Last night, Steven Universe returned for what is purportedly the final time before another hiatus for the show (no one quite seems to know, to be honest)—but no matter if Steven Universe is leaving us for a week, or many months, it knows how to leave you wanting more. A lot more.
Spoilers ahead, of course.
With “Too Far”, we get another slice of the pattern coming to form for this current Cluster/Peridot arc on the show—Peridot has had her moment of softening and acclimating with both Steven and Pearl, now it’s the turn of another Crystal Gem: Amethyst.
It’s a similar episode in structure to both last week’s “Back to the Barn” and the preceding “When it Rains”—Peridot’s attempts to reconcile with the Gems mean she says something offensive (while giving a tantalizing hint at more Steven Universe back story), a Gem is offended, Peridot learns the error of her ways and apologizes, and is on track to becoming less of a cackling English-dub-in-the-‘90s anime villain and more of an interestingly layered character.
But “Too Far”, which sees Peridot hilariously try to impress Amethyst as the two gems and Steven go to retrieve a drill for their, err, own drill, doesn’t just shine the spotlight on Peridot. For the first time in what feels like ages, it gives Amethyst a little moment too. Out of the Crystal Gems, Garnet and Pearl have both been huge focal points for the show, making them outstandingly multifaceted and intriguing characters—but Amethyst has tended to get a bit of the short stick in that regard, until now.
Upon arriving at Kindergarten to retrieve the drill, Peridot attempts, in her typically dorky style, to impress Steven and Amethyst with her knowledge of Homeworld—but makes the terrible mistake of telling Amethyst that she was a defective gem, grown improperly in the Kindergarten centuries ago. It’s another fascinating splash of backstory for the series: Fusions are for war, not love as is the case for Garnet, the idea that there are different Gem categories (Quartzes, like Amethyst, and presumably Rose, were designed to be warriors) and that the forming process is meant to forcefully shape their body structure, but also an incredibly sore spot for Amethyst.
We’ve seen her tense up when her past has come up before, but here, she tries to take it all in. As sad as it is to see Peridot not recognize how offensive she’s being to Amethyst as she regales her “defection”, it’s even sadder to watch Amethyst herself just sit back and take it—it hurts, but she knows so little about her own past that she has to endure that pain to understand it.
It’s a wonderfully poignant little moment, even if the fact that Amethyst and Peridot’s rift is short lived—the Gems return with their Drill bit secured, and in her childish naivete, Peridot can’t understand why Amethyst is annoyed at her (it is a delight, by the way, to see Peridot’s intellect on a technical and emotional level contrasted like this—her desperate appeal to be funny in the eyes of Amethyst, solely because Amethyst is the only Gem she sees as worthy of real respect, is strangely endearing), but it takes the drill going haywire, and Peridot saving Amethyst from it, for the two to rebond in a way.
In true Steven Universe style, it’s done in adorable fashion—Peridot holding out a tape recorder playing out her apology, too shy to say it herself—but it also reminds us that Peridot actually wants to try and get on with the Gems. It’s not really an alliance of opportunity any more—she needs them to stop the Cluster, but she needs them to help her better understand why Earth is worth fighting to save, too.
But above all, this feels like and admittedly bizarre place for Steven Universe to take a break. Peridot has had her moment’s reconciliation with every main character save for Garnet. The story of the Cluster is clearly far from over, too. It’s such a shame that just has the show has found itself on a fantastic run of episodes, that the momentum of that arc is completely lost. In retrospect, as much as I enjoyed them, it’s even made me a touch annoyed that “Nightmare Hospital” and “Sadie’s Song” were so unrelated to the rest of the episodes in this brief weekly run that they took up slots that could’ve feature more arc-based stories. Which is a stupid thing to feel!
I guess that in the end, it’s a testament to Steven Universe’s quality—it’s a show that so rarely ever falters, but when it’s consistently on a high like it has been, it makes for one of the funniest, charming, and engaging shows on television. Maybe the “Too Far” of the title is just meant to be how we feel about just how long away the next episode of such a wonderful show is.
Personally, I’m blaming the arrival of Pearl Face of the Week in these recaps for the sudden hiatus. They need more time to make goofy pearl faces! Not much to go on here as Pearl wasn’t that much of a presence, but her little freakout about the Drill setback was classic Pearl: