Steven Universe: Back to the Kindergarten
November 14, 2017 7:45 PM - Season 5, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Steven and Amethyst try cheering up Peridot the only way they know how: Farming!

Synopsis: Steven, tired of doing his private business in the kitchen sink, and Amethyst, tired of... uh... go check on Peridot, who doesn't seem to be coping well. Amethyst has the bright idea of checking out the old Prime Kindergarten, which should cheer up their resident Certified Kindergartener. They ride the train there, because why would you pass up the chance to ride a train anwhere?

Amethyst examines her vein with her new knowledge of who came from it, and Peridot takes a little comfort in correcting her mistakes. However, Peridot looks around her with her the understanding of one who has tended to and grown living things. The Kindergarten is dead, the essential life force sucked from the earth to power the gems that came from it.

But wait! A flower can bloom in the Kindergarten?!
We must runs some tests! The gang works and bonds over planting a couple rows of sunflowers. Maybe after five thousand years the earth is ready to reclaim this damaged place?

No. Steven enjoys his normal morning routine and they hurry back to the Kindergarten. When they arrive, everything is dead. Peridot laments and takes her frustration out on the flower that prompted it all. Whoops! It's a gem monster that picked the worst possible place to disguise itself. Smoky Quartz makes short work of the monster and saves Peridot, who needs to go to the bathroom.

On the ride back, Peridot unloads more about her current mindset, but agrees to try and grow something new somewhere else.

Poster notes: I've heard people argue that this episode is a metaphor for Lapis and Peridot's relationship, that nothing will ever grow there. I rewatched it with this in mind and I don't agree. They are saying something about Peridot and Lapis, but it's saying you need to move on, not remain fixated on rebuilding the past. I don't think their relationship was an empty lifeless hole, but the loss of a close relationship can feel exactly like that.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am desperately curious if there are other proto-gems just waiting for that extra shot of local lifeforce to pop out.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:48 PM on November 14, 2017

It's a gem monster that picked the worst possible place to disguise itself.

I think you meant to say, picked the best possible place to disguise itself. Peridot gets *eaten* with a fed-up look on her face, and then the monster around her is poofed, and she *still* has a fed-up look on her face.
posted by JHarris at 11:46 PM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

The whole opening sequence in the bathroom is gold.

"Can I bring my music?"

And it's a sign of Peri maturing and growing up that she can no longer see the Kindergarten as a place of wonder. She knows what the cost is, now. I think that's the metaphor here - that coddling Lapis was too high a cost for what she gave back. I don't know that I agree, entirely, as I thought they were good together, but we only see what Steven saw so I guess that relationship was a lot more one way than we thought it was.

Like, I love Lapis, and I hope she comes back, but I'm glad Peridot got to show off a bit here.

Also any episode with Smokey in it is a good one in my books.
posted by Jilder at 5:23 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

It just clicked for me re-watching this episode how perfect it is that Peridot is so into crops and artwork. Which probably goes to show how dim I can be. Peridot is a kindergartner and an engineer. Growing new life and creating new things, that's quite literally what she was made for.

restless_nomad: Certainly the homeworld kindergarten we saw with the 'off cuts' is far more densely honeycombed with holes than the earth ones. Probably depends on how many they plant at a time. Plus it seems like whatever process drains life force from the kindergarten would have to still be active. A cut sunflower in a vase lasts for a week, the ones they planted were not just dead, but completely desiccated in 24 hours. Though I may also be being unreasonably technical here.

It also brings up a question I've thought of: What was Rose's pre-rebellion job? IIRC Quartzes are supposed to be soldiers, which doesn't seem to line up with Rose's powers. It's possible Rose was the gem equivalent of a medic, but it did occur to me that having a gem with containment bubbles, healing power, and the ability to grow mobile plants that obey her commands seems really useful if you want to be able fertilize a kindergarten rather than having to relocate it. Rose working as a gem sonderkommando may be too heavy even for this show though.

Jilder: I don't know that it's necessarily that Lapis and Peridot had a one way relationship; just that there was a fundamental difference in how they saw things. Given what happened to Lapis the last two times she got involved directly in this sort of conflict, her wanting to bounce the fuck out makes perfect sense. I think Lars is the only one who can hold a candle to how rough Peridot has it, and even that's just because he's technically dead. Peridot's experience is "hey, you get involved in a war and a lot of things go badly for a bit, but then everything winds up better than ever!"

The key for me was her line on moving the barn: "now we can bring our whole life with us, you, me, and all of our things". Peridot's life included the earth and the Crystal Gems, Lapis' didn't. That's not necessarily an indicator of relationship dynamics per se; after all, the choice of fleeing, fighting, or just staying in place in the face of a murderous hostile force is not something that every couple has to deal with (though it's certainly still depressingly common).

That said, Lapis taking the barn was kind of a dick move, even if it was necessary to put Peridot back in the bathroom.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Grimgrin, re: Rose's job: the impression I had was that the Rose Quartzes were a new innovation specifically for Earth, so in my mind they were specifically built to deal with humans. Much like the zoo, in fact: they should have been the ones staffing the human zoo, not the Amethysts. They were made to repair damaged humans, corral them, protect them as necessary. In that sense it may well have been Rose's job to rebel; from Homeworld's perspective, this is almost an AI-gone-rogue story where they accidentally built a soldier whose directive would ultimately force her to oppose them.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was really connecting with Peridot in the beginning. I had to make this.
posted by numaner at 2:55 PM on November 15, 2017

Its implied that Rose Quartzes were a project of Pink Diamond and an Earth innovation. We've already seen hints that Pink was a softie, what with her Human Zoo, I think one of the coming revelations will be that Pink was way more likable than we're led to believe. In fact, I suspect she was planning on abandoning Earth entirely or at least scaling back the colonization plans when she was shattered.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:57 PM on November 15, 2017

Plus it seems like whatever process drains life force from the kindergarten would have to still be active. A cut sunflower in a vase lasts for a week, the ones they planted were not just dead, but completely desiccated in 24 hours. Though I may also be being unreasonably technical here.

I think you're right. The oven is on, but there's nothing inside. The Kindergarten is still primed to incubate, there's just no gem seeds there. Peridot had the gem mutants incubating just fine in the Kindergarten.
posted by Jilder at 4:41 AM on November 16, 2017

That's actually a good point. There's more to the Kindergarten than just planting gems in the walls, there was the whole underground complex where Peridot was keeping the mutants. Presumably there's some engine that's absorbing life force and perhaps converting it into a form that incubating gems can absorb.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:21 PM on November 16, 2017

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