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Recap / Steven Universe S2E23 "Back to the Barn"

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"Ladies and gentle-Gems, welcome to the first annual Robolympics!"

Original airdate: October 8th, 2015

Production code: 1031-072

Peridot has decided it's time to give a presentation to the Crystal Gems, with Steven as a visual aid. She describes the Earth, using a flyswatter where a human presenter would use a laser pointer. Steven is standing inside a cardboard box with a picture of the Earth drawn on it, making sound effect noises.

Peridot: Rotate.

Steven turns, to reveal a cross section of the earth with a gem in the middle, and Peridot continues, explaining that the Cluster is a huge artificial fusion in the center of the earth that will, when it is ready, emerge with catastrophic results, burst free and destroy the Earth. Steven's hand puppet of the Cluster irritates Peridot. Pearl and Peridot come to the same conclusion: that they must build a machine to take them to the center of the earth so they can get to the Cluster and find a way to stop it. Peridot agrees, and begins by rampaging around the house, insisting on dismantling all devices in the house: the microwave, a phone, and Steven's television.

Steven steps in and suggests that they go back to the barn where they tried to build a spaceship for Pearl. Once there, Peridot attempts to dismiss Pearl, and is nonplussed when this Pearl does not behave as she expects an obedient Pearl from Homeworld to behave. The confusion becomes hostility when Pearl insists that she is as capable as Peridot of building things. Peridot scoffs, laughs, and dismisses the very idea. Peridots are made for this sort of thing. Pearls aren't. She's a Pearl! Pearls serve; she must belong to someone. Peridot even has the nerve to grab Pearl's uniform and touch her ribbon, indicating that she's "fancy" so she must belong to someone important. When Pearl angrily insists she belongs to no one, Peridot makes matters worse by saying Pearl can belong to her for now. She goes on to explain that Pearl is just one of hundreds of Pearls like the ones back on Homeworld and just because she looks different doesn't make her any different. She's as common as they are.

Peridot: [gleefully] A Peridot with a Pearl. What would they say back on Homeworld?

Steven comes up with the solution to the problem by suggesting a giant robot competition between the two of them to see who should really be in charge of the "build the drill machine" project. Both Gems agree and race into the barn to get building. Before long, they're done. Pearl has built a dainty, long-limbed bot that spins gracefully on its wheels. Peridot has built a clunky, angular bot with claws.

Pearl: Mine's taller. I win.

The rest of the day is spent putting their bots through their paces through such challenges as:

  • Ballet - Winner: PEARL
  • Crushing - Winner: PERIDOT
  • Artistic Representation - Winner: SUBJECTIVE
  • Long Distance Car Throwing - Winner: POINT TO EACH

At the end, Pearl's bot and Peridot's bot have tied based on adding up points from all categories, but Peridot will not accept it and demands a tiebreaker because she simply will not take orders from a Pearl. As a result, a fight ensues. The Peridot bot is better suited to brawling, but Peridot hurls one too many insults, and Pearl reaches out of her cockpit and punches Peridot dead in the face, much to the elation of Garnet, Amethyst and Steven, who cheer her on.

Pearl: That's right! I am a Pearl! *Hits Peridot square in the face, much to Amethyst's sheer delight* What you're saying may be true, but it doesn't matter! I'm still gonna kick your butt!

Unfortunately the boast doesn't work out like that; Peridot snatches the leg that would have kicked her butt and slams it to the ground, leaving Pearl with knockout eyes. Steven and the Crystal Gems rush to her side, help her up, and praise her for standing up to Peridot, ignoring the indignant victor. Steven proudly insists that Pearl taught herself to fight and how to build things, and works hard every day to make herself better than she already is so that makes her not only uncommon, but extremely special. Pearl blushes, and is obviously touched by the praise.

Peridot: But I won! Wh-what about the rules?
Garnet: Welcome to Earth.
Peridot: ...?

Garnet tells the others to start cleaning up from the brawl, and after a few minutes, Peridot approaches Pearl with a drill, (which she has been using upside down). She awkwardly compliments Pearl's efforts on building the robot, obviously struggling but clearly trying to make up with her, calling her a "knowledgeable technician." She suggests getting to work on the Drill, offering Pearl the hand drill. Pearl hands it back to her, right-side up.

Peridot: You know, those round appendages on your machine could be... useful for something.
Pearl: They're called wheels.

Steven, feeling playful now that the drama has passed, re-dons his "Cluster" puppet and has it attack himself as the episode irises out to its conclusion.

Steven: Looks like we're well on our way to stopping the cluster!
Puppet-Steven: You think you can stop me? (Starts to "attack" Steven)
Steven: Aah, we're doomed!


  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: Given that Pearl has to explain what a wheel is to Peridot, either Homeworld technological development skipped over the wheel entirely, or it slipped into obsolesence before Peridot's time.
  • Arc Symbol: In addition to Pearl's space suit with the pink diamond symbol showing up again, Peridot's robot is octahedron (essentially a 3-D version of the diamond symbol) shaped, with a diamond shaped space so she can see outside when inside it.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Pearl claims she belongs to nobody, Peridot asks:
    Peridot: Then what are you for?
  • Artistic License: Steven's Cluster puppet looks nothing like what Peridot showed him, which she notes.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: The robots kinda look like the heads of the ones who created them and also have similarly-proportioned limbs.
  • Badass Boast: Pearl gives one to Peridot, claiming that she's a Pearl who defends Earth.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Being mistreated for being a Pearl seems to be one for Pearl.
    • Peridot doesn't like to have her skills challenged.
  • Buffy Speak: Steven calls the drill the "cluster-drill-machine-thing" at one point.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Gems have brought Peridot to the barn from "Space Race" so they can create a drill to burrow down to the Cluster with the parts there. Steven even wrote "UUU Space Travel Gem Drill Division" on a chalkboard.
    • "The Return" and "Friend Ship" had Jasper and Pearl, respectively, indicate that there are other Pearls and Homeworld has a Hive Caste System. Peridot confirms both of those points in this episode.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Steven has to explain the word "robot" to Peridot because she'd always called her machines "robonoids".
    • Pearl wears her space suit from "Space Race".
    • Garnet almost eating popcorn may confirm Greg's statement from "Keystone Motel" when he said Garnet sometimes eats.
    • Amethyst suggesting Pearl come wrestling with her references her activities in "Tiger Millionaire".
    • Amethyst has experience as an artist's model, as shown in "Onion Friend".
  • Culture Clash: Peridot is confused and then infuriated that the Crystal Gems aren't following the Homeworld's Hive Caste System, as she expects Pearl to just take orders.
  • Diving Kick: Pearl tries to land one on Peridot, but is caught just before she can make impact and is subject to Metronomic Man Mashing.
  • Energy Weapon: Pearl's mech demonstrates the ability to fire a laser... from the traffic cone glued to the nose.
  • Facial Dialogue: After Peridot steals Pearl's drill idea, Pearl and Amethyst have a brief conversation with just their facial expressions while Peridot monologues.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Peridot scolds Steven for his demonstration of the Cluster emerging, which is a silly hand puppet bursting through a cardboard box while making comical roaring sounds.
  • Fantastic Racism: Peridot looks down on Pearl because Pearls on Homeworld are a Servant Race.
  • Force and Finesse: The individual challenges Pearl and Peridot's robots win follow this pattern. Pearl's mech tended to excel at feats of precision and grace (dancing and painting) while Peridot's excelled at feats of strength (crushing and jumping), though they were comparable in speed, firepower, and throwing distance.
  • Genre Blindness: Steven states that "giant robots shouldn't fight," when most media and franchises surrounding robots are based on exactly that.
  • Giant Scrap Robot: Pearl and Peridot decide to engage in a competition to determine who is the better engineer and thus fit to lead the drill project. Steven challenges them to build robots, and both manage to make custom Mini-Mecha from the contents of the barn in under a minute.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Peridot interrupts Pearl, then steals her line about what they should do to stop the Cluster, though given her statements about the requirements they'd need to get to the planet's core, she probably was already thinking the same thing.
  • Graceful Loser: Pearl is willing to accept a tie and share leadership when Peridot isn't.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: The Pearl we know has learned and done so much more than the servant-Pearls Peridot is familiar with back on Homeworld. And by acknowledging that she belongs to herself, she confirms her devotion to Rose was for love, not out of obligation.
  • Hive Caste System: By Homeworld's rules, Peridot is a technician, while Pearls are merely handmaidens. Peridot gets really upset when Pearl refuses to recognize this social structure on Earth.
  • Immediate Sequel: The previous episode ended with Peridot in the Kindergarten, resolving to explain the Cluster to the Crystal Gems. This one begins with her and Steven explaining it to them while at his house, probably only a few hours later (depending on how much effort went into that cardboard box).
  • Inanimate Competitor: After Pearl and Peridot crash into a tree, Steven gives a point to the tree.
  • Innocent Bigot: Peridot starts out thinking it's completely normal to treat Pearl as a servant, as she's only going off her experience with Homeworld Pearls (which seems to be lacking). Then her pride gets wounded at the suggestion of Pearl being smarter than she, and she gets far more vitriolic and hateful.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Steven suggests building giant robots when Pearl and Peridot argue on what they can build.
  • Insufferable Genius: Peridot expects to be in total command of designing and building the drill, and gets offended at the idea that Pearl could be as good as her at building things.
  • Internal Reveal: Peridot starts the episode explaining to the Gems what we learned last week.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Peridot's mech flails Pearl's mech into the ground by the legs a-la the Hulk and Loki.
  • Mini-Mecha: Pearl and Peridot build bots out of junk in the barn. Pearl's is basically a cockpit with extremely long limbs attached, while Peridot builds an armored hulk with claw hands.
  • Mistaken for Servant: Pearls on Homeworld are personal attendants, and Peridot assumes the same of Pearl the Crystal Gem.
  • The Napoleon: Peridot is miffed that Pearl's robot is taller.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Amethyst eats popcorn while watching the Robolympics.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Peridot ultimately defeats Pearl when their robots fight and declares herself the superior Gem. But, the whole victory and contest is rendered pointless when the rest of the Gems all congratulate Pearl for her effort, while ignoring Peridot's win and telling her off for her treatment of Pearl. Peridot is forced to accept that on Earth Pearl is her equal and not "just a Pearl" and agrees to work with her on the drill.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Pearl and Peridot step offscreen to start building their robots. After what seems like ten seconds of Steven staring at them, they're done. If there was some kind of time passage between shots or the two can literally build that fast is not specified.
  • Right Makes Might: Pearl's determination to prove she's her own Gem leads to a comeback against Peridot. Then Pearl gets her ass kicked anyway. The Crystal Gems still congratulate her, with Steven assuring Pearl that her dedication to constantly improve herself isn't common at all. Peridot was expecting to be praised and acknowledged as right because she "won", so she's rather dumbfounded when no one takes her side.
  • Running Gag: Goodbye, Steven's television...
  • Servant Race: Pearls are confirmed to be made-to-order domestic servants on Homeworld, existing to carry peoples' things around and look pretty.
  • Shown Their Work: Peridot mentions that the drill to reach the center of the Earth would need to withstand up to 360 gigapascals of pressure and 9800 degrees of temperature. 360 gigapascals is the current upper estimate of the pressure at the inner core, and 9800 is its actual temperature in Fahrenheit degrees.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Peridot verbally puts down the idea of Pearl being her own Gem while their robots are locked in a struggle. She responds by DECKING HER IN THE FACE!
    Pearl That's right, I. Am. A PEARL!
  • Sore Loser: When they tie, Pearl is willing to accept it and move on to building the drill. Peridot is not, and starts a fight to break the tie.
  • Space "X": Steven calls the robotics competition as the "Robolympics", and adds the prefix "robo-" to many other words.
    This competition will test our robo-engineers' skills of robo-construction and robo-piloting.
  • Stage Whisper: After casually dismissing her and clapping doesn't work, Peridot asks Steven how to get Pearl to leave out of the corner of her mouth.
  • Stout Strength: Peridot's robot is shorter than Pearl's, but also heavier and stronger.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Steven is happily spinning about on a swivel chair while Pearl and Peridot discuss the drill's schematics, but comes to a bemused halt when he is informed that the drill will not look like his drawing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Implied for Pearl in the past but outright confirmed this episode. Pearls generally are meant to be pretty and graceful more than smart or tough, but Pearl has learned to fight and learned engineering and other useful skills that have helped her transcend her social origins.
  • The Unreveal: Pearl doesn't answer the question about whom she was manufactured for.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Peridot gloats after she smashes Pearl around a bit.
    Peridot: Victory is mine! Now, I'm the one in charge. Praise me! Praise me!
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Pearl and Peridot end their race by both crashing into a tree. The tree gets the point for that event. Hilariously, when the scoreboard is later shown, the tree has several more points.
  • Wham Line: A minor one, but Peridot referring to Pearl as "a Pearl".
  • Wingding Eyes: After Pearl gets slammed around by Peridot's mech, she is found with her eyes all swirly.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: By the end, Peridot compliments Pearl on being such a knowledgeable terms of how remarkable such a thing is for a Pearl anyway. From Peridot, it's still quite an improvement.


Video Example(s):


Back to the Barn

Peridot refuses to collaborate with Pearl on the Gem Drill.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ServantRace

Media sources: