Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Steven Universe S03E22-23, "Beta" & "Earthlings"

Apparently "Bismuth" is numbered as episodes 20 and 21, despite being a single episode, which after tonight's two gets us to 25 on Wednesday (with the 26th being the Internet shorts and extended opening, collectively, because sure, that makes sense, whatever) and the start of season 4 on Thursday, after which we get weekly episodes. Oh, Cartoon Network.

So that was a lot!

Uh, in no particular order.

Smoky Quartz! I made the shocked-O-hands-to-face expression at the screen, I seriously did.

I really love that Steven's first fusion with a Gem was with Amethyst; it makes a lot of sense both generally, in terms of their more equal quasi-sibling relationship (whereas Pearl and Garnet are much more mother figures) and recently, in "Steven vs. Amethyst."

I love that Smoky Quartz has dark skin and is chubby, and is so joyful--fusion weapon is a yo-yo! (Alas, per the AV Club, her VA is Natasha Lyonne; it's not a 100% rule that Gems are voiced by POC (Susan Egan, Patti Lupone), but I like that they make such effort to do so.)

(The explosion when they fused lends credence to the theory that Rose transferring her Gem to Steven involved some kind of external physical trauma, as shown by Greg's present-day permanent sunburn and the fact that the Crystal Gems only have stars on their outfits after Steven's birth, suggesting they poofed and reformed with the star in her honor.)

Social model of disability everyone? And apparently we can add "eugenics" to the list of tough topics SU deals with.

Uh. Worldbuilding! Rose confirmed to not be Pink Diamond and to have done something that Jasper considers unforgivable to her, shattering by implication but not explicitly stated? (This gives no reason for Bismuth to have been lying about Rose also being created on Earth--in Prime Kindergarten, most likely!) Because Gems (usually) are born knowing what they are for, Jasper has known since day 0 that she was made to fight Rose Quartz, which definitely gives new context for her obsessive hatred, which must've only hardened given the devotion that Homeworld Gems seem to hold for their Diamonds (Peridot previously).

Peridot gets several surprisingly good moments? Big speech about Earth setting her free, and also the timely desperate metal-bending power-up, which may or may not retroactively reconcile me to "Too Short to Ride." Which is good because there is the seed of an uncomfortable truth in Jasper's sneers about Rose taking people in at their lowest: they really did strip Peridot of everything (except, she says, her dignity), Garnet was an outcast, Amethyst was entirely alone, Pearl was stepping completely outside her proscribed role. We see it as building people up and empowering them, but it's very easy to see that situation as taking vulnerable people and exploiting them--and Rose's secrecy WRT Bismuth suggests that there may well have been additional suboptimal results of that, shall we say.

Going back to Jasper: the poor corrupted Gem that she forced fusion on (I guess in a similar way to the fusion experiments). Corruption can spread: the analogy I've seen is that Steven can heal hardware but corruption is software, and obviously this isn't 1:1 since Steven was able to temporarily help Centipeetle, but fusing with corrupted Gems: bad. I think Jasper didn't know that the corruption was caused by the Diamonds, and blames Rose Quartz for it?

The line about how everyone who fuses with her ends up leaving didn't quite land right for me; I know it's a necessary reminder of how desperate she was in "Alone at Sea," and how she's looking for something to fulfill her, but (a) it didn't quite hit the right emotional resonance as spoken and (b) the stuff about defending the colony and vengeance for her Diamond was so passionate that until then, it seemed like we were supposed to think that she'd rejected fusion as a method of finding what she needed and turned back instead for her motivation. The see-sawing makes sense, because she's so unmoored, but the way it was depicted just struck me as slightly suboptimal.

I imagine a Jasper redemption arc is inevitable because of what show this is, but I'm going to pass on speculating how, other than to note that it's going to be really fucking difficult because she has no reason to believe anyone currently in a position to tell her the truth.

It's kind of hard to talk about the opening of "Beta" now because it was so different from the Kindergarten sections and also so weird? The barn now hosts contemporary art (excuse me, "meep morp") installations, okay . . . I do like that Lapis is not besties with Peridot (edited because I got names wrong way around last night), but seems to sort of bemusedly (but not unkindly) put up with her.

Uh, the Pip woke up with a nightmare and he's back asleep now but I still have a ton of dishes to do, so I am going to stop rambling now. (Except: Rubies! Cliffhanger! Ahhhh!)

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