"Apprentice - Part 1" is the twelfth episode of the Teen Titans series and the first season. It is followed by "Apprentice - Part 2".
The episode begins with Robin chasing Slade through a desert. They arrive in a valley, where Slade starts taunting Robin. Robin attempts to attack Slade, but he continuously dodges and successfully attacks back. Robin throws two Birdarangs at Slade, but misses and destroys some boulders nearby. Slade continues taunting Robin while hiding amongst the dust of the destroyed boulders. Slade says that he and Robin are "very much alike". Robin angrily responds that he is nothing like Slade and punches him in the face. He says that Slade is a criminal and a psychopath and that all he cares about is destruction. Slade responds by saying that Robin destroys everything that he cares about. He gestures around at the fallen boulders and Robin realizes that they are his teammates turned to stone. Angrily, Robin asks "Who are you?!" and pulls off Slade's mask, but makes a shocking revelation: the "Slade" he has been chasing after all this time is actually Robin himself!
Robin wakes up, sweating and panting with shock, revealing it was all a dream. Cyborg then enters Robin's room and informs him that Slade is up to no good. The Teen Titans rush to the Main Ops room, where Slade appears on the large TV screen. He reveals his master plan to them: the building of a Chronoton Detonator, which has the power to stop time permanently, and he can activate it with a remote in his hand. Robin demands Slade to tell him where it is, but Slade tells him that he and his friends are smart enough to find it themselves, before the transmission cuts.
Robin commands the Titans to fan out and find the Detonator, before heading out to begin searching. However, he is stopped by Cyborg and Beast Boy, who suggest he sits this mission out since he "has problems when it comes to Slade", with Starfire concurring and reminding Robin of the last time he fought Slade. Robin says that that was merely a mistake, and assures his friends that he can handle it. Raven then rewinds the video and, with careful analysis, deduces Slade's location: a warehouse on Pier 41 at the Jump City docks. The Titans rush to the docks, only to find an empty warehouse at Pier 41. Slade's minions appear and ambush the Titans, surrounding the warehouse to prevent their escape. With the cry of "Teen Titans, GO!", the Titans rush off to dispatch Slade's minions. However, Robin's anger grips him, and he bashes up Slade's minions mercilessly and then proceeds to attack the other minions that his teammates were attacking. The other Titans are shocked and hide in a corner of the room while Robin destroys all of Slade's minions, who are revealed to be robots.
Even after Robin has dispatched all the robots, he continues to hit them with his staff, releasing all his hatred for Slade. Starfire tries to calm him down but Robin just walks out of the warehouse, seething with anger. Robin spots a suspicious person and chases after him, grabbing him by the shirt and demanding him to reveal everything he knows about Slade, but the man says he doesn't know anything, revealing that he is only an innocent civilian worker who was just walking around the area. Robin gets angry again and is about to punch him, when Raven uses her powers to restrain Robin.
Beast Boy comments that Robin is acting like Slade, provoking Robin to shout at Beast Boy never to compare him to Slade. Before an ensuing argument can start, Starfire sneezes and makes an explosion with a Starbolt from her nose. Starfire explains that she is allergic to Metallic Chronium, a rare mineral that can also be used to power Slade's Detonator. Beast Boy suggests that they use Starfire to track where Slade is keeping his Chronoton Detonator.
The Titans follow Starfire as she continuously sneezes over and over, eventually leading to the underground sewers. They soon spot one of Slade's minions loading the Chronoton Detonator onto a small speedboat, and chase after it. Suddenly out of nowhere, Cinderblock smashes his arm through the wall to grab Robin. Starfire wants to help Robin, but he commands her to instead find the Detonator. Starfire reluctantly flies in pursuit of Slade's minion as he starts the engine and drives away. Starfire carries Cyborg, and she, Raven and Beast Boy (in falcon form) proceed flying after the speedboat. Meanwhile, Robin's anger manages to gain him a surprisingly easy victory over Cinderblock. He finds a tracking device attached to the unconscious Cinderblock, which shows Slade's location. Now that he finally knows where Slade is, Robin smiles.
Back in the sewers, the Titans are chasing the speedboat. Slade's minion activates the boat's defense systems, sprouting two machine guns from the back of the boat, which fire at the Titans. The Titans manage to evade the attacks and at the same time Starfire and Raven manage to drop Cyborg onto the boat, where he throws Slade's minion off, but not before he activates the boat's auto-pilot system, causing it to speed off through the sewers, with the three remaining Titans in hot pursuit. Cyborg tries to cancel the auto-pilot, but he cannot because he doesn't know the code required to access the boat's computer system. In desperation, Cyborg pulls out the keypad and smashes the internal system, which stops the boat in the middle of the sewers.
Slade stands in front of his screen, analyzing what the Titans are up to. Robin suddenly bursts in from a door behind Slade and confronts him, and Slade comments that he was afraid Cinderblock may have been too much of a challenge for Robin. Robin demands Slade to give up the remote for the Chronoton Detonator, and Slade puts the remote on the ground and walks away from it, telling Robin to come get it if he wants it. Robin then runs towards Slade, and a fight ensues. Robin attempts to get the remote, but is intercepted by Slade. Slade continues to attack Robin and keep him away from the remote, also avoiding all of Robin's attacks. Slade eventually knocks Robin down, causing him to vent his anger. This makes Slade remark that Robin, like Slade himself, hates losing; one of the many qualities they have in common. This makes Robin more frustrated than ever, and he proceeds to turn the tables on Slade, hitting him several times and finally knocking him down, allowing him to get the remote. However, to his surprise, the remote falls apart in his hands. This makes Robin think it was a decoy, and asks where the real remote is. Slade then reveals that there is no remote, because there is no Detonator; this puts Robin at a loss for words.
Meanwhile, the other Titans are trying to disarm the Chronoton Detonator. Cyborg isn't sure which wires to cut to deactivate the machine, so he decides to try his luck and cut a random wire, but he accidentally cuts two of the wires instead, making the Detonator appear to engage. The Titans hold their breath as the moment comes, but the machine ends up short circuiting, and collapses. Beast Boy wonders what happened, and Cyborg reveals that the machine was a fake. Just then, a gun on the speedboat suddenly appears, and shoots lasers at all of the Titans, knocking them in the water. However, the Titans all reveal to each other that they are unscathed, and believe that they have accomplished their mission.
In Slade's lair, Slade reveals to Robin that he never intended to stop time; the Detonator was merely a decoy, and the laser gun that hit the other Titans inserted nanoscopic probes into their bloodstreams. Said probes, when activated, will kill them from the inside out by attacking and destroying their blood cells. Robin growls that they will never listen to Slade's demands; not even death will force them to obey him. But Slade tells Robin that this isn't about the other Titans; it's all about him. He then announces his final and most shocking plan: he has been in search of an apprentice; someone to follow in his footsteps and carry on his legacy, and has chosen Robin to be that person. Robin is averse to work for his sworn enemy, but Slade says that if he does not, he will kill the other Titans with his probes and force him to watch.
Meanwhile, the other Titans have climbed out of the sewers, completely unaware that Slade's probes are inside their bodies. But they are aware that Robin is nowhere to be found, and Starfire desperately tries to contact him via her Titans Communicator, but gets no response. Back in Slade's lair, Robin has taken off his suit and is now donning one of Slade's uniforms. Slade declares that Robin is now his apprentice.
- Written by:
- David Slack
- Directed by:
- Michael Chang
- The title refers to Slade making Robin his apprentice.
- In Robin's dream, when the unmasked "Slade" is revealed to be himself, it is a loose parody of The Empire Strikes Back.
- A section of the fight between Robin and Slade is reminiscent of the first fight between Clark and Bizarro in Smallville.
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