ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Sept, 25th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: Steven finds a mysterious hand mirror, but the Crystal Gems are apprehensive about it.
Steven wants to hang out with Connie, but she has tennis practice. Summer is around the corner though, which means she’ll be out of school and will have the free time to spend the days with her best friend. Steven has no concept of summer vacation let alone a school, so Connie has to explain it to him. It’s a pretty casual way of explaining how Steven has the time to go on all these missions and why we never see any school scenes. Steven is likely homeschooled to the best of both Greg and the Crystal Gem’s abilities; methinks they chose this method simply because a half-gem kid was likely begging for trouble amongst a sea of full human kids. Wouldn’t want the boy to suddenly pop a shield out and have it ricochet all over the classroom now, do we?
Pearl assists Steven in creating a classroom, but neither has any clue how school functions. When Pearl finds out Steven just wants to be taught, she excitedly produces a mirror with a cracked blue gem. She found this mirror at a Galaxy Warp a while back and discovered that it has the ability to produce any Gem history it has witnessed. Pearl tries to get it to work, but nothing happens. Welp, that’s the end of school, time for summer vacation!
Steven runs out, mirror in hand until he bumps into a table just outside the Big Donut. Lars tells him to watch where he’s going, but Steven’s just so excited for summer, especially now that he has a mirror that can tell him things. He moonwalks away as Mayor Dewey drives in his direction. The mirror warns Steven in time by replaying Lars’ warning from earlier, preventing the kid from turning into street pizza. Steven is happy to see the mirror is working, more so when it communicates back to him using events its seen earlier to form sentences. Looks like Steven made yet another new friend!
Steven and the mirror hang out all day. He wants to tell the Crystal Gems, but the mirror protests for some reason. Steven tells the object that the Gems are cool, then rushes home to inform the trio that he fixed the mirror. He further adds the mirror is like a person which greatly shocks the three. None of the Crystal Gems knew about this specific detail. Garnet urgently request that Steven relinquish the mirror, but he refuses when it repeatedly shouts “no.” The mirror is not fond of the Crystal Gems, it seems. Garnet tries to swipe it from Steven, but in a fit of panic and refusal to lose a new friend, he smacks her hand away, knocking out her sunglasses in the process. Then Garnet makes this face, something she’s never pulled on Steven before. Things just escalated to a whole ‘nother level.
Steven runs off, hiding when the Gems pursue him. He desperately begs the mirror to do something. The mirror asks to be freed by removing the gem on its back. Steven does so and the gem reforms into a Gem. Lapis Lazuli.
For the past twenty-four episodes, we’ve gotten to known a lot about the Gem’s biological structure and their relationship with Earth. We’ve gotten only a sneak peek of their culture because the latter reminded an elusive curiosity. All we knew was that the Gem species were widely different than people and only consisted of four: Rose Quartz, Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst. It was safe to assume that was all there was to them with only minimum hints of something more. Then Lapis arrives and suddenly we’re sucker punched with a big answer and a million more questions.
All the monsters of the week and mystical items the Crystal Gems have been gathering and bubbling prior weren’t Gem-related menaces, they were Gems. As shown in “Monster Buddies”, all of them are too corrupted to retain their original form. Lapis succeeded in breaking that trap, albeit with a cracked gem on her back. I’m not sure why the Crystal Gems seem adamant on swiping the mirror away from Steven though. They knew he bonded with Centipeedle two episodes back and that Steven now has healing powers. Of everyone in the team, Steven has the best shot of restoring the mirror. Garnet’s first instinct would be to believe in Steven, so the intense moment here is downplayed by a sense of arbitrarily fear. I’m also confused on why the Crystal Gems didn’t think to assume the mirror wasn’t another corrupted Gem. I mean, it has a gem attached to the mirror.
The last one is something Lapis at least addresses, claiming the Crystal Gems knew she was in there and did nothing. All evidence seem to suggest otherwise though. Either way, Lapis is not a fan of the Crystal Gems. Having a mastery of water, Lapis gathers nearby liquid from the ocean and shapes it into a fist, attacking Garnet. She then creates a path through the ocean so she and Steven can escape since he’s the only one she trusts, but Steven is confused and terrified to do anything. He’s not budging, forcing Lapis to head off alone, but she leaves him with a final warning, “don’t trust them [Crystal Gems], Steven.”
You know “Mirror Gem” is special when it’s a two-parter. As par the course, part one serves to build up the plot and leave behind an enticing cliffhanger that opens up a giant can of worms. I’ll explain the rest of my feelings when I get to “Ocean Gem”, for now, Steven gets the first real test of something beyond his comfort zone. The world of Steven Universe has suddenly gotten bigger with the introduction of a new Gem and not a friendly one at that and some of the context of the corrupted Gems come into light. We get a better idea of why the Crystal Gems are collecting the ones all over Earth, even if we’re still not sure how the Gems ended up corrupted to begin with. Lapis invites some tantalizing questions to the show’s lore and on the Crystal Gems’ motivation. Is what our protagonists doing as heroic as we’ve been lead to believe? Most importantly, what did Lapis mean when she said she wanted to go home? Where is home?