I’m doing it! I’m being what you want!
I’ve always had plenty of sympathy for Amethyst, but I think this episode was the first time I really related to her in a significant way.
And it all begins with a shockingly thorough/intrusive personality quiz! (the quiz even has a question about whether you’re taking it seriously).
Steven: Are you insecure about your relationships and how you’re perceived by other people?
Amethyst: No…yes? What’s the right answer?
Steven: There is no right answer, you’re just supposed to answer honestly.
Amethyst: Nah, I’m bored.
Steven: Wait! I have loads more probing personal questions to ask you!
Then Amethyst’s retreat to her room is cut off because Garnet’s monster-hunting in there, an awkwardness which I can actually really relate to (I also hate people coming into my room uninvited for any reason, especially when it’s a mess).
Amethyst: This is my stuff you’re messing with! If it’s gonna get wrecked, I’m gonna be the one to wreck it!
I love all the random junk in the background, like this gas can which seems to indicate they share a universe with Pixar…also Amethyst runs afoul of the monster and gets poofed.
Garnet: Steven, remember, our bodies are only an illusion. Amethyst will be fine.
Steven: But Pearl took two whole weeks to come back…and I already miss Amethyst so much!
Garnet: Don’t worry, she’ll be back before you know it. Literally.
So Amethyst managed to regenerate in less than a minute…by forgoing hands in favor of four feet. And I imagine the not-TARDIS in the background is probably an intentional reference, considering the focus on regeneration.
Garnet: That was fast. Even for you.
Amethyst: Eh, it’s no big deal. I don’t want to keep my biggest fan waiting.
Amethyst’s new form is clearly awkward for her to work with, but she’s okay with it as long as Steven’s happy…at least until both him and Garnet start questioning her motives.
Garnet: Amethyst rushed her regeneration. She should’ve taken her time.
Steven: Like Pearl?
Garnet: Yes. Pearl put a bit more…thought into how she came back.
Amethyst: Pearl, Pearl, Pearl! You know I can hear you! I’m sorry I’m not like Pearl with her fancy form, and her clean room with no monsters in it-
Then she gets poofed by the monster again.
Amethyst: Hey, Garnet! What do you think of my new look, Garnet? I’m more like Pearl now, isn’t it wonderful? I feel practically perfect!
And this is when you finally start to realize that despite how much she pretends not to care what other people think of her, Amethyst actually cares a LOT about what other people think of her.
Amethyst: You wanted me to be more like Pearl, and now I am!
Garnet: Pearl would’ve taken her regeneration seriously!
Amethyst: What do you care? My form is my business!
Garnet: It’s my business when it affects the strength of the team!
Amethyst: So what, I’m not strong enough? Are you saying I’m weak?
And then she goes and gets poofed again.
Steven: Is it weird that I’m getting numb to this?
Steven: Does that new form…hurt you?
She’s clearly not thinking much at all, just trying desperately to be whatever she thinks other people want her to be. And the thing is, I was like that for a long time, too – the main difference between me and Amethyst is that I was pretty good at figuring out what exactly my parents and teachers wanted me to be, and I was also well-suited for the role of “model student” and other such superlatives. Amethyst isn’t always great at reading people, and she’s often living in Pearl’s shadow anyway, so why bother trying to be “good”? That’s one big reason why she hangs out with Steven a lot – he’s her only consistent source of affirmation at this point.
Amethyst: You wanted me to be stronger. I’m doing it! I’m being what you want!
Garnet: I don’t want this!
Amethyst: Well what do you want? Just tell me and I’ll do that!
Garnet: I can’t tell you, Amethyst! You have to figure this out for yourself!
Steven: She can’t! She doesn’t want to think about herself!
There is one thing that a “failure” like Amethyst has going for her – she fails. Every failure is an opportunity to remake yourself, if you actually bother to try. When you think you have all the answers, you don’t have to understand who you are or what you want from life. It took a lot of failures and disappointments for me to finally start thinking about myself as distinct from everyone and everything I care about, and while it can feel really selfish at first, you can’t live your whole life relying on other people to determine your value and beliefs, because sooner or later you’ll have to face life without anyone else to guide you. If you’re lucky, though, they’ll point you in the right direction.
So Amethyst takes her time for once, and when she finally reforms four hours later. Steven reminds everyone to be supportive because he is a very good boy.
Garnet: It’s perfect.
Amethyst: Eh, whatev. It’s just what feels right.
Garnet: That’s why it’s perfect.
I love a happy ending.
Until next time…