In the twelfth episode of the fifth season of Steven Universe, WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
WHAT IF MY REVIEW WAS NOTHING BUT EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS!!!
What did I just watch?
Look, I was ready for the survival story. Indeed, for the first five minutes or so, I thought we were getting a parallel. It seemed like Stevonnie had offered Lars a means to understand the difficult predicament he had been in. They had given him empathy. They had helped him with his anger and disappointment with Sadie. So how would Stevonnie deal with being stranded on a distant planet that they knew nothing about? Would they be able to take their own advice? How was Connie going to deal with her first space adventure becoming so chaotic and violent?
Initially, Stevonnie was hit by panic, but I wasn’t that surprised that they adjusted. Adapted. Learned to hunt and eat and find water and survive and explore such a bizarre place. AND Y’ALL. I LOVE THE DESIGN OF THIS WORLD. I LOVE THAT STEVONNIE GREW FACIAL HAIR AND THEY DIDN’T SHAVE IT OFF ENTIRELY. I love the bird aliens and their combo of cuteness and terrifying ability and THE WAY THEY FLY. Most of what we see here is starkly unfamiliar, and because of that, it’s more obvious to the viewer that this is not a place these characters belong, that they are far, far from home.
I’m gonna guess that most of you didn’t expect that we’d get a dream that would eventually be revealed to be a flashback. Like, at the start of the dream, my initial theory was that this was a way for Connie to work out her anxieties over space travel. It kinda made sense! She was “free” from her mother’s control, and yet, she was in exactly the sort of situation that Dr. Maheswaran feared. But that theory fell apart quickly. Why was Stevonnie in that dream on not Connie by herself? Why was Stevonnie behaving so strangely and saying things that made no real sense in terms of their characterization?
AND THEN THE DIAMOND IMAGERY ARRIVED AND EVERYTHING WAS TERRIBLE. It was clear this was a memory of sorts, though I don’t know how this was triggered. In the video, I assumed it had something to do with Steven’s gem??? Maybe??? I’m not even sure that theory makes sense. But the conversation that Yellow Diamond (masked as Dr. Maheswaran) has made it clear that this was the history of how the world below had been colonized. We see how callous this conversation is, given that Yellow Diamond did not care that there was organic life on the planet. It also greatly suggests that the base on the moon, which is nearly identical to this one, was placed there for a full colonization of Earth. (Which I don’t feel is a huge surprise, necessarily. We’ve known Earth was home to a Kindergarten and that it was supposed to be invaded, but Rose and the Crystal Gems stopped it.)
But it’s the glimpse of the treatment of Pink Diamond (WHO WE FINALLY SEE, HOLY SHIT) that makes this episode so mind-blowing. I don’t just mean the physical aspect, though that’s important. But Pink Diamond is portrayed here as something close to a petulant teenager. The dynamic is represented through Stevonnie’s interaction with Dr. Maheswaran, but it soon become almost cartoonish in its execution. Part of that is because we’ve never seen a Diamond behave like Pink Diamond. So… was she the youngest of the bunch? Did she ever get command or was she ever given any responsibilities? How is that out of all the Diamonds, she was the one killed by Rose Quartz?
“Jungle Moon” provides us with no real answers, and I’m guessing that’s why Stevonnie has that brief moment at the end of the episode. They glimpse back at the mirror/display that Pink Diamond destroyed, and their face looked… confused. Disturbed. They witnessed something they didn’t really understand, but still felt important. So what does it mean for the greater arc of season five? I DON’T KNOW. THIS IS SO CRUEL.
The video for “Jungle Moon” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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