Steven Universe: Sworn to the Sword
June 15, 2015 3:20 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Pearl goes a little overboard training Connie to fight with a sword.
posted by Small Dollar (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Pearl feelings ;_;

I thought it was so important that Steven was the one to point out the obsessive mindset that Connie caught from Pearl, and turn it into a metaphorical two-on-one attack against the mindset still in Pearl.

Here's a video of the new intro.
posted by glass origami robot at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

The intro! The songs! Connie! Pearl! The diamonds at the training area! The steps on How To Talk To People!

When is the Blu-Ray coming out? There's a Blu-ray coming out, right?
posted by zix at 4:57 PM on June 15, 2015

posted by emjaybee at 5:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I kind of forgot what watching new episodes of SU is like much of the time.

"Ha, so cute and funny!"

"Huh, where is this going?"

"Ow, my heart."

I'm glad they're dealing with the less-healthy aspects of Pearl's extreme devotion/love of Rose head on. Also, the past version of the Homeworld symbol in that arena (the same one from "Steven the Sword Fighter" I believe, just from different angles) all but confirms the ruling triumvirate used to be a quartet, with Rose as the fourth member. I'm still up in the air on whether Rose's real name is Pink Diamond, though.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 6:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm glad to see Connie Take A Level In Badass. Interesting that the sword she has in the new intro is not Rose's, looks like a similar Gem weapon though. With what we've seen of Gem tech I imagine Connie can, with a few accouterments, become a worthy member of the team. She's already a better offensive fighter than Steven (which I imagine will remain true). There are also a couple hints here that Pearl did not start out a warrior, maybe the fact she styles herself a knight is why she's defective? Now I'm imagining Pearl starting out as Rose's lady-in-waiting who decided to take up the fight alongside her. Also interesting that the fight for earth apparently started in the arena? I wonder if initially Rose tried to win Earth's freedom in a battle between champions, or if there was a specific event that happened in the arena (forcing humans to fight?) that struck off the war. Finally that gem Rose is squaring off against in the holo-flashback looks suspiciously like Jasper, which can't be true. Similar looking but different Gem? A hint that gems are not unique? Holo-artistic license?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:39 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

On second look that is pretty clearly Rose's sword with Connie in the intro.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seeing Connie completely blow apart the "hero love interest" role has just been extremely satisfying in every way. And she hasn't done it by superseding him/becoming his protector, but by partnering with him.

I am having a hard time saying what I mean, but in kid's shows when I was growing up, where there was a boy hero and a love interest who also has skills/is strong, there was always a Moment when the show would go out of its way to show you that all the real power was the boy's, and that the girl, for all her skills and strength, would sooner or later prove to be weaker in some way and need rescue. And when I was a girl, that was the moment I dreaded. I always hoped it wouldn't show up, that the girl would be allowed to win/triumph, and was always disappointed. Often, the way it would happen is that the girl would get taken over by some evil force and Boy Hero would have to fight her (ensuring that you would not root for her too much) and win and thus establish Boy Hero as the master.

In other words, I was constantly being introduced to interesting female characters I was supposed to identify with who were then used to make me feel small and weak and less-than. It's really quite cruel, if you think about it.

And everything about Steven and Connie just tears that dynamic into tiny shreds and sets it on fire.
posted by emjaybee at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]

I haven't seen this yet, but Entertainment Weekly had a wonderful interview with Rebecca Sugar today and she knows what she's doing. And it's awesome. She's also 27 (almost 28, but ...) and ridiculously talented. I can't wait to see what else she does.
posted by darksong at 6:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

This episode is so beautiful. The intro, the story, the songs, Pearl, Connie, Steven, "How To Talk To People," Garnet as Master Of Comedy, everything. Steven Universe is back!
posted by JHarris at 10:09 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by JHarris at 10:16 PM on June 15, 2015

Other notes--

- Someone above mentioned the four-diamond thing. Very interesting....
- In the distant view of the sky arena, we get a better look at it than we did in Steven The Sword Fighter. We can see that below the arena there are hexagonal holes in the cliff face. Interesting....
- Pearl says that it was in the arena that she became familiar with the human concept of being a knight. This is something in particular, that the concept was foreign to gems beforehand.
- I'd also like to point out a particular difference in the new opening; before, the Gems were depicted apart from each other, but now they're all together with Steven, making them seem like more of a family. My own theory is that gems, in gem culture, are generally individualists, each expected to raise themselves and not rely on anyone or look outside themselves. That explains a lot, including statements Rebecca Sugar has said that the Crystal Gems don't live like other gems, and how the homeworld gems interact with each other.
- When Steven has the energy shake for Connie, he has a book on the counter labeled Get Fit. That's right kids: books are where it's at! (wears sunglasses, gives thumbs up)
- There's the question of what Dr. Maheswaran thinks about her daughter getting more fit, or that bandaged scratch on her face, or the calluses on her hands. I can't help but wonder if there's going to be friction between Connie's formidable mother and the Gems later.
- That hologram scene with Pearl running through the battlefield, with the flames all around, she looks so worried.... But the way she stands in front of Rose against the Jasper-lookalike. I have another theory, that Pearl is actually the best fighter of the Crystal Gems, that Garnet may be the most physically powerful but Pearl's deep combat knowledge, training and determination would give her the edge. (We know she's a better fighter than Amethyst from On The Run.) If you counter Ruby and Sapphire as separate Gems then she's likely the best fighter.
- Note, once again, that defeated holograms drop their swords. Despite how it may look in some scenes the swords are not part of the hologram.
- "Deep down, you know you weren't built for fighting...." Someone above suggested that this episode implies that Pearl's original purpose wasn't combat, and I think that's likely, and why she empathizes so much with Connie here.
- The way goofy Steven looks when Pearl and Connie are training, he looks pretty embarrassed to be the focus of all this.
- "Step 1: Think of what you want to say. Step 2: Say it." I could imagine a Warner Bros. character reading a book like that. It's easy to forget sometimes that Steven Universe gets a lot of its inspiration from cartoons, that it wants to be a cartoon, that's why the characters often drift off-model, and why they're allowed to have goofy expressions.
- Garnet smiles a lot more now. It's wonderful! Maybe it's how she doesn't have to worry about keeping anything secret from Steven any longer? While the reasoning given in Jailbreak was that they were saving it for Steven's birthday, my own theory was that part of it was fear that Steve, raised as a baby (I presume) by Greg and with a human's sensibility, might not be accepting of a fusion as a person, that maybe it would weird him out too much? Also, it seems that the character Garnet is least guarded with is Amethyst, which come to think of it is something that goes back at least to Steven The Sword Fighter. I wonder if not just Rose but also Pearl were considered to be "higher" than the others, before? Maybe there's some past history between them, that might be the source of Garnet's silence when Steven asked her where Pearl went in Rose's Scabbard?
- The flashback is narrated by Garnet, but is shown as one of Pearl's holograms. The way the describes how Pearl defended Rose makes Pearl sound a bit like a fanatic....
- "I can't wait for the midair and underwater dueling exercises, it's going to be oodles of fun!" Oh Pearl.
posted by JHarris at 10:53 PM on June 15, 2015

The four-diamond symbol is basically
the NFPA hazard diamond turned upside-down.
posted by Small Dollar at 11:21 PM on June 15, 2015

Given all the foreshadowing of Garnet being a fusion, this episode now has me totally on board with the "Rose was Pink Diamond" theory. We know for sure that the show is not careless about its background elements.

Also, I love the dynamic between Connie and Steven, the treatment of Connie not as a "female sidekick to the male hero" but as a genuine peer and equal. This show overthrows so many tired gender tropes, and does it in a thorough and beautiful way.

We've gotten a decent look at the very different lenses that Garnet and Pearl view the relationship of Steven and Connie through; I'm very interested to see Amethyst's perspective in more detail.

Also also, I have watched the new intro at least twenty times today. Everything about it is so good. The warp and weapons scenes showing that Steven is a full-fledged member of the team, the enthusiasm with which Connie (with Rose's sword!) runs off to join the group, Onion's sinister lurking on the roof of Big Donut, the way the Gems all sit down together as totally a family, Greg and Lion... so good!
posted by NMcCoy at 11:38 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not writing SCREAMING in all caps as my entire comment because this is metafilter and i must comport mysel-

posted by Mizu at 1:11 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Honestly the best part is the stevenbomb has just started and it is already SO GOOD.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:51 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

This 11 minute show for little babies has so much more emotional resonance than anything else I am watching.

I wonder if they held off on the new opening until now because they didn't want to spoil Connie wielding Rose's sword (apparently I am not the only person who saw Cloud with the buster sword)

No more dopey Steven-Eating-A-Hot-Dog in the credits.
posted by almostmanda at 5:26 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hey, if every porkchop was perfect....
posted by emjaybee at 7:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

That hot dog is interesting as a visual metaphor -- don't forget that Greg eats one in that photo. That must have been a weird moment in their relationship, as gems don't need to eat. How must Greg, and Rose, have felt about that? When couples do things together, it's often doing something like eating or sleeping. Gems (other than Steven) don't need to do a whole raft of things humans do. Was that a strain for them? Was that a factor in Rose allowing herself to be reborn as half-human?

One of the great things about Steven Universe, I believe at least, that elevates it above being simple wish fulfillment for kids like pretty much any other kid superhero show (Ben 10 leaps to mind -- and before a defender chimes in I understand there's a bit more in that show that I'm overlooking, but it's far from Steven Universe), is how weird it is, and that weirdness is energetic, it provokes thought and interest in the viewer. It is one of the few shows with characters who are thousands of years old that shows signs that its creator thought out the implications of all that time. More than that, the show is unafraid of examining a whole raft of unique and interesting perspectives, all of which are natural consequences of the setting, but the show stands out both in how much is established and implied about them.

Also, that flashback scene where Pearl gets poofed repeatedly, each time she would have had an opportunity to devise a new form for herself, like Amethyst did in Reformed. I imagine that Pearl's current form is finely balanced and honed for combat purposes. She fact that she's not bigger or more physically powerful despite that suggests a lot about how she fights, about what she sees as important.
posted by JHarris at 8:10 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Of course, in Coach Steven, we see that she's a bit insecure about her lack of size or strength. Maybe she's limited in the raw power and size she can achieve, and so chooses to make up for it?)
posted by JHarris at 8:12 AM on June 16, 2015

I can't shake the feeling that Steven is going to die in the near future in this show. Well, maybe not die, but have to retreat into his gem and then end up spending some time with his mom and coming back changed, or something. It might be something that Pearl said to Connie (about Steven not always being there to help her), but man, I just think something like that is going to happen soon.

The new opening is magic and it's awesome to see Connie kick even more butt. I love that I'm watching this show with my kids (and especially my daughter) because it's giving her an awesome perspective of girls who get things done while remaining human.

Based on tumblr, looks like the next episode is a Ronaldo-focused one. Sweet.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:29 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gem Hierarchy Speculation Time!

I tend to think that "Pearls" are not usually warriors because in the flashbacks you see her up against beefy Jasper types. Jasper herself clued us into that with calling her "defective." Then she called Amethyst an "overcooked runt"--so maybe something went wrong in Amethyst's creation in the Kindergarten (or she was left "in" too long, however that works) and "Amethysts" are supposed to be bigger and stronger/different? Or she wasn't supposed to be an "Amethyst" at all, but some other type of gem?

Garnet is also not a normal thing it seems for Gems; presumably Ruby and Sapphire separately were not very strong/despised by the beefy/high-ranking types. So becoming more powerful by merging into Garnet could be seen as being "uppity" and trying to hide an essential "true" weakness/role.

Rose was clearly both large and strong, which is probably why Jasper respected her, or else for her high rank. I am a fan of the Pink Diamond idea.

Other Stuff
Rose is a lefty, or at least, fights with her shield in her right hand and sword in her left. Pearl appears to be teaching Connie to fight right-handed, but I don't know if "handedness" matters to Gems. I think Steven has manifested his shield on both right and left arms?
posted by emjaybee at 9:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

sleeping bear: I wrote a fic about this! (warning: sad)
posted by glass origami robot at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2015

Mr.Encyclopedia: "Honestly the best part is the stevenbomb has just started and it is already SO GOOD."

OMG I didn't know about this and now I'm so pumped!
posted by bigendian at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2015

Has everyone seen this nice tumblr post about Connie's outfit being a traditional Kalaripayattu uniform?
posted by Mizu at 5:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh my gosh, Mizu, that is wonderful.
posted by almostmanda at 6:25 PM on June 16, 2015

Steven Universe is, by far, the deepest show I'm aware of on TV right now. Not the deepest cartoon or "kid's show", the deepest show, period.
posted by signal at 7:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh, Pearl. A friend of mine whose two young teen brothers are currently at the mercy of a sports fanatic father found this all horribly familiar. "Pearl," she said, "you're demoted from bird mom to bird aunt, the spiritual kin of vodka aunt." I guess Pearl is tragic, but watching Steven have to increasingly manage her dangerous behavior and out of control emotions is honestly really uncomfortable. The first time Holo Pearl showed up, Steven treated Pearl like a maternal figure; since then she's taken him into space on a ship that almost killed him and actually let him fall to what she thought was his death. After that one, he hugged her in consolation and told her she was pretty great... since then he's been the one in the emotional parent role, and it's rough to watch him have to reign this person who was once his parent figure in and stop her from damaging Connie.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:21 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've been rooting for a long time to see Stevonnie the Warrior, wielding a Rose-shield and Rose-sword. After this episode I think it's just a matter of time.
posted by traveler_ at 11:23 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

An alternate take -- I think Pearl actually sees a lot of herself in Connie, and that was what caused her to lose control a bit. She identified a bit too closely with Connie, and let that leak into her role as mentor. I also wonder if things like this happening might be part of why the Crystal Gems keep themselves apart from human-kind.

And I wonder if maybe Rose didn't keep secrets even from Pearl (see Rose's Scabbard) because Pearl would do something self-destructive to protect Rose if she knew them. Like say a crazy scheme to turn herself into a half-human....
posted by JHarris at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess Pearl is tragic, but watching Steven have to increasingly manage her dangerous behavior and out of control emotions is honestly really uncomfortable.

So, watching this episode again, while there is this aspect is there, there is also the sense that Pearl knows this is serious business. This isn't a sport contest. Remember, this is what fighting is: a life-and-death struggle. While I agree that Connie should not be fighting gem battles unless it's absolutely necessary, and this level of selflessness (protecting another's life) is too much to typically demand of a child, if it did come to that, well, fighting is bad news. I think that understanding helps us to understand how Pearl got to that point in training Connie, and at the end she does come to her senses -- although their situation is pretty dire if two kids must take to the battlefield, even if one is half gem.

I'm really interested in that inevitable upcoming episode in which Connie's mother minor chord finds out what she's been up to. Maybe it will be something in which the parental Maheswarans get rescued by their precocious daughter.

It's worth mentioning... anime shows routinely put kids into dangerous situations like this, and people tend not to interrogate them this closely. (I hear that in this episode the show once again visually references Revolutionary Girl Utena in its fight sequences) But I also can't picture them coming to the realization that Pearl was ultimately manipulating Connie. Anime is popular, but there are often problematic aspects to it, and Steven Universe does a good job, I think, of bridging the Western and Japanese animation storytelling traditions, and seeing where something that may seem okay in an anime show might be worth taking a close look at.
posted by JHarris at 11:40 PM on June 17, 2015

"Step 1: Think of what you want to say. Step 2: Say it."

I would like a gif of this please, so I can link to it in AskMe.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:12 PM on June 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Ask and ye shall receive.
posted by Mizu at 7:25 PM on June 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

So I'm back watching the first episode, Gem Glow, and it's weird how different it seems in light of these more mature stories. But also, the idea that Pearl wasn't made for combat purposes fits into the way she tells Steven to summon his weapon, with "hard work and dedication," which is probably how she had to learn to do it. Whereas Amethyst, likely of a warrior class, doesn't have to try at all.
posted by JHarris at 12:05 AM on June 24, 2015

I'm not sure the Maheswarans would be that unhappy to learn that their daughter is learning martial arts from an experienced teacher. As long as they don't hear that she's also being trained to give up her life as a knight. As long as she can convince her parents that this is, in fact, a sports competition, they're probably thrilled.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:50 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

If I want to cry for some reason, all I have to do is listen to "Do It For Her" again.

I think I didn't stop saying "Pearl no" during the whole scene.
posted by Foosnark at 5:16 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I already loved this show (watching through for my first time now) but this episode absolutely blew me away. Things we already knew about Pearl and Rose confirmed, with Connie and Steven finding their own dynamic. I like the implication that Pearl's relationship with Rose Quartz seems to have been on the "undying infatuation" level and that that's not on RQ.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2019

First time? Oh wow, it's a good thing there aren't many spoilers in these threads, because there are HUGE things that happen, and that get revealed. This is only Season 2!
posted by JHarris at 1:26 PM on July 13, 2019

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