In the twenty-fourth episode of the fifth season of Steven Universe, the Crystal Gems travel to meet a mysterious figure. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Holy shit. WHAT.
So, it’s possible that this twist was also hinted at along the way; I sorta vaguely remember there being some talk of four Diamonds existing? But look, my memory of Steven Universe canon is choppy at best because my viewing of this show spans like two years. Not only that, but I have spent at least the last year viewing it in spurts, so I don’t want to say that this came out of nowhere. Oh, it feels like it did, but perhaps previous canon hinted at White Diamond the entire time.
So, I’ll just skip over that commentary because I’m certainly not qualified to make it, and let’s just go straight to WHAT THE FUCK, WHITE DIAMOND. What the hell, NEPHRITE!!! You can cure corrupted gems!!! THIS IS ONE OF THE STRANGEST FAMILIES EVER. I know that there’s a lot more to this story to tell, so I’m waiting to see how much the concept of a family plays into the narrative of the Diamonds. They are a family, but they’re not the found family that comprises the main narrative thrust of Steven Universe. For what it’s worth, I still feel like the show is clearly saying Steven’s found family is far superior than the gem family he was born into. The show isn’t pulling punches here in showing us that the Diamonds still don’t understand how violent and imperialistic they are, and more so than ever before, there are direct confrontations to their belief system. And they come from Steven, which I think is immensely important! One thing I’ve picked up on from conversations with all of you in the comments is this notion that Steven never chose to be a part of this war. He was always forced into it, even if Rose Quartz tried to insulate him from it all. Despite that, Steven has, in many ways, decided to join this fight anyway. Plus, it makes so much sense that someone who is human gets to tell the Diamonds that they messed up Earth.
Is that total accountability? Of course not, and I don’t feel like this episode tries to say it is. It’s just the first step in a long line of actions the Diamonds will have to take to begin to change their minds and change their culture. It’s not going to happen overnight, and that sort of metamorphosis never does. But it can start here, where Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond heal a corrupted gem. WHICH HAS NEVER FULLY HAPPENED BEFORE. I mean, I really want to rewatch “Monster Reunion” to see if Nephrite’s flashbacks make more sense, especially now that I know their name and so much more of the story. There’s clearly a lot to tell, too! Who was their commander? We’ve only seen that gem (whose name I can’t remember) once before, I believe. How much of being corrupted does a gem remember, or is it all a haze? Would a corrupted gem require the constant presence of the three Diamonds (Blue, Yellow, and Pink) in order to stay non-corrupted, or was it just the emotional trigger that reverted Nephrite back to their corrupted state? Why is it that they are so certain that White Diamond can provide the permanent solution?
It’s clear, though, that faced with Nephrite and the reality of Pink’s deception, these two Diamonds are starting to feel shame and remorse. Just barely, and it’s pretty much entirely centered on themselves and their own grief. As I said, they still aren’t really acknowledging how fucked up it was for them to try to colonize Earth in the first place. But, as a first step, they agree to go back to Homeworld, taking the Crystal Gems with them, to confront White Diamond. Which… oh lord. Where do I even start? Prior to this, the Diamonds were the quintessential antagonist on the show, and they were designed to frighten us, to make us feel like the protagonists were up against impossible odds. So the second Blue and Yellow Diamond started behaving hesitantly about meeting one of their own, I was concerned. When they moved on to being terrified of White Diamond, I realized just how much my perception of this would have to shift. How could there be a Diamond so utterly unlike the rest? Why did she inspire such fear in the others???
But before we get to that last scene (WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON), there were two quieter moments I wanted to talk about. First: Connie. CONNIE!!! Connie getting permission from her mother to travel to Homeworld and her mother trusting her!!! Right off the bat! LOOK AT THIS GROWTH! And then there’s Bismuth, who offers to take care of both Lapis and Peridot while they reform. It’s such a great gesture and I did find it in character for Bismuth, particularly since she rejected returning to Homeworld. Why would she go there? Why would she risk herself in that way, especially if she could make herself useful on Earth helping other gems and protecting the planet? Mostly, I liked that not everyone was super thrilled to go to Homeworld. I mean, this was Amethyst’s first time going. And Connie’s. And technically Garnet, right? Since she was a fusion formed on Earth? And she never left the ship at the end of the first season, right?
So. White Diamond. Hi. What the fuck? The design for this character makes her look even less human than the other characters, so she’s unnerving immediately. It also doesn’t help that things progress so quickly once the Gems land on Homeworld. Steven mistakenly believes the celebration is because people are supporting them, when really, they’re overjoyed at the apparent return of Pink Diamond. And White Diamond… well, given what she says, she seems to view Pink as having just “acted out,” as if it was all a rebellion and a phase, and then… she gets banished to her room????
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
The video for “Legs From Here to Homeworld” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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