Now that Peridot’s finally resigned herself to working with the Crystal Gems, she just needs to learn how to treat them with respect and dignity.
Evidently Peridot just really loves her visual aids, as Steven uses one to assist her in presenting the whole Cluster situation to the Crystal Gems.
Once she’s laid out the situation, Pearl naturally steps in and starts making plans.
Pearl: We’ll need to build some sort of machine to take us to the center of the Earth – it’ll have to be-
Peridot: Hey! I wasn’t finished speaking. What we need is to build some sort of machine to take us to the center of the Earth. It’ll need to withstand up to 360 gigapascals of pressure, and temperatures of 9,800 degrees.
I love these faces. But Peridot pointedly ignoring Pearl is not a state of affairs that can stand for long.
As an alternative to breaking all the electronics in the house for parts, Steven suggests they return to the barn where they’d tried to build a spacecraft last season and which still has many assorted parts that may be useful for putting together a contraption to reach the center of the Earth.
Pearl: Alright, what we have here in the barn should be adequate enough for us to get started. I recommend we organize the component types and assemble a rough blueprint based on what we have available. […]
Peridot: Hm. Good. This is adequate. Thank you. You can go now.
Pearl: Uh, what?
Peridot: Um, that will be all? How do you get her to leave?
Pearl: Excuse me, I am not leaving.
Steven: Yeah, she’s gotta stay and help build the drill thing, right?
Peridot: You’re confused. A pearl can’t build a thing like this! […] Pearls aren’t for this! They’re for standing around and looking nice and, and uh, holding your stuff for you! Right?
Thus we (and in turn Steven) are first introduced to the highly stratified social structures of Homeworld. It seems like more of a caste-based society, with certain types of Gems being assigned particular roles which they’re “made” to excel at.
Peridot: She’s a pearl. She’s a made-to-order servant just like the hundreds of other pearls being flaunted around back on Homeworld.
Steven: Wait, there’s hundreds of Pearls?
Pearl: Well, yes-
Peridot: And she looks like a fancy one, too. […] So, who do you belong to, anyway?
Peridot: Then, what are you for? Well, you can belong to me for now. Ha! A peridot with a pearl! What would they say back home?
Pearl: Now listen here, you tiny twerp! In case you’ve forgotten, you’re on our turf now! And I didn’t fight a thousand year war for this planet’s independence to take orders from the likes of you!
Peridot: Excuse me? I am a natural technician and a certified Kindergartener. I was made for this. You were made to take orders, not to give them!
It always made sense to me that a pearl would be made differently from other Gems, since real pearls are formed very differently than gemstones…although pearls aren’t actual crystal gems, either. They’re not even transparent. They are, however, birthstones, like garnets and amethysts…and rubies and sapphires…as a matter of fact, all of the Gems we’ve met thus far are (or were) considered birthstones, except for Rose Quartz.
Anyhow, once Steven recovers from the shock of learning there are other pearls out there, he naturally attempts to mediate the conflict. But gets distracted by the thought of robots.
Steven: Robots. You should build robots. Giant robots! I see a race, a giant robo race! With prizes. Giant robo prizes!
Pearl: You mean, like, a competition?
Steven: Yeah! To see who’s better at building stuff!
So they come up with a bunch of different tasks to test the giant robots with, some of which are obviously biased toward Pearl (like “ballet”), but it still ends in a tie.
Steven: Well, that settles it. You both get to lead the project together!
Peridot: No! This isn’t over! I demand we have a tiebreaker!
Pearl: Let’s just give it a rest. That’s it! We tied! We’re the same! Let’s move on.
Peridot: No! You’re a pearl! You are beneath me! I’ll always be better than you, and nothing I’ve seen today will ever change that!
Honestly, this show struggles to find its footing with the racism allegory (especially since different types of Gems do verifiably differ in their natural abilities, which is not the case with human “races”), but thankfully it doesn’t attempt to mine it too deeply.
But Pearl gets sick of Peridot’s whining and starts a giant robot fight, because how could they not?
Peridot: This is pointless! There’s no way you’re gonna beat me! You’re an accessory! Somebody’s shiny toy! Where do you get off acting like you’re all that? You’re just a pearl!
Pearl: That’s right! I am a pearl! What you’re saying may be true, but it doesn’t matter. I’m still gonna kick your butt!
I mean, Peridot still handily defeats her (with bit of a Hulk-smash move), but Pearl clearly proved her point.
Peridot: Hey! Why aren’t you listening to me? I won! I’m the natural leader here. She’s just a common pearl!
Steven: You’re wrong! If pearls are really like you say they are, then Pearl isn’t common at all. She trained herself to fight, she learned how to build things, and she works hard every day to be greater than she already is! That’s not common. That’s amazing!
Steven is precious.
Peridot: I have to admit, it’s…remarkable that a pearl such as yourself could become such a…knowledgeable technician. Why don’t we get started?
Peridot is also cute in her own way, if still pretty awkward when asked to treat the people around her as equals.
Until next time…