The Steven Crewniverse definitely delivered on the hype that earned Steven Universe its highest ratings yet with the airing of Mirror Gem and Ocean Gem on Thursday. Either one of these episodes by themselves would have been a bombshell. Putting them both together in one week gives us a huge amount of information about Gems to work with.
Read on to see what lore bombs were dropped on us.
Thanks to Lapis Lazuli being introduced, we also have another Gem to evaluate. What’s more, she’s not a Crystal Gem, meaning our sample pool – while still shallow – is at least widened a fair bit. This tells us at a bit more about Gemkind.
We learn a crucial fact about Gem technology in Mirror Gem: at least some of it is powered by gems that would be fully sapient Gems were they not having their power leeched by some device. We’ll speculate about that tomorrow, as it really says a lot about Gemkind that they do this to each other and even our heroes, the Crystal Gems, are fully aware of this and accepting of it.
The corruption of monsters
Pearl also confirmed what a close viewing of Monster Buddies would reveal: the monsters used to be ordinary Gems, but were corrupted somehow. There’s really not much known for sure about this yet, except that Rose thought the monsters worth healing, so whatever the problem is it probably wasn’t a choice (though if it was, at least subconsciously, that would explain why Steven the Peacemaker will eventually succeed where Rose the Healer failed).
Exactly who are the Crystal Gems?
The second bomb, the really big one, came in Ocean Gem when Steven got a chance to talk more with Lapis Lazuli. We learn that the Crystal Gems chose Earth over Gemkind. Lapis also said something interesting: she herself never believed in Earth (implying that the Crystal Gems did).
This is a nice bit of grist for the speculation mill, but as far as concrete things it makes it much more likely that whatever war Rose fought on Earth was one of her own initiation, in defense of the planet or its inhabitants from Gemkind; it doesn’t seem too likely that Earth as a battlefield was a mere coincidence. All in all, the short conversation was enough for some very significant edits to the backstory page.
Pearl’s lines about Lapis Lazuli indicate that she is quite powerful for a Gem, or at least quite powerful for a Gem that would be forced to power an object. Her control over water appears to be like Pearl’s ability to manipulate sand to demonstrate a fusion dance in Giant Woman, just on a far greater scale.
Still, even if Lapis were close to the upper level of Gem power – an anomaly – she’s a reason to consider raising the assumed power level of Gemkind as a whole. Lapis can be understood as a wizard: weak in a straight-up fight against warriors like the Crystal Gems, but able to stand back and unleash great power using her own energy. It would only take a few Gems with the power to easily and greatly affect things on a planetary scale to turn Gemkind into a galactic powerhouse.
Also, however Lapis is getting home with her wings, it’s not going to be by flying through space at sub-light speed. Garnet and Pearl seem too worried about the consequences to assume that it will take her a thousand years to get home. She may have the ability to open portals like Lion, or Gems may be able to navigate to wormholes, or when fully powered Lapis might be able to magically travel faster than the speed of light. No matter how she’s doing it, she clearly demonstrated the ability to do it herself, with no space ship.
The home of Gemkind
Finally freed from her mirror, Lapis offers to take Steven “home”. It had been easy to assume that the Crystal Gems were alien to Earth, but we finally have confirmation that Gemkind’s home is indeed on another planet. The fact that she treats it as Steven’s home too, even though she knows he’s a Crystal Gem, means the Crystal Gems are from there as well.
Ever since the beginning there has been a lot of speculation that the Cookie Cat song from the first episode, Gem Glow, was foreshadowing for the backstory of the Crystal Gems (especially Cookie Cat’s identity as “a refugee from an interstellar war” who “left his family behind”). Nothing from these episodes really confirms or denies that, but the theory comes up from time to time.
Lapis had already shown knowledge and distrust of the Crystal Gems, meaning that whenever she was put into the mirror it was likely after the conflict on Earth had started, and certainly well after they arrived on Earth. If it’s true that the Crystal Gems were somehow the inspiration for Cookie Cat, then Lapis would already be aware of the war they fled and its consequences, and expect to find enough left to make the interstellar voyage worth the effort.
The mind of Gemkind
Lapis’s actions when she’s trying to get home, but before Steven heals her to allow her to make the journey, really speak the most about Gemkind. She is willing to drain the entire planet’s oceans for even the faintest chance at getting home, but Earth losing its oceans would have dire consequences for everyone living on the planet (far from simply ruining the economies of beachfront towns, it would very likely trigger another mass extinction).
Lapis is either aware of these consequences, or she isn’t. If she’s unaware, then she is using massive powers without any consideration of the consequences. If she is aware, then she is displaying staggering indifference towards what she would likely consider “lesser beings”.
In both situations, Lapis Lazuli could be understood as reminiscent of one of the more powerful creatures of the Cthulhu mythos. The most important part of the Cthulhu mythos is the insignificance of humanity: not only are they powerless, but those with power either don’t know of their existence or don’t care what happens to them.
Lapis is the closest we’ve come to seeing the outlook of Gemkind towards the rest of the galaxy, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Even the Crystal Gems show disregard for collateral damage, even as they fight to protect humanity. We’re left to speculate what, exactly, forced the Crystal Gems to take up the role of protectors in the first place.