Garnet tells the tale of the “real” Rose Quartz.
We’re back with Captain Lars & Crew again (and let’s be real, I am always down for more of their piratey adventures). But they’re having trouble with their engines again, so Steven decides to help them pass the time by introducing them to Garnet. They decide to go the Steven tag route, since Garnet’s regular form is a bit statuesque to fit comfortably through Lars’ head (or even Lion’s mane, really). This also serves to clue the Off-colors in on Garnet’s fusion status as soon as they see her three-eyed face when she changes back to normal.
Garnet: Just look at you all! You must be Rhodonite. A ruby and a pearl – that must’ve been a story! I want all the details. And you must be the Rutile twins. I’ve never seen anyone like you before!
Rutile: We were…made like this.
Garnet: Fluorite, woah…you’re just beautiful. And here’s Padparadscha. An orange sapphire – how rare!
Padparadscha: I predict you’re going to make everyone uncomfortable.
Rhodonite: It’s not nice to make fun of us like that.
It’s totally understandable why Garnet would be excited to meet the Off-colors, and she can be kind of A Lot when she’s excited…so much so that she forgets that they’ve survived for ages by either hiding themselves or hiding their “abnormalities”. Garnet’s freedom to be herself is something the other Off-colors probably never dreamed of, certainly not before they met Steven. I also like how Padparadscha shows her worth in this episode by stating what’s obvious to Homeworld Gems, spelling things out for the Earthlings (including the viewers).
Garnet: Oh Steven, these Gems feel just like I did before I met Rose Quartz.
This naturally leads into a discussion about Rose, as it seems each of the Homeworld Gems heard different versions of Rose Quartz’s origins/nature/rebellion, all wildly inaccurate.
Garnet: Of course that’s how they tell it on Homeworld. Come on, everyone. Let me tell you the story of the real Rose Quartz.
Garnet: It was Era 1. the Diamonds, unique in their flawlessness, sought to expand their perfection across the galaxy. And it was for this purpose that Pink Diamond chose her first colony, the planet Earth. On Earth, every Gem was made to serve Pink Diamond, each with a role to play in her most perfect empire. In comparison to their creator, their existence was ordinary. They were life forms only meant to fit their mold, and no one had ever dared to think otherwise. Until there was Rose Quartz.
So this is one of the more obvious allusions to Revolutionary Girl Utena, and it’s very purposeful. Utena also used the black silhouettes with colored hair/clothes in an iconic, fairy-tale-esque scene that explains the backstory of Utena, the character (I think Sailor Moon technically used the style first, but Utena made it iconic). What’s particularly interesting is that this “fairy tale” scene doesn’t turn out to be what actually happened, or at least not completely – it’s probably just how Utena remembers and/or tells it. When we finally see what really happened in the last few episodes, it’s shown using the regular character designs and animation. In this episode of Steven Universe, the backstory’s animation remains stylized all the way until the final scene, when we actually see Garnet interacting with Rose. The implication is that all of this was either told to Garnet secondhand and/or she’s using educated guesses and conjecture to fill in the gaps, and it’s unclear where those gaps begin and end. One area that’s definitely suspect is her characterization of the Diamonds, considering her (very understandable) hatred for them.
Garnet: [Rose] began to take notice of her strange colony, and the life that existed there. Curiosity turned to appreciation, appreciation turned to fondness, and fondness turned to love. Soon, she was unable to keep her findings secret, and she began asking her fellow Gems if they knew of the life on Earth and what they made of it. She continued to ply her fellow Kindergarteners with questions so odd, that word of her eventually made its way to Pink Diamond. Rose Quartz was summoned at once.
Garnet: “Quartz,” began Pink Diamond, “what have you been saying down there?”
“My Diamond,” Rose pleaded, “it has come to my attention that your colony, Earth, bears life. While I know these organic life forms serve no purpose, I ask that we leave this planet, and spare their lives.”
Pink Diamond thought for a moment, and then laughed, a wicked, empty sound. “You wish to save these life forms at the expense of our own? Don’t be absurd. Return to your post and I will forget your insolence.”
And once Rose gets an indisputable negative from her Diamond, that’s naturally when she resorts to rebellion (and her classic white dress, which might also be a reference to the Utena prologue, Sailor Moon, or both).
Garnet: “Is this what you want? To inject, to build? I’ve seen a life that exists for itself, and it lives here! Will you destroy it, or will you join it?”
Rose’s message began to resonate, to Pink Diamond’s dismay. Her colony was falling apart, so like a coward, she called for her Diamond allies, Yellow and Blue, to help.
But Rose also found herself with allies, other Gems that were cast out for being wrong. A Pearl who belonged to no one, a Bismuth who built weapons for rebels instead of towers for tyrants, an entirely new fusion formed not for power, but for love. And countless others, all inspired by Rose to live for ourselves on Earth. She was our leader, and Earth was our precious home. And those who fought to save it became known as the Crystal Gems!
Rutile: There were Gems like us…
Fluorite: for their freedom?
Of course, this is basically the point of the story: Opening up the Off-colors to the possibility of a society where their “flaws” are actually valued, not something to be ashamed of.
Garnet: It was an impossible fight, but we fought anyway, and the more Gems who saw us, the more who joined. But Pink Diamond’s forces proved too strong. Rose feared that soon, she would have nothing left to protect. Rose Quartz drew her rebel blade, and shattered Pink Diamond, saving the Earth for all time from her reign of terror.
Rhodonite: Wait, what about the rest? What happened after that?
Garnet: The other Diamonds were furious. In a last-ditch attempt to wipe out the rebellion, the Diamonds launched a direct attack against Earth, and in their fury, they used their powers to end the fighting once and for all.
What Rose presented was a society free from the constraints of utilitarianism, where people (organic and otherwise) could just live and let live – except she couldn’t allow Pink Diamond to live there. And that one act of violence sparked a cycle of revenge that still prevents the Crystal Gems from living in peace as they wish.
Rhodonite: This new version of the story is even worse. So she was great, and they beat her? What are we supposed to get out of this, that we can never win?
Garnet: We haven’t yet, but we can. And we will. They said they annihilated Rose’s rebellion, but here we are! They said they annihilated all of you on Homeworld, but here you are! They think they have us on the run, but they’re the ones that are running from the truth! And the truth is, we are everywhere!
Garnet rallies their spirits, and then Captain Lars spurs them to action (having them all try to help get the engine running again).
And while the crew is busy with the engine, Steven confides in Garnet (seemingly for the first time) about Stevonnie’s Diamond dream.
Steven: Hey, uh, Garnet? When Connie and I were stuck on the jungle moon, I – we – saw something. A vision, of Pink Diamond. When Blue Diamond came to Earth, I had dreams where I saw through her eyes, and I was crying her tears…if I’m having the same dreams about Pink Diamond, what if that means she’s still out there?
Garnet: She’s gone, Steven. Your mother made sure of that.
Steven: But I felt such a strong connection…
Garnet: You have empathetic powers that other Gems don’t have. You’re unusual, Steven, like them, and like me. It’s not something to fear. It’s something to celebrate.
I’m more inclined to side with Steven here. While he proved that he could connect with Gems shards in the whole Cluster ordeal, it never went this far – he didn’t even seem to know who they used to be, let alone anything about their memories. Even if that memory was somehow imprinted on the physical location, why would Stevonnie take on Pink Diamond’s perspective as opposed to the still-living Yellow Diamond?
Rutile: Strange, the core should’ve come online by now…
Padparadscha: I predict that Captain Lars will be pressing the wrong button.
And this is how Padparadscha earns her keep. But also by being adorable.
Seriously, I love these guys. I would totally watch a spinoff about their space adventures.
Lars: We can hit up the nearest colony for parts. Rhodonite! Tell me there’s one nearby!
Rhodonite: Well, we aren’t far from one of Yellow Diamond’s asteroid mines, but that place will be crawling with agates, Captain! It’s incredibly dangerous.
Lars: So are we. Let’s show them!
He’s grown up so much – and all he had to do was die!
Until next time…