Steven Universe Season 5 Episodes 17/18 Review: Can’t Go Back/A Single Pale Rose

Nothing will be the same anymore in Steven Universe. Nothing.

This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.

Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 17/18

Can’t go back is right, jeez. I’ve spoken before about Steven Universe slowly dolling out answers but there was always a sense that it wasn’t enough. That all we were getting were breadcrumbs.

There’s nothing wrong with that but now we’ve just been gorged on a full meal in half an hour. There’s a lot to process and more answers are coming. Before we get into the meat of this let’s look at the appetizer of this two parter, the Lapis plot. 

It’s been awhile since any of the Gems had a song so Lapis’ was a treat, especially since it hit on some powerful stuff. It also dovetailed in the main plot seamlessly. Lapis is afraid of confronting her demons. The deep fears that reside within her. She’s constantly battling them everyday and they continue to take their toll. Running away isn’t healthy but it’s all she can do. 

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Compare this to Pearl. Pearl, who always tries to stay positive and help others. Pearl, who had a whole musical episode and seemingly “got over” her lost love. Pearl, who probably tells herself everyday she’s “fine.” Lapis might be the one who seems like she he has the most to struggle with, but at least she’s dealing with it on the surface. Pearl has it buried so deep inside she doesn’t even know it’s a problem. 

It’s a compelling way of finally revealing the long spun mystery of who killed Pink Diamond. It’s not done in an info dump or traditional flashback, it’s a memory told in pieces. A memory that could be faulty or altered but let’s assume it’s 100% correct until given evidence to the contrary.

It’s another ingenious way of getting around the series’ strict need to see nearly everything from Steven’s point of view. We get to go along with him as he reacts to what would be just a flashback in any other show. In that way Steven and the audience share reactions, which just makes feel even closer to the title character and his bewilderment at the revelation.

It casts a whole new light on Rose and Pearl’s relationship.  How did it start? If Pearl essentially “served” Pink Diamond/Rose was their relationship consensual? If Pink/Rose ordered Pearl to keep silent does that make Rose the bad person Steven feared she would be?

It’ll be easy for fans to call Rose a horrific monster after this but let’s wait for the eventual exploration of this revelation. We don’t the circumstances of the whole thing and there are many layers. Plus, if we learned anything from Steven’s quest to come to terms with his mother’s actions, no one’s perfect.

So keep your pitchforks down, people. Steven Universe isn’t done yet and I highly doubt they’d condone a non-consensual relationship, especially after what happened with Lapis. 

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Summer can’t come soon enough. This series just opened a ton of avenues to go in. If you thought you were full on Steven Universe reveals today, wait till you get the next course.  The best course. 

THE EMOTIONAL FALLOUT COURSE. Mmm, sweet exploration of feelings.

Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Steven deserves zero judgement for sleeping with a teddy bear. Follow him on Twitter!   


5 out of 5