Steven Universe 4×13 Review: Gem Heist

gem heistIt all started with a dream, and now our heroes find themselves in the depths of a daring caper, surrounded by an unfamiliar landscape, trying to extract something precious. No, it’s not Inception — it’s “Gem Heist.”

Upon entering Pink Diamond’s human zoo, the Crystal Gems see a pair of full-size Amethysts guarding the doors. Pearl despairs that their obvious non-Homeworldness will give them away immediately, but Garnet has a plan. She defuses and Sapphire explains they won’t stand out, if they play the roles they were made for. “Is this going to work?” asks Pearl. “No,” says Sapphire. “Let’s change the future!”

Their disguises — and Sapphire’s high rank — fool the curator of the zoo, Holly Blue Agate. She’s a boots-wearing, voice-booming, two-bunned Gem, and I cannot wait to see her cosplayers. She offers a tour to Sapphire, schmoozing up to the “grand clarity” while sniping at Amethyst and making snide remarks about Pearl and Ruby. We find out that the facility houses and staffs the Quartzes made on Earth, that Pink Diamond’s existence was “finite,” and that Blue Diamond maintains the human zoo in her honor.

Before they can figure out how to get into the “specimen containment area” and rescue Greg, two Amethyst guards interrupt to announce Blue Diamond is coming back to the zoo. The others are helpless as the guards grab Steven and take him to the assimilation bay, where he is processed by some limb enhancer-looking digits before being dressed in a loin cloth and flushed down a tube into what looks like a tropical paradise. “Gem Heist” ends with a shot of Greg, looking very content to be surrounded pampered by other humans.

When we were first introduced to the Crystal Gems, they were built up as some sort of exclusive, amazing, superhero team: the defenders of humanity, completely unmatched. Then the show spent over four seasons building up their history and revealing them to be, in fact, a band of misfits. Amethyst, a half-baked soldier runt who likes to party; Pearl, a personal slave who trained to become a knight; Garnet, the personification of forbidden love; and Steven, the hybrid of two species who should be incompatible. In “Gem Heist,” however, our Gems are forced to play their Homeworld roles, and they are all gloriously terrible at it.

At this point, we’ve gotten quite a few glimpses into how Homeworld treats its citizens, but “Gem Heist” makes the day-to-day drudgery of the oppression perfectly clear. Even when Gems aren’t being actively threatened with death for daring to step outside the party line, insults, microaggressions, and corporeal punishments are constant. Pearls are pretty but dim baubles, meant to serve in silence; Rubies are just dumb baubles; and while Amethysts are supposedly higher ranking, that doesn’t stop Holly Blue Agate from hitting them every chance she gets.

Ah, and what an excellent villain we’ve found in Holly Blue. She’s not the sheer awe-and-terror inducing figures of the Diamonds, but she doesn’t need to be. Like Dolores Umbridge, Holly Blue embodies a pettier, common evil, one that people can experience every day and is all the more loathsome for it.

Now that Steven and Greg are reunited, will they be able to make a daring escape right out from under Blue Diamond’s Gem? There’s just two episodes left in Stevenbomb 5 to find out!

Author: KK Bracken & Laura B

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