Steven and Amethyst have their heads together, whispering excitedly to each other. Pearl doesn't exactly like the look of it. She thinks it's suspicious and asks Garnet if they should ask what the pair is up to. Garnet declines.
- Garnet: I can't.
Pearl asks, liltingly, if there's something Steven and Amethyst want to show them. Steven and Amethyst excitedly remind them that there was recently a big showdown with Jasper. They point out that Garnet and Pearl already know that, but they ask if the two bigger Gems know who beat Jasper.
- Pearl: (speaking simultaneously with Garnet) You ... two?Garnet: (speaking simultaneously with Pearl) Peridot.Amethyst: (dismayed) It didn't land.Steven: (encouragingly) Pick it back up! Pick it back up!
Steven and Amethyst tell Garnet and Pearl they have someone they'd like the Crystal Gems to meet. Garnet and Pearl settle on the sofa. Pearl asks who they would like to introduce, calling them a "mysterious stranger" and coming off like she's humoring them. Steven and Amethyst turn to each other, all determined smiles, clasp hands, and in a flash of light: SMOKY QUARTZ is back! That's all it took to bring the fusion back — a clasping of hands. They didn't need to dance; like Sapphire and Ruby don't need to dance. They're that simpatico.
Garnet's reaction is unbridled joy as she recognizes all this in an instant. Pearl's reaction is more stunned shock with a little disquiet. Pearl's rather muted response does nothing to diminish Garnet's overjoyed enthusiasm; she Squees for nearly twenty seconds straight as Pearl fires a barrage of questions at the young fusion.
Excited about showing off, Smoky begins to demonstrate their weapon, promising they'll knock Pearl's socks off. They produce Amethyst's whip, Steven's shield, and combine it into the Killer Yo-Yo. They begin naming their tricks, which includes "Walk the dog", "Jump the dog", and "Dog walking's just my day job until I get my call back". Pearl adjusts her sock, watching with increasing discomfort as Smoky's enthusiasm with the demonstration doesn't take into account that Steven's house is pretty fragile. As the Yo-Yo knocks things over and destroys Steven's television, Pearl turns to Garnet.
- Pearl: Garnet, a little help?
The Crystal Gems are gone, as Garnet and Pearl have fused into Sardonyx. Sardonyx is gushingly delighted to meet the new fusion and learn everything about them, but not in the house. She turns to the temple and introduces them to Sardonyx's room — which exists metaphysically in the temple as long as Sardonyx herself exists. The door to the temple becomes curtains, and the huge fusion squeezes herself through the door before inviting Smoky after.
On entering, Smoky finds themselves on the set of "Sardonyx Tonight". The room is set up like a TV Talk show with Sardonyx as the host and the new fusion as the special guest. The two fusions trade quips for a little bit before Sardonyx decides to urge Smoky to show off more than just the yo-yo. Smoky reminds Sardonyx that between the fight with Jasper and this introduction, they're maybe only ten minutes old. But eager to please, they go along with Sardonyx as she conjures tasks for them.
First she tries to get Smoky to fire at a target with Opal's bow and arrows. Then she tries to get Smoky to show off Super Strength with one of those carnival mallet machines. The first try barely passes Pearl, the lowest mark on the chart. The second try is barely any better as Smoky obviously feels pressured to perform and unprepared to do so. Sardonyx's having set the mallet machine to mock anything less than a bell ringer only makes things worse.
- Sugilite: You ain't nothin!
Trying to use Alexandrite's devastating fire breath fails as well, and Smoky's jokes go from playful to self-deprecating, to obvious self-loathing as the fusion has latched onto Steven and Amethyst's feelings of not being good enough.
As Smoky's good humor diminishes, Sardonyx eventually comes to realize that her well intended show for Smoky has backfired completely because Sardonyx put all the attention on herself, and all the pressure on Smoky! Clearly feeling bad about having made Smoky feel bad, Sardonyx reacts guiltily to her own realization.
- Sardonyx: They want to impress us! They were planning this all morning! We hijacked their show! I ... I got excited. It's not...about...us!
With that, the show is over. Sardonyx de-fuses back into Pearl and Garnet. Unfortunately, that means that since Sardonyx is gone, her room begins ceasing to exist — with everyone still in it! Smoky acts without thinking, whipping out their Yo-Yo and swinging to grab Garnet and Pearl, flinging them all out of the room! A second later, the curtains are gone and the temple door is back to its usual appearance, indicating they got out in the nick of time.
- Steven: Owww...sorry for the rough landing.
Garnet and Pearl thank Steven and Amethyst, who have also de-fused after the rescue, for saving them, and clarify that they love and welcome the new fusion.
- Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Sardonyx swivels her waist and chest repeatedly.
- Always Someone Better: In Sardonyx's eagerness to learn more about Smoky Quartz, she tries to compare them to the team's other fusions. She realizes how unfair this is to the inexperienced and very young fusion when Smoky's jokes turn from breezy fun to self-mocking.
- Animal Motifs: Sardonyx gets a cricket motif in this episode. She crouches for most of it with her legs behind her, giving her the appearance of a cricket, and the sound her joints make are reminiscent of a cricket chirping.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: The Temple door turns into a stage curtain when Sardonyx opens it and her room itself is designed to be like a talk show stage for "Sardonyx Tonight". Both fit her showman personality.
- Attention Whore: Sardonyx hijacks Steven and Amethyst's demonstration of Smoky Quartz's powers. Once she realizes Smoky is unhappy about their failures during Sardonyx's tasks, she feels very bad about it.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Turns out the Temple can create rooms for the Gem Fusions, and in Sardonyx's case she's a Domain Holder in her own room. While the smaller fusions like Opal, Garnet, Smoky Quartz, and Rainbow Quartz would have no issue using this, Sardonyx has to crawl up to the door on her hands and knees and squeeze herself into the room.
- Audience? What Audience?: Sardonyx talks to an offscreen audience and stagehand named Jorge, which Smoky seems entirely unable to see.Sardonyx: Don't worry about that crowd. Don't worry about Jorge. It's just you and me.
Smoky Quartz: Ah-ha, no duh... Actually, who's Jorge?
- Big "WHAT?!": Pearl when Smoky reveals themself.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: When they return from a phony commercial break, Sardonyx makes a remark that they'd be off the air if the cartoon characters don't make the audience buy more products, a dig at Cartoon Network's notoriety for cancelling shows just because of insufficient merchandise sales. (This may also refer to animated commercials featuring mascots.)
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Beyond Leaning on the Fourth Wall, Sardonyx shows clips from previous episodes labeled "courtesy of Cartoon Network".
- During the Sugilite strength test, Sardonyx obliquely asks her (non-existent) stage manager if they are required to pay Sugilite's voice actor (Nicki Minaj) for the re-use of lines from "Coach Steven" (Sugilite's only speaking role to date, possibly due to the expense of hiring a major celebrity like Minaj).
- Before Sardonyx and Smoky Quartz enter the temple (and the fourth wall-breaking begins in earnest), Sardonyx points out several places where Smoky's demonstration of their yo-yo skill has damaged Steven's house—including pointing directly at the "camera"/audience. She actually points to the spot where the fourth wall was broken.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: This happens when Smoky Quartz and Sardonyx enter the "TV Show Room", and briefly when the room starts to break apart.
- This isn't the first time Garnet has been positively ecstatic to see Steven fuse.
- Nor is it the first time Pearl's been somewhat disturbed by a fusion.
- Steven's TV is destroyed once again, this time because of Smoky Quartz showing off their yo-yo skills.
- The rest of the episode is filled with ones to previous fusions as Sardonyx attempts to figure out Smoky's unique power as a fusion. She even names the trope when they get to a Sugilite segment. It all starts with her announcing "Good evening everybody!" to an imaginary audience.
- The backdrop to "Sardonyx Tonight" has a distance shot of Empire City, and there is a "I love EC" mug on her desk.
- Chekhov's Gun: Sardonyx states that she has a room in the temple that exists as long she herself exists. When she de-fuses later in the episode her room starts collapsing. Smoky's yo-yo, mentioned as the main feature of their fusion so far but dismissed until this point, becomes very useful in escaping this situation.
- Denser and Wackier: Moreso than any episode since the Uncle Grandpa crossover, courtesy of Sardonyx's bizarre antics. If you discount the aforementioned crossover on account of its explicit Canon Discontinuity, then this arguably becomes the silliest episode so far.
- Didn't Think This Through: Smoky Quartz's demonstration damages the house because Steven and Amethyst decided to fuse in the living room instead of going out to the beach instead. This was what made Garnet and Pearl form Sardonyx, and (half of) the reason Sardonyx took Smoky into the Temple.
- Domain Holder: Sardonyx is a Reality Warper in her room, which only exists so long as she herself does. This is implied to be the case with all fusions.
- A Day in the Limelight: The majority of the episode is spent focused on Smoky Quartz and Sardonyx.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Garnet's Overly Long Scream of joy at seeing Smokey is reminiscent of how certain LGBTQ people or allies react to their friends' coming out.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Sardonyx questions what aspect of Steven and Amethyst heightens with their fusion. Meanwhile, Smoky is cracking jokes that make it very clear Steven and Amethyst's shared feelings of self loathing and worth are passed onto them.
- Eldritch Location: The Temple, described by Sardonyx as metaphysical and infinite, turns out to be capable of creating new rooms specifically for fusions that exist so long as the fusion exists. In Sardonyx's case, she's its Domain Holder. When the fusion comes apart so does the room, with every implication as the door out starts to vanish that anyone still left inside will be left in a black void if they can't escape in time.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Sardonyx defuses upon the sudden realization that Steven and Amethyst spent all morning planning how to introduce Smoky Quartz to Pearl and Garnet, and as soon as they started she hijacked the demonstration and made it all about her. In addition to this problem, there's another: specifically, Sardonyx defusing means her room in the temple destroys itself.
- Sardonyx mentions that fusions heightened something the components both can do and/or think then suddenly realizes what is heightened is Steven and Amethystís insecurities.
- Forgot About His Powers: This is actually a plot point. Sardonyx gets so caught up comparing Smoky to the other fusions that Smoky forgets their own powers have multiple applications that would have worked. For example, instead of using their Blow You Away powers to hit the target, Smoky tries to use a Breath Weapon like Alexandrite. Sardonyx suggests Smoky use a bow and arrow like Opal for an accuracy test, when Smoky showed fantastic long range accuracy with their Killer Yo-Yo fighting Jasper. It isn't until Pearl and Garnet are in danger that they actually snap out of it and put the yo-yo to good use, impressing Pearl and Garnet.
- Foreshadowing: Before entering her room, Sardonyx says that the room exists as long as she does. The second she defuses into Pearl and Garnet, it begins to collapse.
- Fourth-Wall Observer: Between summoning screens with footage of previous episodes that say "footage courtesy of Cartoon Network" and wondering aloud if Nicki Minaj "needs to be paid even if she's not really appearing in this episode", as well as having deep knowledge of show business concepts that her mostly-ignorant-of-human-culture component parts shouldn't logically have, Sardonyx seems to have this power to some degree.
- Freak Out: Garnet is the one screaming and shaking Pearl (who is panicking) when Smoky Quartz reappears. Garnet is freaking out from joy.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Sardonyx defuses, you can see briefly Garnet as Ruby and Sapphire Holding Hands (a Call-Back to a similar Freeze Frame Bonus moment from "Fusion Cuisine", Foreshadowing the then-unrevealed fact that Garnet is a fusion).
- Funny Background Event: Pearl has to re-adjust her sock after Smoky Quartz makes a "knock your socks off" joke.
- Fusion Dance:
- Steven and Amethyst form Smoky Quartz again in order to show Garnet and Pearl. The twist is, they don't even need to dance; all they have to do is hook arms, and BOOM!
- Those latter two later form Sardonyx (rather quickly) to stop Smoky's yo-yos from wrecking the Beach House.
- Gallows Humor: Smoky makes a joke about Jasper becoming corrupted after a brief fusion with a corrupted gem.Smoky Quartz: I guess you could say she had a short fuse.
- Gasp!: Garnet when Smoky reveals themself.
- Grammar Nazi: Sardonyx corrects Smoky when they go into her room.Smoky Quartz: I can't see nothin' in here!Sardonyx: You cannot see anything my darling.
- Half-Truth: Garnet's answer that Peridot beat Jasper is technically true, as she finished her off.
- Hard Truth Aesop:
- People don't like having their abilities compared to others, even if it's meant as a compliment.
- Even jokes that you make at your own expense can go too far.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Initially, Sardonyx —and Garnet and Pearl, by extension— pegs Smoky Quartz's Killer Yo-Yo tricks as paltry and needlessly destructive compared to Opal's Improbable Aiming Skills, Sugilite's Super Strength, and Alexandrite's Breath Weapon, which motivates her to help Smoky expand their abilities. By the end, however, Garnet and Pearl recognize that Smoky's yo-yo is an incredibly versatile weapon the likes of which their other fused weapons can't compare to, allowing them to fly and grapple with ease on top of being an effective melee and range weapon.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Smoky Quartz's Self-Deprecation becomes less humorous and more serious the more times they fail at their tasks.
- High School AU: The title card, which has the Gems and fusions in self-study.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: When Smoky Quartz fails to use a Breath Weapon, Sardonyx tells the audience that they're "experiencing some magical difficulties".
- How Do I Shot Web?: Smoky examining what they can do without their weapon is a major plot point.
- Humor Dissonance: Occurs In-Universe as the audience in Sardonyx's room continues to laugh as Smoky's jokes about their lack of any obvious talent become more and more self-deprecating, to the point where Sardonyx herself no longer finds them funny.
- Hurricane of Puns: For the entire talk show portion of the episode, Sardonyx cracks jokes like she usually does and Smoky follows her lead, leading to this.
- Hypocritical Humor: Sardonyx is excited about Smoky Quartz, but in trying to find out what Smoky can do, she centers herself and sets tasks up that make Smoky feel worse. Combine that with the Meaningful Name and it looks like the jokes don't match the intent.
- Internal Reveal: Garnet and Pearl find out that Steven and Amethyst fused and get to meet Smoky Quartz.
- It's All About Me: Sardonyx, unintentionally so. Though she means well, her attempts to figure out what Smoky Quartz can do that sets them apart from the Crystal Gems' other fusions are unfair to Steven and Amethyst, who put so much time and effort in showing Garnet and Pearl what they can do. Once she realizes this, Sardonyx practically quotes this trope when she cries that it's not about herself.
- Jerkass Realization: Downplayed. Sardonyx realizes she's —in this particular instance — the bad guy. She hurt and diminished Smoky by taking the focus off the yo-yo, trying to force them to show off new fusion skills they haven't discovered yet, and by doing so in a manner that makes Sardonyx the real center of attention.
- Killer Yo-Yo: Smoky Quartz attempts to show off their yo-yos, only to break various things around the beach house and force Garnet and Pearl to form Sardonyx to stop them. It turns out that said yo-yos are actually incredibly versatile weapons
- Large Ham: Sardonyx is the Domain Holder of her room, making her more or less a Reality Warper inside. The Laugh Track she creates is only the start of the ham.
- Laugh Track: Invoked by Sardonyx, whose room comes with an unseen audience that laughs at every joke she and Smoky make.
- It's noticeably absent when Sardonyx says she created the audience.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Pearl tells Garnet to ask what Steven and Amethyst are up to, and Garnet says "I can't." Why can't she? Because of a rule the writers have for themselves: Garnet never asks questions.
- Sardonyx turns her room into a talk show, including a studio audience she addresses as if they were the real life audience of Steven Universe. This includes acknowledging that Sugilite isn't really in "this episode", but asks if they still need to pay "her" (which could technically refer to Sugilite herself, but is more a reference to Sugilite's voice actress).
- Literal Metaphor: Sardonyx says that Smoky Quartz has made an impression— several, in fact, from their reckless yo-yo tricks smashing various things in the house.
- Lower-Deck Episode: Instead of the typical four main characters, the episode focuses on Sardonyx and Smoky Quartz—though unusually for the trope, these seldom-seen characters are comprising the four main characters.
- Meaningful Name: "Sardonic" means grimly mocking or cynical. Most of "Sardonyx Tonight" came off like Sardonyx was putting Smoky Quartz down under the guise of having fun figuring out her new fusion abilities.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Sardonyx realizes that her spur-of-the-moment game show designed to find out what makes Smoky Quartz unique not only completely upstaged Steven and Amethyst's surprise for Garnet and Pearl, but is also unintentionally undermining Smoky's confidence in their own abilities. It's one to such a degree her fusion breaks apart because of it.Sardonyx: They want to impress us! They were planning this all morning, we hijacked their show! I was excited! It's not about us!
- No Ontological Inertia: Sardonyx's room barely lasts a minute before it collapses.
- Not So Stoic: As with Stevonnie, Garnet goes from stoic to Squeeing and shaking Pearl in excitement.
- Overly Long Scream: If you listen closely, Garnet maintains the volume and pitch of her "aaaah" throughout Smoky's entire display (until Pearl knocks her out of it). For about 16 seconds.
- Really Was Born Yesterday: Smoky Quartz points out they haven't exactly had much time to figure out what they can do. They then elaborate by pointing out they're literally about ten minutes old between the fight with Jasper and the short period of time they've existed this episode.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: Steven and Amethyst's attempts to lead up to the Smoky Quartz reveal suffer from Garnet and Pearl doing this in regards to the "who beat Jasper" question.Pearl: You two?
Amethyst: [to Steven] It didn't land.
Steven: Pick it back up, pick it back up!
- Running Gag:
- Smoky Quartz always manages to find a joke to crack about themself when they fail Sardonyx's tests of strength and skill. As their failures continue to mount up, however, their jokes gradually stop being jokes and start becoming self-inflicted insults thinly veiled by laughter.
- Sardonyx wondering whether they need to pay "Sugilite" for her voiceover appearance that uses only stock clips from "Coach Steven" (as she was famously voiced by Nicki Minaj) is a jab at the fact that the Fusions rarely come back in a speaking role due to them all being voiced by fairly famous/hard-to-get singers (Opal and Sugilite have only had one proper speaking role, while Sardonyx and Alexandrite have had two).
- Sardonyx's strength test uses Pearl as the weakest rating of power even though Pearl is part of Sardonyx.
- Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream plays one of the times Sardonyx throws something offscreen.
- Studio Audience: Sardonyx's room has an audience that she created.
- So Proud of You: Garnet and Pearl both reaffirm this to both Steven and Amethyst for their successful in the end after they get too carried away in their excitement over Smoky's abilities that they forget to be excited about Smoky themself.
- Super Strength: Sardonyx describes Sugilite's unique ability as just being really, really strong, and thus tries to test how Smoky Quartz measures up in that regard. They use a "Test Your Strength" Game where the hammer looks like Sugilite's weapon and the bar is labelled with the strengths of most of the other fusions and Pearl (Sugilite>Opal>Garnet>Stevonnie>Pearl). While Smoky can't reach her power, according to the test, they're comparable to Garnet in terms of physical strength.
- Stealth Pun: Garnet's reaction to seeing Smoky for the first time is to literally clutch (her) Pearl.
- Stock Audio Clip: One of the games set up by Sardonyx uses stock quotes from Sugilite's only speaking appearance in "Coach Steven". Sardonyx is annoyed to find out that they still have to pay "her" to use them.
- Squee: Like she did with Stevonnie, Garnet's reaction to Steven fusing with Amethyst is this, to the point she grabs Pearl and starts shaking her in excitement.
- Talk Show: Sardonyx Tonight, of the Late Night Talk Show variety.
- Talking to Themself: As usual, the process of involuntarily de-fusing due to stress is heralded by Sardonyx slipping into this.
- "Test Your Strength" Game: Sardonyx sets up a variety of carnival-esque challenges for Smoky Quartz to attempt, including a high-striker.
- That Poor Cat: The second object that Sardonyx throws offstage hits an offscreen cat.
- Underestimating Badassery: Sardonyx underestimates Smoky's Killer Yo-Yo, which results in Smoky Quartz underestimating themself. It turns out when they actually start using it, it's one of the most versatile weapons the Crystal Gems have access to.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Sardonyx's opinion of Smoky's yo-yo, though the climax proves she couldn't be more wrong.