"Troq" is the forty-fifth episode of the Teen Titans series and the sixth episode of Season 4. This episode is a special on racism.
The Titans meet Val-Yor, an alien who is on the verge of destroying his enemies; The Locrix. The Titans volunteer to help and immediately take a liking to him, but their opinion of Val-Yor may soon change once they find out what he truly thinks of Starfire.
The episode opens with an epic space battle. Three space ships enter the solar system. Two white bat-like ships are pursuing and firing at a powerful shuttle piloted by a silver-skinned alien warrior. Both ships enter the atmosphere and continue their pursue through the Jump City bay. The ships begin to approach Titans Tower and catch the attention of the Titans while they are playing Old Maid. Upon realizing they are ships, the titans watch the battle from the roof and Cyborg notes how good the shuttle pilot is. Robin states that he is a great pilot when he sees how easily he shoots down one of the enemy ships. The silver warrior ejects from his shuttle and flies to the other ship. Just barely getting a grip, the Titans watch in amazement as he manages to bring it down with an earth-shattering twin hammer fist. In other words, "his bare hands". As the ship begins to lose altitude, the Titans anxiously await him to make his grand escape while he steers it away from the city and into the forest where it safely crash lands. The Titans race to the crash site hoping the warrior survived. Upon arrival, the warrior triumphantly emerges from the wreckage, claiming "It takes more than a plasmatic implosion to bring down Val-Yor", to which Starfire could not resist a snapshot.
After Robin compliments his flying, he greets all of them, introducing himself as Val-Yor of Vernathia. Robin introduces himself and the team as the Teen Titans, Starfire welcomes him to Earth, but takes stealthy distasteful interest in her, saying, "I see you have a Tamaranean," as if she is some sort of animal or property. The Titans did not realize how rude he is being, and ask about who he was fighting. Back in the Tower, Val-Yor briefs them all that they were part of an alien race known as the Locrix, mechanical creatures bent on taking control of the entire galaxy and have eradicated countless civilizations in their conquest. His mission is to make a perilous journey to their homeworld, Sentian, where he can locate their central power core and end their threat once and for all. When the heroes volunteer to help, Val-Yor takes the five of them into space with him in his ship and set off on their mission to save the galaxy.
While the ship is on route to Sentian, Val-Yor is telling the Titans stories about his war with the "Crixies" (slang for Locrixes) and all the battles he had survived. When he finishes, he gives them all jobs to do such as navigation, thrust, and manning the blasters, but completely ignores Starfire. When she asks what task she should complete, Val-Yor's ship is attacked by a Locrix battalion after the C5 quantum eradicator Val-Yor needs for the kill strike on Sentian. of, he calls each of the Titans except Starfire to come help him fight. Assuming he simply forgot about her, Starfire joins the battle. The Titans and Val-Yor hold their ground just fine against the Crixies, but when Starfire saves Val-Yor from a blindstrike, she knocks the crixie into and nearly sets off the Eradicator. Val-Yor then shouts at Starfire to watch where she is going, and shreds apart the rest of the battalion, securing the ship. The menace is neutralized and Val-Yor sends the team back to the bridge so they can prepare for the possibility of another attack. When he and Starfire are alone, she tries to apologize for momentarily destabilizing the ship's safety, saying she was only trying to help. Val-Yor angrily replies that he does not need any help from "a stupid Troq." Starfire is taken aback, realizing how he views her.
Later, as the Titans are on their way to a briefing for their next mission, they all talk about how Val-Yor thinks of each of them. However, Starfire is shown to be deeply upset from her encounter with Val-Yor, but the Titans remain oblivious to her sorrow, and instead race to the briefing while Starfire slowly walks behind them. At the briefing, Starfire keeps her distance from the others and Robin notices that she was missing it. Robin is confused when she says that she can gather all the information she needs from where she is, while unbeknownst to him and everyone else, she is actually avoiding Val-Yor. Throughout the meeting, Val-Yor had been referring to the rest of them using slick names, such as "Sunshine" (Raven), "Metal Butt" (Cyborg), "Spike" (Robin), and "Champ" (Beast Boy). Starfire coldly states that she has gotten everything Val-Yor has said when he refers to her as "Troqie." Not knowing what it actually means, the Titans just assume it was one of his nicknames. Just then, the alarm goes off again. Val-Yor and the others discover that the Locrix have set up a mine field to guard the planet, which makes it impossible for any ships to get close. Val-Yor then instructs Starfire to go out into to space to remove a few so the ship can get through. Robin is apprehensive and asks if it was safe for her to go. Val-Yor, however, does not care, stating there are only a few. Starfire then begins to stand up for herself and asks Val-Yor why he does not move the devices himself, seeing as he is more than capable. Val-Yor agrees that he can move them, but replies that he needs to be inside to navigate the ship and points out that Starfire's people can withstand the hostile conditions of space, making Starfire more angry. As Starfire is preparing, Cyborg confronts over if she really wants to go through with this, but Starfire merely reveals she wants to prove she is useful. Val-Yor calls Starfire to get moving while again calling her Troq. Cyborg becomes confused and asks her what "Troq" means and Starfire heads out, saying "It means nothing". Starfire begins to carefully move each of the mines away without incident (according to Val-Yor, "again"), while Val-Yor and the Titans anxiously watch from the inside of the ship. Starfire is able to stop two from a collision course, but trips one on a detonator and accidentally activates it, only having 20 seconds before it explodes. Robin (seeing that Starfire is in extreme danger) rushes to go and help her, but Val-Yor stops him saying it is too dangerous. Starfire then begins to move the bomb as far away as possible so it can detonate away from the ship (and the rest of the mine field). The Titans are shocked and begin to worry considering how huge the blast was, but thankfully Starfire reveals herself to be unscathed and that the path is clear enough to get through. While the others are relieved, Val-Yor looks rather upset, proving he was just using Starfire as cannon fodder.
Later, as Starfire is arriving back onto the ship, Cyborg meets up to congratulate her and raises his hand for a high-five saying, "Way to go, Troqie!" but Starfire angrily tells him not to call her that, much to his surprise. Cyborg points out that Val-Yor calls her Troq all the time, but Starfire states that it is still not right. Seeing that something is wrong, Cyborg questions Starfire stating, "I thought you said it didn't mean anything." Realizing he misunderstood her, Starfire reveals to Cyborg that Troq is not a nickname that does not mean anything; it is actually a racial slur that literally means "nothing", and that whenever Val-Yor calls her that, he is really saying that she is worthless, a nonentity. Cyborg is horrified by the revelation that Val-Yor has been calling Starfire such a terrible name despite having just met her. Seeing this, Starfire explains that on other planets some believe Tamaraneans to be inferior and Troq is what they are called. Cyborg (now finally understanding) also realizes why Starfire has not fought back: she knows if she hits him, it will only confirm what Val-Yor already thinks of her, and Starfire agrees before asking him if he knows what being judged because of his looks feels like. Cyborg replies that he totally does; he is part robot. He then decides its time to take it up with Robin. Starfire tries to stop him, believing it is better to inform him later. Cyborg assures that he would want to know now, giving Starfire a reassuring smile. At the command center, Robin and Val-Yor are talking where Robin is telling him the story about the last time they defeated Control Freak and is more pleased when Val-Yor states Robin reminds him of himself when he was younger. However, they are shortly interrupted when Cyborg and Starfire arrive, with Cyborg asking for Robin’s ear privately. While Val-Yor is distracted by Beast Boy, Cyborg explains to Robin what Troq really means and what Val-Yor has really been calling Starfire the whole mission. Furious, Robin rhetorically asks Starfire why she never said anything before, and decides to see to it that Val-Yor apologizes. But Starfire stops him, stating the mission is more important than her feelings. Val-Yor announces they have arrived at Sentien, and are met with a prepared defense force.
As the ships flies to the island where the central power core is located, Val-Yor is giving the Titans their missions. Robin speaks up and asks about Starfire, but Val-Yor just wants her to guard the ship. However, having finally had enough of Val-Yor's racial undermining, Starfire stands up for herself and states that she is going with him. Val-Yor argues back that he gave her an order, but Starfire states she does not take orders from him, revealing if her friends are going into danger, than so will she. Plus, she repeats his initial statement about "her people being capable of withstanding hostile conditions". The ship lands and the warriors shred their way through the Locrix cordon while Starfire helps clear Val-Yor's way to the central power core while he carries the eradicator, to which he still remains completely unappreciative. Starfire and Val-Yor get inside the fortress and inside the central complex where the power core is. Val-Yor installs the device and claims that he did not need her help after all. As Val-Yor prepares tells Starfire that she is "welcome to stay" inside the fortress (which will blow in a matter of minutes with the quantum eradicator installed). At that moment, a blue energy field surrounds the core and traps Val-Yor. As it microwaves his body, he stubbornly shoos Starfire away, claiming there is nothing she can do. She decides to show him what she can do by tearing a hole through the energy shield and reaches inside. Still refusing to accept her help, Val-Yor refuses to take her hand. Starfire manages to get him out in time, claiming that while he does not value her life, she still values his. Alarms go off in the fortress and the eradicator prepares to activate. Not having much time and with Val-Yor unconscious, Starfire lugs him out of the fortress just in time before it blows and arrives back at the ship unscathed. The Locrix deactivate and are defeated once and for all and the Titans acknowledge that this was Starfire's victory. She says that she is fine, but Val-Yor is hurt.
Back on Earth at Titans Tower, Val-Yor thanks the Titans for their help, but Robin coldly points out that Starfire is the one who he should really be thanking. Beast Boy (who has learned what Troq really means) agrees stating "Yeah, she's the one who saved your sorry butt." He reluctantly does so, saying that Starfire is "one of the good ones." Starfire finds his statement offensive since saving him does not make her better than other Tamaraneans. Val-Yor tells her he was trying to give her a compliment, but Raven (also learning what Troq means) angrily asks why it still sounds like an insult. Val-Yor tries to make an excuse, saying it was a misunderstanding, but refusing to listen to anymore, Robin tells Val-Yor its time for him to go. Val-Yor leaves after letting them know he thinks that maybe Earthlings are just like the Troqs, but gives a secret smile when he boards his ship. Robin and the others apologize for letting Val-Yor treat her like that, and for not doing anything about it once they discovered the truth, but Starfire says there was nothing they could have done as there are others just like Val-Yor that prejudge and mistreat others for superficial reasons. But there are also a lot of people who do not judge others based on what they look like or where they are from, and that those people are true friends.
- Val-Yor calls the Titans all Earthlings, which is not true because Raven is technically not an Earthling, though her mother Arella is human.
- To be fair, there is no way Val-Yor would know that since he has never been to Earth or met the Titans.
- Apparently, Tamaraneans are capable of self-sustenance seeing as how Starfire could survive in space without a suit.
- The only scientific error in this is that she was communicating to the ship on her head set just fine. Her body could survive just fine in the vacuum of space. But since there is no air of any kind in space, there would be nothing for her respiratory system to expel, which means nothing could be funneled through her larynx to create the sonic wavelength needed for the power of speech. This error could have been avoided if Starfire simply had not talked at all while moving the mines.
- The mine field was severely poorly planned on the Locrix's part, considering how close they all were to the planet and how huge each of their blast radius were.
- The fact that Cyborg has told Starfire that he is half-robot can be interpreted as a metaphor, due to the fact that he is also a black person, and during history black people have been highly discriminated against.
- Cyborg likely did not mention it because he thought that Starfire, being from another planet, probably wouldn't understand it.
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