Fria; shrilly] She's mine!
  • Psychotic Smirk: When she arrives at Atlas, Salem sports a smile that utterly reeks of malice. When he notices her arrival, Watts sports one within his cell.
  • Shoo the Dog: Winter forces Weiss to leave her behind by calling for medical assistance and for reinforcements to be sent to her location. She doesn't mention any of the heroes in the call, which keeps the focus on Winter's condition as opposed to giving chase, but it's also clear that staying would result in their capture, necessitating their escape.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: During her fight with Team JNR and Oscar, Neo disguises herself as Nora to obtain the Relic off Oscar and escape. She is using her normal eye colour when Jaune and Ren catch up to her. When Ren attacks, her eye colour changes to Nora's turquoise shade and she looks up at Ren in horror. Ren is shocked into hesitating, which gives Neo the opportunity to escape. When the team flees the Atlesian soldiers, Ren lags behind Jaune and the real Nora, tears streaming down his face.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Salem has spent most of the show in a tight-fitting black dress with long sleeves. When she arrives in Atlas, she is wearing a tight-fitting dress with red piping, tight sleeves and a Cleavage Window. She also wears some white bone features on her arms and shoulders that mimic armour accents.
  • Skyward Scream: Ironwood is in the Vault when he receives a text message from Winter telling him that the Maiden powers have gone. He lifts his head and screams in pure rage.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Winter hacking off Cinder's Grimm arm during their fight triggers Cinder into attacking her so violently and relentlessly that Winter is unable to defend herself. She's so badly injured that her she can't stand, her eye is black and her bun comes undone, leaving her hair wild and messy.
  • The Stinger: Averted, for the first time in the series the Volume ends without an after-credits scene, instead having an In Memoriam to Monty Oum, as the episode released near the five-year anniversary of his passing.
  • Three-Point Landing: When Oscar unlocks his ability to create a spherical barrier, he is able to land safely on Mantle's ground despite having fallen all the way from Atlas. He lands in a crouch, with one hand on the ground and one leg fully extended.
  • Tragic Keepsake: When Tyrian killed Clover with Qrow's blade, Clover's lucky badge fell off. When Qrow and Robyn are arrested, he stares silently at the bloodied badge in his hand while Robyn tries to comfort him.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: In the previous episode, Penny is the only one of Ironwood's subordinates to openly question the ethics of his decisions or methods, whereas Winter and the Ace-Ops are determined to follow his orders even if they feel uncomfortable with them. When Fria bequeaths the Maiden powers to her, Penny decides to join Team RWBY in opposition to Ironwood rather than return to him.
  • Tranquil Fury: After Ironwood and Oscar argue about whether Ironwood's being driven by fear, and Ironwood confirms the lengths he's willing to go to in order to stop Salem, Oscar tells him that he's as dangerous as Salem and calls him "James" for the first time. Ironwood becomes very quiet for a moment, then in a voice that is quiet and still with anger, he informs Oscar that only his friends call him "James" and that Oscar should therefore call him "General". He then shoots Oscar point-blank, breaking Oscar's Aura and sending him flying into the depths of the Vault.
  • Turtle Island: Salem makes her arrival known at the helm of what appears to be a gargantuan flying Grimm whale, with multiple rows of teeth and mountains of purple crystals growing from its back and underside, exactly like those found in the Domain of Darkness. The creature is so massive that it's on par with the floating city of Atlas and the army of Grimm accompanying it appear as little more than insects next to it.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Cinder completely fails to obtain the Winter Maiden's power, but Neo successfully presents her with the stolen Relic of Knowledge. This immediately improves Cinder's mood, who contemptuously snatches the Relic from Neo and walks off with a smug smile and no hint of gratitude. Neo watches her go with an irritated expression on her face.
  • Villain Ball: Cinder has a perfect opening to take the Winter Maiden power from Fria, but rather than just take it and be done with it, she just has to indulge her sadistic tendencies and gloat about doing so. This buys Fria time to hold her off, and leads to the Winter Maiden powers going to Penny instead. Once again, Cinder screwed herself over through her own petty sadism.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: By the time the light from Ruby's Silver Eyes flash has dimmed, Cinder has already fled via a fresh, red-glowing hole in the ceiling.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Cinder flies into an animalistic rage after Winter cuts off her Grimm arm and Fria stops her from stealing the power of the Winter Maiden, howling wildly and brutally beating Winter as revenge.