We learned so much from Marble Madness—that’s what this post is for. Of course as always when we get questions answered new ones rise to take their place—that’s what tomorrow will be for.
Marble Madness is just about as important as Warp Tour for our understanding of the backstory of Steven Universe: just as you’d expect when the episode is about the Crystal Gems encountering something else from space, we can’t help but learn a lot.
A Gem!?! More?!?
Peridot was very surprised to see the Crystal Gems. She had no idea who they were, but all records indicated that Gemkind had been wiped out on Earth. She implied that this fate befell many planets, but that Gems had been found on other planets where they had been believed to be eradicated.
The Red Eye, from Laser Light Cannon, was sent to Earth by the homeworld to look for Gems but the Crystal Gems destroyed it before it could report back—whatever protocol it was meant to follow, the lack of a report was interpreted as there being no news from Earth.
These two sets of facts, while very enlightening, are also the source of the most questions. Still, we know some things for sure. Most importantly: the past several thousand years have been a time of great turmoil for the homeworld. They lost contact with many worlds and are only now starting to search for survivors and reactivate old assets. Gem technology has continued advancing, with a shift in aesthetics from what modern viewers would see as from a mystical, advanced civilization to one they would see as a technological, advanced civilization.
The turmoil and march of technology could indicate that the homeworld had been at war (probably not just interstellar, but that’s how the song goes); whoever they were fighting it seems like the Gems won if they’re finally able to scout out their old holdings. They must not have been desperate for soldiers, or reactivating Earth’s Kindergarten would have been a top priority.
Just picking up where we left off
This off-hand (ha, pun) remark by Peridot speaks volumes: the homeworld of today at the very least identifies with the homeworld that the Crystal Gems faced in their rebellion (though perhaps that could be inferred from their continued use of the rhombus to identify themselves). Even if there was some kind of civil war where leadership changed, and we have no indication of that, Gems with broadly the same goals are in charge. The Crystal Gems are in big trouble, no matter who runs the homeworld right now.
The intelligence of the robonoids
It may be a strange thing to point out, but the plug robonoid that the Crystal Gems allowed to succeed on its mission seemed to have a very clear grasp of its situation. At least once Steven showed up and the Crystal Gems revealed that they were already responsible for the destruction of many other droids, it cooperated quite well with them.
First of all it allowed them to ride it. That could easily be interpreted as it ignoring them, but after being released it waited for them rather than immediately continuing. Then, once it reached the Kindergarten, it did something strange: it paused. It didn’t move from the warp pad until the Crystal Gems indicated that they would allow it to. They had, after all, decided not to destroy it because they were curious about where it wanted to go; once it got there it waited to see their reaction before continuing with its mission.
The robonoids have not acted like simple machines that know only how to execute a specific task. They have no identifiable processing center – they appear just to be shells filled with goo – but they are highly intelligent and adaptable all the same.
Six thousand years
It may not be a super-significant detail, but we were still really happy to finally have an approximate time for the Gem colonization of Earth: six thousand years in the past. That would mean that the homeworld was becoming an important presence on Earth before humanity had even entered the bronze age. It might be a coincidence that the major Gem presence on Earth was established before the great human civilizations had started to rise, but it might not be either.
Of course Pearl only mentioned a time relative to the Kindergarten so we still have gaps in our knowledge. For reasons that will become clear after Rose’s Scabbard airs (or after you watch the preview), we assume that this time is when the Kindergarten started operation, and that it was active for roughly a thousand years. We still don’t know how long the Gems were on Earth before they started the Kindergarten project.
Still, it finally gives us a better number. Rather than having to say “two to ten thousand years” we can say “six thousand years” (which is, curiously enough, right in the middle between two thousand and ten thousand).