Steven Universe Rewind: It Could’ve Been Great

Episode Description: The Gems take a trip to the moon.

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.

The episode opens on a peaceful, quiet moment. The Gems are watching the sunset, and Steven is lying against Lion, strumming his ukelele.

Of course, this peaceful moment is about to be ruined by a very loud green Gem.

Peridot demands to know why they’ve stopped working on the drill. Steven explains that they’re taking a break: “Working hard is important, but feeling good is important too!” Peridot points out that the beautiful view and everything else will be blown to oblivion if they don’t finish the drill on time — which really isn’t wrong. Considering they have no idea when the Cluster could potentially emerge, it is a little bit anxiety-inducing when the Gems stop to do things like celebrate Steven’s birthday or watch a sunset.

The fact that Peridot doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “taking a break” says a lot about working conditions on Homeworld.

Peridot nervously plays with the little drill she’s holding in her hand, and Steven decides it sounds like music. Peridot seems unfamiliar with the concept of music.

Future Vision

Later, we learn that music is not foreign to Homeworld, as the Diamonds have their Pearls sing for them, but it seems to be exclusive to the upper classes. Peridot is lower caste, and also probably spent her whole existence working on Kindergartens, far away from places where she might hear music.

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Steven sings the scale for her and starts singing a little song. Peridot demonstrates her ability to pick things up quickly by being able to identify the chords he’s playing, despite apparently just being introduced to music. Steven’s excited to be making music, but Peridot objects: “You’re not making anything.” This seems to be another concept Peridot is unfamiliar with: making things that are transient, simply for one’s own entertainment.

Future Vision

Later, she’ll embrace that idea and begin making her own artwork.

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Peridot tries to understand what Steven is getting out of making music, and decides that he’s making a “hypothetical pattern… for the satisfaction of bringing it to completion!” Steven noncommittally agrees.

She muses about “solutions without problems,” which I think is a great encapsulation of her mindset at this point. Her work on Homeworld, up to this point, has been centered around finding and fixing problems — she’s never had the freedom to simply create, or even perform tasks that weren’t directly related to problems that needed to be solved.

Steven shows off the song he’s been working on, “Peace and Love on the Planet Earth.” Steven tries to get her to sing along. Despite being skeptical of the entire thing (including the notion of a “key”), copying the people around her is her one weakness, as we’ve established before.

She sings along with Steven, clearly determined to get things right even if she thinks they’re ridiculous. Steven encourages her to write her own song, and it says something about how much she values Steven’s opinion at this point that she actually goes and does it.

She debuts her song around a campfire that night. Steven had told her to sing about what she’s thinking, so her verse is about imminent destruction by the Cluster.

“I think you’re all insane! / But I guess I am too. / Anybody would be if they were stuck on Earth with you.” This is a similar sentiment to the one she expressed at the end of Too Far — that the fact that she’s abandoned her mission and is working with the Crystal Gems makes her as much of a traitor as they are. Steven isn’t bothered by this and encourages her.

Future Vision

Peridot needed more songs in the series. I’m just saying.

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There’s a short montage of Peridot working cheerfully together with the Crystal Gems. She gets the last line of the song: “Is there anything that’s worth more than peace and love on the planet Earth?” This, of course, will be relevant later when she gushes over the plans for the colony that would have effectively destroyed the planet.

They finally finish the drill. Garnet congratulates Peridot with a pat on the back, which she flinches away from, clearly still not comfortable around Garnet. The rest laugh it off, and Steven gives her a big hug.

Peridot runs off to check something, and Steven is so proud at how far she’s come, noting that it feels like just yesterday that she was trying to kill them. Pearl notes that it’s actually been several weeks.

Future Vision

Steven clearly takes personal responsibility for Peridot’s integration with the group, and he isn’t wrong to do so — between freeing her in the first place, convincing her to talk about the Cluster, and smoothing over conflicts, there is no way they’d be this successful working with Peridot without him.

This sense of personal responsibility, though, will become a problem later, when Steven is too hard on himself for not being successful with other Gems.

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Peridot points out that they need the Cluster’s exact coordinates to know where to drill. Pearl thinks they might find the information on a Diamond base located on the moon.

Future Vision

Pearl knows all about this Diamond base because she likely spent a lot of time there, when Pink Diamond was attempting to run the colony.

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Steven convinces Lion to make the Gems a warp to the moon by pointing out that if the Cluster destroys the Earth, there will be no more naps. Lion creates portal after portal, increasing his speed until the Gems are barely hanging on. Steven, partially sticking out of Lion’s mane, is enjoying the trip a lot more than Peridot.

In the darkened moon base, the Gems flip on their gemstones like flashlights, an ability that Pearl, Garnet, and Peridot all have. Amethyst opens a door, sucking the air out: “Yep! We on the moon!”

Future Vision

In Back to the Moon, Steven will use this same door to suck the Ruby Squad into space — along with himself.

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Steven bounces around in the low gravity, cheering about being a moon boy. Amethyst tries it, but nothing happens. Peridot explains that Gems are a spacefaring race designed to conquer worlds, and, as such, their forms adjust automatically to the gravity of wherever they are.

Steven spots a mural of Blue Diamond — who we saw in The Answer — and asks Peridot who it’s supposed to be. It’s notable that he asks Peridot about it and not one of the Crystal Gems. Peridot has been far more forthcoming about everything Homeworld related than the CGs have been — Steven really should have learned more of this history from them, instead of having to ask a Gem that, for all they know, is still a Homeworld loyalist.

As a case in point, Peridot excitedly fangirls over the mural of Yellow Diamond. “The Diamonds are the Gem matriarchs! Together they make up the Great Diamond Authority that governs Homeworld and all the outlying colonies! We live to serve them!” Like in a lot of dictatorships, there’s a near-religious bent to working for the Diamonds.

The “Great Diamond Authority” was something Ronaldo talked about in Keep Beach City Weird, which seems to have been proven correct.

Garnet clears her throat, glaring at Peridot, who clarifies that not all Gems serve the Diamonds any more. Garnet, Steven wouldn’t be hearing about the Diamonds for the first time in this light if one of you had sat down and explained some of this.

Peridot finds a staircase, and they walk past a mural of White Diamond on their way up. Only the briefest glimpse of pink is seen — the show won’t reveal Pink Diamond yet.

Future Vision

White Diamond won’t be seen properly until nearly the end of the show, in Legs from Here to Homeworld.

Pink Diamond’s mural won’t be seen fully until Back to the Moon, and Pink Diamond herself will first be seen in Jungle Moon.

In this sequence, Peridot is enthusiastic about “walking in the footsteps of the Diamonds” — while walking directly behind Steven.

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They pass a room with a mysterious orb in the center. Steven asks what it is, and Garnet demonstrates her often single-minded nature by saying “not what we came for.”

Future Vision

Later, in Can’t Go Back, we learn that this room is used for surveillance of the Earth. After fleeing with the barn, Lapis spends all her time in this room spying on what the Crystal Gems are up to.

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They make it to the top, where we get this cool shot of the entire moon base.

Peridot enthuses over the elegance of the ancient technology used in the moon base.

Future Vision

We don’t get the full picture until later, but this is another hint that the Gempire has been in decline since Rose’s Rebellion. They’ve made great technological advancements, but seem to have lost the craftsmanship of an earlier age.

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Steven activates the console accidentally by hitting a hand-shaped panel on the chair. Peridot freaks out that the chair is only for elites and that Steven can’t sit there. He points out that they won’t know and invites Peridot to sit next to him. Like in Back to the Barn where Peridot fantasized about having her own Pearl, she’s quite giddy about getting to sit in an elite’s chair.

Future Vision

Of course, Steven actually is an elite, and is in fact the same Gem that the chair was originally made for — Pink Diamond. This may be why he was able to activate the console.

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Steven pulls out a diamond-shaped item from the chair’s arm, and Peridot tells him to put it back.

Peridot, searching for the Cluster’s location, pulls up a map of the Earth, and there are some pretty significant changes. I won’t list them out, but Russia appears to have been nuked off the map and part of Africa seems to be stuck to South America. It’s unclear as to whether the Gems did any of this or if it’s just an indication that it’s an alternate universe.

Peridot finds the Cluster’s insertion point in the Beta Kindergarten. She comments that it’s not nearly as impressive a Kindergarten as the one Amethyst came from, which see seems to consider a compliment to Amethyst.

Future Vision

Next season, we’ll see the Beta Kindergarten, and learn that most of the Gems made there — the Famethyst — were flawed, except for Jasper, the only perfect specimen to emerge.

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Steven asks if there are any games on the console. Peridot explains it was for planning the colony, and pulls up pictures of the various Gem structures built on earth, including the Lunar Sea Spire (Cheeseburger Backpack), the Ancient Sky Arena (Sworn to the Sword), the Sea Shrine (Steven and the Stevens), the Sky Spire (Giant Woman), the Communication Hub (Coach Steven, Cry for Help), a couple of unidentifiable structures, and the Galaxy Warp (Space Race, Warp Tour, Catch & Release). Peridot explains that these structures represent only 5% of what was planned for the Earth.

Peridot shows off the original plan for the colony: “Eighty-nine kindergartens, sixty-seven spires, a Galaxy Warp in each facet, efficient use of all available materials. What were you thinking, shutting this operation down? It could’ve been great!”

The other Gems are not so enthusiastic. Garnet points out that this would mean the extinction of all life on Earth. “But think of the good it would have done!” Peridot argues.

At this point, Peridot has learned to care about the Crystal Gems — or at least Steven and Amethyst — but she still has no connection to the general notion of life on Earth, and no one except Steven has ever really tried to explain. She doesn’t know any humans as more than a passing acquaintance, except for Steven, who of course she regards as a Gem. From her point of view, the extinction of life is just a necessary part of expansion — much like humans accept the deaths of animals and plants to build a new town. While she’s put her foot in her mouth in a major way here, she really doesn’t know any better.

Pearl is pissed. “Rose Quartz believed that all life is precious and worth protecting.”

Her phrasing here is interesting — it’s not “we” or “the Crystal Gems” but “Rose Quartz” who believes all life is precious. We’ve seen before that Pearl really doesn’t have a high opinion of humans in general. Her participation in the Rebellion seems to have had less to do with a connection to the Earth and more to do with wanting to follow Rose. Needless to say, this isn’t an argument that’s going to sway Peridot at all, since she still considers herself in the service of Yellow Diamond.

Peridot points out that if the Diamonds had been allowed to complete the colony, there wouldn’t have been a Cluster. “Thank you, Rose Quartz, you doomed the planet!” she says, sailing off the cliff of awkwardness into getting-herself-killed territory.

Steven tries to defuse the situation by singing, but Garnet yanks up Peridot by her shirt. “You are talking about things that you do not understand,” she says, threatening Peridot with her gauntlet.

While that’s true, have the Crystal Gems at any point actually explained their point of view to Peridot? As far as she knows, they’re just a crazy splinter group who live on Earth because they’re “defective.” At some point, someone probably should have told Peridot about the Rebellion and its aims, but people on this show can be notoriously bad at this sort of thing.

Future Vision

One interesting wrinkle here — Garnet has, at this point, already seen a future where Peridot joins the CGs. This is shown in Log Date 7 15 2. The scene where Garnet offers to fuse with Peridot happens not long before the Gems head to the moon. In that scene, Garnet records a message for Steven on Peridot’s tape recorder, the one he listens to after Peridot defects. In order to do that, she must have seen that future.

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Steven pleads with Garnet. She puts down Peridot and smashes the console instead, which seems like a bad idea given how useful it was.

Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst walk off, leaving a disappointed Steven behind with Peridot. “I’m just stating a fact. The Rebellion didn’t really save Earth, it just delayed the inevitable.”

“That’s not the way they see it. They’ve spent thousands of years trying to protect Earth. I thought maybe you finally understood why.” Steven, out of all the Gems, is the only one who seems really deeply invested in getting Peridot to understand the Earth, as opposed to just working with her on the drill.

From a Gem’s point of view, thousands of years isn’t that long of a time. Peridot likely doesn’t realize how much of a difference that makes. She’s not wrong that the Rebellion was just delaying the inevitable (at least, if they can’t stop the Cluster), but she has no idea that means many generations of humans will live and die in that time.

I’m also going to note that, despite helping design and build the drill, Peridot seems fairly pessimistic about their chances of actually stopping the Cluster. This will be important for the next episode.

Peridot considers Steven’s words, then gets an idea. She grabs the diamond-shaped object from the chair and clumsily attempts to hide it from Steven as they leave.

And with that, we’ll roll into one of my favorite episodes of the series.

I love this episode, although it’s obviously really meant to be watched as a two-parter with the next. It has one of the series’ cutest songs, a ton of lore, and both Peridot and Steven being cute as heck. It’s also very well animated and has some great facial expressions.

Next week on Steven Universe Rewind! It’s finally time for Message Received.