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Recap / Steven Universe S4E17 "Rocknaldo"

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Ronaldo decides to live with the Crystal Gems to learn more about them.


Tropes:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Amethyst reads a recent blog post on "Keep Beach City Weird" where Ronaldo states that he's halting his blog and "may never come back to the internet". Soon after she's done reading and the Gems comment on Ronaldo taking time to think, he makes a new post.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Pearl still can't remember Ronaldo's name—or his Gem name (though that one might be intentional).
  • Bad Impressionists: Amethyst tries to inform Mr. Fryman that his son is back by taking his form (which doesn't matter because she's out of sight) and badly imitating his voice.
    Amethyst: Hey, Dad. I'm back. Blog, blog, blog.
    Pearl: That was really good!
  • Bait-and-Switch: Cartoon Network teased that a new Gem was going to appear. It just turned out to be Ronaldo's Gemsona.
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  • Bare Your Midriff: When Ronaldo criticizes Steven for covering his gem, Steven knots his shirt to fix it.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Pearl's response to Ronaldo announcing that he'll join the Crystal Gems.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Amethyst while reading Ronaldo's blog post:
    "I'm shutting down my blog. Blah blah blah social media blah. I may never come back to the internet."
  • Bottle Episode: Much of the episode takes place in Steven's house or at the pier. Not a bottle episode for cost-saving reasons, but economy. Doubles as Economy Cast.
  • Character Development: After Ronaldo ended every previous major appearance failing to learn anything, by the end of this one, he's realized how selfish he can be and is actively trying to help the Crystal Gems with a redone Ronalphlet, even asking Steven about whether he can include certain information.
  • Continuity Nod:
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    • The first line of the episode is Steven saying he's glad he's not in space anymore, as it's apparently just a day or two after the Out of This World Story Arc.
    • The episode begins with Ronaldo speaking of the dangers of "Rock People", the subject of his Beach-a-Palooza act in "Sadie's Song".
    • Ronaldo references his documentary "Rising Tides, Crashing Skies" when talking about what he "knows" about the Crystal Gems.
    • While showing off his shape-shifting powers to Ronaldo, Steven turns his finger into a cat.
    • Ronaldo's "weapon" is a replica sword he bought at Delmarvacon, both things mentioned on the blog Keep Beach City Weird, though the sword he brings is a different one than the one he mentioned on the blog.
    • Pearl mentions that Ronaldo isn't their weirdest house guest.
    • Ronaldo asks Steven why he doesn't go by his gem's name. Steven says people call him "Rose Quartz" only when they're "about to kidnap me or beat me up", referencing his encounters with Jasper, Eyeball, and Bismuth.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Ronaldo is handing out pamphlets warning people of "Rock People" living in Beach City, who have stones embedded in their bodies, are able to summon weapons from the "Mud Dimension", and can shapeshift. He is unintentionally describing the Crystal Gems to a T, aside from mind-control minerals in the water supply and the Mud Dimension thing. Probably.
  • Delayed Reaction: When Steven first tells Ronaldo that he's not actually a Crystal Gem, he convinces Steven that he needs to think about what it means to be a Crystal Gem. Steven does, then realizes that Ronaldo really isn't living up to the standards he professed, and goes back.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Ronaldo trying to be a gem can easily be read as an allegory for cultural appropriation, and the concept of a self-described ally speaking over the minority group they're attempting to support; Ronaldo's accusation that he thought the Crystal Gems were about love and acceptance when Steven calls out his behavior is a common response from allies who do more harm than good.
    • Ronaldo's behavior also seems like a jab at hypocritical fans whose obnoxious behavior in expressing their love of a show, often being rude, cruel, or dismissive to other fans, is at odds with the show's message.
  • Epic Fail: Ronaldo boasts of his sword's ability to cut through a milk carton. A juice box proves to be beyond its abilities.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ronaldo implies that part of why he was acting so selfish is because he's so used to being an "outsider"; he couldn't break out of that mindset, even when he was actually being accepted.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Invoked; Ronaldo deciding his weapon is a sword, particularly a (toy) katana, shows his delusion of heroism. He then has the gall to suggest he's more deserving of Rose's sword than Connie is.
  • High School A.U.: In the teaser image, Ronaldo tries to explain something about a rock he's holding, and Peedee and Peridot counter his argument while Yellow Pearl tries to ignore them.
  • Hypocrite: Ronaldo uses Steven's reasoning for letting him to join as a reason for why Steven hasn't been acting like a Crystal Gem... despite him being the one not living up to those ideals Steven proclaimed and being a selfish jerk about it. Steven calls him out on this.
  • Ignored Epiphany: When informed of his (potentially) damaging misrepresentation of Gems, Ronaldo profusely apologizes, and determines he needs to learn more about them. He decides to do so by inviting himself to be a Crystal Gem, and when Steven generously accepts him, Ronaldo turns it into another self-aggrandizing exercise after the Gems leave him out of their missions. He does learn something by the end, though.
  • Ironic Echo: Ronaldo being excluded from going on missions echoes Steven's place on the team (or lack thereof) at the beginning of the series, when the Gems had difficulty seeing Steven as a Gem himself.
  • It's All About Me: Ronaldo "joins" the Crystal Gems for no reason other than the notion that he's an outcast like them, and proceeds to insert himself into every aspect of Steven's life and constantly annoy him, even going as far as claiming he should be wielding Rose's sword and then kicking Steven out of his own home for not tolerating him enough. Steven ultimately calls him out on it, and Ronaldo realizes how selfish he was being.
  • Jerkass Realization: Ronaldo seems to have one when Steven spells out that "rock people" and "Crystal Gems" are the same. Later, he finally has one that sticks in his mind when Steven tells him to his face what a selfish jerk he's been.
    I took a real long nap and then I did some hard thinking. I wasn't acting like Bloodstone. I was acting like... Jerknaldo. You accepted me. But I still thought like an outsider.
  • Laughing Mad: Shortly before passing out from sleep deprivation, Ronaldo laughs as if in reaction to Amethyst saying something funny, and she points out that she didn't even say anything.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
  • Mundane Made Awesome: After dropping the unconscious Ronaldo off at the fry shop, Garnet orders the Crystal Gems to depart. She, Pearl and Amethyst then leap off the boardwalk and land about twenty feet away on the beach before walking away.
  • No True Scotsman: Ronaldo questions Steven for sleeping and wearing his shirt over his gem, as "real" Crystal Gems don't do this. He uses similar reasoning to try muscling Connie's position on the team away from her, questioning her dedication, despite her membership being months senior to him, because she commutes to the temple instead of living in/by it. Steven himself ends up calling Ronaldo just "a guy with a blog", which Ronaldo seizes upon to criticize Steven for being close-minded—even though said comment was beside Steven's actual point, which Ronaldo was missing entirely. Steven apologizes for his wording, but reiterates that Ronaldo hasn't really tried to live up to the group's actual goals.
  • Off-Model: When Steven shows Ronaldo his gem at the beginning of the episode, it has a hexagon facet instead of a pentagon facet.
  • Playing the Victim Card: After having his patience tested for several days, Steven tells Ronaldo he's in no position to say what it means to be a Crystal Gem when he's "just a guy with a blog". Ronaldo counters that he's not being accepting of others, genuinely ignorant of his own hypocrisy. It works, causing Steven to sulk off in shame... until he realizes he was mostly right, and finds a more effective way to phrase his complaints (namely pointing out that Ronaldo stopped trying to learn anything about the Gems once he stopped being the center of attention).
  • Portmanteau: Ronaldo makes a few, calling his pamphlets "Ronalphlets", calling himself "Jerknaldo", and combining "gem" and "weapon" to make "gempon". Pearl can't get his Gem name right, calling him "Bloodfry" and "Fryrocko".
  • Portmantitle: Rock + Ronaldo = Rocknaldo.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Though still subdued, Steven finally snaps at Ronaldo when he starts suggesting Connie is less dedicated to helping the Crystal Gems than he is, and doesn't deserve to be trusted with Rose's sword any more.
  • Reality Ensues: Ronaldo has been staying up for a week, so it's no surprise that he faints from exhaustion.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: At the beginning of the episode, Ronaldo is handing out "Ronalphlets", which describe "rock people" who have stones embedded in their bodies, can summon weapons from another dimension, and can change their forms, without realizing he's describing the Crystal Gems until Steven points it out.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Until Steven blatantly spells it out for him (and it still takes him a minute), Ronaldo doesn't get that the "Rock People" he describes in his conspiracy theory are actually the Crystal Gems.
  • Show Within a Show: Ronaldo mentions the anime I Can't Believe My Stepdad Is My Sword when he describes his replica sword.
  • The Sleepless: Ronaldo brings up that Gems don't need to sleep, questioning why the (organic-bodied) Steven does. Ronaldo rather foolishly thinks he can go without sleep, and ends up passing out for several days.
  • Slow Clap: After Steven explains that Ronaldo joining the Crystal Gems would be a good opportunity to show the world what they're like, Garnet breaks the silence and signals her approval by clapping slowly.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Connie only appears in a small cameo, but is the catalyst for the rest of the episode because of Ronaldo criticizing if Connie is worthy enough of being a Crystal Gem. This causes Steven to finally lose his patience and give him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech which also leads to some Character Development for Ronaldo.
  • Take That, Critics!: Ronaldo's rock people pamphlet includes a claim that "they hate men", which Steven finds especially alarming, and may be a reference to people who think the show's feminist and LGBT themes means that it promotes an anti-male agenda.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The synopsis for this episode is "Ronaldo sets out to find all the rock people living in Beach City!". What actually happens is that Ronaldo goes to live with the Crystal Gems to learn more about them.
  • Trivially Obvious: Ronaldo boasts that the sword that he bought at a convention "can cut through a carton of milk like a carton of butter".
  • Twitchy Eye: Steven does a little one when Ronaldo wakes him up at night just to lecture him about Gems not needing to sleep.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: After Ronaldo passes out from exhaustion, Amethyst shapeshifts into him and mimics his voice to inform his father that he's home.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Ronaldo tries to brush on Steven's accusation that his pamphlet says mean things about the Crystal Gems by saying that Rock People are "different" because they have gems in their bodies, can pull forth weapons and are capable of shapeshifting. Steven proceeds to do all three, convincing Ronaldo that what he's doing is wrong.

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