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Recap / Steven Universe S2E11 "Keeping It Together"

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"They were forced together... They were forced to fuse! This is wrong!"
Garnet has called the Crystal Gems together for a meeting about Peridot. They found her escape pod but not Peridot herself. Garnet's theory is that if Peridot had a job to do, she'll likely be trying to keep doing it. The Gems and Steven are gathered together doing the laundry during this meeting. Steven is delighted to have the gems doing a chore with him. Garnet points out the chore wheel didn't work: mainly because Amethyst is too lazy to do hers, and Pearl enjoys doing all of them.
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Garnet goes on to explain that if Peridot reactivates the Kindergarten, the injectors will reactivate. Steven asks what they are, and Pearl reminds him what they are, and that he's seen them at the Kindergarten. She goes on to describe — much to Amethyst's chagrin — that injectors plant gem seeds in the Earth to incubate, and that the process depletes the earth of its resources. So if the injectors are allowed to continue, Earth will be...

Garnet: Janked.
Amethyst: Garnet, that mouth!

They go to the Kindergarten and Garnet, after seeing what seems to be an undisturbed landscape, commands them to do a perimeter check so they can tell when something has entered. Steven goes off on his own and finds Peridot emerging from the nerve center, speaking about fusion experiments proceeding apace. She is startled upon realizing Steven is there, then demands to know if the others are there with him. He is not very good at lying. But before Peridot can move on him, the other Gems arrive, and attack Peridot!

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Peridot tries to escape by running vertically up a wall, but a shrewd spear throw by Pearl stops that. Amethyst winds Peridot in her whip, but this time Peridot is prepared and gets free. Amethyst and Pearl give pursuit, but Peridot turns her fingers into a helicopter and takes off, saying she already got what she wanted and they can have the kindergarten.

Steven tries to run off after them but Garnet has held him off. She has surmised that if Peridot hasn't turned the injectors back on, she's doing something else and they should go see what it is. They find out on descending to the Kindergarten's command center: little animate appendages mismatched in color and connectivity — pink hand connected to green foot, yellow arm connected to green hand, and the like — begin falling from the ceiling. One emerges from an incubation cylinder, its glow indicating it's several gems trying to reform into themselves like the Crystal Gems do after being "poofed", but unable to. It makes several abortive attempts to take several different forms, glitching horribly with every new change. When it finally finishes forming, it's a monstrous, undulating leviathan of multicolored limbs that creeps menacingly toward Garnet and Steven.

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Garnet is absolutely horrified to the point of being unable to form sentences as the thing's hands grasp her and blindly grope at her. Steven is confused. Garnet is so freaked out that her fusion begins to come apart, until Steven calls out to her. She pulls herself together — literally — and tearfully apologizes to the fusion monster before destroying it. It vanishes in a poof and reveals its gem — or, rather gems — as Peridot has taken shards and pieces of shattered gems and force-fused them into shard clusters. Garnet is so disgusted and enraged by the sight and realization that the Homeworld forced gems together without their permission that her Ruby and Sapphire inner selves come to the surface and speak their thoughts alive as she/they realize what happened to their lost friends who fell on the battlefield during the fight for Earth, and whom Rose and the Gems could never find.

Amethyst and Pearl return, empty-handed; Peridot got away. A few of the tinier fusion experiments are still about. Pearl asks in curiosity what they are. Garnet doesn't explain. She only commands them to poof and bubble every last one, and that they cannot let any escape.

Back at the temple, some time after the cleanup of the Kindergarten, Steven is washing more laundry. Garnet stands by the dryer, pensive and quiet until Steven asks how she is. She dodges, answering about the laundry but he presses. Garnet is sorry Steven had to see the abomination of the fusion experiments, because it's not real fusion, not a bond. Steven asks what fusing is like.

Garnet: You've fused.

Steven elaborates that he wants to know what it's like to be a fusion all the time, and asks whether she forgets she was ever two people. Garnet describes that she feels like one being, and Ruby and Sapphire's love is so strong she will have no problem staying Garnet for a long time. As Garnet's smile returns, a sock with blue toe and heel is blown off the top of the basket. Garnet catches it before it can blow off the edge, and matches it with a sock that has a pink heel and toe, saying they should never break up a matched pair.


Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Peridot displays a great deal more zany facial expressions and bursts into a peal of dorky evil laughter when making her escape.
  • Animation Bump: When Garnet starts to realize just what the Homeworld Gems have done, her face is drawn with more detail.
  • Artificial Zombie: The fusion experiments were made using the smooshed together shattered bits of fallen Crystal Gems.
  • Berserk Button: When Garnet gets over her shock at seeing the forced fusion experiments, she gets furious.
  • Body Horror:
    • The fusion experiments are a bunch of limbs unnaturally bonded together. On top of that, the gem shards themselves are fused, resulting in mangled shards stuck together. Oh, and they scream. A lot.
    • During Garnet's Heroic BSoD, her fusion begins to fail, causing her to split down the middle and creating a giant hole in her torso.
  • Brains and Brawn: Steven asks if this is the case with Sapphire and Ruby, respectively. Garnet says it's more than that.
  • Call-Back:
    • Steven and the Gems return to the Kindergarten, which they last visited in "Marble Madness". All the damage to the site caused in that episode and "On the Run" is still there.
    • The tubes Peridot pulled from the ceiling in "Marble Madness" are revealed to house the fusion experiments. This may be the "Cluster" Peridot spoke of in "Jail Break".
    • The fused gem shards manifest as arms and legs, the same way they did in "Secret Team". When the larger fused gems emerge, they initially try to take a human form, as seen with the Centipeetle's manifestation in "Monster Buddies", before warping into their final form.
  • Came Back Wrong: The shattered Crystal Gems the Homeworld Gems used in the Fusion Dance experiments are hideously deformed.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Steven tries to shake his head when Peridot asks him if the other Crystal Gems are with him. He quickly turns to nodding, before giving an apologetic shrug.
  • Condemned Contestant: For their role in the rebellion, captured Crystal Gems were deliberately used in horrifying experiments.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Steven asks what "injectors" are, Pearl comments that he's already seen them (in "On the Run" and later "Marble Madness").
    • Garnet mentions how Steven fused with Connie in "Alone Together".
  • Darker and Edgier: The revelation that Homeworld uses broken Gem shards from fallen Gems to create monstrous fusions make this one of the darkest episodes so far.
  • Dark Secret: Steven and Garnet discover the hidden purpose of the Kindergarten, which is to test the result of directly fusing broken gems together.
  • Delayed Reaction: Peridot takes a second to react to Steven walking up to her.
  • Double-Meaning Title: There's the obvious meaning of the stock expression "keep it together", which is to remain calm, but also Ruby and Sapphire having a fight as Garnet, and almost defusing. In addition, there's the Gem shards that were forcefully stuck together as torture. And the Crystal Gems are separated for the majority of the episode, with Amethyst and Pearl chasing after Peridot and Garnet and Steven exploring Kindergarten.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The Homeworld completely missed the point of fusion with their experiments, not getting the emotional component at all.
  • Evil Laugh: Peridot laughs as she escapes the Gems.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: When Peridot tries to flee up the cliff face, Pearl tosses her spear after Peridot, which sails over her head. Peridot mocks Pearl for missing, but the spear strikes and dislodges one of the Injectors above her, sending it crashing down on Peridot.
  • Face Palm: Peridot palms her face after she finds out the other Crystal Gems are looking for her.
  • Finally Found the Body: Apparently, the Crystal Gems tried to find all the shards of their fallen comrades that they could, and at the end of the episode they poof and bubble all the fusion experiments in the Kindergarten. This is implied to be part of the reason why Garnet's hit so hard by the experiments.
  • Forgot About His Powers: When Peridot takes off relatively slowly using her "Pericopter", Pearl and Amethyst watch her go, even though Amethyst has shown the ability to shapeshift into forms that can fly (something Pearl should also be able to do) and Pearl has demonstrated on several occasions that her spear can fire energy blasts.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Peridot is making her log entry, her eyes briefly dart over to where Steven is walking towards her, then dart back, only for her to realize that Steven's there a second or two later.
  • Fridge Logic: In universe, Steven questions how the washer and dryer work where they are.
  • Fusion Dance: The Homeworld Gems are revealed to be conducting experiments into forcibly fusing gems together, not merely their physical forms. They used the shattered pieces of fallen Crystal Gems as test subjects. Garnet feels that this is a perversion of the technique.
  • Gaia's Lament: How the Kindergarten works. Those virus looking drills — the Injectors — drill into the Earth, inserting a gem which incubates by sucking the energy out of the Earth.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: At one point, Steven uses one of the fused limbs to beat away the others.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene cuts away just before Garnet chops the fused gem that Pearl was holding.
  • Hand Wave: When Steven questions how the washer and dryer are getting water and power, Garnet literally waves her hand and simply says "Magic".
  • Heroic BSoD: Garnet is so shocked by the realization that the Homeworld Gems are conducting fusion experiments on fallen Crystal Gems that she doesn't defend herself against the one attacking her, and nearly splits into Ruby and Sapphire.
  • Instant Flight: Just Add Spinning!: Peridot uses her fingers as rotors to escape the Crystal Gems.
  • It Only Works Once: Peridot uses her Shock and Awe abilities to make Amethyst drop her whip so she can escape, meaning the Crystal Gems will have to find another way to contain her.
  • Lack of Empathy: Peridot refers to the fused Crystal Gem shards as simple experiments, and seems to not care at all about how they were once Gems like her.
  • Laughing Mad: Peridot as she makes her escape.
  • Limited Wardrobe: As in "Political Power", this episode makes fun of the fact that Steven only has the one outfit. The Gems are helping him fold a giant pile of identical shirts.
  • Mood Whiplash: The whole episode is this in spades. We start with folding laundry: Steven has a ton of identical shirts, poking fun at his Limited Wardrobe, and we cut to the chore wheel that Adorkable Pearl has edited, not to get out of chores, but to give herself all the chores because she loves tidying up so much. Garnet is at her most lovable as Steven's surrogate mom, and Ruby and Sapphire are mentioned, reminding us that Garnet is a living embodiment of their love and all that. Then comes the most dark, most horrifying thing ever to happen in the show. The effect is doubled with The Stoic Garnet's reaction to the horrible torture her fallen friends are forced to exist in combined with the perversion of that which she holds so sacred; we've never seen her this horrified.
  • Mundane Utility: Steven suggests Garnet could split into Ruby and Sapphire to help fold clothes. Garnet refuses, not wanting to split for so petty a reason.
  • Naked People Are Funny: While they're folding Steven's shirts, Amethyst thinks it would be easier if humans went naked, citing the fact that it would be funny.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Peridot demonstrates the ability to Wall Run, produce electrical currents, and to use her fingers as helicopter rotors.
  • Not So Stoic: Garnet is so disturbed when she sees the Fusion Dance experiments that she nearly breaks apart into Ruby and Sapphire. Even when she keeps the fusion together, though, Ruby and Sapphire still converse through her for the first time.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While we've seen Garnet emote during extreme situations, this is the first time we've seen her paralyzed with fear. Later, after the horror passes over, she's mad.
  • Oh, Crap!: Peridot when she sees Steven.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The corrupted fusions start glitching before transforming.
  • Precision F-Strike: Between its dramatic timing and Amethyst's reaction, Garnet's use of the word "janked" is treated as this, even though it's actually pretty mild.
    Amethyst (laughing, pleasantly surprised): Garnet! That mouth!
  • The Reveal: The Homeworld Gems are using fallen Crystal Gems as fodder for fusion experiments.
  • Rule of Three: Steven talks with Garnet about fusion three times, when he's trying to convince her to split into Ruby and Sapphire to do laundry, when they go down into the Kindergarten control room, and at the end.
  • Sanity Slippage: Peridot loses a notable amount of her cool once Steven comes in, laughing madly as she escapes while curled up in a ball.
  • Set Bonus: Garnet says that a fusion is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Shock and Awe: Peridot shocks Amethyst's whip in order to escape it.
  • Single Tear: Garnet sheds one during her Heroic BSoD. Notably, it's her red eye, possibly hinting that Ruby's half of her is the most emotionally shaken up by the experience, while Sapphire's half is the one rationalizing and trying to get Garnet started again.
  • Smash to Black: Used when Garnet chops at one of the fusions. See Gory Discretion Shot above.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Steven manages to walk right up to Peridot without her noticing, though she was distracted due to her report.
  • Talking to Themself: Ruby and Sapphire talk to each other, after Garnet defeats the large fused Gem, switching voices (or at least speaking styles) and which eye is in view whenever the other speaks. This is notably the first time Garnet has ever done this, showing just how shaken Ruby and Sapphire are.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Peridot can't help but be unamused when she realizes the Gems are actively searching for her now.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Peridot tries to Wall Run to escape the Crystal Gems, but Pearl knocks an injector down to stop her. Using her fingers as helicopter rotors lets her escape successfully.
  • Wall Run: Peridot runs right up a wall at one point.
  • War Is Hell: This episode shows just how many Crystal Gems must have fallen in the rebellion, and what happened to them afterwards.
  • Was Once a Man: The Homeworld Gems used fallen Crystal Gems as test subjects for their fusion experiments.
  • Wham Episode: The Homeworld Gems are revealed to be conducting experiments into fusion, using fallen Crystal Gems as test subjects.
  • A Wizard Did It: How Garnet says they got the washer and dryer to work.
  • You Are Too Late: Peridot boasts that it doesn't matter what the Crystal Gems do to the Kindergarten, since she already has what she needs from it.

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