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Steven Universe’s “Wanted” Special Changes the Game

Needless to say (though I’m saying it anyway), I was pretty excited heading into Steven Universe’s hour long “Wanted” special. How can you not be after the conclusion to the most recent Steven Bomb? Steven turned himself in to Homeworld forces. He will be put on trial before the Diamonds. Lars is on the ship with him! What’s not to chew your fingernails anxiously over?

Betchen is taking the week off, but Bo’s still here to cover all your Steven Universe needs. And hey, just because Stevonnie isn’t around doesn’t make Steven or Connie less awesome.

(Psst, I’m calling Connie. No one tell Gretchen.)

Spoilers for the entire “Wanted” special below

“Stuck Together”

Naturally, things kick off with Aquamarine and Topaz’s ship heading off from Earth. Aquamarine gloats while Steven talks about how much he loves shattering Diamonds. Aquamarine threatens him with even worse. Topaz finds Lars, to Steven’s unexpected dismay. Aquamarine shows surprising regret over Steven’s deal failing.

steven universe aquamarine tear

Topaz fuses and traps Steven and Lars while Aquamarine goes off to tell the Diamonds about their captives. Lars and Steven argue and Lars eventually blames himself for doing nothing for Sadie. He also admits to running from the potluck. Engine problems occur and Topaz goes down to check the engines. Steven spots some destabilizers and tries to get Lars to assist in an escape effort involving Steven’s pants.

Lars gives basically no effort and the two start arguing. Lars starts crying and talks about being weak and afraid, while Steven never is. Steven admits to being afraid right now about what he faces, and while he didn’t want Lars in trouble, he’s glad to not be alone. They share some tears and feels. We all know what tears and feels triggers!

Yep, turns out Topaz is a big ole softie. Their feels make her cry and reflect on how much the two Topazes who form her need each other. She talks about having to pretend all the time and how Steven and Lars are honest and open. Topaz decides to help them escape but Aquamarine catches them. Aquamarine smashes the escape pod, but Topaz attacks her before she can do anything else.

Aquamarine threatens Topaz with separation and the big thick Lego brick backs down. They arrive at their destination, Topaz unfuses, and the two Topazes carry Lars and Steven off in different directions.

“The Trial”

Steven sits in a cell, prepared for whatever the Diamonds have in store for him. Which turns out to be a trial (duh) complete with a nervous public defender named Zircon. She’s amazing. All these Homeworld gems are so amazing. She laments the difficulty of defending Steven and seems to genuinely want to win the case.

He’s brought to the “courtroom” where the Diamonds appear. They can’t believe Steven is Rose but Blue wants to hear her out. We learn some new details regarding Pink Diamond’s shattering. Steven confesses fully to his representation’s dismay, and Yellow wants to shatter him on the spot. Blue, though, wants to hear all the details. When Steven doesn’t know and gets the method of shattering wrong, she grows furious.

During a break in the trial, Steven’s Zircon realizes Steven genuinely doesn’t know what happened to Pink Diamond and comes up with a defense. She theorizes that the presented circumstances of Pink’s death don’t make sense. How could Rose have gotten so close to Pink when the rebellion had long ago started by then? How could she be strong enough to actually shatter Pink’s gem? She turns it around and accuses a Diamond of shattering Pink Diamond.

So Yellow poofs her and the prosecuting Zircon on the spot.

While she and Blue Diamond argue, Steven and Lars escape using Blue’s palanquin. Yellow gives chase but the palanquin ends up falling down into the lower layers of Homeworld. Oh boy.

“Off Colors”

Steven and Lars come to in the bowels of Homeworld and Steven briefly explains about the Diamonds. A robonoid finds and identifies them based on Steven’s gem. It attacks and forces them to run. A friendly gem shows them a hiding spot to escape which leads to a massive, used Kindergarten. They meet a group of fugitive Homeworld gems hiding within; a misformed Rutile, a Rhodonite fusion of a Pearl and a Ruby, a six-gem caterpillar fusion called Flourite, and a Padparadscha Sapphire with a penchant for predicting things which just happened.

Turns out they’ve hidden here a while and they’re understandably worried about the new human arrivals, a worry which comes to pass when three robonoids come looking. They manage to stay hidden for a while, but eventually find them because of our adorable new Sapphire. Steven and Lars fight back, with Lars taking advantage of the robonoids inability to see him because of his lack of gem.

He eventually climbs atop one of the robonoids and destroys it, but the explosion sends him crashing into a rock pillar. He falls brutally and appears to die. I’m not kidding. Steven listens for a heartbeat and everything. When he cries over Lars, his tears heal Lars but turn him pink.

What?

“Lars’ Head”

After Steven heals him, Lars wakes up pink-skinned, pink-haired, and with a scar over his eye. Basically, he looks like Lion. Steven explains what happened and Lars is understandably freaked. More robonoids show up and Steven rushes off with the fusions to stop them. Well, except Orange Sapphire, who belatedly predicts Lars’s skin will change hue. I LOVE her.  They push a boulder in the way of the wall opening.

Steven realizes they can only hide for so long and won’t stop looking until they find him. Lars freaks out about potentially being a zombie and when Steven tries to comfort him, he finds out he can enter Lars’s hair the same way he can Lion’s mane. Steven enters and finds out the space inside Lars’s head connects to Lions. He uses this space to emerge from Lion back in the beach house.

He grabs some water and food for himself before grabbing some for Lars and returning to Homeworld. The other gems believe Earth was destroyed, but Steven tells them otherwise and describes it for them. They decide to all escape to Earth but Lars can’t go through his own head. He decides to stay behind and let the others go. The gems refuse to leave him behind, though, so Steven returns alone at Lars’s insistence.

Steven returns home as the Crystal Gems return using the warp pad and we get a brief happy reunion. This can’t be it. Where’s the rest of it?

Me too, Pearl. Me too. Source

Delightful Little Gems:

  • Topaz was perfect, and a very pointed rebuttal of the criticisms SU has faced about negative butch representation with Jasper and Bismuth. She was the softest, sweetest Lego brick in the universe
  • Maybe Aquamarine cares more about Topaz than you think to protect her despite the attack.
  • I love the Zircons! Also, Steven’s public defender Zircon was 4,000 years old. Younger than the rebellion’s end. She was also my favorite of the new gems. Padparadscha came REAL close though.
  • ”Maybe we can season some dirt and make a meal.” I love Chef Lars. Also, yay for confirming Jurassic Park exists in the Steven Universe canon!
  • I predict I will review the “Wanted” special soon. What a mystery!
  • White Diamond not showing up to the trial of a gem accused of shattering a Diamond also raises suspicions she was responsible.

Lingering Questions:

  • Does Aquamarine’s line about fusions becoming sentimental mean anything? After all, there must be a reason Homeworld fears fusion so much.
  • Is that statue in the “Off Colors” and “Lars’ Head” title screen White Diamond?
  • So Flourite’s slow speech might be related to how many different gems are part of her fusion? That’s the working theory, anyway. 6 voices is a lot of opinions to sort out.
  • Really? Not even a White Diamond mention?

Review

Choosing a starting point here is tough. Lars became a Lion, we know how Lion was formed, we got a handful of fantastic new gems, we basically had a Diamond conspiracy to shatter Pink Diamond and blame it on Rose revealed. We saw Homeworld. Lars is now stuck there. We even saw the Homeworld legal system in action.

To sum up in fanboy fashion; this was an absolutely incredible start to season 5 and I’m screaming right now.

These episodes were Steven Universe at its finest. The mix of lore, humor, and feels blended in masterful, effortless fashion from moment to moment. Steven Universe has always excelled at this blend, especially with focused arcs like these that play out like a single extended episode more than a collection of separate episodes.  Coming off the latest Steven Bomb, this is a run of 8 episodes rivaling any such stretch the Crewniverse has ever done.

Plot-wise, this special wasn’t just a bomb, it was a world-ending Cluster weapon that left the pieces of the story we knew floating aimlessly through space. Now we’re left to wonder just what the heck happened to Pink Diamond. If not Rose, then who?

Some will now say Pearl, but if a Rose Quartz couldn’t shatter Pink Diamond then how in the world would Pearl? Many others will say Yellow Diamond did it, and her behavior makes clear that she’s part of the cover-up, but I don’t think she did it. Nope, I think it was White Diamond.

Many thought this special would see our first appearance (or at least mention) of the as-yet unmentioned Diamond. We know she exists and we’re waiting for a way to drag her into the story.Well, if she is the one who shattered Pink and has Yellow covering, we finally have our way.

This, of course, raises the question of why another Diamond would shatter Pink. Remember all these silly fanarts that piled up by the dozens after we “found out” Rose shattered Pink Diamond depicting her as a lovable nerd? They suddenly look much, much more likely. Serious questions have now been raised about Pink Diamond. Was she sympathetic to Rose? Was she disillusioned by Homeworld over the course of the war? Perhaps she was even on the verge of turning against the other Diamonds. If that happens, Blue might even have gone with her.

We now know for sure Rose’s rebellion began long before Pink’s shattering. She made an easy target to blame. Now, though, we have confirmation of the doubts many have had about Rose shattering Pink, namely how she was physically capable of doing so. While not explicitly confirmed, “Wanted” heavily implied she couldn’t have, that it had to be another Diamond.

White Diamond as the culprit would not only serve as a perfect way to bring her in, but serves as the catalyst for so much potential allegiance changes down the line. It gives reason for Jasper and the Rubies to turn. It inspires Blue to perhaps take up the cause Pink may have died for. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but this is not just a piece of lore or even just an important new plot point. This is the gamechanger of the series, even more so than the initial “reveal” that Rose shattered Pink Diamond.

I suppose some will be disappointed about this development. Rose as the one responsible opened up all kinds of wonderful debates about the act itself. Many loved her as more than just the Mary Sue mom who loved everything and this erases her worst action. Now she can be idealized again in ways you couldn’t when Rose was the one responsible for shattering Pink.

I trust the Crewniverse here. And let’s not forget that Rose was still the leader of a rebellion which led to thousands of gems (at least) becoming corrupted or shattered.

So, yeah, heavy plot here. Between this, the new gems, and the Homeworld lore, “Wanted” also packed in a fantastic character arc for our good friend Lars. Yet, I wonder again if some will feel less than thrilled with Lars’s new physical state.

Though I have to say, Pink Lars is a fascinating change considering the trans theory. Source

Let’s start with the good, of which there was a lot. Namely, Lars using this incredibly dangerous opportunity to be strong in the real way. “The Good Lars” showed Lars’s continued struggles with comfort in himself and his struggles to match a hypermasculine standard he wants to live up to. He begins “Wanted” beating himself up for running away and hiding on the ship, as well as always feeling scared so often. By the end of it he is ready to stay on Homeworld and face his fears to give everyone else a chance to escape.

Only 8 episodes ago I was indifferent to Lars. Yet now I found myself gleefully rooting for him and feeling emotional as he openly and honestly faced his fears and overcame them to help his friends. He openly admitted his insecurities and fear. Can you imagine Lars doing so even last season? Never. He hid his fears possessively.

On paper it seems too huge a change to manage in a single hour, but it did not feel even remotely rushed to me. “The Good Lars” played a big part in this, as he had so recently made progress in facing his fears. His shame and the stress of the situation finally put Lars in a situation where he and Steven had an emotionally honest conversation which helped Lars.

Lars’s fight against the Homeworld robonoids also managed to not be a complete stretch. He was functionally invisible to them. In such a life or death scenario, it was exactly the right circumstances to inspire just enough confidence for Lars to act. He just had to do something, anything to help Steven and the off-color gems. Lars underwent a fascinating transformation over the course of the hour.

Literally. Because now we reach the point I’m not sure Lars fans will like, which is his transformation into human!Lion.

Besides the physical implications (what exactly is Lars now?), this is a drastic change which leaves Lars stranded on Homeworld and, even if he does return to Earth, potentially incapable of living a normal human life anymore. What we know of Lion does not suggest Lars will live a normal lifespan anymore. We also don’t know the full extent of the effects on Lars. Is he human still? Is he still the same person?  Has Steven taken something from Lars he can never get back?

Maybe everyone loves this and I’m overthinking it. I’m looking forward to the fandom reaction to Lars’s new state.

Maybe I’m just looking for potential negatives to avoid looking like a hopelessly overcome Steven Universe fan who loved these episodes without a single reservation. They were incredible. If this is a sign to come for season 5, then Steven Universe looks well-prepared to prove yet again it is one of the best shows on TV.


Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

Bo
Written By

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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