The episode starts with Team RWBY standing by the Beacon Academy cliffside docks, still shocked at their mission's assigned Huntsman, Bartholomew Oobleck, who goes on to describe the mission, noting that extra luggage, specifically Ruby Rose's bag, will not be needed. He then corrects Weiss Schnee on his title as doctor, not professor, before leaving for the ship.
Ruby attempts to cheer the rest of her team up, before Team JNPR approaches them and the teams share details about their assignments. Sun Wukong and Neptune Vasilias arrive and enter the conversation, stating that they will be shadowing a crime specialist. Sun comments that since destruction tends to follow Team RWBY wherever they go, this should be a good opportunity for them to explore the kingdom somewhat peacefully.
Team RWBY are then seen standing inside a Bullhead, where they are questioning Dr. Oobleck about his career, as well as the southeast quadrant of Vale. Oobleck states that the quadrant houses one of the kingdom's greatest failures, Mountain Glenn. Yang Xiao Long interjects, remembering that it was meant to be an expansion for the city, but it was overrun by Grimm. Blake Belladonna notes that it would work well as a hideout, which Oobleck confirms.
The five are dropped off into the desolate ruins. With the exception of Dr. Oobleck, who calmly drinks his coffee, all are prepared for an attack, but are greeted only by empty buildings and howling winds. Oobleck describes the situation, telling the students to listen and to do as he tells them. Noticing Ruby's backpack, he tells her to leave it at their starting point and pick it up when they return. Ruby refuses, prompting Oobleck to question what is so important about bringing it along; almost immediately, Zwei sticks his head out, answering the Huntsman's question.
The doctor unexpectedly praises Ruby on her "genius" in bringing a dog along, stating that they are the ideal companion for a Huntsman. Oobleck spots a single Beowolf which the team prepares to attack. However, Oobleck halts them, explaining that following it would lead to the pack, which would lead to their prey. However, the whole pack appears shortly after the first and they take notice of the Huntsmen upon arrival.
They proceed through the ruined city, being met by more Grimm along the way. Oobleck merely collects various samples, leaving the girls to handle the encounters. Yang questions why their Huntsman does not take action. He contradicts her, stating he is taking action by analyzing and making judgments, emphasizing that the mission is to search, then destroy.
Dr. Oobleck begins asking the team why they chose to become Huntresses, starting with Yang and working his way through every member except Ruby. The girls are unable to provide a satisfactory answer, with Yang citing her thrill-seeking attitude, Weiss claiming that it is to protect her family's honor and Blake claiming that she hopes to stop all the various wrongs in the world. After the Huntsman's interrogation, the girls look somewhat perturbed and unsure of themselves. Dr. Oobleck asks the rest of the team to set up camp, while he and Ruby secure a perimeter.
While patrolling, the pair sight a Grimm, known as a Goliath. Ruby suggests killing it, but Oobleck warns that her attacks will not do any serious damage, explaining that not all Grimm lack a mind; some have learned the futility of attacking humans, for now, though they are almost certainly waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Returning to camp, Ruby asks Dr. Oobleck why he chose to become a Huntsman. He claims knowledge as his weapon and explains that he feels he can do the most by passing on that knowledge to future generations. He finishes by stating there is nothing he would rather be.
Back at the campfire, Blake, Weiss and Yang are huddled around it, their morale somewhat low, and discuss their answers to Oobleck, clarifying they were not how they truly felt and that they simply do not yet know why they want to be Huntresses.
Ruby and Oobleck return, the Huntsman asking who will volunteer for first watch, which Ruby accepts immediately. As Ruby makes her way to her chosen outlook, Yang asks if Oobleck questioned her, which she confirms to be untrue. Blake, Weiss and Yang all settle down to go to sleep, looking deeply troubled. As Ruby looks out over the ruined cityscape, a loud howl can be heard; Zwei cuddles up to Ruby, who reassures him that things will be better tomorrow.
Weiss: Professor Oobleck?
Oobleck: (Talking fast, per the norm, as he paces in front of the students.) Yes, I'm afraid those bags won't be necessary, girls, seeing as you've opted to shadow a Huntsman on what is now essentially a reconnaissance mission. I can assure you, we will not be establishing a single base of operations; rather, we will be traversing several miles of hazardous wasteland and making camp in any defendable locations we may stumble upon. I packed all of our essentials myself, plotted our air course, and readied the airship. And... (Zooms up right to Weiss' face.) It's Doctor Oobleck. I didn't earn the PhD for fun, thank you very much! (Quickly backs away.)
Weiss looks over at Blake Belladonna, who is equally disturbed.
Oobleck: Come now, children; according to my schedule, we are already three minutes behind! (Then, as an afterthought to clarify:) ...schedule! (He zips off to the airship docked farther ahead in a second.)
Ruby: (Positive and upbeat before suddenly becoming as depressed as her team halfway through.) Well, alright, then! Looks like we're going to save the world with Doctor Oooobleck- okay yeah when you say it out loud it sounds worse.
Nora: (off-screen) Save the world?
Ruby's team turns around to see Nora and Team JNPR approaching.
Nora: (being dramatic) You're going on world-saving missions without us? I'm hurt... sad! (Stomach rumbles) Maybe a little hungry? That last one's not your fault, though, Ren...
Lie Ren, for his part, simply crosses his arms and turns away.
Jaune: Sounds exciting. Where ya going?
Ruby: Oh, just outside the kingdom...
Nora: Hey! So are we!
Pyrrha: Ren and Nora wanted to shadow the sheriff of a nearby village.
Ren: We set out tomorrow.
Neptune: (off-screen) Then you can party with us tonight! (Neptune Vasilias and Sun Wukong approach the two groups.) We're shadowing a crime specialist. All inner-city detective stuff. We get junior badges.
Jaune is awestruck.
Sun: We normally go to the city with you guys, which means stuff's always exploding and junk, so we thought this might be a better way to check out the kingdom when it's, you know... normal.
Oobleck appears from the airship to call to Team RWBY, who are embarrassed:
Oobleck: Four minutes, ladies! (Goes back inside as their friends smile awkwardly at the girls.)
Ruby: Well, uh... (Throws a thumbs-up.) Wish us luck! (With that, the friends disband, either back to Beacon Academy or towards their mission.)
Cut to the airship flying over buildings and streets amid deafening turbines.
Yang: (To Oobleck) I guess I just never saw you as much of a fighter.
Oobleck: I admit I fancy myself more of an intellectual, but I can assure you, as a Huntsman, I've had my fair share of tussles.
Ruby: (Tilting her head in confusion) Like the mushroom?
Blake: (Leaning over) Those are truffles.
Ruby: (Still scratching her head in befuddlement) Like the sprout?
Yang: (Also leaning over) Those are Brussels.
Oobleck: (Continuing) Besides, given my expertise in the field of history as well as my dabblings in the archaeological surveys, our dear headmaster saw fit to assign me to this particular... assignment!
Weiss: What does history have to do with this?
Oobleck: (Turning sharply on Weiss) Why, what a preposterous question, you silly girl! Why, history is the backbone of our very society! And the liver! Probably the kidneys, if I were to wager.
Weiss: And that means..?
Oobleck: The southeast quadrant outside of Vale is home to wild forests and deep caves, but it is also the location to one of the kingdom's greatest failures!
Ruby: Mountain Glenn.
Yang: That's right! It was an expansion of Vale... but in the end it was overrun by Grimm and fenced off from the rest of the city.
Oobleck: Correct! And now it stands abandoned as a dark reminder.
Blake: And a likely place for a hideout.
Oobleck: (adjusts his glasses and smiles) Precisely!
The airship comes in over a spot of street amidst the ruined buildings and structures of the ruined area. It hovers right above the ground as Yang, Blake, Oobleck, Weiss, and Ruby all jump out of the craft with weapons drawn (minus the doctor, who simply holds his coffee canister) before the ship flies away from the destruction.
Oobleck: (Calls the attention of RWBY) Ladies! You still may be students, but as of this moment, your first mission as Huntresses has begun! From this point forward, you need to do exactly as I say! Do you understand? (The girls nod, but he suddenly looks at Ruby, startling her.) Ruby! I thought I told you to leave all of your bags back at school.
Ruby: But, uh, you hadn't told us to listen to you yet. So I didn't.
Oobleck: (To himself) She's not wrong... Very well, Ruby; leave your bag here, we can pick it up upon our return.
Ruby: But I, well uh-
Oobleck: Young lady, what in the world could you possibly have in that bag that could be so important to bring it with... (Stops as the bag's zipper opens and out pops Zwei's head, causing everyone to stare at the uninvited guest.)
Ruby: (Whispering to her dog through the side of her mouth) Get back in the bag.
Zwei merely barks in response.
Oobleck: We're here to investigate an abandoned urban jungle teeming with death and hostility, and you brought... a dog?
Ruby: I, uh...
Oobleck: Genius! (Backs away long enough for Ruby to give a confused shrug before speeding past and snatching the pet away from Ruby, who tumbles to the ground as Oobleck spins Zwei in the air.) Canines are historically known for their perceptive nose and heightened sense of sound, making them excellent companions for a hunt such as ours! (Zwei barks happily in his hands.)
Ruby: (After being stunned for the unexpected reaction, she proudly states) I'm a genius!
Weiss and Yang both facepalm at their grinning leader.
Blake: So, what are your orders, Doctor?
Oobleck: Ah, yes, straight to the chase; I like it! (Suddenly lets go of Zwei, suspended in the air for less than a second before dropping down, to put his hands behind his back for a serious pose.) As you've been informed, the southeast area has been marked as a recent hot spot for Grimm activity. Now, there are several possible explanations for this behavior, one of which being... Grimm.
Ruby: (Just as confused as her teammates for the redundancy) Uh, what?
Oobleck: Grimm. A creature of Grimm approximately one hundred yards from us at this very moment.
She turns to look like the other girls at the lone Beowolf wandering into the street, joining them in unleashing their weapons.
Lowers her Gambol Shroud like everyone else to listen.
Oobleck: There are a number of reasons why Grimm will congregate in this particular area, the most likely of which will be their attraction to negativity: sadness, envy, loneliness, hatred. All qualities that are likely held by our hidden group harboring ill intent.
Ruby: So... What now?
Oobleck: We wait. We track. If this specimen leads us to its pack, that pack may subsequently lead us to our prey.
Blake: How long do we wait?
Oobleck: It's uncertain. Hours, days, weeks. Why, lone Grimm have been known to stay isolated from the pack for months - and there's the whole pack.
His sudden realization is true: Five Beowolves are already following the first.
Oobleck: (Continuing to state the obvious) And now they've seen us.
Weiss: (Louder) What?!
Oobleck: (Coming right up to Weiss' ear to shout) AND NOW THEY'VE SEEN US!
Ruby: I take it tracking them is out of the question?
Oobleck: An accurate assumption, yes.
Yang: What's the plan, then?
The team turns to their teacher as the creatures close in, black bars converging dramatically over the approaching animals.
Oobleck: Show me what you're capable of.
Ruby: (Swings Crescent Rose to prepare it for shooting) Cover your ears, Zwei!
The dog does so, curling up into a ball.
Black lines race across the screen as a single Beowolf and smiling Yang run towards one another, ending with the blonde knocking it out in one fiery punch as they pass. Several stop chasing after the party girl to focus on Blake, who stands and waits with hand on her hilt until one of the enemy swipes at her afterimage, the real deal slicing her would-be attacker in half before slashing through another and cutting down on one more.
Behind the Faunus, Weiss runs from several black-coated beasts before jumping in the air and taking one down with Myrtenaster. She dashes towards them with rapier held high and slays four of them in a straight line until she stops. A wave of Beowolves are converging on Ruby, but the scythe wielder shoots multiple bullets at the oncoming force... while Zwei is busy chasing his own tail. He stops to watch his owner fire forward and, after a dramatic mid-air stare-off, cut the single remaining Grimm in two.
Ruby: (To Oobleck, lifting her weapon) Heh. Piece of cake!
Oobleck: Do not celebrate yet, for I am certain this is the first bout of many. Shall we continue?
Continue they do, as it cuts to Ruby cutting through the scene change, Blake slicing the previous shift, and a random slash going to the view of Oobleck rooting through a plant as Grimm parts fall around him. He is center in the faces of tired Huntresses.
Oobleck: (As the newest batch of slain monster corpses start smoking, he happily cries) Excellent work, girls! Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any signs of criminal operations in this sector. Oh, well! Moving on!
Yang: (As they follow Oobleck, with Ruby sheathing her scythe and beckoning Zwei to follow, she irritably asks) Hey, Doc, y'know, I was actually looking forward to seeing a "pro Huntsman" in action. Like, fighting, or at least, helping us fight?
Oobleck: (Over his shoulder) Ah, but I am in action! Scouring the ruins of this once-great city for any signs of irregularity! (Fully turns to the team.) Not every mission is filled with daring and heroism, girls. Sometimes it's just a heightened form of extermination! (Viewing Yang's reluctantly-accepting face as well as Oobleck's serious rebuttal.) Remember, this is a job, and you all signed up for it. I do hope you understand that.
Yang: Well, yeah... (Trying to sound more resolute with her answer) O-Of course!
Oobleck: (With the camera zoomed in on his opaque glasses) Hmm...
The scene changes to the view of another victory for RWBY and their mentor amid the noise of fired shots, but switches again to Oobleck and Yang away from the group.
Oobleck: Tell me, Yang: Why did you choose this line of work?
Yang: Huh? (Under Oobleck's gaze, she answers) Well, to fight monsters and save-
Oobleck: (cutting her off) No, that is what you do. I want to know why you do it. The honest reason as to why you want to be a Huntress.
Yang: (Considers this, then answers) The honest reason? I'm a thrill-seeker. I want to travel around the world and get wrapped up in as many crazy adventures as I can. And if I help people along the way, then that's even better. It's a win-win, y'know?
Oobleck: I see.
One claw-scratch transition later, Oobleck is sitting on a high windowsill writing in his journal while Weiss fights off Beowolves below.
Oobleck: And you, Miss Schnee? A girl born into fame and fortune such as yourself certainly doesn't need the extra work. So... why choose this over a cushy job in Atlas?
Weiss: (After she impales the last foe on her blade and drops the body) It's exactly as you said: I'm a Schnee. I have a legacy of honor to uphold. Once I realized I was capable of fighting, there was no longer a question of what I would do with my life. It was my duty.
Oobleck: (nodding) Interesting.
Oobleck jumps down into the next scene, where Blake slashes a door down and releases a swarm of small Nevermores from the building, which she back-flips under before she shoots them all with her blade's pistol form.
Oobleck: (As he examines the inside of the doorway) And what about you, Blake? You seem to carry yourself with a sense of purpose.
Blake: There's too much wrong in this world to just stand by and do nothing. Inequality, corruption... Someone has to stop it.
Oobleck: Very well. How?
Blake: (Suddenly, she cannot answer) I, Uh...
Oobleck "Hmm's" to himself, then dashes away, leaving Blake to bow her head in troubled thought.
Later, Ruby is using her weapon in the most practical fashion and lifting a whole turkey on the sharp end of her gun to tease a jumping and flipping Zwei with. That is, until she spots her teacher watching, quickly sheathing Crescent Rose.
Ruby: Sorry! Uh... Are we ready to keep going?
Oobleck: Nope! I believe that will have to do for today. It's going to be dark soon. (Throws his bag over to Yang, who makes a sound when she catches it.) You three, set up camp in that building. Oh, and please do make sure there are no more of those... creatures. Your leader and I are going to secure the perimeter. Come, Ruby.
They start walking away from the rest of RWBY, who each look at their leader, knowing what she'll be asked.
Ruby: (As Oobleck and Ruby round the corner of a building, she sees something off-screen that makes her say) Whaaaa... (The camera allows the audience to see the wide forest stretching below the ruin, and in the midst of it, a line of giant elephants with the black and white features of animals of darkness marching through the trees.) What is that? It looks awesome!
Oobleck: That, my dear girl, is a Grimm.
Ruby: (She stares at the lumbering mass of monsters in amazement and awe before pulling out her gun, saying) Let's kill it.
Oobleck: I'm afraid your sniper rifle will do nothing more than agitate a Grimm of that size.
Ruby: But... What if it attacks us?
Oobleck: Fret not, Ruby; those Goliaths are not concerned with us. Ruby, not every Grimm is mindless, or rather not every Grimm is still mindless. You see, the Grimm you see before you are so powerful, so superior to the Grimm you fought, that they've undoubtedly lived hundreds of years, and in that time between killing humans and attacking our borders, they have done one important thing: They've learned. They've learned that when they attack our borders, they're likely to die, and what we lack in strength, we make up for in will, and that killing one human will only bring more.
As he says this, one Goliath swivels its thick neck to look at the figures watching their procession, eyes glowing as fiery red as any other Grimm.
Ruby: Then why are they still so close to the city? What are they doing?
As he says this, the Goliath turns its head forward again and moves on with its kin. Oobleck turns around and walks away as well, and Ruby puts away her weapon, not moving.
Ruby: Doctor Oobleck?
Ruby: I was wondering...
Oobleck: (Stops walking and turns back to her) Wondering why I've been interrogating your teammates all day?
Ruby: A-Actually, I was wondering... Why did you want to become a Huntsman?
Oobleck: Look around and tell me what you see.
Ruby takes a look around.
Ruby: Lots of old buildings, uh, empty streets...
Oobleck: I see lives that could have been saved. (Continues walking with Ruby beside him and Zwei at their heels) As a Huntsman, it is my job to protect the people, and although I am capable of doing it with traditional weaponry, I believe I can make a much larger impact if I do it with my mind. As a teacher, I'm able to take knowledge, the most powerful weapon of them all, and place it in the hands of every student that passes through my classroom. I look at this wasteland, and I see lives that could have been saved, but I also see an opportunity; an opportunity to study these ruins and learn from this tragedy, and therefore become stronger. (Stops for his final answer) I am a Huntsman, Ruby, because there is nothing else in this world I would rather be. (Continues walking)
Back at the building, the team has done as instructed, building a fire in the center of the room and huddling around it or standing up.
Yang: I can't believe we didn't find anything...
Blake: We've always been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. I guess we can't always have luck on our side.
Weiss: (Off-topic) That's not what I meant.
Weiss: Earlier, about... upholding the legacy. There's more to it than that.
Yang: Yeah... No, me too. I mean... I don't know.
Blake: I don't know, either. I know what I want to do, but I figured I'd always take things one step at a time.
Yang: Well, it doesn't matter. We know why we're here. Right?
The girls merely stare in silence.
Oobleck: (Suddenly comes rushing into the room) Ah, wonderful; a textbook campfire!
Ruby: Fire! (Comes in behind Oobleck and immediately sits next to the blaze alongside Zwei) So... warm...
Oobleck: Very good! Eat your dinners and hurry to bed. We have a lot of ground to cover tomorrow and we'll need you to take turns keeping watch over our temporary abode. Any volunteers for first watch?
Ruby: (Lifts an arm while still looking into the fire, simply answering) Yo.
Oobleck rushes off, and Ruby gets up to go over to her lookout point.
Yang: (As her sister passes, stopping Ruby) Hey, did Oobleck ask you why you wanted to be a Huntress? I mean... what did you tell him?
Ruby: Hmm... No, he didn't. Weird. Oh, well; good night, guys!
Without a second carefree thought, she continues on her way.
Yang looks disappointed in the lack of an answer. Blake is similarly troubled as she unrolls her mat, Weiss tries lying down but fails to sleep, Yang half-heatedly eats her dinner of bread rolls. Soon, all three Huntresses are on their backs around the fire, weapons within easy access, wondering why they are there.
Ruby, meanwhile, is sitting in the vacant windowsill of the room as Zwei goes over to her upon hearing the howling of Beowolves. She pets her pooch on the back.
Ruby: Don't worry. Things will be better tomorrow.
Master and pet look out onto the rubble and stare in silence until the scene goes dark and the credits roll.
- The events of "Search and Destroy" are re-told in the first half of Chapter 14 and Chapter 15 of RWBY: The Official Manga.
- Main article: Search and Destroy/Image Gallery