Steven Universe: Bismuth
August 4, 2016 4:30 PM - Season 3, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Steven frees one of the original Crystal Gems from Lion's mane.
posted by Small Dollar (55 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
!

So many theories confirmed/destroyed.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:47 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


HERE LIES
ROSE IS PINK DIAMOND
2013-2016
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:33 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


jesus christ that episode

What else is Rose hiding? Does every CG have differing information? I wonder what they all know now.
posted by divabat at 5:36 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


HERE LIES
ROSE IS PINK DIAMOND
2013-2016


The Crewniverse specifically said Rose wasn't Pink Diamond earlier.

BUT....

Something still doesn't add up. Pearl said some time back that both she and Rose came to Earth, not that Rose was made on Earth. There are still many unexplained things about Rose Quartz.
posted by JHarris at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah in actuality I agree it doesn't add up. There's no way Rose is a normal Quartz Soldier, she has powers way beyond that of Jasper (who is a Era 1 Quartz of similar vintage to Rose). Whatever she is, she's probably not any of the things the CGs would say she was. Maybe she was Pink Diamond, maybe not, maybe she used to be but something weird happened that made her not any more? Anyway she kept a lot of secrets from everyone like a giant pink sexy Dumbledore.

So are summoned weapons built externally to a gem or not? Bismuth praises Amethyst on her whip but then gives her a better one, and gives Garnet and Pearl what seem like permanent upgrades to their weapons. But there's other weapons, also built by Bismuth(s) that aren't summoned and don't disappear. Surely Jasper, the only other gem we've seen with a weapon to summon, had access to bismuths on Homeworld. Also, Pearl surely couldn't summon a spear as part of her original job. Maybe some, but not all, weapons can become a permanent part of a Gem's physical manifestation. Maybe Rose gave Amethyst that whip? Bismuth was also surprised by Pearl's energy blasts so it... It's complicated? I guess we'll see if the upgrades she handed out actually stick around.

It's a shame Bismuth didn't stick around, but I would have bet anything she wasn't a permanent new addition. I would've liked to see what she could have done for Peridot and Lapis. I figured there was a good reason she was bubbled and sure enough there was. I guess Rose didn't want to admit to her army that their armorer came up with a weapon too terrible to use and had to be bubbled. I bet Snowflake and whoever else would've sided with Bismuth and it would've got ugly fast. Still, there's an economy of characters on the show and if Centipeedle can come out of her bubble twice I'm sure it's not the last we'll see of Bismuth.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:03 PM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anyway she kept a lot of secrets from everyone like a giant pink sexy Dumbledore.

I want fanart of this RIGHT NOW
posted by divabat at 6:10 PM on August 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


PIZZA BURRITO
posted by Vibrissa at 6:11 PM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


oh man this was GREAT. I think maybe the key bit of information from that late-night heart-to-heart was Bismuth's line about how Rose helped her army find (i'm paraphrasing badly) 'powers they didn't know they had.' Which might mean Rose's flight, healing, etc were abilities she developed that she *wasn't* intended to have. And so are everyone's weapons.
posted by nonasuch at 6:25 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Surely Jasper, the only other gem we've seen with a weapon to summon, had access to bismuths on Homeworld.

Ah but did Homeworld Bismuths get used to build weapons? This one was stuck making spires until Rose freed her.

Also when they were talking about how to summon weapons in the first episode, no mention of Bismuths or external help. Pearl did her rose petal thing, Amethyst shrugged and pulled it out (because Quartzes clearly do that sort of thing), Garnet adapted her Ruby gauntlet that we saw in Keystone Motel. So maybe Bismuths can upgrade your summon-able weapons, or maybe just this Bismuth can. As well as making the regular kind.

I kind of feel like we can't resolve Bismuth, Centipeetle, or the rest of the corrupted gems mostly because the cast would get too crowded. Even Peridot and Lapis have to be rotated in and out of the episodes to avoid that, and so I was pretty sure Bismuth couldn't/wouldn't be able to stay for some reason. Unless they had an Enormous Task that only she could do in her forge, taking her out of the main plot for long stretches of time. (Like Peridot's drill). At heart this is a character ensemble show and you can't have too many characters or it gets overwhelming.
posted by emjaybee at 6:27 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


So are summoned weapons built externally to a gem or not? Bismuth praises Amethyst on her whip but then gives her a better one, and gives Garnet and Pearl what seem like permanent upgrades to their weapons

I think the answer is "not." Bismuth says she made "every material weapon used by the Crystal Gems"; I assume "material" excludes summoned weapons. I don't think Pearl got an upgrade that will now automatically form on her summoned spear; she got a prosthetic addition that she can use with that spear. Amethyst has a natural aptitude for whips, so Bismuth gave her a fancy material version. But neither can be summoned or regenerated by their recipients any more than Peridot can summon her armor back.
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:28 PM on August 4, 2016


I liked this comment from forsea on Tumblr:
steven universe episode 1: steven thinks that eating his favorite ice cream sandwiches is the trick to activating his magical powers

steven universe episode 100: steven attempts to convince his guardians' long lost friend, whom his dead mother kept trapped in a state of mental and physical suspension for 5,000 years, that ultimate power is not the solution to ending an ancient war waging between two different sides of an alien race
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:31 PM on August 4, 2016 [30 favorites]


The "Bismuth" title card! I totally forgot that this was going to be an extra long episode until the second eyecatch played, I think I was just too tense and waiting for the hammer drop to come along.

Anime reference watch: I think maybe the Breaking Point is a reference to Ranma 1/2? There's a character called Ryouga who learned the technique to get an edge on the title character, only to find that the Breaking Point technique is useless against humans. Really impressively destructive when used on rocks, though, and it's dialed up to genocidal here.
posted by vaghjar at 6:35 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Soooooo Amethyst eating her giant pizza burrito like an owl choking down a small rodent...
posted by angeline at 6:50 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


Also, if Rose isn't Pink Diamond, if she's a Quartz like Amethyst or Jasper... Could there be more Rose Quartzes back on Homeworld that escaped the Earth battle? And could we see one in future and if so, oh man, how much more complicated can Steven's emotions get if he encounters one? Or more?
posted by angeline at 6:53 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


What if Rose DID value the lives of Homeworld gems more than the lives of the Crystal Gems?
The Crystal Gems apparently weren't shattering their opponents and they still managed to win. With an effective weapon they would have won the war.

My theory is that Rose is either Pink Diamond or was working for Pink Diamond, possibly trying to restore Pink Diamond's corruption (Lion = Pink Diamond). The rebellion was to serve a purpose, and she didn't want to shatter the gems she was actually loyal to so she kept the Crystal Gems just equipped enough to stalemate. Creating Steven was an attempt to increase her powers, possibly her original plan was thwarted when Homeworld used the corruption bomb.
posted by FallowKing at 6:54 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also the moment that stabbed me in the heart was when, in response to Bismuth's "oh, a lost Pearl! who do you belong to?" Pearl crowed "No one!" with SO MUCH DELIGHT and now I know that was something they must have done like a thousand times and OW, MY CHEST HURTS.
posted by nonasuch at 6:59 PM on August 4, 2016 [25 favorites]


Something still doesn't add up. Pearl said some time back that both she and Rose came to Earth, not that Rose was made on Earth. There are still many unexplained things about Rose Quartz.

There's no reason that Rose can't be an Earth-made gem. Lots of gems grew in Amethyst's kindergarden. It's most likely that before the rebellion, Homeworld made Quartz gems on Earth and shipped them off to homeworld/other gem controlled planets. There would be no need for Homeworld to keep an army of soldiers on Earth, where there wasn't yet any resistance. So it's possible Rose met Pearl on homeworld, returned to Earth (maybe out of curiosity of where she was made?) and decided to stay and fight for it.

At some point they're going to have to explain what sparked the war/Rose's decision to rebel/what happened to Pink Diamond. We're not going to learn much about Rose until that happens.
posted by INFJ at 8:05 PM on August 4, 2016


Takeaways: "Cast in the name of god, ye not guilty!"

Steven is strong and durable as hell. What happens when he starts to figure it out?

It's been suggested here many times, but this is the first time outright stated in show that I'm aware of: Rose wasn't as perfect as everyone said she was. Tossing Bismuth in the junk drawer and letting everyone who cared about her think she's dead is not something the Rose everyone talks about would do. But Rose did it.

It may be best that Bismuth never met Lapis, as I'm pretty sure from Lapis' flashback that Bismuth was the one who fractured her gem. Come to think of it, Bismuth may have had issues with Peridot as well. Or maybe Peridot would run her mouth about other Bismuths she knows. Either is possible.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:45 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think Rose is playing a very long game. She kept Bismuth in her back pocket as a trump card or last resort, or maybe just hoping that after finding a better way to get free of Homeworld, she could be brought back.
posted by rustcrumb at 9:44 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Poor Bismuth. I feel like this entire fight played out probably exactly the same way with Rose, except Rose hid Bismuth away and never told anyone. Probably because it's a complicated situation and while the other gems are very sweet they don't really do subtlety. They do hulk smash.

Bismuth's anger is understandable though. It must have been frustrating to know you can use your skills to supply what's needed to liberate everyone, only to be stopped by the very person who gave you that liberty. That must have felt like a huge betrayal.

I don't understand the theory that one kind of gem might actually be a different kind of gem. Why would that be? We haven't seen anything that supports that.
posted by bleep at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2016


It's pretty clear that Rose loved all life, so it follows that killing wasn't something she would ever condone. She just wanted the other gems off of Earth.
posted by bleep at 10:21 PM on August 4, 2016


> maybe Peridot would run her mouth about other Bismuths she knows

This is the worst thing about Peridot living off in the Barn.

Also, I was just pondering: What if there is some sort of rebelliousness inherent in the gems grown on Earth? Could this be why the Diamonds didn't just blow the crystal gems away with their corrupting light/song and resume the colonization of Earth? The cluster is a "screw it" science experiment for a world that's already lost.. but the corruption weapon seems to have no lasting damage that would poison the earth (otherwise wouldn't Amethyst come out corrupted?) or cause delayed adverse effects. Something not as insignificant as a few leftover rebels would make the earth non-viable as a colony.
posted by INFJ at 6:01 AM on August 5, 2016


So I'm going to have to go back and rewatch to check this, but I thiiiink I recall that Steven does not actually explain the corruption of the gems on Earth to Bismuth. Bismuth is pretty angry at Homeworld, and angry at Rose, but I think even she harbors a little doubt that her weapon is a little unwholesome, and that winning by stooping to the most nasty tactics and technology may not be OK. But, what if she had known that the Crystal Gems, and even Homeworld gems on earth had been subjected to a WMD? What if she found out about the Cluster? I wonder if Steven could have defeated her, had she known those things.

Also interesting that this ties into our real world human wars, where we have rules that things like pepper spray, tear gas, blinding lasers, explosive bullets, land mines, etc, are Not OK. First use of nuclear weapons is also incredibly taboo. But in this scenario, does Bismuth's weapon count as first use?

Also uh, gonna go out on a limb and speculate that "Crazy Legs" is Centipeedle.
posted by rustcrumb at 9:55 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also uh, gonna go out on a limb and speculate that "Crazy Legs" is Centipeedle.

I assumed this was just a nickname as well, but apparently Crazy Lace Agate is a thing, and more likely to be what she said. (Though I haven't yet been able to listen to it again and see if that fits the pronunciation.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:05 AM on August 5, 2016


Ok that actually makes a lot more sense. Apparently Biggs Jasper and Snowflake Obsidians are also real minerals.
posted by rustcrumb at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2016


Finally caught up with this show.. It's so goooood!!!

Is it me or are we missing one of the precious gemstones. There's diamond, ruby and sapphire but no emerald.
posted by Pendragon at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've also seen a lot of speculation that the two corrupted gems Jasper has are Biggs Jasper and Crazy Lace Agate (though the latter looks more like Ocean Jasper).
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:12 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Steven bubbled and teleported one of those two gems in "Crack the Whip" after Amethyst poofed it.
posted by rustcrumb at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


So I'm going to have to go back and rewatch to check this, but I thiiiink I recall that Steven does not actually explain the corruption of the gems on Earth to Bismuth.

He didn't. I'm sure that would have put a different cast on the conversation had it come up. But on the other hand, everyone kind of implied a different attitude towards Homeworld than fits the facts. Homeworld's only really attacked once recently, not over and over. Jasper doesn't really seem to be working for them anymore, and thsoe Rubies were looking for her. And Homeworld seems to have their own problems as of late, I'm wondering if they really care so much about Earth, although YD appears to have a remaining grudge.

The Crewniverse Tumblr has a lot of happy pictures of Bismuth with the guys which, in hindsight, take on a melancholy tone.
posted by JHarris at 11:52 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Particularly, look at the shape of Steven's present in the "Merry Bismuth" holiday card....
posted by JHarris at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


JHarris, one thing I notice is that Bismuth seems to be very charismatic. She brings out a side of Pearl and Garnet that we don't see very often at all, both the boisterous chummy friendship, and fight-y attitude about their war with Homeworld. Her attitude instantly infects both of them, and it seems like both Steven and Amethyst are a bit suspicious of this.

You're definitely right that what we have seen recently does not really add up to Homeworld launching relentless successive attacks on Earth. I definitely think Bismuth's mood colors the recollection of recent events.
posted by rustcrumb at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


As a side note the wiki article on bismuth is pretty interesting, and there's a picture that will look familiar. Bismuth is an interesting choice; it's more of a metal than a gem so it's interesting that they are the builder/maker of the society. Pearls also aren't really gems and are also servers. (And yes rubies are body guards I know but I'm not really making a point)
posted by bleep at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2016


Do you remember when Steven vs. Amethyst was the 5th highest original program on cable in the 18-49 demographic a few days ago?

Well... Bismuth was first in that demographic. It was the sixth most watched original program on all of cable, by anyone!
posted by JHarris at 2:28 PM on August 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


(The discrepancy is mostly accounted for by the existence of old people and Fox News.)
posted by JHarris at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2016


I don't understand the theory that one kind of gem might actually be a different kind of gem. Why would that be? We haven't seen anything that supports that.

It's not so much that we think it is particularly possible for gems, but rather that this is the sort of revelation that is not uncommon in the kinds of stories that Steven Universe superficially resembles. Rose has secrets; this has been hinted at in many ways for a very long time. A "secret identity" would fit the scenario appropriately and complicate the story in an exciting way. Pink Diamond's existence had been heavily implied, while also being kept deliberately obscure, so the likelihood of SOME connection between those characters is pretty likely, regardless.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 2:31 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some connection sure but if it's typical to set up a world with certain rules that are analogous to stuff on earth and then just break them arbitrarily, I wouldn't call that good writing and I think we can expect better from this show. Some connection or alliance, sure, makes sense. But if the gem is the living essence of their being, that would be like suddenly revealing your human characters have the power to change their actual DNA.
posted by bleep at 3:04 PM on August 5, 2016


I guess I don't see why, in a show portraying magical ladies whose powers have never been exhaustively defined and delimited, it should necessarily be a betrayal of logic that one of them may have altered her identity in a way we haven't yet encountered.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


The idea that their gem is their life force and identity is pretty defined. It would be like if in the last scene of Harry Potter it was revealed that Voldemort was actually an alien who came to earth and magically transformed into a human wizard and that's why he did all that wacky stuff. They have magic in that world but it doesn't mean anything magic automatically makes sense or is good writing.
posted by bleep at 5:17 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me -- is Bismuth is the only gem besides Amethyst and Steven we've seen who can shapeshift?
posted by Foosnark at 6:17 PM on August 5, 2016


Garnet's shown some capacity to do so.
posted by divabat at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2016


It occurs to me -- is Bismuth is the only gem besides Amethyst and Steven we've seen who can shapeshift?

From the way they talk about it, it seems like all of the first era Gems should have the innate capacity to, but they mostly don't choose to tap into it. Amethyst and Steven were very surprised to learn Peridot has *no* ability to change form, after all.

I think it might go deeper than lack of interest though. I get the impression that actually mastering their Gem powers requires a lot of specialization: Pearl does a bunch of summoning/conjuration feats the others don't seem to be able to duplicate, but I don't recall ever seeing her change form. (And for that matter, I don't recall Amethyst ever making anything besides her whips, while Garnet does make shades.) They probably need a ton of practice to get good at these things, otherwise it would be a lot harder for Homeworld to gaslight them about their innate potential.

I wonder if shapeshifting aptitude is tied to how fast they can make a new body, come to think of it: Amethyst is *way* faster at rezzing herself than Pearl is.
posted by mordax at 9:18 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pearl had a line early in the episode, "It's not always easy to understand Rose's choices, but we have to stand behind them." Felt very different hearing that on a re-watch knowing what happened to Bismuth.

Also Bismuth's "At least if I was in pieces I wouldn't have to know how little I mattered to you" sounded so close to something Pearl would say to Rose. Seems like there were a number of obsessive relationships there.
posted by Peccable at 10:12 PM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


bleep: I don't think anyone was ever suggesting that Pink Diamond physically changed her gem into a different gem. The "Rose Quartz is really Pink Diamond" theory was that she changed her name when she rebelled against the homeworld.

I mean, it's not like you can tell for sure what kind of stone it is from the pictures we have. All you can really say is that it's pink.
posted by baf at 11:16 AM on August 6, 2016


Okay thank you that's what I was confused about. Thanks.
posted by bleep at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2016


I wonder if it's possible for a really powerful gem, with power to spare, to lose pieces of her gemstone and still remain a complete individual? Real life gemstones can be recut. Maybe something like that could turn Pink Diamond into Rose Quartz.
posted by JHarris at 4:57 PM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, it really looks like this is the Bismuth who cracked Lapis. Take a look.
posted by ourobouros at 5:52 AM on August 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Homeworld's only really attacked once recently, not over and over.

Well, they didn't say recently, though, did they? They might have just meant the Homeworld has attacked them multiple times in the past five thousand years.
posted by webmutant at 9:13 AM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't like their decision to re-bubble Bismuth. This isn't corruption. This isn't a magic problem they don't know how to cure. This is a legit disagreement. They should be talking it out.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:12 AM on August 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


I agree, Galaxor. I'm not sure how bubbling Bismuth permanently is any better/kinder than destroying someone's gem.
posted by chaiminda at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2016


Talking it out is hard to manage when one of said parties is not only unwilling to talk, but is actively trying to kill anyone who gets in her way.

(That said, I don't believe for a moment that this is permanent, or meant to be.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wow, it really looks like this is the Bismuth who cracked Lapis.

Nah, that was just a normal attack. As shown in your own link, Lapis was cracked by a hapless homeworld gem fleeing.
posted by pwnguin at 10:48 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Talking it out is hard to manage when one of said parties is not only unwilling to talk, but is actively trying to kill anyone who gets in her way.

That's not really what happened though, is it? Bismuth wasn't trying to kill Steven for getting in her way, she was trying to kill Steven because she believed that Steven was Rose. Rose locked Bismuth away for thousands of years while all of Bismuth's friends and comrades died, then lied to those who were left about Bismuth's fate, so there wouldn't be anyone to question Rose's judgment. Rose left her bubbled, knowing no one could find her, effectively killing bismuth. Rose would rather do that, and have the rest of the Crystal Gems slaughtered by home world, than fight back with lethal force. I feel like Bismuth's rage is warranted.
Rose led them into a battle in a war where she made sure the other side had better weapons.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:01 AM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hmm. That may be part of it, but it doesn't seem as if Bismuth and Rose had a difference of opinion, and then Rose sucker-punched her and bubbled her to get her out of the way. This seems to be an instant replay of Battle #1, in which Bismuth presented the Breaking Point to Rose, Rose turned it down, Bismuth tried to kill her[1], and got bubbled instead.

I certainly grant that Bismuth's rage at Rose not telling anybody what happened at any point in the past 5,000 years appears to be warranted. I'm just not so sure that the fight wouldn't have gone down the same way without that. Your last sentence (from Bismuth's perspective) would still stand.

[1] I'm leaning heavily on "I didn't want to fight you, but you left me no choice!", referring to Rose back then, not Steven now, but it does seem the most likely interpretation.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The implied politics of race in this episode made me super uncomfortable. Galaxor Nebulon said it above ("I don't like their decision to re-bubble Bismuth. This isn't corruption. This isn't a magic problem they don't know how to cure. This is a legit disagreement. They should be talking it out.") and although I don't want to read more than is present in this allegory, it's really icky to me that Bismuth's explosive anger, which is pretty reasonable given the circumstances of her captivity over the past two-and-a-half millennia, is sufficient reason to deprive her of agency once again--much less without any attempts to make good.

Rose Quartz as the unseen but omnipresent fifth character is forever held up as a picture of perfection, but I'm increasingly creeped out by the Crystal Gems' inability to tell stories about her that offer enough nuance to make her real and flawed, rather than some all-powerful leader who's, by fortune, beneficent and kind rather than cruel and Jasper-like (and to whom the others owe so much gratitude for releasing them--some of them at least, like Pearl--from bondage that they continue to serve her..).

I know the racial politics of Delmarva aren't the same as the racial politics in my tri-state area, but you can't give the characters real-world analogues and expect viewers not to see parallels between the persistent loss of opportunities and agency "hard to deal with" working class Black dykes whom frightened white queers find "too threatening to reason with" face all the time.. I really hope this gets dealt with in real ways in the upcoming episodes.

[NB: I know I'm posting this over a year after this episode airs, so maybe my qualms will be resolved soon.. I can only hope.]
posted by tapir-whorf at 2:24 AM on September 4


Bismuth outright tried to kill Steven when they were alone, which is a pretty huge breach of trust. "Talking it out" could well mean a battle to the death with a gem willing to shatter. We have a strong indication that something like that might have happened with Rose, too. Rose probably shouldn't have kept that information from the others, and for so long, but there are still missing pieces of the puzzle there.

Rose's being looked up to by the others, vs. his personal experience with the consequences of her decisions, is something Steven has had to come to grips with more and more often, as we've seen in more recent episodes.
posted by JHarris at 9:25 AM on September 4


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