Ruby Rose stands at her mother's gravestone. She talks about her father, Taiyang Xiao Long, her team at Beacon, her new friends and teachers and the events of the previous two semesters. She then joins Tai, who drops her off at Vale before embarking on a mission.
Back in Vale, the Vytal Festival combat tournament is already well under way. Team RWBY's first match is against Team ABRN of Haven Academy, and the match is spectated by thousands of people at the enormous floating stadium, Amity Colosseum, and broadcast to many more people from all around Remnant.
Professor Peter Port and Doctor Bartholomew Oobleck, the tournament announcers, explain the rules of the tournament: There are three rounds in the tournament, the first being a 4-on-4 team round. The winners of the team round may select two of their team to fight in the 2-on-2 doubles round, the victors of which may choose one representative to fight in the final 1-on-1 round. Contenders are knocked out of the battle by falling below a certain Aura threshold or by being thrown out of the fighting arena.
After winning their match against Team ABRN, Team RWBY goes to the Vytal Festival fairgrounds to eat. There they meet Emerald Sustrai, who is also participating in the tournament alongside Mercury Black, Cinder Fall and an disguised Neo Politan.
Emerald and Team RWBY exchange an apparently amicable conversation, and it is revealed that Weiss Schnee and Yang Xiao Long are the pair selected from Team RWBY to enter the doubles round, whilst Emerald and Mercury will continue for their team. Emerald bids them farewell and meets up with Mercury. Emerald reveals her intense distaste for Team RWBY's positive attitude, and that she only talked to them under orders to find out who will take part in the next match.
As Team RWBY goes to get a meal, Weiss rejects a phone call from her father. When she then attempts to pay for the meal at the Shopkeep's noodle stall, her credit card is declined, much to her surprise. Fortunately, JNPR arrives and Pyrrha Nikos offers to pay instead. The two teams share a satisfying meal together before Team JNPR is called away for their match with Team BRNZ of Shade Academy. Team RWBY cheers on their friends, while Cinder, Mercury and Emerald watch.
Opens with a view of the golden sun in an orange sky over the tall grass and autumn trees. In front of Summer's Gravestone is a young girl with a cloak billowing petals in the breeze. Hands clasped and hood up, Ruby Rose stands over the white stone memorial.
Ruby: (lowering her hood, smiling sadly downward) Hey, mom. (looks down at the inscription: "Summer Rose – Thus Kindly I Scatter") Sorry I haven't come by in a while. Things have been... well, things have been, pretty busy. Oh, Dad's here, too! He's, uh, you know... Dad. (shrugs) He's still teaching at Signal. But he told me that he's going to be on some mission soon. I think he misses adventuring with you. (looks forlornly) I miss you too. (pause) Haven't gotten kicked out of Beacon yet! So that's cool. I think being on a team with Yang helps. Keep her in line... That was a joke. She's actually a really great fighter! You can tell she's learned a lot from Dad! Oh, so are Weiss and Blake. Oh! They're my teammates! Together, we form Team RWBY! And yes, before you ask, that does cause a lot of confusion. Anyways, I made a bunch of new friends, and then I met some... let's just say, uh, odd teachers. Oh! We've also stopped some bad guys, too! I guess it's like they say: "like mother, like daughter"! I still wonder why Ozpin let me into the school early. But uh, I guess he'll tell me one day. You know how he is. It's funny, the more I get to know him, the more he's starting to sound like Uncle Qrow. (A bark alerts her to the ever-adorable Zwei and the sight of her father, Taiyang Xiao Long, in the trees behind her) Oh! Looks like Dad's back! I gotta go! He's dropping me off at Beacon for the tournament match before he goes on his next mission. Wish me luck! (She puts the hood back on and starts to walk away, but turns and delivers one final message to her mother:) It was good to talk.
With that said, Ruby jogs back to her family as a group of crows fly into the sun to make a very familiar sight.
A falling petal shifts the view of the camera away from the sky and over the grassy mountains, where a stadium of epic proportions is seen. Crowds are cheering in the stands, visitors from all over the world. In the field of volcanic earth and icy glaciers below, Ruby fires and swings her Crescent Rose at an off-screen target as Blake Belladonna exchanges blows with Reese Chloris, the blades of her Gambol Shroud colliding with the hoverboard of her opponent until she flips away, readies herself, and charges in again. Behind her, Weiss Schnee waves her Myrtenaster as the sound of her mystical power is heard, and finally Yang Xiao Long dodges the explosive force of Arslan Altan's fist before returning fire with her own Ember Celica.
High above the action, two familiar teachers are sitting at a sportscaster's desk, with a microphone between them and the holographic image of the four kingdoms' symbols united as one.
Port: Hello! It seems that we have another astonishing bout ahead of us! Wouldn't you agree, Professor?
Oobleck: (annoyed) Doctor. (brightens up excitedly again) And yes Peter, I think it's safe to say this match may be the closest we've seen of the four-on-four round of the tournament!
Port: For those of you just now joining us, welcome to the Vytal Festival Tournament, broadcast live from the Amity Colosseum! (he waves his arm to gesture at the entire event from his place on the gigantic screen over the crowds)
The Coliseum is shown in its full glory, as shuttle craft transport people to and from the various floors while the entire structure hovers around the airspace of Beacon Academy. Explosions are seen throughout the battlefield, but the view shifts back to the announcers as they begin speaking again.
Port: If this is your first time watching, allow us to break down the rules.
Oobleck: (he holds up the appropriate number of fingers for each of his explanations as a hologram to his side illustrates the rules) The tournament is divided into three distinctive rounds; teams, doubles, and singles. Age and school year are irrelevant! In this tournament, your only attribute being tested... is skill.
Port: (nods as another hologram pops up to do the same thing) Correct! The winners of this battle will elect two of their members to represent them in the doubles round, followed by the winners of that round choosing one member to advance once again. The remaining combatants will then fight their way through the final bracket in the hope of achieving victory for their kingdom! (the hologram disappears with the image of a victorious figure, sword raised and wearing a crown)
Oobleck: (pushes up his own spectacles as he says this) And yes, Peter, these certainly are some spectacular spectacles on which to spectate on! I don't think anyone tuning in around the world is going to disagree with me on that! (as they say this, the scene changes to their televised broadcasts all around the kingdoms, from a row of holographs above the patrons in the Mistral Distillery to an Atlas home with a group of friends seeing it together, a bar in Vale where everyone turns to view the screen, and outside a mobile home in Vacuo being watched by a few Faunus on a projection.)
The announcements cut back to the action, as Reese steers her board through the ice. She twirls herself until the board gets launched at Blake, but she's able to knock it away, only for Reese to direct it back at her opponent. Blake blocks it again, but the board rotates back to its wielder just in time to defend Reese as Blake delivers several slashes and kicks. Reese deflects each attack and spins her weapon around until she can flip away and ride it again, rushing towards a smirking Blake. She collides with the frozen shadow clone, and Blake uses his opportunity to slice the board in two, only for the halves to become dual katars that in turn fold up into bayonet-bladed revolvers. Reese manages to fire off a few green rounds before her tailbone collides painfully on the cold ground. Blake winces with sympathy.
Meanwhile, Yang lands mere feet away from Arslan, who backs away before being pounded by a flurry of punches and kicks until she delivers her own hits, ending with the two smashing fists and creating a shockwave of force from the impact. Yang and Arslan are both thrown back, but Yang reaches her and tries delivering more blows before Arslan uses her rope dart to tangle up her blonde adversary and land a kick of her own to send Yang skidding on the ground. While Yang tries to get her balance back on the slippery surface, Arslan rushes forward and knocks her back even further.
Ruby: (looks up from her sniper scope) Got your back!
Bolin: But who's got yours?
Ruby looks up behind her as Bolin twirls his staff, right when a black snowflake glyph appears to his left and Weiss kicks him through it into a rock.
Ruby: My BFF!
Weiss: (deadpan) No. (runs off)
Ruby: (pumps her fist, whispering to herself:) Yes.
Bolin crouches with his weapon as he sees a white glyph appear in front of him. A second later, Weiss dashes by and slashes at him, then leaps up and attempts an aerial attack, which he's able to block. She readies her sword while preparing a glyph behind her, and Ruby uses it to launch herself straight up and come down spinning on Bolin, who manages to block the curved blade. Ruby grimaces and blasts herself away to Weiss' side, and Bolin rushes at them, rolling away from the shards of ice that rain on him and jumping over Ruby's swing as he continues running.
Bolin manages to reach an orange crystal deposit and slice off a shard, which he throws to Reese over in the icy half of the stadium. With Dust in hand, Reese fuses it with her board, turning the aqua lights to a crimson shade. She winks at Blake, then uses the board's heat to free Nadir from his icy snare.
She comes back to Blake and slams her board into her enemy's blade, but propels herself backwards and knocks Blake through a frozen pillar. Reese attempts to use her board to slam her foe into the ground, but when she dodges that, she spins around in a flaming arc that Blake narrowly misses thanks to her shadows. Changing tactics, Blake launches the pistol part of Gambol Shroud at a nearby glacier and launches herself behind it, as Reese follows her and sees Blake with her back turned to her under an arch. Reese grins before riding in to deliver a flaming spiral at the shadow clone, only to see the ribbon Blake is launching to trap her opponent a moment too late. She pulls tightly and causes Reese to slam body-first into the string, only to use a final kick to knock her out of the stage. Reese crashes into the wall of the stands before landing on the ground, defeated.
Port: (as Reese's Aura level drops in the team display until her image is crossed out and she angrily slams her fist on the ground) Ooh, a double whammy! Reese Chloris is eliminated by ringout and Aura level!
Oobleck: Oh, she really should've worn a helmet!
Back in the fight, Arslan uses her rope to swing around and avoid Yang right behind her, using shotgun blasts to propel herself forward. Nadir comes into the picture, aiming his rifle at Weiss as she summons another glyph and launches Bolin at him. The two teammates are helpless as Weiss creates a whirlwind from underneath them and slamming the two together until she forms a giant ice fist straight up from the ground to trap the two. It reforms itself into a ball that rolls around the field, and when Arslan sees her team in this state, she rolls her eyes, annoyed, before changing direction and sliding into the path of the ball. She readies her stance and drives her hand into the sphere, which cracks under her power and frees her allies.
Weiss: Yang! (Yang turns to look just as she creates a large frozen slide-like shape) NOW!
Knowing what to do, Yang blasts herself forward and skims over the wall of ice, catching Blake's pistol as her teammate uses Ruby as a launch pad to jump off of towards the remaining members of ABRN. The three only have a second to look horrified as Blake whips a screaming Yang around to land a devastating punch that sends the trio flying into their elimination.
Yang: (as the buzzer sounds and Ruby cheers "YAAAAAY!" in the background:) Yes!
Port: And that's the match! Team RWBY is victorious!
Weiss: (looking around and sounding surprised) We... did it?
Ruby: (looking at her sister for confirmation, she smiles and leaps into the air, screaming:) WE DID IIIIII-
Ruby: -...is anyone else starving? (suddenly hunched over)
Blake: (looking cool as ever, arms behind her head) I may have worked up an appetite. (the growling of an angry beast from her stomach proves her statement, much to its owner embarrassment)
Weiss: (sarcastically shrugging her arms) Gee, if only there was somewhere on campus to get food around here. (the view zooms out to show a myriad of tents and small shops wreathed in colorful flags in a large forest clearing as people mill about to experience it all) Oh, wait.
Ruby: (taking Weiss' shoulder) It's okay, Weiss, I forget about the fairgrounds, too.
Weiss: (knocking Ruby's arm away) I was being facetious?
Ruby: (freaks out) Gah! Well if you were hungry, why didn't you say so!?
Yang: Come on! I know just the place.
Team RWBY starts to follow Yang, but Weiss suddenly stops as she hears a ringtone on her Scroll. Pulling it out, she sees the caller ID labeled "FATHER", and glares at the device, putting it back from where she got it, unanswered.
Ruby: (frantically patting around her outfit, panicking) No, no, no, no!
Emerald: (laughs) Good to see you, Ruby.
Ruby: (takes the wallet back from her "friend" and puts it away) Oh! Thanks, Emerald! Oh. Guess I dropped it. Girl pockets are the worst! (slouches as she says this)
Yang: What's up, Em?
Emerald: Just left the stadium after your amazing fight! You guys were awesome!
Ruby: (blushing and mumbling) Oh, shut your stupid little face...
Blake: (over Ruby's incoherent gushing) I heard your team progressed to the next round too.
Weiss: You know, I feel that we haven't seen your other teammates.
Yang: How'd they do in the fight?
Emerald tilts her head up in thought, remembering how she blasted opponents with her revolvers, then slashed behind her as Mercury Black kicks out a shotgun blast with his boots. Cinder Fall did the same with her own target, landing the poor soul at the feet of their teammate, a mysterious black-haired girl who leans over and stares down as the camera focuses on how her green eyes blink into a pair of pink and brown irises as she smirks while delivering a stomp on her victim's face into darkness.
Emerald: (coming back to reality, nodding) Really well.
Ruby: That's great. Uh. Why don't we all go and get a victory food together?
Emerald: Oh, gosh, that's so nice of you, but my teammates are all kind of... (looking back at Mercury as he sniffs the inside of a boot, looking perplexed after he does so) ...introverted. Really socially awkward.
Yang: (nodding) Ooh, yeah, I could see that.
Emerald: Oh yeah, looks like Merc and I are going to move on to the doubles round. What about you guys?
Ruby: (looking pretty proud of herself) Well, as the leader of this team, I thought long and hard about this decision.
Weiss: (popping in to remind her, straight-faced:) We put it to a vote.
Ruby: (nervously tries to backtrack) Yes, so, but I decided that we should put it to a vote.
Blake: We voted for Weiss and Yang.
Weiss: (curtsying) I will happily represent Team RWBY.
Yang: (pounding her fists together) Yeah, we're going to kick some butt!
Emerald: (laughs) Well, if Mercury and I see you down the line, don't think we'll go easy on ya.
Yang: (she and Weiss return Emerald's confident smirk with their own) Wouldn't have it any other way.
Emerald: (she turns and walks away from them as they do the same) Alright, well we're going to catch some more fights.
Ruby: (waving her arm) Have fun!
Emerald: (cheerfully giving her own wave) See you later! (immediately drops the act as she walks with Mercury and looks disgusted)
Mercury: So, how are the new friends?
Emerald: (scowling) I hate them.
Mercury: (shrugging) Orders are orders.
Emerald: (mashes her fingers together angrily) I just... how can they be so happy all the time!?
Mercury: Did you at least get what we want?
Emerald: (waves his question away) It's the heiress and the bimbo.
Mercury: Hmm, alright. At least we know who we're working with.
At one of the unassuming huts set up in the fairgrounds stringed with paper lanterns with a sign overhead saying A Simple Wok, Team RWBY sits at the stools outside, ready to order.
Yang: (speaking to someone off-screen) I'll have a bowl of the regular, please. (a large bowl of noodles slides in front of her)
Ruby: (staring at Yang's meal) Oohhh... I'll take the same. (a large bowl of noodles slides in front of her, as she clasps her hands in excitement)
Weiss: (looking concerned) Do you have anything with a low-salt ...? (a large bowl of regular noodles instantly slides in front of her instead) Um... okay...
Instead of saying anything, Blake merely gives a nod and smile to the Shopkeep, who returns the gesture as he rushes through one door of his shop and comes out the other to leave a large bowl of noodles topped with fish in front of her. Blake's eyes light up as she drools over her order. While Weiss looks strangely at her teammate, she gladly offers her Schnee Dust Company credit card to the Shopkeep.
Yang: Aw, Weiss! What's the occasion!?
Weiss: Consider it thanks for sending me to the doubles round. (her joy is ruined when the card is flung back at her, and the annoyed Shopkeep points to his register as it beeps "DECLINED") What?! How can my card be declined? I was barely into my monthly allowance!
Blake: (looking around panicked, she attempts to slowly slide her bowl closer to herself before the Shopkeep disappears with her food, causing the poor girl to slump over in defeat) Nooo!!
Ruby: (flings her arms wide in delight) Pyrrha!
Yang: Aw, you don't have to ...
Blake: But she could!!!
Pyrrha: Well, I think you all earned it after that battle.
Jaune: Mind if we join you?
Later on, the bowls are empty, and each student is either content with their meal or holding their stomachs sickly.
Ren: (to Pyrrha:) Are you sure it's wise to have eaten before a fight?
Pyrrha: (as the Shopkeep quickly gathers the bowls and vanishes) Of course! It will give us energy!
Nora simply gives a hearty belch.
Jaune: (splaying himself over the counter, sickly saying:) If I barf, I'm blaming you.
Nora: Ooh! (grinning evilly) Aim at the enemy!
Ren: Nora, that's disgusting. But if you feel the urge ...
Jaune: (giving a weak thumbs-up) Got it.
Pyrrha: (standing up from her stool) Well, we should be off.
Ruby: So, you think you guys are ready?
Nora: (gestures to each of her teammates) Of course! We've got a world-renowned fighter on our team, one's basically ninja, I can bench five of me, Jaune, we trained all year, our weapons are awesome, Glynda barely yells at us anymore, and uh... Jaune!
Ren: (to Jaune:) Are you gonna take that?
Jaune: She's not wrong.
Nora: I'm kidding, he knows I'm kidding. (begins talking quickly, the color slowly draining away as she gets more worried) Don't be so nervous! The worst that can happen is we lose, that is just a few more years of walking around school with everyone knowing we're failures, our friends will slowly abandon us to preserve their social status, we won't be able to show our faces in class, no one will sit with us in the cafeteria, Ren and I have no parents, we have no home left to go to, we'll be officially renamed Team Lose-iper! (her mad laughter turns into sobs as she slams her head on the counter)
Ren: (unperturbed) So, yeah, we're feeling pretty good.
Pyrrha: Don't fret. If anything, we should be looking forward to a fight with actual guidelines, and not, well, ...murderers.
Yang: Yeah, don't sweat it, we've all faced way worse before.
Blake: (counts off the threats on her fingers) Let's see. Grimm invasions, violent extremists, a destructive sociopath...
Ruby: And that's all while were still in training! Oh, imagine what it would be like to graduate!
Weiss: (sarcastically mumbling to herself:) Maybe then I'll be able to pay for a meal.
Port: (crackling in over the intercom system:) Would Team JNPR please report to the battlegrounds immediately!
Oobleck: (adding in to Port's order:) Yes! Like they were scheduled to, several minutes ago!
Pyrrha: Well, it looks like this is it.
Ruby: (to Team JNPR as they walk away, Nora still depressed and Jaune looking queasy) Go get 'em!
Team RWBY enter the Coliseum through one of its tunnels and head to their seats as Emerald and Mercury are seen walking behind them to do the same. Down in the field below, the scorched ground and cold plains are no more, and only a layer of white mechanics is left, with a central stage on which the two teams gather.
Mercury: (having found his seat with Emerald and munching on a large tub of popcorn) I wonder who's gonna win.
Emerald: Tch. As if we didn't already know.
Cinder: (walking up behind them, showing off her new outfit of jeans, an orange jacket, and sarashi bandages over her chest as she takes an unpopped kernel from Mercury's bucket) Oh, come now. Even if you know how the story ends, that doesn't make it any less fun to watch. (her eyes glow with her fingertips and the kernel finally pops, which she enjoys while sitting down as Mercury and Emerald share a devious smirk)
As each team readies their poses, a circle of holographic roulettes start spinning frantically through various symbols and colors before finally landing on a green pine tree and gray thunderstruck mountain. With these random selections, half of the field opens to reveal a tree-filled forest, while the other raises a small rocky outcropping to fill in the circle. Jaune narrows his eyes in concentration; Ruby "WHO-HOOOO"s loudly from her seat.
Port: Three, two, one, begin!
As the start of the match, each team leaps forward at the other, ready to begin fighting just as the scene cuts to black and the opening starts playing.
- Ruby Rose
- Taiyang Xiao Long (First Appearance)
- Reese Chloris (First Appearance)
- Blake Belladonna
- Weiss Schnee
- Yang Xiao Long
- Bartholomew Oobleck
- Peter Port
- Arslan Altan (First Appearance)
- Nadir Shiko (First Appearance)
- Bolin Hori (First Appearance)
- Yatsuhashi Daichi (Cameo)
- Emerald Sustrai
- Mercury Black
- Cinder Fall
- Neo Politan
- Jaune Arc
- Pyrrha Nikos
- Nora Valkyrie
- Lie Ren
- Sky Lark (Cameo)
- Fox Alistair (Cameo)
- Brawnz Ni (First Appearance)
- Roy Stallion (First Appearance)
- Nolan Porfirio (First Appearance)
- May Zedong (First Appearance)
- Shortly after the episode was released for Sponsors, traffic to the Rooster Teeth website was so high that 40 servers crashed.
- The flock of birds that fly in front of the sun after Ruby leaves Summer's grave forms the signature of series creator Monty Oum, who passed away on February 1st, 2015.
- During the fairgrounds scene, multiple characters make brief non-speaking cameos, among them Yatsuhashi Daichi, Fox Alistair and Sky Lark. May Zedong from Team BRNZ also makes an early appearance at the fairground before appearing with the rest of her team at the end of the episode.
- Mercury sniffing a boot was construed by Emerald as socially awkward. However, it is likely that Mercury was checking the quality of the boots that were for sale. Good quality leather has a distinctive smell, while bad quality leather has a tendency to stink.
- This was the first episode to feature the work of animator Dillon Gu. The fight scene was a collaboration between Dillon and veteran animator Shane Newville. Shane revealed which parts were animated by whom on his Twitter: Shane animated the segments from 2:45–2:59, 4:29–4:54, 5:16–5:30, 5:55–6:52 and 7:40–8:09; Dillon animated the segments from 4:54–5:16, 5:37–5:55, 6:52–7:40; and both animated 5:30–5:37.
- Work-in-progress footage of the RWBY vs. ABRN match was shown during RTX 2015 at the RWBY panel. The panel footage was incomplete and much rougher, but still followed the overall outline of the battle. The work-in-progress version of the battle used "We Will Rock You" by British rock band Queen for the first half of the battle, and the second opening theme of the anime Gokukoku no Brynhildr for the second half. These were both replaced by "It's My Turn" in the final version.
- The first part of the battle, up to the point where Ruby is saved from Bolin by Weiss, was also released as a special teaser on October 8th, 2015 on Nerdist.com. There were some subtle differences between this and the final episode version: Ruby's line after she immobilizes Nadir is "Got your back, sis!" in the preview version, this was changed to "Got your back!" in the episode version.
- This episode marks Neath Oum taking over voicing Lie Ren after his brother Monty Oum, the previous voice actor, passed away.
- Taiyang Xiao Long was originally depicted with a static image, but was replaced with the model introduced in "End of the Beginning" for the DVD and Blu-ray release as well as the current version of the episode on the Rooster Teeth website.
- Battle Pages
- Main article: Round One/Image Gallery