Episode Description: Steven sneaks a listen to a friend’s audio diary.
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.
This is basically the moment when Steven Universe went from “a show I like” to one of my favorites ever. It’s a near-perfect episode and easily one of the most rewatchable.
This episode opens in the direct aftermath of Peridot denouncing Yellow Diamond in Message Received, and she has some very conflicting emotions about the entire thing, alternating between manic glee at having called her Diamond a clod right to her face, and wrenching despair at being “a traitorous clod.” Not only is her nervous breakdown funny, it’s also very true to the character. When she got on the call with YD, she was hoping to convince her to spare the Earth — the decision to break with Homeworld entirely was spur of the moment when she felt backed into a corner, and now the shock of what she just did is hitting her.
Steven, attempting to comfort her, asks her if she’s going to be okay. In the most relatable Peridot moment in the entire series, she turns to him with an insane grin and cheerfully says, “No!”
Steven reassures her that she’s with them now, which does little to comfort her. “I’m protecting a planet I was once trying to destroy! I used to follow every order. Every rule! Now I’m a traitor. A rebel. A Crystal Gemmmmmmm!”
What’s interesting about this is that Peridot doesn’t necessarily have to be a Crystal Gem just because she betrayed Homeworld. After all, less than a day ago she was not really on board with the idea of protecting the Earth at all. She could just help them defeat the Cluster and then go her separate ways. However, the Crystal Gems are the only friendly faces she knows on Earth, and I think her innate need for structure in her life would cause her to gravitate towards the nearest thing resembling an organization anyway. So, a Crystal Gem it is!
Lapis basically takes the route Peridot could have taken, at least up until the end of the series — not considering herself a Crystal Gem, primarily loyal to Steven, and only loosely affiliated with the group. Peridot, on the other hand, goes full-fledged Crystal Gem, even putting it in her eventual Twitter bio. Sadly, mainly due to budget and time constraints, we don’t get nearly enough episodes with Peridot as a member of the CGs.
Peridot tosses her tape recorder in frustration, and it hits Garnet in the face. We’ve had episodes featuring Peridot alongside each of the other Crystal Gems, so now we’re getting the Garnet episode. Peridot tells Garnet to give the tape recorder back to Steven, “to return madness to its source!” Garnet calms her down — which, surprisingly, works — and picks her up to go talk. “Am I going to have to wear a star? Where am I going to put the star?” Peridot frets.
Peridot does eventually wear a star, but somewhat disappointingly, she doesn’t get it until the very last episode. She basically ends up doing the most obvious thing with it by putting it on her chest where her diamond is.
Steven wonders when Garnet and Peridot started getting along better, and looks at the tape recorder with curiosity. Peridot’s decorated the tape with a little alien head. I’ve touched on this before, and it comes up again in this episode, but it’s another example of Peridot’s association with the tradition notion of the “gray” alien that secretly invades the Earth in modern mythology.
The conceit of Steven listening to Peridot’s tape recorder gives the episode an excuse to violate the rule that episodes must take place from Steven’s point of view, something I wish they had done a lot more of.
The first log entry deals with Steven giving Peridot the tape recorder in question. It’s quite a thoughtful gift, meant to replace the communication equipment that she lost along with her limb enhancers. Although she criticizes it as primitive, she clearly still takes to it.
The tape recorder, first seen in Too Far, will last until Barn Mates, where Peridot attempts to pass it along to Lapis, who crushes it. It will later be seen as a meep-morp installation in Beta. “It serves no functional purpose, it just makes me feel bad!”
Steven also requests that she stop calling him “the Steven,” which causes her to hiss like a cat. Nevertheless, she actually does agree to this and starts calling him just “Steven.”
For the next log entry, Peridot is watching the ladybugs in the grass, wondering if all organics can fly. This demonstrates her natural curiosity about the world and about organic life that will eventually endear her to the Earth.
Later in the series, she actually becomes interested enough in organic life to take on farming as a hobby.
This curiosity will have potentially disastrous results when she decides to test her theory that all organics can fly on Greg, who is fixing the roof of the barn. “You must be Peridot,” Greg says — he must have had the situation explained to him by the other Crystal Gems. She just stares awkwardly at him for a beat, and, in one of the most perfectly timed gags in the series, pushes him off the roof.
Garnet catches Greg. As we’ll see throughout the episode, she’s clearly (if not explicitly) using her future vision to keep track of Peridot. She scolds Peridot: “This is a human. He isn’t like us. He’s fragile and soft.”
“Hey, it’s not like a six-pack is going to save you from that height,” Greg protests.
Peridot says she had no way of knowing that, and Garnet seems to concede the point. “You’ll have to excuse Peridot. She’s far from her Homeworld and and she still has a lot to learn about the planet.”
“No, I don’t!” says Peridot, seemingly just being contrary for contrary’s sake, because she’s admitted as such to Steven. She runs off, noting that the “permafusion Garnet is the worst.“
For the next log entry, Peridot has been assigned “chore,” which she performs by holding the mop upside down. She laughs about “cleaning duty, like I’m the Pearl!” It’s interesting that Pearls would be in charge of cleaning duty, considering Peridot previously said they were mainly for being decorative and holding your things, but it certainly tracks with Pearl’s love of cleaning and organization.
Peridot discovers a chest full of clothes, which she calls “shirt,” likely because of Steven’s “what’s that on your shirt” trick in Catch and Release. Continuing the alien head motif, she picks out a pair of boxer shorts emblazoned with the symbol, fascinated by “appearance modifiers that aren’t melded to your body.” This seemingly confirms that the Gems’ outfits are, in fact, semi-permanent parts of their forms.
This may be due to the fact that Peridot is an Era 2 Gem that can’t shapeshift, however. While the other Gems can seemingly make small modifications to their outfits at will — for example, when the Gems change into summer clothes in Beach Party — Peridot, perhaps, cannot. However, in Reunited, Peridot’s yellow dress appears to just be a normal dress worn over her usual uniform, but it disappears when she poofs, indicating either that she manifested it, that it’s an animation error, or that I’m thinking about this way too hard.
Peridot’s fascination with clothes will continue, as she confesses to stealing Steven’s shirts in Too Short to Ride and is gifted one of Steven’s shirts at the very end of the series.
Garnet spots her with the shorts and gives her a thumbs-up, seemingly approving of Peridot exploring this interest. Peridot, embarrassed, rips the shorts up.
For the one month anniversary of Peridot’s “capture,” Steven presents her with a one month “canniversary” gift, a pair of can stilts with flames painted on them. This is another thoughtful attempt to try and make up for Peridot’s missing limb enhancers. Peridot still considers her situation to be a “capture,” even though at this point she’s working pretty freely with the Gems — it’s likely she considered herself to be captured right up until the point when she defected in the last episode.
Peridot is confused by the present, and Steven explains: “I want you to feel nice! It’s what gifts are for. You give them to your friends to show them you care. And they go, ‘wow, thanks!'”
Considering Homeworld didn’t seem to have much of a concept of “friends” in the first place, it’s not terribly surprising that Peridot is not familiar with the concept of gifts. Peridot is upset by the can stilts, calling them “Earth trash,” but she does take them and shout “wow, thanks!” after Steven while chasing him away.
Literal-minded Peridot will take Steven’s explanation as a hard-and-fast rule, reacting to every gift she’s given in the series with “wow, thanks!” The most heartwarming instance is when she and Steven are in the gem drill, convinced they’re about to die, and Steven hugs her and says he loves her.
That night, Peridot secretly practices with the stilts, apparently liking them after all and only rejecting them to save face. She hopes Pearl notices that she’s taller and fantasizes about getting “Chee-Z Chaps” off of a high shelf for Amethyst. Her impulses to impress Pearl and befriend Amethyst go back to the previous episodes featuring Peridot’s conflicts with those two. She still has no idea what to make of Garnet at this point.
For the next log entry, Peridot is reading a book called “Jokes! How to Make People Laugh Around You Instead of Feel Bad.” Some days, I feel like I could use a book like this.
This is notable because it’s actually Peridot’s first attempt to try something to earn the friendship of the other Gems, apparently on her own. She reads the classic “why does the chicken cross the road” joke, and is confused because she doesn’t know what a chicken is.
“It seems the Earth ones are constantly filling the voids of their life with meaningless distractions,” says Peridot, calling out all of us specifically. More seriously, it definitely seems like leisure time was strictly available to the upper classes on Homeworld, so she’s never really had a chance to appreciate the concept of entertainment.
Steven puts on a VHS of what seems to be an old teenage melodrama called Camp Pining Hearts. From what we see of the show, it consists mainly of teens at summer camp and their friendships, rivalries and romantic relationships. It also is made in the Steven Universe equivalent of Canada, as the episode prominently features a green version of the Canadian flag, a jug of maple syrup and a serving of poutine.
Camp Pining Hearts will become one of Peridot’s favorite Earth entertainments. She’ll later watch the entire series with Lapis when they live in the barn together, and hate-watch the edgy reboot version of the show with Steven in In Dreams.
The characters Percy and Paulette kiss on screen, and Peridot wonders what this “strange ritual” is. “Are they attempting fusion?” Steven awkwardly begins to give her the birds-and-bees-talk, but is interrupted by Peridot rejecting the show as “baseless drivel.”
Seventy-two hours later, Peridot has been apparently watching the same episode of CPH over and over again, to the point where she’s saying the dialogue along with the characters. Steven goes to check on her and asks her if she’s been watching the same episode. “There’s more than one?” Peridot asks.
Steven, likely remembering the incident with Lil Butler, wisely says no.
Peridot continues to call out the fandom by showing Steven the shipping chart she made, “cataloguing the compatible characteristics between campers.” Unlike your typical shippers, Peridot seems to be considering compatibility in terms of who makes the strongest team in camp activities. In a nod to the fact that shippers often prefer queer couples to canonical straight couples, she rejects the canon couple of Paulette and Percy in favor of Pierre and Percy, on the grounds that they “present the strongest battle formations” and would “destroy the camp.” This also relates back to the fact that she only really understands Garnet’s fusion in terms of utility, and not as an actual relationship.
“You got all of this from one episode?”
“It’s subtext, Steven.”
Steven Universe Rewind
Steven fast-forwards through Peridot’s rant, considering he already heard it. If you slow down the audio, you can hear Peridot going on about Percy’s superior lung capacity, among other things. In the present day, Steven is eating Chee-Z Chaps, the same snack Peridot was imagining fetching for Amethyst.
At some point, Garnet joins Steven on the couch to listen to Peridot’s tirade, giving her a thumbs up. A frustrated Peridot rips up her shipping chart. We’ll see later in the episode that Garnet was actually paying attention to what Peridot was saying.
Later, Peridot is remarking in her tape recorder that “progress on the Cluster drill is going optimally, surprisingly.” She’s startled by Amethyst in Lion form. “Do you always use shapeshifting like that?” she asks, annoyed.
In Too Short to Ride, we learn that Peridot can’t shapeshift and is very self-conscious about this fact. She has a similar annoyed reaction to Amethyst using shapeshifting for fun, borne out of jealousy.
As Peridot questions Amethyst’s “significant expenditure of energy,” Amethyst playfully shapeshifts into Peridot to imitate her. There’s a fan theory that Amethyst can afford the energy needed for such extensive shapeshifting because she has the same amount of strength packed into a form much smaller than she was supposed to have.
Amethyst casually compliments Peridot by saying it’s “hard to beat the original.” It’s good to see Amethyst joking around with Peridot after the awkwardness of Too Far.
Amethyst asks if Peridot has any shapeshifting requests. A minute later, Amethyst has shapeshifted into a chicken, and Peridot laughs, saying she gets the joke now. Pearl walks up and comments that “at least she isn’t ‘lion’ around any more,” and Peridot forces a laugh.
Peridot comments that “Pearl really tries for some reason and I can appreciate that.” This is a pretty good summation of Pearl, really. Of course, part of the reason Pearl tries so hard is to make up for her perceived low status. Peridot fake-laughing at Pearl’s joke shows how she’s come a long way, too — from treating Pearl as a literal object a few episodes ago, now she’s at least trying to blend in socially.
“Amethyst’s company is entertaining as well, but the fused one… eludes me.” Garnet gives a thumbs-up as if to approve of Peridot’s efforts to socialize, and Peridot still doesn’t know what to make of it.
That night, Pearl and Amethyst have to pick up the drill to set it on sawhorses. Amethyst shapeshifts into the Purple Puma, the only time her wrestling persona is seen in the second season.
Pearl comments that they might need to be a little more careful. She and Amethyst easily fuse into Opal. Considering how difficult this was for them back in Giant Woman, it shows how far they’ve come, and that their relationship is in a much better place now. In particular, the events of the Sardonyx arc seemed to have caused them to bury some of their differences and come to a greater understanding.
Opal doesn’t talk in this appearance, as is common with fusions with expensive voice talent.
Peridot spots Pearl and Amethyst casually fusing and freaks out. She runs up to Garnet, who is having a break, and demands an explanation: “I can at least make sense of your existence if it’s for a functional purpose, but you? You’re not using your combined size and strength to do anything!”
See, this is why Peridot should’ve been around to hear the story of Ruby and Sapphire. It might have given her some perspective on both fusion and why the rebellion exists.
Anyway, Garnet says that she’s stargazing.
“You can do that alone,” says Peridot.
“Don’t want to,” says Garnet, which pretty much sums up relationships in general. Garnet pats the spot next to her, and Peridot begrudgingly sits.
Garnet points out that they can see Homeworld’s galaxy from here. “We’re very different. I appreciate that.” Peridot seems surprised.
Garnet says that if she wants to understand fusion, she could help. “Let’s fuse,” she says, totally causally.
Peridot flips out and falls off the hay bale.
“You’re not ready, that’s fair,” says Garnet, as Steven Universe is always committed to showing proper consent, even in quasi-intimate space rock fusion relations.
I love how casual Garnet’s offer is. I kind of feel like part of the reason she’s so cavalier about it is because she knows that Peridot most likely won’t go through with it.
Wouldn’t it have been great to see what this fusion is like? It’d combine Garnet’s theatrical flair (as seen in Sardonyx and Sunstone) with Peridot’s neurotic intellectualism. I always thought a stage magician would be a good fit.
Of course, we never actually see Peridot fuse with anyone over the course of the series, much to many fans’ disappointment. At least one series writer stated that Peridot wasn’t interested in fusion. I’m not entirely sure that tracks with the way this scene in particular is written — she actually seems intensely curious about fusion, just too nervous to go through with it, at least in my opinion.
Peridot actually agrees to try, and runs and gets her can stilts, presumably to better match Garnet’s height. Garnet leads her in a very awkward and nervous dance, and she backs out at the last minute, saying she can’t go through with it.
“Peridot, I’m proud of you… because you made an effort to understand me,” says Garnet. I love how, even though Peridot backs out, Garnet doesn’t pressure or shame her in any way, showing again SU’s commitment to demonstrating healthy consent — a concept that applies to interactions in general, not just sexual ones.
It’s not really surprising that Peridot couldn’t do it — and it seems likely that Garnet saw that in her future vision in the first place. Not only does she have to overcome Homeworld programming that fusion for non-functional purposes, or between castes, is a high crime, but she would be merging her entire being with a Gem she really doesn’t know very well yet.
Peridot protests that she still doesn’t understand why Garnet is fused all the time. Garnet proves she’s been paying attention to Peridot’s interests by stating, “I’m Percy and Pierre.”
Peridot finally gets it, although given she wanted Percy and Pierre to be a couple based on utilitarian reasons, I’m not sure she’s all the way there yet. Still, she’s starting to realize why you might want to team up, even in cases where the utility is not obvious.
Back in the present day, Steven is listening to a log on the tape recording that Peridot and Garnet made together. “I have attempted a fusion with the fusion Garnet. I hoped to get a better understanding of fusion. Instead, I got a better understanding of Garnet.” This shows how Peridot’s natural curiosity helps her fit in with the Crystal Gems and adjust to Earth — similar to how the robot competition helped her understand Pearl better, for instance.
Garnet, on the recording, lightly chastises Steven for listening to Peridot’s logs and tells him she’s going to need the tape recorder back. Given this recording was made before completion of the drill, this proves that Garnet saw a potential future where Peridot joins the Crystal Gems before the events of It Could’ve Been Great, and knew that was a possibility all along in Message Received. I wonder how likely this future was, or if there were instances where it could have gone the other way — given the circumstances of Peridot’s defection, it doesn’t seem likely that she would have totally abandoned the Crystal Gems.
Taking it to its logical conclusion, it’s entirely possible that Garnet let Peridot steal the communicator on the moon base, because she saw it was likely to lead to the future where Peridot defects permanently.
Later, in Room for Ruby, Garnet says she foresaw two possibilities with Navy, and let Steven go ahead and try to recruit her. That one doesn’t turn out so good.
When Peridot and Garnet are done talking, Steven gives her her recorder back. “Wow, thanks,” she says, imitating their thumbs-up gestures.
I love this episode. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Not only does it have excellent comedic timing, but the progression of Peridot slowly integrating into the Crystal Gems is a great insight into her character. She slowly goes from having socialization imposed on her to pursuing it herself (the joke book, agreeing to try and fuse with Garnet, etc.)
The tape recorder concept is great and allows us to see an episode mostly outside of Steven’s POV, something I wish would have been done more often. The flashback nature is also important — if we had seen some of these scenes of Peridot when they had happened chronologically, her defection from Homeworld would have been far less surprising.
Unfortunately, we’re just about to the end of my favorite Steven Universe arc. Thank you for reading my Peridot-posting.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind: We cover the first batch of shorts, including the extended intro!