Lie Ren and Nora Valkyrie wake up and get ready for the Beacon Academy Initiation. While they retrieve their weapons in the locker room, Nora attempts to form a plan to ensure they will be partners for their time at Beacon Academy.
Ruby Rose and Yang Xiao Long walk past the pair, having a conversation of their own. Yang stresses to Ruby how important it is to socialize with other people to grow up. When Ruby insists that she does not need help growing up, Yang brings up the recent rumors about teams being formed. Ruby nervously hopes to be paired with Yang, only to find that Yang wants her to team with someone else to break out of her shell.
Meanwhile, Jaune Arc is searching confusedly for his locker, while Weiss Schnee talks to Pyrrha Nikos in the hopes of forging a partnership with her. Weiss believes that, with her intelligence and Pyrrha's unrivaled strength and skill, they will be at the top of the class, be the envy of the other students and have perfect grades. Pyrrha, however, wishes for the surprise of a random partner.
Soon, Jaune, who still believes Weiss genuinely called him cute, walks in on their conversation, hoping to form a team with Weiss. When Pyrrha states the possibility of a four-member team, Jaune suddenly shifts his attention to her. Weiss expresses to him that Pyrrha is out of his league by explaining her status as a celebrity fighter with a four-time championship in the Mistral Region Tournament. However, Pyrrha gives him encouragement, and he once again turns flirtatious toward Weiss, with Pyrrha responding to the latter's request for help by pinning the former to a wall with her spear.
Soon after, Glynda Goodwitch announces over an intercom that all the first-year students are to report to Beacon Cliff for their initiation. Later, on the cliffs, Glynda informs the students that they will be given teammates today, and Ozpin announces that these partnerships will last for the four-year duration of their studies at Beacon, stressing the importance of having a partner that they can work well with. He goes on to state that the partners will be decided by the first person a student makes eye contact with after they land in the Emerald Forest.
Since there will be opposition, he advises that the initiates do not hesitate to destroy everything in their path, as the possibility of dying is very real, due to the instructors who observe them abstaining from intervention. The objective is to seek a "relic", one per pair of partners, in a temple on the other end of the forest and return to the cliff with it in their possession.
Jaune asks Ozpin a few questions, and he soon discovers that everyone will be catapulted into the forest, with Ozpin expecting them to use "landing strategies" to save themselves. Before Jaune can finish asking what a landing strategy is, he is sent flying.
The opening ends to a character's eyes wearily opening and closing before waking up fully and seeing Nora Valkyrie fill their view.
Nora: Wake up, lazy butt! (dashes to the side)
Lie Ren gets up with a groan as Nora hounds him.
Nora: (singing) It's morning! It's morning! It's morning! It's morning!
Lie Ren sighs again and the scene changes to him brushing his teeth in the restroom while Nora continues to talk.
Nora: I can't believe we've been at Beacon for a full twenty-four hours! Not that I thought we'd get kicked out or anything, I mean, you're the perfect student and I'm... well, I'm me! But it's just crazy, you know?
The scene changes to the ballroom, where the two are readying themselves. Nora is brushing her hair and still chattering while Ren is tightening the strings on his sleeping bag.
Nora: We've been friends for soooooooo long! What are the odds we'd still be together? Well, not "together-together..." Not that I'm not saying that you're not handsome; you are handsome, but that'd just be weird, right?
The scene changes again as the two are in the middle of eating their breakfast, Nora having a pancake hanging from her mouth as she is still talking.
Nora: (muffled through her food) Right! What was I thinking? But still, I hope we end up on the same team together! (slurps up the rest of her pancake) Oohhhh! We should come up with some sort of plan, to make sure we end up on the same team together! What if we bribe the headmaster? No, that won't work. He has the school.
The scene changes again as the two are readying themselves in the locker room, Ren loading StormFlower and Nora still talking.
Nora: I know! We'll have some sort of signal! Like a distress signal! (gasps) A secret signal so we can find each other in the forest! Can you imitate a sloth?
Ren: (finally replying) Nora?
Nora: Yes, Ren?
Ren: (sheathing his weapons in his sleeves) I don't think sloths make a lot of noise.
Nora: (thinks about this for a moment) That's why it's perfect! No one will suspect we're working together!
Ren: (smiling and shutting his locker) Come on Nora, let's go.
Nora: Not "together-together..." (giggles)
Ren heads out while a skipping Nora follows, passing Ruby Rose and Yang Xiao Long as they are busy readying themselves.
Ruby: Wonder what those two are so worked up about?
Yang: Oh, who knows? So, you seem awfully chipper this morning!
Ruby: Yep! No more awkward small talk or "getting-to-know-you" stuff. Today, I get to let my sweetheart do the talking. (strokes Crescent Rose as she sighs happily)
Yang: Well, remember, Ruby, you're not the only one going through initiation. If you wanna grow up, you're gonna have to meet new people and learn to work together.
Ruby: (sighs in frustration) You sound like Dad! (shoves her weapon into the locker) Okay, first of all: What does meeting new people have to do with fighting? And secondly: I don't need people to help me grow up! I drink milk!
Yang: But what about when we form teams?
Ruby: (suddenly nervous) Um, I don't know, I... I'll just be on your team or something...
Yang: (Bringing her hair around her shoulder and stroking it) Maybe you should try being on someone else's team?
Ruby: My dear sister Yang, are you implying that you do not wish to be on the same team as me?
Yang: What? No! Of course I do! I just thought... I don't know, maybe it would help you... break out of your shell!
Ruby: What the-?! I don't need to 'break out of my shell'! That's absolutely-
Jaune: Ridiculous! (suddenly walking in between the sisters, holding a map and looking lost) There's no way I put my gear in locker 636 yesterday! I would've remembered having to count that high! Why does this have to happen today?
Jaune passes Weiss Schnee and Pyrrha Nikos as they ready themselves at their lockers.
Weiss: So, Pyrrha, have you given any thought to whose team you'd like to be on? I'm sure everyone must be eager to unite with such a strong, well-known individual such as yourself!
Pyrrha: Hmm... I'm not quite sure. I was planning on letting the chips fall where they may.
Weiss: Well... I was thinking maybe we could be on a team together.
Pyrrha: Well, that sounds grand!
The background disappears into a thundercloud as Weiss adopts a scheming pose and manic smile in her head.
Weiss: This will be perfect! The smartest girl in class combined with the strongest girl in class! Together we will be unstoppable! I can see it now! We'll be popular! We'll be celebrities! We'll get perfect grades! Nothing can come between us now!
Jaune: (coming between them and interrupting Weiss' evil train of thought) You know what else is great? Me. Jaune Arc. Nice to meet you.
Weiss: (irritated) You again?
Pyrrha: (hurriedly letting herself be seen) Nice to meet you, Jaune!
Jaune: Yeah, yeah. (pushes Pyrrha aside and talks to Weiss, posing slightly) So, Weiss, couldn't help but overhear your fondness of me the other day.
Weiss: Oh, you've got to be kidding me!
Jaune: Don't worry! No need to be embarrassed! So, been hearing rumors about teams! I was thinking you and me would make a good one! What do you say?
Pyrrha: (getting Jaune's attention) Actually, I think the teams are comprised of four students each, so-
Jaune: You don't say. (advances on his new target) Well, hot stuff, play your cards right and maybe you could join up with the winning team.
Weiss: (separating the two) Jaune, is it? Do you have any idea who you're talking to?
Jaune: Not in the slightest, snow angel.
Weiss: This is Pyrrha.
Pyrrha: Hello again!
Weiss: Pyrrha graduated top of her class at Sanctum!
Jaune: Never heard of it.
Weiss: (scoffs) She's won the Mistral Region Tournaments four years in a row! A new record!
Jaune: The what?
Weiss: (waving her arms rapidly in anger) She's on the front of every Pumpkin Pete's Marshmallow Flakes box!
Jaune: (gasping suddenly) That's you?! (as the design of the cereal box in question is seen with Pyrrha's smiling face on it) But they only do that for star athletes and cartoon characters!
Pyrrha: Yeah, it was pretty cool. Sadly, the cereal isn't very good for you.
Weiss: (appearing as the box design crumbles behind them) So, after hearing all of this, do you really think you're in a position to ask her to be on your team?
Jaune: I guess not... Sorry... (hanging his head)
Pyrrha: Actually, Jaune, I think you'd make a great leader!
Jaune: (immediately brightening back up) D'oh, stop it!
Weiss: Seriously, please stop it. This kind of behavior should not be encouraged!
Jaune: Sounds like Pyrrha's on board for Team Jaune. Spots are filling up quick! Now, I'm not supposed to do this, but maybe I could pull some strings, find a place for you. What do you say?
Weiss: All right, that's a bit too close! Pyrrha, a little help, please?!
Jaune looks back just in time to see Miló strike him, sending the would-be leader flying off the screen.
Pyrrha: I'm sorry!
An announcement plays on the intercom system.
Glynda (voice only): Would all first-year students please report to Beacon Cliff for initiation? Again, all first-year students report to Beacon Cliff immediately.
Weiss passes Jaune as he hangs from the wall of a locker on her way out. Pyrrha follows her, grabbing her spear and dropping Jaune to the ground.
Pyrrha: It was nice meeting you!
Jaune: (slumping against the locker) Likewise...
Yang: (as she and Ruby approach) Having some trouble there, lady-killer?
Jaune: I don't understand. My dad said all women look for is confidence! Where did I go wrong?"(accepts Ruby's offered hand and uses her to lift himself back up)
Yang: "Snow Angel" probably wasn't the best start.
Ruby: Come on, Jaune, let's go.
Ruby leads Jaune out of the locker room by supporting him and his damaged self-esteem.
The scene opens to the Beacon Cliff, overlooking a forest, where several students — some old, some new, and some unseen — are standing on silver tiles in front of a mug-holding Professor Ozpin and Glynda with her tablet.
Ozpin: For years, you have trained to become warriors, and today, your abilities will be evaluated in the Emerald Forest.
Glynda: Now, I'm sure many of you have heard rumors about the assignment of "teams." Well, allow us to put an end to your confusion. Each of you will be given teammates... today.
Ruby: What? Ohhh...
Ozpin: These teammates will be with you for the rest of your time here at Beacon. So it is in your best interest to be paired with someone with whom you can work well.
Ozpin: That being said, the first person you make eye contact with after landing will be your partner for the next four years.
Ruby: (the shocked expression mirrors her world cracking like glass and falling apart) Whaaaat?!
Nora: (to Ren) See? I told you-!
Ozpin: After you've partnered up, make your way to the northern end of the forest. You will meet opposition along the way. Do not hesitate to destroy everything in your path... or you will die.
Jaune laughs nervously and then gulps loudly.
Ozpin: You will be monitored and graded through the duration of your initiation, but our instructors will not intervene. You will find an abandoned temple at the end of the path containing several relics. Each pair must choose one and return to the top of the cliff. We will regard that item, as well as your standing, and grade you appropriately. Are there any questions?
Jaune: (raising his hand) Yeah, um, sir?
Ozpin: Good! Now, take your positions.
Everyone strikes a pose on their tile. Nora crouches low, Ren wields his weapons, Yang raises her fists, Ruby readies her body, and Jaune is still raising his hand.
Jaune: Uh, sir? I've got, um... a question. (he misses the tile under Weiss rising up into a springboard, rocketing into the air and over the forest, as the platforms activate down the line) So, this landing... strategy thing... Uh, wha-what is it? You're, like, dropping us off or something?
Ozpin: No. You will be falling.
Jaune: (missing more students being thrown) Oh, uh, I see... So, like, did you hand out parachutes for us?
Ozpin: No. You will be using your own "landing strategy."
Jaune: (still not seeing an excited Nora and Ren getting launched) Uh-huh... Yeah.
At her turn, Yang winks at her younger sister, puts on a pair of aviators, and flies off with a "Woo-hoooooooo!" a second before Ruby joins her.
Jaune: So, what exactly is a landing strategYYY!...
He asks this part just when he finally has to get hurled with the cloud of students now making their way down into the forest below under the eyes of the teachers. Ozpin, for his part, simply takes a sip of his drink before the scene goes black and the credits roll.
- Blake Belladonna was not seen in this episode or listed in the credits. However Kerry Shawcross posted an image on Twitter saying that Blake was "in the back", with an arrow pointing to one of the silhouettes in the background.
- Also, while Blake was not shown directly in this episode, her silhouette in the album art for her song, "From Shadows", is seen during the ending credits.
- Jaune's locker number is 636, a reference to the address of Rooster Teeth Productions at the time.
- Nora is seen holding a tube of Shi-nee Toothpaste. In the brand name, the "S" is red and the remaining letters are blue, similar to the real world "Crest" brand logo. A Schnee snowflake appears on the end of the tube. Crest frequently uses a starburst on their products, and a snowflake could be a possible reference to the Schnee Dust Company.
- Monty Oum stated that Jaune is speared by Pyrrha in the locker room to establish that she can do this without killing him, and that it's an OK thing between them. This makes it less contrived when Pyrrha spears him to help him during the Beacon Initiation.
- Yang's sunglasses are an homage to the film Top Gun.
- The event of "The First Step" are re-told in Chapter 2 from RWBY: The Official Manga.
- Main article: The First Step/Image Gallery