You do it for her- that is to say, you’ll do it for him.
Season 2 is now well and truly under way (as indicated by the updated opening)…and honestly, the pacing for this season is particularly off. It always feels like it’s rushing to get to the next plot point, but as I’ve alluded to before, the big “showdown” doesn’t actually take place until the beginning of the next season, and not a ton of stuff actually happens in this one. Instead, this season focuses on worldbuilding and developing the core cast, which sounds like a good idea on paper, but tends to feel more forced than it did in Season 1. I mean, on one hand, I understand that they had half the episodes to work with, but if they were going to focus so much on plot, it would’ve been nice to get a little more of it.
But anyway, Steven and Connie are having an adorable jam session while Steven does his laundry (and of course Connie plays the violin – the same instrument as Pearl, as it happens).
I’ll do my best
To give this jam the sweetness it deserves
And I’ll keep it fresh!
I’m jamming on these tasty preserves
Ingredients in harmony, we mix together perfectly
Come on and share this jam with me
Then those mean seagulls show up to threaten Steven’s “jam snack”, and I certainly appreciate that this show does not romanticize those gulls. Then Connie chases them off by waving around her violin bow, which gives Steven an idea.
Steven: You should train Connie to sword-fight! She’s already so good!
Steven: But you are! You helped me fight the robot floaty thing, she took down that evil clone of herself…uh, those mean seagulls just now…
Pearl: You’re awfully young to begin something like this. But I suppose I was only a few thousand years old when I began fighting alongside Rose Quartz…yes, Connie?
Connie: Please, I want to learn! I mean, I don’t know what’ll happen in the future, but if something dangerous comes along, I don’t want to be a burden, I want to help! I want to be there for Steven, to fight by his side! The Earth is my home, too. Can’t I help protect it?
I’m pretty sure every fantasy-obsessed tween has had a similar desire to learn to handle a blade, but in her case it seems a bit more serious – she sees Steven as a “chosen one” with his special magical destiny, and she doesn’t want to be left out if (or rather when) danger shows up on his doorstep again. And apparently that’s enough to convince Pearl to take her as a student.
Pearl: This is an ancient sky arena, Connie, where some of the first battles for Earth took place. It was here that I became familiar with the human concept of being a knight, completely dedicated to a person and a cause. This is what you must become, Connie: Brave, selfless, loyal – a knight!
At this point, Connie is still only mostly serious about the whole sword-fighting thing – obviously she doesn’t think of it as a joke, but I think she was assuming it would be more like a sport, like, y’know, fencing. Pearl clearly has other ideas.
Pearl: We begin with a bow, first to me, your teacher, and then to your liege.
Connie: Okay…my liege.
Steven: Miss Knight.
Pearl: I hope you two are taking this seriously.
Connie: Yes Ma’am!
Steven is forced to evacuate the floor when Pearl brings out a HoloPearl, since his previous traumatic experience has him instinctively bubbling himself and Connie (which unfortunately defeats the point of the exercise).
Thus begins the music/training montage, which makes it painfully obvious that Pearl is projecting a lot of her own motives for learning to “be a knight” onto Connie.
You do it for him, and you would do it again
You do it for her- that is to say, you’ll do it for him.
Keep your stance wide, keep your body lowered
As you’re moving forward balance is the key
Right foot, left foot, now go even faster
And as you’re moving backwards keep your eyes on me
Of course Connie is a much better pupil than Steven was, but again, part of that is probably just because she’s more aware of what’s at stake than Steven was when Pearl tried to teach him.
Deep down, you know you weren’t built for fighting
But that doesn’t mean you’re not prepared to try
What they don’t know is your real advantage
When you live for someone you’re prepared to die
Deep down, I know that I’m just a human
But I know that I can draw my sword and fight!
With my short existence
I can make a difference
I can be there for him, I can be his knight
I can do it for him
You do it for her
It’s neat how the song incorporates the instruction into lyrics, but the constant refrain of “do it for him” gradually gets to be a little unsettling, especially for poor Steven sitting on the sidelines.
So he figures he should have a talk with Connie after all that singing about her using her brief existence to fight for him…
But as soon as Pearl shows up, Connie jumps right back into Student Mode.
Pearl: We have important training to do, Connie.
Connie: Yes, Ma’am.
Pearl: She’s been making great strides, Steven. She’s going to be an asset to you.
They’re clearly not on the same page if Pearl’s talking about Connie like a soldier. And when Steven explains the situation to Garnet, he goes from uncomfortable to downright alarmed.
Garnet: Back during the war, Pearl took pride in risking her destruction for your mother. She put Rose Quartz over everything. Over logic, over consequence, over her own life.
Amethyst: You okay, dude?
Steven: I have to do something! Thanks for telling me that, bye!
Because apparently Pearl got poofed countless times in defense of Rose…and that kind of relentless martyrdom would turn out much, much worse for a fragile human like Connie.
Pearl: Remember Connie, in the heat of battle, Steven is what matters. You don’t matter.
Connie: I don’t matter.
Steven: Connie, I don’t want you to do this anymore! Not alone.
Connie: No, Steven. I understand now. Your legacy, your destiny – you are everything! And I – I am nothing. But I can do this for you! I can give you my service!
Steven: No! I don’t want you to!
Connie: Steven, I’m doing this for you! I need to be able to protect you!
Steven: But if you’re the one protecting me, then who’s the one protecting you? Someday soon we might be fighting some really bad guys, and when that day comes, I want to fight with you – together! So please, won’t you share this jam with me?
For real, though, Pearl keeps acting like Steven is helpless when he’s already saved the Crystal Gems single-handedly on one occasion and proven himself perfectly capable of defending himself several times.
Connie: This is much easier!
Steven: That’s the idea. No matter what comes, we do this together!
They proceed to easily beat the training scenario (and Pearl)…and then Pearl gets upset that they’re working together.
Pearl: Enough! No! In a real battle, Steven won’t be there to save you!
Steven: Yes I will!
Pearl: Steven! You don’t know that.
Steven: Yes I do! If Connie is going to fight, we’re going to fight together! […]
Pearl: You shouldn’t be anywhere near the fight. You’re too important!
Steven: I’m not!
Pearl: Yes you are!
Pearl: Why won’t you just let me do this for you, Rose? I-I mean…let her do this…why won’t you let Connie do this…for you.
The issue wasn’t that Pearl felt like she was “nothing”, but that she felt like she was nothing without Rose, so she would much rather die than let Rose get hurt. Hence why she was constantly endangering herself when Rose was probably perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
Steven: Hey Pearl? I didn’t mean to mess up your training. But all that “You’re nothing” talk was really freaking me out.
Connie: Did Rose make you feel like you were nothing?
Pearl: Rose made me feel like I was everything. I see now how deeply you care about each other. That will make you both great knights!
The thing about Rose is that Pearl had placed all her hopes on Rose and thought she couldn’t live without her, so she made Rose “too important” to die and saw herself as expendable. For whatever reason, their relationship was lopsided and they couldn’t quite see eye to eye. Steven and Connie, on the other hand, have gotten pretty good at communicating and clearly share a mutual affection – they treat each other as equals.
Until next time…