In which Pearl suffers a breakdown thanks to Lion.
Pearl: That’s the scabbard for Rose’s sword!
Steven: Mom fought here?
Pearl: That’s right! And I fought alongside her.
Amethyst: Man, I wish I could’ve seen it!
Garnet: No you don’t. Countless Gems were broken here. It was a maelstrom of destruction and death.
Pearl: But we won! Your mother led us to glorious victory! The odds were against us, and our hearts were uncertain, but we chose to fight alongside Rose and here we made our stand against our Homeworld!
Pearl certainly seems to have a one-track mind. It’s one thing to gloss over the messier aspects of history for the sake of Steven’s “innocence” or whatever, but Pearl almost seems to willfully ignore anything that might tarnish Rose’s memory. This scene also makes it apparent that at some point there were a lot more Crystal Gems fighting with Rose (presumably to defend Earth)…so what happened to them all?
But that’s a question for another episode.
Pearl: Oh, it’s been ages…what is it, Steven?
Steven: What was Mom like?
Pearl: She was courageous, and brilliant, and…beautiful. Sometimes, you look so much like her.
While future seasons have actual flashbacks involving Rose (some of them quite good), I love how this first season manages to flesh out her character without that. Part of it is communicated by what other characters say about her, but a lot of it comes from learning about her actions. And one thing that we learn about her this episode is that she kept a lot of secrets.
Pearl: I was your mother’s sole confidante! For the words she could share with no one else, I was there to listen.
Steven: Why’d she keep so many secrets?
Pearl: She had to, Steven! It’s the mark of a great leader, knowing just what to keep hidden from everyone you’re trying to protect. Everyone except me.
I’m not sure if I buy that definition of a “great leader”, but it certainly tells us something about Pearl’s attitude toward Rose (and even the other Crystal Gems). She believes her relationship with Rose was “special”, and takes the (apparently) many secrets they shared as proof of that, thinking Rose never hid anything from her. At least until she leads Steven to Rose’s super secret armory only to discover that Lion had already taken him there before. And that Lion had been carrying Rose’s sword all along.
Pearl: Rose’s sword…how did it get in there?
Steven: I dunno, but there’s a ton of stuff in there. I keep stuff in him, too!
Pearl: But, how? Does Lion have something to do with Rose?
Amethyst: Oh, of course! That’s why he’s pink!
And then that one little thing starts to unravel Pearl: There was something Rose never told her.
Pearl: No, Rose didn’t have a lion! Because if Rose had a lion, I would’ve known about it!
Garnet: Rose kept many things secret, even from us.
Pearl: But not from me! I was the one she told everything!
Amethyst: Yo, you’re not the only one who misses her!
Pearl: You can’t understand how I feel! None of you have what we had!
Steven: She probably just wanted to protect you, like everyone else.
Pearl: What do you know? You never even met her!
I mean, part of it was probably just the way everyone was arguing, but Steven is clearly hurt and Pearl knows she’s mostly to blame, so she runs off with the sword.
At some point, Pearl had placed Rose on a pedestal, pure and perfect and untouchable, but this forces her to reckon with Rose as she really was – and the fact that she never did know her quite as well as she’d thought.
Also, that shot composition.
Steven: Pearl, wait for me!
Pearl: Get that thing away from me!
She’s really hurting – so much that she’s even lashing out at Steven. She’s convinced that nobody else could possibly understand her feelings, which is a surprisingly immature way of seeing things.
Steven: Pearl! Pearl, you need to tell me what’s wrong.
Pearl: Sometimes, you even sound like her…do you remember this place? Do you have any of her memories? We were right here, over five thousand years ago.
Then she creates a holographic version of Rose, seemingly reenacting a scene from her memory (Pearl’s saying both her “lines” and Rose’s).
Rose: I’m going to stay and fight for this planet. You don’t have to do this with me.
Pearl: But I want to!
Rose: I know you do. Please, please understand: If we lose, we’ll be killed, and if we win, we can never go home.
Pearl: Why would I ever want to go home when you’re here?
Rose: My Pearl…you’re wonderful.
Why, yes, there is something more there than simple admiration for a great leader, even for the figurehead of a revolution. It is possible to miss/ignore it for another season or so, so I’ll just say it here: Pearl was in love with Rose. But the story will eventually address this directly, so I’ll wait until then to discuss it at length.
Pearl: Everything I ever did, I did for her. Now she’s gone, but I’m still here. Sometimes, I wonder if she can see me through your eyes. What would she think of me now?
Steven: Well, I think you’re pretty great.
Then Steven helps her make peace with Lion (in both meanings of the phrase), retrieving Rose’s banner and (apparently) listening to her talk about the glorious battles she fought with Rose.
Until next time…