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Recap / Steven Universe S3E2 "Gem Drill"

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Original airdate: May 12th, 2016

Production code: 1031-081

As his dream on Watermelon Island fades, Garnet's words are still with Steven as he returns to wakefulness.

Garnet: And Steven...we love you.

Steven awakens to more tremors. Peridot's blackboard drawing with the BYE BYE EARTH drawing on it nearly falls on him. He shoves it aside and breaks the news to Peridot that the Gems have no quick way back to them, so the two of them must drill and stop the Cluster themselves. Peridot is already atop the Drill ready to board it, as Steven climbs to join her. She expresses frustration that there's no teamwork since the Crystal Gems went to fight Malachite instead of handling the literally earth-threatening threat. But since all she has is Steven, she's ready to make the most of it. Sort of.

Peridot: Are you ready to drill down into the planet, to depths never before reached by your species, to stop the Cluster and save your world?
Steven: I don't know!
Peridot: Don't say that! Say 'We'll do this together and it's gonna be great!'
Steven: We're gonna do this together and it's gonna be great!
Peridot: LIAR!

They board the drill and begin drilling on the spot. Steven braces for impact but Peridot informs him it will be 2 hours before they get to the Cluster. Steven admits he didn't realize it would take that long and wishes he'd brought some tunes. Peridot took that into consideration and turns on some elevator music. Steven realizes how tiny the cockpit is and wonders aloud how Peridot expected all the Crystal Gems would have fit in the ship in the first place. She says they would have had to shrink or something; she didn't really have time to plan.

As they enter the mantle of the earth, Peridot clarifies for Steven the difference between lava and the superheated Peridotite that currently surrounds them. They briefly discuss that Peridot was made on Homeworld. Steven asks her about it. She describes she has no memory of it, only feelings. She admits that she knows she can never return to Homeworld, but she can't help having feelings. She tells Steven she has something different now – the Crystal Gems and him.

They don't get the opportunity to explore Peridot's feelings further as the ship is attacked by Gem Mutant experiments. Peridot proudly deploys the cannon, smirking that she put it in even though Pearl didn't think it was necessary. Steven begins firing on them as directed but stops saying it doesn't feel right.

Peridot: Then use the D-Pad.

Steven explains he means that it isn't right to destroy them; that they'll just form again later. He complains that he can't bubble them to keep them safe, and tells Peridot that they should be trying to help the gem mutants.

Peridot: There is no helping them. They're too broken. The beings who used to be in those shards are so shattered, they don't know who they are or what's happening around them. They just seek out other gems, looking for the missing parts of themselves, trying to make themselves whole.

They hit denser rock and drill down until they reach an enormous cavern. The cavern trembles, and Peridot cries out that they're too late; the Cluster is taking form. She apologizes to Steven, telling him she's sorry she couldn't save him or the billions of other life forms that matter far, far less to her. She asks if he has any last words.

Steven: I love you, Peridot.
Peridot: (genuinely touched) Wow, thanks.

But the Cluster is not succcessful in forming on its first try. Peridot realizes this means they have a chance, and tries again. Steven thinks they shouldn't hurt the Cluster and points out he doesn't think it knows what it's doing.

Peridot: It doesn't matter if it knows what it's doing. It's still going to do it.
As Peridot increases the attack, deploying two more drill heads, Steven begins sweating and crying out in pain. She pauses to ask if Steven is all right, and he encourages her to continue. One drill head is destroyed, but Peridot continues to press the attack. From Steven's point of view, the floor begins to flash out from under him. Pained ghost faces assault his vision. His gem begins to glow. Peridot's concerned voice fades from him, and he wakes up floating in a black void lit by distant tiny pinpoints.

He hears voices murmuring.

Shard voices: Have to...need to...want to...

Steven asks what they have to, need to, and the thunderous reply in billions of anguished voices and a blast of blinding light is: FORM!

Steven asks them to stop, but they continue to cry out until he gets them to remain calm. He introduces two shards to each other, so they can speak to each other. As they ponder this, Steven explains that if they form they will destroy the earth.

The Cluster shards recoil from this information, each saying “No...” in a dismayed voice, but begin crying out that they can't stop and are going to form. In desperation, Steven tries to bubble the shards. He manages five, but realizes there are so many – too many. He apologetically tells the Cluster he can't do it all on his own.

His dream ends, and waking, Steven excitedly explains to Peridot that the cluster doesn't want to form at the expense of the earth. He explains that bubbling them will stop it. Peridot can't imagine bubbling such a huge number of gem shards. Steven, dismayed, is frustrated at the situation until he realizes the gem shards learned from his communication with them in their shared dream. One shard bubbles another, and another, leading to a chain reaction that culminates in the entire Cluster bubbling itself, even if they don't move from the center of the earth.

Some time later, Peridot and Steven bring the drill back to the surface, and fall from the now-broken machine. The Gems return not long after with Lapis and ask if they stopped the Cluster.

Steven explains he talked to it and it's okay now because the Cluster is in a bubble.

Pearl: How on earth did you manage to bubble that?!
Steven: We had a little help.

The shot changes to the center of the earth where the Cluster rests, in a bubble, quiet and no longer threatening.


  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: After the panicked rush to get into the drill, and Steven and Peridot realize they have quite a long ride down, things get very quiet, and they start to talk.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Parodied when the Cluster starts to awaken and Peridot apologizes to Steven for not being able to save him or the "billions of other life forms who matter far, far less to me!"
  • Always Save the Girl: Logical Peridot abandons the offensive on the Cluster when Steven suffers intense pain, to see if he's okay. Not that it matters, but it shows how far she's come in Character Development from the cold, intellectual Homeworld native to a Crystal Gem without the star.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Of the platonic sort; Peridot during her Brutal Honesty moment that Steven matters more to her than the "billions of other life forms" on Earth.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The buttons in the drill are in Russian; translating it makes more sense of why Peridot's pressing those certain buttons.
  • Body of Bodies: The Cluster, which is made up of the shards of millions or even billions of shattered gems.
  • Born as an Adult: While it's already established that Gems don't have childhoods, Peridot reinforces this when Steven asks what her creation was like: "I didn't exist. Then I did."
  • Bridal Carry: Garnet carries an unconscious Lapis this way.
  • Brutal Honesty: "I'm sorry I couldn't save you or the billions of other life forms who matter far, far less to me!"
  • Call-Back: Peridot learned in "Log Date 7 15 2" that when friends do nice things to show they care, you say "Wow, thanks." Here, she says it when Steven hugs her and says he loves her.
  • Character Development: Peridot who just 3 episodes ago made a Heel–Face Turn over Yellow Diamond defying the logical choice to spare the Earth due to her pettiness, abandons her offensive on the Cluster when Steven starts having a panic attack. She also initially was only saving the Earth to save herself, but now she makes it clear she was hoping to save Steven and all the life she found on it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Steven says he feels uncomfortable shooting the gem mutants attacking the pod (as in, he worries this is morally wrong), so Peridot tells him to use the D-pad (as in, she thinks he was complaining about the ergonomics of the controller).
  • Crazy-Prepared: Peridot included a blaster in the drill pod, despite Pearl thinking it was unnecessary. The smaller Gem mutants that attacked the drill on the way down proved it wasn't.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Steven wonders how Peridot expected to get all the Crystal Gems into the small drill pod. She admits she didn't have much time to plan it properly.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Peridot attacks the Cluster with her drills and Steven feels their pain, he apparently has labor pains.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: When Steven wishes he had some music for the long drill ride, Peridot turns on some muzak.
  • The Empath: When Peridot attacks the Cluster with the drill, Steven feels its pain. Eventually, he's able to communicate with it.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The driving plot of the episode is that the long-built up Cluster is about to emerge, beginning to tear the Earth apart.
  • Fast Tunnelling: The drill burrowed several hundred kilometers at minimum in two hours, which means it goes through rock faster than a car goes across land.
  • Fridge Logic: In universe, Steven asks how Peridot expected to get all the Gems into the drill cockpit when it was cramped with just the two of them. She gets flustered, says something about the Gems shrinking down to fit, and admits that she didn't have time to plan for everything.
  • Friend to All Living Things: This episode really highlights this aspect of Steven's personality. He is a friend to all living things, organic or otherwise. He's so loving, he doesn't even want the Cluster to be destroyed!
  • Heel–Face Turn: Steven manages to convince the Cluster of all things to have one.
  • Heel Realization: The Cluster has one when Steven tells it that it can't take form without destroying the planet, which elicits a clamor of soft, remorseful "no's". The Cluster is mostly composed of fallen Crystal Gems, so it would naturally regret this as soon as they knew they were doing it.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Who would have guessed that Steven's dream-connection power would lead to the Cluster's stability? This doesn't seem to be a Rose legacy, either.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Gem shards bubble each other so as to stop the Cluster from forming. On the bright side, they have the others for company.
  • Hope Spot:
    • For Peridot, when the Cluster needs more time to form, she thinks that they can still destroy it. The drill proves ineffective against the Cluster, however.
    • Just when Steven convinces the Cluster not to take form, the Gem shards begin to do so anyway outside of their own control, and they beg a virtually powerless Steven to help them.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Remembering that most of the Cluster's shattered Gems were part of his mother's rebellion, Steven appeals to their initial decision to fight for the Earth and to protect it. His pleas work.
  • Immediate Sequel: Takes place immediately after the first half of the two-parter.
  • I Warned You: A few episodes earlier Peridot was upset at the Gems for taking a short break to watch the sunset when the Cluster could erupt at any minute. She mentions in this episode that there wasn't a lot of time to plan for the drill, which wouldn't have held all the Crystal Gems.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Peridot points out that even if the Cluster is a Non-Malicious Monster that it's still going to destroy the Earth and thus must be stopped. Steven even initially agrees with her.
  • Made of Indestructium: The drill was able to drill through solid rock and reach the mantle in a mere two hours, yet it barely even chipped the Cluster. "Inseparable fusion," indeed.
  • Madness Mantra: "Have to. Want to. Need to. Must."
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • Steven and Peridot when the earth starts to shake.
    • Also Steven and Peridot, when they arrive just in time to see the Cluster erupt fully.
    • The Cluster itself when it starts to form against its will.
  • Meaningful Echo: Before they go into the drill, Peridot asks Steven to tell her that "We're going to do it together, and it will be great!" When they manage to stop the Cluster, Steven says with a big smile, "We did it together, and it was great."
  • Mind Hive: Steven essentially defeats the Cluster and saves the Earth by convincing the Shards composing it (who had previously more or less been scattered, fragmented individual consciousnesses trying to take form to be whole) to become one of these, instead, so they won't be alone.
  • Morality Pet: Peridot admits that Steven has become this for her during her assumed last words. It's further shown when he starts to feel pain from her attacks on the Cluster, and she asks if he's okay and stops piloting the drill to check on him.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Aired as the second part of the season 3 premiere, with "Super Watermelon Island" being the first.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The Cluster turns out to simply want to find their missing Gem fragments, and it doesn't want to take form when Steven tells them that doing so would destroy the Earth. In the end, Steven manages to convince the shards to find company in each other.
  • No-Sell: Peridot tries, but her drill doesn't even make a dent against the Cluster.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Steven when he realizes that he can't bubble all the shards in the Cluster at once.
    • Before that came the moment shortly after arriving at the Cluster, and it seems they were too late.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Steven and Peridot share these when they hug and think they're going to die.
  • Single Tear: Peridot wipes away one after admitting that she still has feelings for the home she left behind.
  • Shoot the Dog: Peridot shoots away the small cluster gems and attempts to destroy the Cluster because she thinks there's nothing to save. Steven's able to prove otherwise.
  • Shout-Out: A Nintendo 64 controller is used to control the drill's turret.
  • Take a Third Option: Rather than let the Cluster awaken and destroy the Earth, or destroy the Cluster, Steven gets the Cluster to bubble itself.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Steven defeats the Cluster simply by convincing its component shards to become friends and it bubbles itself so it can stay in the Earth's core to remain friends instead of taking form and destroying the Earth.
  • Tragic Monster: The Cluster possesses no desire to destroy the Earth, but simply wants to take on a form. Its components, fractured and deranged, are constantly in pain. The same is true of the smaller Gem mutants, who are simply seeking out their missing pieces and don't have enough of a mind left to reason or do anything but react reflexively. Even the Cluster, made up of untold millions of shards, only had the intelligence of a young child.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: The drill failed to destroy the cluster, but thanks to Steven's power he was able to communicate with the cluster which led to it being bubbled.
  • Voice of the Legion: The cluster talks this way. It is very spooky.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Steven asks Peridot what the plan is.
    Peridot: We have a drill. We're going to drill.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Peridot admits that she misses Homeworld, but reaffirms her decision to stay since on Earth because she has Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven, which is implied to be much more than what she had on Homeworld.