One of Steven Universe’s tactics for remaining vital has been the introduction of new Gems—if the Crystal Gems have gone through much of their development already and stabilized in the roles they’ve carved out for themselves on Earth, one way to shake up a consistent dynamic is to add fresh characters. So when Navy—one of the Rubies—falls out of the sky (and somehow doesn’t shatter) and essentially asks for asylum on Earth, it certainly seems plausible that she could be joining the show’s extended cast.
Over the course of the episode, Navy says all the right things to get herself in good with the Crystal Gems, perfectly parroting their emotional line about individuality, positivity, and freedom. Rather than a target for a mission from Home World, Navy now claims that the Earth is “somewhere I could be myself.” She’s relentlessly upbeat, finding things to like about every aspect of her new home. And she serves a function on the team! (Upon entering the Roaming Eye, Steven announces that “The Crystal Gems finally have a pilot.”) She’s basically Steven bait.
So yeah, in a sense Navy’s presence is a bit too plausible. In normal cases where new characters are abruptly added to a show, we know they likely won’t stick around, since the actor isn’t committed to the series—but Charlene Yi already voices several different Rubies pretty frequently. And is it so hard to imagine another Gem taking up residence at the barn? Certainly, Peridot gets excited about the prospect of having a new roommate, and goes out of her way to try to give Navy the crash course in how to be a newly marooned Gem on Earth.
Lapis, on the other hand, is more skeptical. Right from the outside, she puts Navy in a water bubble and sends her floating around in the background while she voices her concerns, in one of the episode’s better visual gags. As often happens, Lapis’ frustration is used for visually comedic ends, in the bubble shot and in a scene where she literally makes it rain as a way of showing Navy what weather means. Lapis spends “Room For Ruby” getting increasingly annoyed, as Navy does everything on the first try (including learning to sleep!). Lapis’ key emotional critique—that Navy should have negative emotions—is absolutely correct, and though she risks coming across as a bit of a downer, her suspicion is the flip side of Steven and Peridot’s eagerness to accept someone who, it turns out, was just using them to find her ship.
Once she gets ahold of the ship, Navy’s silliness turns incredibly unsettling, as she attempts to jettison Steven, Lapis, and Peridot from the bridge. Her eyes turn all giant and creepy when she says, “The only thing wrong is that you’re still… holding… on,” in what seems the precursor to an insane bout of laughter. This shot is one of my favorites the show has done in a long time (I would absolutely frame it and put it on my wall), though it feels like a very specific reference to something that I’m having a hard time remembering. Thankfully, Garnet shows up at the beach, ready for the unfortunate conclusion of the Navy adventure.
Though Lapis proves herself to be an important member of the team for emotional balance purposes, Steven and Peridot are ultimately right to have given Navy a chance. (Though what will they do if they have to go back into space?) The whole point of being on Earth is that you can continue to express a degree of optimism and excitement about the future, even when the outcome is uncertain—and even when your trust is misplaced. Garnet says it all:“It was still worth a shot.”
- Among other things, Peridot’s chalkboard describing being an Earthling includes a TV, the alien doll, and the flag from Camp Pining Hearts.
- Peridot explains a hammock: “It’s a bed you fall out of.”
- Another great Peridot line: “Looks like we got an advanced student on our hands.” (Look, it’s been a while since I had a really solid Peridot episode, okay?)
- “Room For Ruby” is storyboarded by Raven Molisee and Lauren Zuke (the storyboard teams change from here on out, folks!).
- This is the last episode that’ll air for a while, but I’ll see you guys again for the next one!