We’ll be honest, our initial reaction to finding out that the next Steven bomb had leaked early was
The (official, then unofficial, then officially offical) leak made our morning. And maybe made Bo feel guilty for a few hours. Thank you, universe, for this precious gift after such an awful year. As a reaction rather than a full scale analysis, this will only be mildly spoilery. We’ll try to be as vague as possible. If you’re desperate to squee (like we still are) or want to analyze, hit Gretchen up on Tumblr. Still, in the interest of fairness:
Spoiler warning for Steven Universe through 4.14
At long last, Chekov’s Ruby spaceship returns for an encore performance as the Crystal Gems return to space. The Homeworld worldbuilding continues to creep along, giving us just the information we need when it’s relevant and in appropriate doses. Never too much at a time, never not enough. It might not be enough for Gretchen, but that’s because she wants to know everything now. She needs to see more Homeworld infrastructure and gem types, okay? At least we got an actual Homeworld space station, even if it is a menagerie. We also get a good look at the social dynamics between Gem types, some of which are new (yay!).
As one would expect from Steven Universe, Pink Diamond’s human zoo has just the right tonal balance between idyllic and tragic. The show undercuts the illusion of paradise without resorting to full scale freaky dystopia, foregrounding the concept of human choice and how much our free will and ability to live unique and individual lives makes us who we are. It’s a continuation of Rose’s theme, where her attachment to Earth stems directly from her appreciation for human individuality and freedom. Additionally, we get to see what human life might have been like if Rose had not started, and won, the Gem War, and the potential cause of her decision to rebel.
The Choosening is by far Gretchen’s favorite part: a frank discussion of consent and love in a context that makes sense. Then again, why should we be surprised they were able to do this? We’re not. Our Eminence Rebecca Sugar is a genius. Plus, they snuck in a George of the Jungle reference for Gretchen to giggle at. They also managed to make the scene both queer and poly friendly, which is lovely. This show never cease to delight with how much they get away with in children’s programming.
On to characters. We get some great self-esteem building for Amethyst, for which we’re both immensely grateful. She’s Gretchen’s baby and a Martell and deserves all the love and validation. We get to see just how much she’s grown since she first revisited the kindergarten in 1.40 (“On the Run”) and declared, “I never asked to be made”. We also get more strong cues that Jasper’s personality stems from her personal choices rather than being an inherent part of Homeworld soldier gems made on earth (e.g., Jaspers and Amethysts). She’s not just ‘following her function’, she’s making a decision to be who she is. And the new gem types are the best of treats.
Steven gets moments of character growth as well, and what appears to be at least one climax in his arc concerning the most effective ways to heal and help others. We’re digging the continued exploration of Steven x Greg alongside Steven’s quest to understand Rose and how she and he are connected. Parent/child dynamics, yo.
They close up a few loose threads with previous minor characters and open up some fascinating new ones. (Homeworld gem insurrection anyone? Get Hype.) Also? Sapphire is freaking hilarious, and we want more of her leading nail biting escapades. How can she be both so awkward and so poised at the same time?
Continued reference to the Cluster means we’re not done with that piece of plot either. No surprise there. 3.02, “Gem Drill” had the feeling of putting the Cluster “on hold” rather than it being fully resolved. Interestingly, the Diamonds still think of the Cluster as an active superweapon, perhaps they don’t know what happened when Steven interacted with it? We’ll have to see. Speaking of the Cluster, the visual parallels between how the Cluster/Gem Mutants and certain human characters experience pain intrigues us. We hope to get some follow through.
Last but not least, the Diamonds. We finally got to meet Blue officially, and boy do we have all the feels about her. She immediately jumped into Bo’s top 5 character list. His favorite part has to be Blue Diamond’s official unveiling. In a matter of possibly a minute they took a villain established as cold and unfeeling and created a character anyone can empathize with. She is still a Diamond; don’t confuse his empathy with excuse-making. Yet, once again the Crewniverse shows exactly why Steven Universe ranks among the very best on television. They work character magic in seconds that many shows can’t manage over multiple seasons of 13 60-minute episodes. Blue Diamond fanart is currently exploding for a very good reason.
We don’t want to get too far into spoiler territory, but let’s just say that she and Yellow are very different characters. Seeing them talk and interact about Pink Diamond has given us some fascinating bits of characterization that we really want to talk about. An exploration of how various characters in Steven Universe respond to grief and pain would not be untoward at this point. The contrasts and parallels to both 3.08 (“Mr. Greg”) and 4.04 (“Mindful Education”) are masterful. Let’s just say the yellow and blue coloring for Greg and Pearl was meant to foreshadow.
We’re also intrigued by the connection Steven seems to have to Blue Diamond and hope they talk about that whenever the next Steven Bomb occurs (get it together, Cartoon Network!). Hopefully the whole “I’m Rose Quartz” thing doesn’t stand too much in the way.
Ooh, and we got another song! Get ready for having lots of feels which might also have you thinking twice (at least a little bit) about Yellow Diamond as well.
- The Choosening
- Blue Diamond
- Amethyst and the Famethysts
- A possible Diamond Voltron
- Another song
Now go watch it as soon as you legally can, so we have someone to talk to about it!