It sure seems like we’re getting closer to a climax, right? Where almost every episode of Steven Universe has had forward momentum, if only for one or two side characters in Beach City or for our understanding of the Gems’ past, “Your Mother And Mine” is contemplative and quiet, more of a calm before the storm than a normal episode. When Steven brings Garnet through Lion’s mane onto the Sun Incinerator to introduce them to the rest of the crew, she’s absolutely delighted—but when the Off Colors reveal that they’ve all heard different rumors about Rose’s Rebellion, Garnet takes the opportunity to tell them the story of Rose Quartz.
We know the broad strokes of this history already, so there’s a sort of pat, storybook quality to this episode (as with “The Answer,” also narrated by Garnet). We see Rose fall in love with life on Earth (first birds, then pre-historic humans), challenge Pink Diamond, and start the rebellion, until the Diamond attack in the wake of Pink’s shattering seemingly ends things—all in line what what we’ve seen so far. In fact, Garnet’s storytelling seems primarily designed to toy with our understanding of how complex Rose’s Rebellion really was. For example: When Garnet references Bismuth, she’s painted as an entirely heroic figure even though we know there were, shall we say, differences of opinion between Bismuth and Rose.
Still, there are some new elements to the telling that suggest further complications. We see White Diamond explicitly depicting as attacking Earth, joining Yellow and Blue in a way that has never been said outright (her most prominent appearance to date has been as what seems like an enormous statue on Home World). We see Pink, offered the chance to let life on Earth be, reject it with a laugh—what Garnet describes as a “wicked, empty sound.” We see Rose transform into her modern incarnation, destroying an injector as a sort of initial violent act to kick off the rebellion. Besides, the point of an episode of Steven Universe isn’t necessarily just to be new.
Storyboard artists Katie Mitroff and Paul Villeco create some beautiful images within the intentionally abstracted shapes of Garnet’s story, including the rose-filled background during Rose and Pink’s confrontation and the moment where the Diamonds are rendered as being composed of starry voids. (I really loved this aesthetically, and am super into the way the spooky Diamond music cues are threaded in throughout.)
This type of episode, perhaps more than any other, is a distillation of animation’s ability to communicate tone solely through shape and color—after all, Garnet is giving the simple, starry-eyed version of the story, and that’s what we’re seeing. And the opening scene, where Garnet meets the Off Colors and (a little creepily) remarks on their uniqueness, only for the compliments to be taken as insulting, is very fun. In just a couple of minutes, “Your Mother And Mine” says a lot about how discomforting it can be to come from a relatively conformist environment, only to encounter someone unabashedly, uncomfortably confident. (And in general, Estelle is fantastic as always here—someone should really give her a ton of money to read audiobooks or something.)
By the end of the episode, the Off Colors are motivated by Rose and committed to trying to be themselves on Earth, off on another daring space mission to steal the necessary parts. (Still, if they’re having technical problems, why hasn’t Steven just brought Peridot through to help them fix it? That would make logical sense and also be hilarious.) And the tail end of this episode has a great Padparadscha gag, when she “predicts” that Lars is pushing the wrong button to get the ship started.
We’re in the back half of the season now, and it seems like we’re about to get some answers that will upend Garnet’s version of what happened. She tells Steven that he and Connie had a vision of Pink Diamond because of his empathetic powers, rather than the Diamond’s continued presence in the world, but that explanation doesn’t feel solid enough to really explain what’s going on (intentionally so, I think). So “Your Mother And Mine” might be a bit of a slim episode, but as we head into the next few episodes, it might be useful to keep it in the back of your mind—as a symbol of what Steven Universe established as its original creation myth, and what we’ll be losing when we find out the truth.
- We’ve got new episodes on Mondays for the next couple of weeks! Gonna be a fun time. (They should all be on the Cartoon Network app now, but I’m going to be reviewing them weekly as they air.)
- There’s no good way to work this into the body of the review but: I am pretty sure this is the 100th episode of Steven Universe I’ve reviewed, which is truly nuts. I can’t think of another show I would willingly write this much about, and it means a lot to me that y’all are still reading.
- See you next week, for “The Big Show.”