(Warning: Spoilers are plentiful in this article. Do not read if you have yet to watch Volume 3 in its entirety and you wish to do so without being spoiled. All of the episodes are available to the public at Roosterteeth.com.)
RWBY started out as a nice, fun, family friendly animated show that contained action set pieces, but was primarily filled with puns, jokes, and feel good stories.
And then Volume 3 happened.
Rooster Teeth, and specifically show writers Kerry Shawcross and Miles Luna, working with lead animator Gray Haddock and following the direction left by show creator Monty Oum, turned the show incredibly dark over the course of Volume 3.
With the volume officially over, RWBY fans are forced to wait until Volume 4 before some of questions are answered. In the meantime, speculations will begin to emerge, and a rapidly rising fandom will communicate their expectations, frustrations, and ideas for the next volume.
Entering Volume 4, what kinds of questions and storylines should we see? Here is one fan's perspective.
"Do You Believe In Destiny?"
In what was perhaps the saddest moment of the entire series thus far, fan favorite Pyrrha Nikos (voiced by Jen Brown) was killed at the hands of villain Cinder Fall (voiced by Jessica Nigri). Pyrrha's importance to the main plot of the show had increased throughout the course of Volume 3 - she was tapped to be the new Fall Maiden, she accidently killed Penny Polendina during the Vytal Festival Tournament, and she finally kissed Jaune Arc (voiced by Luna), making official a relationship that has been hinted at for three volumes.
And just like that, in the final episode, she is gone.
Pyrrha's final words before her death, however, were "do you believe in destiny?", to which Cinder responded by saying "yes". Immediately following Pyrrha's death, Ruby Rose (voiced by Lindsay Jones) released a magical energy, which caused the presumed death of Cinder, froze the giant flying Grimm circling the school, and saved Vale. Pyrrha's death allowed Ruby to unlock her hidden, unknown potential.
While Pyrrha may be gone, it is doubtful that her story is over. With Ruby and Jaune working together, the inspiration of Pyrrha will continue to hover over the heroes. Her sacrifice will have an impact on everyone moving forward.
How Strong Will Yang Become?
Yang Xaio Long (voiced by Barbara Dunkleman) has had a rough time lately. She was disqualified from the Vytal Tournament, her friend Pyrrha died, her team mate (and girlfriend?) Blake ran away, and she lost her right arm. At the end of Volume 3, instead of traveling with Ruby, she decides to stay with her father, and rightfully so.
But that's not going to last.
Yang is one of the strongest characters on the show, and while she may be knocked down now, there is no way she will stay that way. The question is, how powerful will Yang be when she returns? Will she be weakened by her defeated state, or will she attach a titanium chainsaw to her arm, destroy hordes of Grimm, and stand over the rubble with a huge smile on her face?
The real answer likely lies somewhere in the middle.
What Will Adam Do For An Encore?
Adam Taurus (voiced by Garrett Hunter) quickly became one of the most diabolical villains in animation. While he was initially coerced into joining Cinder and her team, Adam quickly took advantage of his position to use it as revenge against his ex-lover Blake Belladonna (voiced by Arryn Zech). He and his White Fang helped destroy most of Vale, he stabbed Blake in the side, and he was responsible for Yang's loss of an arm.
After the giant flying Grimm attacked Beacon Academy, it was mentioned that the White Fang left Vale, with the assumption being that Adam left with them. For the most part, Adam was successful - he successfully destroyed Team RWBY, brought chaos to Vale, and with Cinder now dead, he is able to lead his team to greater heights.
So what will Adam do next? Blake has left Team RWBY, and it is unknown whether she is chasing Adam, or if Adam is chasing her. With Ruby and her new team focusing on finding Professor Ozpin, Adam will have full reign to create even more evil plans.
Where Is Neo?
The last time we saw Neopolitan, she was flying off the top of an airship with her umbrella opened. Whether or not she landed anywhere safely was never addressed. Is Neo dead? Or did her umbrella allow her to float to safety?
Assuming she is alive, Neo will have to find a new direction. Her boss, Roman Torchwick (voiced by Haddock), was eaten by a Nevermore. Her other boss, Cinder, was killed at the top of Beacon Academy. Her enemies have scattered into the wind, and she no longer has anyone to take orders from. This leaves Neo in complete limbo, which could allow her to become even more powerful, or it could open a door for her to no longer be a villain. It might be some time before we see Neo again, if we see her at all.
Will Velvet Develop Into A Main Character?
Velvet Scarletina (voiced by Caiti Ward) has quickly become a fan favorite within the RWBY community, and her most recent appearance showed her true potential. Her main weapon is her camera box, which allows her to create an image of any weapon she previously photographed. This gives her the ability to fight using all of the weapons previously seen on the series.
Given her incredible fighting abilities, her newfound popularity, and Ward's exceptional voice acting, the time seems right to transition Velvet into a major character. Her backstory has barely been explored, but with the recent loss of several characters, now would be the perfect time to elevate someone new.
Who The Hell Is This?
At the end of Volume 1, Roman Torchwick, who was the main villain of the show up to that point, was seen speaking to a mysterious woman who could summon fire from her hand. That woman turned out to be Cinder, who was the main villain of the show the past two volumes. With Roman and Cinder now gone, a new villain has been seen, once again in the last episode, with very little information given.
And she seems a lot more powerful than the others.
This new character, known only as Salem, is voiced by legendary voice actress Jen Taylor. Taylor also voiced the narrator in the very first episode of RWBY, as well as in some of the World Of Remnant episodes, in the very same voice. That means this character has been part of the story since Episode 1, and while Cinder was seen speaking to and about another woman in previous episodes, she has never been seen and barely mentioned previously.
Salem is now in possession of Professor Ozpin, whom she seems to have a history with. She also presides over a mysterious dark land filled with Grimm, and is now preparing to battle Ruby and her new team. She is the new main villain of the show, and her backstory has not been discussed, so what kind of power she has is a complete unknown at this point.
Clearly these aren't all the questions we are left with after Volume 3, and knowing Rooster Teeth, there will be a lot more added the closer we get to Volume 4. RWBY fans will be sitting at the end of their seats awaiting for the next volume to debut. Hopefully it is sooner rather than later.
(All images provides are screenshots of RWBY Volume 3, courtesy of Rooster Teeth.)