The episode opens with the Gems warping into a new environment full of crystal towers. Pearl explains that before it fell into disrepair, it used to be a communication hub for gem-kind, but now its emitting bursts of electromagnetic interference. Steven doesnt understand, but Garnet translates to layperson:
- Garnet: Its hurting television.
This of course upsets Steven and he races forward to try to destroy the crystals. Amethyst teasingly takes Stevens form (but megabuff, all purple, with a cutout in her shirt where Stevens star belongs, so her gem shows), and begins punching the crystals. Steven is delighted by this, but all her effort manages to only knock off a comparatively tiny chip. Pearl begins to whip up a hologram to detail another of her plans, but Garnet says all they need is Sugilite.
Amethyst responds to this suggestion with enthusiastic glee, but Pearl hedges, saying that Garnet and Amethyst can be a little unstable when they fuse. She suggests Garnet fuse with her instead, indicating they should be careful.
- Garnet: We dont need to be careful. We just need to be huge.
Garnet begins the Fusion Dance with Amethyst. Its a lot more funky (and a bit more suggestive) than the one Pearl and Amethyst did, so Pearl covers Stevens eyes. But of course he wants to see.
The dance completes, and in a burst of Gem magic, Sugilite appears shes enormous, buff, and scary with sharp pointed teeth. And shes very happy to be back. She shows off a little for Steven, combining Amethyhsts thorn whip and Garnets battle gauntlets into a two-fisted wrecking ball. Sugilite turns her attention to wrecking the crystal towers, disregarding the concerns voiced by Pearl. Crystal chunks begin flying behind Sugilite. When one hits Steven and knocks him down, Pearl decides enough is enough. She picks up the youngest gem and warps home with him (just in time, as the next chunk is huge and lands on the warp pad, destroying it).
Steven goes to the Big Donut, all bandaged up. Sadie shows concern until Steven reveals that his battle injury is only a tiny little scratch. Lars mocks Steven and tells him to toughen up, even as he struggles with opening a jar. Sadie opens it instead, and Steven gets the idea of setting up a gym for them to work out at so Lars will be able to cope if Sadie is not around, and so Steven can be strong like Amethyst!Steven or Sugilite.
Steven tries to get Pearl interested in the idea. She finds it amusing until Steven mentions he wants to be like Sugilite, at which point her smile fades. As Steven, Greg, Sadie and Lars begin to work out on Gregs pitifully makeshift equipment, Pearl begins tidying up the house and sings of her dismay that Steven looks up to Sugilite and the brute strength she displays; and emphasizing that there's more than one way to be strong, even though Steven refers to brute strength as "the real way". Steven hears part of it, where Pearl sings of wanting to be an inspiration, and uses that to pump up his father and friends.
The next day, the others are ready to work out again, but Steven is so sore he can hardly move. Garnet and Amethyst havent returned, and the warp pad isnt working. Pearl is worried about the other two gems.
The ground begins shaking. Everyone looks up and sees a massive figure wading toward shore: Sugilite has returned, and she is not happy: she feels like Pearl abandoned her. Pearl tries to explain she was concerned for Stevens safety and that the massive Fusion Gem didn't need any help. She suggests that Sugilite drop the fusion so they can all relax, but Sugilite refuses and begins stomping the gym equipment. A fight ensues, and the giant Fusion Gem seems to make short work of Pearl. Defeated and injured, covered in scratches, Pearl is ready to give up but Steven, who can barely move from soreness and being knocked around the beach, makes his way to the megaphone and gives her a pep talk. Pearl struggles to her feet again, smack talks Sugilite into chasing her up the hill, and tricks Sugilite into falling off the cliff beside the temple. The fall does nothing but further irritate Sugilite but her two-fisted wrecking ball conks her in the head. This forcibly ends the Gem Fusion, leaving Garnet and Amethyst lying weak and spent on the beach, as Sugilite also takes a toll on their bodies.
Pearl hugs her teammates, but encouraged by her victory over the musclebound and savage Sugilite, she no longer wants to relax. Shes ready to undertake a mission! But Amethyst and Garnet are too weak to even move. And Steven is ready to continue working out.
- Bear Hug: Pearl is quick to heartily embrace Garnet and Amethyst when they finally come apart from Sugilite. Unfortunately, they're both in so much pain that they can't even move, and it takes Pearl a few seconds to remember this.
- Broken Pedestal: Sugilite has definitely fallen in former fanboy Steven's eyes by the end of the episode, with Pearl taking her place.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: The... suggestive undertones of Garnet and Amethyst's fusion dance are not lost on Pearl, who tries to shield Steven's eyes. Steven doesn't pick up on why.
- David vs. Goliath: Sugilite absolutely towers over Pearl, who manages to win by using her own weapon against her.
- Escalating Punchline: When Greg offers to join Lars, Sadie, and Steven in their workout.Greg: I been slackin' on my workout routine for a few weeks. (frowns) Months... Years... (beat, coughs sheepishly) Decades...
- Extra Eyes: Sugilite has five eyes, two of which are Prophet Eyes.
- Fat Flex: Greg appears to have gained a buffer figure at one point while lifting large, heavy weights. Once he drops the weights, though, his gut goes back to normal.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Garnet and Amethyst's dialogue before they fuse into Sugilite hints at her wild, destructive nature.Garnet: We don't need to be careful. We just need to be huge.Amethyst: ALRIGHT! LET'S WRECK THIS JOINT!
- Foreshadowing: Sugilite in her first appearance is still prone to destruction, but acts pretty chill towards Steven, like one would expect Garnet or Amethyst to. It's when she doesn't seem to care much about almost hitting him with a boulder that starts setting off alarm bells.
- Freudian Slip: Pearl almost admitted that she was jealous of Sugilite for her natural sheer strength and for Steven looking up to her.Pearl: Can't you see she's out of control and overzealous?
I'm telling you for your own good, and not because I'm — (closes blinds)
- Gone Horribly Right: Garnet reasons that fusing with Amethyst will get the job done much quicker than fusing with Pearl. And it does. Except once the job is finished, Sugilite isn't too interested in leaving.
- Heroic BSoD: After most of an episode wearing her down, Pearl hits rock bottom when she has to face Sugilite herself and can't seem to put even a dent in her.
- Heroic RRoD:
- Steven works out so much that he becomes sore and unable to move during the fight in the episode.
- After Amethyst and Garnet are restored, they're the same way due to Sugilite's overuse of their physical forms.
- Heroic Second Wind: It takes a Rousing Speech from Steven, but Pearl eventually gets back up after being beaten down and faces Sugilite again, this time using her own strengths to her advantage rather than trying to match her opponent's exponentially greater physical strength.
- Hero-Worshipper: Steven thinks he's this by admiring Sugilite. Pearl isn't so sure about the "hero" part.
- Hobbling the Giant: Pearl makes Sugilite fall off a ledge by breaking the ground under her feet. The fall doesn't hurt her much, but her weapon landing on her head splits her apart instantly.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Sugilite is ultimately defeated by her own weapon coming down on her head while she's distracted by Pearl.
- Impossible Pickle Jar: Lars' laughing at Steven's supposedly frailty is undermined by his inability to open a jar of food, which Sadie quickly opens for him.Lars: Yeah, I'm not gonna say "thanks".
(Sadie lightly punches Lars' leg in anger and he starts giggling)
- Incoming Ham: "I forgot how great it feels to be me!"
- Innocently Insensitive: Steven hurts Pearl's feelings when he tells her he wants to be strong in the "real" way like Sugilite. He makes up for it, though, by cheering Pearl on when she has to fight Sugilite alone.
- Iris Out: Two star irises form over Garnet and Amethyst when Garnet tells Amethyst that they deserve having to deal with a pumped up Pearl, then a third one pops out showing a confused Lars, then a FOURTH one pops out showing Steven yelling "DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY" into his megaphone.
- "I Want" Song: Pearl sings about her desire both to be a source of inspiration for Steven and to teach him that reckless strength is not "real strength".
- Like an Old Married Couple: Lampshaded when Lars and Sadie chiding each other is followed by Steven apparently thinking they are married.
- Mama Bear: Pearl wasn't keen on Garnet and Amethyst fusing from the get go, but it's Sugilite's recklessness putting Steven's safety in danger that ends up being the final straw to make her leave.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: Steven takes a rock to the forehead from Sugalite's recklessness, and shows up at The Big Donut with a bandage covering his entire head. When he reveals the wound, it's a tiny scratch that isn't even visible without a zoom-in. Lars and Sadie are amused.
- Musical World Hypothesis: "Strong In the Real Way" seems to be Diegetic, at least on Steven's side; Lars complains that he, Sadie, and Greg have been doing all the working out while Steven was "singing some dumb song".
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Sugilite doesn't take it easy on poor Pearl. The fight gets brutal at points.
- Not So Above It All:
- Sadie is usually very polite to Steven, but laughs just as loud as Lars at Steven's attempt to play tough.
- This is the first episode in which Garnet's decision-making is shown outright to be fallible: forming the powerful but reckless Sugilite results in the former's personality overtaking herself and Amethyst, forcing their remaining teammate (Pearl) to figure out a way to physically separate them.
- Punctuated Pounding: Delivered by Sugilite to Pearl. "YOU! AIN'T! NOTHING!"
- Real Men Get Shot: Steven plays up his injuries from a rock to the head to impress Sadie and Lars. They're less than impressed by the actual injury.
- Rousing Speech: Steven shouts through a megaphone to break Pearl out of her Heroic BSoD.Steven: Come on, Pearl! Don't give up! I know you can take her down!
Pearl I can't...
Steven: Yes, you can! Come on! You always knew what to do! You gotta show her what you showed me! That you're strong, Pearl! Strong in the REAL WAY!
- Running Gag: Subverted awesomely. The past few times Pearl threw her spear, the results ranged from completely unhelpful to hilariously unhelpful. This time, it takes out the opponent in one shot.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Pearl becomes fed up with Sugilite after the debris from her wrecking ball ends up injuring Steven, so she grabs him and warps back home, just before more debris completely destroys the warp pad. Sugilite calls her out later for abandoning her.
- Ship Tease: Steven asks Lars and Sadie to work out with him; Sadie so she can beat up Lars, and so Lars won't starve when Sadie divorces him.
- Special Guest: Nicki Minaj as Sugilite. Despite several minor appearances later in the series, this is notably her only speaking role, a fact that gets a Leaning on the Fourth Wall reference in "Know Your Fusion".
- Split Personality Take Over: Sugilite desires to stay fused indefinitely, not wanting to be 'split up' again.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Pearl's Freudian Slip also leads her to end one line of her song with no words.
- Training from Hell: Deconstructed. Steven tries to work out extra-hard so he can be stronger, but instead he wears himself out, and the next day he's too exhausted and sore to stand up.
- Training Montage: After Steven sees Garnet and Amethyst fuse, he gets Lars, Sadie, and his dad to start working out with him.
- Weak, but Skilled: Pearl can't fight Sugilite directly, so she tricks the monster fusion into standing on the edge of a cliff and throws her spear at it to make Sugilite fall, who is then immediately poofed after being hit in the head with her own falling weapon.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Sugilite is immensely powerful, but also immensely violent, which eventually culminates in a vicious No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on her teammate. One of Pearl's lines in "Strong In The Real Way" lampshades this.Don't you know that a power that big comes with a bigger expense?