Steven Universe – Keeping it Together Review
Keeping it Together is an interesting episode. On one hand, it succeeds in exploring some of the mythos of Steven Universe while also providing hints regarding the nature of Peridot’s agenda, but it is hard to determine how I feel about the episode since it largely feels like setup for later plot developments. It is definitely a good episode, but how good may vary widely from person to person. I certainly enjoyed it, but in some ways the message of the episode feels slightly unclear.
As the name implies, Keeping it Together is primarily a Garnet episode. It starts with her suggesting that the Gems investigate the Kindergarten since it is clear that Peridot’s mission was somehow tied to the facility. Garnet points out that they need to confirm that the system is still incapacitated because, if it were to become operational, the injectors, the large Kindergarten machinery that looks like a bacteriophage, would come online and begin draining energy from the Earth in order to construct Gems. While fans have been throwing around the theory that this is how Gems are produced ever since On the Run, this is notable for being the first time that theory has been fully confirmed.
Upon arriving at the Kindergarten, the Gems find that the facility is still offline, and, for the most part, looks as if no one has been their since their last visit. They split up to search the area and confirm that no one has attempted to access any of the equipment while also checking the perimeter so that they can monitor for any future entry. While doing so, Steven quickly encounters Peridot leaving the underground areas of the facility. She flees, claiming that she has already acquired what she needed, and Pearl and Amethyst run off in pursuit. However, Garnet hangs back with Steven to try and determine what Peridot had been working on. They return to the control room that she had first accessed back in Marble Madness, but find that the power is still disabled. It would seem that Peridot pulled a number of cylinders from the walls, and, upon close investigation, the find that they contain numerous fused appendages which appear to be alive. After destroying one that jumps at Steven, Garnet finds that it has two gem fragments at its core.
It would appear that Homeworld had used the facility to involuntarily fuse fragments of former Crystal Gems together, a process that horrifies Garnet to the point that she almost becomes unfused. Fusion remains one of the more mysterious aspects of the Steven Universe mythos. The Crystal Gems have treated it as a valuable process that requires an intimate connection in order to be performed properly, but Jasper spoke of it unfavorably, even going so far as to refer to Garnet as a “shameful display.” Judging from what is shown here, it would seem that Homeworld also views fusion as some form of tool. After seeing what was done to the “ones [they] couldn’t find,” Garnet’s body starts to come apart, but she pulls herself back together and bubbles the fused gem fragments. She has a brief back and forth with herself, with the Ruby side of her lashing out in anger over what was done to those gems, and Sapphire responding with anguish.
As I stated before, it is a little difficult to know what to make of Keeping it Together. It is certainly emotionally affecting, if only because it causes Garnet to react in a way that we’ve never seen before. That being said, it clearly exists primarily as a piece of a larger puzzle, and, without having a clear grasp of the puzzle as a whole, it can end up feeling a bit nebulous and vague.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Amethyst turns her gaze away when they talk about how the injectors are used to construct Gems. It is a nice detail that says all it needs to without a line of dialogue.
- Something about Peridot’s character design bugged me in this episode. It seemed a bit rougher and more fluid to me than in her previous appearances. I even considered the possibility that her gem may be chipped, but there was no sign of any damage on her forehead that I could see.
- The next episode, We Need to Talk, will apparently also focus on the subject of fusion, so perhaps some of the questions raised in this episode will be explored more there.
- I still want to see Stevonnie in combat.
- “Do we even have plumbing up here? How do you get the washer and dryer to work?” “Magic!”
Keeping it Together is an interesting and enjoyable episode that raises a number of questions, but feels like it is held back by its role of setting up future plot points. This might sound like a significant complaint, but episodes like this are often necessary, and this is hardly a bad example. My primary issue is most likely derived from the fact that the newly raised questions leave me ready and eager for some answers. What was Homeworld trying to accomplish? Can the fragments be restored? What did Peridot get from the facility? What are her goals? Will Batman be able to escape in time to stop the Joker? Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long for the next episode. Tune in next time! Same Steven-time! Same Steven Universe!
Keeping it Together might not always succeed in... well... keeping its narrative together, but it offers up some compelling questions and provides some strong emotional moments for Garnet.