ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 9th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: Pearl longs to go to space, so Steven and Greg build her a rocket ship.
The cat’s out of the bag and we now know the Gems are aliens from another planet, so it’s a fine time for the Crystal Gems to introduce Steven to the Galaxy Warp Pad. The station serves as Earth’s central hub to warp Gems to either their homeworld or various Gem-specific spots located throughout the universe. Garnet is adamant that they check every pad to make sure they’re non-functional (with Steven slapping stickers to every broken one), almost desperately so. The Lapis event spooked her good. Steven is mesmerized with the idea of space travel and so is Pearl. She wistfully longs to see the final frontier again instead of being stuck on Earth for what could be the rest of her life.
Steven later approaches his father with a proposition: build a spaceship for Pearl so she can see the stars again. Surprisingly, Greg agrees in spite of his clear lack of understanding of space engineering, but how hard can it be? Greg takes Steven to his old family barn, once owned by his uncle and aunt. They were aviation admirers, so building some kind of aircraft doesn’t sound so far-fetched.
We see why Greg agreed to build a spaceship in the first place, he didn’t think Steven was being serious. The two managed to craft a cute little soapbox derby with wings. They show Pearl, but she’s suitably less than impressed. Steven hops aboard to take it out for a test drive, but it starts to break apart as it rolls down the hill, forcing him to bail. Pearl appreciates the effort, but lectures the two on proper spacecraft technique. As she educates the confused duo, Pearl gets heavily into it and the appeal of building a genuine spaceship consumes her mind. It may be a stretch, but the junk in Greg’s barn may just be enough to achieve her goal!
Under Pearl’s guidance, Steven and Greg build a working vehicle. Greg’s not the brightest bulb, so it takes awhile for him to realize that Pearl meant every word. More troubling though is that she plans take Steven with her. That is a step too far for Mr. Universe. This is where I started to really appreciate Greg, when he proved his outer appearance and slacker nature is not a compliment to his paternal behavior. He’s not an abusive, lazy, or incompetent father like the media takes to like a bug zapper, Greg is genuinely concerned for his child and supports him in a positive manner. He’s not negligent, which is why he literally grounds Steven so he won’t go to space. He can’t – and won’t – deny Steven’s half-Gem heritage and those dangerous missions are a side product he has to deal with, but going off-planet is on a whole other level. At least when Steven is on Earth (specifically here in Beach City), Greg has some idea on what his kid is doing and where he is. He has no control over in space and the possibility of losing his son is even greater now that he has a better context of the things Steven does with the Crystal Gems.
Pearl is set in her ways though, so she storms off to finish the spaceship herself. By nightfall, she wakes Steven up and invites him inside for a test drive. Greg is too late to stop the two. An all too enthusiastic Pearl informs Greg via intercom that she’ll bring Steven back in about fifty years or so, a blink in the Gem lifespan, but an eternity for both Steven and Greg. Not that it matters, shortly after leaving Earth’s atmosphere, the ship starts to fall apart. Steven opens the cockpit and tries to convince Pearl that they need to escape.
It’s a heartbreaking scene. For six thousand years, the Crystal Gems have been stuck on Earth, forever separated from their homeworld or any part of space. They chose to rebel against their kind, but with the sacrifice that they may never leave Earth. Past episodes have shown Pearl reminiscing about Gem culture and historical incidents with great pride, indicating a longing for familiarity. She tends to cling to the past the most and it’s this obsession that caused her to be in this situation. Worse, she endangered Steven in the process. It’s up to him to bring Pearl back to reality.
The Crystal Gems and Greg have been Steven’s primary authority figures, guiding him with advice and examples for the boy to live for. They’ve relied on Steven, but as support and understanding of what he can do, and often always with a measure of control. Here, Pearl has gone so far off the deep end that she legitimately can’t think logically. This time, Steven is the one who steps in to guide Pearl and attempt to bring her back. Pearl snaps to and ejects herself and Steven off the ship. The craft blows up, causing Greg (who saw the launch via binoculars) to hyperventilate. He is relieved to see Steven and Pearl safe, but the poor guy is going to have a heart attack one of these days.
As the two descend, Pearl apologies to Steven for putting him in harm’s way. Like the swell kid he is, Steven doesn’t mind. He tells her someday they will go back to space again.