Like the best episodes, Story for Steven showed us some stuff, and while this filled in some gaps in our knowledge it revealed more gaps that we didn’t even know were there. It’s the kind of backstory reveal that we love, because it let’s us start wondering.
(Incidentally, the track Young Gems was premiered to the audience at MAGFest. Hence the name of this subtitle.)
A lot of people have been talking about how much younger the Crystal Gems seemed in Story for Steven than they do in the rest of the series. Garnet doesn’t seem to have changed much, but Pearl doesn’t seem as mature and Amethyst seems rather childlike.
There have been some good theories on why this is, and there seem to be two big ones: either that Greg is an unreliable narrator or Steven is an unreliable listener, or that the Crystal Gems’ apparent immaturity reflects their comfort under Rose’s care.
We tend to prefer the second explanation (though we do not think that Greg was reliably narrating Marty). Remember that the rebellion had probably ended more than five thousand years in the past by the time the events of Story for Steven happened. We know that the fighting in the rebellion was terrible, and the ending grim. For some time afterwards there was probably a lot to do all at once: they had to build the temple as a base of operations while dealing with the spread of monsters and securing large amounts of Gem technology left behind by the war.
All of that would have eventually tapered off. The most vicious monsters would have been found and taken care of, leaving just the ones that keep to themselves; the bulk of Gem technology would have been recovered, and all that would be left would be either lost or unimportant; the temple would be built, giving them a safe place to stay.
Their work would never end, of course (even during the time of the show they seem to have a mission every week or two), but with the worst of it over they would have had plenty of time to relax. Rose Quartz, their leader, was there to protect them. They presumably grew complacent over time. We know that they let their technology stagnate, and they seemed to have no preparations for the eventual return of the homeworld. Under the care of Rose, with no real concerns except the weekly grind, they eventually went with younger forms to reflect their states of mind.
Blind to the fantastic
Yesterday we mentioned that all of humanity, not just the residents of Beach City, seems to regard magic strangely. It’s still strange, completely out of humanity’s experience and perhaps even expectation, but they don’t seem to regard it with wonder when they encounter it.
Part of this must be because that is what Ms. Sugar intended: she wanted a show where the magical fell in love with the mundane, rather than the much more common mundane falling in love with the magical. Still, we look to the show for reasons for this, and we find that we just don’t know much for sure yet. We know that the Gems must have been involved in humanity’s history, though the Crystal Gems try to avoid involvement as much as possible, but not why humanity seems to have such a practiced disinterest in magic.
One theory that was brought up was that the lighthouse above the temple is responsible for the effect. It’s true that it was on back in the time of Story for Steven, when the Crystal Gems wanted to be more separated, and off in the main time of the series, when they’re more open to human interaction, but if it’s the cause then its effects would be reaching far and wide. It’s an interesting idea, but there’s not much to support it; both Greg and Mayer Dewey were willing to walk up to the temple when they had reason to, lighthouse or no.
There’s another, more likely cause. Given Peridot’s reaction towards an infestation of “Stevens” in the Kindergarten (she tried to swat him as we might swat a fly), it might have been very dangerous for humans to get near Gem installations back during the initial phase of colonization. This could build up a cultural taboo against interacting with Gem things, especially if the Gems were around for thousands of years before the Kindergarten was activated. Even if they weren’t, hundreds of years is still a long time to a short-lived species like humanity. The taboo could long outlive the danger, continuing to be transmitted for thousands of years by societies that no longer understand its original cause.