Steven Universe Recap: The Question
The Recap: Ruby declares her independence and, taking a cue from comics, decides to become a cowboy. In truth, she misses Sapphire fiercely, and decides she wants to become Garnet again—not because Rose told them they’re “the answer” but because Ruby has decided to pop the question.
Yup, closure is our word of the week. I’m not sure anyone was necessarily asking for a reconsideration of Garnet from the ground up—Ruby and Sapphire have had their fights in the past, after all, and most of Garnet’s stories are built around themes of communication—but it’s in keeping with the storyline of the Gems starting over with a clean slate.
On the other hand, this change in dynamic means regarding Ruby and Sapphire as individuals rather than “halves of Garnet” that act as a dramatic gimmick, and perhaps that’s the point. Ruby and Sapphire have had time to reflect and choose to devote themselves to one another (arguably they always had, but needed to rediscover that without Rose’s words hanging over them as the most important validation). It’s the same idea as a vow renewal, and the only downside is the thought that we might not have as much Estelle in our lives.
Every episode so far has provided a spotlight for cast members to showcase character growth; it means Charlyne Yi gets the chance to really stretch her legs for the first time in a while and play new and subtler shades of Ruby’s character. The usual enthusiasm and impulsiveness is still there, but it’s softer and more reflective. She’s also clearly much more confident handling music with the Ruby voice than she was in “The Answer,” hitting a fairly high register and a whistling section without trouble.
Speaking of, this episode is overtly meant as a bookend of sorts; like yesterday’s Amethyst episode, a lot of the pleasure of watching it comes from comparing its structure with a prior character arc: in “The Answer,” things were thrown into chaos following Rose’s arrival and Ruby and Sapphire were forced together and had to survive by working together a unit; in “The Question,” the chaos of learning Rose’s secret drives them temporarily apart and forces them both to asses themselves as individuals.
The color scheme has also moved from predominantly blue to predominantly red, and because of the western theme means a lot of brush and rock formations. It’s a perfectly sensible visual decision, and not really the boarders’ fault that they’ve been deliberately put up alongside one of the most beautifully made episodes of the entire series.
Even against that stiff competition, there are some standout moments. The meeting of red rock against the blue night sky during Ruby’s song, shading into a completely blue wash when she admits her loneliness, is a subtle way to keep the emotional stakes in sight, and the reunion is visually and emotionally gorgeous from start to finish.
The pedant in me wants to quibble over the question of why space rocks are interested in the western tradition of marriage, but there’s just too much sincerity here to get mad at. Yes, Ruby is inspired by a comic book, but the feelings are clearly hers. The marriage proposal is just visual shorthand for a long-term commitment. It’s a powerful visual with potent cultural associations.
And the optics here are obviously chosen with purpose. They might be deluded, but there are still holdouts trying their best to claim that Ruby and Sapphire aren’t romantically involved. Beyond that small niche, it’s a powerful statement in the current political hellscape to have two female-coded characters not just declare their love but decide to get married.
This show can’t stop the slow receding of rights for the marginalized all by itself, but it can speak to the younger generation—it can work to normalize queer relationships, and between this and Pearl and Rose’s romance, is now dedicated to doing so as overtly as possible. For that alone, I applaud the Crewniverse.
Two more episodes to go—three, technically, because Friday’s is a two-parter. Let’s see if we actually catch a glimpse of the other erstwhile Earth gems, or if this run keeps its focus exclusively on the core cast.
Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they’ve fully embraced their lifetime role as a lover of trash. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, listen to them podcasting on Soundcloud, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.
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