Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S04E15 – That Will Be All

In the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, Greg and Steven try to escape. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe. 

The focus of this episode is fascinating, y’all. Steven and Greg exist almost entirely to react to the events of “That Will Be All,” at least until the ending. This is a chance for the writers to finally show us Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond in all their glory and their sadness. I imagine that there’s a lot planted within this episode that’ll come up later, but putting that aside, this was still a remarkably satisfying story.

Let’s start with that gloriously surreal opening, where Amethyst reveals that SHE HAS MADE FRIENDS WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER AMETHYSTS. Because of course she did!!! But that’s important to me for another reason: I adore it when this show uses friendship as a way to resolve conflict. This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen it – nor will it likely to be the last – and yet it still feels refreshing. Why? Because at the root of this is the act of empathy. Even though it’s not on the screen in any direct sense, Amethyst found a way to bond with these Amethysts. They learned their distinctions. Amethyst found the gem who was born above her. They lauded the fact that THEY WERE DIFFERENT. That moment – where one Amethyst jokes about not being the short one anymore, or we’re shown Skinny – demonstrates how vital that sort of difference is. The Amethysts get to feel special for the first time in their lives, I’m guessing, rather than denigrated and hated. (That’s if we assume that the scene where Holly Blue is abusive towards them is the standard, and I don’t think that’s much of an assumption to make.)

Thus, the end of this episode makes perfect sense to me. Amethyst showed these gems a new way to live. There’s a way to enjoy life and one another that has nothing to do with rules. Hierarchies. Social strata. They can enjoy one another as they are.

That does worry me, of course, given what the rest of “That Will Be All” reveals about the Diamonds and the Rose Quartzes. I’m trying to recall if I ever brought this up, but perhaps I never considered the significance of the audience only seeing one Rose Quartz before. On the one hand, that’s a great way to get us to assign emotional significance to a character who only exists in flashbacks. If there’s only one of her, her appearances hit that much harder. But as Steven and Greg stepped into Blue Diamond’s shrine of grief, that reality had a new context: Blue Diamond had bubbled every single Rose Quartz ever made. Her grief over the loss of Pink Diamond had lasted thousands of years, had prompted her to create the Zoo, had given her the reason for visiting Earth and kidnapping Greg.

In contrast to this, Yellow Diamond performs her grief through anger. (Their spaceships make so much sense! That’s why Yellow Diamond’s is a closed fist, while Blue Diamond’s is an open hand.) She wants revenge, retribution, payback. She wants to destroy Earth and the Zoo and wipe out all vestiges of humanity in order to get “justice” for Pink Diamond’s death. THIS GIVES RISE TO A WONDERFUL SONG THAT IS VERY MUCH A MUSICAL THEATER NUMBER. What’s the use of feeling, Blue? Well, even Yellow Diamond is sad after all these years, and there’s a moment where she finally displays a vulnerable side of herself. It’s brief, but I saw it!

In the end, though, I don’t exactly feel all that bad for the Diamonds. Grief sucks, but good lord, look at this ridiculous system they’ve got set up around them! Holly Blue is just one symptom of that, a bully who is tolerated and encouraged to behave violently because that’s just the way things are. Rose Quartz threatened that, as did the Crystal Gems who, as I said earlier, proved that there was another way to live.

I love that their escape provides a whole lot of exposition while simultaneously exploiting Holly Blue Agate’s arrogance. IT’S VERY FITTING. And despite being cliffhanger’d for weeks, this was a great episode to use to jump back into Steven Universe. I MISSED IT.

The video for “That Will Be All” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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