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Recap / RWBY V8 E10 "Ultimatum"

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Volume 8, Episode 10:

"This has always been about Mantle, hasn't it?"
Written by Kiersi Burkhart and Miles Luna
Directed by Connor Pickens

"You don't like me, I don't like you. So, how about we just part ways, and you never have to see me again..."
Emerald Sustrai

As the fog of war covers the kingdom, Atlas nears its breaking point.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Angry Collar Grab: Watts reveals that the virus he infected Penny with will force her to self-terminate after opening the Vault, but Cinder angrily grabs him by the collar. She raises him off the ground in a Neck Lift before dangling him over the side of the building they're arguing on.
  • Blackmail: Neo texts Cinder to reveal she's stolen the Relic of Knowledge, taunting her with a photograph as proof. She warns Cinder that, while Salem won't stay dead, the same cannot be said of the Fall Maiden when Salem finds out. Neo demands Cinder give her what she's owed if she wants the Relic returned and its password revealed.
  • Break the Haughty: When Cinder tries killing Watts, he throws the litany of her failures back in her face, pointing out how she's constantly being defeated by her own selfish entitled attitude. Instead of carrying through her threat, Cinder releases him and sits down, shedding a Single Tear.
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  • Break Them by Talking: Watts is unable to match Cinder's strength and power so, when she tries killing him, he doesn't even try to fight back physically. He instead angrily explains how she's her own worst enemy, and how her character flaws have led to her previous failures. She's left standing in stunned silence for several moments before releasing him, and sheds a single tear.
  • Brutal Honesty: Emerald never defends herself against Yang's accusations. By agreeing with Yang's mistrust and declaring she doesn't like them as much they dislike her, she hopes to go her separate ways rather than help them. Jaune, however, has no intention of letting her go.
  • Call-Back: In the Volume 6 episode "Seeing Red", Yang and Blake share a Headbutt of Love shortly after they kill Adam. In this episode, Yang and Blake do the same thing shortly after they reunite.
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  • Defiant to the End: Watts is still injured, weaponless and completely outmatched by Cinder's powers. Even being held over the roof of a skyscraper, he doesn't give in and plead for his life from Cinder's wrath. This complete lack of vindication, as well as his scathing rant over how Cinder's repeatedly botched their plans despite the power she has, causes her to pull back from killing him and dump him safely on the roof.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Ironwood's announcement consists of him calmly explaining to Solitas that Mantle will be destroyed if Penny doesn't comply with his instructions with a gentle, disappointed tone. The softness with which he explains how a single bomb is all he needs is designed to create the illusion of him being the reasonable protector of Atlas who's being forced to threaten genocide by the Protector of Mantle's unreasonable non-compliance.
  • Dramatic Drop: After the light from Oscar's explosion reaches the Schnee Manor, a shocked Weiss drops the serving tray she's carrying. The camera focuses on the slow tumble of Nora's food through the air as it's framed by the brilliant light.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Upon learning that Schnee Dust Company cargo ships are flying to Mantle to rescue the civilians, Ironwood mistakenly attributes this to Weiss, when it was actually Whitley who sent them.
    • Ironwood's emergency broadcast goes to every single scroll in Atlas to ensure he can deliver his ultimatum to Penny. However, he doesn't realise that Penny is unconscious after having been attacked by Salem's Hound. The only Atlesian who doesn't see his broadcast is the one person it's directed at.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: Ironwood's announcement occurs with him standing underneath a single spotlight, surrounded by inky blackness. His ultimatum to the heroes occurs with him gleaming white, the centre stage taken by the striking glow of his Icy Blue Eyes as they contrast with the bright light and surrounding darkness.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Oscar's decision to stop Salem in her tracks results in the production of an explosion so powerful that it produces multiple flashes of light on screen that takes out a huge chunk of the enormous Monstra and all other Grimm present in Atlas. At the beginning of the episode, there is a warning to alert photosensitive viewers in advance.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Ironwood spends the episode wrestling with the problem of how to extricate Atlas from imminent collapse until he learns about the SDC cargo ships that are heading to rescue the trapped citizens. It triggers an epiphany that, since the heroes are determined to save Mantle, holding Mantle hostage to obtain Penny is the solution he's been looking for.
  • Exact Words: Cinder wants Watts to bring Penny to her, seeing as he said in his message that he could control her. But Watts corrects her, explaining that he has Penny under control; the virus he planted in the Robot Girl is making her follow new parameters he established (open Atlas's Vault and then self-terminate), but it doesn't give Watts remote control over her.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Oscar's decision to use the cane's kinetic energy against Salem produces the equivalent of a nuke. He creates an enormous explosion from inside the whale that engulfs the city. The force and light take out all the Grimm in the battlefield and the city, while rendering the whale inert and partially destroyed. While the force from the blast knocks over the people closest to the whale, neither people nor buildings are harmed by the blast. The cane's power has been carefully accumulated by Ozma over many lifetimes and is mostly spent in this one explosion.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: While letting Cinder have it, Watts acknowledges that Cinder had suffered, but that it's made her arrogantly believe she's entitled to power and justified in taking whatever she wants. He tells her that she's owed nothing and needs to earn her worth if she wants to obtain the power she seeks.
  • HA HA HA—No: Watts' reaction when Cinder announces her intent to wait at the Vault and steal Penny's Maiden powers after killing him amounts to this, laughing in her face before reminding her of her utter failure to do the same with Fria and Raven.
    Watts: Oh, of course you are! Because that's just what you do, isn't it? And how has that worked out for you?
  • Headbutt of Love: After Ruby and Yang's teams reunite, Yang and Blake once again rub their foreheads against each other shortly before Ironwood initiates a city-wide emergency broadcast.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Subverted. Cinder dangles Watts from the roof as she tells him that she intends to come up with a plan to take out the Winter Maiden when she arrives at the Vault and then kill Watts. Instead of cowering with fear, Watts lashes out at her, dissecting her character flaws and why she always fails, until she dumps back on the roof in defeat.
  • Hope Spot: Whitley came up with using the SDC's cargo ships to rescue the Mantle refugees. Unfortunately, Ironwood has his fleet to destroy the ships as soon as they reach the crater and announces his plans to either have Penny surrender to him or he will destroy Mantle.
  • Hostage For Macguffin:
    • After all his other options have failed, Ironwood concludes the only way to obtain Penny so that he can open the Vault to get the Relic of Creation is by holding Mantle hostage. Ironwood destroys the SDC cargo ships before they can rescue the Mantle refugees and publicly announces his intentions to bomb Mantle if Penny does not surrender.
    • Neo inverts this by holding the Relic of Knowledge hostage to blackmail Cinder. After revealing she has stolen it, she offers to give Cinder the Lamp and its password in exchange for what Cinder owes her. The caveat is that if Cinder doesn't recover the Relic, Salem will kill her because of its loss.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: While it was hinted at throughout the series, this episode confirms that Cinder's haughty attitude is a mask to hide her pain. Watts proceeds to deconstruct her motivations, stating that for all her power and arrogance, she has completely failed to achieve any of her goals. Cinder breaking down into tears is a clear indicator that she knows he's right.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Ironwood states that, since Mantle is keeping Penny and her friends from working with him, he will destroy it if Penny doesn't turn herself over to him. His conclusion is that destroying Mantle will mean there's no longer any reason for Penny and the heroes to refuse to work with him. It doesn't occur to him that heroes typically oppose people who commit genocide. Or that he could simply have let the ships evacuate Mantle and then convinced Penny to raise Atlas with the citizens of both cities in it.
  • It Only Works Once: Oscar uses the cane's stored kinetic energy to generate a massive explosion that takes out all the Grimm in Atlas, partially destroys the Monstra, and temporarily obliterates Salem. However, that power took Ozma many lifetimes to accumulate so it cannot be easily replenished and therefore the attack cannot be replicated. Oscar warns them that what little power remains in the cane will now have to be used very carefully.
  • I Warned You: During his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Watts makes sure to mention that he tried to warn Cinder that her plan with Raven, to gather all of their enemies in one place for a shot a revenge, was foolish but she ignored him and failed at Haven.
  • Laughing Mad: After reaching a low point of near-despair upon learning he has lost all his options for obtaining Penny so that he can save Atlas with the Relic of Creation, Ironwood learns that the SDC is using cargo ships to rescue the Mantle citizens. He laughs in a mixture of relief and madness, as he realises that he can hold Mantle hostage to force Penny to be delivered to him. It's another sign of his increasingly unstable mental state.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Oscar's magical nuke was meant to buy the heroes time by destroying Salem's Grimm army and forcing her to regenerate back from the dead. Unfortunately for the heroes, Ironwood still has his unused bomb, helping him to come up with a plan to obtain Penny — to destroy Mantle unless Penny complies with his request to surrender. In Oscar's defense, he was completely unaware of Ironwood's bomb at the time.
  • Oh, Crap!: After realising too late that he should have leveraged Qrow for the Winter Maiden, Ironwood decides to leverage Yang, Jaune and Ren. However, Ironwood faces Winter with a horrified expression once he learns that she let them go.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
  • Percussive Therapy: Ironwood smashes the holographic table in his office with one doublehanded blow in his frustration.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Cinder's attitude and repeated failures grate at Watts's restraint so much his "The Reason You Suck" Speech loses his trademark sarcasm and gets progressively louder, until he's screaming at the top of his lungs. Even while he's still suspended over a ledge, Watts calls her a "bloody migraine" as loud as he can.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: As Cinder tries killing Watts, he angrily informs her that she's not entitled to take what she wants just because she suffered in the past, and that it's her own character faults that are the reason why she keeps failing to obtain the power she seeks. His speech is so powerful that she backs off and starts crying.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Oscar and Ren are the only ones willing to give Emerald a chance to help them; the others are unwilling to trust or forgive her for all the actions she's committed. Her admission about going their separate ways than stick around to help fight Salem doesn't help matters, either. Even Ruby nearly draws her weapon upon seeing her, requiring Oscar to try and calm her down.
  • The Reveal: After several volumes hinting that Ozpin's cane has specific properties, it's finally revealed that it stores kinetic energy and has been doing so for many lifetimes, creating an enormous amount of power that Ozpin can use if need be. Oscar uses up most of that power to take out Salem, her Grimm army and partially destroy the Monstra.
  • Sadistic Choice: Ironwood gives the choice between Penny surrendering to Ironwood with Mantle left to die, or Ironwood has his forces blow up Mantle with his bomb and Mantle dies as a result.
  • Slouch of Villainy: When Ironwood has his "Eureka!" Moment, he falls into his chair, slumps casually and steeples his fingers as he considers his new plan to obtain Penny.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When Oscar sets off his explosion to take out Salem, soft, sad piano music gently plays while the explosion turns into a massive nuke that destroys every Grimm in Atlas and partially destroys the Monstra.
  • Sour Supporter: Emerald is clearly not thrilled at the prospect of going with and helping the heroes. But her sad expression after seeing the people of Atlas in the subways indicates she regrets helping Cinder and Salem destroy countless lives. She continues to go with them even after Yang stops holding her at gunpoint and gives her back her weapons.
  • Spared, but Not Forgiven: Emerald isn't working for Salem or Cinder anymore, and Oscar keeps Ruby and everyone else from attacking her, but they haven't forgotten the various crimes she's committed against them and other people, or that she helped nearly destroy multiple cities. While Oscar wants them to accept the need to work with Emerald, he also tells them that he's not asking them to forgive her in the process. Emerald seems aware that she deserves it on some level, even if she doesn't necessarily like it.
  • Tears of Joy: When Yang's team arrives at Schnee Manor, Ruby runs into Yang's arms and cries tears of happiness while Yang spins her around.
  • Villain Has a Point: Though Watts is a very unpleasant villain responsible for a lot of death and suffering, he correctly points out that he doesn't work for Cinder and doesn't have to accommodate her whims or desires. He points out all of her ill-considered actions is because she thinks she deserves to take whatever she wants just because she has suffered a lot. By the time he's done lecturing her, she's reduced to tears, implicitly admitting he's right.

"I hope you live up to the title I gave you."

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