Team RWBY is walking through Vale on a Friday during the preparations for the Vytal Festival. On Weiss Schnee's insistence, the team visits the docks. Weiss states that the students from Vacuo are arriving today and claims that she wants to welcome them on the behalf of Beacon Academy, but Blake Belladonna correctly suspects that she merely wants to examine the competition.
Ruby Rose notices that a nearby Dust store has been vandalized and robbed. According to some detectives from the Vale Police Department, this is the second incident that week. The detectives add that, similar to the previous incident, none of the Lien has been taken, just the Dust. The cops suggest that that the only thing someone would need that much Dust for is an army, and as such, the White Fang could have been the robbers. While talking to her teammates, Weiss agrees with the cops' suspicion of the White Fang, calling the Faunus group degenerates. This sparks a brief argument between her and Blake, the latter stating that they are simply misguided. Blake eventually claims that the White Fang being the robbers does not make sense, regardless. Ruby, agreeing with Blake, suspects Roman Torchwick, due to having seen him attempt a similar robbery, which she successfully foiled.
Weiss then reiterates her disdain for the White Fang and states "those Faunus" only know how to lie, cheat, and steal, a statement that greatly angers Blake. Yang points out that she feels that is not necessarily true. However, the conversation is interrupted by a commotion at the docks, where a Faunus named Sun Wukong has been caught stowing away on a ship. He jumps onto the docks only to be pursued by the detectives, and he passes by Blake, whom he winks at. Weiss is led to believe that he is a participant in the tournament and leads her teammates to chase after him.
While following Sun, Weiss literally runs into Penny Polendina and watches as Sun begins to parkour away into an alley. After an awkward introduction between Team RWBY and Penny, Ruby calls her "friend" off-hand as she and her teammates walk away. Penny, stunned to have been given the label "friend", pursues Ruby and asks her to confirm their friendship, becoming ecstatic when Ruby says yes. It is then that Team RWBY learns that she is a participant in the upcoming tournament. Following this, Weiss makes more extreme comments about Sun, which further infuriates Blake and soon devolves into another argument between the two, continuing throughout the afternoon and back into their dorm room that night.
When Blake accuses Weiss of being discriminatory, Weiss claims that she is a victim of the White Fang's actions, surprising Blake into silence. She goes on to explain that the organization has been at war with the Schnee Dust Company for as long as she can remember, and its members have killed numerous family friends and company board members. She also mentions a particular occasion involving an entire train full of Dust being stolen. Furthermore, their actions have infuriated her father on numerous occasions, resulting in a rather rough childhood for Weiss.
Weiss angrily tells Blake that she despises the White Fang because they are liars, thieves, and murderers. Letting her emotions get the best of her, Blake yells that the White Fang were tired of being pushed around, accidentally referring to them as "we", revealing not only that she is a Faunus, but also that she has a connection with the White Fang. Upon realizing what she has done, Blake panics and runs from the dorm with inhuman speed, stopping when she arrives at the stone statue in front of the school. She then proceeds to remove her bow to reveal a pair of cat ears atop her head. Sun, off-camera, states that he knew she would look better without the bow, implying that he knew she was a Faunus.
After that night, Blake does not return to Beacon. Two days later, she is sitting at a table with Sun at a café in downtown Vale, where she responds to Sun wanting to know more about her.
The opening ends to an overview of the streets of Vale being decorated in time for the Vytal Festival. Red, yellow, and green streamers and balloons are proudly on display, and Team RWBY is strolling through it all with an awed Weiss Schnee in the front. A sign is being put up by the elderly Shopkeep that reads in bright red letters "WELCOME TO VALE!" for all the foreign newcomers from their respective kingdoms of Remnant.
Weiss: (stopping and raising her arms in amazement) The Vytal Festival! Oh, this is absolutely wonderful!
Ruby: I don't think I've ever seen you smile this much, Weiss. (frowns a little) It's kinda weirding me out...
Weiss: (turning to Ruby) How could you not smile? A festival dedicated to the cultures of the world! There will be dances! Parades! A tournament! Oh, the amount of planning and organization that goes into this event is simply breathtaking! (they continue walking)
Yang: (sighs, arms crossed) You really know how to take a good thing and make it sound boring.
Weiss: Quiet, you!
Yang: (as they stop near the docks and the sounds of foghorns are heard) Remind me again why we're spending our Friday afternoon visiting the stupid docks?
Ruby: (covering her nose) Ugh, they smell like fish!
Weiss: I've heard that students visiting from Vacuo will be arriving by ship today. And, as a representative of Beacon, I feel as though it is my solemn duty to welcome them to this fine kingdom!
Blake: (as Weiss starts walking away again) She wants to spy on them so she'll have the upper hand in the tournament.
Weiss: (scoffs) You can't prove that!
Ruby: (turns her head to the right) Whoa. (the team looks at a shattered window down the street and a door full of yellow caution tape of the Vale Police Force before walking over to the detective in front, who is writing on his pad) What happened here?
Detective 1: Robbery. Second Dust shop to be hit this week. This place is turning into a jungle. (walks over to his partner)
Yang: (sighs sadly) That's terrible.
Detective 2: (off screen, to his partner) They left all the money again.
Ruby: (turning her head when she hears this) Huh?
Detective 1: Yeah, just doesn't make a lick of sense. Who needs that much Dust?
Detective 2: I don't know, an army?
Detective 1: You thinking the White Fang?
Detective 2: (removing his sunglasses) Yeah, I'm thinking we don't get paid enough.
Weiss: Hmph! The White Fang. (crossing her arms and pointing her nose in the air with her eyes closed) What an awful bunch of degenerates!
Blake: What's your problem?
Weiss: (turning to her) My problem? I simply don't care for the criminally insane.
Blake: The White Fang is hardly a bunch of psychopaths. (crossing her arms, getting serious) They're a collection of misguided Faunus.
Weiss: Misguided? They want to wipe Humanity off the face of the planet!
Blake: So then they're very misguided. Either way, it doesn't explain why they would rob a Dust shop in the middle of downtown Vale!
Ruby: Hmm... Blake's got a point. Besides, the police never caught that Torchwick guy I ran into a few months ago... Maybe it was him.
Weiss: That still doesn't change the fact that the White Fang are a bunch of scum. (to Blake's growing anger) Those Faunus only know how to lie, cheat, and steal.
Yang: That's not necessarily true...
Sailor 1: (off-screen) Hey, stop that Faunus!
As the team overhears the cry for help and rush over to investigate, a Faunus with a golden monkey tail named Sun Wukong is seen running down the length of the boat and leaping on to the edge as the two sailors are about to apprehend him.
Sun: (looking back at his pursuers) Thanks for the ride, guys! Haha! (he jumps off and hits the dock running)
Sailor 2: You no-good stowaway!
Sun: (using his tail to hang on a lamppost while he peels back a banana) Hey! A no-good stowaway would've been caught! I'm a great stowaway! (before he eats, one of the detectives down below throws a stone at him to get his attention)
Detective 1: Hey! Get down from there this instant!
Sun drops the banana peel on the detective's face, who growls in return. The monkey-like Faunus twirls up to crouch on the lamppost, laughs in amusement, and proceeds to leap off and run away from the detectives. As he runs past Team RWBY, he winks at an astonished Blake in slow motion before time speeds up again and he continues to be chased by the officers.
Yang: (watching the Faunus get farther and farther away) Well, Weiss, you wanted to see the competition, and there it goes...
Weiss: (holding up a finger) Quick! We have to observe him!
Weiss, Yang, and Ruby give chase. Blake stands still, lost in thought, then comes back to reality and follows her friends. The team rounds the next corner, but then Weiss bumps into someone and trips. She looks up only to see Sun jump on to a building and disappear from her view.
Weiss: No, he got away!
Yang: Uhh... Weiss? (she points strangely at the girl underneath her teammate)
Weiss finally sees that she fell on a smiling girl, which startles the heiress and she hastily gets up.
Penny: (still down on the ground, smiling widely) Sal-u-ta-tions!
Ruby: Um... hello.
Yang: Are you... okay?
Penny: I'm wonderful! Thank you for asking.
Yang: (the team looks at each other in bewilderment before Yang speaks up again) Do you... wanna get up?
Penny: (thinks about this for a moment) Yes! (she leaps back on her feet while the team steps back a little) My name is Penny! It's a pleasure to meet you!
Ruby: Hi Penny. I'm Ruby.
Weiss: I'm Weiss.
Yang: Are you sure you didn't hit your head? (Blake hits her side) Oh, I'm Yang.
Penny: It's a pleasure to meet you!
Weiss: You already said that.
Penny: (pauses again) So I did!
Weiss: Well, sorry for running into you! (they turn around and start walking away)
Ruby: (waving her arm) Take care, friend!
Yang: (when they get far enough away from a startled Penny) She was... weird...
Weiss: (looking to her right) Now, where did that Faunus riff-raff run off to?
Penny: (suddenly in front of a surprised Weiss) What did you call me?
Yang: (as Weiss looks back and forth in shock and Yang looks apologetic) Oh, I'm really sorry, I definitely didn't think you heard me!
Penny: No, not you. (walks through the group and leans her head down to Ruby) You!
Ruby: (startled) Me? I-I don't know. I, what I, um, uh...
Penny: You called me 'friend'! Am I really your friend?
Ruby: Uuuum... (she looks over Penny's shoulder while her teammates motion to deny her) Y-Yeah, sure! Why not?
Penny: (Ruby's teammates comically faint, but Penny looks overjoyed and laughs) Sen-sational! We can paint our nails, and try on clothes, and talk about cute boys!
Ruby: (groaning to Weiss as she brushes herself off) Oh, is this what it was like when you met me?
Weiss: No - she seems far more coordinated.
Yang: So... what are you doing in Vale?
Penny: I'm here to fight in the tournament.
Weiss: Wait, you're fighting in the tournament?
Penny: (saluting) I'm combat ready!
Weiss: Forgive me, but you hardly look the part.
Blake: Says the girl wearing a dress.
Weiss: (with her arms crossed) It's a combat skirt!
Ruby: (the skirt sister speeds over to Weiss' side) Yeah! (Weiss holds out her hand and Ruby low-fives it)
Weiss: (realization hitting) Wait a minute. (walks over to Penny and grabs her by the shoulders) If you're here for the tournament, does that mean you know that monkey-tailed... rapscallion?
Penny: The who...?
Weiss: (holding up a poor drawing of the criminal-in-question) The filthy Faunus from the boat!
Blake: (off-screen) Why do you keep saying that?!
Weiss: (turning her attention from Penny to Blake) Huh?
Blake: (walking over to Weiss, angry) Stop calling him a rapscallion! Stop calling him a degenerate! He's a person!
Weiss: Oh, I'm sorry. (releases Penny and motions to objects around her) Would you like me to stop referring to the trash can as a trash can? Or this lamppost as a lamppost?
Blake: Stop it!
Weiss: Stop what? He clearly broke the law. Give him time; he'll probably join up with those other Faunus in the White Fang!
Blake: (growls, clenching her fist) You ignorant little brat!
Weiss: (Weiss looks offended, but when Blake walks away, she follows) How dare you talk to me like that! I am your teammate!
Blake: You are a judgmental little girl.
Weiss: What in the world makes you say that?
Blake: The mere fact that you would sort that Faunus boy with a terrorist group solely based on his species makes you just as much of a scoundrel as you believe him to be!
Yang: (sliding up to Ruby, looking uncomfortable) Um, I think we should probably go...
Penny: (popping up behind Ruby, smiling) Where are we going?
Weiss: So you admit it! The White Fang is just a radical group of terrorists!
Blake: That's not what I meant, and you know it!
As Yang and Ruby continue to observe, the scene shifts from afternoon near the docks to nighttime in their dormroom.
Weiss: I don't understand why this is causing such a problem!
Blake: That is the problem!
Weiss: (getting up from her bed) You realize you are defending an organization that hates Humanity, don't you? The Faunus of the White Fang are pure evil!
Blake: (gets on her feet as well) There's no such thing as pure evil! Why do you think they hate Humanity so much? It's because of people like Cardin, people like you, that force the White Fang to take such drastic measures!
Weiss: People like me?
Blake: You're discriminatory!
Weiss: I'm a victim! (as they stare each other down in silence, Weiss leans in close, leering as she speaks quietly) You want to know why I despise the White Fang? Why I don't particularly trust the Faunus? (leaning against the bookshelf by the window) It's because they've been at war with my family for years. War, as in actual bloodshed. My grandfather's company has had a target painted across its back for as long as I can remember. And ever since I was a child, I've watched family friends disappear; board members executed; an entire train car full of Dust, stolen. And every day, my father would come home, furious. And that made for a very difficult childhood. (bangs her fist on the bookshelf)
Ruby: (going over to comfort her) Weiss, I-
Weiss: No! (turns away and walks back over to Blake) You want to know why I despise the White Fang? It's because they're a bunch of liars, thieves, and murderers!
Blake: Well maybe we were just tired of being pushed around!
Silence drops down on the scene again. A surprised Weiss backs away slowly, and Blake realizes her mistake as she looks around at her teammates.
Blake: I... I... (she dashes out the door)
Ruby: Blake, wait! Come back! (she runs over to the door and calls to her down the hallway as Yang sits herself down and Weiss looks down)
Blake runs outside and arrives at a statue of an armored man with a sword and a hooded woman wielding an axe on an outcropping, staring at the Beowolf under the stone heroes in particular.
She closes her eyes and slowly lifts her arms up to her bow and pulls the string to release the bow from her hair. She wipes away a tear away as the camera pulls up to reveal her Faunus ears. On the verge of crying, she becomes startled when she hears a voice above her.
Sun: (off-screen) I knew you would look better without the bow.
She turns around and looks up.
The scene shifts to morning at Beacon. Ruby wakes up from her beauty sleep, yawning in the process. She looks over at Blake's empty bunk, and groans sadly.
The scene then shifts again to Ruby, Weiss, and Yang walking through the empty streets of Vale.
Ruby: She's been gone all weekend...
Weiss: Blake's a big girl, I'm sure she can handle herself!
Yang: Weiss, come on. She's one of our teammates.
Weiss: Is she? We all heard what she said!
Yang: Maybe she is, maybe she isn't. Either way, she's missing, and we need to find her!
Weiss: A member of the White Fang! Right underneath our noses!
Ruby: I just hope she's okay...
Elsewhere, Blake is sipping a cup of tea and sighing. She looks up at Sun sitting across from her, who holds his drink with his tail as his hand props his head up. He takes a sip when Blake puts her cup down.
Blake: So, you want to know more about me...
She looks at him intently as the screen fades to black and the end credits roll.
- Minor Characters
- Sailors voiced by Isaiah Torres and Daniel Fabelo
- When Sun and RWBY meet in slow motion, the same signature sound effect used in the Rooster Teeth show The Slow Mo Guys is heard.
- Sun identified Blake as a Faunus immediately. This may be a reference to the original Wukong's ability named "huǒyǎn-jīnjīng" (火眼金睛, lit. "fiery-eyes golden-gaze"), which enabled him to see through disguises and illusions.
- The two policemen shown in this episode are voiced by Burnie Burns and Joel Heyman, who also acted as policemen in three Rooster Teeth Shorts, "Stronger Tides", "Prank King" and "The Reunion".
- A slightly modified version of the music from "Wings" can be heard after Blake leaves the group.
- In the directors' commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray, Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross state that the significance of Blake staring at the statue after she runs away is that she wants to be a Huntress, but they slay beasts, the Grimm. So, where does that put her?
- The events of "The Stray" are re-told in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 of RWBY: The Official Manga.
- This episode marks a significant change in its story arc. First focuses on how Ruby's friends become teammates. Second focuses on Jaune's character change and the final focuses on Blake and how her past is connected to the incident involving Torchwick.
- Main article: The Stray/Image Gallery