I've got you, you've got this, we've all got each other!
Picking up immediately after the events of "Super Watermelon Island", Steven wakes up to find the ground shaking from an earthquake. Peridot yells to him to get up and get in the drill. She asks him where the others are, but he says that the Gems are stuck on Mask Island, unable to warp back, so they have to do it alone. Steven climbs to the platform and, after an uneasy exchange of false confidence, start drilling into the Earth. In the drill, Peridot tells Steven that it'll take two hours to dig down to the Cluster. Steven expresses discomfort since everything is dark and cramped. He asks Peridot how the Gems are supposed to fit, but she is not sure herself, only having relied upon the Gems' shapeshifting abilities. Her plan is not too detailed, either: "We have a drill. We're going to drill."
After they penetrate the asthenosphere, Steven takes note of the fact that there is a lava-like substance all around them. Peridot explains that it is superheated liquid peridotite, a material similar to peridots. He asks her how it was like to be made on Homeworld, but Peridot cannot remember what happened, having only feelings of them. She says that even though she consciously rebelled against Homeworld, she still has difficulty getting over her feelings from growing up on her home planet, but she now has something different that wasn't offered on Homeworld, that being the company of Steven and the Crystal Gems.
Several Cluster Gems suddenly attack the drill, surprising Steven. Peridot infers that Homeworld buried some of the prototypes with the Cluster itself, and allows Steven to man the turret they built for the drill. As he fights off the mutants, he feels uneasy about leaving their gemstones without bubbling them, but Peridot coldly explains that there is no way to help them truly. They are broken beyond repair and are now severely cognitively impaired to the point where they have lost their identity and have only one objective, to find other pieces of themselves. The Cluster is exactly that, formed by millions of shards rather than just two or three.
The drill eventually arrives at where the Cluster is buried. It is revealed to be an immense spherical formation of many different Gems. It appears to begin taking its form, severely distressing Peridot. Steven offers his last words to Peridot as they face a giant ray of light. However, the Cluster calms down, and Peridot notes that it is having trouble taking form. She prepares the drill as Steven tries to offer a peaceful approach. He thinks that the Cluster does not know what it is doing, and it needs help. Peridot is still determined to destroy it, saying that its consciousness is irrelevant so long as it is capable of destroying the world.
Peridot descends onto the Cluster and begins to drill, facing huge difficulty in even trying to pierce the surface. Steven feels a massive pain as she drills, which progresses further as the drilling continues. Eventually, they lose two of their three drill heads as they fail to get through the surface of the Cluster, while Steven begins to see what looks to be the faces of the Gems merged into the Cluster, horrifying him. Ultimately he falls unconscious, soon waking up to see himself floating in darkness, hearing many incoherent voices in unison. Steven finds out that he is talking to the Cluster and learns that the Cluster is obsessed with trying to form. He tries to convince the Cluster not to form and instead try to find other pieces of itself. Seeing as how the Cluster wants to be whole again, it will end up destroying the world along with all the other pieces of itself buried within the Earth. He shows them that perhaps all they need is company and the Cluster finally realize that it does not need to be whole to achieve that purpose, as there are billions of Gems within itself. It ends up panicking, however, as it begins to take form uncontrollably, and Steven wakes up.
He yells to Peridot that the Cluster does not want to form and that it must be bubbled. Peridot is astonished at the idea of bubbling something as massive as the Cluster, but slowly the Gems within it begin to bubble each other. Steven helps and eventually merges all the small bubbles into one huge bubble encasing the Cluster whole. Steven and Peridot arrive back on the surface and celebrate their victory. Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst warp back with an unconscious Lapis. Pearl, visibly concerned, asks if Steven destroyed the Cluster, seeing as how he looks happy. He tells her that they did not destroy the Cluster, but rather he talked to it and convinced it not to take form. It now has its own company and has no reason to form again, mentioning that they'll have much time for bonding now that they are in a bubble. Pearl expresses her incredulity over the fact that they managed to bubble something as big as the Cluster, and Steven simply replies that they had a little help.
The Cluster is shown once more, peacefully laying deep in the Earth inside of Steven's bubble.
- Gem Shards (soundtrack)
- Little Peridot
- The Cluster / Gem Drill (soundtrack)
- Inside The Cluster
- This episode's name was first revealed in the episode listing on the Cartoon Network website.
- This episode reveals that Gems and gem shards can create bubbles even when they are not in their physical form.
- The power to create containment bubbles is featured heavily here, and its limits are further explored.
- Steven can create bigger-than-normal bubbles, albeit with some assistance.
- A Gem does not have to touch an object directly to be able to bubble it.
- Peridot admits to being happy living with the Crystal Gems.
- Peridot affirms that the magma of Earth is composed of melted peridotite, the same component that Homeworld uses to create Peridot Gems.
- The Gem Drill, despite boring to the core of the Earth at a phenomenally fast rate, hardly damaged the Cluster's surface at all, a testament to the sheer hardness of the Cluster.
- The Cluster is revealed to be a gestalt entity, i.e. a being made up of multiple consciousnesses.
- Cluster Gem prototypes were buried in the asthenosphere.
- The controller that Peridot gives Steven resembles a Nintendo 64 controller. However, the controller differs from its real-life counterpart, the fourth yellow C button and the letter C between the yellow C buttons and the green B button and the blue A button are missing, and the words "Nintendo" on the front are gone.
- In the drill's cockpit there are words in Russian Cyrillic saying: "БЛ ПОК", "ЦИФРЫ" (numbers), "КОНТР1" (control1), "ПАРАМ2" (parameter2), and "СХЕМА3" (circuit3). This is a reference to the Russian Mir Space Station command control panel.
- This episode shows that Steven can communicate with fusions, similarly to as he did in the Malachite Realm in "Chille Tid".
- The Crystal Gems were still stuck on Mask Island following the destruction of the warp pad during the fight in "Super Watermelon Island".
- Peridot refers to ears as "head holes", similar to how she referred to other body parts in "Too Far".
- After Steven says he loves Peridot, she replies "Wow, thanks!", a possible callback to "Log Date 7 15 2".
- The barn still has a big hole on its walls from Peridot's rampage in "Message Received", albeit covered in a blue tarp.
- When the Cluster is taking form, the pod of the Gem Drill got smaller and the drill got bigger, however in the next scene the pod and drill are back to their regular size.
View the episode's transcript here.