Steven Universe – It Could’ve Been Great Review
“The Diamonds are the gem matriarchs! Together they make up the Great Diamond Authority that governs Homeworld and all the outlying colonies! We live to serve them.”
Peridot has become an interesting case of cognitive dissonance as she tries reconcile her shifting feelings towards the Crystal Gems and life on Earth with her sense of subservience to and deification of the Diamond Authority. That duality is the subject at the heart of It Could’ve Been Great, and it is even reflected in the episode’s structure as roughly half of its runtime is spent on Earth while the second half is spent visiting a Gem outpost on the Moon. Peridot is still a newcomer to the Earth, and the alliance of convenience that has been formed between her and the Crystal Gems becomes strained as we learn more about the colonization process, and discover how devoted to her masters Peridot appears to be.
The start of the episode might be amongst my favorite Peridot moments (The list of those has become quite long since Catch and Release) as Steven attempts to introduce Peridot to more of Earth’s beauty through music. The process of him explaining music to her goes by a bit quickly, but it has some nice comedic moments, and watching Peridot build off of Steven’s song “Peace and Love on the Planet Earth,” was a great moment for the character as she sings the final lines of the song along with the rest of the Gems. They complete the construction of the drill, but Peridot realizes that they still don’t have the exact coordinates for the location of the Cluster. Pearl suggest that they may be able to find the information on an abandoned Diamond outpost located on the Moon. There is no warp pad leading to the base, so they have to rely on Lion’s portal ability to get them there. The process leaves Lion exhausted, suggesting that there is a limit to the portal ability.
The styling of the base relies on the colors white, yellow, pink, and blue suggesting that there is probably a single Diamond for each. From practically the moment they arrive Peridot is in awe of the location, and quickly seeks out a mural of Yellow Diamond. The Gems are clearly concerned by Peridot’s excitement and even Steven seems slightly unnerved by her enthusiasm. Even after finding the information they came for, Peridot remains enthralled by what the Diamonds had planned for the Earth eventually leading to the titular line. It serves to highlight the key difference in how Peridot and the Gems perceive Homeworld’s involvement, and Garnet and Peridot nearly come to blows over it. Peridot takes a notable step over the line when she disparages the efforts of Rose Quartz, and claims that, rather than save the Earth, she merely delayed the inevitable. It is a wedge that quite clearly splits Peridot’s interests from those of the rest of the group, and as the episode comes to an end, Peridot’s allegiances remain as ambiguous as ever.
Before I wrap up a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Okay, seriously, what was the room with the floating orb? When Steven asks about it, the Gems simply state that it isn’t what they came for, but it isn’t clear one way or another if they knew what it was. Either way, it feels significant, and it has me more than a little curious.
- The image of the projected plan for the colonized version of Earth fading away to reveal the real thing through the window was a nice visual touch.
- The detail about Gems’ bodies automatically shifting to match the gravity of any planetoid is a fun one. It would have been easy to write in something like gravity generators, but this feels like it expands the world just a little bit more. It clearly takes a bit more effort to animate, since Steven’s movements become different from everyone else’s, but it’s the kind of minor narrative flourish that I really appreciate.
It Could've Been Great more than lives up to its title. The expedition to the outpost on the Moon serves as a great opportunity for character building when it comes to both Peridot, as well as the Crystal Gems as a group.