Steven Universe is a show with layered mysteries: every time we get a question answered, at least one new question is added to the chain. We thought it would be fun to look at some of the answers we’ve received, and some of the questions we still have.
We’ve recently covered Ocean Gem on the podcast, and one thing came up as something we still don’t know the answer to a full season later: what side was Lapis on during the Crystal Gem rebellion on Earth? Obviously she doesn’t like the Crystal Gems, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she fought against them. Some of her lines even imply she may have once sided with them.
The existence of these lines is great: unlike most mysteries, we have more solid ground to try to solve the mystery for ourselves. (Not that we won’t try our best on others!)
Lapis: “Are you really a Crystal Gem?”
Lapis: “But… You set me free.”
This is the more straight-forward of the three important lines we’ve identified, and we still can’t glean too much from this one—not even whether it’s more about her or the Crystal Gems. Does it mean that the Crystal Gems are unique in their harvest of gems for powering items, or does it mean that Lapis is someone the Crystal Gems would have a motivation to keep imprisoned?
This could just mean Lapis recognizes a simple fact we’ve all recognized as well: the Crystal Gems don’t want to free any Gems at all, because even one escaping the Earth and making it back to the homeworld could mean the death of all life on the planet. After fighting a thousand-year war to protect that life, and losing so many friends to do it, they wouldn’t want to let that happen.
You three knew I was in there, and you didn’t do anything! Did you even wonder who I used to be?
This line is more complicated. She’s clearly not blaming the three Crystal Gems we know for imprisoning her (Amethyst wasn’t even around then), and this line would also make sense if Gems loyal to the homeworld were responsible for putting her into the mirror (which would also explain why she was found at the galaxy warp).
Perhaps she is indicting the Crystal Gems for not caring for the freedom of a Gem being forced to power an object, while having fought a war for the freedom of the Earth? That’s the whole point of these Mysteries posts: we don’t really have any way of knowing. Still, it seems to be the most reasonable guess, especially considering the last quote from Lapis that we’ve chosen.
They don’t really care about other Gems—all they care about is the Earth… But I never believed in this place.
Another complicated line. Back when the episode first aired it was what told us (long before On the Run aired) that the Crystal Gems fought to protect the planet, but how it pertains to Lapis still hasn’t been explained.
The first part about the Crystal Gems not caring about other Gems would, again, fit in a scenario where Lapis was imprisoned by the homeworld, but her stating that she never believed in Earth is quite interesting. It would only seem to make sense if she had herself once been a Crystal Gem: if she was a homeworld loyalist, then her not believing in the Earth like the Crystal Gems would be a given.
But of course this is all a mystery. If Lapis sided with the Crystal Gems without believing in Earth, why? What are the odds that neither Garnet nor Pearl would have recognized such a powerful former comrade? It’s been a long time since the war, so perhaps anything is possible. We’ll just have to wait and hope we learn more about Lapis in the future.