Steven Universe – Episode 69 “Sadie’s Song”

Ep. #69
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Sept. 17th, 2015
SONG: Yes, “Haven’t You Noticed (I’m a Star)”
SYNOPSIS: Steven encourages Sadie to perform at the local festival. Unfortunately her overbearing mother has the same idea.

Steven is passing out flyers for the upcoming Beach-a-Palooza. He catches Sadie singing in the backstock room of the Big Donut while she’s putting away supplies. Steven is amazed at her vocal talents, though she’s humble about it. He encourages her to sing for Beach-a-Palooza, but Sadie is too shy to even consider it. Steven lends support, telling her he can help with a routine. Convinced, Sadie agrees. There’s no harm in a little fun, after all.

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Steven Universe – Episode 71 “When It Rains”

Ep. #71
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 1st, 2015
SYNOPSIS: Steven and Peridot bond.

Try as they might, the Crystal Gems can’t get Peridot to squawk about the Cluster. She’s still holed up in the bathroom and the only person she’s allowed inside is Steven, which works great because the kid had to use the toilet (he told Peridot to avert her gaze first.) The Crystal Clods – I mean Gems – decide to investigate this Cluster business by themselves, leaving Steven in charge of Peridot. Before they warp out, Garnet shapes her hands into a heart and tells Steven she loves him. It’s too cute for words.

Steven tells Peridot that she can come out of the bathroom now that the Crystal Gems are gone, but she stubbornly refuses. She only bolts out when she hears thunder from the torrential rain, adorably clutching onto Steven for safety. Peridot thinks the Cluster is finally hatching, but Steven tells her it’s just the weather. Peridot has no idea what “rain” is, so he explains. When that isn’t enough, Steven takes her outside and proves a little raindrop never killed anyone. Peridot warily steps out of the house. The water is not only harmless, but the experience shifts her perspective. Perhaps this Steven is useful after all.

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Steven Universe – Gem Culture: Fusion

Fusion is a standard biological component of the Gems. Whether they plan it out in advance or achieve it spontaneously, Fusion can be activated when two or more Gems are in sync. When melded, the Gems’ minds become one and the resulting Fusion Gem carries their memories and traits while simultaneously being her own Gem. They’re considered an individual with their own personality and sense of self, though they are fully aware that they are a product of multiple Gems.

Fusion isn’t as simple as transforming into a bigger Gem, but a huge part of their culture. How Fusion is viewed and activated varies amongst the numerous Gem species and as is often wont of a civilization, it’s much more complicated than it looks. Some do it for the power it brings while others bond through friendship or romantic love. Fusion can be willfully permanent if the non-fused Gems choose it to be or the Fusion herself may overwhelm her non-fused counterparts and take over. Fusions isn’t a perfect algorithm: they can materalize based on the strongest parts of the non-fused Gems’ personalities, but they don’t necessarily need to be positively-defined traits. Non-fused Gems can also differ in opinion during a Fusion, causing the latter to split apart. Ideally, Fusion is at its best when the non-fused Gems equally consent to the act and maintain a harmonious sync.

In Homeworld, Fusion is divided by its rigid social structure. Gems who fuse are relegated to their own class and type; anyone who attempts to fuse above their station is punishable by death. There are Gems who feel differently and often keep their controversial transformation away from prying eyes. This is especially notable for the Gems living on Earth where they have the freedom to express their feelings and will through Fusion. Homeworld has even attempted to weaponize Fusion, using shattered Gems from the war to forcefully mash them, turning them into monstrous creatures with no will to speak of. These prototypes were gateways to the Cluster, a gigantic mega-fusion comprised of millions of Gem Shards and buried deep inside the Earth. When it hatches, it will take out the entire world.

Fusion’s impact on Gem society is monumental. How each Gem fuses depend on their uprising and attitude, so no two Gems will share the same view. That’s what makes Fusion so great, it’s a chance to express your diversity and feelings into a physical act. Homeworld may not get that, but on Earth, even a half-Gem like Steven can fuse and live vicariously through it.

Steven Universe – Episode 72: “Back To The Barn”

Ep. #72
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 8th, 2015
SYNOPSIS: The Crystal Gems team up with Peridot to stop the Cluster, but it’s a difficult process.

Peridot finally explains the Cluster to the Crystal Gems. Since she doesn’t have her Limb Enhancers, she provides visuals adorably drawn by Steven on a cardboard box. The subject is no laughing matter though, the Cluster has been dormant inside the center of the Earth for thousands of years. It’s comprised of millions of Gem Shards and it’s about ready to fuse. When it does, the Cluster’s physical form will break the planet apart. Both Pearl and Peridot suggest they build a vehicle that can withstand the necessary pressure and temperature to reach the center. Peridot quickly dismantles whatever gadgets she can find around the house, but Steven suggests a better idea that doesn’t involve destroying his things: the barn!

The place is loaded with junk that no one cares about –- perfect for a Gem machine! Their goal is to build a drill so they can dig into the Earth. Pearl advises a blueprint of the machine. Peridot thanks her for the suggestion, then condescendingly tells her to get lost, but Pearl refuses. Steven explains to a confused Peridot that Pearl is a mastery of engineering, but that puzzles her further. According to Peridot, Pearls are suppose to ““stand around and look nice and hold stuff for you.”” In “Friend Ship”, Pearl confessed to Garnet during a moment of guilt and desperation that she lacked self-worth; she’s “just “a Pearl.”” This is not a grammar error: in Homeworld, there are hundreds of Pearls, all made to serve higher elite Gems. Peridot is only going by what she grew up with, so she treats Pearl exactly the way others have. It’s normal for her. “”Back to the Barn”” reveals more to the rebellion than just a hostile planetary takeover: Homeworld thrives on a culture that invalidates individuality. Cookie-cutter Gems of the same type that numbers in the hundreds are expendable or lack anything special. And Pearl knows it.

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Steven Universe – Episode 73 “Too Far”

To make up for the defunct Limb Enhancers, Steven gave Peridot a tape recorder so she could resume logging her progress. Peridot has taken to it like moth to a flame and has kept a daily record of her activities since. Right now, she’s in the middle of a collaboration with the Crystal Gems to build a drill machine to dig into the Earth. Peridot first informs Garnet that she’ll get to work after she unfuses because it’s making her uncomfortable. Garnet responses by tying her up to a fence. And because this is Peridot, her vast unfamiliarity with Earth culture means she doesn’t even attempt to untie herself despite free range of her arms.

In spite of the tension between Peridot and the Crystal Gems, Amethyst digs Peridot’s specific lingo because she thinks it’s comedy gold. Pearl steps in and states everything is a-go except for the drill head. Peridot can get one at the Kindergarten, but Garnet isn’t letting the little gremlin off without someone babysitting her. She is not letting that fusion remark go, Peridot. Steven and Amethyst volunteers.

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Steven Universe – Episode 74 “The Answer”

Garnet wakes Steven up at midnight since it’s officially his birthday. Originally she was going to tell Steven that she was a fusion, but since he found out prematurely, she compensates by regaling him the tale of Ruby and Sapphire’s first meeting.

5,000+ years ago, Gems from Homeworld have taken a stronghold on Earth. This was at the heart of the rebellion, lead by Rose Quartz. Back then, Sapphire was a rare aristocratic Gem under direct service of Blue Diamond, one of the leaders of Homeworld. “The Answer” is a smorgasbord of worldbuilding and Gem lore. This is the first major appearance of a Diamond leader (though Blue Diamond has her face veiled), but their presence has been felt from the start. You can see it via diamond symbols plastered on numerous Gem locations Steven and the Crystal Gems visited throughout the show. The episode further touches on the dramatic class divide within Gem Culture. Peridot touched on this disturbingly when she mistreated Pearl because she was “”just a Pearl””, one in million of similar, common Gems that only existed to serve higher Gems. Gem hierarchy seem to rely on an individual Gem’s rarity. As far as I know, there is only one Blue Diamond, indicating her leadership; a few, rare Sapphires; and of course, the common Rubys.

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Lapis Lazuli

Out of all the friends and allies Steven made along the way, no one is as dour and cynical – barring a Lars or two – like Lapis Lazuli is. At her highest point, she’s apathetic. The rest of the time, she’s negative, doesn’t suffer fools greatly, and carries a ton of baggage. Lapis is a resentful Gem with lifelong grudges and her sullen personality means she’s not the easiest person to get along with. She’s so pessimistic that she often creates problems around her instead of maintaining enough positivity to find a solution. Even at her most relaxed, Lapis tends to keep to herself and rarely relies on others. All she wants is relief from the constant sea of nonsense thrown in her direction.

It’s hard to blame her though, Lapis’ life seem destined to meet with disaster. Thousands of years ago, when Homeworld was in the middle of colonizing Earth, Lapis was one of the many Gems visiting the planet. She was only meant to stay for a short time, but the war between Homeworld and the Rebels caught up to her. She was attacked and reverted to her dormant Gem state. Mistaken for a Crystal Gem, Homeworld placed her Gem on a mirror and bombarded her with questions she could not answer. Homeworld eventually fled Earth in a hurry, leaving her abandoned at the Galaxy Warp Station. It would be sometime before Pearl found the mirror, unaware of who dwelled inside.

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Steven Universe – Episode 75 “Steven’s Birthday”

Ep. #75
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Jan. 5th, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Steven’s birthday gets a little complicated when everybody notices that he hasn’t grown up the last few years. Literally!

The gang takes a much needed rest from the drill to celebrate Steven’s birthday, though Peridot declines to join and intends to keep up with the project. Connie is incredulous because Steven is turning fourteen and he doesn’t look any older than her! Greg tries to prove otherwise with Steven’s baby album, but rummaging through it reveals Steven had stagnated sometime around his eighth birthday. He’s looked the same for almost six years!

Connie and Greg have a private discussion. She’s concerned that Steven may not grow up the way humans will. Greg isn’t sure what to make of it other than wait and see. Steven is half-Gem, so he may not age like a human and he might not even have the eternal lifespan of a Gem.

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Steven Universe – Episode 76 “It Could’ve Been Great”

Peridot frantically chides the Crystal Gems for taking a break from constructing the drill. It’s not like they have a finite number of days to complete it or anything! Steven placates Peridot by teaching her music. Peridot quickly takes to this strange form of entertainment and realizes how much fun it is in spite of its apparent uselessness. It’s been a long time coming, but Peridot has significantly lowered her guards since she started working with the Crystal Gems. She is genuinely enjoying her time with them.

After weeks of construction, the drill is officially finished. Now all they need are coordinates to get to the Cluster. Pearl thinks the information might be stored inside a Diamond Base, but that’s located on the moon. Since they have no warp pad to get there, Steven begs Lion to take them. Lion only agrees because he wouldn’t be able to take a nap or eat Lion Lickers anymore if the Earth is destroyed. Lion has priorities.

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Steven Universe – Episode 77: Message Received

Still suspicious of Peridot, Steven approaches her so they can talk in private. Inside an old truck, Peridot regales in her absolute devotion to her superior, Yellow Diamond. Even after all this, how could she still not worship her superior? That’s more than enough to convince Steven that Peridot will go rogue. He swipes the device she snuck from the Moon Base and traps her with the deadliest invention known to man: the child safety lock. What is interesting is how badly Peridot reacts to this: she doesn’t resort back to her snide self or attempt to threaten our heroes, she instead begs. She legitimately feels betrayed that Steven, her friend, turned his back on her. Despite what Peridot has planned with Yellow Diamond, she enjoyed her time with the Crystal Gems and wanted to keep that after all that was said and done.

Peridot confesses that she had been hoarding a communication device that would directly contact the Diamonds. She knows the Crystal Gems’ efforts to protect Earth from Homeworld will be futile, so she has a plan that would ensure Earth will be valuable to the Diamonds. Steven is disappointed because Peridot will never change and now considers her a loss cause. This is big. Steven never had a moment where he gave up on someone; he has always extended his hands in welcome, knowing there was good in everyone. The only time he didn’t is because he couldn’t (like Jasper who wasted no time wailing on the Crystal Gems.) Even Onion – a kid that weirds him out – was someone Steven avoided at worst with no scrutiny. Peridot betrayed him and it hurts. For a brief moment, Steven learns a pretty harsh lesson: some folks won’t changed.

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