Well now that the barrage of constant episodes is over and we can finally collect ourselves, it’s time to settle in and talk about the first weekly episode after the Summer Adventure: Buddy’s Book.
It had some tantalizing stuff in it (a lot of speculation fodder), but first let’s go over the concrete stuff we learned from Buddy’s recordings. Please do read on!
Thanks to Buddy’s Book we now know a bit about where things are located. Buddy’s travels place the location of the strawberry battlefield as being somewhere on the Scandinavian Peninsula; when Pearl made her map of dangerous Gem sites she appears to have marked both kindergartens, the sea spire, the galaxy warp, and probably the sea shrine. Amethyst also indicated that the desert we’ve seen the Gems go to occasionally is in Africa (the Sahara, assuming it doesn’t have a different name in Steven Universe).
We also got some interesting locations we can’t be sure about. It’s possible that the Sky Spire is actually on the Scandinavian Peninsula, not far from the strawberry battlefield (it would make sense since both feature floating patches of ground), and there are three spots in continental Europe and one that appears to be roughly around southeast Asia. A big portion of the map is cut off by the camera, and when we see it again later not all of the markings are there, and the only other marking we see is at the center of the mysterious ocean in the middle of real-world Russia.
Two of the markings in mainland Europe aren’t on the map of Gem construction from It Could’ve Been Great so might mark battle sites, while the site on the Iberian Peninsula and the site in southeast Asia both are so must both be Gem construction sites.
Some markings are on the map of Gem construction but not on Pearl’s map, so there might be sites that are destroyed, have been rendered safe by the Crystal Gems, or were never dangerous to begin with.
Rose didn’t have a lion
A pride of lions, however, is a different matter entirely.
We can tell from the inclusion of Rose’s lions at the Sand Castle that it was a site that Pearl, and probably any of the other Crystal Gems, didn’t know about Rose’s connection to. It’s certainly possible that the Sand Castle was a secret that Rose only told to Amethyst, but that would mean that early-series Amethyst would have had to direct the team to a mission site; more likely is that all of them knew of the Sand Castle, just not that Rose was using it as a sanctum.
This could make the explanation for Desert Glass’s behavior towards Steven and Lion out in the desert very different. Rather than hoping for Lion to attack Steven when it exposed Steven to Lion then brought up a wall blocking his escape, it may have been planning to bring them together. It should also go without saying that Lion first encountering Steven at the Sand Castle was almost certainly not a coincidence.
It’s hard to say much about the Sand Castle except for it looks like another secret that Rose was keeping. The lions that were there are food for a lot of speculation though. Certainly it’s easy to guess that Lion comes from here somehow (alas, poor Greg’s Cat Theory), but this is something else we’ll have to watch for in the future.
Of great interest, and related to lions, is a background change at the Lunar Sea Spire. Back when it was introduced in Cheeseburger Backpack, the Crystal Gems pass a pillar showing herbivorous animals. Back when Buddy explored it (and presumably illustrated it for Steven and Connie to imagine), it apparently depicted female lions instead.
Also, the picture has changed in other ways. In Cheeseburger Backpack the animals were on individual platforms, with nothing in the background. In Buddy’s Book, the lions are on a set of continuous steps, with stars and planets in the background. Two uses of lions in the same episode? Very interesting coincidence, don’t you think?