Description: Steven reunites with an old friend.
You know when the description of an SU episode is extremely vague, you’re in for a good one.
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 with Steven looking at a tear in one of his toys, MC Bear Bear. This bear was last seen in Future Vision, where Steven was thinking about getting rid of his old toys because he was growing up. It’s nice to see that he kept MC Bear Bear.
Steven kisses the toy, and to his surprise, the tear heals. Steven hasn’t had healing powers since he lost his confidence in House Guest. As we’ve seen recently, Steven has come into his powers a lot lately, so his renewed confidence makes sense, particularly since he’s had a few successes (for example, in last week’s Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service.)
Steven runs downstairs to show the Gems what he can do. He takes a plate from Pearl and smashes it on the ground, horrifying Pearl and delighting Amethyst. Pearl won’t let him touch the broken plate, saying that she believes him that his healing power is back.
Steven starts to wonder what else he can do with his healing powers, and Garnet cuts him off: “no.”
“With my future vision, I can see you’re going to ask if you could use your power to heal one of the monsters in the bubble room,” she clarifies.
It’s interesting that Garnet would try to dissuade him, given that the events of this episode are ultimately bittersweet at worst. No doubt, Garnet has seen some negative possibilities that don’t come to pass. I think this is probably one of those instances where Steven surprises her with how he handles the situation. It’s also simply possible that she sees exactly how this turns out and wants to spare Steven the emotional pain – it wouldn’t be the first time the Gems are perhaps somewhat misguided in their protectiveness of Steven.
I think that instances like this probably influence Garnet in some future episodes, like Room for Ruby, where she sees the possibility of disaster but believes that Steven has a chance.
At any rate, Garnet almost immediately caves when Steven makes sad puppy dog eyes. I love the recurring character trait that Garnet just can’t say no to Steven.
In the bubble room, Steven finds the bubbled Centipeetle, who he befriended in Monster Buddies. At the end of that episode, after Centipeetle sacrificed her form to save him, Steven vowed to heal her permanently someday.
I really enjoy that this vow of Steven’s is not something he forgets throughout the series, and that he finally makes good on it in Change Your Mind.
Behind them, you can see the bubbled bag of Chaaaaaps, Centipeetle’s favorite snack in that episode. Amethyst snags it with her whip so they have it ready.
As Centipeetle regenerates into her monstrous form, Steven licks his hand and slaps it on her Gem. With a flash of light, her form changes, as the Gems wait anxiously.
Unfortunately, the healing only partially works. Centi is now far more humanoid, but she still retains insect-like characteristics, and seems unable to speak.
Steven is initially thrilled, but his enthusiasm fades as she doesn’t seem to recognize him or the Chaaaaaaps. She doesn’t attack him, instead looking frightened and confused. Steven tries to kiss her gemstone once more, but all it does is upset her.
“This is the best we’ve ever seen it work,” says Garnet. It’s important to remember that some of these bubbled Gems are the Crystal Gems’ old friends, so having a way to heal them is extremely important. Steven, at least, has apparently gone further than Rose ever did.
I wonder if some of Garnet and Pearl’s reluctance to let Steven try this has to do with his choice of Centipeetle, who we learn in this episode was not a Crystal Gem, but instead part of the Homeworld invading forces. They might well fear that if they restored her that she would still be hostile towards them.
“I guess it’ll take more than a kiss to heal damage from the Diamonds,” says Pearl. This is the first time we’ve learned that the corruption was caused by the Diamonds themselves, something we’ll learn more about in a few scenes.
Garnet tries to explain to Steven how corruption is different from cracking: “It’s sort of like if MC Bear Bear didn’t tear the fabric of his arm, but of his mind.” One speculation on what this means is that the corruption somehow disrupts the internal molecular structure of the gemstone in a way that simply being cracked does not.
Since the healing did not fully take, Garnet says that they must poof her again. Amethyst looks disturbed, but offers to do it anyway. Steven rushes in front of Centipeetle, who is examining her reflection – obviously proving that she has some intelligence. Steven says that he has to try and help her more, because he made a promise. Centipeetle squawks at him in a cheerful manner.
The Gems cave, although they’re unsure of what exactly to do with Centipeetle. Amethyst seems relieved that they’re not going to poof her. “Aw yeah! Corrupted roommate!”
It’s a bit disturbing that Garnet and Pearl only give Centi a few minutes before deciding she must be poofed again. She isn’t being hostile at all, and in fact seems to be showing some improvement now that her shock has worn off. She’s clearly intelligent and trying to communicate with them.
I think it’s an example of how the Crystal Gems tend to sweep problems under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. We’ve seen this approach before – they left Lapis in the mirror for years, they were going to simply bubble Peridot indefinitely, etc. It squares with the idea that Gems in general aren’t naturally meant for growth and change. Steven is the catalyst that breaks them out of these unhealthy behaviors.
Back in the beach house, Steven asks for Centi’s name, but all she can do is click.
We later learn that her name is Nephrite.
Steven tries to jog her memory by bringing up their past experiences together: the time she saved him from a seagull in Monster Buddies, their adventure in the ice caves from that same episode, and the time Steven electrocuted her with the Cookie Cat minifridge in Gem Glow – the last, perhaps, is not such a good memory.
Centi doesn’t remember eating Chaaaaaps either, at least until Steven starts singing the jingle and gives her a chip. This is enough to jog that memory, and the two sing the Chaaaaaaps jingle together happily.
Centi can obviously still understand and communicate even if she can’t talk, so Steven gets the smart idea to give her something to write with. I like that he has Crying Breakfast Friends branded crayons.
Steven demonstrates how he writes his name with the crayons. Centi follows suit, and produces the above squiggle, which Steven immediately dismisses, to Centi’s dismay.
Later in the episode, we learn that Centi is simply writing in Gemglyph and her handwriting was legible all along. Imagine what she’s thinking here. She finally gets a chance to try and communicate, and she’s met the one Gem who happens to be illiterate.
Also, Steven should have showed this to the Gems at some point and learned her actual name, but as we all know, Steven never asks followup questions.
Steven decides that they can talk in pictures instead. He draws a picture of himself, and Centi adds herself to it. D’aww.
Steven asks if she remembers anything from “before.” Centi draws a spaceship with herself and other Gems that resemble her. Steven guesses that this was her crew and that she was a captain, and Centi agrees.
Steven salutes the Captain, before remembering that Gems salute with a diamond-shaped gesture. Steven finds the gesture difficult to do with his stubby arms. “It looked so easy when Peridot did it!”
(I can’t see this scene without attempting to do it myself. It’s not that hard, and I even have very short arms. It is really awkward, though.)
Centi does the diamond salute perfectly, and this seems to jog more of her memories.
Centi draws herself taking orders from her original commander.
It’s later revealed that this commander is Hessonite. Hessonite is only mentioned and not directly seen on the show, but she does turn up in the spinoff games I need to eventually play.
Centi depicts herself, her crew, and an entire fleet of similar ships heading to Earth, where they land and begin building structures – until the Gem War begins. She draws groups of Gems fighting, and angrily crosses out some of the Gems on her side of the battlefield, signifying casualties.
It’s obvious from what Centi depicts here that she was on Homeworld’s side of the Gem War. This may at least partially explain Pearl and Garnet’s reluctance for her to be the Gem Steven attempts to rehabilitate. She doesn’t show any animosity towards Pearl or Garnet, though, and may not even recognize them.
Centi fights with her crew, but becomes separated from them. She hears new orders from her commander: to retreat. All of the Homeworld Gems are running, but from what?
She draws sound lines in the sky. “A sound… a song?” Steven interprets, as the Diamond theme plays. Centi takes a white crayon and draws a bright light in the sky that engulfs the entire paper. Her tears drop onto the white page.
Finally, we see the event alluded to all the way back in The Return. “In the end, your mother could only save a handful of her closest friends. If it weren’t for her shield, man, I dunno.” This white light engulfed the entire earth, corrupting all of the Gems, Crystal Gems and Homeworld Gems alike, except for Rose, Pearl, and Garnet, who were hiding behind Rose’s shield.
It’s no wonder that Rose could never forgive herself for what happened, and that all three ended up scarred by this. Their Rebellion to save the Earth and free Gemkind ended with all of the Gems around them, including their loyal friends and comrades-in-arms, turning into twisted monsters. The fact that Rose was never able to heal any of the corrupted Gems adds to the heartbreak.
Steven asks Centi where the light came from, and crying, she draws the Diamond Authority logo.
Note that there’s only three Diamonds here. This makes sense in terms of the timeline, as Pink’s “shattering” obviously had to take place before the end of the Gem War. It also shows that Pink’s shattering was common knowledge among Gemkind.
In fact, although never directly confirmed, it’s likely that Pink’s “shattering” was what spurred the Diamonds to end the war in such a brutal fashion, one with enormous collateral damage to their own loyal soldiers. The idea that a Diamond could die at all must have been absolutely shocking, and we see later that Yellow and Blue were both devastated by the grief.
The confirmation that the Diamonds are the ones that caused the corruption – and that they would do this even to their own people – was shocking, but does fit with Yellow’s desire to destroy the Earth in the most cruel way possible with the Cluster.
Later, we see that Blue and Yellow apparently did not know the full extent of the corruption or what they were doing, and only White realized what truly happened – not that that makes this all that much better.
Centi suddenly spits acid and keels over in pain. One of her arms changes back into an insect’s leg, and both she and Steven realize that she’s reverting back into a monster. Yes, they’re going to Flowers for Algernon us.
Centi runs to the warp pad and pounds against it helplessly. We know from previous episodes that only Gems can use the warp pad (unless they have a warp whistle). Centi is apparently monstrous enough that she can’t operate it.
Steven holds up pictures to try and figure out where Centi wants to go. She responds to the picture of the ship, and Steven realizes that it resembles the place where Peridot was hiding out in Friend Ship.
Centi runs for the ship, gradually turning more corrupted along the way. This is the most distressing body horror we’ve had since Keeping It Together. When she reaches the ship, she’s unable to operate the door as both of her hands have reverted back to insect legs. Steven hits the panel himself, and they enter the ship.
Centi looks up to the ceiling, where there are two other Centipeetles. She runs to them and greets them, and they greet her back. It is what remains of her crew: they waited for her in the ship instead of evacuating, and were corrupted as a result.
Amethyst runs in the door behind Steven. She shapeshifts into a Centipeetle herself. Pearl, trailing after her, admonishes her to not mock the Centipeetles.
Steven sadly tells the Gems that he failed to help Centi. Garnet disagrees, pointing out that he reunited Centi with her ship and her crew. Steven smiles at them.
I always really loved that Steven gets a bittersweet victory here. He wasn’t able to heal Centi, but his efforts were certainly not in vain, and now she has some measure of peace to be with her old crew.
Steven asks Garnet if they can stay. This time, his puppy dog eyes are unnecessary, as the Gems have already decided that the Centipeetles can live peacefully in their old ship.
Steven asks how they knew where he went, and they show him the stack of papers Centi left behind. They tell Steven that Centi’s handwriting was legible Gemglyph, so they could simply read her story. Steven asks Pearl if he can learn Gemglyph, and she tells him it’s complicated and he won’t have much use for it.
Steven apparently does learn Gemglyph by the time of Era 3, as we see him using it in Steven Universe Future.
I appreciate Steven’s eagerness to learn Gemglyph here, as he is usually not so proactive with questions. However, he does neglect to ask one important question: if Centi’s handwriting was legible all along, they should be able to know her real name.
Steven gives a few examples of things he’d like to say in Gem: “Hi, how are you?” “Where’s the bathroom?” (which may have no direct translation, as Gems have bathing areas, but perhaps nothing quite analogous to a human bathroom), and finally, “I’m sorry.” He looks sadly at Centi’s drawing of the Diamond Authority logo.
I wonder if there’s a bit of Rose’s guilt leaking out here. As discussed above, she may have felt inadvertently responsible for what happened, and even if she didn’t, she would have felt immense regret over only being able to save two other Gems.
Steven’s apology at the end shows that, even though he is pleased to have helped Centi, he still feels guilt and sadness over not being able to help her fully heal.
Steven’s promise to himself to fully heal Centipeetle ends up being a major driving force of the series finale – Steven only requires an audience with White Diamond because he needs her involvement in order to permanently heal corruption, and it’s Steven’s fateful encounter with White that ultimately results in the disruption of the Diamond Authority and the end of Era 2.
Needless to say, this is a classic episode of Steven Universe. It’s heartfelt, packed full of lore, and contains critically important character beats for Steven.
I always thought it was a real shame that we never got a full episode devoted to Nephrite in Future. I wanted to see how a formerly corrupted Gem (other than Jasper, who is a bit of a special case) is adjusting to Era 3 and Little Homeworld.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! Lapis angst? Lapis angst. Alone at Sea.