Friday, May 24, 2024

Room For Ruby Gives Lapis the Spotlight

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That headline likely comes as good news to the many fans begging for more Lapis in recent weeks. Since Steven Universe moved her into the barn with Peridot, Lapis has taken a bit of a backseat. We don’t have a problem with this, actually. Lapis has been through a lot in her life and her time at the barn has allowed her the freedom to breathe and heal from her traumas. Still, other fans have desperately wanted more, and we can sympathize. We love Lapis and will always love seeing her on our screens.

“Room For Ruby” gives Lapis fans what they wanted in the form of another step forward in her healing. Now that Gretchen is back from ClexaCon, Betchen has reformed to recap and spill our feelings all over the place. Surely it comes as no surprise that we have a lot to say. This is Steven Universe, after all.

Spoilers for 4×19 “Room For Ruby” below.


Steven and Garnet start out the episode watching shooting stars and making adorable wishes. When Garnet wishes for another shooting star Steven can wish on, her wish comes true! Only the star came straight out of Rick and Morty and crashes into the beach outside the temple.

They rush down to the crater and find…Navy Ruby! Garnet’s confusion about Steven’s name is interrupted when Navy leaps at them. She begs them to let her stay on Earth. She wants to live somewhere she can be herself and holds no grudges after her previous interactions with the Crystal Gems. Not even that time they tricked her and the rest of the Rubies out of their ship and sent them floating off into space.

Garnet doubts the story, but Steven manages to convince her to let Ruby stay and join the team. Mainly by comparing Navy falling from the sky and discovering the beauty of Earth to another Ruby they know.

Steven says he knows exactly where Navy can stay, and Garnet lets him do his thing. Do you even need three guesses where he takes her? (Hint: it’s the barn.)

Peridot, Lapis, and Pumpkin are watching the sunrise and waiting for stars to wish on (Peridot chooses to wish on the sun) when Steven and Navy show up. Peridot immediately loves the idea of Navy as a “new barn mate,” but Lapis does not. She can’t believe Navy would like them after everything that has happened. Even if she is sincere, Lapis worries about Navy taking to life on Earth since Lapis herself has, and still does, struggle with it.

Steven pleads with Lapis to give Navy a chance. Peridot agrees, and thinks their shared experience will make them good teachers. Reluctantly, but determinedly, Lapis agrees.

They begin teaching Navy. Lapis warns Navy it may take some time to like Earth. Earth is different from Homeworld after all; different and weird. It has things like weather, which she explains to Navy using the barn’s pond to make it rain. Only Navy loves it immediately because a planet where weather always changes is beautiful. This impresses Peridot but makes Lapis more suspicious.

Peridot’s hair here is the best.

Next, they show Navy their “gem cave,” better known as the barn since Lapis hates that name (probably because she has negative associations with enclosed spaces like caves, and mirrors). Peridot offers her any corner she likes. Navy asks them about a hammock, and Lapis explains sleep. She talks about how and why she likes sleep, and again warns that it might take time to get the hang of it. Except yet again, Navy takes to it right away.

The farm is the next stop on their tour (and wow is it thriving). Peridot explains plants and, yet again, Lapis says it’s okay not to love them right away. Yet once again, Navy loves them right away. Lapis finally loses her cool.

She asks about Pumpkin and dirt, which Navy also loves. Then she asks about the gems themselves. Navy thanks them happily for taking her in, and Lapis angrily responds that they were just enemies. She wonders why Navy isn’t angry or distrustful of the Crystal Gems, and is exasperated at Ruby’s enthusiasm. Eventually, she flies away.

steven universe rolling in dirt
They’re so cuuuuute!

Steven and Peridot hurry after her and find her back at the barn. Lapis thinks something is wrong with her since liking Earth took her so long. She wonders why Navy finds it so easy when Lapis found, and still finds, it so hard. Navy overhears and feels bad, so Lapis apologizes for excluding her.

Navy thanks them, because she doesn’t know where she could go without her ship. She says the ship was the only place she felt like home and misses it. Steven shows her where it is and asks her if she’d like to take them for a ride.

Yeah, you know where this is going.

Navy tricks Steven into pressing a button that opens the door and jettisons him, Lapis, and Peridot out of the ship. Navy deceived them so she could get her ship back in the most adorably evil way possible. She could have stolen the ship to begin with, but…

She’s so CUTE, even when she’s diabolically manipulative.

Lapis angrily tries to climb back on board, but Navy maneuvers it so they all fall off into the water below. Steven wants to give chase, but Lapis just starts laughing. You know, since she was right to be suspicious. It’s fitting that this makes Lapis laugh more than anything else we’ve seen. She’s still laughing when they reach the beach to find Garnet waiting with two balloons, one welcoming, one full of sympathy. Upon hearing about Ruby’s betraying, she pops the welcoming one.

Well, it was worth a shot.

Delightful Little Gems

  • Gem planets apparently don’t have weather. Interesting tidbit there.
  • We believe Peridot spent days yelling at stalks of corn and wondering why they wouldn’t speak.
  • Peridot and Steven’s immediate concern for Lapis was heartwarming.
  • Peridot floating the trash can lid up to reach Lapis 😀
  • Garnet’s balloons matched Ruby and Sapphire’s coloring. Gretchen is partial to the idea that the colors of the balloons represent Ruby and Sapphire’s respective beliefs about the outcome. Oh Ruby, always hopeful.

Lingering Questions

  • Did anyone else find it weird that Garnet didn’t know the differences between the Rubies?
  • Was Navy’s plan something she came up with on her own? Was this a master Ruby Crew plan and they sent Navy because she’s the least threatening? If she went on her own, what is her goal?

Closing Thoughts

Well that was something, wasn’t it? We want to spew giddy, emotional praise about Lapis, but we’ll hold off for now. Hard as that is proving to be. After all, we have a new villain to talk about! An adorable, amazing new villain.

Is she really a villain, though? After all, Navy’s methods may have been harshly manipulative, but who can blame her? She and the other Rubies have floated in space for months now. The Crystal Gems were directly responsible for this and took no initiative to help them. They were the enemy who tricked her multiple times and basically left Navy and the other Rubies for dead. Can you really blame her for wanting a bit of revenge while executing a plan to rescue her friends?

You can’t tell us Steven wouldn’t have done the same. And we don’t think the Crystal Gems will blame her, either. To be honest, they kind of deserved what Navy did here. Yet again the habit of the Crystal Gems to ignore issues and hope they go away has bitten them in the behind. Steven knew the Rubies were out there, he knew they needed to help them, and he never acted. Perhaps if they did, the Rubies would have joined them in time.

Instead we’re facing the very real possibility that the Rubies can report back to Homeworld and Earth will be in big trouble.

Steven Universe has done something very interesting in the past 3 weeks. Twice now it has taken Steven’s eagerness to accept others into the Crystal Gems and made it blow up in his face. Ronaldo tried to assume ownership of the Crystal Gem cause, and now Navy hit every single emotional beat necessary to manipulate him towards her goals. We grew suspicious the second she praised weather as beautiful because change is beautiful. It sounded like she had tape recordings of Steven she memorized to know exactly what to say.

How will this affect Steven now? Does this shake his unshakable optimism? Will he show skepticism for any who wants to join now? We think this is worth keeping in mind.

Okay, now let’s get to what we really want to talk about. Because this episode did not belong to Navy or Steven. It belonged to…

Lapis, Lapis, Lapis! Okay, calm down, Betchen. Take a deep breath. Lapis. We have thoughts. Ever since she began her healing, Lapis has struggled with expressing her emotions effectively. After the dysfunction and abuse that marked her relationship with Jasper, her reticence to voice negativity is understandable. We appreciate how much narrative space the Crewniverse gave her to be ‘Bob’, low affect, lack of interest, avoidance of negative emotions, and all. She was given space to be depressed, and also to slowly move forward and explore how to express herself without hurting others.

“The New Crystal Gems” gave us a glimpse of Lapis’ ability to have ‘petty’ arguments without it devolving into running away or lashing out. In “Room for Ruby” we see that she is capable of voicing suspicion while also being willing to consider alternative opinions. She could have dug her heels in about Navy, but chose to make space for Navy instead.

And can we talk about how Peridot reached out to Lapis and offered a solution that both honored Lapis’ feelings and gave her a productive way to deal with them and Ruby? Peridot seems to know how to talk to Lapis in a way that lowers her defenses. The proposition that they could jointly teach Ruby how to enjoy Earth gave Lapis an opportunity to be honest about her feelings and connect with Ruby. Steven, for all that he’s a mediator, can be a tad overly optimistic. Peridot has gone from being the tactless wonder to being a friend who truly understands Lapis’ needs.

Oh Peridot. We adore your concern for your friend.

And talk about huge growth for Lapis dealing with her emotions! Remember when she couldn’t help but sneer at Peridot? Or when she could barely manage a smile? Even though we can see Lapis’ frustration building, she never physically takes it out on Navy. She uses her words. And when she loses her cool, she leaves.

Avoidance might be a habit for Lapis (just see “Same Old World” or “Barn Mates”), but in this situation, we think she was making a healthy choice. We think so because when Steven and Peridot find her, rather than push them away, she opens up. She wasn’t running from her feelings (as she’s done before); she needed space to calm down and take stock of her feelings. Once calm, she explains that she’s not mad at Ruby, she’s mad at herself. She feels broken for not adjusting as easily as Navy seems to be.

It wouldn’t surprise us if living with the energetic, enthusiastic Peridot might contribute to her feeling like there’s something wrong with her for not healing/adjusting more quickly. But that’s a story for another day.

We can’t overstate how important her admission of these feelings is for her. Her first instinct in emotional distress is to flee and avoid, even if it’s just internal avoidance. Yet here she is, admitting she’s not okay and opening up about feeling insecure.

“It’s just like she’s fine with us, like there’s no problem…something is seriously wrong with me. It took me so long to learn to like this planet…Navy just loves everyone and everything right away. She has no guard, no fear. I just don’t get it. Why is it so easy for her when it was so hard for me?”

In fact, the episode directly tackles audience criticism of Lapis’ healing arc. By giving Lapis space to voice her fear and pain over feeling broken, the audience must acknowledge that the rush to see Lapis healed might not be the best way to handle her arc. She doesn’t need to love everything and everyone on Earth right away, the way Navy did. Lapis is taking her own time and healing in her own way. She, and the audience, have to accept healing isn’t instantaneous.

It’s not a callout like “Rocknaldo”, more of a gentle nudge. A reminder that healing takes time, and that hurting people often feel guilt over their lack of perceived growth. Like Peridot and Steven do, we need to give the Lapises in our lives space.

(This episode also struck back at those who believed Lapis was already over her issues. A common criticism lately has centered on Lapis being better already and us seeing none of it. Now Lapis has explicitly stated that she has been trying very hard all this time, but is not yet over her problems with Earth. We always believed this was the case and the Crewniverse would voice this continuing struggle in time.)

And can we say holy cow Lapis acknowledging her issues? She owned her pain and apologized to Ruby. We’d still like an apology to Connie and Greg (and the other Beach City citizens) for the whole stealing water and hurting people thing. But this is a great step in the right direction for Lapis.

Did you all catch how quickly she gets over the betrayal at the end? When Ruby says she consciously manipulated the team (in an adorable way to be sure), Lapis is ready to rumble. But rather than fly after Ruby as Steven is ready to do, she takes the betrayal with a laugh. And it might just be because:

No one can be that well adjusted indeed. (Well, maybe somebody? But not anyone we know.)

Still. Think about the person Lapis used to be. Betrayal used to be a trigger for her, justifiably so. The Crystal Gems, Homeworld, Jasper—most of the people she has any memory of have betrayed her in some form. She even perceived Peridot through this lens after Malachite. But now, she can laugh about Ruby betraying them. She acknowledges that it’s Ruby’s problem, not a reflection of her.

But one of the most beautiful lines this episode comes not from Lapis, but from Garnet.

“Well, it was still worth a shot.”

She might be able to see the future, but for Garnet, hope for the better is always worth striving for. Believing that someone can surprise you, even if it’s a long shot, is worth it. And that slight smile on her face as she says it makes us hope that we haven’t seen the last of Navy. She may still be, as Garnet seems to think, worth hoping for and believing in. After all, Peridot and Lapis have come so far (as we see showcased in this episode), why not Navy?

Betchen is not giving up yet; Ruby Squad for Crystal Gems 2k17.

ourtesy of Cartoon Network

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