Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Latest Steven Universe Episode Changes EVERYTHING

The most recent episode of the Carton Network series Steven Universe, entitled "A Pale Rose" dropped a stunning revelation that affects the entire series' backstory as well as existing relationships in the show.

I'm going to review the reveal, some of the hints that I think were dropped along the way, and what it means about the show's characters AND characterization.

Discussion in this post from here on out will be a gigantic spoiler, so I've put the rest of the post behind a "read more" link. Click below to read the rest of the post.

SPOILER WARNING FOR THOSE COMING FROM A DIRECT LINK. This spoils the revelation from "A Pale Rose". If you don't want to read that, click back right now.

Okay, so here's the bombshell that "A Pale Rose" dropped...

... Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond were one and the same!

Some time after Pink Diamond was given her own Homeworld colony project to run-- colonize Earth by turning it into a factory to make more Gem Soldiers-- she became enamored by life on Earth. Ultimately deciding she wanted to protect the Earth, she took upon the identity of a Rose Quartz, and founded the Crystal Gems. To become Rose Quartz, she shape-shifted into the appearance of a typical Rose Quartz, shifting the position of her gemstone to have the bottom facing out instead of the front. The only person who knew of Rose Quartz's secret double life was Pearl.

"Rose Quartz" and Pink Diamond both made appearance for hundreds of years on Earth during the Rebellion War, until she developed a plan with Pearl to free herself from the status of Pink Diamond and life her own life as Rose Quartz: she would fake her own death.

Pearl shape-shifted into the form of Rose Quartz and faced off against Pink Diamond. Pearl-as-Rose poofed Pink Diamond with Rose Quartz's sword. Since Rose's Sword could only "poof" Gems and not shatter them, Pink Diamond swallowed some shards that resembled her own gemstone, causing them to fall to the ground when she was poofed. Right before they went through with the staged battle, Pink Diamond affirmed how much she cared for Pearl and gave her one last order as a Diamond: never tell anyone about this secret. In her new life as Rose Quartz she learned to be true to herself by watching herself die.

Heck of a twist, right? This revelation colors pretty much everything that happened in the series before it, and considering Garnet and Amethyst's stunned reactions, will affect characters going forward as well.

Steven Universe has always given subtle hints over the course of the series as to character's true natures-- for example, fans were able to find hints to Garnet being a fusion going back as far as the second episode. There were plenty of hints Rose Quartz's true nature as well. For example:

In "Laser Light Cannon", the first look we get at Rose Quartz is a picture of her and Greg. The frame's glass has been shattered on Rose's side. Pearl's space suit has a pink diamond symbol. Stevonnie dreams of a past event experienced only by Yellow and Pink Diamond. In a flashback in "Rose's Scabbard" Rose refers to Homeworld as both her and Pearl's home, even though Quartz Gems are only created on Earth. In "Three Gems and a Baby", baby Steven's pajamas are unbuttoned at on point, exposing the gem in his belly. The opened cloth forms the shape of a diamond. Jasper, who was supposed to be the pinnacle of a Quartz Soldier, is much, much less powerful than Rose Quartz, who was supposedly just a regular Quartz Soldier who lead the Rebellion. I'm sure that there are plenty I've missed.

I think that this is a great revelation that gives a lot of nuance to Rose. Lots of people say they want shades of gray in storytelling, and I believe Rose's arc delivers. Rose was shown to be an impulsive  person. She was fascinated with novelty, so much so that she wouldn't always take others' feelings into consideration first. That wasn't just all she was, though. She was also a caring, giving person who was ready to throw away her status so she could live freely and help others do the same. At the show's beginning, Rose Quartz is presented as this perfect mother figure who sacrificed herself to have Steven... but people aren't perfect, and it's in acknowledging that is how people can grow, as the show teaches. This really deepens Rose's arc as a rounded, flawed, imperfect person.

Steven Universe has been remarkable, especially for a children's show, at looking at the effects of unintended consequences. Pink Diamond was sure that she mattered very little to the other Diamonds, so she didn't forsee that they would try to avenge her death by destroying the Earth or mourning her death even thousands of years later. (Side note: remember, Rose can still experience stuff through Steven, just not in person since she's in her gem. Now imagine her seeing, through Steven, that Blue and Yellow Diamond still mourn for her and always loved her. Imagine how that feels!) Pink Diamond didn't expect soldiers like Japser would swear vengeance. She wanted Pearl to be free from her programmed purpose, but didn't realize that Pearl would end up basing her entire life around Rose. And as Rose, when she sacrificed herself to create Steven, she thought the Crystal Gems would be able to move on and celebrate their, and her, new freedom. She had Steven with the anticipation of giving him a life where he would be free to make his own choices... never realizing her powers and legacy could weigh him down, too.

This show, you guys!

What do you think, readers? Is my analysis off base? How does this change the character for you? How do you think this will affect the show going forward? Is there something I missed? Sound off in the comments!

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Curus said...

Haven't watched the episode yet for Reasons (I was fed up of all the hiatuses, so I was planning to wait until the whole show was over and then binge it) - but got told the news yesterday. Obvs having not watched it myself I'm holding major judgement but I'll admit I did not believe this would ever happen - because I thought it was counter to the theme of the show! I might have to break my fast and see how this shakes out.

ellindsey said...

I'm still deciding if I like this plot twist.

On one hand, it was planned from the start of the series, clues were laid all along the way, and it explains a number of inconsistencies with Rose's background. It really does make a lot of sense.

On the other hand, I feel like the potentially interesting character of Rose Quartz has been taken from us, as she was apparently just a facade made up by Pink Diamond. I feel lied to, but I realize I'm actually mad at Pink Diamond, rather than at the show's creators.

Chris said...

Good analysis; nothing much to add except I'm still trying to figure out how White Diamond ties into all of this.

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