As we saw in yesterday’s post, An Indirect Kiss was rather heavy with potential implications for the lore of Steven Universe. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s more of an episode that sets us up to recognize answers hinted at later in the series rather than one that gives us any.
What are the gems?
Amethyst glitched out as her gem was damaged, almost like a malfunctioning projector or computer screen. We know from Ms. Sugar that the Gems have no gender and don’t reproduce (Rose giving up her physical form to beget Steven being the sole exception), so this means that Gems could be artificial creations; much as the Gems used the gem shards shown in Frybo before they rebelled, Gems could possibly be the leftover creations of a dead civilization.
That’s all wild speculation, though; it’s something to watch out for as the series progresses, but it’s really “out there”. We know that we’ll learn more about the history of Gemkind as the series goes on, hopefully a lot just in the next two episodes, but we might never get an origin story for them. We’ll just have to keep reading between the lines, and see what we can see.
Rose’s role as leader also came up. If the Crystal Gems have become directionless without Rose, though, what were they working towards before Rose decided to replace herself with Steven? Why did Rose decide to do that? She can’t have come to the conclusion lightly. Steven the Swordfighter and Lion 2: The Movie have both referred to Steven having a destiny. The best guess as of right now is that Rose wanted Steven to heal the monsters, as he does seem to be better at it than Rose ever was, but we still don’t know what happened to them in the first place.
The origin of non-gemmed monsters
However the monsters get healed it won’t be with Steven’s healing saliva; if the saliva were enough, Rose could have just used her tears. Rose’s tears were enough to restore the bramble creatures, however.
It’s possible that whatever is hypothesized to have reduced the majority of the Gem population to monsters worked its magic elsewhere, and Rose used her fountain to keep the brambles in their natural, peaceful state. We know that the Gems have fought monstrous non-gemmed creatures before (the giant bird mentioned in Cheeseburger Backpack wouldn’t have had any reason to lay eggs if it were a gem creature).
It seems more likely, anyway, than Rose’s “healing tears” changing things from what they are “meant” to be (though it’s also possible that, martial side on display again, Rose cultivated potentially dangerous plants as a dead man’s switch to booby trap the fountain should it ever fall into disrepair). They can cure Connie’s eyesight, but only up to regular human ability.
How powerful was Rose exactly, though? We know she was an inspirational leader, and apparently quite skilled with the Gems’ magical technology, but could she have had even more powers that set her apart from the other Gems? Amethyst attributes Garnet’s leadership status to her extrasensory perception, so it’s not a stretch to assume that Rose would have enough powers to put her over Garnet in Amethyst’s eyes.