Log Date 1 11 16: Steven Universe Roundtable Received
Warning: Please note that this article contains spoilers through Steven Universe 2×26: “Log Date 7 15 12” as well as speculation on what might happen in the show’s future.
Thanks to my friend K-K and the wonderful Steven Universe subreddit, this article brought me together with several amazing Steven Universe fans to discuss our thoughts on last week’s Steven Bomb.
No seriously, I lurk on the sub and it’s one of the most positive subreddits I’ve ever seen, and these fine people make me want to take a more active part in it! Keep reading for our thoughts on Steven Universe theories, Peridot’s “redemption arc”, and more!
Who was your favorite character introduced during this bomb?
Laura: As strange as this might seem, considering that we only saw her for about fifteen seconds and she didn’t say a single line, Blue Diamond’s Pearl. Ever since we first received hints about there being multiple copies of Gems, with Pearls specifically being a servant class, I was fascinated by the concept. It makes sense that I’d latch onto the first ‘other’ Pearl we’ve seen. We’ve only gotten a glimpse of “Blue Pearl” so far, but that glimpse piqued my interest. I want to know about the exact nature of her relationship to Blue Diamond and the role she played in her Court. I want to see her personality, see how it differs from both our own Pearl and the snooty, brown-nosing Yellow Pearl. I want to know why she was one of the few non-main characters in ‘The Answer’ not shown in silhouette; was it simply to make the fact she was a Pearl clearer, or does it suggest that she will play some larger role in the future?
fennric: Aw man, so many Gems! I fell for our brand new Shoulder and Backhand Rubies as soon as the promo showed them – tiny screaming red loaves of bread – and both of the Diamonds have been compelling as hell (oh boy I am loving Patti Lupone as YD). But ooh, I gotta say I’ve been a sucker for Yellow Pearl from the moment she smugged onto our screens. She’s so interesting to compare to the Pearl we know: both can outwardly appear somewhat snooty (heh) but while we’ve seen the extent of our Pearl’s insecurity, this one seems rather different – conniving, all too comfortable in her position and enjoying bringing others down. She’s terrible. I love her already.
But then, it’s not that simple, is it? Her Diamond still seems to have the capacity to terrify her. She’s in a volatile position, no matter how much she takes advantage of it, and she’s still ultimately treated as nothing. All this makes for quite the interesting situation… and makes me want a revolution of the Pearletariat all the more.
Anthony: There were so many new characters that I would like to know more about, but my favorite character introduced in this bomb is Blue Diamond. I really love her design. She’s giant and imposing, but calm and elegant. Even when she shows anger (although it’s through Garnet’s story telling) she does not have wild and unhinged expressions like Yellow Diamond. She’s enigmatic, staying shrouded among her court. We only see a little of her, but can already get a sense of her character.
Also, I thought her robo-spider sedan chair was pretty neat. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.
K-K: Yellow Pearl stole my favorite moment of the bomb with her smug onscreen slide, but Yellow Diamond is my favorite new character introduced. She is a type of villain I’ve never seen before; part bureaucratic despot, part jilted ex-girlfriend, part immortal titanesque divinity. Her design, from her neck to her expressions to her diamond-pupiled eyes, is deliciously alien, always a good reminder as our favorite Crystal Gems become more and more human in the emotions they display. I think Patti Lupone brings a thrilling talent to the cast and I’m so excited for whatever Yellow Diamond’s future role is going to be on the show moving forward.
Tara: Yeah, I’m with K-K on this – Yellow Diamond is so bad but also so, so damn good. I agree with Anthony that Blue Diamond was great – her enigmatic portrayal definitely left me wanting more – but for me it was Yellow Diamond who stole the show (at least for now). Her expressions were frighteningly hilarious and Patti Lupone is absolutely perfect in this voice acting role.
Airam: Yellow Pearl really stood out for me in “Message Received”. She barely had a minute of screen time, and yet she totally stole the scene she appeared in, to the point that I didn’t even notice the notable length of Yellow Diamond’s neck at all until I saw posts about it afterwards. And of course Deedee Magno-Hall’s voice for her adds so much character. I especially love how smarmy and self-important she acts towards Peridot, partially because it reminded me a bit of Filipino colonial mentality behavior. She acts as if she’s above Peridot by virtue of where she is and who she’s associated with, but it does nothing to elevate her actual status within the system. It’s most probably a coping mechanism she developed for the situation she’s in because in the end she is still “just a pearl” under the ownership of someone who greatly terrifies her. It’s kinda messed up, but that’s what makes her fascinating as a character.
Laura: Like many people, I’ve been doing a lot of revision of the ‘Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond’ theory. There has long since been a lot of narrative evidence suggesting this might be the case – the fact that Rose’s past is so shrouded in mystery, the many references to Steven and royalty, the Pink Diamond motifs in old Gem ruins which are conspicuously absent or destroyed in more modern ones. This past week seems to have been a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ for the theory, though, with conflicting evidence abounding. For example, Yellow and Blue Diamond are absolutely massive- Rose may have been Amazonian, but the Diamonds are true giants, and it’s hard to reconcile the size difference without employing some serious shape-shifting shenanigans. Furthermore, the Diamonds’ gems seem to be literally ‘diamond’/kite shaped, a striking difference to Steven/Rose’s gem. Whatever the case, the show is deliberately keeping Pink Diamond a mystery, refusing to acknowledge her by name or show her mural, which makes it clear that she has some kind of importance; we just don’t know how.
K-K: I’m excited that the show seems to be hinting more strongly that our Pearl was not designed for Rose Quartz. She might have been made for White Diamond, since both Yellow Pearl and Blue Pearl had corresponding placements and the mural in “Message Received” showed us that White Diamond’s gem placement was also on her forehead. The exact circumstances of Rose and Pearl’s relationship are still mysterious but for now I prefer their devotion to each other to be explicitly by choice.
Airam: Before this Bomb, I’d been toying around with the idea that different gems touching each other’s physical forms was taboo or at least highly discouraged for any number of reasons, such as difference in station, possible corruption, accidental fusion, etc. Another idea was that Ruby could defy Future Vision because of her passionate nature and determination. Both of these were beautifully confirmed in “The Answer” when Ruby and Sapphire fused for the first time.
fennric: Well, Pink Diamond Theory is the biggie, isn’t it? And it’s been strengthened by all this, I think. What with Pink Diamond’s gem most likely being on her belly, in accordance with the other three and their positions on the Diamond insignia. They’re quite deliberately concealing her, too – no doubt any more that there’s definitely something up with her!
I’ve long had a barely-substantiated suspicion that Pearl may have something to do with White Diamond, too – and now with the link between the Pearls’ gem positionings and their Diamonds’, it looks like that’s actually gaining support. Now that’ll be interesting.
I don’t think I’ve actually had to reconsider much thanks to this bomb, apart from one early Garnet design I’ve been drawing that’s now horrendously inaccurate, dammit! Apart from that, though, I’ve escaped unscathed… this time(!)
Anthony: I think that this bomb really disproves the theory that Rose was Pink Diamond. I didn’t really subscribe to that theory, but seeing how giant and important the Diamonds seem, I’m sure Rose wasn’t one. If she was, it would have been a civil war with Pink Diamond’s loyal army instead of ragtag army of rogue gems the Crystal Gems seem to be. Pink Diamond is still a big mystery and I’m staying with my theory that either Rose or Pearl started the rebellion by shattering Pink Diamond.
Tara: I mentioned in my review of “It Could’ve Been Great” that unfortunately I don’t follow much of what goes on with Steven Universe outside of the show itself (and once in a while sharing random pictures of gifs of it on my Tumblr). Because of this I don’t have a handle on very many theories, though the big one I do know about is the aforementioned Rose-as-Pink-Diamond theory…and I agree with Laura and Anthony that these episodes took some steps toward disproving this particular idea. For me it was mostly the Diamonds’ size that did it, and the possibility that Rose or Pearl started the rebellion by shattering Pink Diamond is an interesting one that I think could get behind.
Laura: Pretty much all of the animation details in “The Answer”. Everything in that episode was simply so gorgeous and well thought-out. Portraying background Gems in silhouette to show their lack-of-focus, the ‘honeymoon’ stage of love portrayed by Garnet’s original cotton candy colour scheme, how all of the Crystal Gems’ color palettes become more varied after they’re on Earth, where they’re allowed to be depicted more as individuals…it’s immensely clever and satisfying.
fennric: I was tremendously affected by the picture of Greg and one-year-old Steven in the photo album seen during Steven’s Birthday. Greg’s expression said a lot – one year widowed and infinitely tired from raising a kid alone, but relieved to be celebrating his son’s birthday and making it a good one. So much depth in there, in such a small way.
Airam: Everything about “The Answer” is so beautiful and well-thought out and I loved every second of it. But the moment that stood out the most for me is the shot of Sapphire grabbing Ruby’s hand before running off the Cloud Arena. It was a small moment, only a few frames and easily overlooked, but it was such a powerful statement about Sapphire’s character. In just the previous scene, she was willing to stand and do nothing about Pearl poofing her because she had simply accepted that it was an inevitable part of the future she foresaw. But after Ruby saved her and accidentally fused with her, it was like she realized that the future wasn’t set in stone (heh). Sapphire refused to let Ruby be broken, so she grabbed Ruby and ran, paralleling how Ruby refused to let Sapphire be poofed by the rebels.
Ruby wasn’t the only one who chose to change fate that day.
Tara: I can’t really say much that Airam didn’t already say or what I wrote in my review of “The Answer”. That entire episode was everything I wanted (including some things I didn’t even know that I wanted), but those little parallel moments when Ruby and Sapphire save each other are just perfection.
Anthony: How the Earth in Steven Universe’s universe looks. They put a lot of effort into making it. It is consistent in every episode that shows a part of it. They show us a whole map of it in this bomb, and it’s incredible on how much detail is in this alternate Earth. Since it seems that the continents’ shape is just a fact in that world, we might never get an explanation on it. It’s just a cool thing they added to make it their own.
K-K: When the scarred and pitted image of the would-be Gem colony of Earth fades after Garnet smashes the apparatus projecting it, and actual Earth is shown floating green and blue and undisturbed in the distant space. It was such a nice reminder of everything that Rose Quartz and the Crystal Gems fought and continue to fight for, and great foreshadowing of how far Peridot’s loyalty has shifted.
What do you think of the Peridot Redemption Arc in this week’s episodes?
Laura: Going into this Bomb, I was confident that while Peridot would eventually join the Crystal Gems, but that it was going to take a long time to reach that point. Indeed, my immediate reaction after watching “Message Received” was that I thought the turn came remarkably quick; one moment Peridot’s worshipping Yellow Diamond as a flawless goddess, the next she’s calling her a clod to her face. Upon re-watch, however, it’s clear that Peridot’s opinions are far more subtle and complex than that. The fondness for Earth and the Crystal Gems that Peridot developed was merely what encouraged her to draw up plans to halt the Cluster experiment and avoid the destruction of organic life on Earth. What caused her to actually betray Yellow Diamond was the realization that she wasn’t the perfect paragon of reason and rationality she’d been made out to be. Peridot may have made the first steps down the road of redemption, but she still has a long way to go before she truly accepts her fellow Crystal Gems and their cause. I look forward to seeing that happen.
K-K: It was some of the cleverest writing I’ve ever seen on television! It was justified both in the moment during Message Received, and then retroactively bolstered by Log Date 7 15 2. Not to mention that during this whole arc Steven got to show off some of his own character growth by taking Peridot’s theft of the Diamond communicator seriously. Peridot still has a ways to go before she and the Crystal Gems are totally on the same page, but in the meantime, it’s great to see her try to better understand them, and for them to do the same for her.
Anthony: I assumed that Peridot’s redemption was going to happen for sure, but loved how they went about it. It wasn’t out of necessity, since she could have just had Yellow Diamond pick her up. She really saw the beauty of Earth in her own way. Rose loved the living things on Earth, Pearl could be anything, Garnet could be herself, and Amethyst just loves her home planet. For Peridot, she loved the uniqueness and the experiences of Earth, something that Homeworld doesn’t have. Another thing, Peridot is still not 100% on board yet. She is conflicted about her loyalty to Yellow Diamond, and feels that being a traitor is wrong. I think that it’s more natural that way, since it makes sense that a loyal gem like Peridot isn’t going to switch sides in an instant.
fennric: So, so glad Peridemption’s came through. I think it’s been a really interesting examination of how some people aren’t necessarily bad; they just haven’t known anything other than the deeply flawed culture in which they were raised. People have pointed out that in that sense, it’s not so much a Peridemption as it is a Peridigm shift(!) And her moment of truth in “Message Received” is nigh-perfect in its characterization. She’s still trying to fit into the framework of everything she’s known, but with new beliefs that don’t reconcile with Homeworld’s. That episode is what finally shows Peridot that their world and her new one are irreconcilable, as well as breaking the pedestal upon which she’s always put her leader, because Yellow Diamond is *not* perfectly reasonable and rational. Considering how much consideration Peridot has given to other people’s beliefs, it’s really Peridot who’s been the reasonable one here – being everything she thinks her leader should be. And though she’s had to abandon everything she used to know (and that’s never easy) she has integrated with the Crystal Gems and, slowly, she’s rebuilding. Still learning, not quite there yet, but on the way up.
Tara: I agree, Peridot is still in this phase of trying to understand Earth and the Crystal Gems and come to terms with what she’s done, refusing to help Yellow Diamond destroy Earth and then calling her a clod. At the same time, I personally am not a big fan of the idea of this being a “redemption arc” for Peridot. To repeat something I said a review last week, she’s been with them a few weeks, but that’s not a very long time, especially when you’re trying to change someone’s ingrained values. As of now I like the timeline they have going and I don’t want to call this a redemption arc per se because before her [prety damn short] time with the Crystal Gems, she’d never known anything other than loyalty to Yellow Diamond. I absolutely love the idea of a “Peridigm shift” over a “Peridemption”!
Laura: The immediate obstacle in their way is the Cluster, and I expect that the next few of episodes will be dealing with its deactivation. We’ve been focused on it since “Catch and Release”, and now that it’s served its function of forcing Peridot into a truce, keeping it around risks making the plot drag. Meanwhile, we still have Malachite boiling away in the ocean. Presumably, Lapis and Jasper will eventually re-fuse, which could lead to some very interesting dynamics as they interact with the rest of our main cast. Additionally, Homeworld still hovers on the horizon as a long term threat. Sooner or later Yellow Diamond is probably going to a send a ship out to collect her Cluster, and when she finds the Earth still intact, she is not going to be happy. It will be interesting to see how our heroes will fare in a more direct confrontation with her authority.
Tara: Oh gosh, I can’t really think about much beyond the Cluster, but mostly because I agree with Laura – keeping it around much longer will likely only serve to drag out the plot, so I hope they take care of it soon. But yeah, I think that will push things toward a confrontation between the Crystal Gems and one or more of the Diamonds…I just don’t know if I can (or want to) think that far ahead, ha.
Anthony: They might come to a point where they have to face Homeworld again, and they will struggle to come up on top. Currently, it’s the five (or six if you consider Garnet as two) of them versus an entire empire. They barely won versus a single Jasper warrior, so they would need to find a way to get more allies. However, if Steven could get Peridot to abandon her mission, it’s possible that he could incite another rebellion. It does seem that Steven is destined to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
K-K: Of the three threats facing the Crystal Gems currently (the Cluster, Malachite, and the Diamonds), it seems apparent the Cluster will have to be dealt with first. I would not be surprised if they find Peridot’s erstwhile companions in the meantime – now that Peridot’s on the firm path to redemption and to becoming a Crystal Gem, I’d like to see Jasper and Lapis Lazuli get the same opportunity.
fennric: I reckon Yellow Diamond knows what’s up. Asking who crashed the ship, receiving a rather forced lie from Peridot in return. Story-wise too, there’s realistically no way the Cluster can end up developing fully. However that’s resolved, Yellow Diamond is going to know something happened to it and investigations are bound to ensue. All the more, events seem to be escalating; the Crystal Gems likely won’t be safe from Homeworld for long.
Laura: Peridot’s lack of knowledge about music. While the set-up to the song ‘Peace and Love (On the Planet Earth)’ may have partially been yet another joke about Peridot not understanding Earth things, like chickens or bathrooms, it has some very interesting implications. Music has always been presented as incredibly important to Gems (best illustrated by fusion, which is accomplished through dance), and judging from the glimpse we got in “The Answer”, this held true even before the rebellion. Yet, despite this importance, a young Gem like Peridot is completely ignorant of it. According to Lapis Lazuli, Homeworld has been transformed over the past five thousand years, and this information about music is our first sign of how a horrifying dystopia has only become more horrifying.
Anthony: Yellow Diamond has a personal vendetta against the planet Earth. She really wanted it destroyed more than anything. It’s implied that the Cluster was her idea, since she called it “my Cluster” and it was her team that was sent to check on it. Something in the past made her angrier at the rebellion more than the other Diamonds.
Also, she will not like the idea that a rogue Peridot with all the knowledge of the Cluster is planning to stop it. It’s possible that Yellow Diamond knows that Crystal Gems are still in operation on Earth. She might put the pieces together about how Peridot got stranded with a lack of an escort, and send a force greater than a single Jasper and a ship to fetch Peridot. I’m guessing after defeating the Cluster, the Crystal Gems’ next challenge is stopping an alien armada.
fennric: We’ve only just got confirmation that Pearls are seen as little more than status symbols – trophy wives, even – on Homeworld, and now we’ve got Pearls all over the place. Sullen, subservient Blue Pearl. Smug, snooty Yellow Pearl. It’s certainly giving me the sense that this is the beginning of something. There’s also that one hovering sphere seen in the moon base – likely the same one that White Diamond was holding in the mural. Now that’s a mystery right there…!
Tara: Definitely everything we learned about fusion, most of which happened in “The Answer”. (I doubt I’ll ever stop talking about this episode; it’s one of my favorites in the entire series. If not THE favorite.) The fact that different Gems didn’t fuse before Sapphire and Ruby “mistakenly” did so, and the fact that Garnet was more parts Sapphire and Ruby than a completely blended fusion at first, was a story well told. Especially when you take that new knowledge and review Peridot’s reactions to Garnet, both from before and during this Steven Bomb.
K-K: Understanding just how deep the taboo against fusions of different Gems goes in Homeworld’s culture will have far reaching implications. Perhaps the Diamonds are secret fusions themselves, perhaps “the answer” was not just love, but also Rose’s tactical key to defeating Homeworld. At the least, Garnet’s anguish in “Keeping It Together” that the Cluster was “punishment for the rebellion,” a literal perversion of her very existence, sharpens the intensity and the drama going forward.
Laura: After a lot of thought, I’d say Amethyst and Pearl fusing into Opal. It’s been a really wonderful journey seeing the two of them becoming more comfortable and secure with each other. It was rarely given a lot of focus, just little moments in the background, but that helped it feel so organic. It reminds me a lot of some of my most valued real life relationships. You grow and develop them, and eventually, you reach the point where you just understand the other person, implicitly. It was an incredibly warming moment, watching the two so seamlessly flow into fusion.
K-K: I related to Peridot ignoring the shoehorned heterosexual ship in Camp Pining Hearts in favor of a queer pairing instead. Plus I, too, would severely lose my cool if Garnet ever offered to fuse with me.
Airam: “The Answer” is everything I wish I had growing up queer in a conservative, homophobic environment. My favorite moment, though, is Garnet’s line when asked how she felt about the whole thing: “I feel lost and scared… and happy. Why am I so sure that I’d rather be this than everything I was supposed to be, and that I’d rather do this than everything I was supposed to do?” I believe this is a nice summation of the first time a person comes out to and embraces their self. The confusion, the fear, the hesitation – all because you’re not “how you were supposed to be” as dictated by the society and culture you live in, but at the same time there’s nothing you’re more sure of than how right it feels to be true to who you are. And then this is immediately followed by Rose and Pearl welcoming Garnet with wide grins, accepting her exactly the way she is. It’s a truly heartwarming moment for me.
Anthony: The episode “Steven’s Birthday” reminded me a lot of when I was growing up. Steven wanting to be taller, have a deeper voice, have facial hair, etc. I felt for Steven when he really wanted to be older. The episode does a great job in showing the maturity part of puberty. The shows I saw growing up always went with the awkward, gross route for male puberty. I wish I would have recognized the positives of puberty while growing up – maybe I wouldn’t have been so self-conscious of my body at that age. I hope young males will see puberty as something other than weirdness when seeing this show, but I’m sure there are a lot of other things that will keep that stigma alive.
fennric: It didn’t quite sink in at first, but all the more I’m struck by the caring thoughtfulness of Peridot and Garnet’s non-fusion in “Log Date 7 15 2”. Garnet accepts that Peridot isn’t ready for this particular kind of intimacy; Peridot comes to an emotional intimacy with her instead. Having dealt with (but thankfully escaped from) a coercive, manipulative partner myself, this shows me something I didn’t have but makes me hopeful that I could have it some day – and it’s all the more reassuring that this is on a kids’ show, for kids to learn from, look up to and be inspired by. My experiences haven’t been the best, but perhaps the future could be better overall.
Tara: Oh gosh, I absolutely loved everything surrounding Peridot and Garnet *not* fusing, especially having been in abusive relationships myself…but while it’s hard to pass that moment/scene up, the part of this bomb that resonated most with me came from “The Answer”. Are you surprised? How many times have I brought up this particular episode now? Haha.
Anyway, Ruby and Sapphire’s first fusion is something I can’t get out of my head. Probably because it’s something I’ve felt before, at least as much as anyone who’s only human could – that moment where at first you don’t know and then suddenly DO know that you’re exactly where you need to be. For me, that was a relationship, but the reality is that it could be many things in real life – a physical location, for example; perhaps a job (or better yet, a career). Regardless, that was a beautiful moment that represented a beautiful feeling and at this point if Sapphire predicted that I would watch this episode a dozen more times in the near future, I wouldn’t try to change that at all.
What did you think of Steven Bomb 4? We’d love to hear about your favorite character(s), moments, etc. in the comments!
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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