This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episode 13
For an episode that is set up to be a huge reveal, “Gem Heist” is more a breather episode that gets everyone in place. Oh sure, a new Gem shows up which is pretty great and anytime Ruby and Sapphire appear it’s a good time, but this one seemed weak in comparison to the last two. A lot of things are reconfirmed that we already knew without much new context added. Without these new touches, like seeing how Blue Diamond’s Pearl was strikingly different from Yellow Diamond’s Pearl, some of the episode feels like it’s treading water.
The main reason for that is after Steven went through his big emotional uphill battle in the last episode, he’s pushed to the sidelines here. Sure, he has to keep in his worries about his Dad on the back burner, but by not being able to talk for much of the episode, we lose what makes Steven Universe such a great series: Steven’s outlook. Even in episodes that aren’t about Steven, he’s still a major character. It wasn’t quite evident until this adventure just how important Steven’s viewpoint is and how without it, the episode feels kind of empty.
Still though, we do get some great touches. The new Gem, Holly Blue Agate, is the first new Gem the series has had in a long time, which will please fans that love the world building in Gem culture. She doesn’t give much for fans to go on at the moment, but it also took both Peridot and Lapis a few episodes to come into their own so I’ll hold off final judgment until we see more.
The Amethyst guards are something we’d heard about in the past, but the only one we’d seen was the uncommon Jasper. Here we see what our Amethyst would have looked like had she emerged from the Kindergarten under normal circumstances. It’s a little detail that we sadly don’t get to dwell more on with so much needing to happen.
Pearl’s reaction to being treated as just any old Pearl was perfect. She’s done so much work to get away from that servitude mindset that even pretending to be her old self is infuriating.
Ruby, as always, can barely contain herself. I’ve always had a soft spot for Charlyne Yi’s portrayal of the various Ruby’s in the series and she doesn’t disappoint here. Ruby having to act subservient and then attempting to bust open the door display Yi’s flawless comedic chops. If you haven’t checked her out in We Bare Bears as Chloe, rectify that immediately.
The best part of the episode is learning the Gems see Blue Diamond as merciful. Ruby especially can’t accept that, especially with how she treated Sapphire back in “The Answer”. There are two possible explanations for this belief by Holly.
One, Blue Diamond has changed in the five thousand year gap between her last contact with Ruby and Sapphire. The loss of Pink Diamond could have changed her outlook on Gems and humans.
Two, and this is the stronger theory, even with how Blue Diamond treated Ruby and Sapphire she’s still seen as merciful in comparison to the other diamonds. Imagine that, SHE’S the nice one. How will they be able to convince Blue Diamond to stop what she’s doing if she’s viewed as the merciful one?
There’s some great territory to explore about those who commit horrible atrocities but also save a few people along the way. Did Blue Diamond keep the Zoo alive in order to soothe a guilty conscious? It’s an issue I hope the show rolls with because it could be a great opportunity for a signature Steven speech.
What “Gem Heist” really needed was a Gem heist. I mean come on, with that name I expected a bit more of a rip-roaring adventure instead of this quiet exploration of a small chunk of the Zoo. We needed more moments like Steven referring to Pearl as the hacker.
Is the episode bad? Not at all and I totally get the need to take a moment between these big reveals. I just hope we do eventually get a big heist cause right now this episode was a bit of a letdown. It’s Steven Universe, so it’s still damn good TV, just not as good as some of the stronger entries in the series history.
“I’ll just find my dad without pants” does help redeem the episode a bit though. Classic Steven.
Shamus Kelley is strong in the real way. Follow him on Twitter!