Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S04E02 – Know Your Fusion

In the second episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Pearl and Garnet meet Smoky Quartz for the first time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe

Oh my god, WHAT A GREAT EPISODE. It’s meta, it’s odd, and it features GARNET AND PEARL LOSING THEIR SHIT OVER A NEW FUSION. Could I ask for anything more???

Honestly, this is a really sweet episode because the central conflict is about identity: Who is Smoky Quartz? That’s all Pearl and Garnet, who appear as Sardonyx throughout “Know Your Fusion,” want to discover. It’s the first time they’ve ever seen a fusion like this, and the possibilities are endless!

Thus, it felt a little strange to me that Sardonyx focused solely on three sets of powers that other fusions – Sugilite, Alexandrite, and Opal – had exhibited in the past. But there’s an easy explanation to that right in the opening scene: Garnet and Pearl made this all about themselves. I mean, who could blame them??? They were so ecstatic to see Smoky Quartz that they flipped out. (I don’t care, that will forever be one of the greatest scenes in the whole show. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.) And given Sardonyx’s personality, it made a lot of sense for her to pull Smoky Quartz into that absurd talk show room. Like, Sardonyx is ridiculous, y’all, and her showmanship manifests in exactly that manner. The talk short format allowed Sardonyx to be ridiculous, but also to manifest all the tests of Smoky Quartz’s power.

However, I get know why Sardonyx missed the mark. A fusion is a pairing of two gems, yes, but it’s also a mixture of who they are as a person. Garnet’s personality comes from the coldness of Sapphire and the passion of Ruby. So, what kind of fusion would Steven and Amethyst become?

First of all, they are EXPERT at puns, which is not a surprise at all. OF COURSE THEY ARE. But the clue to Smoky Quartz as a person is in the first moment of “Know Your Fusion.” What are they doing?

Trying to determine a way to impress Garnet and Pearl.

The truth is that these two characters are the ones most desperate to prove themselves to everyone else. That’s the arc at the end of the last season! Therefore, when the two of them fuse, Smoky Quartz is a continuation of that narrative. Which means: the talk show format with the tests of skill is the worst way to get Smoky Quartz to reveal their speciality.

But let me take it a step further: Smoky Quartz told Garnet and Pearl their special power RIGHT AT THE START OF THE EPISODE: the yo-yo! Yet Garnet and Pearl wanted and expected something else, despite that the answer was there the whole time. In essence, Sardonyx stole the show and created their own, the Sardonyx Tonight set, which centered Smoky Quartz’s existence around Sardonyx instead. It really is a low-level conflict compared to other things we’ve seen on this show, but I enjoy that. I appreciate that Steven Universe can also address the complications from interpersonal relationships. That stuff is important to discuss, too! And it’s important to know that sometimes, our excitement can smother another person, even if we don’t mean to.

The video for “Know Your Fusion” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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