Episode Description: Amethyst and Steven get in on some Gem gossip.
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 Future Vision blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.
Just as the prior episode had a new credits card showing the Barn, we open with a new title card. This is the first time we’ve had a title card without the Temple since Jail Break.
The Barn will go on to become one of the most common settings of the show, although not common enough for my tastes.
So by this point of the show, I was all-in on Peridot as Best Gem, and I’m pretty sure I remember yelling in the Open Thread about how fantastic it is that they gave Peridot a tape recorder to talk into.
Anyway, yes, Peridot now has a tape recorder for her to make logs in, as a sort of replacement for her ability to record logs using her limb enhancers. She starts by noting that it’s “Log Date 7 11 2” and that it’s been three days since she agreed to “a collaborative approach to stopping the Cluster,” which probably means three days since the last episode.
The recorder will feature heavily in Log Date 7 15 2, where we see the moment when Steven gave Peridot the recorder. Peridot will carry it around until Barn Mates, where she gives it to Lapis as a present, only for Lapis to smash it.
I miss Peridot’s tape recorder still.
Peridot recaps Back to the Barn: “The Pearl here has exhibited an aptitude for engineering that I begrudgingly respect, though that doesn’t explain the spontaneous singing, crying, singing while crying.” She absolutely has this show pegged.
Steven explains that he gave Peridot the tape recorder to make her feel better about losing all of her stuff.
Garnet explains that she had to chase some cows off. Peridot: “Before we begin, would you mind unfusing? It’s making me incredibly uncomfortable.”
A scene cut later, and Garnet has tied Peridot to a fence with a leash, just as Pearl considered in Catch and Release.
While Peridot’s request is obviously incredibly offensive to Garnet, it’s worth considering why she says it. It’s clear from Jasper and Peridot’s remarks that Homeworld only sees fusion as a battle tactic and nothing more. It’s why Peridot calls Garnet a “filthy war machine.” From her point of view, Garnet’s basically a loaded weapon, like someone who open carries an assault rifle everywhere for no reason. The audience knows that that’s not Garnet’s intent, but Peridot doesn’t understand yet.
Pearl asks Steven and Amethyst to get her some tungsten, but they have no idea what it looks like, so Pearl goes to get it herself, leaving Steven and Amethyst to wander over and talk to Peridot. She asks for a “leverage optimizer,” meaning a screwdriver. Amethyst cracks up and asks her to name other things: a nose is a “scent sponge,” eyes are “vision spheres,” etc. Peridot goes along with it until Amethyst points at her butt.
Steven and Amethyst laugh. “Peridot, you’re killing me!” says Steven.
“I am not! That would violate our truce agreement!” says Peridot.
Amethyst explains that she’s funny, and given the general approach to life on Homeworld, it’s very likely the first time she’s heard that.
Pearl comes to check on Peridot’s progress, and comments that they have all the parts they need save the drill head. Peridot proposes getting a drill head from an injector at the Kindergarten. Pearl is uneasy, and Garnet says she can’t go without a chaperone, so Steven and Amethyst are off on a mission.
Oh my stars, it’s the first instance of the Shorty Squad, one of my favorite group dynamics on the show.
It’s seriously a shame that we didn’t get more episodes featuring this crew. They have such a great friendship dynamic and are so wholesome. I love how encouraging they end up being of each other: Steven and Amethyst helping Peridot discover her hidden talent, Steven and Peridot backing Amethyst up in the fight against Jasper, the three of them heading out to the Kindergarten to help Peridot deal with Lapis’ departure.
Peridot comments on how the “Era 1 drill” is “stylistically displeasing,” which marks the first mention of Era 1 on the show.
Reading reactions to the first airing, this one flew by pretty much everyone — it’s easy to assume she’s just talking about an earlier model of drill and not anything more important. Later, we learn that the Era divisions were civilization-wide, and it was Rose’s Rebellion and Pink Diamond’s “death” that caused the transition into Era 2, a time of reduced resources and increased oppression. In Change Your Mind, Steven ushers in Era 3 and begins the dismantling of the empire and the caste system.
The Era division is also significant to Peridot specifically because she was made in Era 2, and her short stature and lack of natural abilities is a result of the resource shortage.
Peridot’s talk of upgraded drills confirms that the Earth kindergarten was not the last one, and that they’re still building kindergartens on other planets.
Peridot continues to talk into her tape recorder, and Amethyst teases her for being a nerd. Peridot complains that the planet is annoying and that “amongst its transgressions is the need for the Amethyst to ask permission from the permafusion,” meaning Garnet.
Steven asks what’s wrong with that, and Peridot attempts to clarify: “She’s not even fighting! She’s, you know… just…” She hits her fists together in a gesture that is vaguely lewd in a way Peridot couldn’t possibly understand. You can see her almost starting to puzzle out how there could be other uses for fusion apart from fighting, but she’s not quite there yet.
Amethyst finds this hilarious and encourages Peridot to comment on Steven. “He’s some sort of hybrid abomination, I don’t even understand how he functions! His organic half consumes so much energy that he has to constantly feed, and he spends so much time expelling that he has a whole room dedicated to it!” Steven is embarrassed and encourages them to change the subject.
Peridot says that, of the Crystal Gems, Amethyst should be the one in charge: “Pearl is a Pearl, Garnet is a fusion, I don’t even know what he’s supposed to be. You’re the only Crystal Gem who’s actually a Gem.”
This confirms that not only are Pearls low-ranking, they’re also not even considered truly Gems — which fits with the fact that pearls in real life aren’t actually gems either. Garnet and Steven are things Peridot’s never seen before that she can’t wrap her head around. Amethyst, although defective (as we’ll shortly learn) is otherwise an ordinary Gem. Peridot says that she outranks everyone else on the team (presumably including Peridot).
Technically, the highest ranking member of the team is Sapphire. Peridot either doesn’t recognize Sapphire as one of Garnet’s components or considers that invalid because she is fused to a low-ranking Ruby — probably the latter, given Peridot’s expertise in Gems. The only other Gem that comes close to Sapphire’s position is Lapis.
Of course, when we learn that Rose was actually Pink Diamond, that makes Steven the highest ranking of the group by far, but none of them know that.
“You’re a strong, singular, fully-functional soldier, despite the fact that you’re defective.”
Amethyst suddenly stops finding all of this funny, as her main point of insecurity has been hit with a precision strike. Peridot goes on to explain that she’s much smaller than she’s supposed to be.
We also learn what Amethyst’s original purpose was: she was meant to be a soldier. Apparently, all Quartz are different types of soldiers. It isn’t stated here, but this includes Jasper — and Amethyst was supposed to be much closer to Jasper’s size and build.
Later on, the three of them take being short as a point of camaraderie. Amethyst is short because she’s defective, Peridot is short because she was created during a resource crunch, and Steven is temporarily short because he hasn’t gone through his growth spurt yet. Steven eventually grows taller but is still on the short side for a boy his age.
Peridot shows off why she’s a certified kindergartener by immediately identifying Amethyst’s hole — which we last saw in On the Run — and declaring it to be too small, too low to the ground, and bearing exit marks that show Amethyst emerged five hundred years late. By the time Amethyst emerged, there were no other Quartzes around for her to compare herself to, and the Crystal Gems never told her what she was supposed to look like.
This goes a long way towards explaining why Amethyst has often been obsessed with making herself bigger. She shapeshifts into a larger form for her wrestling persona, she loves fusing with Garnet to make the huge Sugilite, and she tried to reform herself as much larger in Reformed. Perhaps she has an innate sense that she was “meant” to be bigger that comes out subconsciously.
Peridot explains what Amethyst was “supposed” to be: “You should be twice your size. Broad shouldered, intimidating. But you simply stayed in the ground too long.”
Peridot is hitting Amethyst’s emotional weak spot pretty hard here, and it’s a testament to Amethyst’s character development that she doesn’t just go off and fight Peridot like she did with Pearl in On the Run. From Peridot’s point of view, she’s not even being insulting so much as stating a fact — but much too bluntly, with no regard to Amethyst’s feelings.
Even though Peridot is going about this in entirely the wrong way, this is information that Amethyst really did need to know at some point. With Rose and Pearl, we see what happens to Gems who are stifled by what they’re supposed to be. With Amethyst, we see the opposite — what happens to a Gem with no structure and no idea what her purpose even could be. It’s overall harmful to her, as she has no solid foundation for identity and suffers from insecurity as a result. This lack of structure and purpose also mirrors some of the struggles Steven goes through, and is part of why they become so close.
We see later on that meeting the Famethyst — the rest of Amethyst’s “family” who emerged from the same Kindergarten — really helps Amethyst come to terms with herself.
Peridot also uses the turn of phrase “gemetically speaking,” which I just love.
Peridot still thinks they’re joking around, while Steven recognizes what’s happening and futilely attempts to address Amethyst. Amethyst uses her whip to liberate the drill head from the injector. “See, look at that! You can do everything a normal Quartz can do,” says Peridot, completely oblivious to how offensive she’s being.
Pearl is thrilled when they return with the drill head. “To think we’d be using the same technology that started all this to fix it!” she says, referring to the fact that the Kindergarten was one of the reasons the Rebellion was kicked off.
Amethyst walks by Steven and Peridot, and Peridot attempts to get her attention by calling a hammer a “rhythmatic pulverizer.” Amethyst just scoffs and walks away, upset.
“That was the incorrect response,” says Peridot, bewildered. If you’re anything like me and struggle with social cues and rules and being awkward, this moment is pretty intensely familiar. It’s highly unlikely that Peridot ever socialized much in her role as a technician, and she’s very rules-oriented.
Steven tries to explain that she hurt Amethyst’s feelings, but it’s difficult for Peridot to wrap her head around, understandably so. After all, Amethyst was laughing and encouraging her when she was pointing out the faults of the others.
Peridot denies that she was being mean, saying that she was just trying to be “cool.” “Amethyst loved it. She’s probably telling the Pearl how much fun she had now.” She waves and tries to catch Amethyst’s attention, but Amethyst turns away.
It’s notable how much she values Amethyst’s opinion here. In Gem caste terms, she’s on a higher social standing than Peridot, despite her “defect,” and Peridot still very much values those things. Even more than that, I think Peridot has had few if any chances to actually make friends and joke around in her life. Amethyst calling her funny is probably one of the first times she’s ever felt valued for something other than her productivity.
Peridot says that Amethyst ignoring her makes her feel “smaller.” Steven tries to explain that that’s how she made Amethyst feel, prompting Peridot to go on a rant about how she doesn’t care about any of them.
A little later, Peridot is working on the drill head with Steven holding her leash. Despite her obviously false proclamations about how she doesn’t care about any of them, she’s still clearly upset about the incident with Amethyst. She makes a wrong connection, causing the drill to start spinning out of control. Steven jumps on it to try to deactivate the panel. Peridot runs after him, but gets her leash caught on a rock.
Amethyst walks around the corner, right into the path of the drill. Peridot manages to break her leash in time to push Amethyst out of the way. Steven brings the drill to a stop. “It’s okay! Everything’s okay! It was just a drill!” he says, dizzy.
I’m sure this won’t end up as part of an intense shipping war or anything.
Anyway, Peridot and Amethyst both look equally surprised that she saved her. Peridot scrambles off claiming it was all an accident.
I just love this frame.
Pearl vows to rebuild the drill better as Amethyst and Steven clean up the wreckage.
“Good thing Peridot was there to save you,” Steven says to Amethyst. Just as in the previous episode, and really just about every episode, he really just wants them all to get along. Amethyst seems unconvinced.
Peridot approaches them, and Amethyst turns away and tells her to “just spit it out.”
Peridot, unable to say the words directly, has turned to her tape recorder to try and apologize. “I have concluded that they’re all defective,” her tape recorded message says, “but I am no better.” This gains Amethyst’s attention. “I failed my mission and now I’m working with the enemy, and I can’t even get that right. I have apparently hurt Amethyst’s feelings, which was not my intent. If I’ve damaged my standing with the best Gem here, then I’ve made a serious mistake. I’m still learning. I hope you understand. I want to understand. I’m sorry.”
This has similarities to the end of the previous episode, with Peridot learning a lesson about her previous beliefs, but this time Peridot actually apologizes instead of leaving it unsaid. In this case, not only is she willing to change her beliefs about others, but also has admitted her own faults fairly directly. It’s really her last statements that are the key here — she wants to understand the Crystal Gems, and hopes they’ll understand her as well. As I keep coming back to in these recaps, it’s all down to Peridot’s primary characteristic of curiosity that leads to her character growth.
Peridot continues to have some issues with having other Gems understand her — most notably in Message Received, where she does a terrible job of explaining her intent with the Diamond communicator — but the fact that she’s willing to try is huge, and is ultimately the main thing that leads her to joining the Crystal Gems.
Calling Amethyst the “best Gem” is presumably a reference to her caste, as she mentioned before in the Kindergarten, but I also think that Peridot enjoys being around Amethyst the most and clearly wants her friendship, even if she doesn’t fully understand that yet.
Steven is thrilled that Peridot would take this step. Amethyst accepts the apology but teasingly calls Peridot a nerd. Steven asks Peridot how she feels. “Big,” she responds.
This is another great episode in the Peridot arc. I prefer the previous two a bit more, but it’s still chock full of lore, humor, and great moments, along with some solid character development. We’ve had Peridot episodes with Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst as the focus now, but we’ll have to wait a bit to get one with Garnet. It’s really a shame we didn’t get this kind of focused arc on any other character.
It’s also notable for effectively setting up Amethyst’s character arc for the next season, one that I’m also looking forward to writing about.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! An absolute classic of the series, and one of the most beautiful episodes: it’s time to learn The Answer.