A nice day in Beach City brings Steven to the Big Donut. Sadie Miller is there at work, all by herself. Steven offers apologies in advance for his large, weird order which includes things like coffee with milk, hold the coffee, and then needs to be split among several different payment methods.
When a nonplussed Sadie looks for an explanation, Steven tells her he's started a band with Sour Cream, Buck Dewey and Jenny Pizza. Steven goes on to explain its a nice change of pace from Gem-related issues. Immediately reminded that if not for Gem Stuff, Lars Barriga would still be at the Big Donut, slacking off, if not actually working, he asks Sadie how she's holding up. She admits to worrying about Lars. She goes on to say she's used to doing all the work, but it's harder to do it without Lars around.
- Sadie: [as Lars] Hey, you missed a spot.
Sadie: Oh. Sorry!
Steven invites Sadie to come see them practice, and she says she will if she can get away from work.
At the Yellowtail and Vidalia house, the band is trying to find their sound. Sour Cream has one idea, Jenny another, and Buck still another. Steven returns to the band with snacks and tells them what's up with Sadie.
The next practice brings Buck with exciting news: he got their band a gig at the Delmarva seafood festival. The band now has an imperative to find their sound. Steven noodles on his guitar and sings a sweet ditty about friendship and music.
Buck admits the tune is sweet and sentimental, but he thinks they should play something provocative, like:
- Buck: Doo-doo. 🎵 Butts. 🎵 The government 🎵 Corrupts.
Jenny nixes this idea, indicating that people are going to the festival to have fun. She begins jamming on her bass only for Sour Cream to shake things up with distorted electronica.
Sadie shows up, but the band called it a day right before she arrived.
The next day, Sadie heads home to find the band is right behind her! They followed her from work, deciding that they'd bring rehearsal to her! Surprised, Sadie welcomes them but asks for a minute to tidy up. She races to get her horror movie collection out of sight. The band, still without name, song or sound, sets up. Buck inadvertently crushes some of Sadie's hidden videos by sitting on them. But when Sadie pulls out the videos, Sour Cream and Jenny recognize some of them.
- Sour Cream: Whoa, Sadie, you have a dark side.
Sadie:... More like a dork side.
Jenny: Oh my gosh, you have The Lurch? You guys have got to see this!
On goes the video. Sadie is surprised Jenny knows Bulgarian horror. Steven, peeping out between his fingers, suggests they should be practicing. Sour Cream likes the creepy background music from the film and samples it. Jenny lays down a bassline. Steven picks up and adds a ska-esque chord. Buck approves and mentions they only need lyrics now, which Sadie ad-libs:
- "Tired. From work. Hate. My job "
Sadie sings, in a monotone, about being the Working Dead, lurching for minimum wage but would prefer to be eating brains. She goes on to equate her dead-end job with being a zombie. As the song progresses she puts red lipstick under her eyes and bites messily into a jelly donut to imply eating brains.
The cool kids are pleased and after dubbing her Sadie Killer, invite her to be lead singer. She reluctantly declines, due to work.
A day later, Steven visits Sadie at work again to ask her for songwriting advice. He can't write believable lyrics for their spooky/horror sound, nor can he sing them in a way that doesn't sound phony. Sadie tries to explain how she feels, telling Steven that in order to feel how she does he should lose his youth at a boring job, lose the person he cares about and lose his mind working alone. Steven doesn't quite pick up on Sadies turmoil, but she realizes how she sounds when he tries to imitate her. Off he goes to try to lyricize, leaving a stunned Sadie watching after.
The weekend has arrived. Time for the big gig. Buck is dismayed that they don't look spooky enough. Especially Steven.
- Buck: You can't help being cute any more than I can being cool.
They pile into the pizza jeep and start heading for the festival, but they're not sure of the directions. As they try to find them, Sadie arrives calling for them to wait. She tells them she will be able to join them for their performance and all rehearsals after. When they ask about her job, she proudly pulls off her Big Donut tee and waves it triumphantly over her head.
- Sadie: I quit!
- Big "WHAT?!": This is Sour Cream, Jenny, and Steven's reaction to Buck telling them that they have a gig, since they don't have any songs or even a name for their band.
- Breather Episode: Compared to the previous four episodes, which dealt with the fallout from Steven's Heroic Sacrifice, this one has Sadie dealing with working alone and Steven and the Cool Kids forming a band, and is much lighter as a result, "The Working Dead" notwithstanding. It's even lampshaded by Steven when he tells Sadie about the band:Steven: We're still trying to figure out our sound, but it's been fun just playing music with other people. It's also nice to have an outlet that doesn't involve space and Gem stuff and everything else going on.
- Burger Fool: Sadie feels that she "[lost her] youth" working at the Big Donut, and without Lars she continues it only for a sense of normalcy. Keep in mind she said she started "two summers ago", and that was closet to two years earlier In-Universe. She ends up making a song about how her job makes her feel like a zombie.
- Censor Shadow: Sadie biting into a jelly donut is made to look like something from a horror movie by showing her heavily shadowed figure chomping shark teeth into a mass of red goo. Strangely, the position of her hair causes an uncanny resemblance to Lars (whom Steven previously had to assure was not a zombie).
- Character Development: Sadie overcomes her stage fright and self-consciousness at singing in front of other people to freely produce a song with Steven and the Cool Kids, a step up from the last time she was unable to do so.
- Character Title: "Sadie Killer" is Sadie Miller's new Stage Name.
- Continuity Nod:
- Sadie hides her horror movie tapes partially to clean up her room but also because she thought the Cool Kids would make fun of her. Jenny actually turns out to be a fan of The Lurch, and they use it to draw inspiration.
- Dr. Maheswaran and one of the fusion monsters from "Nightmare Hospital" appear briefly... on one of Sadie's movie covers.
- Creator Cameo: Cartoon versions of the episode's storyboard artists, Lamar Abrams and Jeff Liu, are Sadie's last customers before Steven comes to the Big Donut.
- Critical Staffing Shortage: Sadie's been run ragged from manning the Big Donut by herself. Granted, Lars is such a slacker that she was already doing most of the work. Sadie just can't stand being alone while doing so.
- Double-Meaning Title: The title is Buck's suggested nickname for Sadie, but also refers to how Sadie feels like doing both her job and Lars' job at the same time is killing her.
- Eureka Moment:
- Watching The Lurch inspires the band to find a sound by jamming along with the soundtrack, and Sadie to join in singing.
- Sadie sees what her job has turned her into after seeing Steven's attempt at replicating her drama.
- Exhausted Eye Bags: Sadie is sporting these to show how much Lars's absence and the workload from her dead-end job are getting to her. She later uses red lipstick to accentuate them as part of her improvised Sadie Killer costume.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Steven and the Cool Kids try to make a jam session work with Sadie's schedule by going to her house, but then Steven realizes they probably should have told her first.Sadie: I just got home from work.
Steven: We know. We followed you. [hastily, in embarrassment] Sorry-if-that's-weird.
- Failed a Spot Check: Sadie comments that she runs out of napkins, and Steven remarks with how weird it is... as he's taking all the napkins in full view of her, with some flying off the stack. Twice.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: No matter how hard he tries (and he tries a lot), Steven Universe just isn't scary at all. Lampshaded by Buck:Buck: You can't help being cute no more than I can help being cool.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Dr. Maheswaran and one of the fusion monsters from "Nightmare Hospital" appear briefly on one of Sadie's movie covers.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Sadie is so used to working alongside Lars that she's started talking to herself and mimicking his comments in his absence, and the isolation is apparently draining her almost as much as the work itself.
- Hidden Eyes: Sadie's eyes are covered in shadow right before she announces she quit.
- Iris Out: Over Sadie's grinning face after she tells the others she quit.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: One of the ideas the cool kids have for their band's style is "Rap-a-billy". The sound they settle on in "The Working Dead" has elements of emo-metal, horrorpunk, dub and darkwave.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Sadie ends up making a pretty spooky song by channeling her frustration at work and her love of horror movies.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Lars's absence means half the Big Donut duo is gone. Sadie also departs as a result.
- Oblivious to His Own Description: Steven is shown taking all the napkins (and dropping some) after Sadie complains about restocking napkins, and doesn't see the connection. Twice.
- Overcomplicated Menu Order: The Cool Kids and Steven make an order for the Big Donut so complicated, Steven apologizes in advance for troubling Sadie with it.Steven: OK, I'll have one jelly doughnut with powdered sugar on the side, three chocolate frosted, one frosted chocolate, two chocolate-frosted chocolate, one dog-nut medium well one coffee with milk and sugar, hold the coffee. I also have several methods of payment I'd like you to split this order across evenly.
[Steven puts down a combination of bills, coins, two debit/credit cards, and a gift card]
- Rhetorical Question Blunder:Buck: Guess who's got a gig at Delmarva's number-two music and seafood festival this weekend?
Jenny: Chuji and the Woo Woos?
Sour Cream: Jack and the Frosted Tips?
Buck: No, us.
Jenny, Sour Cream, and Steven: What!?
- Rhyming with Itself: "Working Dead" rhymes "mourning" with "morning", as well as "tempting" and "temping".
- Sadie's movie collection includes Malevolent Cadavers 7, Return of the Army of Malevolent Cadavers 3, Archduke of Space, Galactic Insubordination, and Bossferatu.
- The song Sadie performs is called "The Working Dead".
- Another movie, Head in a Box, has a cover invoking the poster for Spalding Gray's monologue Monster in a Box (Which is actually about Gray trying to write a book and contains no literal monsters).
- The Freeze-Frame Bonus box of Dr. Maheswaran and a Gem Mutant is parodying a poster for the original Re-Animator (following up a reference to the hospital having a "Dr. West").
- Scary Flashlight Face: Sadie puts a flashlight up to her face during her "Working Dead" song.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Sadie quits her job at the Big Donut to join the band with Jenny, Buck, Sour Cream, and Steven.
- Title Drop: Buck refers to Sadie as "Sadie Killer" when she sings her scary song about how she hates her job.
- That Was Not a Dream: Misplacing the directions to the music gig rather randomly makes Buck think everything is a dream. Judging by Jenny's exasperated reaction, this isn't the first time he's thought this.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Buck gets the band a gig when they're still in its infancy (they don't have a genre, much less a song, much less a set list, and much less a name), and Jenny resignedly says "Guess we gotta lot of work to do."
- Three Chords and the Truth: Parodied with Buck's proposed song. It's literally the same three chord tune played over and over with Buck saying the lyrics between repeats.Buck: Doodoo. Butt. The government. Corrupts.