"The Next Step" is the forty-first episode of RWBY and the first episode of Volume 4. It premiered for Rooster Teeth sponsors on October 22nd, 2016, was released for registered users of the Rooster Teeth site on October 23rd, 2016, and was made public on October 29th, 2016.
In a dark, barren land, Grimm spawn from pools of a black, viscous, tar-like substance. Emerald Sustrai and Mercury Black watch in fear and disgust, respectively, from a window overlooking the wasteland. Along with Cinder Fall, the three attend a tense meeting with three of their allies – Arthur Watts, Tyrian Callows and Hazel Rainart. Watts and Tyrian belittle Cinder, who is barely able to speak above a whisper and missing an eye after the battle on the tower, for being defeated by Ruby Rose. Hazel states that they have dealt with Silver-Eyed Warriors before.
Salem herself enters. She chastises Watts and praises Cinder for successfully attaining the mantle of the Fall Maiden, destroying Beacon Tower and killing Ozpin. Salem states that Cinder's status as the Fall Maiden comes with great strength, but also a crippling weakness, and thus orders Cinder to stay close while they continue her "treatment".
Salem orders Watts to meet with their informant in Mistral while Tyrian continues his hunt for the Spring Maiden. Hazel is to attend a meeting arranged by Adam Taurus with the leader of the White Fang, Sienna Khan, in order to bring them to heel. Cinder asks, with Emerald speaking for her, what is to be done about Ruby Rose. However, Salem reassigns Tyrian to capture and bring Ruby to her. Salem concludes that following Beacon, Haven will be the next to fall. Tyrian assures Cinder that he will repay Ruby an eye for an eye, and cackles maniacally.
Far away, a dark-haired young boy with freckles and yellow-green eyes awakes with a start. As the sun rises over his farm, he tills the soil and pumps water alone, before gazing into the distance.
In the forests of Anima, Nora Valkyrie and Lie Ren argue about the name of their new team. Nora argues that it should be called Team JNRR (pronounced "Junior") since it consists of three members of Team JNPR, but Ren thinks that it should be called Team RNJR (pronounced "Ranger") as they are assisting Ruby. However, Jaune Arc calls them to action as an enormous Grimm apparently made of giant stones bursts out of the foliage chasing Ruby Rose.
The Grimm, known as a Geist, is capable of "possessing" inanimate objects, such as stones, and integrating pieces of the landscape into its body. Its stone body is impenetrable to attacks from Ren's Stormflower blades, and while Nora is able to remove one of its limbs with her hammer Magnhild, it simply replaces its lost limb with a nearby tree. Ruby attempts using Lightning and then Fire Dust ammunition against it, but these prove to be equally ineffective.
Jaune, taking on a more strategic role in this fight, formulates a plan to take down the enemy by destroying all of its limbs at once, exposing its only vulnerability – its face. They finish the Geist with a coordinated team attack involving Ruby's Semblance and Nora's upgraded Magnhild, shattering its limbs. The Geist leaves its stone body, and once exposed, Ruby finishes it with a single shot from Crescent Rose.
An official representing a nearby village thanks Team RNJR for destroying the Geist, which had been attacking their village for weeks. Ruby offers to escort them to the safety of the walls of the Kingdom of Mistral, but the official declines, stating that the villagers are accustomed to their way of life and the journey would be too long for them to survive. At a blacksmith's, Team RNJR accepts their payment in the form of a new set of armor and an upgraded Crocea Mors for Jaune, using metal that had once belonged to Pyrrha Nikos. Continuing their journey to Haven Academy, the team leaves for the next village in high spirits, but Ruby grows somber at the mention of the Schnee Dust Company.
In Atlas, Weiss Schnee sits alone in her room, gazing forlornly out the window. Her butler, Klein Sieben, informs her that her father, Jacques Schnee, wishes to speak with her. Weiss solemnly goes to see him.
Open on a close-up of a pool of black slime in a dark red and purple land. A large paw emerges from within the slime and a Beowolf gradually crawls out, slime sliding off of it and onto the ground.
The camera pans out to show several such pools and many Beowolves emerging. It pulls further and further out to show a mostly dark and desolate land made up of red ground, purple crystals, and a red and black clouded sky.
The images shimmers and we see Mercury Black and Emerald Sustrai reflected in a window, watching from inside a high building. Emerald has her hand to her mouth while Mercury seems slightly disgusted. A gloved hand appears between two purple crystal formations and snaps its fingers.
A wide shot reveals a large windowed room, at the center of which is a long purple, crystal table. Four people sit at the table with seven chairs. One of them is Cinder Fall. Emerald and Mercury move away from the window.
Next is the man to Cinder's right, Tyrian Callows. He sits in a crouch casually on his chair, resting his arms on his knees.
Across from Tyrian is Hazel Rainart. His arms are crossed, and he looks asleep.
Cinder sits quietly, while Mercury and Emerald move to her side. Emerald nudges Mercury out of her way so that she can be directly next to Cinder.
Watts: Yes, yes, keep your posse in check.
Mercury grunts and makes a move toward Watts, but Emerald holds him back.
Watts: You hear that? Silence.
Hazel gives Watts an unimpressed sideways glance.
Watts: I've half a mind to thank the little girl that bested you.
Tyrian: If I were you, I'd hunt her down. (snicker) Find her and, well, she took your eye, didn't she?
Cinder only stares at Tyrian while he cackles at her. Cinder tries to speak but only manages to make quiet exhaling noises. Emerald leans in to hear her.
Watts: Pathetic. Why did you even—
There is a sound of a heavy metal door being unlatched. The doors open and everyone stands just before Salem enters. She glides alongside the table with soft footsteps before reaching the head of it, jewels jangling from her hair. Salem stops, facing away from them and toward a candle and crystal display.
Watts straightens, looking toward her.
Salem: (turning) Do you find such malignance necessary?
She gestures for all to sit down.
Watts: I apologize, ma'am. I'm not particularly fond of failure.
Watts and Salem sit simultaneously.
Salem: Then I see no reason for your cruelty towards young Cinder. She's become our Fall Maiden, destroyed Beacon Tower, and most importantly, killed dear Ozpin. So I'm curious, to what failures are you referring?
Watts: Well, the girl with the Silver Eyes.
Hazel: Yes. We've dealt with their kind before. How is it a novice was able to best one of us?
Watts: My thoughts exactly. Even without her new power, it should have been effortless.
Salem: It is because of the Maiden's power. Make no mistake, Cinder, you hold the key to our victory. But your newfound strength brings with it a crippling weakness. Which is why you will remain by my side as we continue your treatment.
Cinder is unhappy about this and lowers her head. Emerald looks at her in sympathy.
Watts: Very good.
Salem: Tyrian, I want you to continue your hunt for the Spring Maiden.
Tyrian: (laughing) Gladly.
Hazel: As you wish.
Cinder raises a finger. Emerald fails to notice this gesture for a moment.
Emerald leans in to hear her.
Cinder rasps into her ear. Emerald straightens.
Salem: Speak, child.
Emerald: She wants to know... (hesitates) What about the girl?
Watts: (scoffs) What about her? Seems to me that this is Cinder's problem, not ours.
Cinder slams her fist onto the table and glares at Watts, who grins at her.
Salem: That's enough. Tyrian?
Tyrian: Yes, my lady?
Salem: Spring can wait. Find the girl that did this to Cinder.
Tyrian giggles elatedly and claps.
Salem: And bring her to me.
Tyrian freezes, groans disappointedly, pouts for a second, then looks back up at Salem with an acquiescent shrug.
Tyrian snickers at Cinder and points to his left eye.
Tyrian: (laughing wickedly) Eye for an eye.
Tyrian goes into an uncontrollable fit of manic laughter, while Cinder grits her teeth.
Oscar Pine, a boy with freckles and hazel eyes, wakes up in a panic and sighs in relief after looking around. He emerges from the loft of a barn and climbs down a ladder. The boy is wearing patched khaki pants, a white shirt, and orange suspenders and gloves. Tucked into his pocket is an orange-based multi-colored cloth. He opens the barn door to a peaceful country scene with a rising sun and birds tweeting. White mountains are a background to a dirt road, grass, a few trees and a green water pump.
He smiles and pumps water into a blue bucket. As his gaze wanders the landscape, he becomes distracted from the pump and utters a quiet sound of surprise upon realizing he has overfilled the bucket. His shoulders fall with a sigh.
The scene cuts to the boy shutting and turning a green compost tumbler that is marked with a yellow crown bearing the initials CK.
While hoeing rows in a garden, he suddenly straightens up and looks out into the distance.
To the sound of blowing wind, the scene cuts to a shot of blue sky above a green forest. There are a few shots inside the forest before Nora Valkyrie is heard speaking.
Nora: I'm just sayin'...
Nora and Lie Ren emerge from behind a tree, walking together.
Nora:...there's more members of JNPR in this team than RWBY. It just makes sense to go with that one.
Ren: But "junior" isn't a color.
Nora: (groaning) How can I be more clear?
Nora puts out her hands and the letters JNRR pop into existence. She points to the first three.
Nora: One, two, three. That's more than one.
She points to the R.
Ren: But we're helping Ruby with her objective.
Ren holds out his hand and the letters RNJR pop into existence. Behind him, Jaune Arc is crouched and watching something.
Ren: (pointing to the first R) Wouldn't that make her the leader?
Ren and Nora turn their heads toward him.
Jaune: We need to focus.
The letters pop out of existence.
Jaune: Also, JNRR is way cooler.
Ren goes to speak, but instead just groans.
There's a rumble.
Jaune: It's here.
A collection of floating boulders with a Grimm mask moves the trees aside, clearly chasing her.
Ruby falls, crashing against tree limbs along the way.
Ruby: Bad... landing... strategy!
Ruby lands on her feet on a big tree branch strong enough to hold her weight. She uses her Semblance to fly past the Grimm.
Jaune, Ren, and Nora look up.
Jaune: Let's get that thing off her.
Jaune runs toward them. Ren jumps up into the trees.
Nora: Don't forget me!
Nora pulls out Magnhild and shoots it at the ground, propelling herself into the air with excited whooping. She lands right besides Ren in his branch.
Ren: We need to draw its attention away from Ruby!
As a stream of rose petals, Ruby flies past them.
Ruby: Could use some help!
Nora shoots the Grimm in the back. Ren hops around on branches. The Grimm tries to hit Ren. Ren runs up its rock arm, flies into the air, and comes down upon the Grimm, striking at it with StormFlower. It's ineffective.
Jaune: Gotta get in closer!
Ren lands beside Jaune.
Ren: My blades don't hurt him!
The Grimm turns, standing upright.
Ruby: How about this?!
She loads a magazine with an image of a lightning bolt on its side into Crescent Rose and fires. Electric bolts encase one of the Grimm's arms. The red lines on the arm glow brighter, and the Grimm slams it into the ground. All are sent flying backwards, but Ren, Nora, and Ruby manage to land on their feet. Jaune tumbles along the ground painfully until he hits a boulder between his legs and falls forward.
Jaune: (mimicking) "You'll be fine without a weapon. You're the strategist."
Nora: That's it!
She runs forward, tossing Magnhild into the air and transforming it into hammer mode. She jumps into the air and hits it, breaking its arm apart. A large piece flies straight toward Nora, but Ruby gets between them and knocks it away. The Grimm uses its other arm to strike at the two girls.
Jaune straightens and stretches and soon has to dodge a barrage of rocks.
Jaune: Wha? Whoa! Wha? Ho!
Jaune: Hey! Be careful!
A rock the size of his head hits him in the face and sends him into a tree. Jaune lands in a crouch and shakes his head to clear the pain.
The Grimm continually tries and fails to hit an evasive Nora.
Jaune stands up and looks up at the Grimm.
The Grimm's armless shoulder gains a glowing red circle with a symbol of an eye in the middle. The circle spins, and then a black, elongated arm with clawed fingers emerges from it. The arm rears back.
The Grimm shoves its new arm into the tree Jaune was leaning against and lifts it from the ground.
Jaune: (running) His arm is a tree! His arm is a tree!
Ruby: Big mistake!
Ruby spins Crescent Rose and loads another magazine into it - this one with imagery of fire on its side. She fires, and the flaming projectile swings around to the tree arm. Jaune fist pumps. The tree arm swings around to him, on fire. Jaune loses his smile.
Jaune: (putting his hands into his hair and running) Big mistake!
The Grimm chases Jaune, swinging the flaming arm at him. It misses twice, but then Jaune falls. One of StormFlower spins through the air and makes a cut across the Grimm's mask. The Grimm falls.
Ren lands beside Jaune and catches his gun. Ruby and Nora come up behind their teammates.
Jaune: Okay, how do we do this?
Ren: His body is too thick to break through.
Jaune: It doesn't care about its body.
Nora: Plus it can keep grabbing new limbs!
Jaune: But it keeps protecting its face.
Ruby: We can't break it!
Jaune: Ugh, if we knocked all of its limbs off at once and went for the...
Jaune's eyes light up with an idea and he turns to face his team. Behind him, the Grimm gets up.
Jaune: Guys, I got it! We hit it harder!
Ren: (confused) Is that it?
Jaune: No, seriously. It's trying to keep us from its face. If we kill the limbs, we'll have a shot to kill the whole thing!
Ruby: Alright! Come on, team, let's do this.
Jaune: Ren, left. Ruby, right.
Ren and Ruby depart as told.
Jaune: Nora, ready to try out the new upgrade?
Nora nods and runs.
Jaune: Right. And I will—
Jaune gets hit in the back by the Grimm.
Ruby attacks the right side. Ren attacks the left.
Nora activates a mechanism that generates a current of electricity across the hammerhead of Magnhild. Jaune runs around to make himself a target, waving at the Grimm.
Jaune: I'll take over here!
The Grimm goes after Jaune but switches targets as Ruby and Ren attack it.
Nora charges Magnhild even more and braces her feet.
Ruby lands next to Jaune after another attack.
Jaune: Use everything you've got!
Ruby uses her Semblance to fly at the Grimm, taking Nora with her, and the red and pink swirls go right for the tree arm. Ruby slices the tree in half, opening the way for Nora to hit the mask with Magnhild. The rock body shatters and the ephemeral Grimm rises out of it and flies off.
Ruby aims a shot at it, and it turns its face right into the flaming projectile. Next is a wide shot of birds taking flight from trees.
Jaune: (breathing heavily before posing with his hands on hips) Another victory for Team JNRR!
Jaune: (deflating) Yeah, okay. Ren, I think you're onto something. I-it's just not sounding great anymore.
Jaune walks away.
Ruby shakes hands with the town Mayor.
Mayor: We truly can't thank you enough.
Ruby: Just doing our job, sir.
Mayor: That Geist had been plaguing our village for weeks. We were beginning to wonder if we'd have to relocate.
Ruby: Well, we are on our way to Mistral. You could always come along with us if you don't feel safe.
Scenes of the idyllic life in the village are shown: people buy fresh produce from a cart, stand and chat on open balconies overlooking the roads, tend to their horses and generally go about their daily lives peacefully. The village has plentiful trees and green spaces and cobbled roads.
Mayor: (amused) Ha. I take it you're not from these parts. Anima is a large continent. I'm afraid our people would never survive the long trek to Mistral. It may be safer in the Kingdoms, but we prefer our way of life. I just wish we could pay you more.
Ren: Our previous arrangement is more than sufficient.
Team RNJR bows respectfully.
A shop door closes. At a counter, a burly man with horns sets down a set of armor.
Blacksmith: There you go, son. It's going to be heavier than what you're used to, but you'll thank me the next time you go up against a set of claws.
Jaune: Wow. That-eh. I don't know what to say.
Blacksmith: Don't gotta say anything! Just put it on! I'll go get the rest.
The Faunus blacksmith turns and goes out back.
Nora: So, what are you waiting for?
Jaune: Oh, uh, right!
Jaune takes off his old chestplate.
Jaune: (softly) Guess I was going to grow out of it eventually.
Ren: A sign of progress.
Jaune turns around, and Ruby gasps then covers her mouth and tries not to giggle.
Jaune: What is it?
Ruby: (pointing to his chest) What is that?
A bunny emblem is on Jaune's chest.
Jaune: What, my hoodie? I've always had this.
Ruby: (snorting) It's got a cute little bunny rabbit!
Jaune: It's Pumpkin Pete! You know, from the cereal?
Ruby: (in near hysterics) What did you do?! Send in a box top for a prize?
Jaune: (turning away) Yeah! Fifty!
Ruby continues to laugh hysterically, her head stylistically expanding, before she falls onto the floor.
Ren: Well, I suppose we don't have to grow out of everything.
Ruby chortles from the floor, feet in the air. The blacksmith returns from out back.
Blacksmith: Can't have a Huntsman without his weapon.
A wide sword sheath is stuck into the countertop.
Blacksmith: Made all the modifications you asked for.
The blade expands into a shield.
Blacksmith: That was some fine metal you brought me. Accents the white nicely. Where'd you get it from?
The camera pans to show the gold accents on the shield, the design on the bottom reminiscent of Pyrrha Nikos' circlet.
Jaune: From a friend.
Ruby, Ren, and Nora wait outside the shop. Jaune comes out wearing the armor. He pulls out the sword and expands the shield.
Blacksmith: He cleans up alright, don't you think?
Ren: He certainly does.
Nora: I still think a grenade launcher would've really brought the look together.
Ruby: Nothing's gonna stop Team RNJR now!
Nora: Team JNRR!
Ren: Still not a color.
Jaune: It doesn't matter what we're called. As long as we're together.
Blacksmith: You kids sure you won't stick around? You've been real good to this town.
Ruby: Sorry, but we've got another mission.
Nora: Make it to Haven Academy, no matter what.
Ren: We've heard the next village over has a working Airship.
Blacksmith: Mmm, no way to know for sure. Scroll signals were weak enough out here back when Beacon Tower was still up. Haven't heard from Shion Village in a while.
Ruby: Well, there's only one way to find out.
With a wave, Team RNJR turns and leaves. The blacksmith waves back and grunts.
Jaune: How about ammo?
Nora: Locked and loaded! Thank you, Schnee Dust Company!
Jaune: Got the map?
Ruby is looking down sadly.
Nora: Ren's got it.
Ren: No, I don't. You have it.
Nora: Wait, what?
Jaune: Guys, please tell me you're joking.
Nora: Uh.. heh-heh-heh.
Jaune: Guys! Guys? Guys...
As the camera cuts to airships in the sky, Weiss Schnee's reflection becomes visible watching airships fly by through a window. She is sitting in a cushioned chair with her hands folded in her lap. There is a knock on the door.
A wide shot of the room reveals a large, open space on two levels. On the upper level are two arched bookcases built into the walls and a picture of a knight resembling the Arma Gigas hangs between them. A gilded mirror hangs above the mantle of a fireplace on the lower level. The door opens and Klein Sieben, a butler, enters.
Klein: Pardon the interruption, Miss Schnee, but your father wishes to speak to you.
Weiss: (sighing) Thank you, Klein.
Weiss looks out the window once more before getting up and walking out. Her heels clank across the floor and the door slams shut as the camera cuts to black.
- Emerald Sustrai
- Mercury Black
- Cinder Fall
- Arthur Watts (First Appearance)
- Tyrian Callows (First Appearance)
- Hazel Rainart (First Appearance)
- Oscar Pine (First Appearance)
- Nora Valkyrie
- Lie Ren
- Jaune Arc
- Ruby Rose
- Village Official (First Appearance)
- Blacksmith (First Appearance)
- Weiss Schnee
- Klein Sieben (First Appearance)
- As with previous Volume premieres, when the episode was released at the scheduled time of October 22nd at 10:00am CST, the volume of users attempting to access the Rooster Teeth website was so large that it was inaccessible for some time. Director of Technology at Rooster Teeth, Adam Baird, even received calls incorrectly informing him that the website was under attack by DDoS. A delay in export also meant the episode also had to be re-uploaded, compounding the problem. It was announced that the episode release would be delayed to 3:00pm CST. In lieu of the episode, the Volume 4 Opening was released to the public. The problem was fixed sooner than anticipated and the episode released for Rooster Teeth First members at approximately 1:00pm CST.
- The title of the episode, "The Next Step", is a reference to a similarly-titled episode in Volume 1, "The First Step". This pattern of nods to titles from The Beacon Arc continues in Volume 5.
- Ruby also says "Bad landing strategy!" while falling through trees at the beginning of the battle against the Geist, another callback to the episode.
- A portrait of the Arma Gigas appears in Weiss' room.
- The theme when Salem walks into the meeting room is named "A Dark Cabal". Composer Alex Abraham had released it on his SoundCloud.
- Main article: The Next Step/Image Gallery