Author’s note: There are mild spoilers of Familiar and Together Alone in this review
Understanding is a major theme of Steven Universe, and sometimes it entails opening up to your nemesis and vice versa. It is not unusual to see former enemies join the ranks of the Crystal Gem—the rebel group founded by Pink Diamond to wage a war on herself. Some fans even jokingly refer to Peridot as Steven Universe’s Vegeta—the prideful one-time opponent of Goku in the animated series Dragon Ball Z. But how do you impress the unimpressionable? How do you redeem the irredeemable?
In the previous episode, Familiar, Steven had decided to throw a ball for the Diamonds—the first in six millennia—as an opportunity to gather all four Diamonds under the same roof, and convince the other three to aid him in his quest to heal the corrupted gems on Earth—gems who were exposed to Homeworld’s final retaliatory attack after Pink Diamond/Rose Quartz’s rebellion successfully ended the occupation and colonization of the Gem Empire.
The process to restore the corrupted gems requires the combined power of all four Diamonds. Though Blue and Yellow are nonchalant about the state that most earthbound gems are in—no doubt already wrote off as asset losses in the minds of the Diamonds—they have agreed to help Steven to make the case for Earth in front of White. Everything hinges on White Diamond’s decision, but unfortunately for Steven, she sent her Pearl to attend the ball in her stead. Things quickly go south at the ball, and the show shines in moments like these; they paint rich characters and establish dynamics within the span of just a few minutes.
Steven Universe always has a healthy discussion on the lore of its unique world and secret theories surrounding certain characters, thus this new arc is a treasure trove for all the SU lore-keepers on the internet. It is always fun to see the undercurrent of the show unfold as new gems are revealed, and emerging theories are confirmed, but mysteries are raised at the same time. With each episode we inch closer to the inner workings of the Gem Empire; the legendary figures that appeared on the murals back in season 1 have now made their entrance, but we are no closer to who the Diamonds really are outside for their roles and duties. There is no doubt that Blue and Yellow help perpetuate a society of hierarchy and exploitation, but judging from how they fear White Diamond’s Pearl (gem-equivalent of a butler-secretary), you have to question just how many of the Empire’s rigid and draconian social policies came from Blue and Yellow, and how many of them came from White herself.
The title of this episode is Together Alone, which is the inverse of a season 1 episode, Alone Together, where Steven first fused with his friend Connie, and contemplated the meaning of their existence. Though this time the fusion has only occurred in the last minute, it signals the soul-searching which “Stevonnie” is about to do after the explosive cliffhanger of Together Alone. How do you impress the unimpressionable? How much “reaching across the aisle” one can do before losing one’s values? Though the questions have not been asked aloud (yet), they are slowly taking shape ever since the uneasy truce between the Gem Empire and the Crystal Gems.
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