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Recap / Steven Universe S1E44 "Marble Madness"

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Connie and Steven are sitting on the beach outside the temple as the episode begins. She is excitedly telling Steven about her favorite book series that she clearly loves and has great enthusiasm for — The Unfamiliar Familiar. She gives Steven a brief rundown on what it's about and begins to read the opening chapter. As she describes a rumble in the book, there seems to be a rumble around them. The kids look bewildered for a moment, then go back to the book... until something falls from the sky, and splashes them with seawater.

The Crystal Gems burst from the house as an extra large version of the orb-shaped robonoid robots they have been encountering for a while emerges from the sea. They quickly attack and destroy it, though Pearl is obviously alarmed at the size because it's the biggest one they've ever seen. Steven asks what the Gems believe it was here to do.

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Garnet: We destroyed it. That's all that matters.

The scene jumps ahead to Connie's house. Connie's mom gives her the phone, and she begins discussing the books with Steven. Steven confesses to being confused, and as he and Connie talk, it is revealed he's been reading the books out of order because Steven started reading them in order of how cool he found the covers. There's another boom, and the Gems identify the destination of the next giant robonoid: Mask Island. They warp there, concerned the robonoid is looking for a Warp, and destroy that marble bot. Steven asks again what the Gems think it's here to do.

Garnet: It's not going to do anything, now.

The Gems become increasingly frustrated at repeatedly fighting and destroying the big robonoids. Another conversation about the books, to Connie's increasing frustration, is interrupted by the Gems racing off to pursue another marble robot, the fifth of the week. Steven is a step behind them this time, and arrives to see them fighting it in the desert. The Gems are frustrated by how many of these things that keep coming. Steven asks how many more they'll have to fight, and Pearl bursts out in frustration, admitting they don't know, and that they keep coming. Steven tries to console the Gems by telling them he doesn't know things either but he has people to tell him, like them, Connie and his dad. The Gems in turn remind Steven that nobody knows what the bot is here to do. Steven speculates that the robonoid itself does, and suggests following it to see what it's here to do. After a moment of consideration, Garnet agrees.

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Steven: Follow the funky flo-o-ow!
(Beat)
Amethyst: We're dead.

Steven and the Gems ride the bot as it finds a warp, which then leads them back to The Kindergarten. Pearl is immediately ready to destroy the bot, convinced it's up to no good if it came to this place. Garnet, after a moment of consideration, says they'll continue to do Steven's way and see where the robot goes. The robot forms a pyramid elevator and finds a control panel deep underground, finally establishing a contact with Peridot.

The Gems immediately seek a hiding place and begin speculating on what Peridot wants, voicing their concerns about what will happen if she reactivates the Kindergarten.

Pearl: Doesn't she know they'll destroy all life on Earth?!

As the Gems discuss what they plan to do to destroy the power source, Steven goes up to the control room and strikes up a conversation with Peridot, who at first mistakes him for an infesting vermin. Peridot asks if "Stevens" have replaced humans. Steven points out there are plenty more humans (though he isn't entirely sure if Onion qualifies or not), and says it's his turn to ask her what she's doing here. Peridot casually forms one of her remote hands into a fist and raises it above Steven.

Peridot: Oh, just picking up where we left off.

The Gems leap into action to protect Steven! Peridot is astonished. She thought all the Gems were wiped out on earth, and says as much. She realizes that the Red Eye never reported back to her because these Gems destroyed it. They have also destroyed every other thing she has sent to check out Gem presence on Earth. She demands to know why they keep destroying her things!

Pearl: Because we are the Crystal Gems! We are still alive! And we are still the guardians of this planet, and all of its living creatures!

Peridot, incensed, says she's going to report this, before the Gems destroy first her screen and then the Kindergarten control room's power source.

Steven sheepishly admits he may have gone too far. Garnet allows that they did learn a lot of new information as the result of his decisions—but it was still a pretty bad idea.


Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Peridot is considerably more flustered than her initial appearance. A big help is that her voice actress borders on Helium Speech.
    (While in combat) URRGH! Why do you keep destroying my things?
    (When defeated) I'm reporting this!
  • Ambiguously Human: In universe, Steven apparently isn't 100% sure that Onion is human.
  • Apocalypse How: Apparently, the Kindergarten facilities would eventually destroy all Earthly life.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Peridot, putting things together, asks the Crystal Gems if they're the ones destroying her robonoids, if they're the reason the Galaxy Warp is inoperable again, and if the Crying Breakfast Friends sticker is their "bizarre icon".
  • As You Know: Steven had already told Connie about Peridot, but she asks again when her name comes up, leading to Steven recapping the end of "Warp Tour".
  • Badass Boast: Pearl gives a epic one to Peridot.
    Pearl: We are the Crystal Gems! We're still alive! And we are still the guardians of this planet, and all of its living creatures!
  • Big "NO!": Connie lets out an exasperated one when Steven asks her what a familiar is when she had already explained it.
  • Brick Joke: When finding out about the Crystal Gems, Peridot pulls out Steven's crying waffle sticker that she took in "Warp Tour".
  • Call-Back:
    • The Red Eye, revealed to have been sent by Peridot, appeared in "Laser Light Cannon".
    • The droids first appeared in "Warp Tour", and were collected by the Gems in "On the Run".
    • Peridot tries to reactivate the Kindergarten, like she planned in "Warp Tour" before she saw Steven's sticker.
    • Garnet's momentary pause to consider before agreeing they do things Steven's way is a reference to her being able to see multiple outcomes to the future from "Future Vision" and as seen by Steven himself in "Winter Forecast".
  • Children Are Innocent: Steven treats the entire mission like any other adventure, and it takes a while before he notices just how unnerved the other Gems are. He also doesn't quite get how dangerous Peridot and the other Gems are... until she tries to kill him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Steven reads the books Connie gives him in order of how cool the covers are (starting with book four), even though it's a series.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The Plug Robonoids lead the Crystal Gems to revisit a bunch of gem sites from earlier episodes:
    • The second Robonoid lands on Mask Island, which is where Steven took Lars and Sadie in "Island Adventure" because he was proud he learned how to activate a warp pad all by himself.
    • The third Robonoid lands in the desert the glass gem from "Steven's Lion" was located in.
    • Once it's allowed to use the warp, the Robonoid goes to the Kindergarten from "On the Run".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Peridot mentions the sticker she found on the Galaxy Warp.
    • In the opening scene where she's reading to Steven, Connie's glasses are sitting on the sand beside her because she no longer needs them after Steven fixed her eyes in "An Indirect Kiss".
    • Steven makes a "funky flow" comment, referencing "Bubble Buddies".
    • In one of her appearances, Connie is wearing the same seafoam blue-green dress she was wearing when she and Steven formed Stevonnie in "Alone Together".
  • Correlation/Causation Gag: The first Plug Robonoid arrives with a crash seconds after Connie starts reading to Steven about a crash of thunder.
    Steven: Wooah, this is a really good book!
  • Covered in Gunge: Amethyst gets covered in the destroyed Robonoid's goop. Pearl and Garnet somehow didn't, despite being just as close when it blew, but Amethyst covers them both when she hugs them.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Peridot thought that all Gems on Earth had been wiped out, since the Red Eye never reported any. This causes the Crystal Gems appearing to take her completely by surprise.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • The Crystal Gems initially just try destroying the giant drones as they arrive, and Garnet just tells Steven that it doesn't matter what they're trying to do.
    • Steven tries to talk to Peridot, only for her to try and smash him.
  • Diving Kick: Pearl and Amethyst destroy the first Robonoid by attacking it from above while Garnet holds it in place; Pearl does a kick, Amethyst dove headfirst with her fists extended.
  • Doorstopper: All the books in The Spirit-Morph Saga are quite hefty.
  • Epic Flail: Amethyst wraps her whip around the giant hands that operate the Kindergarten control and swings it into the power source.
  • Eyepatch After Time Skip: For The Unfamiliar Familiar, the main character has an eyepatch on one of sequel covers. Also, her dad is apparently dead by then.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Gems fail to notice Steven sneaking off to talk to Peridot.
  • Fantastic Racism: Peridot thinks of Steven as some sort of vermin, that needs to be destroyed. This trope is then beautifully defied when Perdiot asks the Crystal Gems why they keep destroying her robots.
    Pearl: We are the Crystal Gems! We're still alive! And we are still the guardians of this planet, and all of its living creatures!
  • Giant Hands of Doom: Peridot controls giant floating hands in the Kindergarten's control room and uses them to try and crush Steven and the gems. They're more easily defeated than the usual example of this trope, since they're meant for operating machinery and not suited for combat.
  • Homage: The Unfamiliar Familiar books that Connie loves are a recognizable riff on His Dark Materials.
  • Huge Holographic Head: Peridot's face appears on a moving flatscreen projection, creating a similar effect.
  • I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Steven not understanding the concept of a familiar in Connie's book is especially ironic considering Lion basically is his familiar.
  • Iris Out: Inverted; the episode ends with a black star zooming out from the destroyed power core to cover the screen.
  • Irony: Amethyst was created in the Kindergarten, and she's the one who ultimately destroys the power core for it, hopefully shutting it down for good.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As the Crystal Gems are hiding from Peridot and planning to destroy the Kindergarten's power source without being seen, Steven walks out into the open and starts talking to Peridot.
  • Literal-Minded: Peridot assumes "Steven" to be a species, rather than Steven's name, until he clarifies things for her.
  • Love You and Everybody: Steven's first interaction with Peridot has him trying to befriend her. This goes decidedly less well than usual.
  • Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: Steven introduces himself to Peridot by name, but she thinks "Steven" is his species and asks if "Stevens" have replaced humans as the dominant life form.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Steven's desire to gather information forces the Crystal Gems to reveal themselves to Peridot to keep her from smashing him flat. Until this point, Earth was assumed to be devoid of Gem life, and Peridot couldn't figure out who was destroying her drones. But on the flip side, the Crystal Gems now know what Peridot's plans are.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently the Robonoids were showing up near daily until Steven convinced the Gems to follow one.
  • Not Hyperbole:
    Garnet: We can't fight these things forever!—well, we can, but I don't want to.
  • Off-Model: There's a very weird shot of Steven's head when the Gems are attacking the control console.
  • Oh, Crap!: Peridot freaks out when she discovers that the Gems were the ones messing with her plans.
  • Portmanteau: The name of Lisa's familiar Archimicarus in The Unfamiliar Familiar is a combination of Archimedes and Icarus.
  • Pun: Amethyst gets covered in the Robonoid's repair fluid and asks for a hug.
    Amethyst: Goop hug!
    [Garnet is hugged by Amethyst, to get goop on her. Garnet draws Pearl in so all three are hugging.]
  • Real Joke Name: Connie's mom is convinced that "Steven Universe" can't be a real name.
  • The Reveal:
    • Amethyst was made 6000 years ago before the Kindergarten (which would have caused an Apocalypse How) was shut down.
    • Peridot was the one who sent the Red Eye to Earth.
  • Rule of Cool: Steven chose the order of the books based on how cool their covers were.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Steven's third time asking what the robonoids are here for is also the time he decides they should find out. Though the Robonoids have apparently shown up a lot more than three times.
    • Steven's attempt to enjoy and discuss the books with Connie is interrupted three times.
    • The trope is subverted when Garnet uses her future vision to see how following Steven will turn out. The first two times she pauses before saying they'll do it his way. The third time, she's panicked about Peridot, and Steven doesn't bother waiting around for her to decide what his way will result in.
  • Screens Are Cameras: Peridot and the Gems look at each other as if the screen in the kindergarten was a window.
  • Show Within a Show: Connie gets Steven interested in the book The Unfamiliar Familiar, which is part of series called The Spirit Morph Saga.
  • Space Age Stasis. Averted with the Homeworld Gems, whose technology has advanced in the 6000 years the Kindergarten has been shut down, with Peridot bemoaning the systems as archaic while trying to restart them.
  • Stunned Silence: Connie's reaction to Steven not realizing the book series has to be read in a specific order is to just stare blankly without a word, confusing Steven on the other end of the phone line.
  • Technology Marches On: In-universe, Peridot bemoans how archaic the Kindergarten is while she is trying to start it up again.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: It's not for another three seasons, but Steven listing off the names of some of his human friends to Peridot comes back to bite him hard in "I Am My Mom".
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Connie's reaction to being rescued from a Robonoid attack on the Crystal Temple is to grin cheerfully and remark to Steven "I love hanging out at your place."
  • Wham Episode: Peridot and the Crystal Gems meet face to face (via intergalactic teleconference), Peridot is revealed to be the one that sent the Red Eye to Earth (apparently to look for Gems), and the Crystal Gems destroy the Kindergarten power source before Peridot can reactivate it and doom all life on Earth in the process. However, she claims that she is reporting the incident, so the Homeworld Gems now know they're still alive.

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