Steven and Amethyst are on their way out to the barn to visit Lapis Lazuli and Peridot. Steven's all enthuasitic about it, but Amethyst is frustrated at being interrupted. She was working on her speed and technique which isn't consistent enough for her liking.
Peridot notices something different about Amethyst but asks if Amethyst has grown taller. Amethyst confirms she's still short, and doesn't bother correcting Peridot that the thing that's different around her is that she has poofed and re-formed in a new outfit.
Amethyst is surly and disagreeable through the entire visit, despite Peridot having gone to some effort to impress their guests. She shows off the changes they've made to the barn, and the art projects that she and Lapis call 'meep morps'. Steven is delighted by their creations, but Amethyst continues to be ill-spirited and finally decides to do something useful. After she walks off, Steven clarifies to Peridot that after being beaten and poofed by Jasper, Amethyst is obsessed with beating Jasper to prove she's good enough.
Peridot is astonished, and explains that Amethyst is the far surperior gem, given she came from the Prime Kindergarten, but Jasper came from the Beta Kindergarten, both on Earth. After making sure Lapis will be okay by herself, they warp over to the location described.
As they walk across the red desert sands, Peridot explains how the Diamond Authority required the second kindergarten created halfway through the war to pump out quartz warriors fast as possible to fight Rose's army. She points out that it's obviously hurried and sloppily constructed. The holes don't line up and are injected every which way.
- Peridot: This Carnelian came out sideways! How could she not? The walls are curved!
They finally come across Jasper's hole, which is enormous. Peridot again steps up to say that's no big deal.
- Peridot: We already know she's tall.
But to Peridot's dismay, Jasper's hole is the only one that generated properly. Jasper is the closest thing to a perfectly grown gem even from this haphazardly created Kindergarten. She is the ultimate Quartz, stronger and better than any created on Earth thus far. Peridot tries gamely to keep Amethyt's spirits up before they run across something unusual. The holes from which soldiers emerged in the Kindergarten are now blocked with rough-hewn metal bars, making them approximate cages.
- Peridot: These aren't exit holes anymore.
As Peridot wonders who would do such a thing, the answer is made apparent. The wind blows desert dust in a cloud but when it clears, there stands Jasper.
Amethyst's reaction is instant: she draws her whip from her chest and is immediately ready to fight.
- Achievements in Ignorance: The Beta Kindergarten was a poorly managed rush job in a sub-optimal location focused on quantity over quality, where almost every exit hole is in some way out of alignment or flawed, to the point Peridot laughs at how poorly made it was. And yet somehow this last desperate attempt to pump out as many soldiers as physically possible managed to literally get everything perfect with one Gem by accident, creating Jasper. This is something the prime Kindergarten was incapable of doing despite having everything in favor of creating superior Gems.
- Am I Right?: Peridot laughs at all the failures of the Beta Kindergarten.Peridot: Red sandstone! Ha! This is what I'm talking about. We're lucky this place hasn't blown away. Beta, am I right?
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Jasper's color scheme perfectly matches the sandstone environment she was born in.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Peridot, being a Kindergartener, is able to determine what kind of Gem came out of a hole from a mere glance. Later, this trait prompts her to notice that some of the Gem exit holes have recently been bored out to act as cages for Jasper's captured Gem underlings.
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: Apparently, one sign of Jasper being the Ultimate Lifeform was melting the sandstone surrounding her to glass through the friction of her emergence, something Peridot notes was particularly noteworthy and shocking.
- Beta Test Baddie: Inverted. Peridot expects this to be the case with Jasper in regards to Amethyst, because Jasper is from the flawed, poorly planned Beta Kindergarten, and thus should be be inherently inferior to Amethyst, who came from the prime, perfectly managed Kindergarten. It turns out to be the complete opposite: Jasper was born the most objectively perfect Quartz Peridot has ever witnessed.
- Born Winner: Jasper's exceptional strength comes from every part of her creation process going as well as possible, which is especially lucky in a Kindergarten where all the Gems were pretty much slapped together in a rush.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Peridot describes artwork made from her broken tape recorder.Peridot: This piece is called: 'Wow, thanks.' It represents the struggles of intercommunication. The tape is the ribbon that binds our experience on Earth together. It has no functional purpose! (still cheerful) It just makes me feel bad!
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Played for Laughs. Peridot and Lapis have turned the barn into an art gallery, but they didn't know the word "art" so they describe their creations as "Meepmorps", with individual pieces called "Morps".
- The Beta Kindergarten mentioned by Peridot in "It Could've Been Great" appears for the first time. As she stated to Amethyst, the Prime Kindergarten and the Gems created there are impressive compared to the Beta Kindergarten's rush job.
- Peridot seems to have adopted Garnet's "thumbs up" method to teach Lapis about life on Earth.
- Amethyst is still training for her rematch with Jasper, apparently so intensely that Steven forces her to take a break.
- Amethyst is using the updated whip Bismuth made.
- Peridot asks Steven for help climbing up something too high for her, like he requested she do back in "When It Rains".
- Cannon Fodder: The purpose of the Beta Kindergarten was to create as many Gems as possible to fight the Crystal Gems, focusing exclusively on numbers.
- Character Development: Peridot has come a long way from Too Far when shes trying to make Amethyst feel better, it backfires because Jasper was perfectly formed but its the thought that counts.
- Chekhov's Skill: Peridot's skill as a Kindergartner allows her to analyze the holes at the Beta Kindergarten, particularly Jasper's.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The visit to the barn revisits many previous events involving Peridot and Lapis in rapid succession.
- Peridot calls the barn her "home away from Homeworld", exactly what she called it in "Same Old World".
- The barn wall Peridot broke through in "Message Received" has finally been repaired. Now that wall is an aquarium, and the alien doll she won in "Too Short to Ride" is floating around in it. Its throat is also torn open from Peridot taking its bowtie to wear for herself.
- Peridot says "meepmorps" are what would happen if "we made music, but instead of sounds, we used things". Steven taught her what music was in "It Could've Been Great", but never did the same for art.
- Peridot turns the tape recorder that Lapis broke in "Barn Mates", plus the bow on the box is came in, into a diorama called "Wow, thanks."
- Lapis' Meepmorps are based on events from "Same Old World" (when Steven gave her a leaf) and "Hit the Diamond" (when the Gems played baseball).
- The last exhibit is a stack of toilets representing "The time [Peridot] spent imprisoned in [Steven's] bathroom" between "Catch and Release" and "When It Rains".
- When Peridot throws her bow tie to Lapis, she makes a half-hearted attempt to catch it, reaching for it in the same way she did for home runs during the Gems' baseball game.
- Cliffhanger: The episode ends with a shot of Jasper emerging from the dust.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Lapis' side of the art gallery features a baseball bat that represents that time she played baseball with the Crystal Gems, and a leaf that Steven gave her, that represents that time Steven gave her a leaf.
- Didn't Think This Through: The Beta Kindergarten, being a major rush job. Even the location was poorly chosen, being primarily red sandstone, which erodes easily. Peridot comments on that, saying that they're lucky that there's anything left of it by the time they arrive. It's a miracle they produced any properly made Gems, let alone a freak of nature like Jasper.
- Epic Fail: Peridot tries to play a number of instruments at once with her metal powers, which fails completely. A surprisingly tactful Lapis steps in to play with the tambourine.
- Evil Counterpart: Jasper is further established as being this to Amethyst: not only are both Quartzes, both came from Kindergartens on Earth and had something that made them unique among their specific Kindergarten's crop of Gems. However, where Amethyst came out of a perfectly managed 'good' Kindergarten with a defect making her much smaller than an average Quartz, Jasper emerged from a severely mismanaged 'bad' Kindergarten completely perfect.
- Fastball Special: A nonaggressive variant. When Peridot can't reach the hole Jasper came out of, Steven lends her a hand by throwing her into the air.
- First-Name Basis: Emphasizing their growing friendship, Peridot now calls Lapis Lazuli "Lapis" instead of "Lazuli," as she did in "Barn Mates."
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Peridot remarks to Steven and Amethyst that the one of the holes in the Kindergarten has beem recently dug out and isn't an exit hole anymore. Seconds later, they find out what's occupying those new holes and who's responsible for them.
- Flat "What": This is Amethyst's reaction to Peridot assuring her, out of nowhere, that's she's better than Jasper.
- Every time a Homeworld Quartz soldier other than Jasper has appeared in flashbacks and accounts, normally in numbers rather than one, they've fared much worse than Jasper does. Pearl curbstomped two on her own and Garnet and Bismuth account taking on entire platoons of them, whereas Jasper alone was able to give Garnet a seriously tough fight. It turns out this is because Jasper isn't a normal Quartz; she's "the ultimate Quartz", born absolutely perfect with no flaws to be found, and the gems fought by the Crystal Gems in flashback were likely shoddy Beta Kindergarten products.
- Malachite being able to match Alexandrite in pure physical strength (and in some cases exceed her), despite being outnumbered two to one and Alexandrite also having a Quartz composing her also foreshadowed that Jasper was abnormally powerful.
- Freak Lab Accident: Jasper is more or less the result of the Homeworld deciding to throw injectors down at complete random, in a rushed attempt to create as many Gems for Cannon Fodder as physically possible. During this, they somehow managed to accidentally cause everything that could go right in making a Gem to happen all at once, creating a completely flawless "ultimate Quartz".
- Friction Burn: Jasper's emergence from her hole actually caused the sides of the rock to turn into glass.
- Halfway Plot Switch: About the first half of the episode is a Day in the Limelight for Lapis and Peridot, while the rest continues the Story Arc centered on Amethyst and Jasper.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Steven praises Amethyst for how much faster she's gotten thanks to her training. However, Amethyst is disappointed and doesn't feel she's grown enough, particularly complaining that she apparently managed to get a faster whip swing that morning.
- High School A.U.: The title card has Steven coming across Amethyst helping Peridot in the school garden.
- Hypocritical Humour: When Steven tells Peridot and Lapis what they are creating is "art", Peridot thinks that word sounds ridiculous while they call it "merp morps".
- In-Series Nickname: Peridot uses Amethyst's nicknaming shtick in an attempt to get on her good side.Peridot: Oh, Amethyst, that's ridiculous. I should call you "Ridiculousthyst". (laughs)
- Insult Backfire: Peridot consoles Amethyst by telling her that, even with her size defect, she's still better than Jasper because she's from a better Kindergarten. Then Peridot inspects the hole she was born from and is forced to admit that Jasper is objectively flawless in construction.
- Steven took Amethyst to the barn to help distract her from her new obsession with Jasper. They ended up not only travelling to her birthplace and seeing her hole, but the episode ends with them finding her captive monsters and a shot of the Quartz herself emerging from the dust.
- Peridot states that Amethyst, considered "defective" by Homeworld standards, is from the well-planned Prime Kindergarten, while Jasper is from the poorly planned rush-job that is the Beta Kindergarten. However, whilst most of the Gem exit holes at the Beta site are unevenly spaced and lopsided, closer inspection of Jasper's exit hole ends up confirming that she is indeed the ultimate Quartz warrior.
- Steven attempts to make Amethyst feel better by telling her that it's not the circumstances of her creation but her actions that are important; at first, this does seem to cheer Amethyst up slightly, but it becomes apparent immediately that this has only strengthened her resolve to beat Jasper in spite of her drawbacks, stating that she intends to do it in the name of all the other weird, misshapen and runty Gems whose exit holes they've seen along the way.
- King Mook: Quartz Gems, while Super Soldier level warriors, seem to be closer to Elite Mooks from the descriptions and flashbacks. Jasper, however, is 'perfect', and referred to by Peridot as "the Ultimate Quartz".
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of Peridot's criteria for a perfect exit hole is a clean, strong silhouette. Simple, readable silhouettes are a common technique in animation and storyboard composition.
Peridot: Lapis, fly us in!
- Lapis' meepmorps further demonstrate her extremely straightforward thought processes.
- Peridot refers to her musical performance as a "One-Gem Metal Band", not because she actually plays heavy metal, but because all of her instruments are at least partially metallic.
- Little Green Men: Along with the plush Peridot won at Funland, among the decorations on the exterior of the barn is an alien head with antlers.
- Mundane Utility:
- Lapis and Peridot used their powers to remodel the barn.
- Peridot tries to use her metal powers to play a number of instruments at once. Tries being the key word here.
- No Indoor Voice: Steven, Amethyst, and Peridot prepare to go to the Beta Kindergarten, and Peridot yells at Lapis if she is okay with them leaving. Meanwhile, Lapis answers in her usual deadpan.Peridot: Um, just one second. I wanna check and make sure Lapis is okay. HEY LAPIS, ARE YOU OKAY?
Peridot: ARE YOU SURE?
Peridot: I'M LEAVING, BUT I'LL BE BACK.
Peridot: DO YOU NEED ANYTHING?
Peridot: WHAT SEASON IS THAT?
Steven: Peridot, let's go.
Peridot: Okay, yeah, business time.
- Not So Above It All: Lapis is now just as into Camp Pining Hearts as Peridot.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Amethyst is extremely fixated on getting strong enough to beat Jasper, to the point of getting annoyed at everything Lapis and Peridot are doing. Lampshaded by Steven, who responds to her complaints about them "playing with garbage" by pointing out that she normally loves doing exactly the same thing.
- Pec Flex: The shape of the hole Jasper came out of suggests she was born flexing her biceps.
- Power Incontinence: Peridot can't get her metal powers to work consistently, especially when it comes to the relevant bodily gestures. She tries to knock over a can several times by waving her arm, but ultimately knocks it over by kicking a rock at it.
- Quantity vs. Quality: The difference between the Kindergartens. The Prime Kindergarten was well thought out in order to give the Gems the best advantage, while the Beta Kindergarten was thrown together to produce as many soldiers for Homeworld as possible, as quickly as possible.
- Revenge: Amethyst is still obsessed with getting a rematch with Jasper, with Steven taking her to the barn to distract her. The second she sees Jasper, she takes out her whip.
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Amethyst starts the episode off by complaining that her whip speed is only "wha-poosh", as opposed to the apparently faster "wssh".
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: The Beta Kindergarten was made in a rush to bolster Homeworld's ground forces midways through the Rebellion, and it shows. The holes are poorly spaced and placed at odd angles. Jasper's perfection is a seeming fluke.
- Shout-Out: Lapis and Peridot making art out of toilets in their home might be a shout-out to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. Unlike that one, though, their toilets also function as literal fountains.
- Special Edition Title:
- Because the episode begins at the barn, the title card from the Barn Arc return.
- The credits having a special background set in the Beta Kindergarten, where the episode's cliffhanger ends.
- Super Soldier: Jasper was born as the best possible result when trying to create a Gem warrior, to such a degree that Peridot calls her "the ultimate Quartz". Her hole, easily the biggest in the Beta Kindergarten, has her flexing as she comes out!
- T-Word Euphemism: Steven talks about Jasper while in the barn, causing Peridot to nervously ask them not to say "the J word" around Lapis.
- Toilet Humor: A literal example: one of Peridot and Lapis' pieces in their art gallery are several toilets put together. They work as a fountain with the help of Lapis' hydrokinesis.
- Took a Level in Badass: According to Steven, Amethyst has gotten much faster due to her training. However, Amethyst isn't impressed, and clearly doesn't feel she's taken enough levels yet.
- To the Batpole!: Peridot shouts for Lapis to fly them inside... when they're on the ground five feet from the door.
- Trailers Always Spoil: For the American audience anyway (Canada got the episode earlier): the promo for the next episode spoils the reveal at the end of this one that Jasper is building a monster army in the Beta Kindergarten.
- True Art Is Angsty: In-universe, one of Lapis' pieces of art is a TV looping a Camp Pining Hearts clip of Percy saying "I just feel trapped" with two mirrors on the sides.Steven: Is this one about... the thousands of years you spent trapped in a mirror?
Lapis: No. I really just like that show.
- Ultimate Lifeform: Upon seeing Jasper's hole, Peridot admits she's never seen such a perfect Quartz. She later warns Amethyst not to go against her, because she's "the ultimate Quartz."
- Verbal Backspace: Peridot, while examining Jasper's hole, keeps trying to say negatively critical things, but trails off and tries to find something else each time until she realizes that the hole is perfect.
- Wangst: We only hear one dramatic line from Percy, but this is Peridot and Lapis' in-universe reaction to his behavior.Percy: But Paulette, I need you!
Peridot: Oh, get over it, Percy. Go make another friendship bracelet.
- We Have Reserves: The Beta Kindergarten was made to crank out warriors to fight the Rebellion forces, focusing on quantity over quality.
- Wham Line:
- Peridot nonchalantly reveals Jasper's place of origin:Peridot: Sure, you're both from Earth, but your Kindergartens are radically different.
- Peridot happens upon large, misshapen holes in the Beta Kindergarten and makes an alarming conclusion:
- Peridot nonchalantly reveals Jasper's place of origin:
- Wham Shot: Three in quick succession: first is the shot of Jasper's massive, perfectly flawless exit hole among the small, misshapen ones; next come the barred cages revealing another brown Snow Beast and countless other Corrupted Gems caught by Jasper; and finally is Jasper herself, standing in a sand cloud.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: The concept is parodied in the meepmorps sequence. The leaf morp really is just about Steven giving Lapis a leaf, "Wow, Thanks" is Peridot's broken tape recorder with no function except to make her feel bad, and so on.
- Lapis has surrounded a television with mirrors while footage of Camp Pining Hearts endlessly repeats "I just feel trapped". It has nothing to do with her spending thousands of years trapped in a mirror, she just likes that show.
- Where I Was Born and Razed: Jasper, who's fought for Homeworld as they seek Earth's destruction, turns out to have been made on Earth.