Spoiler Policy: All spoilers up to and including the currently discussed episode will be unmarked. Spoilers for episodes beyond the current point will be enclosed in Fast Forward blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.
Official Description: Steven learns that Garnet can see into the future.
Finally, I can stop putting all the references to Garnet’s Future Vision inside of the spoiler boxes. Which will now be renamed Future Vision boxes, because I can.
In keeping with the general theme of growing up we’ve had this season, Steven is packing up some of his toys that he considers too childish. This includes the action figures of Hero (from RPG World, an expy of Cloud Strife) and Sanic (from the meme about Sonic the Hedgehog) that we last saw in Steven the Sword Fighter.
Thankfully, he’s not packing up that sweet indigo Gamecube controller or the copies of Animal Crossing and Wind Waker.
Steven tells the action figures that he’s a Crystal Gem — he’s a big boy now, and he needs to stop saying things like “I’m a big boy now!” It’s fitting that this episode is occurring right after The Test, where Steven demanded a test to prove that he was a Crystal Gem, and instead learned that the Gems themselves are insecure about what they’re doing.
Steven even takes down his poster for Ninja Squad and replaces it with a poster for New Ninja Squad, which the Internet informs me is a reference to Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.
The ninja squad guy looks so unhappy in New Ninja Squad, which I choose to interpret as ridiculously ahead of time foreshadowing for Future.
Steven even considers giving up MC Bear Bear, but decides against it.
Steven carries the box down the stairs but slips on a tennis ball. He’s caught by Garnet before he can hurt himself. Steven comments that he’s lucky that she showed up when she did, but Garnet says that luck has nothing to do with it.
Steven asks how she always knows where to be, and Garnet comments that she’s not sure he can handle that information. (Of course, later in the episode we find out that she’s at least somewhat right.) Steven wants to hear it anyway because he’s a
big boy large man now.
Garnet explains that she has future vision. She describes it thus: “I’m able to see possible outcomes to most situations, which comes in handy since you seem to attract a lot of danger.”
Because Garnet’s future vision works by showing her an entire range of possibilities, it allows it to be useful without her ever knowing for sure what is going to happen in most scenarios. Even so, there are cases where it seems like the writers kind of either forget she has it or have to ignore it.
We get some additional information about Garnet’s future vision in Cry for Help, where it’s revealed that Garnet has trouble seeing futures having to do with outcomes she didn’t consider. In that episode, she is only looking for futures where the Gems capture Peridot, and so misses looking into any of the futures that reveal that Pearl has been the one sabotaging the communications tower.
Another example of the limitations on future vision is seen in Pool Hopping, where Garnet states that her future vision isn’t working as well any more because she incorrectly still sees Steven as childish, causing her to expect the wrong outcomes.
On another note, when Garnet tells Steven she has future vision, she holds up her left hand, the one containing Sapphire’s gem. Sapphire is the one who provides Garnet with future vision, but she sees only one possible future stretched out ahead of her. Ruby is the one whose impulsive nature allows Sapphire to see many possibilities, but in a much shorter span of time.
Steven says his middle name is Danger. Garnet tells him that his middle name is Cutiepie.
This will come up again in Together Forever where Steven calls himself Steven Quartz Cutiepie Demayo Diamond Universe.
Steven and Garnet work out together to what the wiki identifies as a routine from Korean National Gymnastics (?). It mostly reminds me of this:
Garnet gets impatient and smashes the boombox.
Steven asks what his breakfast possibilities are, and Garnet says that since he’s already outside he’ll likely go to the Big Donut. Steven asks if there’s any possible future where Garnet comes with him and has a great time.
Garnet hesitates, prompting Steven to make a bunch of goofy faces until she relents, proving once again that Garnet will always cave to Steven.
Considering Steven starts freaking out about everything that’s going to kill him in a few minutes, there probably aren’t any futures where Garnet goes with Steven and they have a great time, which may explain her hesitation.
Steven asks if Pearl and Amethyst can also see the future, and she says no. Even she can’t really “see the future.” She explains a bit more of what her future vision entails:
“I can see options and trajectories. Time is a river that splits into creeks, or pools into lakes, or careens down waterfalls. I have the map and I steer the ship.”
Later, she becomes far less confident in her ability to “steer the ship,” largely because of Steven’s unpredictability throwing a wrench into things.
The eyes shown in this bit of animation are red and blue, merging into a purple eye in the middle of Garnet’s forehead, another reference to Garnet’s fusion status.
Steven keeps bugging Garnet with questions about her future vision as they enter the Big Donut. He asks what happens if he says hi to Sadie — predictably, she’ll say hi back. He then asks what happens if he says hi to his “BFF Lars.” “Our friendship is deep but complicated,” says Steven, which is actually not entirely incorrect.
Garnet says there’s one future where Lars gives Steven a high five, but two more where Steven suffers third degree burns. Steven decides he likes those odds and goes for it, causing Lars to fumble the coffeepot and nearly spill it on Steven. Garnet blocks the coffee with her body. “I eat coffee for breakfast!”
Steven goes to get fry bits from the Fry Shack, and asks if there’s any potential futures where he’s hurt by this. Garnet lists a few: he could choke on the fry bits, get food poisoning and die, get distracted and fall into an open manhole, or get bullied by wasps (actually Beedrills from Pokemon). Steven imagines this all in a cutesy simplified cartoon form.
Garnet nonchalantly listing out horrible things that could happen in the future is a trait that shows up other times, such as in A Very Special Episode, where she terrifies the students in her safety class with all of the possibilities she sees. Both that episode and this one also showcase how she’s not very good about being reassuring about possible bad futures. Keystone Motel gives a canonical reason for why Garnet is often bad about being reassuring: if Sapphire sees that the future will turn out okay, she sometimes has trouble understanding the necessity of the steps to get from Point A to Point B.
As Steven walks home with Garnet, he imagines all the horrible ways he could die, including Cookie Cat, the ice cream mascot from Gem Glow, turning up in a UFO and shooting him with lasers. “Cookie Cat! I never considered you might be evil!”
The Cookie Cat jingle serves as foreshadowing for the series. Specifically, Cookie Cat is likely to represent Pink/Rose, who did indeed leave her family behind. The idea that Steven never considered she might be evil is extremely relevant, since at this point in the series he still looks up to Rose as an idealized role model. It’s only later he learns about the many awful things his mother did.
Steven is making a sandwich with a bike helmet on. He’s so terrified of potential futures that he can’t bring himself to pick up a knife to spread mayonnaise.
Congratulations, Steven, you now have crippling anxiety. Come join the club, we have cookies (but not Cookie Cats).
Instead of using the knife, Steven just dumps the whole jar of mayonnaise on his sandwich. Garnet points out that that will kill him faster.
Pearl and Amethyst are leaving on a mission. Steven begs Garnet to tell him what will happen before she leaves.
Steven: Do I choke on a pickle?
Garnet: Mm, you don’t choke on a pickle.
Steven: That means something else happens with the pickle!
Garnet tells Steven she can’t always be with him, and that he’s in control. But then she totally undermines that by dramatically declaring that he cannot go on the roof no matter what.
That evening, Steven is completely paralyzed with fear as a storm rages outside. He imagines more terrible things happening to him, including the Beedrills returning to sting him to death because they’re “made of magic.”
Steven picks up MC Bear Bear, and laments that he doesn’t know what’s happening to him, because he’s supposed to be a Crystal Gem. Poor Steven doesn’t yet understand that acquiring anxiety that you can’t understand or control is an important part of growing up, clearly.
List of Steven’s Trauma: Acquires crippling anxiety when he learns about Garnet’s future vision.
In the light of the events of Future, it’s interesting that this is one of the first instances of the series where you really see Steven’s trauma starting to get to him.
Steven can’t take it any more, and climbs onto the roof. The impulse to do something you know is a bad idea just because you can’t take the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen is a very, very real one.
Garnet returns and tells Steven to get off the roof. Steven refuses, saying he needs to know what’s going to happen.
“Everything I do shoves me violently towards the end! The more I know, the more I know that I don’t know! I can’t live like this! Why did you tell me about future vision?”
This is a very big anxiety mood, I have to say, especially feeling like both knowing and not knowing are unbearable.
Garnet reveals what’s going to happen to him on the roof: This.
She takes off her glasses voluntarily for the first time in the series, so she can be real with Steven. She tells him that the reason she told him about future vision was that because she saw a future where he would understand him and they would grow closer, so she took the risk.
This is another instance of Garnet being the most willing to trust Steven with Crystal Gem business, although in this case it didn’t turn out like she had hoped. On the other hand, it seems like they do end up growing closer, so maybe this incident was necessary for Steven’s growth and it was actually good that she told him about future vision.
“I see so many things that can hurt you. I should never have let one of them be me. There are millions of possibilities for the future, but it’s up to you to choose which becomes reality. Please understand. You choose your own future.”
Steven takes her words to heart and realizes that he needs to climb off the roof.
Steven and Garnet hug, and Garnet blocks a bolt of lightning with her hand, leaving it ambiguous as to whether or not that was the real reason Steven shouldn’t go on the roof.
This is a solid episode that gives us some interesting development for Garnet and has a nice character moment at the end. Also, some classic Garnet one-liners.
On the Run
Official Description: Steven and Amethyst try out life on the road.
Who is ready for character development and lore bombs?
Steven is reading through a pile of books about the No Home Boys, which seems to be an amalgam of the Hardy Boys and the Boxcar Children. As a kid I was super into any kind of story about kids running away and having to survive on their own so I feel Steven’s choice of reading here.
Steven runs to the warp excitedly as Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl appear, holding the deactivated Flask Robonoids that Peridot brought to the Galaxy Warp in Warp Tour, signifying that this is a Plot Episode. Pearl explains that they couldn’t leave them there and risk them reactivating and repairing the Homeworld warp. Amethyst teases Pearl by smashing one of the Robonoids in her hands, getting warp repair fluid everywhere.
Pearl chastises Amethyst, pointing out that they need to understand the Robonoids, not squash them. She’s clearly about to lose it as she screams, “If Homeworld Gems are trying to return to Earth… they have to be stopped!”
Garnet tells her to calm down because they’re still cut off and the Earth is safe… except they’re obviously not, because Peridot was able to get there without a warp in the first place.
Steven doesn’t understand why the Homeworld Gems are a problem, and for once Pearl actually decides to explain some things to him.
“Steven, a very long time ago, Gems tried to do something… bad.” She looks at Amethyst while she says this. Despite her reassurances later in the episode, she really does associate Amethyst with the kindergarten, and Amethyst absolutely knows this.
“It was something that would have damaged the Earth. Some Gems, like your mother, Garnet, and myself, felt that this was unfair to the life that already existed here, and we swore to never let the Earth be used for their purposes, even if it meant we could never go home.”
She conspicuously leaves Amethyst out of her explanation, the first indication that Amethyst was not part of the initial rebellion.
Of course, this early in the series we’re getting a very glossed-over, whitewashed view of what happened. Pearl talks as though she, Rose/Pink, and Garnet were all primarily motivated by protecting the Earth, but subsequent episodes strongly call that into question. Yes, this was likely at least part of Pink’s motivation. Pearl, on the other hand, fairly clearly “chooses” the Earth to stay with Pink and not out of love for the Earth’s creatures. She tolerates humans, but has no special affection for them, and harbors some regrets about turning her back on Gemkind (as seen in Space Race, where she would really like to see Homeworld from a distance again). Garnet, on the other hand, joined Rose primarily so she could live as a fusion and not out of any concern for humanity.
As we learn later in this episode, the “something bad” that Homeworld was trying to do was build kindergartens, which create Gems at the expense of organic life.
Steven compares the group to the No Home Boys, who have no home and who travel the country solving mysteries. “They had a successful run until the disastrous graphic novel adaptation,” he says, showing off what looks to be a terrible fake manga.
“But my favorite story is this classic one where the no home boys are chased across the countryside by a mysterious pursuer, which turns out to be the very fear resting within themselves.” This could be seen as foreshadowing that Amethyst’s problem in this episode, and the reason she runs away, is her deep seated fears and self-loathing.
Pearl is contemptuous of Steven relating them to the No Home Boys because “we are literally standing in your home right now.”
And yes, they obviously have a physical home, but Pearl here is far too quick to dismiss Steven’s comparison. It’s made explicit with Amethyst later, but I think it’s relevant that Steven also has some sense that he doesn’t have a home. He isn’t quite a human and isn’t quite a Gem, he has an unusual life that isn’t really like either, and in both the human and Gem worlds he often seems to feel out of place. The fact that he has four walls and a roof doesn’t mean that Steven truly feels like he belongs yet.
Steven latching on to the No Home Boys at a young age is actually a lot more interesting in light of the recent Future episode Mr. Universe. In that episode, Steven is intensely jealous of what he perceives as Greg’s ordinary, suburban upbringing, and reveals that he harbors some resentment from living in a van and then being raised by the Gems instead of having anything approaching a normal human childhood.
Steven says he wishes he were a No Home Boy: “No past, no future, just the open road!” We’re getting hints that Steven is already starting to feel pressure from the weight of all his expectations here — trying to live up to Rose Quartz’s legacy from the past, and striving to become a Crystal Gem for his future. Amethyst agrees with him, and suggests that they run away together.
They pack bindles and hitch a ride out of town with the Cool Kids in Jenny’s pizza delivery car as the song On the Run starts up. This is Amethyst’s first time singing in the series!
They run across the countryside. I took this screenshot of Steven getting attacked by a raccoon for some reason.
The two hop on a boxcar on their way to the kindergarten (although Steven doesn’t realize that’s where they’re going yet.) The kindergarten actually has a working warp so taking the train is an unnecessary step, but it’s clearly important symbolically.
Hitching a ride on the train will appear again in Back to the Kindergarten, where it seems to be a deliberate choice to get Peridot outside again and cheer her up. That episode, of course, has a lot of thematic parallels with this one: Peridot, like Amethyst here, is struggling with self-worth issues and feeling as though she can’t make up for her past actions. In Amethyst’s case, she feels as though she is a mistake since she came from a kindergarten that would have destroyed the Earth if it were not shut down; in Peridot’s case, she actually had a hand in creating those very same kindergartens and destroying life on other planets, and she feels the weight of that guilt (compounded with her depression over losing Lapis.)
Amethyst sings: I don’t care about what all the others say / Well, I guess there are some things that will just never go away / I wish that I could see that there’s no better place than home / But home’s a place that I have never known
Amethyst’s first line here echoes what she said in Tiger Millionaire, that she doesn’t care what people think of her, which is something she (at this point) would really love to be true but emphatically is not. She clearly craves the acceptance and approval of the other Crystal Gems (including Pearl, as much as they butt heads), but feels as though she can never gain it.
The things that will never go away likely refers to her past, which she can’t change. No matter what she does, she’ll always be a product of the kindergarten that Rose and the others hated and destroyed. She’ll never know Homeworld the way she did, and she didn’t join a rebellion like they did — she’s part of the Crystal Gems effectively by chance.
I love this shot of Amethyst and Steven in the sunset. Their relationship is really interesting because Steven’s arrival in the Crystal Gems meant the loss of Rose and of Amethyst’s status as the youngest, forcing her at least somewhat to take on more responsibility. On the other hand, Steven’s arrival gives Amethyst someone who can relate to her on a level that Pearl and Garnet can’t, especially now that he’s struggling with his status as a “real” Crystal Gem.
The shot of Steven and Amethyst riding the boxcars is echoed in the movie during the “No Matter What” sequence, and is in fact the last thing that is needed for Amethyst’s memory to be restored, signifying how important the events of this episode and Steven’s friendship are to Amethyst.
Steven gets his food eaten by a raccoon and tries to sleep on the hay, finding it unpleasant and scratchy. He tells Amethyst he wants to go home now, since Garnet and Pearl are probably starting to get worried, but she refuses, saying that that’s not her home. Steven says, “That’s right, you’re from Homeworld,” but she’s not from there either. She tells Steven she’ll show him where she’s from.
Amethyst being from Earth rather than Homeworld seems obvious in retrospect given that, unlike the other two Gems, she engages in a lot of human-like activities that they don’t seem interested in. She eats voraciously, she loves to sleep, she’s more likely to be hanging out on the Boardwalk, and she joins an underground wrestling league. Garnet and Pearl mostly only do human activities to spend time with Steven (at least at this point in the series), but Amethyst does all sorts of things on her own, even when Pearl disapproves of them. Much like Steven, she seems to have a bit of a foot in both worlds. Even though she’s not human, she has no other cultural heritage other than what she’s been exposed to on Earth, so it makes sense that she would feel human in some ways.
As they approach the kindergarten, you can see that all life ends abruptly some distance away from it, giving a first indication of what the problem with the kindergarten was. Steven steps on a dead twig, which blows away into dust.
Amethyst cheerfully welcomes Steven to the kindergarten, an absolutely creepy and gloomy place. The dissonant music punctuated with metallic sound effects does not help the atmosphere.
Back in Warp Tour, Peridot started to say she was preparing to manually reactivate the kindergarten before she was cut off, and now we know what she meant by that.
Although it’s still a bit of a misdirection, since Peridot is not trying to reactivate the kindergarten for its original purpose. Instead, she’s trying to get data about the Cluster project.
Amethyst shows Steven around the various rocks of the kindergarten, her clear comfort with this place an interesting contrast to how bleak it is. Steven asks her how long she lived there, and Amethyst says it was a while — she lived there from emerging until she met Rose, Pearl, and Garnet.
This adds some extra context to Garnet’s “joke” in Steven’s Lion that they “kept Amethyst.” Given how Amethyst feels about this situation, that joke and Pearl’s reaction to it both seem incredibly hurtful.
There are many machines around that resemble bacteriophages. This is a type of virus that infects a bacteria and uses the bacteria to reproduce, killing its host in the process. The symbolism here is not even remotely subtle.
Amethyst shows Steven the hole she came out of, demonstrating how it’s “me-sized” and how she can slide right in.
The holes in the rock face shaped exactly like Gems is a clear reference to The Enigma of Amigara Fault, a famous horror manga written by Junji Ito. In that manga, mysterious hole shaped exactly like specific people appear on the side of a mountain, uncovered by a massive earthquake. People feel weirdly compelled to travel there, and when they see the hole shaped like them, they can’t resist the urge to slide inside of it, at which point they can’t escape and slide deeper and deeper into the mountain. It’s short and widely available on the web, and I recommend it if you want something incredibly claustrophobic and freaky. I normally don’t call out references in detail like this, but the imagery in this scene and that comic are nearly identical, and it’s kind of amazing that they worked in a reference to something so terrifying into a family show.
Amethyst explains that she was made in this hole, and that one day she just popped right out of it.
If you’re paying attention, you can see that this hole is half-sized and set partially into the ground, unlike most of the other holes scattered around the kindergarten. This comes into play in Too Far, where Peridot points out that Amethyst came out overcooked and half-sized, which does not help with Amethyst’s insecurities.
Steven looks in awe at all the other holes on the kindergarten walls, realizing that each of those must have contained a Gem.
Pearl arrives on a nearby warp pad. She says that Garnet said they’d be there — and oh, hey, I can now point out that Garnet was using her future vision without spoiler boxes. It’s obvious that she sent Pearl alone because she saw that this would be an important moment between Pearl and Amethyst.
Pearl is furious that Amethyst brought Steven to a kindergarten. Steven asks if Amethyst was really made here, and Pearl asks how much she told Steven. “You mean about the bad thing? How this is the bad place where bad Gems came to grow more bad Gems?” she asks, furiously.
Steven is shocked that they grew other Gems here, and Pearl protests he’s not ready.
I think this is another example of Pearl simply avoiding topics she’d rather not think about, rather than really trying to protect Steven. Now that Steven is training to become a Crystal Gem and fighting alongside them, he absolutely deserves to know what their motivations are, and he’s capable at this point of handling this information.
“But don’t worry, Steven, everything’s just fine now!” says Amethyst, dripping with sarcasm. “We won! And we shut this place down so the Earth would be safe from parasites like me!”
Pearl stops her from saying anything more, and tells Steven she never wanted him to see this place. Amethyst says, “So why don’t you just leave?!” and summons her whip, slamming Pearl against the wall.
“Admit it! I’m just an embarrassment to you!” Amethyst screams. We’ve had a lot of hints about Amethyst’s deep rooted insecurities before, but this scene really recontextualizes many of her interactions with the Crystal Gems, from the way she constantly mocks Pearl to her fury at Pearl and Garnet when they attempted to shut down her wrestling hobby.
Amethyst and Pearl begin fighting, Pearl protesting that she doesn’t want to fight and Amethyst refusing to back down. Steven tries to intervene, but Amethyst catches him with a whip, tying him up.
Pearl: Amethyst, stop this! You can’t beat me.
Amethyst: I. Don’t. CARE! I’m not gonna let you stand there and remind me of everything I hate about myself!
Michaela Dietz puts her all into this scene, and it’s heartbreaking. Amethyst is both literally and figuratively lashing out at Pearl here.
Amethyst slams Pearl against the injector, then puts her whips down as she breaks down crying.
“I never asked for it to be this way! I never asked to be made!”
My heart breaks for poor Amethyst here. She has never felt like she belonged, never felt like she’s truly a Crystal Gem, and she knows that they look at her differently because of the circumstances of her birth, which is something she had no control over.
This is another spot where Amethyst and Steven have very clear parallels. As we’ve gotten hints of so far, we’ll learn that Steven carries guilt that Rose gave up her existence for his, and worries that the Gems — especially Pearl — do not forgive him for this. Like Amethyst, he didn’t ask to be made, and he didn’t ask Rose to sacrifice herself, but he still feels like he bears that responsibility.
Steven throws himself in between Amethyst and Pearl, making this the sixth time in the series he throws himself between a Gem and someone they’re attacking, and the third time he breaks up inter-Gem conflict.
List of Steven’s Trauma: Basically all of this.
The injector collapses. Steven enwraps Pearl and himself in a bubble, but Amethyst runs. When the rubble clears, Steven finds Amethyst inside of her hole.
“Go away! I’m bad, and you shouldn’t be around me.” Back in The Test, Amethyst says something very similar — that Steven shouldn’t be learning anything from her.
Steven very wisely tells Pearl that she needs to be the one to go into the hole and talk to Amethyst, showing his growing maturity when dealing with Gem conflict.
Pearl says she had no idea Amethyst was upset about this, which causes Amethyst to flip out on her. Understandably so — if the viewer, who doesn’t know anything about Amethyst’s background and birth, can see that she has deep-rooted self-hatred and insecurity, then Pearl, who knows all this and has lived with Amethyst for thousands of years, should have known this.
Amethyst: This is like, my entire existence! You want to pretend none of this ever happened. You think I’m just a big mistake!
Pearl: No, Amethyst, you’re not the mistake! You’re just a byproduct… of a big mistake.
At this moment, Pearl seems to realize that she has, in fact, been feeding into Amethyst’s insecurities with the way she talks about the kindergartens.
Imagine what it must have been like for Amethyst. She emerged completely alone in an empty kindergarten, with no idea of what she was supposed to be doing. The first life she sees are the Crystal Gems, who take her in and teach her. Then, she learns that one of the primary goals of the Crystal Gems was to shut down the kindergarten where she was made so no more Gems could be created there.
“I just never thought of this as you. None of this is your fault. You didn’t build this place. I’m sorry, Amethyst. I hope you can forgive me. You’re the one good thing that came out of this mess. I always thought you were proud of that.”
Despite Amethyst claiming she doesn’t care what other Gems think, it’s been more than obvious how badly she craves their approval, and I really think she needed to hear this from Pearl. I think it means more to her than she’d ever admit to know that Pearl doesn’t actually regret Amethyst’s birth, or taking her in to live with the Crystal Gems.
Pearl offers a hand to Amethyst, and Amethyst lets herself be pulled out of the hole. She pulls Pearl into a crushing hug.
I’ve got something in my eye.
The three of them warp away, hand-in-hand.
After that heartwarming conclusion, the last shot ends the episode on an incredibly creepy note, as we see the empty kindergarten littered with injectors as rattling metallic noises echo off the walls. We’re far from done with the kindergarten.
On the Run is easily one of the best episodes of Season 1B. Amethyst’s character development here is heartbreaking and adds so much more depth to her character. We also get some of the biggest lore drops we’ve had so far with the reveal of the kindergarten. Amethyst and Steven’s friendship is really blossoming into one of the best relationships of the series. It also has a fun song and some really gorgeous atmospheric shots, particularly on the train and in the kindergarten.
Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind! We catch up with some of the townies in Horror Club, and get a hefty dose of Connie cuteness in Winter Forecast.