The story pauses to consider the nature of the “monsters” they’re fighting as Steven tries to befriend one of their former adversaries.
Steven is somewhat surprised to discover that he can be “bubbled”, too (which Garnet uses to remove him from a sudden avalanche/cave-in), and it seems to get him thinking about the other creatures they have stored in bubbles in the Temple. And then he accidentally pops the bubble holding the Centipeedle, the one one he helped defeat in the first episode.
Steven: Ah! The Centipeedle! It looks…so scared. Uh, hi. It’s okay! Please don’t be scared of me.
By this point, it’s pretty obvious that the monsters they’re fighting are also Gems of some sort, just more animalistic and violent (hence, presumably, why they need to be contained). Centipeedle takes on a much smaller (and actually kinda cute) form, perhaps in response to Steven’s fear.
Steven: See? I’m not gonna hurt you. Yeah, just relax. Yeah, that’s it! Doesn’t relaxing feel nice? You wanna come over and relax with me? Yeah, we can totally just hang out right here on the floor. Yeah, don’t be shy. We can be friends. My name’s Steven.
Steven is adorbable and I love him.
But then the Crystal Gems get back, and Centipeedle understandably freaks out when they charge in yelling with weapons drawn.
Pearl: Steven! Get away from that thing!
Steven: Wait! It’s not-
Pearl: This was a terrible idea! And he even managed to pop a bubble and let out that awful thing! If that thing hurt you, so help me I’ll-
Steven: No! It didn’t do anything! Garnet! Don’t hurt it! I accidentally let it out of its bubble, but it didn’t even try to hurt me! It’s not like the other monsters, it’s just scared and confused. Please, Garnet. I’m begging you.
Of course, it’s fair to wonder if this one really is an anomaly, or if most of the other monsters are just as scared and confused. That’s not necessarily to say that the Crystal Gems are wrong to fight/contain them, as they definitely pose a threat to the humans, but perhaps there’s a more peaceful way to deal with them.
Garnet: I can’t say no to that face.
Pearl: Excuse me? You can’t be serious!
Garnet: I think you should try and tame it, Steven.
Garnet’s been intentional about giving Steven more active roles and responsibilities, and now he’s starting to come up with new ways to help, largely because of his aversion to violence (there’s a reason his “weapon” is a shield).
Steven: Um, it still seems a little scared…maybe you guys could put your weapons away and watch from the house?
Centipeedle is way more trainable than Lion. The only downside is the acid spit, but Steven even finds a way to manage that, teaching her to spit on command by mimicking an evil seagull.
It’s just so cute! But unfortunately still destructive.
Pearl: Steven, this is unacceptable!
Steven: Aw, c’mon Pearl! She can help us on, like, missions and stuff!
As it turns out, they need something that can destroy layers of rock and ice for their current mission, so Garnet overrules Pearl again.
All goes well, and Centipeedle behaves herself, right until Garnet puts on her magic gauntlets to grab the artifact they’re after, when she starts freaking out and spewing acid everywhere.
Steven: Pearl, stop! It was an accident!
But after Pearl starts attacking her, it’s kind of hard to get Centipeedle to calm down (not to mention the other Gems, who leap to Steven’s defense).
Steven: Stop! You don’t need to fight. This isn’t you. You’re not a monster anymore! You’re more than that.
HOW DOES THIS SHOW MAKE ME CRY FOR THE ACID-SPEWING BUG MONSTER?
And then she sacrifices herself to save Steven from a falling rock.
Garnet: Steven. You did a good job training the centipeedle. Your mother would be so proud.
Steven: She would?
Garnet: The truth is, Rose Quartz had tried to use her powers to save these monsters, too, but she was never able to heal them.
Steven: Never? But if she couldn’t do it…
Pearl: Who knows? maybe when you have better control of your powers, you might help them in ways even your mother couldn’t.
Garnet: Even this one.
Steven: I’ll keep it safe.
And he manages to bubble Centipeedle’s gem and I can’t. Steven is too precious for words.
Steven: Wait for me, Centipeedle. I promise I’ll heal you up someday.
Until next time…