Greeting, fellow RWBY fans! In this thread I want to talk about RWBY's one true Ice Queen, Winter Schnee. Who is she? What are her motives? Could she be in league with the CRMSN Syndicate (pronounced "crimson", my name for Cinder's faction)? I don't know for sure, but I can see how she could be a major villain in the series. Here are my thoughts.
First of all, she comes from a dysfunctional family. From what we can tell, Mr. Schnee was not a good father to his daughters, often coming home from work enraged & infuriated, according to Weiss. Who's to say that he didn't take his frustrations out on his daughters, possibly belittling & yelling at them for no reason whatsoever? And who's to say that Winter didn't get the most verbal abuse from him due to being the oldest child? That could've lead to Winter holding a long-standing grudge against her father. It could also explain why Winter is so harsh & cold towards Weiss when she makes even the smallest mistakes. She more than likely picked up a few of her father's bad habits. In short, daddy dearest probably turned his little angel into a devil in disguise.
Second, she might not like her place in the Atlas military. In the WOR segment "Huntsmen & Huntresses," we learned that most students who graduate from Atlas Academy are often forced into joining the Atlas military's Special Ops Unit. We are also shown that Winter is possibly one of those students. Was she pressured into joining Special Ops by General Ironwood? Does she secertly not like taking orders from a man who, in her mind, is just as strict & uptight as her father, if not more so? Maybe she's grown tired of Ironwood & the military altogether & is helping Cinder take them all down.
Third, she might've been the one who helped Torchwick supply the White Fang with Atlesian mechs. Somebody had to have helped Torchwick smuggle all those Atlesian Paladins he stole out of Atlas. Who's to say Winter didn't give him access to an Atlas mech factory & let him take a Paladin or two without anyone else being the wise? Could she have also supplied the enemy with the Black Queen virus that gave them access to the CCT network? Let's not forget that in Volume 3 she arrived at Beacon with several Atlesian Knights & Paladins, claiming to provide additional security for the Vytal Festival. We later see these same mechs turn on everyone during the Battle of Beacon, thanks to the Black Queen virus. To me, that seemed like Winter added more fuel to the proverbial fire that helped the enemy bring about the Fall of Beacon & create mistrust among the four kingdoms.
Fourth, she could very well become the enemy's new Winter Maiden. We learned in Volume 2 that Cinder's goal is to take away her enemies' power & use it against them. We also see in Volume 3 that she & her cohorts tried to take the Fall Maiden's power. I like to believe that Cinder is not only targeting one of the Four Maidens, but all of them. She wants to steal the Four Maidens' powers & turn them loose on Remnant. The problem is that perhaps she can't handle having all four powers on her own, hence why she needs three more candidates. She already has Emerald & Neo to take the Spring & Summer Maidens' powers, respectively. That just leaves the Winter Maiden, & who better to fill the role than an Atlas Special Ops soldier with ties to both the Atlas military & the Schnee family? I think that before infiltrating Vale but after taking some of the Fall Maiden's power & forcing Adam to help her, Cinder set her sights on Atlas looking for a way to tear the kingdom apart. While in Atlas, she takes notice of Winter & tries to spy on her, looking for any weakness to use against her. Through this, she learns of Winter's hatred for her father & her disdain for the military. Cinder then approaches Winter & convinces her into joining her faction, promising her the power she needs to take down her father & his corrupt company in exchange for helping Cinder & her faction take down the four kingdoms, Atlas included. With this, the enemy will have four candidates to take the powers of the Four Maidens, which will spell big trouble for the good guys & all of Remnant.
Lastly, she just looks the part! I know I shouldn't judge someone by their appearance, but ever since I first saw her concept art I thought right away that Winter was a villain, or at least a bad person. That point got hammered home for me in Volume 3 when she strikes her own sister on the head & attacks Qrow without hesitation or restraint, only holding back at the last second due to Ironwood's interruption. No matter how you look at it, Winter just looks & acts like a villain.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on Winter Schnee. I apologize for this post being too wordy. I just have alot of opinions on this character I wanted to share with everyone. Feel free to agree, disagree, & offer your thoughts on this subject. In other words, let the speculations begin!
Edit: I thought I'd add an idea I had about Winter being the bad guys' Winter Maiden.