‘Steven Universe’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 4, Episode 14: ‘That Will Be All’
Welcome to Together Breakfast, the feature where Elle Collins and Katie Schenkel come together to dig in and relish every last drop of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. We’ve got a whole week’s worth of new episodes happening, and as usual we’re doing our best to stay on top of it. Hopefully you can keep up with us as we keep up with the show.
In this episode, Yellow Diamond is losing her patience with Blue Diamond, and the Crystal Gems and Universes desperately need to get off the space station. That Will Be All was written by Colin Howard, Joe Johnston, and Rebecca Sugar, and directed by Joe Johnston, Ricky Cometa, and Elle Michalka.
Elle: You’ve been talking about how this week’s episodes are giving us so much new information about the Homeworld Gems and their culture. Tonight takes that to a whole new level; mainly by putting us in the room with two Diamonds having some family drama.
But first, we find out something that makes me really happy, which is that all the Amethysts are a lot more like our Amethyst than we previously suspected.
Katie: Can I just say that after Amethyst dealing with confidence-shattering self-loathing in relationship to Jasper, it was amazing for her to find kinship and acceptance among the Amethysts and Jaspers on the zoo base? She’s not even the only short quartz around, and they don’t judge her for it (even if Carnelian is celebrating not being the shortest of the bunch anymore). And it’s very fitting that this is all revealed to the audience with Amethyst and her sisters all pulling a prank on Greg and Steven.
Elle: Totally. It makes perfect sense that these Gems wouldn’t be all that loyal to Holly Blue Agate when you think about it. Not just because most of them share DNA (or whatever the Gem equivalent is) with Amethyst, but because they’re from Earth, which means they’re treated like second class citizens. Actually, probably more like seventeenth class, considering how many classes the Gems seem to have. Not to mention, Agate’s such a jerk that it’s hard to believe she’d inspire loyalty in anyone.
Katie: And we’re reminded how much of a jerk Agate is when she storms into their room to kick and throw them around because, as was mentioned a couple episodes ago, Blue Diamond is coming back onto the base.
But Agate is so focused on being a big stinking jerk that she doesn’t notice Steven and Greg sneak out with the others and run into a large room filled with bubbled pink gems.
Elle: And thank god none of those bubbles get popped --- I feel like that would be pretty darn traumatic for Steven and Greg, all things considered.
But they have to hide behind the large columns that line the room pretty quickly, because Blue Diamond and her Pearl arrive. And then comes a more surprising and even scarier arrival: Yellow Diamond and her own Pearl.
Katie: Patti LuPone was such a good get for this show. Besides the fact that her Yellow Diamond is such a presence on her own, the interaction between Yellow and Blue (played by Lisa Hannigan) humanizes both of them.
I mean, for this one scene you’re basically watching a woman try to snap her sister out of grief while still not being quite through mourning herself. Considering these are the literal big bads of the show, it’s really something how well the episode has us empathize with them, if only briefly and in this specific context.
Elle: I love the song that Yellow diamond sings a lot. First, it has this weird off-kilter rhythm to it. It reminds me of the song “Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves,” from the movie Querelle, which I realize is a deep cut. It’s also built around this great pun, where Yellow asks, “What’s the use in feeling, Blue?” but it sounds like “What’s the use in feeling blue?” And on top of all that, the harmony in the song comes from Deedee Magno Hall singing as two different Pearls, with two different voices.
Katie: The song is so great. And along with just how great it sounds, I noticed a real intriguing detail in one of the lyrics. As Yellow Diamond is talking about what each gem is for (as reasoning for why Blue should snap out of it and be a leader again), she sings that “a Lapis terraforms.” We’ve been wondering what Lapis was doing on Earth where her gem got cracked, and that’s certainly a clue. And since she uses water-based powers, I’m wondering if she’s the reason there’s a big old sea where Russia would be.
Elle: I hadn’t even thought of that, but it makes so much sense. That’s why Lapis is so powerful --- she’s meant to reshape whole worlds. Which she just about did when she emptied out the ocean back when we first met her.
You really get a sense in this scene of how differently Diamonds (and to some degree, probably Gems in general) perceive time. Being ageless eternal beings, their perspective on Pink Diamond’s death is of something that happened pretty recently, even though it was thousands of years ago. And because Pink Diamond was ageless and eternal too, her death must seem all the more tragic to those who cared about her.
Katie: And it’s also interesting how they see gem types each as one whole. Yellow Diamond in particular finds no reason to keep Rose Quartzes around because a Rose Quartz did the unforgivable and therefore all of them are complicit in crime. Even Blue Diamond, who wants to keep them bubbled, wants to show mercy because they were Pink’s creations, not because the rest of the Rose Quartzes had nothing to do with Steven’s mom’s rebellion.
The “she made them” line also suggests that all the non-diamond gems could have been created by the Diamonds originally, which makes our jokes a few months ago about Yellow being Peridot’s boss/goddess/mom a whole lot more accurate.
Elle: If that’s true it makes me wonder where the Diamonds came from. And are there only two of them left, or are there more out there that we just don’t know anything about yet?
But you know, back in late Season 2, when we saw Blue Diamond in flashback and then Yellow Diamond on that transmission with Peridot, I never would have guessed that by Season 4 (and just over a year later, thinks to the vast amount of Steven Universe we got in 2016) we’d actually be in a room with these two characters listening to them have a conversation and even a musical number. So who knows what revelations are to come, and where all of this will lead?
Katie: Well I do know one thing about the Diamonds thanks to their symbol we’ve seen pop up here and there --- there is definitely a fourth, White Diamond. Whether or not she’s still around we can’t be sure, but I’m guessing since she’s part of that symbol her existence will definitely be addressed in some way down the line.
Although since Pink Diamond’s death has clearly hit Yellow and Blue hard in a way that seems unnatural to them, my guess is White hasn’t died either, and we’ll see her at some point. Which is exciting and kind of nerve wracking because these antagonists are pretty intense.
Elle: Also a couple of episodes ago, Agate was respectfully addressing Sapphire as “Your clarity,” which implies a link between the clarity of gems and the social rank of the Gems they represent. Which makes it seem likely that White Diamond would have the highest status of all. If there’s one singular leader of all the Homeworld Gems, it’s probably her.
But circling back to this episode, the Diamonds are interrupted by Agate, Sapphire and Ruby. I was afraid that Blue Diamond would somehow recognize Sapphire and Ruby, but I guess that’s pretty unlikely since as you pointed out the Diamonds barely seem to distinguish between Gems within a type. And how adorable was that moment when Ruby holds Sapphire’s hand to help her find the strength to lie?
Katie: There’s a moment in here where Blue says, “I never asked any Sapphire to go to Earth,” and it’s the first time we get to see her when she’s not lost in her sadness. Even though she’s clearly still semi-preoccupied, it’s really the one time in the episode you look at her face and go “Oh, right there is the being Garnet’s terrified of.”
I’m hoping we get to see flashback of her in her prime, but even this hint was fascinating to see on her face.
Elle: I completely agree. I had real doubts that our heroes were going to make it off the space station by the end of this week, but it turns out that the presence of two Diamonds was all it took to get them running back to their ship as quickly as possible. Those folks in the zoo really will be okay (at least for now). But right as they get back to the Ruby ship, Holly Blue Agate finally catches sight of Greg and Steven. Which mostly serves to gives Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl each a chance to be super-awesome, with the other Amethysts cheering them on.
Katie: It was immensely satisfying to see our heroes finally give Holly Blue Agate the bruisin’ she’s been cruisin’ for. The fact that Pearl gets to use Agate’s own personal ambition/fear of disappointing Blue Diamond against her and mock her as they leave makes it all the sweeter. The fact that the other Amethysts are clearly on team Crystal Gem (in spirit if not officially) also brought a smile to my face.
It reminds me of the episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender where Aang ends up undercover in a Fire Nation school and makes friends with the kids living within the dictatorship. And I’m hoping their new allies come back into play soon.
Elle: Thanks for joining me for this Steven Bomb. It’s always a pleasure talking about this show with you. It looks like we’ve got some weekly episodes coming up, so we’ll get to keep chatting, but at a more reasonable pace.