“The New Crystal Gems” is a very funny, light episode about Connie, Lapis, and Peridot (and Pumpkin) trying to protect Beach City during Steven’s trip to the zoo—which is pretty much what you would’ve expected it to be. That’s not a bad thing, though. “The New Crystal Gems” is on par with any episode from last week, it’s just a different thing. The zoo episodes were exciting forays into a new part of Gem culture, but this episode engages in the classic sitcom tactic of taking several characters, putting them together in a new permutation and watching what happens.

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A lot of childish squabbling it turns out, which makes sense when Peridot is the leader of your team. Running over to the temple after Steven’s departure, Connie finds Lapis watching Peridot float around in the toilet. “Don’t you knock?” Peridot asks, as if they were doing something naughty in the bathroom. (They were.) Eventually, they decide to form a new version of the Crystal Gems team, so as to better protect Beach City.

The engine of that mission turns out to be Peridot’s insane, delightful idea of fandom, in which the appropriate way to accomplish their mission is to figure out who is which member of the original team. Who is the Steven, the Garnet, the Amethyst, and the Pearl of the new Crystal Gems? Basically, they spend the rest of the episode writing fan fiction. Connie starts wearing one of Steven’s shirts, Peridot finds a pair of aviators so she can pretend to be Garnet, Lapis gets all nasally and messes up her hair, and Pumpkin has a party hat slipped over her face. Peridot keeps trying to get them to do cool poses, and there’s a great shot of the four new Crystal Gems running the other way on the beach in a parody of the original opening credits.

Of course, the bulk of this episode is an excuse for gags about these attempts to fit square Gems (and Connie) into round holes, and for everyone to fight over who gets to be Garnet. When Lapis calls Peridot bossy, she replies “Thank you!” (Peridot, of course, should probably be Pearl—but in one of the episode’s better running gags, strongly resents even the remote suggestion that the two have anything in common.) And their mission narrows in scope a bit when Buck brings in the Dewey-mobile, which has been graffitied, and they decide to run the car wash in Greg’s absence. They’re actually pretty good at it—Peridot floats the truck, Lapis washes it, and Connie and Pumpkin dry it off.

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But when half the town shows up to watch the spectacle again, Peridot gets mad at Lapis for not fully performing the role of Amethyst, initiating what feels more like a sibling fight than a lovers’ quarrel (we’ll see about that) where they basically slap each other using Yellow Tail’s truck as a toy until it smashes into the car wash sign. Despondent, Connie gives everyone an angry motivational speech, rather than the sympathetic one Steven would have delivered. As much as everyone wants to play the roles assigned to them (and as much as I want Peridot to become the central focus of the show), they’re just not the Crystal Gems. And that’s okay!

Connie’s skills are in organization and project management, which is cool as hell. Working with the other “Crystal Temps,” she helps fix up the car wash, and even build a new sign that looks like Greg before the others return from space. Greg’s description of the new car wash sign applies just as well to this episode of Steven Universe: “This one’s got personality!”

Stray observations:

  • “The New Crystal Gems” is storyboarded by Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco.
  • Lapis persists in her inability to remember a single non-Steven human. When Connie protests that Lapis almost drowned her, the Gem replies, “I almost drowned a lot of people.”
  • One of the things Connie sees during her patrol of Beach City: Lars and Sadie awkwardly holding hands while pretending not to be hanging out on a bench.

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