What we learned from Watermelon Steven

It always feels good to sink our teeth into a juicy lore episode. Hands grasping the firm grounding of a mix of magic and mundanity, we revel in the delightful sweetness of new findings and the seeds of future episodes contained within.

By Jove, he’s full of powers

The episode is about Steven’s new power to create plant guardians. We witnessed just how potent they were, with them getting the better of the Crystal Gems in an all-out brawl. It’s becoming a bit more apparent how the Crystal Gems could hope to stand against hundreds, or even thousands, of opposed Gems: Rose was really, really powerful. This was never in doubt, but as Steven’s suite of powers grows we must never forget that in her prime Rose Quartz had already mastered all of these abilities.

Previously the only hint of this power we had was the brambles in An Indirect Kiss. At the time we speculated that the brambles were kept from being monstrous by the power of Rose’s healing tears, but Watermelon Steven opens up the possibility that they were darker and now feral versions of guardians Rose had created herself, and that the spring’s waters put them back under control.

Crystal power

It was also very interesting to see Crystal Gems manifest new abilities of their own: Garnet launched her gauntlets at the watermelon minions as a projectile attack, and Pearl blasted them with an energy bolt out of her spear. Clearly they’ve been able to do this the entire time, but it’s interesting to see a new skill.

Perhaps the powers aren’t all that useful when fighting monsters—most monsters are nearly as durable as the Crystal Gems themselves, while the watermelon minions didn’t seem particularly resistant to damage. It would be the perfect opportunity to use techniques that worked best against soft targets.

Combat skill level

The battle between the Crystal Gems and the watermelon minions followed the same pattern as the mirror match in Ocean Gem: Amethyst rushing in and being subdued by her opponents, Garnet attempting to use her superior strength and being stymied when her opponents are collectively as strong as her, and Pearl faring the best due to her higher skill level. All that was missing was Amethyst shapeshifting into her Purple Puma form.

During Pearl’s part of the fight, it was almost as if the watermelon minions realized that all they could do was hold on to her spear so she couldn’t hurt them, but not attack her so she didn’t simply summon another one—she certainly seemed to feel more angry than threatened. Humorous, yes, but it was also a way to show Pearl as much more in control of the situation than the others while not available to help them.

It makes sense that Pearl would be the best fighter: she’s the only one who displays a real appreciation for the martial arts as something beyond what she uses to accomplish her duties as a Crystal Gem. Garnet is much more powerful than she is and seems to rely on that heavily, and Amethyst is reckless, while Pearl relies on skill in battle.