You said you were always trying to make him happy. Did he even know that he was making you sad?
The episode begins at Beach Citywalk Fries with Steven having a conversation with Peedee. Their attention is diverted to Funland Arcade, where Mr. Smiley is seen setting up a machine. Sparking his interest, Steven goes over to check it out. He asks Mr. Smiley if the Zoltron Machine is new, to which he denies before powering it on. The robot turns on, saying that it knows all about the future because it is from there. Excited, Steven inserts a quarter and asks if he will finally get the fancy kazoo he has always wanted. To his disappointment, Zoltron does not answer clearly, only giving him three lucky numbers: 16, 47, and W. Steven asks for his quarter back, and Mr. Smiley responds with a joke, saying, "If I had a quarter for every time somebody asked for their quarter back – oh, wait, I do!" Steven does not laugh, and Mr. Smiley recalls the times when he used to be a comedian. Steven asks what his jokes were and Mr. Smiley replies he would rather not talk about it. When Steven asks if he had knock-knock jokes, Mr. Smiley tells him to ask the Zoltron machine again. Steven inserts another quarter, asking why Mr. Smiley quit comedy, but the robot does not respond. Steven gives it a little tap, saying it could do it, but the robot is knocked over by Steven's super strength, shattering to pieces. Mr. Smiley gets angry, but Steven apologizes, saying it was an accident and that he will make up for it because he does not want to be banned from any more of Mr. Smiley's businesses. Mr. Smiley realizes that Steven can make a really good robot impression and has an idea.
A little while later, Steven dresses up as the Zoltron robot and sits in the booth. While sitting in the booth, he notices Lars and Sadie walking by. Lars tells her that she is always focusing on work and that he wants to go to her house and watch a movie. Sadie laughs it off, saying people who want a donut would notice that they were gone. Steven makes noises as Zoltron to get them to notice and come over so he can tell them their future. The two come over, not recognizing Steven, and Sadie inserts a quarter, asking if she and Lars should skip work. Steven responds that even though Lars does not admit it, he likes to do a good job, and letting people depend on him warms his heart. Steven also says that even though Sadie likes to take charge (which she denies), she will still be impressed with all of Lars's effort. The two find it unsettling that "Zoltron" knows their names, and they decide to go off to work instead. Suddenly, Onion runs over with a crowbar, but Steven stops him, still posing as Zoltron, telling him if he is not careful, "Zoltron sees prison bars in [his] future." Onion seems to reconsider his actions before leaving. Unbeknownst to Steven, Onion promptly returns wearing a ski mask and continues into the arcade. Multiple residents of Beach City begin to ask "Zoltron" for future predictions throughout the day and Steven happily complies. A little while later, Mr. Smiley returns to collect the coins, and Steven mentions that he feels like he has made a positive impact on people's lives, which impresses Mr. Smiley.
After Mr. Smiley leaves, Steven notices a mysterious man standing at the edge of the boardwalk. He goes over to Steven and inserts a quarter into the machine. He dejectedly asks if it was a mistake to come to Beach City. Steven hesitates to answer but eventually replies that it was not a mistake and Funland is fun for all ages. The man inserts another quarter, asking if talking to "him" will make a difference. Steven says he is not sure and that human emotions are "really complicated for Zoltron." The third quarter is inserted, and the man asks if he drives away everyone around him. At a complete loss of words, Steven gives him the lucky numbers that the Zoltron machine had given him earlier: 16, 47, and W. The man proceeds to insert his final quarter, but it slips out of his hand and falls through a gap in the boardwalk. He sighs, saying even coins do not want to be around him, and sadly leaves.
Steven, feeling bad, wishes he had future vision like Garnet so he would know what to tell the man. Garnet appears, knowing he would say that. Steven asks her if he can borrow her future vision to "help some random stranger [he] just met." Garnet kisses Steven on the forehead, passing on her future vision to him temporarily. She approaches the man, tells him that "Zoltron" is ready to answer his question, and hands him a quarter before walking away. The man returns, inserts the quarter, and asks, "What would he say if he saw me now?" Steven, using the future vision, foresees three potential futures: If he says "he" would be happy to see him, the man would think he is lying because no one is ever happy to see him; the second option is to tell him that "It's been too long," causing the man to think he should have come sooner; the third option, where Steven says he does not know and that he is just a boy in a costume, prompts the man to say everything in his life is a disappointment.
Steven goes with none of the options and says he sees sadness in his future, no matter what he does. The man agrees with this one and sadly states that the curtain had closed on Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowney. Surprised, Steven asks if he is here to see Mr. Smiley. Mr. Frowney replies that nobody misses their act and leaves for the bus stop. Later, Mr. Smiley returns and Steven calls him over, telling him that he met Mr. Frowney. Steven asks how he knows him, and Mr. Smiley reveals they used to have an act together. Steven thinks that Mr. Frowney was rather depressing than funny. Mr. Smiley agrees, thinking that it was how he thought it was supposed to go, but offstage, nothing could have made Mr. Frowney cheer up, not even himself. Steven tells him to talk to Mr. Frowney before he leaves town, but Mr. Smiley does not know what would happen if he did. This activates Steven's temporary future vision, seeing three different occurrences again; however, they all still end with Mr. Frowney still being sad. Steven tells Mr. Smiley that he sees sadness in his future. Mr. Smiley tells him to drop the act and begins to leave, but Steven tells him, "You said you were always trying to make him happy. Did he even know that he was making you sad?" This convinces Mr. Smiley to go see Mr. Frowney at the bus stop.
After a brief reunion, Mr. Frowney asks Mr. Smiley if he is here just to laugh at him again. Mr. Smiley replies that he wanted their act to work, but notes that it was not making Mr. Frowney happy. Mr. Frowney states that he wanted him to take it seriously, to which Mr. Smiley responds that he just wanted him to have fun. Mr. Frowney sadly concludes that it was never going to work but thought they really had something. Mr. Smiley remembers an old act of theirs and asks him questions, to which Mr. Frowney responds with a pessimistic view. They reenact the entire thing, which ends with Mr. Smiley holding Mr. Frowney upside down, making him laugh. Feeling better, Mr. Frowney tells him he finally got the joke and hugs him goodbye before leaving on the bus. Steven is happy that his debt is paid until Mr. Smiley reminds him that the Zoltron machine costs thousands of dollars. The episode ends with Steven predicting that he sees cramped legs in the future as the iris closes on Steven's foot.
- Harold Smiley
- Quentin Frowney (debut)
- Sadie Miller
- Lars Barriga
- Onion (non-speaking)
- Jenny Pizza (non-speaking)
- Kiki Pizza (non-speaking)
- Nanefua Pizza (non-speaking)
- Kofi Pizza (non-speaking)
- Buck Dewey (non-speaking)
- Jamie (non-speaking)
- Mr. Fryman (non-speaking)
- Ronaldo Fryman (non-speaking)
- Peedee Fryman (non-speaking)
- Suitcase Sam (non-speaking)
- Zoltron machine
- This episode's name was revealed in the episode listing on the ToonZone website.
- Two concepts from an episode writing game would later become this episode, as revealed in Steven Universe: Art & Origins. The two ideas were an episode involving Mr. Smiley reconciling with an old friend from his comedy days and another about Steven telling fortunes from a crystal ball in an episode called "The Beach City Witch Project."
- The episode's title is a reference to the anime series Future Boy Conan, which Rebecca Sugar has cited as one of her main influences for the show, along with the anime/cartoon franchise Voltron.
- The title is likely a reference to the Zoltar brand of fortune teller machines, one of which was prominently featured in the 1988 film Big.
- Mr. Smiley and Frowney's act could represent the two theater masks symbols associated with drama. The two masks represent the traditional generic division between comedy and tragedy.
- Future Boy Zoltron's design may be based on Japanese superheroes such as Ultraman (particularly, his 80's head design), Space Ironmen Kyodyne (based on the color scheme), or Jumborg Ace.
- Inside the Funland Arcade, an arcade machine of Attack the Light is seen in the background. Also, an arcade machine has the name OK K.O.!, a reference to Ian Jones-Quartey's animated series of the same name.
- Also inside the Funland Arcade is a machine with the name Zone of Adventure, a reference to the actual play podcast The Adventure Zone.
- This is the third episode where Garnet kisses Steven's forehead and gives him temporary future vision. The first two were "Winter Forecast" and "Jail Break".
- Steven mentions that he does not want to be banned from another one of Mr. Smiley's businesses, referencing his ban from all the Funland rides in "Serious Steven".
- Note: Time is displayed in [mm:ss]; [00:00] refers to the point after the title card is displayed and before the episode's start.
- [03:34] The yellow pattern on the side of the Zoltron machine disappears near the top when Onion walks into the arcade. It reappears after Mr. Smiley returns to the machine.
View the episode's transcript here.