This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 27
Can Steven work within the Diamond’s system to change Gem culture? At first it seemed like it was possible. He was able to stop Blue and Yellow from destroying Earth, so there was a chance. He could just talk to them! If they thought he was Pink Diamond, he could get them to listen! Thankfully, it’s not that simple and Steven Universe is all the better for it.
For a while now I’ve been worried about the series’ treatment of the Diamond characters. It seemed as if they were being softened, horrific fascists made to seem cute. While I appreciate the series’ commitment to love being the answer, how do you love people who have conquered whole worlds and kept love out of so many people’s hands?
With this episode it seems like Steven is about to face the crushing realization that he can’t find love in everyone. That, perhaps, the Diamonds aren’t worthy of forgiveness like his mother. Steven clearly held out hope the Diamonds could be reasoned with. That they’d see the light like Rose did.
This led him to start making compromises. He’d throw a ball for the Diamonds… but Garnet had to unfuse to attened. It seemed like the sensible move, right? Just adapt yourself a bit to work within the system to change it. If you give an inch the people on the opposite will to… right?
Wrong. Blue Diamond mocked Garnet. Ameythst had to wear limb enhancers. White Diamond didn’t even bother to show up (and her Pearl has a smashed eye, probably some form of abuse). The whole ball was a sham, another display of Gem culture working like a well-oiled machine. Near literal cogs spinning against one another. No variation allowed.
When Stevonnie shows up, that’s when it all comes tumbling down. The Diamonds, no matter how much Blue Diamond cries, are still horrific fascists who want to maintain the order they’ve always known. The hierarchy. Yellow blasts all the fusions apart. She throws Stevonnie in jail. These aren’t people that can be reasoned with. Steven tried and failed.
This is a powerful moment in the series, the episode where it all turns. Where Steven’s old tactics won’t work. It reminds me of his conflict with Jasper, but at a whole other level. At least Jasper was just a solider. Maybe she could have been redeemed. All of her actions can’t be excused but at least she wasn’t leading armies to conquer the universe. Jasper was a reflection of the system the Diamonds put forth.
Now Steven realizes he can’t work within that system. He can’t win at the Diamonds game. He can’t bring them to redemption. Figuring out what he’ll do next will set the stage for perhaps the true final act of Steven Universe’s story.
Before we end this review, I need to give some praise to Deedee Magno Hall. She absolutely crushed it as the various Pearls in this episode, especially when Blue Pearl reveals her love of art. She brings such life to those characters and how can you not love the absolutely snooty Yellow Pearl?