What could Back to the Barn mean?

Lore, speculation, the endless cycle. Back to the Barn was a big episode for telling us what homeworld society is like, but there are always unanswered questions. Let’s see what we can wonder about today.

Hundreds of Pearls…

Steven was quite impressed by the idea that there could be hundreds of Pearls out there, and while Pearl is great and therefore having hundreds of her around would be too, it’s nowhere near the Planet of the Pearls we were hoping for.

It’s actually quite impressive for there to be so few Pearls. We estimated a minimum fatality count for the Crystal Gem rebellion of 50,000 assuming that the Cluster could be made with tiny shards, but realistically there are at least 200,000 Gems’ shards in the Cluster—orders of magnitude more dead soldiers fighting on Earth than there are Pearls supposedly on the homeworld. Even if most of those dead Gems were grown on Earth the situation doesn’t really change—the Earth made only a tiny fraction of the Gems it could have eventually made, so they would have had to join the homeworld’s forces eventually.

So where are all of the missing Pearls? Peridot certainly doesn’t make them sound outmoded, so it’s not that most servants are of another gem type (unless there is a large amount of servant Gem types, all of which have several hundred copies). We could assume a tiny population on the homeworld, but if they’re truly a universe-spanning empire they’d likely have lots of work to be done on homeworld.

It’s just confusing, since we can’t even assume that Pearls are vanishingly rare because they’re common enough for Peridot to apparently resent seeing flaunted; she’s also only “impressed” by Pearl when she notes that Pearl is particularly fancy, not simply by seeing her.

That leaves us with two main possibilities: either Peridot never cared to note the number of Pearls on homeworld so merely threw out “hundreds” to mean “a lot” so we shouldn’t take the number literally; or few Gems desire servants in the first place, and Pearls are evenly distributed among the higher tiers of owners rather than concentrated in the hands of only the very highest few.

And she looks like a fancy one too

We say that Pearls, if there really are merely hundreds of them, couldn’t all be owned by Gems at the pinnacle of Gem society because Peridot interprets Pearl’s fanciness as meaning she belongs to a particularly important Gem. At 500 Pearls, if only the highest of the high had a Pearl then in such an enormous empire there’s probably not all that big a power difference between the most powerful Pearl owner and the least powerful. Certainly not as much a distinction as if those Pearls were instead owned by 500 of the most powerful 50,000 Gems or so.

Either way, whether there’s a wide net of potential Pearl ownership or if there are many more than 500 Pearls, our Pearl is fancy enough for Peridot to wonder who she belongs to. Of course we know who she used to follow with an intense devotion: Rose Quartz.

We wonder things about Rose Quartz ourselves, like whether she used to be one of the homeworld’s four leaders. So, her Pearl was a fancy one, was she? Very interesting to know.

The Cluster project

After we learned about the Cluster project in When it Rains it had some serious implications for the rebellion, depending on timing. We wondered whether the Cluster was started before or after open fighting started; if the Cluster had been started before the fighting, that would mean that the homeworld gave up on Earth without a fight (or at least before a decisive battle).

Knowing that the rebellion lasted for a thousand years, while the Cluster was only worked on for “a few hundred years”, means that not only did the homeworld fight for Earth before giving up on it as a colony, it fought for a long time.

All of those other worlds that apparently suffered the same fate as Earth, having Gemkind wiped out on them, could very well have been the same other worlds the Crystal Gems communicated with during the rebellion. We continue to wonder if the homeworld used those worlds for similar purposes, since they seem to be coming back to all of the worlds at roughly the same time.