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Steven Universe concludes its arc with a peek at the Diamonds’ hidden facets

Illustration for article titled Steven Universe  concludes its arc with a peek at the Diamonds’ hidden facets
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When Steven and Greg are taken to the Amethysts’ quarters, it seems like “That Will Be All” is going to be a tense escape episode, on a par with “Jail Break.” That would be interesting (and certainly gripping), but it’s not quite where Steven Universe is now. This arc has been an extended jail break of sorts, but it’s also been a lot lighter and looser than that episode—which makes sense since it’s been strung out over a week, rather than a single episode. This is all to say that I somehow didn’t see the “twist” coming: Amethyst has become bros with all of the other Amethysts and Earth Gems at the zoo, and everyone else is totally down with helping Steven and Greg. I didn’t see it coming, and I love it.

Amethyst has found another family of sorts—all of the other Amethysts who she was originally supposed to emerge with. Michaela Dietz does fantastic, hilarious voice work here, instantly conjuring a confidence and camaraderie (and distinctions between the different Amethysts) that takes all of the best, immature parts of our Amethyst and blends them with her newer, more competent incarnation. But why would the other Gems be cool with Steven and Greg escaping? The answer walks right into the room: Holly Blue Agate. The Amethysts’ boss is cruel, and insults their home Kindergarten, so it makes total sense that the younger Gems (similarly juvenile) would be looking to rebel.

Another thing I didn’t see coming: Yellow Diamond, who shows up to confront Blue about her grief in a vast room full of bubbled Rose Quartzes. Yellow and Blue modeling different approaches to grief, and revenge. Yellow wants to destroy all of the Rose Quartzes, and for Blue to “get over” Pink Diamond, while Blue, in a response surprisingly reminiscent of the Crystal Gem ethos, wants to simply feel her feelings. (“Why can’t you just me grieve?”) Even as there are many reasons to be suspicious of Blue Diamond, she’s certainly sympathetic in this moment. Even Yellow Diamond gets a bit of color (sorry) this episode, as Patti LuPone finally gets the chance to sing.

“What’s The Use Of Feeling (Blue),” sung by Yellow Diamond and the two Pearls, is a pretty big number, in that it expresses the emotions of Home World Gems in a way we’ve never quite seen before. (I’m not counting Peridot’s parts of “Peace And Love (On Planet Earth).” love for Pink Diamond. One of the best things you can say about Patti LuPone’s vocal performance here is that it’s genuinely unclear whether or not Yellow Diamond actually misses Pink. For much of the song, it’s possible to read “What’s The Use Of Feeling (Blue)” as a genuine attempt at cheering up Blue Diamond and expressing Yellow’s own approach to grief, but it could also be a cynical play at getting her back on board with the mission. And though the end seems like a pretty definitive statement of feeling on the part of Yellow, there’s still enough ambiguity that there’s probably an element of both.

Though the song is the bulk of the episode (and almost feels like it was the justification for the whole arc, which I mean as a compliment), there’s some good comedy in the Crystal Gems trying to sneak out behind Holly Blue Agate while she monologues about her concern with social status and frustration at having been stationed with all of the Gems she hates. “I don’t think anything could spoil this for me,” she says, followed by the predictable, but immensely satisfying tableau of the Crystal Gems, Steven, and Greg cramming into the Roaming Eye. After a quick Amethyst-Pearl-Garnet action scene—Garnet catches the whip, Pearl slices it in two, and Amethyst uses the remains to tie up Holly Blue—our heroes are off to Earth.

And as the icing on the cake, Pearl gets to show off some the flair that made her so terrifying during the initial rebellion. Though of course it would make sense for Holly Blue Agate (or the Amethysts) to rat out the Crystal Gems, Pearl persuades her to keep her mouth shut: “You’re really going to tell the Diamonds that you allowed a band of traitorous rebels to infiltrate a highly secure facility and escape from right under your careful watch? Doesn’t seem like a wise thing to do, Holly Blue.” (This successful bluff is partly a mirror of the scene earlier in the episode when Sapphire manages to convince Blue Diamond she’d wanted a special delivery of humans from Earth, which is another excellent Sapphire-Ruby scene.)


So we didn’t learn the answers to Steven’s questions about Rose Quartz, but we did get Greg back, and learned more about Home World culture and the relationships between the members of the Diamond Authority. Pretty exciting and fun stuff, overall! And if the two arms outside the zoo and Yellow Diamond’s ominous insistence that “there’s still time” to take samples from Earth are any indication, things will heat up a lot sooner than we might expect.

Stray observations:

  • “That Will Be All” is written and storyboarded by Colin Howard, Joe Johnston, and Rebecca Sugar. (I would guess Rebecca worked on “What’s The Use In Feeling (Blue),” but I could be wrong about that.)
  • (The conceit of having Steven and Greg be in the room allows the show to eavesdrop on this private moment between the Diamonds, while also adding the tension of whether or not the Universes will be discovered.)
  • During “What’s The Use Of Feeling (Blue),” Yellow Diamond briefly mentions that Agates are built to “terrify,” while Lapis’ are built to “terraform.” So Holly Blue isn’t just that way on her own—that’s the whole point of her cut. (This also makes sense considering how similar most of the Amethysts are—other than the Rubies, we just haven’t had a lot of time to see how different Gem types share a basic personality.)
  • Non-Pearl Pearls always look a bit more like sketches to me than other Gems. Is it just because they have fewer clothes or less definition than our Pearl?
  • Thanks for sticking with me through this week, everyone. See you soon! The break between episodes will be quite a bit shorter this time—there are at least four episodes airing on a weekly basis starting February 10. See you then for “The New Crystal Gems.”