Ok, so by now anyone who is reading this has seen the finale to RWBY volume 4. This was an interesting volume to say the least. It did a lot of good things for the series, but it’s shortcomings can’t be ignored. So I’m going to try and address one such shortcoming here, and discuss how I would have liked it to be. I’m doing this because I’m allowed to do that because I’m a sarcastic jerk who thinks way too highly of his own opinion. So I’m going to discuss a few spoilers, so for those who haven’t seen the finale can stop here. If not I can either assume you don’t care for the series (in which case, why are you here?), or you don’t care about spoilers. So let that be a warning for the rest of you.
Mild Spoilers Ahead.
All right, so pretty much anyone who has seen this volume of RWBY will agree that it’s got some pacing issues. Team RNJR spends the majority of their time walking. Weiss is trapped in her house by her father, Blake is reconnecting with her family, and Yang is dealing with her PTSD. While these plotlines make up great character moments and can do a good job of showing character growth, it can’t be denied that they serve to bog the overall plot of the series down a bit.
Now, while the pacing issues are certainly one of, if not the most, noticeable issue in this volume, it is not the one that I will be focusing on. So right away I’m going to say that I think that the storylines for Weiss, Blake and Yang in this volume to be by-and-large good, so I won’t be touching those ones much, if at all. Instead I would like to focus on the Team RNJR side of the story; or more specifically, the events surrounding the Nuckelavee Grimm.
Oh, the Nuckelavee, what a glorious thing you were. Look at that thing, it looks terrifying. This was the first creature of Grimm in the entire series that genuinely scared me. While I know that in the world that the series has created, in terms of the story, these creatures are meant to be scary. To the people that inhabit the world, they are terrifying. But as an audience member it’s hard to take them seriously as a threat when you have 17 years olds tearing through large swarms of them. Yes I know they are super powered teenager, but still, the threat is diminished. While they certainly have cool designs, they don’t instil any great fear when I see them on screen. So imagine my surprise and excitement when the Nuckelavee steps onto the scene and genuinely makes me feel fear. The thing looked so imposing the majority of the fan base was convinced at least one of the main characters was going to die. That’s how good this thing looked.
One of the things that really helped sell the fear of this thing for me was the fact that the writers took their time in building up to the reveal. With only sparing hints throughout the season, like footprints in destroyed villages, and an admittedly terrifying silhouetted appearance, the Nuckelavee was being built up properly to be truly scary. However, the most effective part of the build is when Ren and Nora stumble across its cave. Here, in this bloodstained cave, it is shown that this thing takes trophies. Weapons and village flags litter the ground, implying that this thing is smart and malicious enough to take the trophies, which alone would have scarred the pants off me. Couple all of that with one of the most unnerving sounds the beast could have possibly made and you have a damn effective build to the reveal. Listen to it here.
The build was so good that I couldn’t help but be disappointed when the Nuckelavee was defeated in relatively short order. It was built up and presented so well that when it was defeated in about 8 minutes it felt like a massive let down. So that’s what I want address here. I want to address how I would have liked to see the Nuckelavee events go down.
So just going to start this off by clarifying that I`m not saying my ideas are better. Just that they are what I was hoping for and what I would have wanted to see. With that, let`s get going.
One thing I would also like to attempt to do is try and shorten up a few things in this volume to help quicken the pacing and to help set-up what I’d want to do later. This is quite frankly because what I want to do with the Nuckelavee would take way too long to try and cram into the last little bit of volume 4, so for now I will go up to where I think volume 4 should end, and then at some point on the future (next week) detail my plan for what I’d like to see for RNJR in volume 5. To help out the pacing the majority of episode 8 is being moved to the World of Remnant side videos and a much shorter conversation put in its place. This removes a lot of world building (the tale of two brothers) that while interesting isn’t essential to the plot of the volume, and allows for a conversation about what is happening in the world today, like whom and what the overarching villains are and what they are doing. We’re also going to have to try and cut down on other plot elements from the other characters stories that don’t really move their characters forward; nothing super serious, just a trimming of some scenes. This should move the volume along faster and give me more time for the Nuckelavee.
Ok, so first things first, the build up to the Nuckelavee will remain basically the same, because goddam that shit was great at building up suspense and fear, which we will need later. Second thing, The Nuckelavee wins the fight with team RNJR; and quite convincingly. That is important to this. I’m not saying that RNJR doesn’t put up a fight; each member will have their own moment to shine in this fight. In fact, the early part of the fight can play out almost exactly like it did in the series proper. We can keep Ren going into a rage at the sight of the Grimm that killed his parents, because that was a good character moment. It looks like things are going well for our heroes, it looks like they may vanquish the Nuckelavee, but once the dust settles the beast will remain largely unharmed, it almost seems to laugh off RNJR’s efforts, like it’s saying “that was neat, my turn now.” This will serve to make the Nuckelavee more intimidating and a far greater threat. This is when things start to go poorly for our heroes. The Nuckelavee starts to beat them down, and quite badly. However, one thing that stands out in this fight will be that the Grimm is fighting smarter than any other beast they have faced previously. It is far more intelligent than anything they’ve seen before. This plays into the idea of a sinister intelligence with the trophy collecting. It had been hinted at earlier in the series that a Grimm could get smarter the longer it lives, so I want to explore that a bit.
For me, the point of the beat down of team RNJR is to establish a legitimate threat to the group in the form of the Nuckelavee, as well as establishing consequences to the characters actions. They leave to walk across a continent, trying to find a hostile organisation, with little to no information, or really a plan. Of course things will go terribly for them at some point. It shows that they were unprepared for the truly terrifying things in the world, that there are things in the world that are quite frankly stronger than they are. This will reinforce the idea that Grimm could actually pose a danger to these people as well as give the team a nemesis for the immediate future.
During the fight the members of team RNJR will realize they are simply outmatched. They can’t win this fight, and if they stay they will likely die. They are forced to retreat in a broken and battered state. And just for me, to play up the idea that the Nuckelavee is intelligent and just overall bad news, let’s have it talk. It doesn’t have to say much, but I think it would be a frightening thing to have a Grimm talk to these people. Just have it say something like “Run” in a gross, halting, raspy voice and I think you have something special. I’d want it made clear that the Nuckelavee is very dangerous and that all parties involved know that. RNJR has to run, and the Nuckelavee seems to give them a head start. I want the Nuckelavee to pursue the team. This will lead to my next little bit for this plotline.
Hopefully this made sense to anyone reading this. Again, I’m not saying this is how Roosterteeth should have made the season or that my ideas are better. Just that something like this is what I would have liked to see. I will finish off my take on the Nuckelavee in short order.