ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 16th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: After they lose several Corrupted Gems, Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst form a secret party to locate them before Garnet gets wind of their mistake.
Steven and Amethyst practice cannonballs using whatever puddles they can find in the latter’s room. Steven sticks his head in a small pond and spots Garnet in the temple basement where the Corrupted Gems are stored. Amethyst pulls Steven out, states only Garnet is allowed in, and the two resume cannonball practices. They accidentally dive into a puddle that leads directly to Pearl’s room. There they discover her cupping one of a bubbled Corrupted Gem for some reason.
Really, there is no legitimate answer on why Pearl has it other than possible sentimentality. Amethyst stated the Corrupted Gem was bubbled by Rose herself and Pearl’s relationship with her will make sense eventually, but otherwise, it’s a setup for the rest of the episode. I wouldn’t put it past Steven Universe if they called back to “Secret Team” in a future narrative, but as of this writing, most of the questions from the first season have already been answered or elaborated. This little incident would be a big stretch.
Either way, Amethyst can’t wait to tattle on Pearl. The two get into an argument until Steven pops in to cool them off. Their roughhousing causes the Corrupted Gem to burst, releasing an army of limbs. “Secret Team” does introduce one major element that will play in future episodes, so these limbs aren’t creepy by themselves, but creepy with a nightmarish context.
A panicked Steven thinks they should inform Garnet, but Amethyst vetoes that. Surprisingly, so does Pearl. Already embarrassed for observing the Corrupted Gem (Gems in this case, each limb being a Gem of their own), she convinces Steven to keep it a secret from Garnet. The three of them can retrieve all the shards without her ever knowing. Steven is enticed and gives the team a cool secret name for the secret team: The Secret Team. Sometimes sticking with the obvious has its merits.
Unlike “Giant Woman”, Pearl and Amethyst work better as a team this time around. True, they both have a common goal where neither wants Garnet to find out about their mistake, but it’s an improved step and they easily obtain the Corrupted Gems. Since it’s a Rose Quartz bubble, Steven’s the one who encases the Gems. This is a minor detail, but Pearl and Amethyst’s faith in Steven’s powers is heartwarming. Even Pearl lacks the hesitation she had back during the earlier episodes.
Steven is about to put the bubble back in the temple basement, but Garnet happens to be there at the present moment. Luckily she had her back turned to Steven, so she didn’t spot him. The team disbands after all that is said and done, but poor Steven is already upset that Secret Team is no more. Steven ruminates a plan to form the band back together: he left his hat in the Big Donut, so the team must reform and break in at night to retrieve it. Pearl and Amethyst has to convince Steven that Secret Team was not meant to be fun and games, but a necessary action to fix their mistake. Amethyst and Pearl bicker over who caused the accident, ending with the two ripping up the team membership cards (really Fish Stew Pizza coupons) Steven gave them earlier.
Steven later approaches Garnet and confesses what the Secret Team did. All he wanted was to form the team again, but now that Garnet knows, the two can form an even better team: The Super Secret Team. They formulate a plan, then put it to action later that night.
Garnet drags Steven and Amethyst to Pearl’s room where Steven plays his part, acting as if he was the one who broke the bubble. Not wishing to be caught, Pearl and Amethyst quickly blame the boy as well. Garnet has no choice but to punish Steven. She doesn’t get to do squat because a giant arm arrives out of nowhere and attacks the group. The Secret Team missed a shard! The limb easily overtakes Pearl and Amethyst, holding both of then in its grips. Obviously not part of the plan, Steven wishes he’d never had taken Secret Team for granted, he just wanted their company. Pearl and Amethyst also apologize to each other, admitting their own part in this mistake.
The limbs release Pearl and Amethyst after their confessions, then stretches back to its original length…as Garnet’s arms. Garnet had shapeshifted her arms in order to get the three of them to admit their crimes. She is disappointed that Pearl and Amethyst can only seem to get along if they’re worried Garnet would retaliate after losing the Corrupted Gems and even more so that they used Steven to get him on their sides. She’s a bit more patient with Steven, gently telling him that while he meant well, all of them are already in a team: the Crystal Gems.
After five episodes of emotional meltdowns and dramatic changes in the status quo, “Secret Team” is a nice return to form where the only major issue is incidental in comparison. The internal conflict is kid’s stuff, a minor trifle where team members get in each other’s craw and make up small lies to cover up their embarrassment and get others to join in on their charade. Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst use each other in one way or another to cover up their guilty mistake, crafting a lie that grows beyond what either of them expected. It’s kind of on-the-nose, but the quieter lesson affords it a breather after a heavy dose of gut punches from the last set of events. It just goes to show even after thousands of years of familiarity, the Gems have human flaws we can relate to. Relatively speaking.