In the twenty-fourth episode of the second season of Steven Universe, THIS EPISODE WAS VERY CUTE AND TOUCHING AND THEN IT GOT HORRIBLY AWKWARD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Trigger Warning: For talk of colonialism/imperialism.
I thought Peridot had grown quite a bit, too, and now I’m worried that this episode solidifies that she might not be on the side of Steven and the Crystal Gems. Maybe temporarily, sure, but after all they’ve been through, Peridot is still a Homeworld gem.
I think? Look, I’m haunted by the final image in “It Could Have Been Great,” which provided a chance for Peridot to reminisce about the future that almost happened. The fact that she took that diamond-shaped thing with her is a bad sign. Maybe it’s a sentimental thing, or maybe it’s indicative of something else, some secret plan of hers. The reason I say this isn’t just because she tries to hide it from everyone. Over the course of this episode, we watch as Peridot learns about multiple new things regarding life on Earth. She finds out why the Gems and Steven takes break; she learns the value of rewarding one’s self; and she finds out why music is just so irresistible to everyone on this planet. The song that Peridot sings is hilarious and touching, and at the time, it felt like she was truly becoming one of the Crystal Gems. Steven even makes note of it at one point!
Yet the trip to the moon to find out exactly where the Cluster is buried under the Earth’s crust reveals that Peridot is still just as much bewitched by Homeworld politics as she ever was. She shows reverence to Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond, the matriarchal leaders of Homeworld. (Is it an entirely matriarchal society???) She treats the base as if she’s in some sort of holy temple. She still clings to all the ideas she was taught about what a gem is supposed to do and how they’re supposed to behave, despite that the Gems have shown her all the possibilities she now has before her.
Nothing provides us a more glaring example of that than when she excitedly shares with Steven what the original plan for Earth was. It’s a horrifying scene that gets progressively more uncomfortable as the simulation of Earth’s destruction plays out. Because Peridot doesn’t see any of this as destruction. To her, it’s art. It’s a magical thing to watch the planet turned into Kindergartens and Spires and Warp Pads, and it’s because she’s never thought about it as a place where other people live. The real-world references here made me so uncomfortable because there have been so many people throughout history and in modern times who view other places exactly like this. They see the possibility in an existing place, a neighborhood or a town or a country. And the don’t see it as the culmination of a community that’s built it to be what it is; they see it as available to them. No, that’s not right; they feel entitled to it, so much so that even pointing out that other people already live there is irrelevant to them. So? They’re not doing what the place was meant for, you know?
Which is another reason why the Gems were so offended. Peridot actually thought that the revolution failed because the Cluster was still there. She sees the revolution as delaying the inevitable when the inevitable never needed to happen in the first place. In the end, Peridot does not value life, despite that she’s experienced so much of it. She still sees Earth as a means to an end, not a home.
So how can I not assume the worst of her? If she still hasn’t come to understand why Earth is special, how can we be sure she isn’t plotting to destroy it anyway?
The video for “It Could Have Been Great” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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