‘Steven Universe’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 4, Episode 15: ‘The New Crystal Gems’
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. With the show back on a weekly schedule, at least for now, we’re keeping up with it once a week.
In this episode, Steven, Greg, and the Crystal Gems return to Earth, and learn about the adventures that Connie, Lapis Lazuli, and Peridot got up to while protecting Beach City. The New Crystal Gems was written by Raven M. Molisee and Paul Villeco, and directed by Kat Morris and Ricky Cometa.
Katie: I said at the start of the Steven Bomb the other week that we’d end up getting an episode focused on what happened to Lapis, Peridot, and Connie during Steven’s trip to space, and I was right!
Elle: You totally were, and it’s a lot of fun. I like how the flashback starts with Connie’s side of the phone call we already saw Steven make before the space mission. And that leads her to Steven’s house, where she walks in on Lapis and Peridot in the bathroom, which is actually pretty awkward.
Katie: Peridot showing Lapis how the toilet “works” is such a great visual. Possibly the more awkward moment is when Lapis has no recollection of Connie from past episodes. “You almost drowned me when you tried to steal the world’s water?” “I almost drowned a lot of people.”
Elle: Since she doesn’t usually spend time around anyone besides Steven and the Gems, it’s easy to forget how Lapis doesn’t care the slightest bit about almost anyone. It’s one of my favorite things about her character, actually, but it’s a little bit jarring to see that profound apathy directed at someone we like as much as Connie.
Lapis’s close relationship with cynicism is also why it makes almost too much sense for her to take on the role of “Amethyst” in the New Crystal Gems.
Katie: Speaking of Lapis taking on Amethyst’s role, the three of them (four with pumpkin) decide if they’re going to be the Crystal Gems while Steven and the others are away, clearly the best way to do that is to pretend to be them. It’s very much a “what could possibly go wrong” situation.
Besides Connie’s borrowing Steven’s t-shirt and jeans, the others’ costume choices were really fun here, from Peridot’s sunglasses to Lapis moving her hair in front of one eye, to putting a party hat on Pumpkin for Pearl’s nose. Pearl does get a good amount of teasing this episode thanks to Peridot’s lines.
Elle: Peridot’s quick dismissal of Pearl makes sense from her perspective, but it’s also funny because Pearl is so obviously the Original Crystal Gem that Peridot has the most in common with. Watching her pretend to be Garnet is really funny, though. I also like the way that every attempt Lapis makes to say what Amethyst would say comes out much darker. Lapis lacks the warmth and enthusiasm that take the bite out of Amethyst’s sarcasm.
Katie: The New Crystal Gems help out at the car wash while Greg is still up in space, which lets us see Peridot using her powers again. This is the first time we’ve seen Peridot lift something as heavy as automobiles, and I have to admit that her weird grunting noises really make those scenes. And it totally ties into her wanting to LARP as Garnet, since Garnet is all about big and powerful.
Elle: Buck Dewey is the most teenage of teenagers on this show, and having to take his dad’s campaign truck to the carwash after someone (possibly Buck) defaced it is the most Buck Dewey of situations. But watching Peridot and Lapis wash a truck does turn out to be pretty impressive. Much more impressive than the original Garnet and Amethyst washing a truck would be, in fact.
Katie: Things go awry when, on the second day at the car wash, Peridot nudges Lapis to make her performance look cooler and more Amethyst-y by telling jokes, and then Lapis interprets that to mean spray everyone within distance in the face with water.
On top of that, Peridot goes overboard when she ends up raising Yellowtail’s car with Yellowtail in it. This all leads to Lapis deciding she should play “the Garnet,” giving us the best voice impression of the bunch.
Elle: Lapis does an amazing Garnet impression, but this whole scene really drives home that this group isn’t ready to fill the Crystal Gems’ collective shoes. Saving people is one thing, but Lapis and Peridot barely notice or care that they’ve put someone in danger. And Connie means well, but there’s only so much she can do. I love how much we see of her perspective on Steven, through her attempts to put a “Steven” spin on things and remind everybody that they love each other.
Katie: Connie telling herself “I’ve got to Steven this somehow” says a lot about how she sees the importance of Steven on his own team. Unfortunately Lapis and Peridot aren’t super impressed with Connie’s speech on love and loving each other (“She didn’t even cry”), which leads to a much bigger fight the next day. It takes Connie blowing up for her to realize that copying their friends won’t help anyone.
Elle: I’m pretty sure this makes Connie the first person to call out any of the Gems for behaving childishly despite being thousands of years old, so good for her. I like that we don’t get a clean-up montage. We’re just told that there was a plan, and then it’s done, which is enough. Except for the car wash sign, of course, which ended up getting Yellowtail’s truck thrown through it.
Katie: It does occur to me that Yellowtail’s truck might be more expensive to replace than the sign … I mean unless in the SU universe cars can be thrown into building signs without getting totalled. But I suppose if Greg’s van has survived multiple alien attacks, then maybe Yellowtail’s did, too.
In any case, the New Crystal Gems reveal a brand new sign to Greg, and like Greg says, it does have more personality than his old one. And the episode ends with the New Crystal Gems each doing their best Magical Girl pose. Honestly, while their attempts were kind of a trainwreck, I look forward to any sequels to this episode. It would be fun to see them do a little better working together in a later storyline.
Elle: I agree. Especially now that they’ve learned a lesson about not trying to be anyone but themselves, I think they could be a lot more successful. But as this episode ends, it’s nice to have the status quo back. Everyone who belongs on Earth is on Earth, and the show’s on once a week. For now.