Steven Universe – Know Your Fusion Review
“They want to impress us. They were planning this all morning. We hijacked their show! I was excited! It’s not about US!”
When it comes to the fusion based characters from Steven Universe, Sardonyx is probably one of the more abrasive. Her primary characteristic is her tendency to showboat and turn anything into a presentation, but, given that Know Your Fusion seems to largely be about exploring the advantages of each fusion combination, I find her presence in this episode lends more to the narrative than it did in Cry for Help where the character herself had little direct impact on the plot. Know Your Fusion is a slightly odd episode, in that it actually feels a little like a clips show. Using the backdrop of Sardonyx’s room in the temple, the audience is presented with a refresher course on what each fusion brings to the table while Sardonyx presses Smoky Quartz on what makes her stand out as a fusion. It is a peculiar way to structure the episode, and I’m not entirely convinced that Know Your Fusion fully works, even if the end result is enjoyable.
The episode starts off with Amethyst and Steven consulting on how they’re going to introduce Smoky Quartz to Garnet and Pearl. The introduction might be my favorite part of the episode since it plays out much like an amplified version of Stevonnie’s introduction in Alone Together. It’s hilarious to see Garnet and Pearl grappling with the idea, and, to impress them, Smoky Quartz starts performing tricks with her yo-yos which begins to result in damage to the house. To keep control of the situation, Garnet and Pearl fuse into Sardonyx who invites Smoky Quartz into her room in order to learn more about her. I’ve spent a decent amount of time trying to pin down my thoughts on this episode, but it’s an odd one. Strictly speaking, there isn’t much character growth. Sardonyx and Smoky Quartz get a little bit of character exploration, but it isn’t anything that couldn’t be ascertained from their previous outings. It turns out that Sardonyx can be a bit of a gregarious show-off and Smoky Quartz is the embodiment of Steven and Amethyst’s love of play. Shock of all shocks. However, the episode does prove to be relatively informative about the nature of powers and how they are tied to fusion.
Perhaps I’m just not used to episodes focusing in on the Gems to be this skippable. I don’t even mean that as a condemnation. The episode is fun and worth watching at least once, but I don’t know that I’d feel the need to revisit it when going back through the series. The phrase “fun but nonessential” seems to perfectly encapsulate Know Your Fusion. It’s certainly charming with Sardonyx’s Late Show inspired room, and there is a decent amount of comedy built into the core idea. It even gets a little meta. For example, the footage of prior events is provided “courtesy of Cartoon Network.” That being said, for all the discussion about what makes Smoky Quartz unique, it’s clear that Sardonyx is failing to grasp what is right in front of her, and strangely enough, even with all that fuss, the episode ends almost right where it started. Therefore, when considered as a whole, Know Your Fusion seems like an odd diversion that seems to possibly be about how Sardonyx can’t always see beyond herself. It is an interesting, if not entirely successful, idea.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Sardonyx has an ‘I heart Empire City’ mug on her desk.
- Aside from referencing Cartoon Network in the Opal and Alexandrite clips, when audio is used from Nicki Minaj’s first appearance a Sugalite in Coach Steven, Sardonyx questions whether they have to pay her since she doesn’t actually appear in this episode.
- I recently spoke with someone who was a huge Sardonyx fan, but I’m still not sold on her character. She was incidental in Cry for Help (Her role there was to dismantle a structure and to provide a motivation for Pearl.) and, honestly, I don’t think her appearance here felt necessary, so it might simply be a matter of the environment in which she has been placed. Smoky Quartz, conversely, has proven to be quite fun. I worried that she might be too silly during her fight with Jasper, but this episode presented her as a little more restrained while still being a jovial goof.
- Sardonyx’s realization that she’s infringed on what should be Steven and Amethyst’s moment is a strong moment for the episode, even though it takes her a while to reach that conclusion.
Know Your Fusion is an enjoyable episode, but it is hard to put one's finger on what the actual point of it was outside of providing a refresher on the powers of the various fusions. As stated before, fun-but-nonessential pretty much sums up the whole affair rather nicely.