"The Final Word" is the fourteenth and final episode of Volume 8 and the 106th episode of RWBY. It premiered for Rooster Teeth FIRST members on March 27th, 2021 and was made public on the Rooster Teeth site on April 3rd, 2021.
Inside the Atlas Vault, Winter Schnee and James Ironwood continue fighting; Ironwood claims he sacrificed everything to save an ungrateful people, to which Winter counters that he sacrificed everyone else.
The fighting in the Evacuation Central Location continues, and Jaune Arc stresses to Nora Valkyrie that their top priority is finishing the evacuation. Weiss Schnee uses her Queen Lancer summon to narrowly rescue Penny Polendina from Cinder Fall’s Grimm hand. Penny tells Weiss to let her sacrifice herself, to protect everyone. Cinder destroys the summon while Weiss is distracted, dropping them onto the main platform and damaging their Auras. Penny offers herself as a target to Cinder, trying to distract her from Weiss and the Staff, but Cinder sneers, "I want it all." Blake Belladonna jumps into the fight, and Weiss flees with the Relic of Creation while Blake and Penny face Cinder.
In the skies above Mantle, Qrow Branwen continues to fight Harriet Bree while trying to talk sense into her, but Harriet severs the straps holding the bomb in place, sending it sliding toward the open cargo door. While Qrow tries to stop the bomb, Robyn Hill brings her airship up behind Harriet’s, with Vine Zeki and Elm Ederne working together to tether the ships together. Just as Elm finally brings Harriet to her senses, Qrow loses his grip on the bomb. He brings out Clover Ebi’s pin, and as the pin sparkles, the bomb suddenly gets snagged and stops sliding. Everyone’s relief is cut short as Arthur Watts remotely activates the bomb's timer.
In the pocket dimension, Ruby Rose continues fighting Neopolitan. Weiss intervenes just as Ruby seems overwhelmed, hurling Neo into one of the portals. Seeing this, Cinder hurls Blake off the platform with a fire blast, leading Penny to abandon the fight to catch Blake. With Penny and Blake out of the way, Cinder targets Ruby and Weiss. Noticing the explosive energy building beneath their feet, Weiss forces the Staff into Ruby’s hands and pushes her away just before a blast hurls her upward. Weiss’ Aura breaks as she lands, and Neo returns to attack Ruby, knocking her off the path and seizing the staff. Ruby manages to land on another path, but loses her grip on Crescent Rose, which falls into the void.
Above Mantle, Qrow discovers that Harriet’s airship is locked into autopilot, and Harriet notes that they don't have time to escape the blast radius. Vine boards the ship and hands Harriet off to Elm, intending to sacrifice himself to contain the explosion. Qrow and the others regretfully leave, while Vine uses his Semblance to envelop the ship in his aura. The bomb detonates, vaporizing both Vine and the ship.
In the pocket dimension, Neo closes in on Ruby, who tells her that she hopes "It was worth it". Ruby falls backward off the path as Neo lunges, using her Semblance to circle around, attack Neo from behind and knock her off the path. Before Ruby can catch the Staff, however, Cinder attacks her from behind, blasting her over the edge and breaking her Aura. As she falls, Ruby grabs onto Neo, who is hanging from the edge of the path. Neo reaches toward Cinder for help, only for Cinder to steal the Relic of Knowledge from her, then break her grip with the Staff before Ruby can use her Silver Eyes. As Neo and Ruby fall, Penny tosses Blake toward Ruby. Blake catches her and uses Gambol Shroud to swing them toward safety, but Cinder severs Gambol Shroud’s ribbon with a fire blast. Ruby, Blake and Neo plummet into the void.
Weiss distracts Cinder by shooting at her with Gambol Shroud. With the evacuation complete, Jaune sends Nora through the exit portal to bring help, unaware that the portal is one-way. As Cinder closes in on Weiss, Penny and Jaune arrive to protect her. Suddenly, Cinder’s Grimm arm experiences pain, indicating that Salem has reformed.
As her enemies advance, Cinder uses fire to separate Penny from Weiss and Jaune, then impales Penny with her Grimm claws. Before she can siphon Penny's Maiden powers, however, she is attacked by Weiss. Jaune tries to heal Penny with his Semblance, but Penny tells him there is no time. Determined not to let Cinder claim both Relics and the Maiden's power, she tells Jaune to finish her off, letting her finally choose something on her own: who to pass her power on to. As she speaks, Weiss loses Gambol Shroud to the void, and in the Vault, Ironwood breaks Winter’s Aura. Jaune finally grants Penny's request, stabbing her with his sword; his cry of grief distracts Cinder from finishing Weiss.
Elsewhere, Winter encounters Penny in a white, limbo-like space. Realizing what Penny has done, Winter claims Penny was always the truer Maiden than her; despite being human, she acted more like a machine, in her determination to follow orders. Penny counters that Winter was her friend, and that she will always be a part of her. Winter tearfully thanks her for the gift. Activating the powers of the Winter Maiden, she effortlessly deflects Ironwood's shot back at him, knocking him out.
Cinder furiously attacks Jaune, breaking Crocea Mors’ blade. Winter enters the pocket dimension and attacks her, the Maidens seeming evenly matched. During the fight, the Staff is knocked onto one of the paths below. To avoid having to race Winter to the Staff, Cinder generates an explosion beneath Jaune and Weiss, which breaks Jaune’s Aura and sends Weiss flying over the edge. Winter desperately tries and fails to stop Weiss from falling into the void, and Cinder retrieves the Staff. An echoing scream rattles the pocket dimension, causing Cinder to return to Atlas. Almost immediately, the paths and portals begin vanishing, indicating that she has used the Staff. Winter makes it through the exit portal, but it dissipates before Jaune can reach it, and he falls into the void.
Back in the Atlas Vault, Ironwood awakens to see Cinder holding the Lamp and the Staff exiting the portal. As she descends, she looks up to see a trail of black smoke fly into the Vault and materialize into Salem. Cinder hands her the two Relics, claiming that Team RWBY used the Lamp’s final question and that Neo killed Ruby. Though Salem's expression is skeptical, she praises Cinder, asking her what she created using the Staff. Cinder claims she merely added more flames to Atlas. In the burning Atlas Central Command, Watts is shown desperately trying to break out. As Cinder and Salem leave the Vault, Ironwood shakily aims his gun at them. However, Cinder turns to look at him and declares checkmate, causing him to hang his head in defeat, leaving him in the Vault.
Atlas crashes into Mantle's Crater. The impact dislodges ice from a glacial lake between the nearby mountains, and water rushes into the crater, completely flooding the city. On their airship, Qrow, Robyn and the remaining Ace-Ops watch this in horror, with Qrow desperately calling out for Ruby and Yang over his earpiece.
On a strange beach, Crescent Rose is stabbed into the sand. In the distance, there is a massive tree with colorful leaves.
Down in the Atlas Vault, Winter Schnee charges at James Ironwood, swinging down her sword onto his prosthetic left arm. She then draws her smaller one and attempts to stab him with it, but Ironwood dodges and jumps back. He then tries to swing his hand cannon but Winter jumps up on top of a nearby pillar.
Ironwood: Winter, do not blame me!
Ironwood fires his cannon, and Winter moves out of the way as the blast destroys the top of the pillar. Winter then creates five glyphs that launch large ice shards towards the General. Ironwood rolls out of the way.
Ironwood: I have sacrificed everything!
The two continue trading blows. The weapons lock as Ironwood’s cannon begins charging up again.
Ironwood: I’ve only done what’s best for Remnant, and no one is grateful!
Ironwood draws the white Due Process and uses it to pistol whip Winter, disorienting her.
In the pocket dimension, Cinder Fall and Penny Polendina fly at each other, using their respective Maiden powers to clash. They fly around as people continue to run towards the portal leading to Vacuo. Cinder launches a fireball hitting Penny in the back. She then tries to use her Grimm arm to grab Penny, but a Queen Lancer summoned by Weiss Schnee is shown to fly by and get Penny out of the way. Nora Valkyrie watches the crowd of people running for the Vacuo portal.
Jaune: Priority one.
Nora looks back to her leader and they exchange nods, continuing with the evacuation.
Back on the Queen Lancer summon...
Penny: Weiss, all she ever wanted was the Maiden power. I can buy you all time.
Weiss: But, Penny…
Suddenly, Weiss is struck in the back by a fireball, causing her Queen Lancer summon to disappear. They fall onto one of the platforms, both of their Auras flicker. Cinder lands nearby and smirks evilly. Penny gasps as Cinder looks to Weiss, the Staff of Creation next to her. Penny suddenly gets up and blocks her path.
Penny: I’m right here! I’m what you want!
Cinder: I want it all...
Cinder launches herself forward, but suddenly is kicked in the face by Blake Belladonna, pushed back some distance away from them. Blake then looks to Weiss.
Blake: Get up!
Weiss does so, grabbing Myrtenaster and the Staff. She then runs off as Blake and Penny face Cinder, their weapons at the ready.
Harriet: (growls) Shut up ALREADY!!
Harriet then turns around and uses her speed Semblance to cut the straps holding the bomb in place, and then jumping to tilt the airship. The bomb starts to slide towards the open cargo door, and Qrow jumps in front of it, trying to hold it in place.
Harriet: Get out of the way!
Suddenly, the ship jolts. Qrow and Harriet look behind them, and notice the other cargo ship being piloted by Robyn Hill behind them. Vine Zeki uses his Semblance to hold Harriet’s ship in place, being supported by Elm Ederne, using her Semblance to hold them both on top the ship they’re on.
Elm: Hare, please! Don’t do this! They’re still evacuating in Mantle!
Harriet: Why can’t you just let me do my job?!
Elm: Because you’re our friend! And we won’t let you go through with this!
Harriet is taken aback and lowers her head upon hearing these words. The bomb begins to slide forward more, and Qrow shoved out of its way.
Qrow takes out Clover’s pin and closes his eyes somberly. The Ace Ops watch in shock as the bomb begins to near the edge of the ramp. Suddenly, it stops, and Qrow and the Ace Ops breathe a sigh of relief. Suddenly, the screen on the bomb says, “INITIATE COUNTDOWN” with the prompt for “YES” being highlighted. Qrow and Harriet look to each other in disbelief.
Back at Atlas Central Command, Arthur Watts smirks after pressing the button for the bomb.
Weiss: Leave her alone!
Weiss slides in using her glyphs, using the Staff to knock Neo through a portal. Cinder notices this, and angrily launches flame torrents to hold back Penny and Blake. Cinder than kicks Blake off the platform.
Penny: Blake! (flies towards Blake)
Meanwhile, Weiss helps Ruby back up.
Weiss: Come on, we have to do this for Yang.
Cinder smirks. The ground begins to glow beneath Ruby and Weiss. The latter notices this and pushes Ruby back, simultaneously shoving the Staff into her hands.
An explosion goes off, knocking Ruby back. Weiss is launched up into the air before landing hard on the ground, her Aura breaking in the process. Suddenly, Neo reappears. She trades blows with Ruby, managing to snach away the Staff as she knocks her off the platform. Ruby manages to land on one of the walkways, but helplessly watches Crescent Rose slide over the edge.
Ruby watches her weapon fall into the abyss. She looks back to Neo, who glares back at her.
On the cargo ship, the bomb starts to count down thirty seconds.
Qrow: The autopilot’s locked! We gotta go!
Harriet: (falling to her knees) There’s no time to make it out of the blast range… I’ve… killed us all… I’m sorry…
Vine uses his Semblance to reach the ship, and then uses it again to place Harriet in Elm’s arms. Vine looks to bomb and ponders.
Elm: No… you can’t!
Vine: (smiling sadly) I can… if it means saving all my friends.
Harriet realizes what Vine is about to do.
Harriet tries to reach out for Vine, as Elm takes her inside Robyn’s ship. Qrow and Vine solemnly acknowledge each other, before Qrow jumps out from the ship and transforms into his corvid form to fly away. Vine uses his Semblance, creating a barrier around the ship as the bomb continues to count down. The timer goes off, and the contained explosion causes the Vine’s Aura barrier to disappear. A cloud of smoke is left in its wake as Robyn, Elm and Harriet look on sadly. Robyn begins to fly the ship away from Atlas.
Back in the pocket dimension...
Ruby: Whatever you wanted…
Ruby looks over her shoulder as she nears the edge of the walkway, before facing Neo again.
Ruby: I hope it was worth it.
Ruby spreads her arms wide, offering herself as a target. Neo extends Hush's blade as she prepares to go for the kill. She lunges, but Ruby deliberately falls backward before the blade can hit her; she then uses her Semblance to circle under the path, come up behind Neo and knock her over the edge, disarming her in the process. Ruby tries to catch the Staff, but Cinder launches a fire blast into her back, breaking her Aura and knocking her off the path. Ruby catches onto Neo's ankle, the former hanging from the edge of the path. Cinder grabs the Staff and approaches them. Neo reaches out to her, but Cinder's Grimm arm reaches past, grabbing the Lamp from Neo’s belt.
Cinder: You should have never threatened me…
Neo looks up at her in anger as Cinder kicks Hush over the edge, into the abyss. Cinder's smirk turns to a glare as she looks from Neo to Ruby.
Cinder: And you… (Ruby tries to activate her Silver Eyes) should have never been born…
Cinder uses the Staff to smash Neo’s hand, causing her to lose her grip and fall. Ruby starts to fall with her.
Blake & Penny: RUBY!!!
Penny flies in carrying Blake. Blake is thrown forward as Penny is knocked back by Cinder’s fireball. Blake manages to grab Ruby. She uses Gambol Shroud to hook onto the platform. The two try to swing back up, but Cinder launches another fire jet that burns through Gambol Shroud’s ribbon. Ruby and Blake fall and disappear into the abyss. Penny looks on, distraught.
Cinder prepares to attack Penny again, but is struck by Dust rounds.
Weiss: Get back!!
Weiss holds Gambol Shroud in its pistol form, firing shots at Cinder as tears stream down her face. Jaune parachutes to Nora.
They shake hands as Nora heads through the Vacuo portal. Weiss is seen getting knocked back as Cinder hovers above her.
Cinder: It figures that a Schnee would be the last one standing, letting all her friends die first.
Cinder spews a fire breath attack, but Penny flies in and blocks the attack with her Maiden swords.
Penny: You wouldn’t know anything about friends…
Cinder tries to attack again, but Jaune arrives and knocks her back using the gravity Dust in Crocea Mors’ shield. Jaune, Penny, and Weiss (dual wielding Myrtenaster and Gambol Shroud’s katana), ready themselves to face Cinder again. Cinder gets back up, but suddenly her Grimm arm starts to act up.
Cinder: She’s back…
Cinder creates a shockwave to knock the trio of teens back, and then launches two flame swords that Penny blocks easily. Suddenly, Cinder creates flames in a V shape, separating Jaune, Penny and Weiss. Penny looks to her friends, but suddenly screams out in pain. She looks down and notices Cinder’s Grimm arm impaling her chest and starting to drain her Maiden powers. Penny notices Weiss jumping in to fight Cinder again before falling over. She starts to lose consciousness from blood loss. Jaune comes into her view.
Jaune: Penny! Hold on! (activates his Semblance to boost Penny’s Aura) My Semblance--
Penny: No… there’s not enough time to heal me…
Jaune notices Weiss and Cinder still fighting behind him.
Penny: She can’t get the Staff and the power… but there is something you can do…
Jaune: (taken aback) I don’t know where the others are, but… Weiss will give us time!
The scenes intercut between the two Schnee sisters fighting their respective battles: Weiss against Cinder and Winter against Ironwood.
Penny: Let me choose… this one thing… trust me…!
As the Schnee sisters continue their battles, Jaune draws his sword, his tormented expression reflected on the blade. Cinder knocks away Gambol Shroud and Weiss watches it fall into the abyss, before being knocked to the ground by Cinder.
In the Atlas Vault, Ironwood lands a devastating blow on Winter, causing her Aura to dissipate.
Cinder prepares to finish Weiss, but freezes when she hears Jaune scream out in anguish, her expression shocked. Jaune is seen standing over Penny’s body as his tears drip to the floor. Her blood drips from his crimson-stained blade. The scene fades to white.
In a white space, Penny taps her toes patiently. She then smiles as she notices someone.
Penny: (saluting) Salutations! You made it!
Winter is seen entering the white space.
Winter: Where…? What is this?
Penny: I thought of you… and here we are.
Winter: (gasps in realization) Oh, Penny…
Penny: It seemed fitting that it should be you. It was your power after all.
Winter: No, Penny. You were always the real Maiden at heart. I was just a machine… just… following orders.
Penny takes Winter’s hands.
Penny: You were my friend.
Aura is shown as Penny transfers the Maiden powers to Winter.
Winter: (smiling) Thank you… for trusting me with this. When you’re… gone…
Penny: I won’t be gone, I’ll be part of you.
Winter: (sobbing) Good. I’m glad.
Penny smiles one last time as she fades into light.
Back in the Atlas Vault.
Ironwood: So… the destiny I chose for you has arrived.
Winter gets back up.
Winter: You chose nothing.
Winter starts to levitate in the air, her weapons by her side.
Winter: This...was a gift.
She opens her eyes, blue Maiden flames coming from them. Ironwood looks on in shock. He fires another blast from his cannon, but Winter easily deflects it with an ice shield. The blast ricochets back at Ironwood, leaving a large smoke cloud on his position. Winter turns and flies into the portal.
Back in the pocket dimension, Cinder angrily launches herself forward to Jaune. He pushes her back with gravity Dust. She conjures a flaming sword and charges Jaune again. Jaune extends Crocea Mors to parry her swing, but the force of Cinder's attack shatters his blade. Jaune looks at his broken weapon in shock, before he is knocked to the ground. Cinder advances on him, looking enraged.
Cinder: Where did it go?!
Suddenly, a blue blast hits Cinder. She angrily looks for where the blast came from, and sees Winter floating above her. The two Maidens clash in midair, exchanging blows of magic and swords. Winter activates a glyph summoning a flock of small Nevermores. Cinder conjures more flaming swords and launches them at the Summons, destroying some of them. However, the rest get through and surround Cinder, attacking her from all sides. Cinder creates a large fireball to free herself from the flock.
Meanwhile, Jaune helps Weiss get away from the battle toward the gate to Vacuo. As the Maidens clash again, Winter snatches the Staff away from Cinder, but is struck and drops it onto the path. Cinder notices Weiss and Jaune getting away, grins savagely, and launches a fireball at them. Jaune throws his Hard-Light shield grenade to block the attack but they are both knocked back. Horrified, Winter flies toward them at high speed as the ground under them begins to glow.
Cinder balls her hand into a fist, causing the ground beneath Jaune and Weiss to explode. Jaune’s Aura dissipates as Weiss is launched over the edge.
Winter: (voice breaking) WEISS!!!
Winter watches helplessly as her younger sister fall into the abyss. Jaune gets back up as Winter levitates onto the walkway. She falls to her knees and cries, slamming her fist on the ground in grief. Her eyes narrow in anger as she stares up at Cinder, who has retrieved the Staff. Suddenly, the pocket dimension shakes as an enraged female scream is heard, distracting all three of them.
Jaune: We need to go… Now.
Winter: (glares at Cinder one last time) You… are going to pay… for everything you’ve done!
Winter and Jaune begin to retreat, and Cinder does the same, now having both the Staff and Lamp in her possession. Cinder exits through one of the portals leading to Atlas, and the walkways start to disappear. Jaune runs as fast as he can to the Vacuo portal. Winter notices this and tries to turn back for him, but is unable to stop herself as she passes through the gate. Jaune tries to jump for it as the path gives way beneath him, but the portal disappears and he falls into the abyss as well.
In Vacuo, Nora desperately bangs on the portal, unable to go back through due to it being one way. Atlas and Mantle civilians scream as they are attacked by Ravagers. Emerald Sustrai, Oscar Pine, and Lie Ren do their best to fight them off. The horde of Grimm approach them, but they get blown away. The trio and the civilians notice Winter, using her newly-christened Maiden powers to levitate in the air. She notices her mother Willow, her brother Whitley, and Klein Sieben in the crowd, and tears stream from her eyes. The roar of Grimm gets her attention. She notices the horde of Ravagers and Sulfur Fish approaching. Winter screams out and prepares to take them all on...
Back in the Vault, Ironwood regains consciousness as he hears footsteps approaching him. Cinder walks down the stairs with a smirk on her face, carrying both Relics. As she looks up, her expression changes to fear. A black cloud of smoke sweeps down the elevator shaft, then circles around Cinder.
Cinder: I… I failed you again, master. They used the Staff to save thousands. Before our allies fell, Neopolitan… killed Ruby. (Ironwood looks up, gritting his teeth) And before Ruby and her teammates fell, they used the Lamp’s final question.
The smoke swirls together in front of Cinder, materializing into Salem herself. Her eyes narrow as she listens to Cinder's words.
Cinder: I couldn’t stop them! I couldn’t even stop the Maiden from escaping without putting the Relics in jeopardy… I’m… I’m sorry…
Cinder kneels before Salem, presenting the Lamp and Staff to her. After a pause, Salem leans down.
Salem: In pursuit of a new world… (takes the Relics from Cinder) No cost is too great. You’ve done well, Cinder. Our work here is done.
Salem begins to walk away; Cinder follows, smirking. Ironwood, unable to get up, helplessly watches them pass him. He notices the white Due Process, and begins crawling towards it.
Salem: You said they used the Staff. I assume you rid the world of their creation. (glances back at Cinder) What did you create in its stead?
Atlas Central Command is shown engulfed in flames and smoke.
Cinder: (voiceover) I merely added more flames, to the fires of Atlas.
Through the glass, Watts is seen trying to break out by swinging a chair against the window. He screams out in desperation as the flames continue to spread...
Salem merely smiles. Ironwood tries to aim his revolver at them. On hearing the sound of its' hammer, Cinder glances back at him and smirks.
Cinder: And that’s… checkmate.
Cinder activates her Maiden powers and flies away. Ironwood sadly lowers his head as he accepts his fate.
The large floating landmass of Atlas falls onto the now-deserted city of Mantle, engulfed in a large dust cloud. Salem and Cinder fly away from the fallout. From the cargo ship, Qrow, Robyn, and the surviving Ace Ops watch sadly as Atlas and Mantle are abandoned. Qrow desperately screams out the names of his nieces as he tries to contact them, his expression turning horrified when they don’t respond. A large tidal wave appears and engulfs both Atlas and Mantle. The flood continues until both cities have been fully submerged underwater.
Waves wash ashore along a beach. In the sand, Crescent Rose is seen embedded. The area is tropical, birds and other creatures are heard making noises. At the top of a cliff, a large, mystical-looking tree overlooks everything around it...
- The description of the episode alludes to the opening song.
- This is the only chapter in Volume 8 that does not have a single word as its title. Ironically it is named "The Final Word".
- The episode title may be referring to the word “Checkmate”, since it is the final word stated in the episode.
- This is the third episode to have a content warning, first and second being "Ultimatum" and "Worthy". While "Ultimatum" and "Worthy" have a photosensitive warning, "The Final Word" has a warning for distressing themes related to death and especially suicide.
- Additionally, the episode description had the National Suicide Prevention hotline number.
- The final scene of the episode shows Crecent Rose in the exact position it was at the end of the Volume 8 Opening.
- Battle Pages
- Main article: The Final Word/Image Gallery