Ruby Rose and Weiss Schnee are hanging onto a large mass of feathers fluttering in the wind, with Weiss berating Ruby on how their current predicament was a bad idea. As the two continue to argue, Ruby suggests jumping and does so before Weiss can finish objecting. As Ruby falls, Jaune Arc collides with her in midair, and the two of them land in a nearby tree.
Yang Xiao Long and Blake Belladonna are watching everything transpire from the ground. They then notice an Ursa come stumbling out of the forest and collapse on the ground with Nora Valkyrie riding on its back and Lie Ren exhaustedly chasing close behind. Nora quickly makes her way to the chess pieces and delightfully takes a white rook chess piece, declaring herself "queen of the castle", before Ren angrily calls her back. Pyrrha Nikos arrives soon after with the Death Stalker right behind her.
Yang then explodes with frustration, due to all of the commotion. Soon afterwards, the group notices Weiss still hanging on the claw of a giant Nevermore. Soon, she falls from the Grimm, and Jaune, in an attempt to gain her favor, jumps off the tree and catches her, although he failed to take gravity into account.
As Pyrrha crash-lands in front of the group, Yang sarcastically says that now that the entire group has gathered at the location, they can die together. Ruby decides to take out the Death Stalker on her own, but her attacks prove ineffective against its thick armor. Realizing this, she puts Crescent Rose away and flees toward the other students. The Nevermore fires a barrage of feathers, one of which pins Ruby's cape to the ground, trapping her.
As the Death Stalker catches up to Ruby, it raises its stinger to strike her. Yang, too far away to reach her in time, helplessly reaches for Ruby, and Weiss speeds over to Ruby and uses Ice Dust to freeze the Death Stalker's stinger in place. While she criticizes Ruby for her childish and dim-witted behavior, Weiss admits that she herself has been difficult as well. Since they must work together, Weiss promises to be nicer as long as Ruby stops trying to show off, and Ruby states that she was merely trying to prove herself.
Ruby points out that the group's mission is simply to retrieve "relics" and return to the cliff, not to dispatch the Death Stalker and Nevermore. As such, she feels the group should leave the temple while they have the chance, and her classmates agree. Ruby grabs a white knight piece, Jaune grabs a white rook piece, and the students flee. However, the Death Stalker breaks free of the ice and gives chase with the Nevermore, forcing the group to face them. The battle leads to a ruined structure in the middle of a canyon, where the group splits into two. Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang work together to behead the Nevermore, while Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha and Ren send the Death Stalker plummeting into the canyon with its head impaled by its own stinger.
Later, at Beacon Academy, Ozpin forms the teams. The first team consists of Cardin Winchester, Russel Thrush, Dove Bronzewing and Sky Lark, forming Team CRDL, pronounced "Cardinal", led by Cardin. The next team is Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha and Ren, forming Team JNPR, pronounced "Juniper", with Jaune serving as its leader. Finally, Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang form Team RWBY, pronounced "Ruby", with Ruby leading the team. Afterwards, Ozpin notes that it seems this will be an interesting year.
Elsewhere, Roman Torchwick finishes talking to someone via a phone call on his Scroll and sighs in frustration. He pays a White Fang member for the delivery of a case of Dust crystals. As the camera zooms in on a map of Vale on which he has written notes and circled Beacon Academy, Roman notes that he is going to need more men.
The opening ends to the sight of Weiss Schnee and Ruby Rose hanging on to something very feathery and very fast, as evidenced by the loud wind and the two being blown sideways.
Weiss: (shouting to be heard) Ruby! I told you this was a terrible idea!
Ruby: (also raising her voice) We're fine! Stop worrying!
Weiss: I am so far beyond worrying!
Ruby: In a good way?
Weiss: In a bad way! In a very bad way!
Ruby: Well, why don't we just jump?
Weiss: What are you? Insane?!
She is met with silence; Ruby has already disappeared.
Weiss: Oh, you insufferable little red-!
Yang: Blake, did you hear that? What should we do?
Ruby: (falling right towards them, finally getting Yang's attention) Heads uuuuuuuup!
Just as she's about to hit the ground panicking, Jaune Arc comes flying through the air and crashes into Ruby, knocking her off course and sending them both into a tree to the left of where Blake and Yang are standing. Ruby is dazed by the rough landing (as evidenced by the cutesy Beowolves and stars circling her head).
Ruby: Oohhhh... What was that? (the dizziness passes when she shakes her head)
Jaune: Eh-hem! (Ruby looks up to see Jaune hanging upside-down in a tree branch above her) Hey, Ruby...
Blake: (back on the ground, looking at the tree) Did your sister just fall from the sky?
Before she can continue, several crashing noises are heard in the forest ahead of them, and an Ursa comes out, claws swiping, just as a pink blast of energy hits it in the back and it crashes to the ground, depositing its rider.
Nora: YEEEE-HAAAAW! (rolls off of the creature's back, then gets up and groans, saddened) Awwww... It's broken. (she dashes onto its neck and observes the carcass as Ren comes up behind her)
Ren: (panting and leaning on the monster) Nora! Please... Don't ever do that again. (he looks up again and notices by the pink dotted outline of where his partner should be that Nora has run off again, and looks around frantically)
Nora: (now in the Temple, staring at a golden rook relic) Oooohh... (suddenly grabs it, an animation of stars and her hammer symbol playing in the pink background as she dances and sings with the chess piece) I'm queen of the castle! I'm queen of the castle!
Ren (off-screen): Nora!
Nora: (stops dancing with the rook on her head, then salutes, dropping the relic into her hand) Coming, Ren! (skips off to her friend)
Blake: Did that girl just ride in on an Ursa?
She is interrupted once more as a screech is heard from their right, and Pyrrha Nikos comes onto the scene as the scorpion creature uproots entire trees in its chase after her. Pyrrha narrowly dodges its giant claws and keeps on running.
Ruby: (standing up, looking at the monster below) Whoa! (she starts running off of the branch and landing in a roll)
Jaune: (whining) Ruby!
Yang: (as Ruby stands up, back on the ground) Ruby!
Ruby: (excited) Yang! (raises her arms as if to give her sister a hug)
Nora: Nora! (comes between the two and knocking them off-balance in surprise)
The scorpion Grimm continues to follow Pyrrha as she runs.
Blake: Did she just run all the way here with a Death Stalker on her tail?
Yang: (getting angrier until she growls and erupts in a small burst of fire, eyes flashing red) I can't take it anymore! Can everyone just chill out for two seconds before something crazy happens again?!
The tick-tock of a clock counts down the two seconds of Yang cooling down, Ren running over to a ditzy Nora, and Blake and Ruby looking up.
Ruby: Umm... Yang? (tugs on her sister's sleeve and points)
Up above, Weiss is revealed to be hanging on a talon the size of her entire body that belongs to a gigantic Nevermore.
Weiss: (calling down to Ruby) How could you leave me?!
Ruby: (shouting up at Weiss) I said "jump"!
Blake: She's gonna fall.
Ruby: She'll be fine.
Ren: She's falling.
Jaune is finally out of the tree, panting until he looks up and grins at the sight of Weiss falling through the air, giving him the opportunity to jump off the branch with arms outstretched and catch her in a slowed-down moment.
Jaune: (smiles at Weiss) Just... dropping in?
Weiss is speechless... and Jaune realizes why when they both look down.
Jaune: Oh, God. (they hang on to each other wide-eyed as their moment of suspension ends, their weapons flying behind them) Oh, noooooooo- Oomph!
Jaune does a faceplant into the dirt, limbs splayed out, and serves as the perfect landing spot for Weiss as she falls into a seated position on his body.
Weiss: (mockingly) My hero.
Jaune: (groaning) My back...
The Death Stalker is still hunting Pyrrha, but she manages to land on her side at the feet of the heroes.
Yang: Great! The gang's all here! Now we can die together!
Ruby: Not if I can help it! (sounds a battle cry and rushes towards the Grimm)
Yang: Ruby, wait!
Ruby, still screaming, fires Crescent Rose and charges at the oncoming Death Stalker. When the two meet, the Grimm swipes Ruby away and she is knocked back.
Ruby: (getting up slowly) D-Do-Don't worry! Totally fine!
Ruby turns back to the monster and shoots it in the skull, running away from it and sheathing her scythe as the Death Stalker now goes after her.
Yang: (running forward) Ruby!
Ruby rushes towards Yang, but the Nevermore caws above them, flapping its wings and releasing lines of sharpened feathers with points that catch on Ruby's cape and prevent Yang from reaching her.
Yang: Ruby, get out of there!
Ruby: (struggling with the cloak) I'm trying!
The Death Stalker approaches, raising its golden stinger above a scared Ruby and heading down on the helpless girl.
Yang: (reaching out in vain) Ruby!
A white blur races past Yang and reaches the stinger just as it's about to pierce her, cutting the scene to black.
Weiss (off-screen): You are so childish!
Ruby opens her eyes to the sight of the stinger encased in ice and lowers her arms from their futile position over her head as she stares at her savior.
Weiss: (continues to berate Ruby as she removes Myrtenaster from the ice) And dim-witted, and hyperactive, and don't even get me started on your fighting style. And I suppose I can be a bit... difficult... but if we're going to do this, we're going to have to do this together. So if you quit trying to show off, I'll be... nicer.
Ruby: I'm not trying to show off. I want you to know I can do this.
Weiss: You're fine. (walks away)
Ruby: (breathes a sigh of relief, then closes her eyes and clasps her hands as she gratefully whispers:) Normal knees... (she gets up and stares at the Death Stalker as it struggles to escape with its tail trapped in the ice) Whoa!
Yang rushes up to Ruby and gives her a hug (which Ruby grunts at upon receiving).
Yang: So happy you're okay! (the two stare at each other for a moment, then look up at the Nevermore still flying overhead and roaring)
Jaune: (back with the group) Guys? That thing's circling back! What are we gonna do?
Weiss: Look, there's no sense in dilly-dallying. Our objective is right in front of us. (the heroes stare at the relics)
Jaune: Run and live - that's an idea I can get behind!
Ruby goes over and grabs a gold knight (identical to the one Yang picked out) and Jaune takes hold of a gold rook (similar to Nora and Ren's piece), smiling at each other. The Death Stalker continues to fight its bonds, cracking the ice a little in the process.
Ren: Time we left!
Ruby: Right. (waves to the others) Let's go! (goes forward with everyone following except for a smiling Yang and Blake as the latter approaches her partner)
Blake: What is it?
Yang: (staring proudly at Ruby as she leaps on a boulder and motions the group onward) Nothing... (she moves on as Blake smiles in realization - possibly towards the audience - and leaves as well)
An overhead shot shows that the group is heading out of the forest and into another abandoned series of structures as the Nevermore follows them from the air. They spread out when it passes above, concealing themselves behind some of the stone blocks with their allies as it perches on a high column and caws.
Yang: (annoyed) Well, that's great!
Jaune looks behind at the Death Stalker bursting onto the scene.
Jaune: Ah, man, run! (the group emerges from their hiding spots, causing the Nevermore to rise up into the air)
Ren: Nora, distract it!
Nora obliges, running out from her block and jumping through the feather projectiles before reaching behind her and launching several heart-topped shells from her grenade launcher, bursting into pink electricity when they hit the Nevermore and causing it to retreat. She is unaware of the Death Stalker rushing up behind her until Blake and Ren perform a cross-slash with their Gambol Shroud and StormFlower against its shell. Weiss lands next to Nora so she can create a jumping platform beneath them and leap to safety while Blake and Ren are now being chased.
Pyrrha: Go, go! (stops running beside Jaune and gets out Miló, firing red shots alongside Ren's green blasts for a second until it reaches them and tries to swipe, prompting the group to run again)
The eight race over the ancient stone bridge, not noticing the Nevermore closing in on them until it uses its giant wings to shatter the path right in the middle, forcing Ruby, Weiss, Yang, Nora, and Jaune closer to the central collection of columns and leaving Blake, Ren, and Pyrrha on the other side with the Death Stalker. Ruby fires at the retreating Nevermore while Blake is beaten back by the scorpion.
Jaune: (coming to the edge of the break in the bridge) Man, we gotta get over there! They need help!
Nora: (running up beside him) Let's do this!
Jaune: (looks down at the misty abyss) Yeah, but, uh... I can't make that jump.
Nora smiles diabolically at him, laughing as she knocks him back, turns her weapon to its full-length hammer form, and jumps to the edge of the bridge.
Jaune: (seeing what she's about to do) Oh, wait! (too late, she slams the hammer into the bridge and throws Jaune to the other side, yelling:) No, no, no!
Nora places one foot on the hammer and fires it off the collapsing section of bridge, launching her to slam its face right in the center of the Death Stalker's skull. She fires it just as the stinger comes down to get her, and blasts back again to avoid its reach, accidentally knocking into Blake and making her fall from the edge. Blake sees the Nevermore above her and launches her whip so the gun's blade sinks into the edge of the bridge, circling around and leaping onto the aerial Grimm's back. She dashes all over its body, slashing the entire time, before jumping off and landing on the ruined platform at the top of the columns next to Ruby, then going over to Yang and Weiss.
Blake: It's tougher than it looks!
Yang: (readying her Ember Celica) Then let's hit it with everything we got!
The Nevermore approaching, Ruby, Blake, Weiss, and Yang set their weapons to fire a barrage of blasts at the bird, which it either dodges or takes harmlessly until it crashes through the columns and platform. The girls leap from one section of falling stone to the next until they reach the higher bridge on top, just below the cliffs.
Weiss: None of this is working!
Ruby: (watching Blake whip over to another section of the area and Yang firing round after flaming round at the Grimm) I have a plan! Cover me! (she blasts away as Weiss raises her blade and heads into the fray)
Down below, the Death Stalker is still battling Jaune, Ren, Nora, and Pyrrha.
Jaune: We gotta move! (they all rush towards it)
The Death Stalker aims a claw at Pyrrha, but she deflects it with her Akoúo shield and slashes it with her blade. The scorpion recoils and swipes at her with its other claw, but Jaune is there to deflect it with his shield, knocking it back so Pyrrha can leap over and attack its face. Ren runs up firing and gets on the stinger when it tries to hit him, shooting at the base between it and the tail while Nora fires more grenades at the attacking claws. Pyrrha hurls her javelin straight into one of the monster's ten eyes, making it throw Ren to the side.
Ren hits the side of a stone block hard and falls to the ground, not getting back up. Jaune, though, manages to stand and notice the stinger is hanging limply.
Pyrrha: Done! (she raises the shield and hurls it like a discus, slicing the stinger off and causing it to fall into the Death Stalker's head as Pyrrha retrieves her rebounding shield)
Jaune: Nora, nail it!
Nora: Heads up! (she jumps on Akoúo, Pyrrha leaps as Nora aims her blast down to give herself a maximum lift, and she smiles the entire way up before twirling down until her hammer slams its head into the stinger, driving the point through the Death Stalker's head and crushing the bridge beneath it)
Jaune and Pyrrha bound over the monster to the land behind it, and Nora fires up and away behind them as the monster falls to its doom. Jaune hits the ground on his back, Nora lands on her bottom, Pyrrha manages a crouched pose, and Ren simply walks over to them, panting and groaning until he just collapses. The other three get up and watch as the Nevermore is peppered with firepower.
Yang is still burning through her ammo on the beast, landing a blow at its face and causing it to head right towards her, but she leaps for its open maw and forces the beak wide as she attacks.
Yang: (screaming and firing a round with each syllable) I! Hope! You're! Hung-! ...-gry! (she looks behind her and jumps back from its mouth onto a ruin, causing the creature to crash into the cliffs)
Despite Yang's attempts, the Nevermore recovers quickly, and Yang smiles as she spots Ruby and Blake on the broken columns with Weiss rushing to the battle. Yang passes her while the Nevermore starts to fly back up, but Weiss hops over to the ruin it's lifting off of and freezes the tip of its feathery tail to the ground, leaving it stuck in the same spot despite its flapping. Weiss back-flips into a snowflake-circle jump and lands on the other side, running to the group.
Blake fires the pistol portion of Gambol Shroud over to Yang, and the two tighten it between the columns so Ruby can jump on the center with Crescent Rose and bend it back into Weiss' black sigil, right next to the caster.
Weiss: Of course you would come up with this idea.
Ruby: Think you can make the shot?
Weiss: (confident) Hmm! Can I!
A second passes.
Weiss: Of course I can!
Ruby looks forward and pumps Crescent Rose as Weiss turns the circle from black to red and releases Ruby at such a speed that the ground behind her launch cracks, rose petals flying from her ascent. With each new shot, she gets closer and closer to the trapped Grimm until her scythe catches the Nevermore's neck in its blade and causes them both to fall to the cliff wall. Weiss raises her sword and creates a series of white circles up the wall, which Ruby dashes through by firing the entire way up.
Yang, Blake, and an exhausted Weiss watch her climb up with the bird in her grasp until, both warrior and monster crying out, Ruby reaches the top of the cliff, circles up, fires one last shot, and rends the Nevermore's head from its shoulders in a shower of petals.
She lands beside the severed head as the body of the giant Nevermore falls lifeless to the ruins and crevice below while the girls and, farther away, Jaune, Pyrrha, Nora, and Ren watch in amazement.
Ruby, her cape and petals flowing with the wind, looks down to her friends as they peer up.
Yang: Well... That was a thing!
Ruby continues to smile as the faint sounds of an audience clapping are heard, growing louder and louder as a familiar voice is heard.
Ozpin: Russel Thrush. Cardin Winchester. Dove Bronzewing. Sky Lark. (the screen of the auditorium shows each of their profiles as the boys are lined up for the applauding audience to see as Ozpin continues) The four of you retrieved the black bishop pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team CRDL, led by... Cardin Winchester!
The audience gives one more wave of ovation, while four students walk up to the stage to take their places in front of the headmaster as their faces fill the screen.
Ozpin: Jaune Arc. Lie Ren. Pyrrha Nikos. Nora Valkyrie. The four of you retrieved the white rook pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team JNPR.
Amid the clapping, Nora laughs and gives Ren a hug.
Ozpin: Led by... Jaune Arc!
Jaune: Huh? L-Led by...?
Ozpin: Congratulations, young man.
A grinning Pyrrha offers a friendly shoulder bump to Jaune, but her "fine leader" is knocked over and falls to his butt in front of the laughing audience.
Ozpin: And finally: Blake Belladonna. Ruby Rose. Weiss Schnee. Yang Xiao Long. (motions over the four as they stand before him) The four of you retrieved the white knight pieces. From this day forward, you will work together as Team RWBY. Led by... Ruby Rose!
Weiss looks to her right surprised, where Ruby is obviously in shock as Yang goes over to hug her sister.
Yang: I'm so proud of you!
Ozpin: (amid the last round of cheers) It looks like things are shaping up to be an... interesting year.
The camera pans over the auditorium's structure until it escapes into the open sky and shows the scattering crescent moon amid the day's clouds...
... before going into the night and seeing the moon through a window, providing a view to the outside for a shadowy room filled with shelves and a desk in the back, where Roman Torchwick is getting a call on his phone. The muffled conversation ends, and Roman angrily slams the phone down, sighing. He holds a cigar to his mouth and puts his symbolized lighter to the end, just as a man in a gray mask and black hood comes with a trolley. Roman holds out a collection of Lien, which he places on the table and the man takes.
Roman: Open it.
The masked man does so with a crowbar, revealing a large amount of Dust crystals of varying colors - orange, blue, white, red, green, cyan, gold, yellow, and more. Roman picks up a blue gem in his hand and looks at the loot.
Roman: We're gonna need more men...
The view zooms in on the map above the desk, showing Vale and various districts and areas of crossed-out locations, all leading into a specially-circled place - Beacon - as the scene sets to black and the credits roll.
- Cardin Winchester
- Russel Thrush
- Dove Bronzewing (First Appearance)
- Sky Lark (First Appearance)
- White Fang member
- Despite "The Emerald Forest" hinting at the appearance of the Nevermore with a single large feather, it is never explained how Weiss and Ruby came to ride it at the beginning of this episode or got on it in the first place, besides Weiss commenting that it was Ruby's "terrible idea".
- When Ruby hit her head on the tree courtesy of Jaune, the "stars" that appear above her head contain miniature 2D sprites of the Beowolves in their "Red" Trailer version.
- Blake's Faunus heritage was hinted at around the 0:57 mark. Yang is waving her hand in front of Blake's face, asking if she heard her; Blake merely looks to the sky and points up as her bow twitches, likely from hearing Ruby's scream as she dropped from the Nevermore.
- The song playing from 7:52 to 10:36 is the episode version of "Red Like Roses Part II". The RWBY: Volume 1 Soundtrack has a longer version without the instrumental lead-up.
- After being saved by Weiss, Ruby whispered "normal knees" to herself; a reference to the episode "Ruby Rose", where Ruby expressed her desire to be treated like a normal person (with normal knees), after Yang said that Ruby was "the bee's knees".
- After defeating the Death Stalker, Jaune's team lands in order of their team name: Jaune, Nora, Pyrrha and then Ren.
- Pyrrha's three-point landing pose is identical to the one assumed by Agent Carolina from another Rooster Teeth series, Red vs. Blue. Jen Brown, the voice for Pyrrha, also provides the voice for Carolina.
- This episode was first seen as a preview at PAX Prime '13 in Seattle.
- According to Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross, the battle in this episode went through several rewrites. In one version, the Nevermore creates a massive whirlwind, which sends the students and the Death Stalker into trees. Jaune ends up using his shield like a parachute to throw himself between Pyrrha and the Death Stalker's pincers to save her. Another version included a giant Boarbatusk. The Petra Gigas was also originally supposed to appear during Volume 1 in the Emerald Forest.
- Monty Oum had trouble with accidentally slipping into an Irish accent when reading his lines in the episode, particularly "Nora! Please... don't ever do that again."
- In the RWBY Chibi episode "Boy Band", Yang is seen watching the fight between Team RWBY and the Nevermore on her Scroll.
- A part of the music for this episode did not make it into the Volume 1 Soundtrack. This part was used in the trailer for Volume 2.
- The events of "The Players and Pieces" are re-told in the first half of Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of RWBY: The Official Manga.
- Battle Pages
- Main article: Players and Pieces/Image Gallery
- Volume 1 Directors Commentary "Players and Pieces"
- Volume 4 Director's Commentary 9:55
- Volume 1 Directors Commentary "Players and Pieces"