So it’s confirmed now that White Pearl was the original Pink. But I think Steven’s dream is hinting at something much more sinister that went down.
Not only was our Pearl not Pink Diamond’s first Pearl, she wasn’t her even first Pearl Girlfriend.
Look at the way she and Pink (Again like in Jungle Moon, Steven is reliving the part in her place) interact. They’re flirty. She shows off for Pink Pearl and then blows her a kiss. Yellow comes in, they assume the position of a royal and servant and Yellow leaves none the wiser. They share a laugh. The true nature of their relationship is a secret.
So what happened? Well, they eventually got caught. Maybe someone caught them fusing, Rose Quartz 1.0 if you will, which in human equivalency would be like walking in on the Princess in bed with the Chambermaid. So Pink Pearl was taken away and lobotomized. A severe visual reminder to everyone that there are fates worse than being shattered, and this is what happens when you step out of line, Pink.
And that’s when Pink Diamond started to seek a way out.
She’s not frowning because Steven and Connie are breaking protocol. She’s remembering the last time. She was there.
AND SPEAKING OF CONNIE…
Do you know who really dun fucked it up at the ball? Because it wasn’t Connie for dancing and it wasn’t Steven for breaking protocol. It was Yellow and Blue for freaking out and immediately putting the kibosh on Stevonnie’s appearance.
We see through the Jade fusion that there are other Gems in that very room who are not only willing to accept Stevonnie and Garnet, but have been doing it themselves all along. If Blue and Yellow had just shut their mouths and let Steven’s natural charm come through Stevonnie, they would have won over the skeptics. This was the perfect opportunity to break the taboo of Fusion between unlike Gems but you two Bitches had to wreck everything.
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For a while I was a little worried about the way that Steven Universe consistently does redemption/forgiveness arcs with every single antagonist, including those who had been incredibly abusive, like White Diamond or Jasper. I kept thinking, “This is so unrealistic. Are we really teaching kids that there is always a middle ground? Always a way to make up? Real life is not like that.”
Then it hit me. Real life isn’t like that. But, is it possible that sometimes real life isn’t like that because we didn’t give it a chance to be? Kids already know what real life is like. Maybe its time we teach them what real life could be like.
Sit with me for a minute. Lets consider the people we face in real life or, more importantly, the people these kids, as they grow, will face in real life in their peers and in themselves.
White Diamond is abusive, controlling, needy, narcissistic, and aggressive. She doesn’t want to face people with different ideas, so she controls their minds. That is...messed up, to say the least. In a lot of shows, she would be brought down in a final battle of epic proportions and the heroes would go home, safe. Instead, she is shown that she is wrong, gives in, and starts to change. Is this realistic? Probably not. But is there maybe a kid out there who has grown in an environment that is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., and has absorbed all of that into themselves and has never changed maybe because they have seen people like them constantly canceled by the community and don’t know how to change? yes. But here is a character they see themselves in. here is a character seen with love, given the space to change.
Jasper is abuse incarnate during the first several seasons, and still has severe aggressive tendencies and a temper in the new series. The “relationship” she starts with Lapis is awful and destructive. “I think you two should spend some time apart!” Garnet says, and we all sigh with relief.
but then! Jasper returns at the end! Corrupted, but alive! And I was like. Seriously. There is nothing quite like DV, and we all know that.
But that wasn’t for me. That was for the Jaspers of the world who, for whatever reason, only give abuse. Who treat other people like they own them, like anyone could leave so why love them? And here they see Steven trying with Jasper and, maybe, Jasper trying, too.
Lapis herself, so angry from the years she spent trapped by the Crystal Gems and then by Jasper, so angry at this world she didn’t choose, these people she never wanted to know, so ready to leave, and she does! Over and over! In lapis we see someone who reacts to severe hurt, and does so negatively. but we see something else, too! We see her never giving up, always returning. We see friends never giving up on her. We learn how to react to people who have been abused and need time, need to keep being invited. We learn we can always come back and, one day, be happy again.
From Lapis we go to Peridot, who, though sort of indirectly, abused Lapis and hurt Steven. We see Peridot struggle with the reality of who she is. She has grown always knowing this! How many kids out there have been raised a very specific way, with no way to learn that it is wrong? And then they do, and they think how will I ever recover from what I did when I didn’t know? And here is Period, creating art and saving earth and trying to make a place for Lapis, to the point of being willing to leave for her comfort! We see what to do when we have hurt someone, and that it doesn’t have to end there!
And Pink. Oh Pink. Pink has yet to reach the end of her arc. We haven’t seen a redemption from her, at least not linearly. With Pink we started as seeing someone who was good, or seemed to be, but everything we laern about her makes us look away. We learn she hurt people without care. We learn she had a temper. We learn she was selfish, forgetful, hateful. We learn she tried to change. We learn she only ever sort of did. And that’s okay, too. Because some of us, some of these kids, will see themselves in her, too, and think--I don’t want to end like that. Or they will see this person in someone they love and think, well, I don’t want to be hurt anymore. Maybe it is time I take a step back and let someone else help them grow a while. We learn that we cannot help what our parents have done and that loving someone through this is difficult, and that good people do bad things, and vice versa. And we learn that maybe they die having never fixed it and we have to do the fixing and, because of Steven, we learn we can never fix everything but maybe we can love people enough to help some things.
There are so many others. There are Connie’s parents, who were too controlling, or Greg, who was a bit absent for a while (i love him so much), or the other Diamonds, who were equally abusive and abused, but in different ways. We have every single Diamond from home world who thought they knew what life was supposed to be like, what love looks like, and were wrong. We have Lars and the Crystal Gems, all of whom made bad choices and worked through them. We have Steven, a kid, who has made a few bad choices, too, but loving people and forgiving them was never one of them.
I am not advocating letting your abuser back into your life. Lapis never has to face Jasper again as far as I have seen, and Pink’s Pearl, in control of White, is allowed to leave and seek healing. Those abused are not expected to go back with open arms. Instead, someone else, who has not been traumatized by them, comes and says yes! you can be whoever you want to be and it doesn’t have to be mean.
So, what I learn from Steven Universe is that some people are really bad, and there is nothing we can do about it. And some people are really bad but there is something we can do about it. We never, ever should make excuses for what we or someone else has done, but offering a helping hand can do so much.
And maybe there is a kid out there, hurting and scared, mean and angry, with a wild temper and so much resentment, and maybe he sees himself in Jasper, or she sees herself in Rose, or they see themself in White Diamond, and because of that, they see love.
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