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.
Episode Description: Steven helps two friends get along at the barn.
It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? My apologies for taking such a long break. I seemed to have forgotten how to write.
We pick up roughly from the end of the previous episode. Peridot is discussing the latest development — Lapis moving into the barn — with her precious tape recorder, a gift she received from Steven in Log Date 7 15 2. Her hair is mercifully back to a roughly normal size after whatever was going on in Same Old World.
“And then I’ll say, ‘Hey, as one refugee to another, it isn’t so bad that we can’t go back to Homeworld, am I right? Why don’t we watch the sun come up and figure out what we’re going to do with all this time, eh, Lazuli?'”
Peridot considering herself and Lapis refugees is interesting and not exactly wrong. In Gem Drill, which was only about a day removed from this episode chronologically, she revealed that she still has some understandably mixed feelings about being exiled from Homeworld forever, so her statement that it isn’t so bad definitely comes off as a bit like she’s trying to convince herself.
The point about figuring out what to do with all this time is pretty telling. Everything we’ve learned so far about Homeworld indicates that Gems are designed for a specific purpose, that they do basically non-stop from birth to incapacitation. Even concepts like breaks and sleep seem to be foreign to Gems like Peridot. Suddenly being faced with actual free time would be an extremely difficult adjustment for most Gems — consider how difficult this can be for people who lose their job, or for people leaving the military, and those people don’t come from an entire society where breaks and leisure time are unheard-of concepts.
This is an issue I think would have been really interesting to tackle in Future, but instead it seems that most Gems are unrealistically well-adjusted.
“And then she’ll say, ‘Yes, Peridot, as impressed as I was by you on the ship, I am even more impressed with your new compact look and capacity for friendship!'”
Up until Same Old World, the last time Peridot and Lapis interacted was when Peridot and Jasper dragged Lapis to Earth as an informant. Peridot really doesn’t either understand what was wrong, or doesn’t care to grapple with it. Honestly, going back to how the Gempire generally operates, it seems likely that Peridot doesn’t understand that “just doing her job” isn’t always a get-out-of-consequences free card.
Peridot actually being proud of her capacity for friendship is a cute indication of her character development, though.
We pan out to reveal that Peridot was giving this speech to her tape recorder directly in front of Lapis and Steven. Lapis tells Steven this isn’t going to work, and as much as Peridot is my favorite Gem, I can’t really blame her for that — it’s pretty understandable that she wouldn’t want to share a living space with a Gem who was in some capacity a participant in her past trauma.
Steven completely fails to see the core problem, which will be a recurring element of this episode. It’s an understandable blind spot for Steven to have. One of his most crucial traits is his ability to try and make friends with everybody and anybody, so it stands to reason that Lapis’ problem — that she really does not want to make friends with Peridot, or even see her face ever again — is somewhat outside of his capacity to grasp. His proposed solution is to draw a line in the barn with marker. Peridot finds this solution acceptable, despite wanting to quibble over who takes possession of some of the barn detritus. Lapis, of course, does not.
(“I like the cut of your gem, Steven Quartz!” is something I would totally work into my everyday conversation if it made the slightest lick of sense.)
Lapis expresses the bigger problem: that Peridot is the one who dragged her back to Earth.
Peridot seems to think that they’re basically even. “Things didn’t work out for either of us,” she says, which speaks to her lingering ambivalence about her current situation, as well as showcasing how she’s missing Lapis’ point. Peridot says that having Lapis was an informant wasn’t her idea and basically paints them both as victims of unfortunate circumstances.
“You used me like everyone else did!” says Lapis. Indeed, if it weren’t for Lapis’ past traumas, she might actually buy that Peridot was just doing her job and that they both suffered from it. However, Lapis went from being wrongfully trapped in a mirror to being wrongfully imprisoned as an informant to imprisoning herself in a fusion, and that context means she can’t easily let it slide.
The show totally glosses over exactly what Peridot did to Lapis. She’s probably telling the truth in that it wasn’t her idea, but she was also still clearly complicit in Lapis’ treatment, and we don’t know how harsh Peridot’s interrogation of Lapis might have been.
The question of how complicit lower Gems are in the worst actions of the Gempire is something that the show never cares to address head-on — understandably, because this show is about interpersonal relationships first and foremost, and politics mostly serve as metaphor. Handwaving the morality of actions like Peridot checking up on the Cluster helps keep the characters sympathetic, and grappling with these kinds of moral questions is simply not the show’s focus (although it’d be really interesting, in my opinion). Lapis herself is certainly not entirely innocent, as she very nearly destroyed the Earth by stealing the oceans, and it’s likely that her previous job as a terraformer involved mass destruction of organic life.
Peridot says that she’s different now, which certainly is true, and Steven backs her up. The problem, of course, is that while both Steven and the audience have seen Peridot’s entire character arc, Lapis has not. Peridot’s had her redemption arc, but true redemption isn’t something you do once and are good forever now, no matter how dramatic the split with your previous life is. Redemption is ongoing, and it means that Peridot needs to sincerely apologize for her past treatment of Lapis, and that even if she does, Lapis is under no obligation to forgive her for past wrongs.
As proof of her change of heart, Peridot says she sabotaged her own mission, which is an interesting and not entirely accurate way of framing what happened.
Peridot thinks that Yellow Diamond may be “sending a whole fleet to find and shatter [her] right now.” We’ve seen that Peridots are basically expendable cogs as far as Yellow Diamond is concerned. It’s unclear if this rather inflated sense of importance has always been a part of Peridot’s personality that was amplified by her time with the Crystal Gems, or if it’s a fairly new development.
In the next episode, we learn that Yellow Diamond has sent a small group of Rubies — hardly a whole fleet — to locate Jasper, and doesn’t care about Peridot’s fate in the slightest.
“I’m kind of a big deal. A big, anti-Homeworld deal!” This cements a character development with Peridot that’s been germinating for a bit now. In Log Date 7 15 2, Peridot was melting down over her decision to side with the Crystal Gems. In Gem Drill, she says outright that the Crystal Gems are her replacement for Homeworld. Here, we see her wholeheartedly embracing the idea that she’s an anti-Homeworld rebel now. This, despite the fact that It Could’ve Been Great was probably no more than a week or so ago chronologically, and in that episode she expressed the idea that the Rebellion was pointless and Earth would have been better off as a Homeworld colony.
This rapid development honestly makes perfect sense. Peridot’s the kind of Gem who really needs identity and purpose in her life. She’s thrown away her entire life and purpose for the sake of the Earth and the Crystal Gems, so she naturally decides that that must be her new purpose.
Lapis, unconvinced, flies off to perch on top of the nearby silo. Peridot is angry that Lapis isn’t accepting the new her, not understanding the hard and necessary work of actually convincing people that you’ve changed, rather than just being able to tell them you have.
Peridot is incredibly invested in getting Lapis on board with her new self. Lapis is, to her, a reminder of her previous life and past wrongs. Lapis rejecting her is putting a real damper on Peridot’s new reinvention of herself, and so she can’t let that stand.
Steven, meanwhile, is entirely on board with Peridot trying to win Lapis over — because Steven is absolutely the sort of guy who thinks that all of his friends should be friends with each other. He thinks Peridot’s determination is sweet, and that that’s what she needs to show Lapis.
“Show her my sweet?” she asks, and, oh yeah, this episode spawned approximately eight billion fanworks about Lapis and Peridot as a couple. I thought I’d point that out in case you’re the kind of person who reads long-winded, detailed Steven Universe recaps but is also unaware of the existence of Lapidot.
Steven’s idea is for Peridot to send Lapis a greeting card. He draws this adorable picture on the outside. Peridot questions the lack of noses and hands. Steven says that the lack of noses is his drawing style, and that the lack of hands is just because he can’t draw hands, an extremely common affliction for artists.
Steven instructs her to write an apology from her heart on the inside. The problem, of course, is that Peridot doesn’t even seem to fully grasp what the problem is, so an apology from her, no matter how sincere, is not going to work.
Lapis, meanwhile, is enjoying a rare moment of peace relaxing on top of the silo, one that is quickly broken by Peridot screaming at her to get her attention. Lapis does her best to ignore Peridot, but immediately flies from her perch as soon as Steven calls out to her.
“Sorry I interrogated you. You were just full of such useful information. That’s a sincere compliment. Peridot.”
Lapis’ deadpan reading of Peridot’s non-apology cracks me up every time. It’s also a perfect character beat for Peridot: she’s trying very hard, but in the realm of interpersonal relationships, she still really has no idea what she’s doing. Steven really should have vetted this card before encouraging Peridot to give it to Lapis (or, if he did vet it, he really should have known better).
Peridot blames the card’s failure on the drawing’s lack of noses, because failing to understand responsibility for her own actions is kind of her theme this episode. She yells into the tape recorder that the contents of the card took her an hour to write and that it was “the most sincere,” not grasping that sincerity, while an important part of reconciliation, is not enough on its own.
Steven suggests that Peridot could get Lapis a gift. “Lapis Lazulis are typically partial to water and flying,” Peridot says, showing off her knowledge of various Gems, as well as confirming that there are multiple Lazulis as well.
We get to see two more Lapis Lazulis in Future.
Unfortunately, the fact that they’re thinking of what Lapis Lazulis like in general instead of considering what this particular Lapis Lazuli might like dooms their plan to failure.
Peridot and Steven finish each other’s thoughts and mirror each other’s body language in this conversation, showing off how in sync they are. It’s an interesting contrast to Steven and Lapis, who are good friends, but who really don’t understand each other. I’ve talked before about how Peridot tends to learn by mimicking, and Steven is her closest companion on the planet at the moment, so the fact that she has started to mirror Steven makes perfect sense.
For his part, Steven basically immediately takes Peridot’s side in this conflict and spends the entire episode helping her, never really checking in with Lapis, even though he generally does care about Lapis and knows about the trauma she’s experienced. Peridot’s problem — she wants to make a new friend and doesn’t know how — is one that Steven immediately understands and sympathizes with, while Lapis’ problem — there’s a Gem that’s traumatized her, and even if that Gem has since changed, she still doesn’t really want to be around her — is more difficult for Steven to grasp. I think if this were happening in a Lapis-only episode, Steven would be making the effort to understand her, but here he has the distraction of helping Peridot.
This dynamic pops up again in Raising the Barn, where Steven sympathizes with Peridot’s dilemma and goes off with her for the bulk of the episode, never really sitting down and discussing things with Lapis. Of course, part of the problem in Raising the Barn is that the unhealthy dynamics between Peridot and Lapis have existed for a while at that point, and the point where Lapis is understandably terrified and not thinking straight is too late to sit down and have a real conversation about it.
And why doesn’t Steven recognize what’s happening with Lapis and Peridot until it’s far too late? Because, of course, Peridot’s behavior in setting aside her own needs to keep Lapis happy is his own key character flaw as well.
The parallels between Steven and Peridot are further cemented in Future, where Peridot is one of the few characters who tries to address Steven’s deteriorating mental state. At the end of the series, she’s gifted one of Steven’s old t-shirts and is told to “Be the Steven you want to see in the world.”
“H-2-Oh my gosh! It’s a smaller than average lake!” Steven and Peridot show Lapis the present they made for her: they (somehow) filled in the hole created by the drill and filled it with water, forming a small pool in front of the barn.
Lapis rejects the present very dramatically, citing her imprisonment under the ocean with Jasper: “It was an endless, crushing darkness, wet, and bleak, and suffocating. Water was the tomb I lived in for those months.”
She tells Steven it wasn’t his fault, and honestly, I feel like if Steven had given her this present, she might have taken it more in the spirit in which it was intended.
Steven and Peridot mull over their latest failure. Steven suggests that maybe instead of figuring out something that Lapis likes, Peridot could instead give her “a piece of you.” Notably, Steven still seems to be hung up on the notion that a gift will bring Lapis around, instead of accepting one of the other possibilities — that Lapis doesn’t really need to be friends with Peridot no matter how badly Peridot wants it, or that he really should sit down with Lapis and explain to her the entire situation, or that they might just need time to adjust to their new situation.
Peridot suggests perhaps giving Lapis her Camp Pining Hearts DVDs. Back in Log Date 7 15 2, where she became obsessed with the show, Steven lied and told her that there was only the one episode, taped on an old VHS. At some point, Steven must have gone back on that and gotten her a set of the DVDs. Peridot and Steven lament that Season 5 of CPH is trash.
Eventually, Peridot will show Lapis Camp Pining Hearts and they’ll both become fans of the series.
Peridot flops onto the ground, defeated. “Log date, whatever. Facet, whatever. Ugh, whatever!” she says, even frustrated with her usual way of talking into the tape recorder. That’s when Peridot realizes she does have something of great personal importance that she could give to Lapis — her tape recorder.
They’re just so misguided and trying so hard. My heart melts.
Anyway, Peridot gives Lapis her present, all wrapped up with a blue ribbon. “I got yo number,” she says, something she likely heard either from TV or from Amethyst.
Peridot explains why the tape recorder was important to her: “Steven gave me this tape recorder as a gift and I didn’t really get it at first, but it made me feel better to talk about all the weird stuff that was happening. It’ll help you too!”
Compared to Peridot’s previous two efforts, this is actually fairly thoughtful and empathetic. She’s correctly thinking about the fact that Lapis is having a difficult time adjusting to life on Earth, and presenting her with something Peridot found helpful to get her through the hard times. It’s still not what Lapis wants or needs, and she really probably should be giving Lapis space instead, but it’s a marked improvement.
Peridot tells Lapis how to use the tape recorder. She turns it on, says, “I don’t want your garbage,” and then smashes it.
I’ll have to admit, my knee-jerk reaction to this was sympathy for Peridot, and that Lapis was being overly cruel. After all, Peridot is actually making a pretty good effort with this gift and has just explained how important it is to her. Lapis could have simply rejected it or walked away — actually destroying it arguably crosses a line.
But upon further reflection, Lapis is a deeply traumatized person who is currently being followed around by someone who had a hand in that trauma, who hasn’t properly apologized and who refuses to leave her alone. It’s understandable that her frustration would boil over.
“What, were you trapped in a tape recorder too?” Peridot says. It’s a poor choice of words, considering the mirror was basically a device for recording and playing back information — although Peridot may not know those details.
“Look, I get it, you know? You’re confused. You can never go back to Homeworld. This place doesn’t exactly feel like home yet. You’re alone. No one could possibly know what that feels like. Oh, wait, I do! We’re the same, except you don’t have to be alone!”
Peridot finally spills one of the very obvious reasons why she’s unwilling to give up on winning over Lapis: Lapis is potentially the only living being who can relate to what Peridot is going through. (Honestly, Pearl probably could, but those two, despite burying the hatchet, never quite get along.) Peridot has Steven and Amethyst for friends, but they were both born on Earth and know nothing of Homeworld. Peridot wants someone to talk to about these issues that isn’t a tape recorder.
Peridot says that whatever Lapis wants her to do, she’ll do it. “I want you to LEAVE!” Lapis yells. Peridot’s face falls, but she immediately complies, walking off in a random direction away from the barn.
It goes to show that Peridot really is serious about making it up to Lapis, even if she has no idea how to properly do that — she’s walking away from the place she thought she would have as her new home after having experienced some fairly significant trauma herself.
Steven is heartbroken. “Lapis, why are you being so mean to her? She’s really trying,” he says. This is one of the areas where Steven and Peridot are very much alike: they both try incredibly hard, and neither fully realizes that sometimes trying really hard isn’t enough to bridge a gap.
Lapis asks why he trusts Peridot. “Because I know her! Lapis, you’re not even giving her a chance. You should have at least gotten to know her before you decided you don’t like her.”
First off, Steven, that statement would be a lot more sensible if Lapis and Peridot had never met before, but that’s not the case. Presumably, Lapis decided she didn’t like Peridot when Peridot interrogated her, threw her into a cell and dragged her back to Earth against her will, which is an extremely valid reason to not like someone.
Secondly, this episode, like many others, suffers from “sit down and talk to each other about what’s going on already” syndrome. If Steven wants Lapis to accept Peridot, then he really needs to explain to her what went down with the drill, the Cluster, and Peridot’s rejection of Yellow Diamond. I’m not saying that this would automatically make Lapis like Peridot, but it’s critical context that she’s mostly missing here.
“Now it’s too late, and she’s never coming back again,” says Steven. Right on cue, Peridot comes running back in a panic. A light bursts through the clouds, and we see what caused Peridot’s sudden reversal: a Roaming Eye, which Peridot describes as “a Homeworld tracking vessel.” Poor Peridot is scared out of her mind.
The Roaming Eye displays five eyes in its viewscreen. In the next episode, we’ll see that this is because it contains five Rubies.
Peridot assumes the Roaming Eye is there to kill her, and Steven steps in front of her protectively. Meanwhile, Lapis decides to go into full-on badass mode. Presumably, the combination of Peridot immediately agreeing to leave, the proof that Peridot has broken off with Homeworld, and Steven’s willingness to protect her has softened her view of Peridot a bit.
Lapis uses the water from the smaller than average lake to smash the Roaming Eye out of the sky.
This action leaves behind convenient diamond-shaped marks on the grass, which will be used next episode when they all trick the Ruby Squad into playing baseball.
It’s also a signifier of Lapis’ raw power near water, which makes it all the more frustrating when they don’t immediately call her in for emergencies, most notably Aquamarine’s ship over the ocean.
“Holy smokes,” says Peridot.
The other Crystal Gems, having spotted the ship in the sky, come running to the barn. “Holy smokes,” says Amethyst, indicating where Peridot likely picked up that turn of phrase.
Peridot attempts to slink away from the group. Lapis turns and asks her if she’s alright, prompting Peridot to make this face. I can practically hear the sounds of shippers revving up their art and fic engines.
The door to the Roaming Eye opens, and a Ruby with her gem replacing one eye emerges.
Eyeball will become a recurring character on the show. She’ll eventually try to kill Steven, act as a witness against him during his trial, and then fuse with Aquamarine to try and kill Steven again.
This episode is a great one for awkward humor and hilarious facial expressions. It does suffer a bit from being a plot that could be resolved if Steven in particular didn’t have a big blind spot about what Lapis’ issue with Peridot is, but it’s understandable given Steven’s own flaws and friendship with Peridot. Plus, it leads into one of the best episodes of the season…
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! Human disguises and hopeless romantics! It’s time to Hit the Diamond!