We are amidst the newest “Steven Universe” arc, “Diamond Days.” Airing weekly until Jan. 21, fans of the show will have five new episodes to wrap up the fifth season.
“Steven Universe” has a history of releasing episodes on an erratic schedule, most often in daily clusters called “StevenBombs” months apart from each other. The last “StevenBomb” was five months ago in July, and fans have had ample time to speculate what this newest arc has in store. However, with this more conventional schedule, things should be less chaotic and fans will have an appropriate amount of time to process new episodes as they come out, which may be needed considering what the series plans to tackle.
On Dec. 17, the episode “Legs from Here to Homeworld” technically started “Diamond Days,” though the episode was originally released in its entirety at San Diego Comic-Con and later released on the Cartoon Network app. On Dec. 24, the first previously unreleased episode, “Familiar,” premiered on television. The next three episodes are slotted for Dec. 31, Jan. 7 and Jan. 21.
This is an unprecedentedly exciting arc for “Steven Universe” because Steven and the Crystal Gems are on Homeworld, diplomatically trying to save the Earth and its inhabitants yet again — this time, hopefully for good. What can we expect from the remaining three episodes, one of which is an hour-long special?
There have been many revelations in Season 5 that have shaken up what we thought was true in the show, especially about the identity of Steven’s mother and what really happened to Pink Diamond. Here’s what we know so far:
In the lore of “Steven Universe,” Gems are a magical alien race, identified through a gemstone embedded in their bodies, hailing from the alien planet called Homeworld. These Gems are ruled under the Great Diamond Authority, a matriarchal group of Diamonds — White, Yellow, Blue and Pink — who conquer other planets to exploit their resources, create new Gems and ultimately expand Homeworld’s reign.
Each Gem is created with a predetermined duty assigned to them, and they are subject to the caste system determined by the rarity of their gemstone. Gems never question their purpose, nor do they fathom that they could be anything other than what they are told to be. That is, until Rose Quartz showed them otherwise.
Over 6,000 years ago, Pink Diamond, the youngest matriarch, began her first colony on Earth. Upon seeing the robust life already present on the planet, she realized that the Diamond Authority were not creating life, but rather destroying it in their expansion efforts. Unable to convince the other Diamonds to allow her to leave the Earth alone, she secretly shape-shifted into a Rose Quartz gem and staged the Gem Rebellion. Eventually amassing a sizable army, including those considered “defective” by Homeworld standards, the rebels coined the name the Crystal Gems.
Understanding that the Crystal Gems could not win in a world where Pink Diamond, the perceived enemy, still existed, Pink Diamond and her former servant Pearl, the only other Gem who knows Rose Quartz’s true identity, staged a ruse. Pearl shape-shifted into Rose Quartz and together they faked the death of Pink Diamond.
Free to fully envelop the identity of Rose Quartz, the Rebellion raged on until the remaining three Diamonds combined their powers to destroy every Gem on Earth, friend or foe. The only survivors were Rose Quartz, Pearl and Garnet. Homeworld retreated, assuming there were no survivors and that they had won. What they had failed to realize was that their attacks did not shatter all the Gems on the planet, but rather corrupted them all into feral, animal-like creatures.
In present day, Rose Quartz gave up her physical form so her half-human, half-gem son Steven could be born. Steven grew up hearing epic-like tales of how his mother staged a rebellion against the evil Diamond Authority. Rose Quartz became an angelic figure of perfection in his mind and he tried to live up to this image of her. When Steven learned more about who his mother really was, things didn’t add up, so he confronted Pearl to tell him the truth. She then revealed that Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond all along.
In “Reunited,” the last episode before this new arc, Yellow and Blue Diamond visit Earth to wipe out the Crystal Gems once and for all. Steven revealed that he has Pink Diamond’s gem and that she wasn’t shattered after all, creating an instant alliance with the relieved and perplexed Diamonds, who have been grieving for the loss of their fellow Diamond for millennia.
In “Legs from Here to Homeworld,” which aired on Dec. 17, Steven shows Yellow and Blue how the Diamonds corrupted all the Gems on the planet, demanding that they fix them. Yellow, Blue and Steven are able to heal a corrupted Gem back to its proper state, but only when the three of them are actively using their powers. In order for the fix to be permanent, they need to employ the help of White Diamond. They all travel to Homeworld and Steven is brought before White Diamond, a horrifying, large, statuesque being, who chastised Steven, believing he is Pink Diamond, for running away before sending Steven to Pink Diamond’s room.
In “Familiar,” Steven is frustrated that Yellow and Blue are treating him like Pink Diamond, who they often dismissed like a child. Various bits of Homeworld lore are sprinkled through the episode in the backgrounds, like how Pebbles live in the walls and create new things for their Diamond, and that walls and objects are embedded with a gemstone and are therefore sentient. These both have major ethical implications that Steven is bound to address later in the series. The episode ends with Steven determining that he will throw a ball in order to bring the Diamonds, who had severely drifted apart, back together.
Based on the clips included in the extended trailer for “Diamond Days,” fans can piece together what might happen next in the remaining episodes.
The next episode, “Together Alone,” will presumably be the ball that Steven throws, and how that will play out. With Blue and Yellow’s disdain for the Crystal Gems, especially with a fusion like Garnet, I don’t anticipate the event playing out exactly how Steven pictured. This episode is likely to reveal more on how things are structured on Homeworld, from the architecture to the caste system to how the Diamonds regard their subjects.
Fans are especially eager for “Escapism,” which has been teased since creator Rebecca Sugar sang the accompanying song on the “Steven Universe Podcast“ back in September 2017. People have surmised that Steven is going to use his powers to speak to White Diamond in her mind, and by the trippy clips that have been released, it looks like Steven is in for a psychologically weird experience.
On the other hand, Pink Diamond’s memories could also be surfacing in Steven’s dreams, as they have been known to do when he returns to places from her past. Will Steven be able to talk to his mother in this newly discovered astral projected space? Or will he communicate with White and see firsthand why the other Diamonds are so afraid of her? YouTuber SliceofOtaku created a thorough prediction video that I recommend checking out about what could potentially happen.
There haven’t been any official teasers released for “Battle of Heart and Mind,” the hour-long conclusion to “Diamond Days.” In an interview back in August, Rebecca Sugar hinted that the ultimate unsolvable problem in a show centered around communicating feelings would be related to that concept. Does this refer to White Diamond, who appears to be a force unable to be reasoned with? Or does this refer to Steven’s mother, who is no longer able to speak for herself? Whoever this statement refers to, I anticipate that this tidbit will play a major part in the season finale.
Fans should rest easy that the end of “Diamond Days” will not signify the end of “Steven Universe” for good. At San Diego Comic-Con, the showrunners revealed that there will be a “Steven Universe” movie. There was no anticipated release date, but with the erratic scheduling Cartoon Network has been known to give the show, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes years before we see it.