The show has kinda written itself into a corner with Garnet and Pearl. This episode, they attempt to wriggle out of it (with somewhat mixed results).
So they finally catch up with Peridot.
Peridot: Don’t you Gems have anything better to do than annoy me?
Amethyst: Nope! We’re gonna-
Pearl: Prepare to be annoyed!
Peridot: I don’t have time for this! This planet has an expiration date, and I’m not gonna stick around to find out when.
Pearl is getting extremely rash and heedless when it comes to capturing Peridot, since she’s convinced herself that’s the key to getting back into Garnet’s good graces. But the result is she’s not paying attention to her teammates, and she could hardly do worse if she were trying to sabotage their efforts.
Long story short, Peridot manages to fly away (again), and Steven let slip to her that they’d found a way to track her movements.
Peridot: Wow. This is just sad. I almost feel sorry for you.
Steven: Have a great weekend! I mean, I hope her weekend is…not so great?
I love how Steven doesn’t even know how to trash talk his enemies.
Pearl: Okay, I realize that was a bit of a fiasco. But there’s a silver lining to this! Now we know for sure that we can track her every movement! Whenever she uses the warp system, her escape pod will instantly detect where she is. It’s only a matter of time until we catch her, and when we do, we’ll be able to close this chapter and finally move on. Right?
Amethyst: Ugh…isn’t there something that maybe the two of you might need to talk about?
Steven and Amethyst are the sensible ones this episode (and even the most reliable in combat – Steven saves them with his shield twice!), and hence the de facto audience surrogates fed up with this conflict.
But before Garnet and Pearl can be forced to communicate, Peridot warps to an ancient Gem spaceship in South America (apparently left over from the initial invasion), which at least provides some interesting scenery.
Steven: Well, at least Pearl’s optimistic.
Amethyst: It won’t help. She could hand Peridot over on a silver platter, but it won’t make up for the stunt she pulled to get Garnet to fuse with her.
So Pearl gets cocky, assuming that Peridot is trying to fly the ship and so they can trap her on the bridge long before she could get it airborne, but Peridot’s not quite that stupid.
Peridot: Nyeh heh heh heh! You Gems really are as dull as dirt.
Fly? I’m not using this vessel to fly. I’m using it to trap you! Isn’t this nice? No more Crystal Gems running around messing with my plans, destroying my things…looks like I’ve got you just where I want you. How does it feel to be so easily outsmarted, you clods?
Then they spot what turns out to be a hologram of Peridot, and of course Pearl charges it.
I feel you.
Garnet: Pearl, stop. That isn’t helping.
Pearl: I have to do something! I can’t believe I walked us into Peridot’s trap!
And then she walks them into another trap, landing Garnet and Pearl in a small chamber that’s rapidly getting smaller, but at least Amethyst has enough presence of mind to save herself and Steven.
Then they finally talk.
Pearl: Please, tell me! How can I make you forgive me?
Garnet: You can’t. You lied to me! You need to learn that there are consequences to your actions.
Pearl: I’m sorry! I…I couldn’t help myself…
Garnet: I don’t want to hear your excuses!
Pearl: But it’s true. No matter how hard I try to be strong like you, I’m just a Pearl. I’m useless on my own. I need someone to tell me what to do. When we fuse, I can feel what it’s like to be you – confident, and secure, and complete. You’re perfect. You’re the perfect relationship. You’re always together, and I just wanted to be a part of that.
There is so much to unpack in this conversation, largely because they both struggle to put their feelings into words. Like, you can never really “make” anyone forgive – sometimes you can force them to say the words, but even when the words aren’t forced, in a situation like this forgiveness is a long process. “I forgive you” aren’t magic words that will flip a switch and let you get over the pain that you felt; it’s more like a promise, telling the other person that you want to move past it.
Again, I really feel for Garnet here. It’s easy to fall into thinking that it’s your responsibility to “punish” someone when they hurt you, but that’s just a justification for taking vengeance, which is never healthy.
But I can also relate to Pearl. She basically articulates how I felt growing up, paying so much attention to what everyone else wanted that I didn’t really know what to do on my own, or even notice what I could offer. But for real, “I couldn’t help myself” is a lame excuse at the best of times, and when you had to first come up with a relatively complex plan and then act on it (TWICE!), I think you should’ve had enough time to realize, “Hey, maybe there are other ways of getting this kind of positive attention that DON’T involve deceit!”
Garnet: You’re wrong. I’m not as strong as you think. I fell apart over this. Ruby and Sapphire were in turmoil about how you deceived me. I came undone! […] It’s not easy being in control. I have weaknesses, too, but I choose not to let them consume me. I struggle to stay strong because I know the impact I have on everyone. Please understand, Pearl: You have an impact, too. There are times that I look up to you for strength. You are your own Gem. You control your destiny – not me, not Rose, not Steven. But you must choose to be strong, so we can move forward, so I can trust you again.
So this is the main thing I take issue with. It’s good for Pearl to strive to forge an identity for herself apart from anyone else – that’s something I’ve had to learn myself, and that was a big part of Amethyst’s development in “Reformed”. But it fails to address the root of the problem, the whole reason why Garnet’s having so much trouble trusting her: She thought it was acceptable to deceive Garnet in order to get what she wanted. Maybe Pearl didn’t think she could hurt Garnet, but that’s no excuse for attempting to bypass her autonomy.
The other thing I find concerning is their definition of “strength”. The point they mean to make is obviously that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, even if you can’t always see them…but in the process they imply that strength means never letting anything get to you. Garnet calls her breakdown a “weakness”, when it’s kind of important to express your feelings in order to sort through them, especially after she went through an ordeal like that. Hiding your pain is not a strength, just a coping mechanism.
Then they escape by forming Sardonyx, which is its own can of worms. I know it’s supposed to mean that they’re finally on the same page or ready to move forward or whatever, and Pearl’s supposed to have grown because she asks to make sure Garnet’s okay with it…but it’s not like they had any other choice. It was either form Sardonyx or get crushed to death. I think it would’ve been better if they had been in a situation where Pearl had to use her own skills to get them out, or maybe if they had to work together without fusing. As it is, their sudden reconciliation kind of feels unearned. I mean, that was a great chat! But the way it pans out, it seems to frame Garnet’s actions as unreasonable, when she had every right to feel the way she did.
Anyhow, they finally run into the real Peridot.
Steven: I caught a Peridot!
But she manages to escape (again) by detaching the offending foot.
Pearl: It’s okay, Steven. Next time we’ll get the rest of her. Right, Garnet?
Garnet: It’s a good step forward.
Steven: Foot joke!
Amethyst: Ugh. Finally!
But I can’t stay mad at this show for long.
Until next time…