Thursday, September 28, 2023

“Now We’re Only Falling Apart” is Made of Pure Sugar

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Everyone done reeling from the Pink Diamond revelation yet? No? Too bad, because we have more Steven Universe to talk about! Last time we left off, the other Crystal Gems overheard the truth. You know what that means; it’s time for everybody to process this new information. Typically this involves a lot of singing, crying, and singing while crying. Unfortunately there was no singing this time around. But I’m sure we’ll get there.


Where else to start but gem reactions after the Pink Diamond reveal? Pearl and Steven explain things to an externally panicking Amethyst and internally panicking Garnet. Pearl says that she can finally explain everything now that Steven knows the truth. Garnet can’t keep it together that long and splits. Sapphire unleashes all her anger about being lied to and blames herself for never questioning not only Rose, but Garnet’s existence. She then leaves using the warp pad.

Pearl and Steven give chase. They find Sapphire at a frozen, snowy Rose’s Fountain. Sapphire continues lamenting all those lost in the war, and thinks Pink Diamond did everything to torture them.

Time for Pearl to set the record straight. That’s right, flashback time!

Pearl explains how she was given to Pink a few thousand years before Pink ruled Earth. She often tried and failed to make Pink happy, and we see that running Earth bored Pink considerably. When the first Amethysts start emerging from the Prime Kindergarten, however, Pearl suggests Pink go down to see it personally. When Pink says they can’t because Yellow and Blue would disapprove, Pearl suggests a disguise. And Rose Quartz is born!

Rose and Pearl go down to Earth to see the Amethysts, and from there begin falling in love with Earth. It started as a way for Pink to have fun but developed into genuine appreciation. This makes Pink realize how they’re stealing life from the Earth. She appeals fruitlessly to Yellow and Blue (who create the Zoo in response), and when her options as Pink failed she decided to pose as Rose to scare Homeworld off of Earth.

Then Garnet forms and everything changes.

Rose marvels over Garnet after escaping Blue Diamond and wonders how she had never heard of fusion between two different gems. Ever loyal and eager to please, Pearl tries to fuse with Rose. When they fail, she admits to having feelings about Rose. She imagines staying on Earth and having a life with her. They nearly form Rainbow Quartz before Garnet comes crashing down the hill.

The story ends with Pearl explaining how Garnet inspired Rose to fight not just for Earth, but for the freedom of gems. Sapphire realizes how Rose was inspired and led by those around her, rather than the other way around. She realizes how similar Rose and Pink’s time on Earth was to her and Ruby’s first experiences. Sapphire then realizes how she left Ruby alone and hurries home to reunite with her.

When they return home, though, they find a letter addressed to Sapphire. Ruby is gone. Poor Ruby.

Delightful Little Gems

  • The Famethyst hug each other when they emerge from their holes. In an episode filled with sugary sweetness, that might have been the sweetest moment. Also, 8XM was our Amethyst, for those who might have missed that. They really wanted to wait for her.
  • Now we know for sure that Blue helped fight the Crystal Gems VERY early in the rebellion. If Garnet’s existence was the spark that truly defined the rebellion’s resolve, then a lot of fighting remained after the events of “The Answer”. Blue and Yellow helped for a long time.
  • Why yes, Amethyst, Rose did play a big part in inventing cotton candy.
  • The second-to-last Amethyst to emerge was noticeably smaller than the others.
  • Amethysts and Topazes served in Blue’s court!
  • This isn’t really delightful at all, but check Ruby’s wince when Sapphire says, “she never knows what’s going on.”

Lingering Questions

  • So it appears the Diamonds usually don’t set foot on the planets they conquer? Pink had never been on Earth before, and we saw Yellow overlooking the colonization of the jungle planet from its moon. This makes sense considering the deified status of the Diamonds to their gems.
  • Just how strong is Pearl???
  • Time to start asking what the deal is with White Diamond. A Diamond approaches two other Diamonds about not completing a colony and she isn’t even mentioned. Is White a fusion? A fake? Trapped somewhere? I’m leaning towards the corruption theory, myself.
  • Did Ruby begin writing Sapphire’s name and run out of room, or did she write “Sapphi” and realize she shouldn’t use the GF’s nickname? I only ask the important questions, folks.


No, for real, how in the world do I still not have a firm opinion on Rose Quartz? And I don’t mean this in a bad way. The way the Crewniverse has balanced the incoming information about her without firmly placing her on a good or bad side…how do they do it? How do they continue to portray her in this highly complicated light that keeps us both loving and resenting her?

Though I think everyone can agree that Pearl is pure adorable. And really, this episode was pure adorable.

First, I think I should start off with something of an apology. After the Pink=Rose reveal, I immediately jumped on the “Pearl was used by Rose” sentiment. It appeared as if Pearl’s freedom had always been at least partly a lie and she never achieved the freedom we all thought she did. “Now We’re Only Falling Apart” corrected this assumption and then some. Actually, it proved me completely wrong and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The most consistent aspect of Pink’s personality has been her immaturity, and her immaturity was on display yet again in her discovery of Earth. Her entire reasoning for visiting the Prime Kindergarten was boredom. Her continued exploration was curiosity. She clearly thought out either her actions or the consequences. All her decisions came from a spontaneous desire for a something more she couldn’t really define. Pink’s life was dissatisfied and in search of a direction she couldn’t define.

Turns out Pearl set this direction. In hopes of making her Diamond happy, Pearl chose a path for them both and decided her own future. Pink may have actually started the rebellion, but it was Pearl who truly dreamed it.

I can’t describe how relieved and happy I am. So much of Pearl’s character revolves around the idea of her as the “defective,” renegade Pearl who became much more than she was ever meant to be, and actively chose to do so. The Pink Diamond reveal threw this all into question. Had Pearl’s rebellion never been a rebellion at all? Had she never stopped serving her Diamond after all? Now we know she did, even if Pearl didn’t quite realize it. She had nearly complete agency over her life.

Now clearly there’s still a subservient element to Pearl’s decision-making. Her overriding concern in bringing Pink to Earth and helping her fight was to please her Diamond. There still remains the issue of how much free will Pearl can truly have if she never broke from her main “programming,” which was serving her Diamond. Much of our fears have been eliminated due to this episode, though. Pearl did not haplessly stand by her Diamond while Pink recklessly began the war. Pearl helped lead the way and make the choices she wanted to lead them forward.

And like you’d expect with Steven Universe, she made these choices and challenged all of gem culture through the power of love. Another fear in the aftermath of the Pink Diamond reveal was the truth of the relationship between Pearl and Rose. Did Rose actually care about Pearl? Did she just use her? I don’t think the Crewniverse could have more explicitly rejected this viewpoint.

Rose fell in love with Pearl. She valued, respected, and sought out her opinions on things. She encouraged Pearl to strike out from the role she was made for and become something more. And obviously Pearl loved Rose. Whatever potential problems existed in their dynamic, it’s clear their relationship became one of mutual respect and affection. It’s honestly a huge relief. I wonder why I ever thought otherwise. Pearl mattered more than she ever even realized.

She wasn’t alone, either. Even without seeing the promos, you knew Garnet would not take the news about Rose well. As she says, her entire existence was based around Rose validating her existence. She views the Diamonds as pure evil and worshipped Rose for fighting against them. Her idealization of Rose was almost certainly the main reason she could handle her survivor’s guilt, which we saw a glimpse of with Sapphire in this episode.

Like Pearl, she always thought she followed Rose. In truth it was the other way around. Garnet was THE symbol of the fight for Earth’s freedom. She embodied all the beauty Pink Diamond found on Earth. She is made of love, and her love inspired every Crystal Gem, including Rose.

Ultimately, the rebellion never belonged to Rose at all. It belonged to everyone who fought alongside her. Pearl began it. Garnet made it something more. In many ways Pink Diamond simply joined along for the ride. She served as the necessary conduit, for sure. There can be no rebellion without a figure like Rose as its figurehead. That doesn’t make it hers, though. And I love it. Revealing Pink as Rose kind of soured the rebellion. It made us wonder whether it was all necessary, in the end, or just some reckless game Pink played because of her immaturity.

Safe to say, I feel much better about it now. Rose’s rebellion remains tragic and reckless, and I still question whether Pink did the right thing. I no longer question whether she led numerous gems to their deaths and corruption out of sheer selfishness, though. I never question whether she suckered a bunch of gems into her war and manipulated them to her own ends.  Pearl made this choice for herself. Garnet did, too. I have to assume everyone who joined them saw these two and came to the same conclusion Pink did, that they were worth fighting for.

Pearl and Garnet will come out the other side of this in great shape. Damn if they don’t deserve it.

Some people might not like Sapphire forgiving Rose so quickly. To those fans I’ll say this; this episode was a lot like “The Answer” and clearly in an intentional way. If anyone wasn’t sure while it happened, then Sapphire outright saying Pearl and Rose went through the same experience should have cleared it up. She’s right; Pearl and Rose go to Earth, explore it, and have the entirety of gem culture questioned along the way. They fall in love through their adventures. The story Pearl tells is shockingly similar to the one Sapphire experienced alongside Ruby.

“Now We’re Only Falling Apart” was a pointed rebuttal of a lot of the worst theories and fears fans had in the wake of the Pink Diamond reveal. It made clear that whatever the truth is about Rose and Pink, the heart of the rebellion is not up for debate. It was so much more than Pink and the truth of her motivations. I’m sure Sapphire will continue to have issues with Rose moving forward. So will Ruby, Steven, Amethyst, Pearl, and everyone else who eventually finds out.

This episode was an absolutely adorable reminder of the love at the heart of Steven Universe.

Images Courtesy of FX


  • Bo

    Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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