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.
After the heavy character development of the last few weeks, we’re taking a bit of a break and talking about the six shorts released around the same time as Season 2.
Lion Loves to Fit in a Box
There’s not really a lot to be said about this one, which is just a cute short about Lion jumping into various boxes. It’s a parody of Maru, the online-famous cat who does the same thing. The first box Lion jumps into is from Wacky Sacks, the place where Steven got his cheeseburger backpack, and we’ll see that box again in Unboxing. The short closes out with Lion jumping into the dumpster behind Big Donut, causing Lars to shout, “Again?!”
The Classroom Gems: What Are Gems?
Three of the six shorts in this set are “Classroom Gems” shorts, in which chibi versions of the Crystal Gems explain some of how Gems work. It’s mostly stuff you know if you’ve been paying attention, but they’re pretty cute anyway.
Here, Pearl is explaining that the Gems’ bodies are “actually projections generated by our gemstone… a hologram, but with mass.” This confirms that the Gems are formed of “hard light.”
Pearl then goes on to explain poofing — demonstrated by Garnet bonking Amethyst. The purpose of poofing is so that they can put all their energy towards regenerating their physical form. She also confirms that being contained in a bubble or trapped in an object (like Lapis) makes it impossible to re-form until the Gem is released.
I still think this entire concept has some real horror behind it. Imagine the terror of being poofed in a situation where you don’t know if you’ll end up trapped in a bubble for all eternity.
Amethyst then demonstrates how “things get weird” if a Gem’s gemstone is cracked. This is a reference to what happened to her in An Indirect Kiss.
Pearl goes on to say that if a gemstone is shattered, the Gem will “cease to be.”
We learned in Future that that isn’t strictly true — at least, it isn’t when you have access to all four Diamonds, as Steven was able to restore a shattered Jasper that way.
Later, it’s shown that Yellow can restore shattered Gems apparently all by herself, which leads to a lot of questions. Could she have done this all along? Was it never truly necessary for Gems to die? Can all Gems be restored? Do you have to have all the pieces?
Steven quite sensibly asks, “What if the Gem is half-human?” Pearl glosses over it by asking him to write an essay on what it’s like to be him, but let’s back up and talk about this.
Can Steven be poofed?
Logic would dictate that he can’t be. He doesn’t have a hard light body, he has a human body with a supernatural healing factor — as confirmed in Growing Pains. His healing factor ensures that he doesn’t suffer injuries for too long, but he can be injured and doesn’t retreat into his gemstone the way a full Gem would.
This may pose an issue in the future when one of the primary leaders of Gem society is way more easily killed than any of the others.
One possibility is that, if Steven lost his human form, his pure pink Gem form, seen in Change Your Mind, might survive in some way. I’m not sure I’m convinced that his Gem form could actually survive long without his human half. Just because it wasn’t visibly dying like Steven’s human body doesn’t mean it would be okay long-term.
What happens if Steven is cracked? I think he could probably be cracked and survive if he were brought to Rose’s fountain in time — assuming his own healing spit wouldn’t work if he were cracked. Given the bizarre things that happen to Amethyst when she is cracked, though, it’d be interesting to see this play out with a half-human. Or gory. One of the two.
I assume that if Steven is shattered he simply dies. He probably couldn’t be brought back from that in the same way other Gems are, since his human half would probably be dead. In that case, it might be possible to bring the pink Gem form of Steven back.
Change Your Mind does make it pretty clear that even if Steven were killed, there is no way to bring back Rose Quartz.
We Are the Crystal Gems
This short is actually an extended version of the opening theme.
We open with the van parked on the beach. The beach house is still under construction, and Steven is living in the van with Greg. And look at baby Steven oh my stars so precious. This scene confirms that the house was specifically built to give Steven a place to live with the Gems.
Steven was apparently only recently given a ukulele, too, because Greg asks him how he likes it and praises him for picking it up so fast. He hands Pearl a bottle of water, which she promptly passes to Amethyst, who eats the entire thing.
Steven is such a cheerful kid that it’s surprisingly easy to gloss over the fact that he’s living in an old van. Steven himself seems not to have minded it until we get to the Future years and Mr. Universe, revealing that he actually did sometimes wish he had a stable childhood with an ordinary house.
Greg says that Steven is excited to live with the Gems, but he still seems pretty shy around them. He wrote a cute song about them, so he clearly likes them, but he’s apparently intimidated to share it. Amethyst tells him “we’ll like it even if it’s bad,” and Pearl agrees.
Steven sings a verse about the Crystal Gems taking down evil and going out for pizza. They do indeed take down evil and go out for pizza in one of the first episodes, Together Breakfast. It’s worth noting that at this young age, Steven is already under the impression that the main thing the Gems do is “fight evil.” He doesn’t even know about the Gem War or the nature of the corrupted Gems yet.
In Change Your Mind, this verse is updated to reflect the fact that there are now more than four Crystal Gems, and that their main purpose is to make friends and spread peace, not fight.
Steven is a little older by the time the house is completed, and we get this nice shot of the Gems showing it off as he moves in. The Gems here are, of course, in their original forms we saw in Gem Glow.
Pearl sings for Steven an extremely sanitized version of her past — the Gems came to Earth from beyond the stars, were impressed with Earth’s beauty, and decided to protect it. We get a montage of Steven growing up in the house. Greg reads him a story and tucks him in at night, and we get this nice shot of Greg looking uncertain as the Gems watch him leave. This is overlaid with Pearl singing “we will protect your kind, and we will protect your Earth.”
Even though Greg does trust the Gems, you can see how he likely had doubts about the decision to let Steven live with them at times. After all, even though they’re well-meaning and love Steven, their understanding of humanity is still fairly limited.
Although the Gems did there best, and there perhaps wasn’t any right answer for Steven, I think it’s up in the air whether it was the best decision. I can understand why Greg did it — he was always uncertain about being able to raise Steven properly, and knew the Gems were the only ones who could train him in his Gem powers. But the decision for Steven to live with the Gems full time resulted in him missing out on formative human experiences like going to school or making friends his own age (until Connie). He didn’t even see a doctor until he was sixteen years old.
All of the Gems pose and show off their glowing gemstones, except for Steven, whose gemstone doesn’t glow yet. Pearl here is doing a gesture that’s almost a Diamond salute.
This is followed by important clips from the first season:
- Steven eating the Cookie Cat and seeing his gem glow for the first time in Gem Glow
- Steven protecting Connie in a bubble in Bubble Buddies
- Steven pulling Rose’s sword from Lion’s mane in Lion 2: The Movie
- Steven summoning his shield to protect from Lapis’ water in Ocean Gem
- The end of Rose’s video in Lion 3: Straight to Video
- Stevonnie forming for the first time in Alone Together
- The Gem ship bearing down on the beach in The Return
- Ruby and Sapphire re-forming into Garnet in Jail Break
The Gems then each sing about their motivations. Garnet: “I will fight for the place where I’m free / to live together and exist as me.” This matches what we saw in The Answer: that Garnet joined the Rebellion when she was forced to flee Gem society after forming an illegal fusion.
Pearl’s is a little more interesting: “I will fight in the name of Rose Quartz, and everything that she believed in.”
We’ve had lots of hints of this — in Rose’s Scabbard and It Could’ve Been Great, for example — but here Pearl is explicitly saying that’s she’s fighting purely for Rose’s beliefs, and not her own. If it weren’t for Rose, Pearl might not care about humanity and the Earth at all. Fighting entirely on behalf of someone else is not healthy, as we saw in Sworn to the Sword.
As the meme goes:
Garnet: I will fight for my right to be gay.
Pearl: I will fight for the one I am gay for.
Amethyst: I just live here.
Despite the entire point of Rose’s Rebellion being ostensibly to protect the Earth, Amethyst is the only one who cites that as her goal — to protect the Earth, because it’s everything she’s ever known. The transition from the background of the Kindergarten to the amateur wrestling ring is a nice touch to show Amethyst’s progression from a past she’s ashamed of to something she’s proud of in the present.
Steven sings, “I will fight to be everything that everybody wants me to be when I’m grown,” over a backdrop of a grinning Rose Quartz, and if that isn’t a big bouquet of red flags, I don’t know what is.
Similar to Pearl’s line, Steven isn’t fighting for his own goal, but rather to live up to everyone’s expectations. Needless to say, that’s not healthy for him — and that conflict is going to turn up again and again as the series goes on.
The next scene showcases our antagonists so far (and Lapis) — well, except for the series Big Bad, Kevin. That’s an unusually sour looking Peridot there. This was also the first time Yellow Diamond was ever shown, predating Message Recieved.
By the end of the series, of course, none of these characters were true antagonists.
Lapis was the first to turn, and she wasn’t even an antagonist by the time this extended theme was released, but is presumably there to signify the ongoing threat of Malachite. Peridot, of course, joined the Crystal Gems just two episodes ago. Yellow Diamond would take until the end of the series to be swayed to Steven’s side. And Jasper had a short arc in Future that didn’t exactly redeem her or see her join the protagonists, but did have her declaring her loyalty to Steven after he shatters her.
After this, the rest of the short consists of the standard opening. I covered this back in the recap of Sworn to the Sword.
The Classroom Gems: How Are Gems Made?
Amethyst starts out by joking that Gems are made “when a mommy Gem and a daddy Gem love each other very much,” before saying she’s just kidding and there are no mommy and daddy Gems. Except, presumably, for Rose. She then goes onto explain that the Gems came to Earth from space, used big machines to “shoot junk into the dirt,” and then Gems emerged, giving a simplified explanation of what we knew from the Kindergarten episodes.
Garnet points out that she’s taking artistic license, and Amethyst says, “Eh, it’s for the Internet. Who cares?”
Steven asks if the Gems were ever babies, and look how cute the imagined baby Gems are, especially Pearl in her little sailor suit. Amethyst laughs and says that they weren’t — they “suck up all the good stuff from the ground” so they can emerge fully formed. We pretty much already knew that Gems (other than Steven), don’t have childhoods, but this explicitly confirms it.
Pearl appears, apologizing profusely for the fact that the Kindergarten process was so damaging to the Earth and saying that they’ve done all they can to make up for it, before Garnet carries her off.
This one’s more like Lion Loves to Fit in a Box in that it’s a parody of popular YouTube trends — this time, the unboxing video.
The conceit is that Steven is filming himself for his own TubeTube channel. He calls himself a fan of the novelty bag community and shows off his cheeseburger backpack, first seen in the episode of the same name, and last spotted among his luggage in Keystone Motel.
Steven has enlisted aspiring actor Jamie to make this video, wearing his “movie star” glasses from Love Letters. He dramatically presents the Wacky Sacks box to Steven and asks if he can put the movie on his reel.
Steven tries to film the unboxing, but he’s interrupted first by the other Crystal Gems asking him to go on a mission, and then by Lion chewing on the box.
Some time later, Steven has his new hot dog duffle bag on the floor of his room so that he can review it. He states that it’s six and a half hot dogs long, or seven metric bratwursts “for international viewers.” He goes off on a tangent about how his dad loves hot dogs when the skin is crispy.
As Steven reviews the bag, you can hear the sounds of the warp pad activating and the Gems battling an unseen foe. He and the bag are sprayed with black goo, and he praises the bag’s goo resistance. We see long, thin tentacles come into the frame, showing that the adversary is the Slinker from Reformed, who was never captured in that episode. Pearl yells at Steven to turn off the video and help, as Steven urges his viewers to subscribe to his channel.
The Classroom Gems: Fusion
The final Classroom Gems short is a special lesson on fusion taught by Garnet, naturally.
Garnet unfuses into chibi Ruby and Sapphire in order to demonstrate fusion. Pearl explains that it’s difficult because the Gems must be in sync physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Ruby and Sapphire form back into Garnet at the same time Pearl and Amethyst form into Opal. Garnet explains: “The new forms have extra body parts, and the combined heights and strengths of the fusers, but fusion is hard for Gems that have trouble collaborating.” To demonstrate, Opal falls apart as Pearl and Amethyst squabble, as they did in Giant Woman. As we saw last week in Log Date 7 15 2, these two have since become much more comfortable with fusion.
Garnet says that there are many reasons to fuse, while showing off quick clips of the following scenes:
- Opal holding Steven in Giant Woman
- Sugilite summoning her flail in Coach Steven
- Alexandrite with Greg at dinner in Fusion Cuisine
- Stevonnie running across the beach in Alone Together
Garnet, of course, says that the best reason to fuse is love, as she, Amethyst and Pearl form into Alexandrite, complete with what seems to be a homage to the Powerpuff Girls.
That’s the last of the this batch of shorts! I’ll be doing another feature on shorts in a couple of seasons.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! We finally get back to Lapis and Jasper in Super Watermelon Island.