Steven Universe 5×07 Review: Gemcation
The Crystal Gem family tries to connect with Steven in “Gemcation”, but their traumatized teenage son isn’t quite ready to open up to them.
Connie still hasn’t called Steven back, and for all his advice to himself about giving her time, in practice he finds that pretty hard to do. Greg concocts a plan with the Gems to drag him out to a cottage in the middle of nowhere, and Steven reluctantly agrees to come.
How much do Greg and the Gems know about what happened to Steven on Homeworld? It’s fairly ambiguous; we have no idea how much Steven told everyone in between “Lars’ Head” and “Dewey Wins“. “Gemcation” suggests not a lot. All of them can tell he’s hurting from something, but they’re grasping in the dark as to what that something could be. Greg especially is worried, since he has no frame of reference for understanding Homeworld society. I think, sooner or later, that’s a shoe that will need to drop… but for now, he encourages each of the Gems to reach out to Steven when he can’t.
Amethyst has always been the one closest to Steven’s ‘level’, as well as the only member of his family he’s successfully fused with. She sprawls out with him on a blanket, and tries to ease her way into a conversation about the stars. Usually, Steven’s perceptive enough that it would work… but just then, he’s so focused on his still-silent phone that it just flies right over his head. Amethyst, for her part, flounders with emotional intimacy, and when all her attempts to reassure Steven fall flat, she’s left just shrugging. Still, it was a cute moment, and a nice set-up for Smoky’s brief reappearance next episode.
Next up to bat is Garnet who… well, she’s always interesting in situations like this. On one hand, she’s deeply caring, and literally built out of love. Garnet knows the importance of communication in all kinds of relationships. On the other hand, she’s still used to setting herself apart from others, and her reliance on Future Vision means that of all the Crystal Gems, she’s probably the worst one to deal with unpredictability when it does crop up. She clearly had a story rehearsed to tell Steven in “Gemcation”, and was certain it would help him understand things.
… unfortunately, Steven’s interests don’t always align neatly with the fans’, and he promptly dismisses Garnet’s beautifully animated Rebellion flashback with a wave of his hand. He’s heard all that stuff before, and doesn’t want more of what he considers to be soft platitudes.
But Steven probably should hear what Garnet was trying to tell him, and not just because I personally am deeply curious about it. At the end of season three, Garnet explained why shattering Pink Diamond was necessary, but Steven still doesn’t seem to have absorbed it. He’s seen the more ‘human’ face of the Diamonds, for lack of a better word, and has seen the cost of their grief. He’s grappling to understand how something that could have caused people such pain could be good, and does seem to be blaming himself for his mother’s actions.
Pearl takes by far the most prompting to go up to Steven, and it is palpable how difficult it is for her. We still don’t know the secrets of her past, but just trying to talk about it seems to have her on the verge of crying and vomiting at the same time. Which just goes to show how distressed Steven is that he doesn’t even notice.
When Steven bursts out that what he’s truly worried about is Connie and runs off, Greg is the one who goes after him. Understanding others has always been Greg’s area of expertise. He tells Steven exactly what he needed to hear: that his family’s not going to be mad at him for making a mistake. That everyone has their own way of coping. That Connie being angry at him doesn’t mean their friendship is permanently ruined. And in the end, when Steven has to confront the fact that Connie hasn’t been trying to contact him after all, Greg’s there to just hold his son.
The rest of their family climbs up on the van moments after. “Gemcation” ends with a reminder to Steven that as important as his relationship with Connie is, he’s not alone right now. He has a network of people who love and support him.
Author: Laura B
Lover of fantasy and science fiction, fascinated in how they impact the real world. Professional writer and science communicator.
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