There was a lot yesterday that we wanted to talk about but had to wait on. Today is the day to run wild, however: it’s speculation day! Like any good lore episode, On the Run asked as least as many questions as it answered. It’s time to go in and wonder about some of those questions.
We are the Crystal Gems
One of the big revelations was that the Crystal Gems didn’t originally include Amethyst, and that they used to have more members than just Rose Quartz, Garnet, and Pearl. That’s a pretty big piece of information: the Crystal Gems have never talked about their comrades in arms before (at least not as such), and Pearl didn’t dwell on this fact at all when explaining the rebellion to Steven in vague terms.
Of course it’s plain to see that the temple was built after Amethyst was recruited, and at a time when there were no other members of the Crystal Gems than the ones we know. That brings up the question: what happened to the other Crystal Gems?
Or more accurately, how did the other Crystal Gems become corrupted? The fact that the monsters are scattered around the world indicates a global event, though in war it would make sense for both sides to be massed at a battle site; after being corrupted the monsters could have fought and dispersed.
We won’t know the answer to that for a while. The fact that other Crystal Gems were turned into monsters makes Rose’s compassion for the monsters even easier to explain than it already was: in addition to her natural kindness, she wishes to restore her allies.
Harm the Earth
As the series has gone on the Gems have started to look less like magic and more like technology so advanced that they had capabilities that seemed magical. The dead zone around the Kindergarten doesn’t seem easy to explain in a scientific way though.
The drilling machines look like bacteriophages for a reason. When a virus replicates it injects its genetic structure into the host cell and uses the cell to create more viruses, inevitably killing the cell. The machines likely inject something into the stone that ends up forming a Gem, but stone doesn’t form into discrete units the same way cells do; each section of stone on the cliff face is as much a part of Earth as the next.
Instead of killing the stone, this process must eventually kill the Earth. As mentioned before, the mechanism it uses to do this seems to defy technological explanation. It can’t create toxins as a byproduct, because distributing them through rock would be impossible. It can’t simply absorb nutrients somehow, as over thousands of years they would have been reintroduced to the system.
It seems as though some ineffable “life force” is being drained to create the Gems. In Serious Steven Pearl adored the Earth’s ability to reclaim a Gem battlefield for nature (even growing gigantic strawberries), but at the Kindergarten nature hasn’t reclaimed anything. The area is dead and seems like it always will be.
Perhaps trying to make a distinction between magic and technology is futile: that is, after all, the point of the “sufficiently advanced technology” quote. The Gems straddle the line well, so maybe we’ll learn more about the Kindergarten later.
We know that season two will be very different from the first. Different in what way is a very important question, but the smart money is that Steven at least partly resolves the conflict between the Crystal Gems and the homeworld. Maybe season two will partially involve him healing the various corrupted Gems, adding several new characters over the course of the season.
The bottom line is that one way or another we’ll probably have more Gems running around during season two, and not all of them will be part of the Crystal Gems (unless later recruited). The Crystal Gems will need someone to speak for them, and while Garnet’s currently the boss she’s not much of a leader: Amethyst and Pearl fear her, and while she tried to counter-act that the fact remains that she’s at her best when leading by example.
Steven, however, has proven both his ability to interact with others, both human and Gem: he may very well have succeeded at winning over Kofi by pairing him with Garnet in that volleyball game in Beach Party, even without the puffer fish’s help, and Lapis Lazuli left the Earth in peace after Steven showed a willingness to talk to her and help her.
All he was missing as a leader was the ability to command. Watermelon Steven had him learning to speak to his plant minions as a true king, and On the Run even had him telling Pearl what to do.
We want to see Steven kick some serious butt in the last episode of season one. We want to see it so bad. Maybe he will finally throw down, but we don’t think that’s how the final victory will be won. Steven’s always won his victories with empathy and a kind heart, just like how he befriended the centipeetle. He even preached nonviolence to the watermelon army and seemed to get through to them, even though “Rose’s plants lived to fight.”