In the twenty-second episode of the fifth season of Steven Universe, Steven makes a difficult decision. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Oh my god, I am just so HAPPY.
So, when “A Single Pale Rose” happened, I was very worried that the show might never deal with the implications of that story for Bismuth. Indeed, I still have some bitterness over how Bismuth was treated within the show and the unfortunate implications of her character. Does this completely ameliorate those concerns? Well, it’s not really up to me, and I’m trying not to seem to authoritative on things that are not in my lane. What I’d like to talk about is how this episode continues the pattern of Steven Universe allowing their characters to have complicated reactions to the truth about Rose Quartz.
There’s a lot in “Made of Honor” that does address the fact that Bismuth’s quarrel with Rose was not what she thought it was. I do adore that this comes from a place of love, too. After Sapphire remarks that she’s sad so many of their friends cannot attend, due to being shattered or corrupted, Steven realizes that there is at least one gem he can bring to the part. And I do think that intent matters: he wants to make Ruby and Sapphire happy. He wants to tell Bismuth the truth. Granted, he doesn’t get to at first because Bismuth UNDERSTANDABLY FREAKS OUT when she sees all the bubbled gems. It’s a natural conclusion for her to come to! From her perspective, Rose bubbled her for disagreeing with her! The truth, though, is so much more messed up than that. She bubbled Bismuth because she didn’t want Bismuth revealing her secret; she didn’t want a weapon developed that would shatter her. And that kinda reveal is totally worth sticking your head into a pit of lava and screaming about. Right???
Yet even when Bismuth knows the truth, even after she accepts it and accepts that Steven really wanted her to be at Sapphire’s and Ruby’s wedding, she still feels… well, a lot of things. Y’all, I just cannot get enough of the emotional complexity on this show, and it remains one of my absolute favorite things about Steven Universe. I know I’ve spoken about it before, but as a super emotional person, I’m so pleased to see these kind of stories unfolding on screen. Bismuth is glad to be unbubbled, but it’s complicated! Why didn’t the other Crystal Gems free her? Won’t they assume the worst? How can they still be together if their origin is all a lie? One reason this resonated with me is that I sometimes do tend to lean toward cynicism and assuming the worst of others. So, I understand why Bismuth would assume that the other Crystal Gems don’t actually want to see her. Why was Steven the only one who came to see her? Steven’s appeal, though, is based on his genuine desire to have Bismuth around. He didn’t just want to tell her the truth; he didn’t just want to invite her to the wedding; HE WANTS TO BE HER FRIEND. After Bismuth’s experience on this show, it made sense to me that she wouldn’t even consider this option. When you’ve been mistreated and literally hidden away like she has been, serious gestures of friendship probably ring a bit hollow.
Look, I feel like I don’t even need to explain this because y’all know I adore any and all things regarding FRIENDSHIP, but if this episode is the start of Bismuth’s return to the show in a much more permanent fashion, I am overjoyed. I want to hear more from other characters about this, as I expect that Pearl and Garnet have a lot of things to discuss with Bismuth. Bringing Bismuth into the fold by allowing her to be herself and by explaining to her that she was wrongly bubbled makes for a great starting point. I want her to have a bigger presence on the show, and I hope that these upcoming episodes continue to allow her to have complicated, fulfilling stories. Also, episodes with puns in the title. This one has got a great one!
I AM GONNA BAWL DURING THIS WEDDING, Y’ALL. Is it next? Is that what we’re doing next??? I CAN’T STAND IT, I’M GONNA BURST. Oh, this whole batch of episodes post-Pink-Diamond-reveal have been SPECTACULAR, and I’m so pleased about that.
The video for “Made of Honor” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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