With the last episode of Steven Bomb 5 (aka Out of This World) now in the books, I believe its time to offer a discussion on what was revealed and what greater questions the 5 episodes have left on the table. Before we go into this, let me just remind you....
DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE NEW STEVEN UNIVERSE EPISODES OR WANT TO BE SPOILED!
Here is what we've learned from the new episodes.
Meeting Blue Diamond: At the start of Steven's Dream, Steven dreams of a damaged pink Palanquin in a field that leaves him in tears. It's only until Buddy's book comes back into play, thanks to Connie, that we learn this is a place yet to be explored on this show. Unfortunately, neither Pearl or Garnet will allow him to learn the truth. Frustrated with the Gems being unwilling to divulge any answers to Steven's questions, he defies the wishes of his alien rock aunts (major first for Steven) and decides to search for answers himself. With the aid of Greg and his uncle Andy (brief appearance), they travel to Korea to enjoy the sights and track down the Palanquin.
Upon discovering a restricted site, Steven and Greg find more than one Palanquin. Turns out, Steven's dreams are actually visions from entering the mind of Blue Diamond (voiced by singer Lisa Hannigan).
She, along with her Blue Pearl (voiced by Deedee Magno-Hall), have come to Earth to mourn the loss of Pink Diamond one last time before the Cluster emerges (yeah, someone might wanna tell her there's gonna be a slight delay). Unfortunately, Steven and Greg are almost noticed by Blue Pearl. When Greg Universe comes forth to offer his condolences to the grieving Blue Diamond (and save Steven from being discovered himself), she takes him away to spare him the fate of the Cluster. This leads to Steven and the Crystal Gems to take the Ruby's ship and head off to the Zoo, a special outpost made by Pink Diamond to spare a small number of humans from Earth's destruction.
What is amazing about our first official meeting with Blue Diamond is her portrayal as a sympathetic villain. This is a far cry from the cold and cruel Blue Diamond we saw in The Answer. For the first time, we see a diamond that is emotionally vulnerable. Her heart still aches from the loss of her sister and she finds some comfort in meeting Greg, a human being who has dealt with the death of a loved one. The decisions she makes in this Steven Bomb are not out of malice, but more of an misguided attempt to do some good while preserving the memory of Pink Diamond. Aside from kidnapping Greg, Blue Diamond has also kept a number of Pink Diamond's belongings going for some time. Case in point...
The Zoo itself has multiple functions in terms of purpose. As I stated earlier, it houses a small collection of humans who were abducted from Earth over 5,000 years ago to be spared from the impending fate of the Cluster. Their decedents have little to no memory of Earth and those that came before them. They live in this Eden-like paradise far from harm and worries. Unfortunately, this utopia is build on a foundation of lies and invisible chains of oppression. They're told constantly how to live their lives, who they should mate with, and how to feel every waking day of their lives. The prisoners of The Zoo are kept on a tight schedule and any deviation from that only confuses them. If you ever felt bad for any animals kept in captivity, you will feel very uneasy about this place.
The Zoo also houses two more important discoveries. One of them being....
New Gems! WOOOO!!!: Aside from the first official introduction to Blue Diamond, we also get to meet a number of gems that are stationed at The Zoo. Starting with...
Holly Blue Agate
Voiced by Christine Pedi, Holly Blue Agate acts as the taskmaster of The Zoo, running the day to day operations of the outpost with an iron grip. She has an utter disdain for those under her command; talking down to the humans like they're common dogs and especially for the gems on board who were made on Earth (I'm thinking of a word that starts with a "B" and rhymes with "witch"). So who are the underlings?
Prime Kindergarten Amethysts, Beta Kindergarten Jaspers, and Carnelian aka "I'm not the shortest anymore!!"
OH MY GOD, AMETHYST HAS BIG SISTERS AND THEY'RE ALL ADORABLE!!! Much like the Pearl's being voiced by Deedee Magno-Hall (and the Rubies by Charlyne Yi), the Amethysts are voiced by Michaela Dietz and the Jaspers & Carnelian are voiced by Kimberly Brooks. At first, I felt worried that these would be another version of Jasper: cold, cruel, and unloving. Turns out, the "rejects" from the Prime and Beta Kindergarten are much like their Crystal Gem sister. ^_^ I do hope we see them again in the near future. They would be an awesome addition to the Gems.
OK, enough gushing. We need to cover a BIIIIIG reveal in The Zoo! And that is...
There is more than one Rose Quartz:
Inside a special chamber of The Zoo is dozens, if not hundreds, of bubbled gems that are kept away for a number of reasons. One big reason is that every bubbled gem in that room is a Rose Quartz! Blue Diamond wants to keep them as a reminder of Pink Diamond. Yellow Diamond wants them destroyed as retaliation for what our Rose Quartz did back on Earth. Their fate hangs in the balance between two sisters; one heartbroken and the other vengeful. Which brings us to our musical number for this Steven Bomb...
Diamonds (and Homeworld Pearls) can sing, too:
I think I'll let the song "What's The Use of Feeling, Blue" speak for itself
It definitely sheds new light on the two Diamonds we've seen thus far. Yellow Diamond wants to force Blue Diamond to forget her pain (along with other forms of emotion) and destroy all that Pink Diamond once owned to move forward. Blue Diamond, while wanting to let go of the past, struggles to do so. If you thought Pearl had a tough time letting go of Rose, imagine how Blue Diamond must feel when she had to carry that sorrow for over 5 millennia. Yet, despite her efforts to be cold and cruel, you notice a break in Yellow Diamond's tone at the end of the song. Is she really that heartless as we assumed her to be? Also, listen to the lyrics and we learn a bit of Lapis and her role in the hierarchy of Homeworld.
Thankfully, Steven and Greg manage to slip by the Diamonds without being noticed and almost make a quick getaway. But not before Holly Blue discovers the truth.
A rather cathartic end to this Steven Bomb and promise that not everyone is willing to bow to the whim of the Diamonds or their underlings.
While we got a number of answers, the Steven Bomb left us with even more questions to ponder.
1) Can the Diamonds be swayed from their evil ways? For beings that are declared flawless by themselves and their own people, we definitely saw some cracks in their souls. Both Yellow and Blue Diamond still mourn over the loss of Pink Diamond, each of them in their own way. Steven was able to feel the pain of Blue Diamond via being linked to her dream and still held that connection during That Will Be All. Is there a chance that Steven can do the one thing Rose Quartz could not - find a peaceful end to the war? Can a Diamond be turned or are they truly far from redemption?
2) Where is White Diamond? So far, only 3/4's of the Diamond Authority has been revealed. We know of Pink Diamond's fate and we've met Blue and Yellow. But what of White Diamond? Judging from fan theories and from the mural, we can assume that White Diamond is THE leader of Homeworld and all the worlds they've conquered. When will she make her appearance and, more importantly, what will happen when she does?
3) Do the Crystal Gems have new allies? From what we learned from meeting the Earth-made gems being held at The Zoo, not everything is rosy within the Diamond Authority. The Prime and Beta Kindergarten gems are treated like lower class citizens. A blight on their species just for because they were born differently (sound familiar?). Lets not forget the bubbled Rose Quartz gems being held captive. Will these new Gems join the Crystal Gem's ranks to fight against Homeworld? Also, how will other Rose Quartz act? Will they be just like Steven's mom or be completely different?
4) Their secret is safe... but for how long? At the end of That Will Be All, Steven and the Gems rescue Greg from The Zoo without being exposed to the Diamonds. While Holly Blue knows of them, she can't tell anyone that she let Earthlings escape or she'll be shattered for her incompetence. Plus, not making better friends with the Earth-made gems on the station definitely put her in a bind (this is why negative conditioning doesn't work, people). But that doesn't mean Steven and the gang are safe in any way. It's only a matter of time before someone, be it Holly Blue or the Rubies (still floating in space in Adventures in Light Distortion. Really need to pick those gems up on the way back), reveals the truth or the Diamonds realize that the Cluster has yet to emerge. While the Crystal Gems dodged a bullet for now, they can't keep this up forever. Eventually, their luck can and will run out and Homeworld will come a'knockin'.
5) What about Connie, Peridot, and Lapis? Steven and the Gems had to leave Earth in a big hurry. Connie, Peridot, and Lapis were left behind to guard Earth in their absence. I hope they're doing OK.
Good thing new episodes are coming next week on a new date! Starting February 10th, new weekly Steven Universe episodes will debut every Friday. Below is a list of the upcoming episodes and a still of the first episode.
Friday, Feb. 10: “The New Crystal Gems” at 7 p.m. (ET/PT)
– Connie helps look after Beach City while Steven is busy.
Friday, Feb. 17: “Storm in the Room” at 6:45 p.m. (ET/PT)
– Steven goes into his room in the temple to look for answers.
Friday, Feb. 24: “Rocknaldo” at 7 p.m. (ET/PT)
– Ronaldo sets out to find all the rock people living in Beach City!
Will we see Connie, Peridot, and Lapis in action while Steven and the Gems are away? Will Peri and Lapis officially become Crystal Gems with new uniforms and a spot in the intro (pleaseohpleaseohplease!)? Will Steven discover more answers from the past on his own? And what theory will Ronaldo come up with that will turn out to be true?
Yeah, Beach City's residential nut case/otaku has been on the ball with his theories (going back to Keep Beach City Weird and Rising Tides, Crashing Skies). Creepy, I know. So what prediction will he call next?
See you folks next Friday!