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Harsher In Hindsight / Steven Universe

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  • After the reveal that all Gem Monsters are in fact Gems trapped in a different form, "Monster Buddies" just got a whole extra layer of Tear Jerker. Mmm, bittersweet. Then Steven manages to partially heal Centipeetle, who reveals through drawings how she got Corrupted. Steven helps her reunite with her crew, but feels guilty that he can't heal them fully.
  • Steven's quote in "Onion Trade" is meant to be a Spoof Aesop about creating new memories and not clinging to the past. Fast-forward to Season 3...
    Steven: It was more about the memories than the toy. Now I have new memories! Horrible, horrible memories.
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  • Amethyst's complaints in about Pearl and Garnet being "on [her] back all the time", like in "Tiger Millionaire", have a lot more weight after "On the Run" reveals how Amethyst joined the Crystal Gems.
  • In "Coach Steven", Pearl breaks down in tears because she isn't strong enough "to do anything." In Season 2's "Sworn to the Sword", it was shown that Pearl constantly tried to protect Rose in battle, but was always defeated due to being weaker.
  • In "Rose's Scabbard", when Pearl is on the cliff. It was already harsh but the revelation that Rose was Pink Diamond the whole time with Pearl being the only one in on it from "A Single Pale Rose" makes it one of the most devastating lines on the show:
    Steven: Rose kept secrets from everyone.
    Pearl: But not from me!
  • Also from "Sworn to the Sword", Pearl tells Connie and Steven that she got through the war by thinking about the life that she and Rose will have afterwards. Flashback to "Rose's Scabbard"...
    Pearl: Everything I ever did, I did for her. Now she's gone, but I'm still here.
    • Even worse, "Friend Ship" has Pearl having a breakdown after admitting to Garnet that she tries to be strong because no matter how hard she tries, as a pearl she feels lost without someone telling her what to do.
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    • Pearl training Connie to be fanatically devoted to Steven in "Sworn to the Sword" was disturbing in itself, but it's even more disturbing with the revelation that back on Homeworld a Cult of Personality exists around the Diamond Authority. Especially more so when it's revealed that Pearl belonged to Pink Diamond, Pink Diamond was Rose Quartz, and thus Pearl was programmed to serve her even when Pink gave her autonomy and free will, unlike with Yellow and Blue Pearl.
  • In "Warp Tour" Peridot contemptuously crushes one of her damaged robonoids underfoot, establishing a distinct lack of empathy for her minions. Cut to "Keeping it Together" where we see what the Homeworld does to broken things (specifically Gems) and this scene starts to come across in a different light. Specifically, The Reveal that shattered Crystal Gems were buried inside the Injectors and left to fuse over thousands of years until they became an abomination of body parts that seems to be aware of what the experiments did to them. Checking on the experiments' progress was Peridot's entire mission for going to Earth, and despite many setbacks, her primary mission has been accomplished. If this is indicative of how coldly Homeworld thinks of fusion, this lends a lot of context to Jasper's own initial contempt for fusion. And makes it all the more unsettling, that she would then embrace fusion for the sake of beating the Crystal Gems.
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  • The long-anticipated arrival of Sardonyx isn't all that hyped anymore thanks to the rift Pearl caused in the group because of it.
  • When Sugilite appears in "Coach Steven", her first line is "I forgot how great it feels to be me!" When "Cry for Help" reveals that Pearl and Amethyst get a Power High from fusing with Garnet, this line, along with Sugilite's refusal to defuse, get an extra layer of painful. Not to mention Amethyst's song contains the line "I forgot how great it felt to be us, guess I got carried away..."
  • "Why would I ever want to go home if you're here?" at first simply shows Pearl's deep devotion (and feelings) for Rose, but after "Back to the Barn" confirms Pearl's status as a Servant Race back at Homeworld, it then implies that Pearl wanted to escape what could have been an abusive past. It's actually revealed that she was given to Pink Diamond, who wanted a friend and not a slave, and encouraged her to think for herself. Which means Pearl for millennia couldn't figure out how to make her Diamond happy until Pearl suggested that Pink go to Earth disguised as a Quartz, and they both developed a deep bond, as well as a determination to fight to save the Earth from colonization..
  • Jasper forcefully unfusing Garnet into Ruby and Sapphire in "The Return". In "Too Far", we learn that back on Homeworld, Garnet is considered a freak for being a permanent Fusion, and would not be allowed to exist. Which makes Garnet's solo spot in the extended theme: " I will fight for the place where I'm free, to live together and exist as me!" even more heartwarming than heartbreaking in hindsight.
    • Also, Steven's horror and fear on seeing this forcible unfusing is downright Tear Jerker in "Three Gems and a Baby", where, due to babies not having object permanence Steven thought Garnet had disappeared when she unfused, and he got upset.
    • In "Jail Break" when Sapphire asks Ruby if she's fine, she replied with "Who cares?" In "The Answer", when Sapphire points out that coming back to Blue Diamond's court would result in Ruby's gem being shattered, killing her off for real, she replies with "Who cares? There's tons of me!".
  • Pearl demanding that the mirror show her the Galaxy Warp in "Mirror Gem" becomes harsher when you learn that the Galaxy Warp was where Lapis was broken and abandoned for thousands of years, and she was so shaken by the mere sight of it that she nearly dropped Steven into the ocean. No wonder she didn't obey Pearl!
  • While Homeworld's experiments with forcible fusion of shattered Crystal Gems from the war was already horrific in its own right, the revelations surrounding Lapis' backstory in "Same Old World" actually manages to make it even worse. Specifically, the revelation that Lapis was a non-combatant that was accidentally caught up in the fighting and forced back into her gem by an attack and was then placed into the mirror as a means of interrogating her. All under the mistaken belief that she was a Crystal Gem. This suggests that the Homeworld has never been one to actually do much to confirm that captured Gems are actually who they think they are before subjecting them to terrible things. How much more difficult would it be to sort Crystal Gem shards from the shards of Homeworld gems? How many entirely loyal Homeworld Gems were utilized in Homeworld's horrific Cluster experiments and the like without anyone even being concerned that they might have been tormenting their own?
  • Lapis' initial hatred of the Crystal Gems is first presented as a misunderstanding, as they simply didn't know she was trapped in the mirror and didn't bother to find out who she was. Then it's revealed it actually was a Crystal Gem (Bismuth to be exact) who poofed her in the first place, albeit Lapis doesn't know this since she was grabbed from behind.
  • Jasper referring to Yellow Diamond by name rather than referring to her as "My Diamond" (a huge sign of disrespect among Homeworld Gems) and causal disregard for Yellow Diamond's orders for a personal grudge against Rose takes a more tragic turn after "Earthlings" and "Back To The Moon", where in the former it is revealed Pink Diamond was Jasper's original diamond and in the latter we find out Rose personally shattered Pink Diamond. And then it's made worse as of Season 5's "A Single Pale Rose, where it's revealed that her enemy is the very same person she's fighting for. So, in a way, Jasper was fighting her ruler this whole time.
  • The fight between Rose Quartz and Bismuth over the conception of Breaking Point and the morality of shattering their enemies becomes this when you find out in "Back to the Moon" that everyone on Homeworld believes Rose shattered Pink Diamond. It becomes worse when we learn that Pink faked her death and became Rose Quartz permanently, meaning Rose actually had a good reason for not wanting to kill anyone.
  • Peridot asking Pearl who she belongs to, along with Pearl's response of, "Nobody!" becomes this when it's repeated word-for-word with Bismuth. When the latter asked, it was playful and obviously meant to give Pearl a moment to reaffirm her status as a free Gem rather than somebody's servant, and the way it's played out gives the impression that they went through the exchange frequently. It must have stung Pearl horribly to be reminded not only of her supposed "purpose" in Gem society, but also of her old friend - who, as far as Pearl knew at that point, she might never see again.
    • And "A Single Pale Rose" makes it even harsher. Up until Steven was born, Pearl did belong to someone. She belonged to Pink Diamond. But now her Diamond is gone, and we've seen just how much this has dislocated Pearl's life.
  • In "Steven Floats", Steven can't use Rose to give himself positive emotions to stop his falling as "those feelings are complicated." Season 3 would go on to complicate his feelings about his mother even further, ultimately leading to his falling from a fatal height again, this time risking Connie's life as well.
  • Garnet (and Ruby and Sapphire) initially not telling Steven she's a Fusion until "Jail Break" makes more sense after "Three Gems and a Baby", where it's shown that the first time Garnet unfused in front of Steven, he started crying. Granted, he was upset because he was not old enough to realize Garnet wasn't gone and just "not here right now", but it clearly left the three of them very startled and confused.
  • Pearl's verse in the extended theme ("If you could only know/What we really are/When we arrived on Earth/From out beyond your star") is a Heartwarming Moment where she promises that the Gems will protect the Earth, its humans, and Steven. It becomes a Tear Jerker when Pearl sobs in the season four finale where the Gems fail to save the humans captured, and Steven gives himself up to keep his friends from being taken to Homeworld. The Gems are unable to protect the Earth, or Rose's son. Then we learn in Season Five that Rose Quartz is actually Pink Diamond, and faked her death, meaning Steven was turning himself in based on the lie that his mother was a murderer, and Pearl, being ordered by Pink to never tell anyone, couldn't do anything to stop him.
  • Pearl's tic of covering her mouth becomes this when we learn it was part of a Geas that Pink Diamond put on her, to never reveal that Rose Quartz was once Pink Diamond and that Pink and Pearl worked together to fake Pink's death. And it's even worse when Pearl says she wanted to tell Steven for so long, but was unable to thanks to the order until her subconscious stole her phone.
  • Jasper mistaking Steven for Rose seems like an understandable mistake, since Jasper is a galactic Child Soldier that doesn't have much knowledge about humans. Then it turns out she's not the only one who makes that mistake: Bismuth, Eyeball, and even the Crystal Gems when Steven was a baby have mistaken him for Rose. Rose also has garnered a reputation as an intergalactic criminal that has done some terrible things, to protect the Earth and her friends, while also hurting them by disappearing. It's also not wrong, since Steven has Rose's gem and her powers. It's come to a head where Steven admits he's Rose Quartz to save his friends, and after finally meeting face-to-face, the Diamonds don't seem to realize that Steven is a human-Gem hybrid. And, even worse, it turns out he is Pink Diamond, the one they're trying to avenge.
  • All of Pearl's memories with Rose that we see, as well as her song in "Mr. Greg" become this with The Reveal that Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond, and Pearl was her Pearl. Pearl was made to love her, literally. As Jasper put it, a Gem's purpose is to serve their Diamond, and we've seen how Jasper has become vengeful on Pink Diamond's behalf. Pearl has trouble moving on because her entire reason for existing vanished.
  • After she meets an infant Sour Cream, and learns about human babies, Rose makes a speech to Greg about how Gems are formed from the ground, and cannot grow or change the way humans do. Greg completely missed this wistfulness and wanted to put it in song form. She admired this power so much that she gave up her form to have Steven. Then we learn she is Pink Diamond, who was an immortal Womanchild who couldn't shake off her immaturity.
  • Most of Season 4 is Steven finding healthy coping strategies for dealing with the trauma from the past season. Steven's VA, Zach Callison, tweeted he was suffering from panic and anxiety while building his career.
  • Eyeball Ruby trying to remove Steven's Gem (Which prompted him to wonder what would happen to him) in "Bubbled", and Pearl considering removing it in "Three Gems and a Baby" were already serious moments, but after seeing what would happen in "Change Your Mind", it gains a lot more weight.
  • Watching any episode before "Change Your Mind" is significantly harder knowing that Pink Pearl is still under White Diamond's control and Spinel is still waiting in the garden.

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