We’ve got a glimpse at his personality for his few screentime minutes and I’d like to show just HOW MUCH we’ve been given.
He’s SMART. He’s EXPERIENCED. We’ve seen him in two main situations: Has the upper hand ( where he acts smug and cocky ), and losing it. Most villains get angry. Want revenge. Run away in fear. Throw a tantrum. But he DOESN’T. Roman stays calm. He thinks things through. He is obviously not happy about losing, but he’s calm and collected. He does not get rash at all.
When he loses to Penny, Sun, and Ruby?
“These kids just keep getting weirder.”
He stays calm. He knows he’s been beat. He accepts that. He doesn’t get mad, he doesn’t curse their names. At most, he gives an annoyed sigh and just moves on. He can ACCEPT THAT. He knows it is not smart to make a scene or keep this going, so he makes a tactical retreat. Yes, he was not happy. But he did not get angry. He stayed calm.
When he lost to Team RWBY?
“Just got this thing cleaned…”
He stayed calm. He was annoyed, but he thought about what he should do. He assessed the situation and devised a plan. HECK! He had a plan PREPARED in case he failed! He had Neo and the ship as a last resort! He THOUGHT AHEAD. Most villains do NOT think: “What should I do if I fail?” No. They think and think on a plan that CAN’T fail, not a plan with a way out! That’s SMART. He knows he isn’t perfect and can accept loss, we knew this. And now we know he isn’t prideful because he thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s prideful because HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. He’s SMART. He’s EXPERIENCED. After all, “some bets you just don’t take.”
When he is pinned by Blake?
“We’re on the same side and you know it.”
He is not SCARED. He is not ANGRY. He is annoyed, he does not show any fear. Because he doesn’t have any. He was not scared in the slightest because he had the situation controlled. When he “bargained” with her, he knew she wouldn’t just join his side. A villain cannot mock and berate you through the fight, then all of a sudden go “Oh oh! I’m here for YOU!” when they’ve lost. Villains do this, but everyone knows it won’t work. It’s DESPERATE. Roman? He was not desperate. He “pleaded” with her- not because he wanted to convince her of his side- because he knew it would make her have one thought: “He isn’t worth it.” He’s probably experienced that treatment enough before that he knows how to take advantage of it. Roman is EXPERIENCED. He takes a bad situation and uses it. He knew how to get her to hold, not to JOIN. And that’s what he wanted.
HOWEVER! Everyone has their breaking point. Everyone has something that sets them off like a firework. And Roman, we saw that.
There is one time he does not stay calm. There is one time he acts rash, he lashes out, he does not think things through, he goes against everything he does.
When Neo goes off the plane?
All of this careful planning, all of his composure! GONE! He loses it when she goes off. He screams for her and only after he realizes there’s absolutely nothing he can do, THEN he looks to Ruby. He no longer holds his composure. The smart thing to do here would have been to run. To leave. But he didn’t.
Roman was MAD. He scolded Ruby, he yelled at Ruby, he lashed out at her and hit her and threw her around. He was MAD. Because of losing Neo, he no longer COULD think. He no longer COULD keep calm. If he is still alive, he WILL INDEED think that in hindsight he shouldn’t have done that. But he couldn’t help himself.
From Roman’s behavior in the show, we can deduce a TON about his past and personality regardless of his screentime minutes.
Roman is smug and cocky because he knows what to do, not because he thinks he’s just the best thing ever.
Roman knows he is not the best, he can accept that. He can accept when he loses, he accepts he CAN LOSE for that matter. After all, “Some bets you just don’t take.”
He’s smart. He’s experienced. He’s seen a lot and knows how to take it to his advantage. He doesn’t just plan for what he can do. He plans for what can happen. He even plans for the worst. He doesn’t make a plan that is so “perfect” it’s “foolproof”. He knows that’s a waste of time and instead plans for what to do AND what to do if things don’t pan out. He doesn’t see shame in accepting a loss, he LEARNS FROM THEM.
We get glimpses of his past experiences. He doesn’t hold grudges or hold onto things, probably because he’s used to losing things. He only deals with the past when it becomes relevant. Cinder held an obvious grudge on Ruby. Roman didn’t give two shits about her until she was in his face, aka relevant to him again. He focuses on the present. This shows personality and possibly previous experiences, especially backed with the “Then die like every other Huntsmen in history!” And knowing how to play the “He’s not worth it.” card? I wouldn’t put it past a street rat charlatan like Roman to know just how to make someone think that about him an easy feat.
Roman keeps calm and thinks things through, he knows not to be rash and can make logical decisions to fix situations and get himself out of there unscathed.
However. There is one thing that we’ve seen that pushes Roman off of the edge. We’ve seen what pushes him past his breaking point.
He cares about Neo very much and could not handle the fact he just lost her. As soon as he lost her, he lost himself.
Now some might say this is a curve ball theory, that Neo can’t allude to Tinker Bell because she’s Mary Poppins or the Cheshire cat - but let’s be honest, those two theories hold little weight beyond a single cursory resemblance - her umbrella for the former and her maniacal grin for the latter.
Tinker bell holds a much stronger connection to Neo. Let me explain:
Neo cannot or does not speak, only seemingly understood by Roman. Tinker Bell cannot speak except through the sound of jingling bells, and is only understood by those familiar with the fairy language.
Neo is violent, sadistic, vengeful and villainous. Tinker Bell is “ill-tempered, spoiled, jealous, vindictive and inquisitive.” And yet…
…Both are loyal to their red-headed companion who wears a hat adorned with a feather. And yeah, Roman is Candlewick, but he wouldn’t be the first with a double allusion (See Oz, Qrow, Ruby etc).
Tinkerbell possesses pixie dust which allows Peter Pan & co to fly. By comparison, Neo has used her semblance twice to provide a quick flight for her allies Roman and Cinder; once in V2E4 where she provided Roman with a quick getaway, and again in V6E13 where she masks the Mistrali airship to look like an Atlesian one - said ship also being hijacked by her, giving Cinder the ability of flight.
There are even further connections, including their diminutive stature. It’s also possible that the roles of Peter Pan’s epilogue are reversed; in the original book, Peter tells Wendy that Tinkerbell died - meanwhile in RWBY, Tinkerbell (Neo) survives while her Peter (Roman) dies.