Episode Description: Steven and Connie track a Gem monster through the wilderness but her tracks lead them to mystery.
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 episode takes place in the Great North, which seems to be this universe’s equivalent of Canada, home of poutine and Camp Pining Hearts. Steven, Connie, and Pearl warp in front of this enormous Wailing Stone. The episode never addresses why this is here, but it could have been a communication site for Gems originally. That thing must have made some serious noise.
It’s Connie’s first mission! At least, that’s what Pearl and Steven say, although Connie did go with them on their mission in Ocean Gem. Perhaps that doesn’t count since it was more of an impromptu emergency than a planned one. Connie is adorable decked out in cold-weather gear, with a huge backpack and Rose’s sword. Steven has his cheeseburger backpack.
We haven’t seen Connie training in a while, but presumably it’s been progressing offscreen, and now she gets a chance to exercise her skills on an actual mission. Pearl calls it a “Gem recovery” mission. Back in Season One, the Gems were pretty cavalier about referring to these sorts of things as hunting down and fighting corrupted Gems, but now that Steven knows exactly what they are, it seems she’s being a bit more delicate.
Steven has them pose for multiple pictures before Pearl puts a stop to it. He mentions that Connie’s parents wanted lots of pictures from the mission, implying that they knew about it and approved, although one has to wonder exactly how much Connie told them. Connie’s mother did agree to let her keep her sword in Nightmare Hospital, but trekking out into the wilderness to fight monsters is another thing.
One thing hasn’t changed: Connie is still very hungry for Pearl’s approval. As they walk through the snowy woods, she explains how she’s brought everything necessary for survival. Meanwhile, Steven has packed board games in case they get bored.
It isn’t long before they come across the corrupted Gem.
This Gem is later revealed to be Ocean Jasper, and she was likely one of the Crystal Gems personally known to Pearl. She is also the corrupted Gem that Jasper later fuses with. It’s a shame we never got followup on how that situation affected her. Being corrupted, and then being forcibly fused, must have been especially traumatic.
The Gems prepare to fight, but a second corruption appears. Instead of attacking them, the two seem to communicate with each other. The first corruption shakes her head, and the two run off into the woods in separate directions. We’ll soon learn that this is because they are trying to escape from Jasper. This sequence is another example of how corrupted Gems do retain some intelligence.
The brown corruption is Biggs Jasper, who was confirmed as a Crystal Gem. She was a close friend to Bismuth, and, according to her, beloved by everyone.
Pearl comments that there weren’t supposed to be two. This seems to have been a failure of Garnet’s future vision. Garnet was apparently unable to see Jasper’s involvement here – possibly because it was so unexpected – which means the group is unprepared for this scenario.
Connie proposes that they split up to pursue the monsters. Pearl is understandably apprehensive about this idea, especially since Connie has never been in a real fight. Steven brings up the fact that she was able to defeat cluster Gems in Nightmare Hospital. Connie was also technically in the fight against Lapis, but that’s probably not a good one to mention. Steven also has adorable Cookie Cat themed walkie talkies that they can use to keep in touch, and Connie has a “How to Survive” book she’s read many times. Pearl finally relents, but instructs Connie and Steven to contact her the moment they find the monster.
“Who’s your favorite Gem?” she asks.
“Pearl…” says Steven, mock-glaring at her. They all laugh.
Steven and Connie follow the tracks in the snow. Connie scoops up a little snow from the tracks and eats it. “Oh yeah, these are fresh.”
Steven is impressed by her “expertise.” Connie explains that she’s preparing for civilization collapse. Steven agrees that if Homeworld invades the Earth, things will be pretty crazy. You have to wonder how much this poor kid is thinking about this scenario.
Connie isn’t just worried about that, though, she’s worried about humanity. “Peak oil, Steven! How do we handle terminal decline without alternative energy sources?”
First off, I was absolutely This Kid when I was Connie’s age, so I can relate. Secondly, it’s interesting that humans have roughly the same big picture problems here as in the real world.
Theoretically, in Era 3, Gems could probably solve their energy problems for them.
Pearl radios them to remind them that humans need to eat, and it’s adorable. Connie has them covered with “Protes” protein bars.
Connie compares the corrupted Gems to wild animals. Steven agrees they’re like that now, but they weren’t always. “They had thoughts, feelings, friends. I don’t really know how the corruption works. It’s like they’re sick. They don’t remember who they used to be. Maybe they don’t even know how to look like themselves any more.” The placement of the broken tree here is a nice touch.
Connie notices how downtrodden Steven has become. The events of Monster Reunion are clearly still weighing heavily on him. The situation with Centipeetle means he’s no longer comfortable simply poofing and bubbling a corrupted Gem. Does he have a moral obligation to try to heal them? Could he have more success with a different Gem? Part of Season 3 certainly seems to be that things that were quite simple in Season 1 are no longer so. Steven can freely use most of his powers now, but he’s accidentally abused them. He’s now allowed to go on missions and hunt corrupted Gems, but it’s no longer exciting and fun.
There’s one additional fear that might also be on Steven’s mind. He brought up a possible Homeworld invasion, and Steven now knows that the corruption was one of the Diamonds’ powers. What if they did it again? What if Steven himself became corrupted, or the other Crystal Gems? That’s certainly terrifying to think about.
Pearl radios to tell them she hasn’t had any luck. Steven and Connie want to keep going, though. Pearl reminds Connie of the lessons from Sworn to the Sword, singing a bit of “Do It for Her”: “Balance is the key!”
Pearl is in an especially good mood this episode. Perhaps the events of Mr. Greg, reconciling with Greg and accepting that her relationship with Rose was not perfect, have helped her overall mental health.
The kids reach a clearing where the monster tracks are mixed with humanoid tracks. Given the mess of tracks and the second smashed tree, the obvious conclusion here would be a scuffle – but that’s not where Steven’s mind goes.
Snow starts to fall, and Connie proposes taking shelter. She takes some pine needles to brew into tea to “ward off scurvy.” Connie’s obsession with using survival tips she read regardless of how appropriate they actually are is a great character beat. I also went through that phase where I liked to imagine how I’d survive in the wilderness (spoiler alert: I wouldn’t).
They take shelter in the hollow of a tree, and Connie uses a camp stove to brew the pine needle “tea.” Steven makes a face and admits it’s bad.
Connie wonders what could have made the humanoid tracks. “It couldn’t have been the monster, unless it’s just some guy in a monster suit. That kind of thing only happens in cartoons, usually over a property dispute.” Between this and the Jetsons reference last week, I feel like our string of anime references has been displaced by a string of old Hanna-Barbera references.
Steven speculates that maybe the Gem is only partially corrupted and has been changing back and forth from monster to humanoid form. He thinks that perhaps he could heal such a Gem. This is some serious wishful thinking that goes to show how much the situation with Centipeetle has affected him. We’re going to see a lot more of his desperate need to save any Gem he can.
This is the last episode that focuses primarily on a mission to retrieve a corrupted Gem, presumably because after this, any further such missions would feature Steven wondering if he could save them.
The kids hear a noise, and emerge from the tree to see the monster running by. The monster ignores them, instead scratching frantically at a cliff face. Connie wonders if the monster is running from them, and Steven asks if the monster is perhaps running from itself. Neither hit upon the correct answer: that the monster is running from the currently unknown entity that made the humanoid tracks.
Suddenly, Pearl’s voice comes through the walkie talkie, drawing the monster’s attention. Steven can’t turn it off with his snow-covered gloves, so he flings it away as the monster confronts them. “I woudl hate to be responsbile for putting you two in danger,” says an oblivious Pearl.
Steven decides to try talking to the monster. “You can control this. Remember who you used to be!” he says. It’s really hard not to feel bad for him.
Connie doesn’t think it’s working, and she starts to pull her sword. The monster attacks, but Steven puts up his bubble in time.
Connie throws snowballs at the monster to distract it away from Steven. She backs up with her sword drawn, admitting that she wasn’t prepared for this. She is, however, using her lessons from Sworn to the Sword, as she never takes her eyes of the monster as she moves backwards.
Pearl continues to talk. “Is this about the favorite Gem thing? That was just a joke! Don’t tell Garnet.”
Spotting the walkie talkie in the snow, she pretends like she’s going to attack, but then dives under the monster to grab the walkie talkie. She notifies Pearl that they’ve found the monster.
The kids then find out what made the humanoid footprints. Jasper runs in and starts punching the monster. Steven freaks out and puts a bubble around him and Connie.
I love the implication that Lapis punched Jasper all the way to Canada.
Jasper rips the gemstone from the monster’s chest. Pearl runs to the kids’ side, also freaking out to see Jasper. The three nervously face Jasper down.
Jasper holds up the gemstones from both monsters. “Hey, Rose, look what I got,” she says, menacingly.
In Beta, we’ll learn Jasper’s purpose for collecting corrupted Gems. She’s trying to form them into a kind of personal army, and even attempts to fuse with Ocean Jasper.
Steven, terrified, holds up his phone to take a quick picture of Jasper.
Jasper stalks off into the woods with her prizes. Pearl turns to Steven and Connie and tells them that she wouldn’t have taken them on the mission if she had known Jasper would be there.
Connie apologizes, believing that she failed, as she could not fight the monster. Pearl tells her that she did what she was supposed to – called Pearl when she saw the monster – and that the mission was a success. I love how supportive Pearl is of Connie. Connie cares such much about Pearl’s approval, likely a result of her relationship with her own mother.
Steven takes a slightly awkward group photo to celebrate. Pearl asks if Connie’s parents will see the picture. “My parents see all of my photos, ma’am,” says Connie, showing how she’s still fairly sheltered. Steven flips to the picture of Jasper, worried.
The Jasper arc is just getting started, of course.
This isn’t an episode I think about much, but I really enjoyed watching it. The combo of Steven, Connie, and Pearl is always a delight. Connie in particular is an absolute treasure here. The underlying sadness of Steven wondering if he can save the monsters adds an additional layer of character development.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! Steven and Connie had quality time with Pearl. Now they’re going to have some quality time with Amethyst in Crack the Whip.