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Steven Universe sprints toward a confrontation with White Diamond

Illustration for article titled iSteven Universe/i sprints toward a confrontation with White Diamond
Image: Cartoon Network
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If you thought “Reunited” moved quickly, buckle up your space seatbelts—it seems like Steven Universe is going to keep up the fast pace, sending Steven, the Crystal Gems, and the Diamonds (!) back to Homeworld, with a new antagonist. “Legs From Here To Homeworld” has a lot of material to get through to make it to its chilling final image of Steven being tossed aside by White Diamond, but it handles the plot ably. Writers and storyboard artists Amber Cragg, Hilary Florido, joined by longtime Adventure Time crew member Tom Herpich, manage to soften the other Diamonds, nail the eeriness of White’s introduction, and even include a few jokes in the process.

In the wake of Steven connecting with Yellow and Blue Diamond at the end of “Reunited,” the pair are trying to come to terms with Pink’s deception, Steven’s existence, and what the news means for Earth. One of the episode’s secondary tasks is starting to humanize Yellow and Blue, to make them into plausible members of a broader Gem team—and though it’s a pretty daunting task given what they’ve done in the past, “Legs From Here To Homeworld” does a surprisingly good job of it. Largely, this happens by showing more of their relationship with Pink (even if they still think Pink is there), and by introducing White Diamond as someone even less likely to understand and empathize with Steven. Even the score motifs for the Diamonds feel less menacing, and are deployed for comedy in moments when, say, Blue can’t stop crying.


Steven, on the other hand, is shockingly blasé about the whole thing—at least until he realizes that the Diamonds can help him heal the corrupted Gems. Working together with Yellow and Blue, he manages to briefly turn Centipeetle back into Nephrite (voiced by comedian and excellent voice actor Aparna Nancherla), but the effect doesn’t last. He needs the help of the true, unseen leader of the Gem civilization: White Diamond.

I get that Steven wants to help the corrupted Gems, and I appreciate the show’s willingness to move things along, but it does feel like there’s some stuff he needs to work through with Yellow and Blue first, especially since they’re obviously terrified of White. (I would be really into a Steven Universe training montage that’s just practicing conflict resolution strategies, which I think it’s safe to say is not out of the realm of possibility.) It’s thrilling that we’re getting to White and more of Homeworld politics so quickly, but I would have loved an episode or two of Yellow and Blue awkwardly stuck on Earth, trying to get their bearings and talking to Gems they would never have thought twice about before. (Think of the Yellow-Peridot interactions!)

At least there’s some solid comedy in the team’s attempt to actually get into space, with the excellent of gag of Steven setting the team up for a long search through the desert for Pink’s ship, starting with the “pink pyramids” that of course turn out to be the legs. (Steven also activates the ship by running in what are essentially solid light stockings, which Amethyst correctly notes is a good look for him.) The visual jokes continue, with Blue and Yellow essentially stuffed into the sides of the ship that was built for the much smaller Pink Diamond—but there’s also a slowly building sense of dread surrounding what, exactly, will happen when they talk to White.

The ship is greeted by a horde of Gems, who seem to be celebrating the return of the no-longer-alive Pink Diamond. Instead of trying to explain anything to the rest of the Gems themselves, White Diamond’s Pearl shows up to bring Steven to White. (I love the character design for White Diamond’s Pearl, who has Princess Leia buns and a cracked face, continuing the anime villain motif from Aquamarine’s hyper-feminine design.) Just minutes after she’s first mentioned, we meet White Diamond: She’s blindingly bright, all sharp black-and-white contrasts, almost abstract in contrast to Yellow and Blue. In another series, she could be a god, or at least a kind and benevolent witch.


Instead, her simultaneously warm and ice-cold nonchalance, conveyed perfectly by Christine Ebersole, suggests something more malevolent and scary—a mom who doesn’t listen, who knows best, who refuses to consider her children as people, who literally sends Pink to her room without realizing that Pink isn’t even there. It’s a new type of villain for this show, and while I don’t doubt Steven’s ability to convert even the coldest Gems to his side (it’s one of the show’s thematic foundations, after all), getting White Diamond to listen is going to be a challenge. “Hello, Starlight” indeed.

Stray observations:

  • Connie’s parents are perhaps too chill with their daughter going into space to visit the home of a hostile alien empire.
  • Garnet to Greg, holding Cat Steven: “If you could water this for me while I’m gone it’d be a big help.”
  • My favorite moment of this episode is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a very small Pearl and Steven moment, in which Steven wistfully says, “I bet when mom took off it was pretty graceful, huh?” and Pearl laughs softly before replying, “No, not really.”
  • White Diamond’s Pearl is also voiced by Christine Ebersole and not Dee Dee Magno Hall, which is... interesting.
  • We’ve got new episodes going up weekly for a while, leading into a one-hour special toward the end of January. Get ready, folks.

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