Steven Universe 5×02 Review: “The Trial”
We open on a featureless, pastel void. Steven is being held in a prison cell from Homeworld, separated from all his friends and allies, waiting to be judged and punished for his mother’s rebellion. Will he be found guilty? Let’s find out in “The Trial”.
Honestly, part of me is impressed that Homeworld even has a judicial system. Of course, that’s a low bar to clear, and like every other part of this alien society, it is horrifying.
Let’s start with the Diamonds, who preside over this particular trial, and have amazing presence throughout. The Zoo arc shed the two of them in a more sympathetic light, showing Blue Diamond’s grief, and Yellow Diamond’s own desperation to move on. This episode demonstrates that compelling though they might be, they’re still villains. Blue Diamond may be sad and mopey… but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to exact the most painful revenge possible on ‘Rose Quartz’. “I want to know what she thinks we’re going to do to her… because I’m going to do something worse.”
We have seen, time and again, how everyone in the Homeworld order is a slave, forced into some role or other. While the roles of Rubies (expendable foot-soldiers) and Pearls (mindless servants) are both disturbing, in the Zircons we find a position which might match them for sheer terribleness. They’re lawyers, which doesn’t sound too bad… until you notice Blue Zircon’s panic. “Both our Gems are on the line!” she cries to Steven, which makes it pretty clear that Zircon’s are doomed to share the fate of their clients. Clients that they’re assigned. Which really, really sucks when you’ve been ordered to defend a known war criminal.
Initially, Zircon’s interest in the Rose Quartz case is entirely to save her own skin, but she finds herself getting drawn in despite herself when she realizes that ‘Rose Quartz’ genuinely doesn’t know how the assassination took place. Since she doesn’t know that Steven is a separate being from his mother, she assumes this means someone else must have committed the crime, which on the surface seems ludicrous– except she brings up some very valid points.
I’d always assumed that Rose Quartz killed Pink Diamond in the heat of battle… except the testimonials given here suggest otherwise. That Pink had simply stepped out of her palanquin and was attacked unawares, which shouldn’t have been possible when surrounded by a retinue of dedicated soldiers and scrying-Sapphires, and with all Rose Quartzes having long been decommissioned after one went rogue. Zircon therefore proposes that Rose Quartz didn’t commit the murder at all. Rather, it was done by someone within Pink Diamond’s inner circle, and the truth covered up by someone very high ranking. Maybe even a Diamond.
Whooo boy. Whole lot to unpack in there.
It’s possible that Zircon was completely off-base, and this is all a red-herring… but then, it seems strange to waste such a significant part of an episode to that. Nonetheless, we don’t have a lot of wiggle room. A huge part of Steven’s arc is coming to terms with the fact his Mom wasn’t the paragon of virtue he’d always believed, and if it turned out someone else did the deed, it could potentially come off as cheap. Eyeball witnessed the event first hand; the Crystal Gems’ reactions confirmed it; and Garnet even defended it.
So. How did Rose Quartz get close enough to do it?
Shapeshifting is a possibility. Rose could have taken the shape of a loyal Homeworld Gem long enough to get close.
It’s possible that the Pearls played a part in it. A lot of camera focus was given to Blue Pearl and Yellow Pearl in this episode, especially during Zircon’s deduction scene. Is it possible that they were accomplices to the crime?
Or perhaps the true perpetrator is our very own Pearl. The show has been very careful to avoid giving us any details about her past, and if she had once belonged to either Pink or White Diamond, she could have possibly gotten close enough to do the deed. How come everyone saw Rose Quartz do it? Pearl could have shapeshifted into her. We’ve very pointedly never seen Pearl do that on the show, despite her claims that she can. The trauma of an event like this could explain that. (Doesn’t explain why Pearl would have felt the need to hide behind Rose’s identity, however.)
Or maybe we could split the difference, and say that Rainbow Quartz was the killer, which would leave both Rose and Pearl responsible.
Maybe these explanations are getting over convoluted. Maybe Pink Diamond simply trusted Rose Quartz and the rebels more than we’ve been lead to believe, and died because of it.
It’s possible there’s a cover up going on. Yellow Diamond seemed very dismissive of this case from the start, and we still haven’t seen White Diamond at all, so we have no idea of her motivations. But why would either of them orchestrate this? Did Pink Diamond have goals that ran counter to their own, so they felt the need to kill her before she gained the political clout to oppose them?
At this point, we just don’t have enough information to do anything but wildly speculate. In the present, Yellow Diamond does not take kindly to being accused, and poofs Blue Zircon on the spot, swiftly doing the same to Yellow Zircon when she speaks out of turn. (Hopefully they aren’t shattered; neither of them deserve that). Yellow Diamond and Blue Diamond devolve into fierce arguing, and Steven sees his chance to grab Lars and run. The two hijack Blue Diamond’s palanquin and make a grand escape.
Steven is really, really lucky Lars was put on display as evidence, because otherwise, I genuinely don’t think he would have attempted to get away. He willingly turned himself in. He never once tried to explain the true nature of his relationship to Rose Quartz. He confessed to Blue Diamond’s face. He was genuinely intrigued by the observations Zircon made. The only reason Steven made a break for it at the end was for Lars’ sake: he literally is not looking after himself anymore.
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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