Steven Universe Rewind: Crack the Whip

Episode Description: Amethyst is left in charge of Steven and Connie, and there will be no training while she’s around!

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.

Last week ended with Steven, Connie, and Pearl discovering Jasper on their mission to the Great North. In this episode, Pearl and Garnet are headed to the Great North to see if they can find her, leaving Steven behind with Amethyst to “hold down the fort.”

I think this is the first time in a while that we’ve had Steven left behind as the other Gems go on a mission. Presumably it’s because they feel Jasper is more dangerous than corrupted Gems. Leaving Amethyst behind is an interesting decision as well, since they had no problem leaving Steven alone in the house when he was younger. Steven does seem to be one of Jasper’s primary interests right now, as she still believes he is Rose, so perhaps they fear that Jasper might attack the house, and so leave Amethyst behind to help. Considering that’s basically what ends up happening, it’d be a reasonable thought.

Amethyst is reading the manga Pretty Hairstylist, which she was also reading in Keeping It Together.

Amethyst says there’ll be no surprises. Connie then surprises everyone by showing up early for her lessons, Lion and Rose’s sword in tow.

Pearl had forgotten Connie’s training was that day and is clearly upset over it, which goes to show both how important Connie’s training is to her and how focused she is on Jasper. “Very irresponsible, Pearl,” Amethyst teases, in a way more reminiscent of their first season dynamic than the current status quo.

Connie tells Pearl to be safe. “That’s my line,” says Pearl. Aww.

“We’ll train next week without Jasper hanging over our heads,” says Pearl.

“Best case scenario,” Garnet adds. I wonder what kind of future outcomes Garnet saw. Garnet seeing the possibility of Jasper showing up at the house could explain why she leaves behind Amethyst and Steven.

Amethyst tells Connie and Steven they have the day off from training and asks them what they’d like to do.

It turns out that what they want to do is train. Connie and Steven spar on the beach with sword and shield. Steven uses his newish floating abilities from Steven Floats to dodge his shields when Connie smacks them back at him.

Steven gets annoyed that Amethyst isn’t paying attention, so she shapeshifts huge eyes where her feet should be.

Soon, Amethyst is napping again. Steven asks her if she saw their fight. In another S1 nod, Amethyst shapeshifts into Pearl (this time with her newer outfit) and declares their sparring match “pearlfect.”

The appearance of “Pearl,” however, reminds Connie that her stance and her grip are all wrong. Amethyst doesn’t see why that matters.

Despite Pearl sensibly telling Connie that she did the right thing last episode, Connie still believes that she blew it. Connie calls it her “first real magical mission.” The framing of Gem activities as magic has mostly fallen by the wayside at this point, but it makes sense that Connie would reference it, since she still sometimes imagines this as adventures from her fantasy books.

Connie is upset that she froze when confronted with the monster, and thinks that training harder might help.

Amethyst disagrees. “Sounds to me like you’re too in your own head… How can you get ready when you don’t even know what you’re getting ready for? Yeah, you can’t be ready. What you gotta be is loose.”

Amethyst’s advice to Connie here is actually pretty good – at least for Connie. She really is too much in her own head to be as effective as she could be, and that’s something that Pearl is unlikely to recognize or correct, since she has the same problem. Connie really could stand to learn a little more flexibility.

Amethyst says that fighting is about the feeling in your gut, and asks Steven what his guts feel like. “Hungry?” he says. The three decide on a snack break.

At the Big Donut, Sadie is restocking while humming Greg’s burger jingle from Mr. Greg. Amethyst shapeshifts into Lars, which clearly disturbs Steven. It’s possible the last time he saw Lars was the events of The New Lars, which makes Amethyst’s form extremely awkward.

Amethyst-as-Lars enters the Big Donut. “Hey, Donut Girl! It’s me, Donut Boy.” She starts taking all the donuts from the case on the pretense that she works there.

Sadie is pretty distressed by this. “That’s just Amethyst being Amethyst by not being Amethyst,” Steven explains apologetically, which is a great line that sums up a lot of Amethyst’s character arc. She’s so insecure about herself that she’s constantly finding ways to try and be someone else, whether that’s developing a wrestling heel persona in Tiger Millionaire, coming up with outlandish forms in Reformed, or just generally shapeshifting a lot.

Steven and Connie eat donuts while Amethyst shakes up one of three sodas, passing them around. Steven gets the shaken soda, which explodes onto his face. Amethyst then shakes hers up anyway.

The three (with Amethyst in cat form) run up and down the boardwalk chasing seagulls, as Peedee quietly reads the paper from the Fry Shop.

They ride the ferris wheel at Funland, and finally we see Steven carrying Amethyst in boombox form, followed by Connie and Lion adorned with glowsticks. Connie’s glow bracelets are a nice touch, given that she first met Steven when he gave her back her dropped glow bracelet, all the way back in Bubble Buddies.

Amethyst and Steven convince Connie to jump into the ocean without a bathing suit. Connie says this is the most fun she’s had in a day, and Steven says he’d like to hang out with Amethyst more often.

Of course, this wholesome fun can’t last, as the corrupted Biggs Jasper emerges from the sea.

The monster briefly menaces Sour Cream on the beach as Steven nervously bubbles himself and Connie. As the monster pounces for them, Amethyst snags it with her whip, and pulls it tightly until it poofs.

Steven and Connie are impressed by Amethyst’s fighting. Steven remembers that it’s the same monster they fought in the Great North, and that there were two of them.

Right on cue, the corrupted Ocean Jasper springs from the sea, with Jasper on top.

Jasper reveals what she’s been collecting corrupted Gems for: she is trying to build an army to fight “Rose’s” Crystal Gems. (It does undermine her somewhat that she only has the two.) Jasper asks where the rest of the army is. Steven says they’re not here while Amethyst tries to shush him.

Amethyst is eager to fight Jasper all by herself, so she sends Steven, Connie, and Lion to take care of the monster. Connie is determined to make the most of her second chance.

Amethyst yells at Jasper to get a life. “Fighting IS my life!” Jasper retorts.

Future Vision

This reminds me a bit of the exchange towards the end of Future, where Steven tells Jasper to find something better to do with her life. By this time, Jasper has come to respect Steven as a Diamond, and is truly hurt by his words.

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Jasper calls Amethyst a runt, referencing the fact that Amethyst came out of the kindergarten at a much smaller size than she was intended to be, as revealed by Peridot in Too Far.

Jasper tells Amethyst that fighting is what she was made for. “So? I got other stuff going on,” says Amethyst confidently.

This is definitely a bit of a bluff on her part, as Amethyst has struggled with her purpose on the team and in life for a long time.

Future Vision

Amethyst differs from Rose, Pearl, and Garnet in that she had no real context for what they were freeing themselves from in Homeworld. It can be difficult to define yourself if you don’t have any sort of grounding in what you could be or what is expected of you. Amethyst only begins to resolve this problem when she meets the Famethyst, a group of flawed Earth Amethysts who immediately accept her as one of their own.

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Despite her bravado, Amethyst doesn’t present the slightest bit of challenge to Jasper, who immediately pummels her into the sand. “You’re a Quartz soldier, just like me. But you’re not like me, are you?” says Jasper with derision.

Future Vision

Jasper obviously means this as insult: Amethyst was “made wrong” and wasn’t trained to fight like a Homeworld soldier would be. Amethyst takes this to heart, and tries to become more like Jasper so she’ll be a more effective fighter. Steven will then turn this around on her by pointing out that it’s a good thing that Amethyst isn’t like Jasper.

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“Are you that desperate for troops, Rose, that you keep a defect like this?” Jasper asks.

Future Vision

In Earthlings, Jasper has taken this idea and run with it, deciding that Rose and Steven’s modus operandi is taking Gems at their lowest point and making them her allies. It’s a criticism that works because there is a grain of truth to it.

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“Rose said I’m perfect the way I am!” says Amethyst.

This line is so loaded with meaning. On the surface, it’s very sweet that Rose would say that. Dig a little deeper, though, and you see how it could become an issue.

In flashbacks, we see that before Steven, Amethyst both looked and acted like a child, and it’s implied that she had little responsibility. She was apparently like this for thousands of years. This stagnated growth becomes a real problem when Rose gives up her form for Steven and suddenly Amethyst must be a big sister.

Accepting yourself, flaws and all, is a good thing. But Amethyst, like all of us, also has a lot of room for improvement, and believing that you’re good the way you are doesn’t mean that you can’t still strive to be better. We’ve already seen Amethyst making significant strides in terms of maturity, and this very story arc will see her overcoming some of her inner demons.

“Then she had low standards!” Jasper retorts, which infuriates Amethyst.

The harsh truth, which Amethyst must be aware of, is that Rose really didn’t have any standards by the time of Amethyst’s emergence. The only non-corrupted Gems on Earth were Rose, Pearl, and Garnet. They certainly couldn’t afford to be picky about their friends.

But this is where Jasper has it wrong – it’s not about Rose having standards, it’s about Rose’s (and more significantly, Steven’s) ability to see the value in a person deemed worthless by society. Rose may not have been choosy, but it’s still the case that Amethyst is both an incredibly important part of the Crystal Gems and a funny, fiercely loyal, capable friend and companion.

Jasper kicks Amethyst hard, poofing her. She grabs Amethyst’s gemstone and it looks as though she aims to shatter it.

Steven and Connie grab hands and rush in, fusing into Stevonnie just as they confront Jasper. They kick the gemstone out of Jasper’s hand.

Jasper is shocked that the Crystal Gems will even fuse with humans, probably not realizing why Steven can do such a thing. The fact that she’s being bested by a fusion yet again is not going to do anything to help her growing mania for fusion.

Stevonnie, for their part, demands that Jasper apologize, and I love that their reaction to Jasper nearly murdering Amethyst is to ask for an apology.

All of our hopes and dreams are filled as Stevonnie fights with both sword and shield for the first time. She even rides Lion into battle, like a knight.

Jasper loves the idea of clashing head on, and rushes towards them, riding the monster.

Stevonnie leaps from Lion, throws their shield into Jasper’s chest, and then comes down on Jasper with enough force to poof the monster. It’s possible that Steven is using his new gravity manipulation powers to do this.

Meanwhile, Amethyst regenerates. She cycles through a few odd forms, likely her unsustainable ones from Reformed, but it’s also implied that she might be considering making herself larger. The fact that she doesn’t actually do this indicates that she’s learned her lesson from Reformed, particularly since, for all she knows, she’s needed in fighting form immediately, as Steven and Connie are in imminent danger.

She’s absolutely shocked to see that Stevonnie has the situation handled.

Jasper is pissed to be beaten by yet another fusion. She grabs the Ocean Jasper’s gemstone and sinks into the ocean, threatening that she’ll beat Rose next time.

Future Vision

That “next time” will be in Earthlings. Not only will she not beat “Rose,” but she’ll end up being poofed by Peridot, something that she would find utterly humiliating if she were capable of rational thought at the time.

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“I guess she lives in the ocean now,” says Stevonnie, putting a great lampshade on the situation.

Stevonnie unfuses when they see Amethyst. Steven and Connie are absolutely thrilled at what they were able to accomplish, especially given Connie’s feelings of failure at not being able to confront the monster in her last mission.

Amethyst, however, is looking incredibly uncomfortable.

As Steven and Connie run off happily, Amethyst hangs back. “You didn’t need me at all.”

You really have to feel for Amethyst here. When Steven was first born, she didn’t want any responsibilities at all, and seemed to resent having her position as the youngest Crystal Gem taken away. Now, she’s become much more responsible and is willing to immediately leap into battle to defend Steven and Connie, only to find that they didn’t actually need her. Her brand new role, one she’s not even used to, has already disappeared, leaving her purpose unclear once more.

Future Vision

I think Amethyst has one of the best character arcs of any of the Gems. Discovering that she actually has a knack for listening and helping others with their problems, and that her role in life can actually be teaching and counseling, is a great progression for a character who always had a big heart but had trouble deciding what she wanted to do with her life.

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This is a really fun episode, and I very much enjoy this arc. Amethyst episodes are nearly always very strong and bring on the feelings. The main drawback to this episode, like Gem Hunt last week, is that it is more setup than resolution.

Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind! Steven vs. Amethyst. Unlike some of the series’ other bait-and-switch titles, this one at least kind of delivers!