Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S03E04 – Barn Mates

In the fourth episode of the third season of Steven Universe, Steven deals with the problem of Lapis and Peridot. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe. 

Trigger Warning: For talk of trauma and PTSD.

Forgiveness is a complicated thing, and I appreciate that the show doesn’t portray it as something that’s easy or comfortable. Plus, this episode dispels the notion that you can take action A and achieve forgiveness level B. It’s not a bartering system; it’s not so simple that there’s a set behavior that will get a person the forgiveness they want.

In the end, the person wronged has to decide to forgive someone, and it takes both Steven and Peridot this entire episode to realize that. (Though I do wish that the text was a bit more explicit on that, but more in a sec.) Instead, he assumes that Peridot’s presence will be negligible for Lapis. If anything, it means MORE FRIENDS. The problem is that Steven has been present for all of Peridot’s growth. (Which is incredible, y’all. She’s still self-centered and crude at times, but she is absolutely not the same character we met long ago.) In his mind, she’s fine!

But Lapis is, more or less, traumatized by seeing Peridot. Maybe she has changed a lot, but how can Lapis know that? How come she is expected to immediately trust that, despite that Peridot kidnapped her and brought her back to Earth? That’s where the unfairness comes in, and it’s why Steven and Peridot don’t understand why their gifts are viewed with such hostility.

Let’s go over those gifts, though, because they are all great examples of why none of this worked. The card was cute, but cuteness doesn’t cover up the fact that Peridot’s note reinforced exactly what bothered Lapis so much about the whole arrangement. Lapis has been continually used for the betterment of others. Apologizing to her by saying, “But you were so full of helpful information!” IS NOT AN APOLOGY. It doesn’t count! You can’t blame Lapis for your actions, you know?

The second gift was closer to something that was thoughtful, but it ended up being inconsiderate. There was nothin malicious about the miniature lake that Peridot and Steven built, but neither of them considered whether or not it was something Lapis would be fine with. And unfortunately, after Lapis just spent months trapped underwater, another body of water is a terrible, terrible idea. Again, it’s not like Peridot wanted to potentially trigger her, but that doesn’t negate the affect of that gift.

The final gift is a lot more complicated. I do feel more sympathy for Lapis than Peridot, though I understood why Steven saw Lapis’s reaction as cruel. I mean… that was technically his tape recorder. However, I felt like “Barn Mates” demonstrated what sort of mindset that Lapis was in. Not only did Peridot and Steven refuse to leave her alone, they kept making her feel worse about being stuck on Earth. So I get why she reacted as she did, even if it was a pretty mean thing to do. But I also think it’s important to note that Peridot finally did the thing she should have done from the beginning: ask Lapis what she wants from her! There’s no sense trying to guess it. Ask the person you hurt what you can do to make things feel better because – surprise! – they usually have a better idea of what you can do.

This episode has two cliffhangers, too, and I actually like that we aren’t given a definitive end to the story of Peridot and Lapis. Forgiveness will be a process, and Lapis saving Peridot (and asking how she is) is the first step in a long journey. But, y’all: ANOTHER RUBY. THERE’S A RUBY ON EARTH. HOW. WHAT. WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO WITH THEM.

The video for “Barn Mates” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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