We’re going into space, and we’re not coming back without Greg.
Once they’ve alerted Pearl and Amethyst to Greg’s abduction, their first question is what they would want with him (and, in turn, where Blue Diamond might have taken him).
Pearl: But there was a…no. No, it couldn’t possibly still exist, not since we-
Garnet: That’s right! Pink Diamond’s insidious human zoo! […] During her reign on Earth, Pink Diamond stole humans from their families, as trophies of her conquests.
Amethyst: You gotta be kidding.
Pearl: Oh no, it was very serious. When I still served…Homeworld, I saw it myself. A private menagerie deep in space, humans in captivity. We were never able to rescue them – we had no way to get to them after the war. But, that was over five thousand years ago…
Amethyst: You really think Greg’s there?
Pearl: Steven, Blue Diamond wanted him alive?
Steven: Yes, yes, she liked him!
Pearl: I can’t think of anywhere else she’d put him if she wanted to keep him – that is, if the Zoo’s still there.
So now they have a heading, and conveniently enough, they still have the ruby ship from last season!
Needless to say, Steven is anxious to be off and after his dad as soon as possible.
Pearl: Well, make sure it’s safe for Steven.
Peridot: He should be fine, but I think I should go in and change the system preferences the rubies set. How do you feel about green lights instead of red?
Steven: There’s no time for that! If it works, let’s just do it already!
Why yes, Steven is very distracted today! The poor kid’s having a rough time of it. And being in a rush, he’s only going to make it harder for himself.
Pearl: If I input the coordinates, it’ll take us right there?
Peridot: It’s a little more complicated than that. These aren’t your Era 1 light kites – you’re gonna be pretty much bending reality if you turn on the gravity engine. Come to think of it, I should really change the ruby preferences on that, too…
Steven: So what, so it’s red! Come on, come on, we gotta go!
Pearl: Rubies aside, will it fly?
Peridot: Short answer: Yes.
Methinks they should’ve stayed another five minutes for the long answer…
But they don’t, merely stopping long enough to tell Lapis, Peridot, and Connie to look after Beach City while they’re away.
Steven: Don’t worry Dad. We’re on our way. I hope you got to see some of this – there’s enough out here for a whole album about the cosmos.
Pearl takes the helm at first, since they need to navigate an asteroid belt and apparently she’s the only one of them that can pilot a ship. Then Steven gets the ETA: 70 years.
Steven: My dad’s not healthy enough to live that long! […]
Garnet: Before we left, Peridot did mention a gravity engine.
Amethyst: Oh yeah, she said it bends reality.
Pearl: Oh, I’m sure she was exaggerating. It probably just alters the definition of speed by manipulating space-time. But what effect will that have on organic matter? It might flatten Steven’s body into a pancake of skin and bones!
Steven: […] If being a pancake means saving Dad, then bring on the syrup!
Yeah, he’s really not thinking things through today.
The animation in this episode is kind of weird for Steven Universe; it does bear a striking resemblance to Adventure Time, though, and I suspect there may have been more animation talent from that show than usual on this episode.
Anyhow, Steven’s rash decision doesn’t actually turn him into a pancake (he just momentarily blacks out), but it does cause a bit of the titular light distortion.
Garnet: The gravity warp appears to be affecting our bodies.
Amethyst: Please tell me this lasts forever.
Pearl: Our bodies are made of light, and usually they form a mass dependent on the air pressure and the level of gravity in the environment. But we’re in a situation where the normal laws of physics don’t apply!
It appears this is the effect of the “ruby settings” Peridot tried to warn them about – they’re all forced to maintain a ruby-height body.
Pearl: Why doesn’t she ever tell us anything? This is why we don’t listen to her!
Then he tries to fix the settings manually.
It goes about as well as you’d expect when a kid is messing around with complicated settings and can’t even read what’s written in the screen.
Steven: Why is this so complicated?
Amethyst: Hey Steven? This is getting a little weird, even for me.
Steven: I think I found the off switch!
Yeah, I feel like it’s not generally a great idea to turn anything off completely on a SPACE SHIP.
Steven: Amethyst? Garnet? Pearl? Where are you? What happened? Are you cracked? Amethyst is usually back by now…
So now Steven is alone on a speeding spaceship, after one of the worst days of his life. And it’s on a collision course with the Zoo.
Steven: Come on, Steven. You can do it. It’s okay. The Gems are gonna be fine. They gotta be fine! Dad’s gonna be fine, too! It doesn’t seem like it right now, but later, we’re gonna laugh, if I could just stop…the ship…It isn’t going to stop.
Steven: There’s no fixing this. It’s all my fault! I rushed us, I pushed us, into making stupid mistakes…it didn’t have to be this way. I didn’t have to not listen to Garnet. I didn’t have to go to Korea. Dad! I didn’t have to get you taken away forever by Blue Diamond…I-I wasn’t trying to be selfish. I just wanted to know what was going on for myself, for once! And now, I’ve lost everyone. Dad! Dad! I want my dad! I just want my dad…
THIS POOR CHILD.
I too tend to panic when I don’t know where my family are, even in a NOT life-threatening scenario. So yeah, I kinda relate.
But then he finally stops the ship.
Steven: You’re back! Where’d you go? I was so worried!
Pearl: I think in your attempt to fix our bodies, you may have accidentally shut off the calibration altogether. Our light-composed forms couldn’t keep up with a ship moving faster than the speed of light.
Steven: So you were just lagging behind the ship, this whole time.
Garnet: Yeah, don’t worry about it too much. Amethyst liked it.
But Steven’s still blaming himself for all of the many things that have gone horribly wrong recently and Steven really needs a hug.
Steven: I was pushing so hard…I just wanted to get Dad back so much, I almost wrecked the mission! This whole thing is my fault.
Garnet: Steven, you didn’t kidnap Greg. Blue Diamond did.
As much as he might blame himself for putting his dad in a position where he felt like he had to protect him, all he really did was ignore the advice of his friends – stupid, but not exactly an unforgivable action. There’s plenty of blame to go around in that scenario, but sitting around pointing fingers is just the same as sitting around feeling guilty – what’s important is working to fix it.
Garnet: What you did got us to the Zoo. […] And only seventy human years ahead of schedule.
Steven: I’ll see you really soon, Dad. I hope.
Until next time…