Warning: Major Spoilers for “Heart of the Crystal Gems” arc.
The “Heart of the Crystal Gems” Steven Bomb has me shook to my core. This was by far the best Steven Bomb yet.
All the episodes work together to form a tight, cohesive narrative arc where characters showed their growth and where multiple elements from past episodes come into play. We also got to see cartoon history made. The entire event displayed the true talent of the Crewniverse.
Needless to say, it has restored my faith in Steven Universe. The episodes of the bomb deal with the emotional fallout of the Crystal Gems as they struggle to come to terms with the truth of Rose Quartz’s past as Pink Diamond through the separation of Ruby and Sapphire. The two are separated for almost the entire bomb, and we’re able to get to know them as individuals.
The first episode, “Now We’re Only Falling Apart,” focuses on Sapphire’s feelings and gives a lot of backstory regarding Pink Diamond’s decision. We even learn about the origin of Pink Diamond’s Human Zoo and Garnet’s influence on Rose’s decision to fight for all of Gemkind.
I’m still a little lukewarm, considering I felt we still didn’t get to know Sapphire well enough and I wasn’t crazy about Rose Quartz’s origin, but the latter is more of personal taste than anything.
The second episode, “What’s Your Problem?” focuses on Amethyst and Steven searching for Ruby. It’s a bit slower than the previous episode, but we really get to see how much Amethyst has matured since the beginning of the series, putting her own feelings aside to ensure Steven is happy and refusing to take any of the blame for Rose’s actions. It’s a great character-driven episode.
“The Question,” in some ways, is the weakest of the five episodes. It’s very focused on Ruby finding herself, but it’s awkwardly done. She decides to become a lonesome cowboy, though Greg, Amethyst and Steven tag along on her journey. She sings and almost decides to remain separated from Sapphire permanently since she’s never had the chance to just be herself; she was either one of a group of Rubies or Garnet.
But, Steven Universe isn’t the kind of show that would make that kind of change. Instead, the episode ends on a different but still high note: Ruby proposes to Sapphire, who says yes. It’s a huge step forward for LGBTQ representation in children’s media.
“Made of Honor” should have a been a breather episode focusing on Ruby and Sapphire’s wedding plans, but halfway through with no build-up whatsoever, Steven frees Bismuth to tell her the truth and invite her to the wedding. She takes the news considerably well and is welcomed back with open arms; Steven trusts her, so why wouldn’t they?
I guess it concerns me how willing Steven was to free her, despite Bismuth nearly murdering him; he had no way of knowing that she would take the news well, and he didn’t even have Rose’s sword to protect him if things went badly… It bothers me. Bismuth has barely been mentioned since her debut episode. If they had built up to it, I wouldn’t mind but it comes out of nowhere.
But “Reunited,” blows all these episodes out of the water by giving us an epic double length episode featuring nearly every character that has appeared in the show thus far. It begins simply enough, with a great Broadway like musical number, “For Just One Day Let’s Only Think About Love” and the first same-sex wedding and first same-sex on-the-lips kiss between two main characters on a children’s show. The happiness doesn’t last long, though. Blue and Yellow Diamond invade Earth and release the Cluster.
An epic battle ensues with all the Crystal Gems including Bismuth, Peridot and Lapis, Connie and the Cluster fighting Blue and Yellow Diamond in their wedding outfits nonetheless. And it becomes immediately clear that there is no way the Crystal Gems can win in a fight: Blue Diamond shatters Rose’s sword and both Peridot and Lapis Lazuli are poofed. Somehow, Steven is able to through to the Diamonds in a psychic realm, and tell them the truth. It’s a huge change in the show’s status quo.
It’s a lot to take in, and my summary barely does it justice. However, it’s eerily close to a series finale. Nearly every character introduced in the series makes some kind of appearance, and it’s a gigantic all battle between our heroes and the villains. But, it’s obvious that there is still a lot of topics that need to be covered: the corrupted gems still exist including Jasper and Centipeedle, Lars and the Off-Colors are still in space and most obviously, we still have not seen White Diamond.
This arc seems to signal the beginning of the end for Steven Universe. This season will only have two more episodes, which I don’t think is enough to wrap everything up. But, I think Season 6 might be its final one. Undoubtedly, Cartoon Network will try to prolong the show for as long as possible but I just don’t know where the show can go from here. And if it does end soon, I think it will be a good thing. If Steven Universe can keep up the momentum then I think the show can finish on a high and satisfying note.
Looking at the Steven Bomb as a whole, everything was fairly well executed. These episodes don’t really work individually, as they’re dependent on each other for context, but they’re well-balanced in plot, humor and character development which is great.
There seemed to be an amount of passion put into this arc that I haven’t seen present in others. The Crew put in their all and none of that is more clear than in how they chose to present Ruby and Sapphire’s wedding.
Despite the Gems being made of light; they’re all female. Ruby and Sapphire have been in a romantic relationship for 5,750 years, and they agree to get married; a symbolic gesture since obviously Steven is not ordained and none of the gems are citizens, but its treated with all the same gravitas as a heterosexual wedding.
And I think the wedding outfits are a particularly interesting choice: despite Ruby being the more tomboyish and masculine of the two, wears a beautiful gown while the more girly and elegant Sapphire pulls off a tuxedo.
I think this was done with the intention of making it absolutely clear that it was a same-sex wedding. Ruby with her looks and voice, can be mistaken for male by a casual viewer. By putting her in a dress, the Crew emphasized her femininity while at the same time subverting expectations of viewers.
Also, the kissing scene was extremely important; Ruby and Sapphire have kissed before, but never on the lips. While the previous have seemed more sensual due to their location (like the neck) kissing on the lips normalizes the affection, in a way that younger children can understand and have seen before. What is has done here is extremely important for LGBTQ viewers, and I can’t imagine the number of hoops they had to jump through to allow this to happen.
I still have my criticisms of the episodes: the pacing with some of them just don’t work well on an individual level and some of the events, such as Bismuth’s release as I mentioned earlier don’t have any real foreshadowing or build up.
And despite the Bomb focusing on the reactions of the characters, they still seemed to get over it relatively quickly. There doesn’t seem to be any real lasting emotional consequences: even Amethyst’s encouragement doesn’t seem to have left a huge impression on Steven. He still referred to himself as “Rose Quartz” in some episodes.
It feels like the show rushed through the emotional impact of Rose’s lie, which is over 5,000 years old, in order to keep the gems together and kept Steven’s guilt complex because it’s become a defining character flaw that drives a lot of the show’s conflict. It feels like the show didn’t move character development in quite the right direction.
But overall, I am really interested in seeing where the show goes from here and how it decides to end. Unlike Avatar: The Last Airbender, Naruto or Gravity Falls, there was never any “end game” introduced. I assume that the show will end with Gems and Humans living in peace or some kind of equilibrium; the Diamonds won’t take over any more worlds and Gems will be able to make their own decisions regarding what they want to do and who they love. White Diamond might be shattered, but so little is known about her character and it goes against the values of the show, that I can’t say anything regarding her.
And that’s the scoop
“Heart of the Crystal Gems” as whole: 9/10
“Now We’re Only Falling Apart”: 8/10
“What’s Your Problem?” 8/10
“The Question: 7/10
“Made of Honor”: 9/10