So, now that spoiler bans have elapsed, I feel confident in sharing a theory about what may come to be after the events of the last episode. After the the brutal death of one of my favorite characters, I couldn't sleep Saturday night, so I browsed the comments section of the video. I came across a few pieces of information from a lot of different people about strange occurrences, coincidences, and observations and theories. Now, the production crew apparently
(from what I heard) confirmed that Pyrrha would be killed quite some time ago. However, her death does not mean her elimination from the show.
There are two theories that are circulating about the possiblity of a sorta-return of Pyrrha later on, both of which I am going to elaborate on in order of plausibility (in my opinion.) I want to be extremely thorough anddetailed, so pour a glass of rum and bear with this lenghty post. I will keep some of my outline notation (yes, I wrote an outline then filled it in a day later like a fricken college essay.) Also, I will not create a TL;DR version because this needs to be read in it's
entirety to be understood, and I don't want anyone to believe or deny it based on only partial information.
1) The Hell Theory
The basic idea of the Hell Theory is that Pyrrha (and Ozpin) are in a state of limbo, hell, or suspension under Salem's control, where they are being harvested for..information, or aura, or abilities/semblances, or something of the like.
A) The killing method Cinder used is extremely suspicious.
It should be mentioned that Pyrrha (and, if they share the same fate, Ozpin,) are completely and 100% dead...but by this, I mean that their body is dead (at least Pyrrha is, she is the primary focus on this specific point.) We have evidence from this from the episode. Be warned, what I am about to describe is very GRAPHIC. It is clear in the episode that the arrow pierces Pyrrha in the heart. (some have theorized that she misses intentionally to only wound, but no, it is clear that it contacted the heart.) While there is a bit of breastbone there, an arrow (especially in an animated series) would have no problem penetrating it. Once it did, the heart would either be cut apart or burst by the arrow. Further evidence of this comes from the specific way she convulses. We see her shaking and trembling, and this is from the pain. But, briefly, we see her arch her back a bit, almost appearing to do something like a hiccup...this is her body realising "oh, my heart isn't working, I should try to restart it". Her body, at that moment, moves like that because her diaphram is attempting to pump and restart her heart. But, it is all to no avail, and we see Pyrrha lean forward before quickly slumping forward, clearly the end of her body functioning. This makes what happens next even more interesting. Cinder appears to incinerate Pyrrha's body, save for her headpiece (remember this). If Pyrrha was clearly dead, why burn her body too? At no point does Cinder ever do this to others she killed that we have seen. She has neither a NEED to do this (her opponent is already dead) but she also has no reason to either. I can't imagine she would carry a special grudge against Pyrrha, so why treat her differently? She could have done it to stun and hurt Ruby, but Cinder had no idea that Ruby was standing
there, so shock factor can't come into play. Additionally, the arrow shone when it contacted Pyrrha's chest. We have never seen this happen before, not even with Amber! So what was happening here?
I theorize that the arrow opened a portal (as we have seen Cinder use) to transfer some of Pyrrha's aura somewhere. When Cinder "incinerated" her, she was teleporting an "image" of sorts of her body to that same place. This couldn't have been a pure, actual fire incineration. If it were, then it 1) wouldn't be necessary at that point and would serve no purpose, and B) would not have left the headpiece and nothing else.
It is likely some spell that requires an item to stay behind.
How do we know this is the case?
B) The same thing happened to Ozpin.
Now, we are not sure what happened to Ozpin. We never see a body, nor do we definitively hear from anyone that he died. No body was recovered. We do see, however, that his cane was
left behind because Qrow has it (saw that in the scene after the credits, we got Marvel-ed!). Now, an item belonging to that person may have to be left behind and recovered in order to do whatever kind of black magic stuff that would be done to people who are "incinerate/teleported." This means that Ozpin and Pyrrha may have been killed by the same method and share the same fate. If they share the same fate, then Pyrrha is still alive or still exists in some capacity, because Ozpin surely exists still. We know this from the Cortana/Salem monologues in the series (Vol 1 Ep 1, and this last episode.) The important thing about these monologues is that they were actually a part of a conversation between Ozpin and Salem. Salem continued this conversation with Ozpin at the end of the episode...why would she converse with a pile of ash? And if he is the wizard from the tale of the maidens, then she would have far more to gain from keeping him alive, to learn and take any remainder of the power. Until Salem can get the cane of Ozpin, she can't set that plan into motion just yet, but she may still
have some use for Pyrrha. So, our two fallen heroes could be in a state of limbo or preservation, with only an "image" of their bodies and auras intact.
That's quite a far reach to say that Salem would consider Pyrrha to be just as important as Oz, or even in the same league. Surely she can't be that special or important, right? Well, apparently our favorite cereal-box-mascot character is worthy of being on an important list of some sort, where Oz and Pyrrha would have to have a commonality....as magic users!
(more on that later).
C) Cinder's List. Like Schindler's list but with 40% less goose-stepping (yes, I still have to serve up some zingers and jokes.)
Recall early in Vol 3 that, after Mercury's fight with Pyrrha, he told Cinder about Pyrrha's semblance of magnetism. Cinder found this interesting, and added her name to a "list." Later on, Cinder finds out that Penny is a machine and finds it "interesting." Due to the different treatment that these two are given my Cinder in these bits of dialogue, I surmise that they are separate ideas. The "list" is a list of interesting semblances that Cinder and Salem want to harvest and absorb, presumably into one of them, to become extremely powerful (like the META in Red Vs Blue.), whereas her plans for Penny were only short term, and not long term like her plans for Pyrrha. It seems unlikely that this list was not a kill list, but
an abduction and semblance/power mining list.
Is there any other reason to believe that Pyrrha still exists somewhere, a ghost of her former self but still aware for some purpose? Well, yes, I can think of one other reason why
we are on the heels of the truth here: Achilles.
D) Hades and Achilles
It's little secret that Pyrrha is based on Achilles: a nearly unstoppable fighter, save for the heel, which proved to be the weak point that could be exploited to cause defeat. But look at Greek mythology a bit closer: In Hades, the spirits of the dead still exist in a state of consciousness and can communicate with one another and with any visiting humans, should they dare to set foot there. Depending on how far Monty planned to take the characters' roots in mythology, this could be an extra component of Achilles' story that would allow Pyrrha to exist in some capacity.
That basically concludes the Hell Theory. I find it to be the weaker of the two theories I propose here, but the detail that went into Pyrrha's death, the (probable) desire of Salem to harvest powers like the META did in RvB, and the mysterious circumstances and mechanics of Pyrrha's death are not accidental details that were added then immediately ignored and dismissed by the writers and animation team. EVERY thing that they put into the story serves a purpose, and I doubt these details and circumstances were purely for show.
Let's move on to the other theory, which, as a devout Arkos fan, I tend to favor more.
2) The Aura Theory
The idea of the Aura Theory is that Pyrrha's aura, therefore her soul, is partially stored within Jaune, and he will be able to communicate with her inside his mind for quite some time,
and be able to "summon" or "manifest" her later on when he discovers and masters his semblance, which will turn out to be partial resurrection.
A) Jaune in forest
We first learn details about aura in Volume 1, Episode 6 when Jaune is pimp-smacked by a branch in the forest. Pyrrha helps him activate his aura, and says this:"for it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death, I release your soul and by my shoulder, protect thee."
Two things about this. Okay. Stop reading this now and go watch the episode, or at least this part (around 6 minute mark.) Think about this. Pyrrha just manipulated Jaune's soul to release it. That is some wierd shit going on there. At no other point in this series do we see anyone else do this or mention the ability to manipulate the aura of others. If this technique were common knowledge or able to be done by everyone, then it would be used far more often in the series to help teammates/friends/allies that had low aura. Also, this aura
manipulation cannot be a semblance, since Pyrrha already has one, and Pyrrha would not know Jaune's semblance until she manipulated his aura and therefore wouldn't have even attempted or
thought of it. This ability must be....ancient magic. The second thing I want to note about the dialogue is how unusual it sounds coming from Pyrrha; it doesn't match her speech patterns, mannerisms, and word choice, so it can't be something she came up with and said just for kicks and giggles. This was an ancient bit of magic that she learned in order to manipulate Jaune's aura, but more importantly...to store a sliver of her own aura, and therefore, her soul, with him. Furthermore, after this interaction, she notes that he has a lot of aura...enough aura for two people? This scene has details and dialogue that just don't fit or make sense to purely for the sake of informing the audience how aura works. Details like the unusual nature of the dialogue, and the fact that Pyrrha can even do this in the first place, indicate not only that she is a magic user like the maidens and Ozpin (if you believe the "Ozpin is the wizard from the maiden story" theory) but that she can manipulate and store her aura as well. (Like Horcruxes in Harry Potter, except Pyrrha has a nose and doesn't have a booty call cellphone-tattoo
like Voldemort has.)
Okay, even if she can manipulate and transfer her aura, why would she want to?
B) Well, we don't know Jaune's semblance, but Pyrrha does.
We cannot know for sure, but during this aura manipulation and measure (le lenny face), perhaps she read what Jaune's semblance is as well. I mean, if she is so OP that she can use magic and use people as storages for her aura, who's to say she can't also learn a person's semblance as well? Or perhaps she know from the start what it was. This whole little section is pretty small because I am extrapolating on the previous idea, but it is important.
If Pyrrha knows Jaune's semblance, why would she store her soul with him? What is gained from any of that? Well, the answer comes from, once again, looking at the origin of the characters.
C) Jaune's semblance is based on his namesake, Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was a warrior during the "Hundred Years War", who participated in numerous military campaigns in the war. She was deeply religious and was even declared a Saint many years later. This brings two very important details. First, Joan of Arc claimed to see visions of angels and recieved revelation from them. If this characteristic continues in Jaune, then it is possible that he could recieve visions or guidance from Pyrrha from time to time through their combined aura. But another part of this could provide a clue to his semblance. The cornerstone idea of Christianity is the concept of resurrection after death. Why would Jaune have so much aura if it wasnt' meant to be used to give to others? From these observations, I am guessing that his semblance is the ability to create manifestations of his aura, like clones of sorts, who are autonomous and can fight, but they take a fraction of his aura to generate. I suspect that once he learns what his semblance is, he will dedicate himself to attempting to make a manifestation of Pyrrha, since he will be able to communicate with her and know of her presence in his aura.
I admit that so far, that isn't much to go on. We only rely on a brief scene in Volume 1 that seems odd, and his namesake, which may be taken to the lenght that I have described. Isn't there anything else to point towards this anywhere else? Why, yes there is, and we just saw it.
D) Pyrrha's Destiny Conversations
By my count, there are only two people that Pyrrha has ever really spoken to about the concept of destiny: Ozpin (when he was recruiting her to become a maiden) and Jaune. Her final words
were, specifically, "Do you beleive in destiny?" Only one person got this direct quote, and that was Jaune, when they were cuddling against the wall which made me grin tremendously. This seems like an odd choice for final words. Why would she mention this idea to the person who was about to kill her, especially when that destiny was the idea of saving the world, which she wasn't going to do as a pile of ash. The answer is that she was reaffirming her plan to herself; she remebered transfering a sliver of her aura to Jaune, and was reassuring herself that her plan was going to work. In this moment, she realizes that her destiny was not to save the world herself, but was to save the life of a noodly blonde boy falling from the sky, become his mentor and friend, and be connected by their souls so that together, not alone, they could fight the powers of evil in Remnant. Deep! This idea is also backed up in that instead of letting him fight alongside her, she sent him away in a locker so that he, and by extension a part of her, could be saved. If Cinder truly was targeting powerful people like Pyrrha, then she would have to sacrifice herself to get Cinder off of Jaune's trail and think that the young woman that could nearly defeat a maiden was no longer a part of the picture or threat anymore.
With this theory, throughout the series, Jaune will be haunted by, see visions of, then communicate with, and eventually manifest Pyrrha in an ultimate showdown with Cinder.
Now that I have the actual theories out of the way, let's evaluate the impact that it would have on the series as a whole, and refute some of the reasons to dismiss the theory.
Something that I want to point out is that these two theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive, meaning that they could be happening at the same time. If aura can be split, as we know from what happened to Amber, then it is possible that Pyrrha could be semblance-mined by Salem but still exist in some capacity within Jaune. There is plenty of justification for both theories, and I see little that would get in the way of allowing both to be true at once. This dramatically increases the odds that Pyrrha will still be around somehow, and that some or most of these components will be true.
Some people may think that doing this would ruin the story, that bringing a character back from the dead is too ex machina or cheesy, or would de-value the importance of their death and
all death in the series. Not only do I disagree, but I feel the opposite. I do agree that giving characters unlimited plot armor makes for a boring series; when a character is in trouble, there is no tension or belief that they are really in danger if there is plot armor and no death or perma-death. When we see our other characters in this series be in danger, we will now be worried for them, knowing that there is no guarantee that they will make it, and that adds value to the characters and the story. This is why the death of Penny and Torchwick were necessary, to create tension and help set the stage for the rest of the show, and help us understand that these characters are not immortal and unkillable. Good stories do this. But when you look at everything else that I have mentioned so far, it seems like the RWBY crew have gone to exptreme lengths to ensure that bringing Pyrrha back in some capacity is possible,
and her lack of presence in the meantime can still have impact. It is a very common story trope that "a beloved character dies, but their memory spurs on their surviving friends to succeed." I see this approach as boring and a bit lazy too, and I have a hard time believing that the writers )who have gone to meticulously design a whole world, culture, technologies, and folklore, all within another context of real life folklore,) would stop being meticulous and take the easy and well-treaded path of perma-deathing a character and reducing them to nothing more that a memory and battle cry for the remaining cast, particularly when so much has already been set up to bring her back. Writers that would include so many details that
show that Pyrrha is special wouldn't go to such lengths just to make it all moot and pointless and take the easy storytelling route, they would be ignoring their own source material! By appearing to be dead, then turning the "dead friend" trope on it's head in a spectacular way later on, they would be making the story far more interesting and unique.
Even if it isn't currently in their plans to have this happen, they could very easily make it canon without changing things dramatically in the overall storyline. The only things that would be impacted would be Jaune's character development, and possibly the death of Cinder. (Could you imagine the fight with Cinder if the Aura Theory were true? Picture this: Jaune is on the ground, nearly defeated by Cinder, about to be executed. Cinder asks him if he has any last words. He replies with a grin and asks "Do you believe in destiny?" A horrified expression crosses Cinder's face, and a xyphos pierces her back, into her heart, and out the other side. Jaune stands up, and runs Cinder through from the front. Pyrrha and Jaune are reunited at last, but only for a moment, as Jaune becomes exhausted and his aura runs out. This could be just about as powerful as the temporary return of Lily and James Potter, helping Harry escape the trap set by Voldemort in book 4, where a temporary resurrection adds to the moment and helps keep things going. That all sounds waaaay better than the cliche "Ahh, you killed
the person I loved, now I have the willpower to defeat you, I defeat you in the memory of Pyrrha!" sort of thing that happens in just about every story ever.) At any rate, the writers could take this approach to the story if they haven't already, and I feel that it wouldn't dramatically change too many things. I think that bringing Pyrrha back in some capacity makes a more unique and interesting story than keeping her dead.
Furthermore, Jen Brown recently "confirmed" that Pyrrha is dead and that she will no longer be doing any more VA. While Jen wrote a very heartfelt and emotional tribute (it's on Twitter), I don't take it as confirmation for anything. We as fans just saw Pyrrha die, it would be very unusual if Jen posted or said anything to the contrary. She wouldn't post "Nah guys she is still alive, lelz, we're trolling ya". She would have to "confirm this death regardless of whether it was true or not in order to prevent spoilers.
Alright, I think we can about wrap this up. These pieces were pointed out within the community, much of this is not entirely my own thinking or observations, I merely compiled clues together and added my own observations, so this theory is not my own, but stems largely from the community itself. Maybe this is me grasping at thin air in a desperate attempt to bring back a character I liked tremendously, and maybe I really am reading too much into details in the show. Maybe these theories are entirely plausible and sensible but the writers have chosen not to take this path despite everything else they set up to make it possible to happen. I don't know. Maybe I'm just an overly sensitive ninny. But honestly, I see so much of myself in Jaune, and see so much of how my own relationship played out (except for having her heart be shorn to pieces by a broadhead) in Arkos. The shy, noodly, clumsy yet
determined and loyal guy and the sweet, maternal, skilled and shy girl, both crazy about each other for a looong time but could never understand that the other person reciprocated until they were literally kissing. Since this has played out the last few years and in some similar ways and timeline to how Arkos did (until the whole dying thing), it all connected to me on a very personal level, which good characters and good writing should do. I could often watch an episode and relate to it tremendously, to know how difficult
it was for Pyrrha to let Jaune know how she felt because I had a tough time doing that too. Those two characters were characters that I could relate to, and I could watch and draw
inspiration, courage, and drive to get through the tough times in my own life. That's what a good story does, and I know I am not alone in taking great personal value in these characters that we have had around for several years.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I made this so that I could inspire and console the community, and help us keep interested and keep a keen eye on the wonderful world, lore, and details that Monty, Miles, and Kerry have given us.
Perhaps Pyrrha isn't gone...she just isn't here right now.