! -Maybe it's just me, but…Sardonyx kinda looks like a racist caricature.
! I really don't see it. The pronounced lips thing? Since Garnet has that, too. And so does Amethyst. And Sugilite. And Opal. And Sapphire.
! Now, about this whole Pearl fiasco, I enjoy complex characterization and development as much as the next guy, but…I dunno. Something bugs me about this development, and I think it may be because it was kind of arbitrary? Like, I know Pearl has some deep self-worth issues stemming from her being designed to be a low-ranking disposable soldier (presumably) and her entire history with Rose. But this was, of course, an objectively wrong thing for Pearl to do and I'm just not sure why it happened at this time. Is it because of the stress of dealing with the Homeworld Gems or was it just a matter of time before she snapped? In any event, the way it was portrayed just came across as making her look really unstable to me. I don't know, maybe it'll make more sense on a rewatch or once we find out more of the Crystal Gems' past.
! Well, she's still my favorite so I'm hoping she'll eventually be able to recover and come to grips with her self-worth.
! Well, all of this has been provoked by Steven's existence. All the gems have changed a lot through the course of the series as a consequence of his birth and Rose's death. They've had to adopt different roles and confront plenty of truths and dealing with them has stressed them and caused them to change in both good and bad ways. Amethyst has had to find inner strength and self-confidence to be a better role model for Steven and pull her weight in the team now that she's no longer the runt of the group, Garnet has learned to open up more emotionally to communicate with him and not hurt him as well as deal with the new leadership role she's assumed and Pearl, well Pearl's been affected a lot.
! Pearl cared a lot about Rose and has been trying to find herself in Rose's wake. She's filled the void by serving Steven and Garnet. She's had to learn a lot about accepting the losses in her life and not letting them define her. The chain of Pearl's craziness and its development can be sourced back to Ocean Gem, where she first considered Homeworld again and thought of going back, now that Rose isn't tying her to Earth anymore. That's the first instance in which we saw her lose her cool. The next big step was Rose's Scabbard, where she learned that her relationship with Rose wasn't what she thought it was. That episode ends with an uncertain look in Pearl's eyes, her new conflict not fully resolved. I think between those two, her newfound loneliness really hit her. A few more episodes since then both highlighted these issues and forced her to confront them, particularly Sworn to the Sword, where she came into conflict with her remaining devotion to Rose.
! Cry For Help is where it came to a head. Pearl, feeling lonelier and weaker than ever reveled in the opportunity to form Sardonyx. When she fused with Garnet the first time, she was allowed to feel a strength that she was really doubting in herself, and that high was so powerful that she risked hurting her friends just to get it again.
! In short, Pearl was feeling sad, but Sardonyx made her feel not sad so she went out of her way to form Sardonyx again. The more I think about it, the more I realize how well-crafted of an arc it really was.