Sunday, June 16, 2024

“What’s Your Problem” Shows Off a Mature Amethyst

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Our favorite little emotional trainwreck was a bit of a question mark regarding the Pink Diamond reveal. We know how Pearl feels, we know how Garnet feels, and we know Steven will struggle with it. But what about Amethyst? After all, she lacks the same history with Rose as the others. What does she think of all this? Well, Amethyst isn’t quite open to talking about it. But not for the reasons we’re used to.


Picking up where the previous episode left off, Sapphire reads Ruby’s letter and finds out she ran away. They ask Amethyst if she knows where Ruby went but Amethyst didn’t even know Ruby left. She acts disinterested in the entire ordeal. Steven suggests Sapphire use her future vision, but Sapphire sees too many possibilities. Pearl’s attempts to comfort her quickly collapse into the latest episode of Crying Breakfast Friends.

Amethyst asks them to take it somewhere else so she and Steven can game it up. Steven dismisses the idea and goes to look for Ruby. Amethyst reluctantly joins him.

Since the only two directions Ruby could have run were either into the ocean or into town, they search the ocean first. Naturally. Amethyst continues acting disinterested in the search and seems more interested in entertaining Steven. She eventually convinces Steven to get a pizza to cheer him up. A pizza with all the toppings. Yikes.

As they “eat,” Amethyst tries to approach the topic of Rose with Steven. Steven talks about being thrown for a loop right when he thought he finally understood her. When he quickly changes the subject back to Garnet, Amethyst loses her patience and rants about how it isn’t their responsibility to fix Garnet and Pearl’s problems. Then she slips a bit in about Rose having nothing to do with her.

She tries to recover but it’s too late. Empathy Steven activated. Before they can go much further, Jenny enters the shop and mentions where Greg and Ruby are. Amethyst tries to go find them on her own but Steven gives chase, wanting to help her talk through her feelings. So she turns into a helicopter to escape, of course. Steven gives chase and continues hounding her to talk.

Eventually they crash and Amethyst makes her feelings known. Basically, it’s not about her. She refuses to fall apart on Steven right now because it’s not what Steven needs. He realizes Amethyst has spent all day trying to make him feel better and remarks that Amethyst has become the most mature Crystal Gem. So of course she throws a fit. Maturity sucks.

They continue the search and the episode ends with them approaching Greg and Ruby. On a cliff. That’s right, it’s a literal cliffhanger.

Delightful Little Gems

  • I have a fever, and the only prescription is more Amecopter.
  • Steven asking, “but how does that make you feel?” in response to Amethyst announcing their oncoming copter crash is possibly the most SU thing ever.
  • Brooding Hill. Of course Beach City has a Brooding Hill.
  • Maybe Amethysts are naturally gifted counselors? They did play that role in the Zoo.
  • Pearl was 100% the SU fandom while trying to comfort Sapphire. What would we do without Garnet, indeed.
  • Also, I choose to believe they kept that up through the entire episode.
  • “Why would she be a cowboy?!” Perfect. Just perfect.

Lingering Questions

  • We’ve never really known what Amethyst’s relationship with Rose was like. I’m more curious than ever now.
  • Did Ruby cross out a G on her letter or a heart? Tell us where you fall in this debate!
  • Would anyone actually eat that pizza?
  • Does anyone else hope Peridot came out of the bathroom, saw the two lesbians crying over lost loves, and just kind of fell in with them since she’s going through the same thing? I’m headcanoning it until proven otherwise.


Regardless of whether you think Amethyst actually took the lead for “most mature Crystal Gem,” this episode was a considerable step forward for her. This was a familiar set-up for a classic Amethyst breakdown episode. Something groundbreaking happens, Amethyst tries to bury it, Steven acts like Steven to get it out of her, and sad, tortured trash baby gets emotionally wrecked.

For the first half of it, I nervously anticipated exactly that and kind of resented Amethyst over it. She was so aloof and uncaring about Ruby and Sapphire. I worried we headed towards Amethyst selfishly throwing her feelings at Steven in a “what about meeeee?” kind of rant. I thought she might resent everyone for not caring how she felt.

Except it didn’t happen this time. Amethyst didn’t bury her feelings in attempt to ignore them. The Pink/Rose revelation didn’t send her into a spiral of guilt causing her to lash out at anyone. Instead she did something the gems rarely ever do, if ever. She acknowledged her issues while putting them aside because someone else came first. Amethyst selflessly recognized that for right now, Steven’s feelings mattered more and should take precedence over her own. Her aloofness was not due to selfishness, but selflessness. She resented how the Garnet debacle overshadowed Steven finding out his mom was Pink freaking Diamond.

Now surely Amethyst has to be dealing with some hard feelings because of the truth about Rose. She played a key role in helping Amethyst accept herself (even if she didn’t do a great job). I can’t imagine Amethyst moving on without issue. She’s clearly having problems throughout this episode. Maybe she’ll have her own freak out later.

But for once, one of the other Crystal Gems put their own drama aside for Steven. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but when does that ever happen? The Crystal Gems have always been quick to dump their emotional baggage at Steven’s feet and make him deal with it. Amethyst has done so on multiple trips to the Prime Kindergarten. Pearl has done it a few times while processing her grief over Rose. Garnet usually tries to be better, but then she’ll split apart while on vacation or freak out while covered in kittens. Since they’ve usually been incapable of helping each other, it falls to Steven to talk them through their issues.

Just take a look at Pearl and Sapphire. Of course Sapphire has every right to be upset about Ruby and express her grief over it. Of course Pearl should be able to comfort her over it. But did Garnet take even one second to wonder how Steven might feel about Rose before she split and Sapphire ran off? I’m not saying she’s bad or wrong or anything. That was a seriously hard thing to learn out of nowhere. My point is that the Crystal Gems tend to swallow up all the emotional air in the room while Steven’s emotions go ignored. Eventually he can’t take it anymore and blows up himself, as Garnet saw before during the Sardonyx arc.

Steven expected he would need to do the same for Amethyst yet again, creating the awkward dynamic throughout “What’s Your Problem” where both Amethyst and Steven keep fishing for openings while the other rejects them. As an audience, we’re used to Amethyst being the one who ends up freaking out in this situation. Instead she flatly rejected being that person. Her overriding concern was helping her best friend.

Too often, the Crystal Gems forget Steven is a kid. He may be a particularly mature kid, but he’s a kid all the same. Times will come when he needs them to be the adults of the group and help him. And you know what? The Rose reveal affects him more than anyone. This involves his mother and the gem in his belly. The truth about Rose will shake his entire viewpoint and someone needs to be ready to help him through it.

While the setup certainly felt familiar, Amethyst’s significant character growth over the course of Steven Universe would have made another Amethyst backlash feel unnatural. She has arguably “grown up” more than any other Crystal Gem besides Steven. We’ve seen her give up wrestling because she doesn’t need the outlet anymore. The Jasper arc and her bond with Steven helped her finally come to terms with her Earth origins and differences from other quartz soldiers.  I don’t know if Amethyst is the most mature Crystal Gem, but she has come a long way from who she used to be.

This maturity almost completely comes down to her relationship with Steven. The bond these two have developed is one of the strongest, safest bonds any two characters have. They basically grew up together. Amethyst has always been more big sister than mom to Steven. What started out as two “siblings” that liked playing around together while annoying the older gems has turned into two people who found commonality in their circumstances and made something nearly unshakeable.

It’s this shared commonality that makes her the perfect gem for this episode. Amethyst, like Steven, was born on Earth. She only knows life here. She has friends and experiences with humans that the others lack. Pearl and Garnet try their best, but they will probably always have trouble recognizing human behaviors. They won’t always recognize when Steven might need their support for once. Amethyst does. Plus she has been around Greg and  Steven for a long time now, so she has received a crash course in empathy from the empathy masters.

So we get what happened here, where they both anticipated how the other would feel and by the end were having an honest, calm, healthy conversation about their feelings. I love their relationship so much. Steven makes a lot of friends and creates a lot of close relationships, but I’m honestly not sure if he’s closer to anyone now than he is with Amethyst.

The Worst Gems have come a long way, and just might be the best gems.

Images courtesy of Cartoon Network


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