Recap / Teen Titans S 4 E 6 TROQ

"There will always be people who say mean words because you are different, and sometimes their minds cannot be changed. But there are many more people who do not judge others based on how they look or where they are from. Those are the people whose words truly matter."
Starfire

Val-Yor, a hero from another planet, enlists the help of the Titans to fight the Locrix: a mechanical race bent on galactic domination. Despite his heroism, however, Val-Yor turns out to be prejudiced against Tamaraneans and treats Starfire with disdain. This is missed by Titans at first, as they do not realize that Val-Yor's nickname for Starfire is in fact a racial slur; and even when Cyborg eventually discovers the truth and tells Robin, Starfire refuses to let them do anything about it until their mission is complete. She finally stands up for herself when Val-Yor tries to leave her behind while the rest of the team infiltrates the home planet of the Locrix. Not only does she participate in the mission, she accompanies Val-Yor into the Locrix headquarters and winds up saving his life. With their mission over, Robin demands that Val-Yor apologize. Val-Yor makes an attempt to do so, but succeeds only in delivering a backhanded compliment to Starfire. The Titans point out that his apology is no less offensive than his original insults and ask Val-Yor to leave. He does so, deciding that Earthlings may be just as bad as Tamaraneans.

The Titans apologize to Starfire about how Val-Yor treated her, and assure her they would have stepped in and done something if they had noticed the discrimination sooner. Starfire is grateful, but says that it wouldn't have mattered if they did. Some people can't change their prejudices. However, for every bigot, they are many others that accept people for who they are and where they came from, and she'd rather value the kindness of her friends than hope for a racist jerk's validation.

Tropes:

  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Locrix are bent on galactic domination.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Cyborg asks what "troq" means, and misunderstands Stafire when she says "it means nothing".
    Cyborg: I thought you said it didn't mean anything.
    Starfire: No — I said it means "nothing."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Val-Yor and the Titans left in bad terms with the former still racist and declaring that Earthlings are just as bad as Tamaraneans. However, the Locrix are destroyed and the Titans learned a lesson that while some people may never change their views, there will be others like the Titans who don't judge on appearances.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Titans towards Val-Yor when they discover what a racist Jerkass he is.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Averted, if only for the fact that Val-Yor is shown to possess abilities that put him on or at least near Starfire's own level, so from his perspective the "dragon" in question isn't so tough.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Cyborg, who has been judged by his appearance, but not because he's black, but because he's part robot.
    Starfire: You know how it feels to be judged just because of how you look?
    Cyborg: Of course I do. I'm part robot.
  • Fantastic Racism: Val-Yor, against Tamaraneans. Note that he fails to notice any irony in the fact that one of the reasons he hates the Locrix is for their own Fantastic Racism against "organics."
  • Fantastic Slurs: To call someone a "troq" is to call them "nothing" or "worthless."
  • Flat "What.": Robin's reaction to learning what Val-Yor has really been calling Starfire all this time. Very much not played for laughs: he sounds like he's ready to kill the guy.
  • Guilt by Association: Val-Yor now views humanity on the same level as he views Tameranians all because The Titans call him out on his racism.
    Val-Yor: I thought you earthlings were alright. I guess I was wrong. You're just like the Troqs.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The Locrix wish to wipe out all organic life. In turn, no one objects to Val-Yor's plan to destroy them all.
  • Hate Sink: Val-Yor, who spends most of his screen time as a racist Jerkass in a Very Special Episode about racism.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Cyborg calls Starfire "Troqie" before he understands what it means. This leads Starfire to explain that it is a racial slur, and Cyborg to begin to see Val-Yor's true colors.
    Cyborg: Way to go Troqie!
    Starfire: *Furious* You do not ever call me that!
    Cyborg: *Confused* But Val-Yor calls you Troq all the time!
    Starfire: That does not make it right!
    Cyborg: What's up? I thought you said it didn't mean anything?
    Starfire: No; I said it means "nothing" When Val-Yor calls me troq, he is saying that I am worthless - a nothing.
  • Master Race: The Locrix wish to exterminate all organic life.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Locrix.
  • The Nicknamer: Val-Yor comes up with innocuous nicknames for the other Titans; at first, they assume that "Troq" is simply a nickname they don't understand, and are pissed off once they discover the meaning.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Val-Yor calls the Locrix "Crixies".
  • Noble Bigot: Deconstructed. Barring Starfire, Val-Yor genuinely liked the other Titans and is trying to stop an evil alien race, but he's also still a racist, and Starfire saving his life didn't change that. All it did was make him think Starfire was "one of the good ones", causing the Titans to lose any remaining respect for him. Val-Yor showed that no amount of nobleness would make bigotry acceptable.
  • Reality Ensues: Unlike other Very Special Episodes where the racist learns their lesson and ends their prejudice, Starfire saving Val-Yor didn't end his prejudice at all, and may never end. At best, he said Starfire is "one of the good ones" (and the Titans don't accept the backhanded compliment).
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In spite of the fact that she saved his life and by extension the mission, Val-Yor continues to act racist towards Starfire with only a half-hearted acknowledgement towards her and when the Titans defended her, he calls them all "just like the troqs" in spite of the fact that they assisted him in completing the mission.
  • Very Special Episode: About racism, naturally.
  • Wham Line:
    Cyborg: I thought you said it didn't mean anything!
    Starfire: No — I said it means, "nothing."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When the Titans find out about Val-Yor's Fantastic Racism.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: When Val-Yor said that Starfire is "one of the good ones," none of the Titans took it well.
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