This episode manages to move the plot forward with surprisingly sparse dialogue and it is a wonderful thing.
So Steven randomly wakes up as a Watermelon Steven in a lovely agrarian community they’ve formed on Mask Island, AKA the pretty one that he got stuck on with Sadie, Lars, and a Gem monster in Season 1.
This is another obvious video game pastiche, but what with all the lovely backgrounds and cute electronic music, it’s also quite atmospheric. Evidently the contemplation of Baby Melon has formed the backbone of their religion…but as a gong tolls for a silent gathering, Steven seems to sense something off, or at least they sense something off about the Steven melon.
So they take him to the edge of a sea-cliff in a very ritualistic fashion…to offer him up to the local monster/deity/thing.
Also known as Malachite.
Then he wakes up.
They’re experiencing semi-frequent ground tremors, which Peridot assumes are the first rumblings of the Cluster, but Steven figures it’s being caused by Malachite (since he seems pretty confident that he can tell the difference between a dream and an out-of-body experience by now).
Garnet: Lapis Lazuli is losing control. Soon Jasper will overpower her and Malachite will be loose.
Pearl: Who knows what sort of destruction an unstable fusion like Malachite could cause?
So Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst run off to confront Malachite, leaving Steven to fill Peridot in on the whole Malachite situation (and, y’know, watch the drill). Evidently she wasn’t that fond of Jasper even when they were supposed to be on the same side.
Steven: I gotta help them! But they told me it was too dangerous.
Peridot: Why don’t you just disobey them? Rebel. Isn’t that, like, your guys’ thing?
Steven: You’re right! Oh, I know! I’ll fall asleep and go into a Watermelon Steven again! This way, I can help them and be safe at the same time.
Peridot: Wow. You’re a real anarchist.
Thus begins our big climactic battle of Season 2…in the first episode of Season 3. I’m not sure if I can say it was worth the wait, but it’s certainly a cool giant monster battle!
Malachite: They’re here! Stop! Pathetic. Don’t you see? We’ve been holding us back for too long, and for what? If we’re going to be this thing together, why don’t we have some fun?
Alexandrite: We don’t have to fight. You’re outnumbered.
Malachite: I may be outnumbered, but you’re out of your depth. I can’t wait to tear you Gems apart!
I mean, it is a fusion of the two Gems who gave them the toughest time individually – they probably couldn’t have beaten Lapis at all if Steven hadn’t talked her down. It’s never been a question of her physically holding Malachite back so much as keeping her own bitterness at bay so she could help Steven, and in that sense, the fact that they left Steven behind might have been a handicap in this fight.
Except he’s still around, rallying the melons to fight for their home and their friends!
Malachite: You know, you’re right. There really is something more to this fusion thing. It’s not just a cheap trick! You’ve really shown me a whole new world of possibilities.
Alexandrite: Keep it together…
That’s one interesting extra layer to a fight between two fusions – the outcome of the battle is based largely on which can maintain their unity of purpose. That’s why Garnet’s such a formidable opponent – that foundational relationship is nearly unbreakable.
Then, just when Malachite has her caught in an ice grip, the Stevens attack, Lilliputian style.
Malachite can easily smash them (!!!), but they succeed in distracting her long enough for Alexandrite to break out and go on the offensive.
Alexandrite: You two should spend some time apart.
It is a suitably epic conclusion to the arc…although, again, it would’ve been nice if they hadn’t just dropped it completely a third of the way through Season 2.
But then there’s another earthquake, and in their weakened state, the Crystal Gems lose Jasper in a newly-opened fissure (but of course that’s not the last of her).
Garnet: It must be the Cluster! Peridot was right. Steven, it’s up to you. The warp was destroyed, we won’t be able to get back in time. Wake up, get Peridot and start drilling. The Earth needs you, Steven. We’ll be fine. You can do this. We believe in you.
Amethyst: You got this, dude! You know the drill.
Pearl: Be careful, Steven. Watch each other’s backs.
Garnet: And Steven, we love you.
Next time: The Cluster…