Steven Universe 3×21 & 3×22 Reviews: Beta and Earthlings

Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe

The double-dose of Steven Universe that we got today with Beta and Earthlings packed one heck of a punch; I laughed, I cried, I laugh-cried. It was simply amazing.

The Beta and Earthlings episode pair started off with Amethyst and Steven paying a visit to Lapis and Peridot at the barn, and this was definitely one of my top three favorite moments from these episodes. Amethyst was a bit maddening, but understandably so, considering she so recently found out that she is supposed to be like Jasper but spent too much time ‘growing’ in her Kindergarten (which, as fellow Geekiary writer K-K pointed out, is important to note –  because this ‘overcooking’ was what eventually saved Amethyst from the corruption blast). Still, even her attitude couldn’t overshadow everything Lapis and Peridot had been up to. They’ve made the barn their home, and when we first saw them in “Beta”, they were watching Camp Pining Hearts together! They were both excited to have visitors, and Peridot especially wanted to impress Steven and Amethyst by showing them the “meepmorps”.

Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe

Peridot described the meepmorps as making music using things instead of sound, and while she dismissed Steven’s use of the word ‘art’, she has clearly taken to Lapis calling them meepmorps, which is just adorable. As was them showing off the morps – even things like the statue-type item made of broken recorders that Peridot described as having no purpose other than making her feel bad. Thankfully that was probably the most ‘depressing’ of their morps – even the television playing a CPH clip that said “I just feel trapped” over and over again wasn’t there because it reminded Lapis of being in the mirror, but simply because she likes the show.

Beta and Earthlings Steven UniverseLapis and Peridot also made a toilet-and-water performance sculpture called “Occupied” together, and when Peri couldn’t completely get her “one-gem metal band” going by herself, Lapis jumped in to help. I just love that they are flourishing together and can’t wait to see more of them!

Unfortunately, Beta and Earthlings both had some darker moments, too. “Beta’s” began when Amethyst refused to play along with the morps fun and instead went outside to practice with her whip, but Peridot didn’t want to let that rest. Once Steven told her and Lapis about Amethyst’s Jasper obsession, Peridot immediately dove into a rant about how Amethyst’s Prime Kindergarten was better than Jasper’s Beta Kindergarten because “the other half” was made poorly. She then offered to take Amethyst to see the Beta Kindergarten, and off they went…but not before Peri made sure that Lapis was okay and didn’t need anything. Sorry not sorry, that was another big “awww” moment for me.

Beta and Earthlings Steven UniverseOnce they arrived at the Beta Kindergarten, it was easy to see what Peridot was talking about when she called it a “rush job”. The holes were all different shapes and sizes and also randomly placed – some gems even came out sideways. Unfortunately, when they stumbled upon Jasper’s exit hole, there was no denying that it was perfect. Thankfully Steven stepped forward to remind Amethyst, “Who you are isn’t about where you came from – it’s who you want to be, it’s what you’ve worked hard for, it’s what you care about, that’s what really matters!”

If only Amethyst had taken that at face value. Instead she announced that she wanted to be the gem who beat Jasper, but no sooner had she started ranting about doing it for all the gems who came out ‘wrong’ than they stumbled upon a newly- and crudely-dug hole…which led to them discovering that the canyon was full of caged corrupted gem ‘monsters’…and that Jasper was there.

The end of Beta showed Amethyst pulling out her whip in what was a huge cliffhanger, which is another reason why Cartoon Network showing Beta and Earthlings back-to-back was awesome – we got to delve right into the rest of this story, and it was somehow even more amazing than the first half.

Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe

I have to admit that it’s getting really hard to sympathize with Jasper. The abusive relationship theme of “Alone at Sea” certainly didn’t help, and then “Earthlings” began with her outright mistreating the corrupted gem monsters and saying things like “This planet ruins everything…well, except for me” and “You suffer because it’s what you deserve – we all only get what we deserve.” K-K also clarified that it seems as if Jasper doesn’t understand that it was the Diamonds who caused the corruption rather than Earth as a whole doing so, which is a good point. Will Jasper ever know the truth? And if so, will she still continue to follow the Diamonds?

Meanwhile Amethyst was trying to sneak up on Jasper, who called her out almost as if she’d known Amethyst was there all along. At first Jasper asked Amethyst if she was there for a rematch, but when Amethyst said that she was actually there to *win*, Jasper laughed it off and said, “You were fated to lose the moment you came out wrong.”

Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe DiamondsAlthough the lore that was inserted into “Earthlings” was mostly things that we already knew or that fans had at least, for the most part, deduced, hearing it explained so simply was almost refreshing. Every gem was made for a purpose – to serve the order of the Diamonds – who also clearly teach their servants that those who don’t fit inside the order have to be purged. “To come out misshapen” like Amethyst, “to reshape yourself outside your purpose” like Rose/Steven, or “to defend this ruined worthless planet” is all nothing more or less than disgraceful, in Jasper’s mind…and presumably in the minds of most of the other gems who still serve the Diamonds.

It was awesome to see Peridot stick up for Earth, though, considering her past feelings about it…and even more awesome when she proudly shouted, “I’m a Crystal Gem!” Unfortunately the metal powers she bragged about weren’t working very well, but it didn’t matter anyway – Amethyst wouldn’t even let Steven help her fight Jasper. But in the end he had to help her anyway, using his shield to drop a drill between Jasper and Amethyst, who then admitted to Steven, “No matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, she came out right, and I came out wrong.”

But Steven has a way with words, and boy did he use them in the best way possible in both Beta and Earthlings. Thankfully this time his words worked their magic:

Steven: “That’s just what Jasper thinks! She’s the only one who thinks you should be like her! Stop trying to be like Jasper – you’re nothing like Jasper! You’re like ME! Because we’re both not like anybody. And yeah…it sucks. But at least I’ve got you, and you’ve got me, so stop leaving me out of this!”
Amethyst: “Us worst gems stick together, right?”
Steven: “That’s why we’re the best.”

That conversation in and of itself was more than enough to make me choke up a bit, but then something even MORE amazing happened – Amethyst took Steven’s hand and wrapped him in a hug AND THEY FUSED! THEY FUSED! STEVEN FUSED WITH ANOTHER GEM FOR THE FIRST TIME!

Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe Smoky QuartzSeriously, I get choked up just THINKING about it. It was perfect, it was amazing, and their fusion – Smoky Quartz – was also perfect and amazing. Smoky Quartz was decidedly androgynous…and they had THREE ARMS! AND THEIR SHIELD AND WHIP COMBINED INTO A YO-YO! Not to mention the fact that Smoky Quartz clearly has Amethyst’s sense of humor (with a bit of Steven in there to temper it), and it was just great to see that again after so many episodes of Amethyst hating on herself.

Smoky Quartz was also much more adept at dealing with Jasper; they quickly gained control of the fight and even set all but one of the corrupted gem monsters loose. (Gosh I hate calling them monsters.) But then Jasper tried to fuse with the one monster that hadn’t escaped, and it was a disaster. That said, this is Steven Universe, which means the Crewniverse faced this problem in the best way possible – and succeeded with it just as they did when they tackled issues like PTSD and abusive relationships in recent episodes.

Beta and Earthlings Steven UniverseBasically, Jasper forced herself on the corrupted gem monster, a being that certainly did not understand what was going on and therefore couldn’t consent to it in any way. For a short time Jasper was able to keep this forced fusion intact, but eventually the monster broke free from her and was able to run off. When Jasper lamented, “Nobody I fuse with ever wants to stay,” I almost felt bad for her…until I reminded myself of what she’d just tried to do.

And there were consequences to her actions – I don’t know if it was specifically because she fused with a corrupted gem, if it was because she forced the fusion, or perhaps a combination of both. Regardless, she ended up corrupted herself, causing Peridot to scream, “Ew, that’s disgusting!” – something that would have been funny except for what followed. Steven and Amethyst unfused, and Steven truly wanted to help Jasper – but she attacked and injured him and then went on a rant about Rose Quartz:

I see how you do it now, Rose. You want gems after they’re worthless – you wait until after they’ve lost, because when you’re at the bottom you’ll follow anyone that makes you feel like less of a failure.

Jasper then accused “Rose” of trying to manipulate her, but of course Steven was doing nothing of the sort – not that Jasper would believe that he was trying to help. “Help? Help? I’ve been fighting from the second I broke free of the Earth’s crust because of what you did to my colony, because of what you did to my planet, because of what you did to my Diamond!”

Beta and Earthlings Steven UniverseThis left Steven a bit confused, as he assumed she was talking about Yellow Diamond – the only one he knew anything about – but this assumption made Jasper even angrier. “My Diamond! *Your* Diamond! PINK DIAMOND!”

With all of the speculation about Pink Diamond, it was amazing to finally get some canon information about her – I mean, this was the first time we’ve heard someone say her name in the show! Just a small revelation, and one that many fans suspected, but amazing nonetheless. And the reveal itself was perfect, because it opened up more questions about what exactly Rose Quartz did to Pink Diamond.

Still Steven was trying to help Jasper, telling her not to move when it obviously made the corruption worse and even leading to him not really being prepared for the corrupted Jasper’s final attack. But in what was a pretty perfect touch, Peridot seeing the true and immediate danger that her friends were in appeared to be what allowed her to finally gain control of her metal powers and spear the Jasper monster with a bar from one of the cages. Not only that, but Jasper’s gem remained uncracked, and Amethyst even said, “Come here, sis” as she bubbled the gem – the first time she’s done so in the show – and sent it back to the Temple.Beta and Earthlings Steven Universe Amethyst

Both Beta and Earthlings – especially the latter – were emotionally trying episodes, so when they finally made their way back to the barn, I totally understood where Amethyst was coming from when she told Peridot and Steven that she didn’t want to do anything for a month. The problem was, they arrived to find that Lapis had captured the Rubies from the In Too Deep event episodes “Barn Mates” and “Hit the Diamond“…which means that Steven’s Summer Adventure is far from over.

Don’t want to wait another day for more SU? Check out K-K’s Speculative Fan Fusion list!

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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