I was late to the party, but I adore Steven Universe. It’s a brilliant example of slowly building your world building into an excellent story. It has a huge and passionate fan base, so if you want analysis of its themes, storyline, gender politics, or song covers, you can find them all over the web.
Season 3 starts soon, and I wanted to get my thoughts down about one of the world building elements I hope to see play out.
It has mostly been established that you can estimate a gem’s power from their size. It also seems that while gem types have a certain consistency of powers, all the gems of a type may not have the exact same powers. It is implied that Sapphire’s FutureVision is a rare, possibly unique power, and not shared by other Sapphires. Rose Quartz, in particular, seems to have had powers a bit outside of the norm for her type – both the healing tears and her mysterious control of plants.
But perhaps the person with the sharpest discrepancy between how they act and appear and their actual power is Lapis Lazuli. When Lapis first appears, she uses her hydrokinesis to control all the Earth’s oceans.
She battles all the Crystal Gems to a standstill, and only Steven’s empathy stops her. And yet, when we next meet Lapis, she is broken, completely overwhelmed by Jasper and the Gems from Homeworld.
Why? When Jasper couldn’t even take out Garnet one on one?
The more I think about it, the more I think Earth not only convinced the Crystal Gems to rebel because of its biodiversity and their fascination with the life on this world, but because it offered a chance to even the odds against the Homeworld gems. Homeworld is sterile. There is no water, there are no plants, there are no animals. The result is that there may be numbers of gems who have powers that only affect organic life, or water, and these gems became vastly powerful beyond the rigid hierarchy of Homeworld once on Earth. Gems like Rose Quartz.
Rose may well have not known she *had* power over plants (and given Lion possibly over animals as well) until she was on Earth. Earth didn’t just inspire the Rebellion, it may have made it possible in a way that never would have been otherwise. Rose could fight with powers no Homeworld Gem was prepared for. She may have actively recruited gems who had these kinds of unique powers. (And, given that Lapis was trapped in the mirror and clearly wasn’t on the Rebels’ side in the first war, Rose may have imprisoned Gems who grew more powerful on Earth but didn’t agree to fight against Homeworld.)
One major unanswered element in the show that seems to have been dropped since the story shifted to the Cluster is that of the Gem Monsters. Corrupted Gems do not seem to be the same thing as the Artificial Fusions. If the Cluster is made of the gems shattered in the Rebellion, then what are the Corrupted gems? Why did the Diamond Authority leave Earth alone for so long ? Were the Diamonds afraid more gems would gain new powers? If it was just about letting the Cluster grow, there was still plenty of reason to come back and invade again – in force – but they never did. Why?
I think Rose’s organic power was terrifying in a couple of ways. I think the possibility of “lower caste” gems with fantastic powers terrified the Authority, as it disrupted the rigid hierarchy they had established, and I also think it may have led to a disaster. How did Rose win the war? Or at least make it a draw that took 6,000 years before the Diamond Authority tried again? Was some last bioweapon unleashed by Homeworld? Or Rose? Did Rose herself cause the Corrupted Gems in some way? Did she convince the Authority that the world itself was poison, leaving them to not make any serious effort to repair the Galactic Warp or send a spaceship until the show starts?
Steven himself is part Gem, part Human (organic). Is he Rose’s last attempt to fix the damage she did to her own people and possibly even to Earth itself? I would be very sad if the Corrupted Gem storyline is dropped or ret-conned into just really being the Cluster all along. Or that the idea that something about organic life itself has been affecting the gems. Rebecca Sugar and company have so far been extremely meticulous in making sure their story holds together, and paying off hints dropped in earlier episodes, so I remain optimistic. The return of the Steven Watermelons and Malachite (and therefore Lapis) also bode well. They may go with answers completely different than what I would like or expect, but I am still holding out we will get answers.