‘Steven Universe: Diamond Days’ – “Familiar” Review

After yet another grueling hiatus with very little news from the Crewniverse, Cartoon Network’s hit show Steven Universe finally returns with its first new episode in five months! Although Legs From Here to Homeworld from last week marked the beginning of the recently announced Diamond Days arc, it was first shown during Comic-Con and was available digitally since then. 

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White Diamond

Familiar picks up where Legs From Here to Homeworld left off. The story follows immediately after the chilling reveal of White Diamond, the most revered and feared ruler of the Gem Empire. After a very one-sided conversation with White, Steven was sent to Pink Diamond’s old room in the palace. Now that the long-lost Pink was reunited with the rest of the Diamond Authority, the Diamonds start to return to their old routines—their duties as rulers, and the way they see Pink, which poses a problem to Steven.

Although Steven had received a warmer welcome from Blue and Yellow than White, they still treat Steven as a child—not because Steven is a teenager, but because they see him as Pink. Not only do the diamonds easily dismiss Steven’s proposals like they used to ignore Pink, they still treat Steven’s identity as a game Pink is playing—Blue only called him by his preferred name to indulge “Pink”. It’s both figuratively and literally dehumanizing. Although Steven has been misnamed by his opponents before, they are just that: opponents with no ears for reason. The fact that the Diamonds are family who had already heard Steven explain makes the situation extra frustrating. Steven Universe frequently promotes the concept of consent, positive body image, and LGBT rights. It’s hard not to read the Diamonds’ patronization as a different form of familial resistance for transgender people.

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Pink Diamond’s room

While the identity of Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond is revealed to the world, and Pearl is eager to fill in the blanks after her vow of silence was broken, Pink still remains an enigma to Steven. However, he was able to reflect on himself based on his observation of him (Pink) and the Diamonds. Steven Universe is a show about self-discovery and growth, and it is able to once again showcase Steven’s growth with just a musical number. The titular song was performed beautifully by Zach Callison, the voice of Steven. The tune is easy to like, but it can’t compete with other fan favorites.

This is the first time Steven (and we) can observe Homeworld from the perspective of a guest instead of a fugitive. The episode continues to reveal more about the Gem society and the power of the Diamonds. Some sights are peculiar, and some are unsettling—the show never stops to remind us that the gem society is built on exploitation. Steven Universe has a history of welcoming opponents to the ranks of the Crystal Gems, and it will be interesting to see how the show will organically reconcile the goal of the Crystal Gems with Steven’s unrepentant genocidal dictator-aunts/sisters. 

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