Amethyst is doing stuff she knows that she shouldn’t be (and encouraging Steven to do likewise), meaning something is really bothering her.

SU 40-1

Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl retrieved all the rest of the droid things from the Galaxy Warp to prevent them from repairing the Homeworld warp pad again, which naturally leads Steven to ask why they don’t want visitors from the Gem Homeworld.

Pearl: Steven, a very long time ago, Gems tried to do something very…bad. Something that would’ve damaged the Earth. Some Gems, like your mother, Garnet, and myself, felt that this was unfair to the life that already existed here. And so, we swore to never let the Earth be used for their…purposes, even if it meant- even if it meant we could never go home.

Garnet: We chose Earth.

Steven: Wait a sec, so that means…we’re just like the No-Home Boys!

Evidently Steven’s been doing a lot of reading since he was grounded from television, and I think the “No-Home Boys” are meant as an allusion to the Boxcar Children (and maybe The Hardy Boys), although I never got into that series myself, so I can’t say for sure.

Pearl: Steven, we are not like the No-Home Boys. We are literally standing in your home right now!

SU 40-2

Steven: Aw, I wish I was a No-Home Boy. No past, no future, just the open road!

Amethyst: Yeah, sounds like fun…let’s do it.

Steven: Really?

Amethyst: Yeah, let’s run!

Amethyst’s voice was notably absent from the discussion about Homeworld earlier, but she was messing around a lot and generally going out of her way to bother Pearl…and now she’s convinced Steven to run away from home.  Literally anyone else would have nixed the idea, but Steven and Amethyst concoct the worst plans.

There’s no time to hang around
Our adventure’s just begun!
We’ll be thinking bout our friends as we chase the setting sun
But we’re leaving them behind, we’re on the run

SU 40-3

The first verse or two is a pretty standard ditty for Steven, just a chipper adventure/road song.  But then Amethyst drops in with a counterpoint, bringing with her a distinct air of melancholy.

(We’re on the run)

I don’t care about what all the others say
Well I guess there are some things that will just never go away
I wish that I could see that there’s no better place than home
But home’s a place that I have never known
That’s why we’re on the run

It doesn’t take too long for Steven to tire of the vagrant life, of course.

SU 40-4

Steven: Amethyst? I’m done pretending to be a No-Home Boy.

Amethyst: Not me.

Steven: I’m sure Garnet and Pearl are worried sick about us, wondering when we’re coming home?

Amethyst: That’s not my home.

Steven: But…oh, that’s right! You’re from Homeworld.

Amethyst: That’s not my home, either!

Steven: Then where are you from?

Amethyst: I’ll show you.

SU 40-6

Amethyst: Welcome to the Kindergarten!

Have I mentioned how great the backgrounds are?

In this case, they’re clearly leaning into the original German meaning of “Kindergarten”, apart from the American use of it to mean the year of prep for kids before grade school.  It’s a “child garden”, a place where the Gems grew new Gems…

Steven: What is this place?

Amethyst: It’s kind of where I’m from.

Steven: But, I thought Gems were from space?

Amethyst: Pearl and Garnet are, but I was made here on Earth, like you!

This all helps explain a lot about Amethyst, like why she’s the most “human” of the Gems – all she ever had was Pearl, Garnet, and Rose as an example of what a Gem is, but there were plenty of humans around for her to imitate.  But she also spent quite a while living alone in the Kindergarten before the Crystal Gems picked her up.

SU 40-5

Amethyst: It’s my hole! Look! It’s me-sized!

Then Pearl shows up looking for them, and she’s clearly uncomfortable.

Pearl: Amethyst! What were you thinking bringing Steven to a Kindergarten?

Amethyst: I dunno. We were in the neighborhood.

Steven: Pearl, was Amethyst really made here?

SU 40-7

Pearl: How much did you tell him?

Amethyst: What, about the bad thing? How this bad place is where bad Gems came to grow more bad Gems? Is that what you’re talking about?

Steven: They grew other Gems here?

Pearl: Amethyst, he’s not ready!

Amethyst: Oh, but don’t worry, Steven, everything’s just fine now. It all worked out. We won! And we shut this place down so the Earth would be safe from parasites like me!

I can’t.  THIS SHOW.  It’s one of those episodes guaranteed to make me cry in ten minutes or less.

Pearl: Steven, I’m sorry. I never wanted you to see this horrible place.

SU 40-8

I can’t really blame Amethyst for losing it at that.  Pearl clearly thinks of her origins as somehow “indecent” and “wrong”, and even if she doesn’t intentionally treat her worse because of that, it comes out in her attitude nonetheless.

Also, I have to give a shout out to the fantastic fight choreography, because I wasn’t able to find a still shot to do it justice.

Steven: You guys, stop it!

Amethyst: Stay out of it!

Pearl: Amethyst, stop this! You can’t beat me.

Amethyst: I don’t care! I’m not gonna let you stand there and remind me of everything I hate about myself! I never asked for it to be this way. I never asked to be made!

And this explains pretty much everything else about Amethyst.  This is why she’s so careless about her own safety, and maybe even why she’s inclined to misbehave.  She sees herself as part of the problem and inherently “bad”, part of the blight that threatened to destroy life on Earth.

SU 40-9

Then their fight finally ends when they knock over a piece of Gem machinery, and Amethyst runs off to hide in her hole.

Steven: Amethyst!

Amethyst: Go away! I’m bad and you shouldn’t be around me.

Steven: What? That’s ridiculous! Look, I don’t know what any of this really means, but I-

Amethyst: Yeah, you don’t. Cause if you did, you wouldn’t be talking to me.

At this, Steven realizes that Pearl is the one who needs to talk to her, because what Amethyst needs is affirmation from someone who actually knows the big picture, someone who actually knows where she’s coming from.

SU 40-10

Pearl: Amethyst, I had no idea you’ve been upset about this-

Amethyst: What? You had no idea? This is, like, my entire existence! You wanna pretend that none of this ever happened. You think I’m just a big mistake!

It’s telling how Amethyst was actually kind of enjoying herself when she was showing Steven around her old haunt, then when Pearl showed up it suddenly got awkward, what with her saying that she wished Steven had never seen the Kindergarten.  She explicitly said that’s the closest thing she has to “home”.

Pearl: No, no, Amethyst! You’re not the mistake. You’re just the byproduct of a…big mistake. No! That’s not- I…I just never thought of this as you. None of this is your fault! You didn’t build this place! I…I’m sorry, Amethyst. I hope you can forgive me. You’re the one good thing that came out of this mess. I always thought you were proud of that.

SU 40-11

This is one of the things I love about fantasy in general (and often animation in particular), the way it can take messy, complicated situations and give children different ways to talk about them via metaphor.  Heck, Princess Tutu helped me grapple with my depression in that way as an adult!  Basically, I can see this being really helpful for kids who were born into difficult situations (or even ones whose birth itself was a difficult situation) and don’t really have the language to talk about it.

Until next time…

One thought on “On the Run

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