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YMMV / Steven Universe S3E20 "Bismuth"

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  • Broken Base: This is easily the show's most divisive episode (fans refer to this as "The Discourse Episode" for a reason), with viewers broken into multiple camps over the massive infodump questioning just who the good guys and the bad guys are.
    • Some find the conflict of Bismuth and Rose as moralizing and equating victims fighting back with perpetuating violence, others point out that heavy casualties were had on both sides and the issue wasn't so much 'killing vs not killing' as 'wholesale genocide of an enemy you see as unhuman' vs 'the reality your enemy IS human and killing them shouldn't be treated as a triviality or celebrated'.
    • Some are on Bismuth's side, saying the Breaking Point would've been a good idea, others point out it may simply have escalated the war to an even higher level than it already was (which is saying something) while becoming Not So Different than the Diamonds. Some think Rose was wrong for poofing and imprisoning her, while others theorize that, based on Bismuth's choice of words, she attacked Rose, who poofed her in self defense after realizing Bismuth was treasonous.
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    • Ironically, even the Grey and Grey Morality is polarizing. Steven and Rose refusing to compromise on the matter muddled the message for some, as it suggests that this was a viewpoint Rose had no interest in considering, nor does she want to give the other Gems the option to consider it and potentially break them up. Others feel that Rose was wrong no matter what for defeating Bismuth and especially not telling the Gems after.
    • A third camp actually loves the fact that neither side is necessarily "good" nor "bad" and find the moral greyness refreshing.
    • And we could be here all day debating the pros and cons of Bismuth being rebubbled for an indefinite amount of time.
    • This all got even more complicated after the big reveal in "A Single Pale Rose." Suddenly, the issue becomes that Rose/Pink Diamond didn't want anyone hurt because the rebellion was just her attempt to get the other Diamonds to leave Earth alone, having vastly underestimated how much they cared about her personally. Unfortunately, in the process she was slumming among gems who had genuinely suffered horrible oppression under a system that she had no experience with herself. There are also those who suspect Bismuth actually attacked Rose because she discovered the truth, given her venomous accusation that Rose had lied about "everything."
      • The episode "Made of Honor" would later clarify some of these points- Bismuth actually blames herself for inspiring Rose to take the actions she did, and had no idea that Rose was actually Pink Diamond. The episode also emphasizes that the Breaking Point would have had the same effect on the war as it actually took- shattering a Diamond meant that the other Diamonds came down with the Corruption Song. The only difference was that since Rose was still around instead of being shattered, she was able to save Bismuth, Pearl, and Garnet from the Song.
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  • Critical Research Failure: "The Breaking Point" is an In-Universe and possible Out-verse example: Extraordinarily powerful and able to One-Hit Kill any Gem, but any well-trained or seasoned combatant would reject it, even if they didn't care about morality. Why? Because on the battlefield, it might as well be a large hunk of scrap; think about it, it's got a really short range, needs at least a few seconds to charge back up after every single use and can only deliver on its One-Hit Kill promise if you hit one very small, specific area on your opponent's body, which could be located anywhere. And that's not even getting into the problems one would face due to the laws of physics (i.e. weight and recoil) or potential design flaws. It could potentially have use in executions, though, where most of the flaws would be negated.
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  • Draco in Leather Pants: Look at the "Broken Base" entry and see how many different ways fans side with Bismuth. She's definitely supposed to be sympathetic, feeling betrayed by her fearless leader. But some more forgiving fans tend to ignore the fact that she's still someone who wants to use her powers to commit mass genocide against the diamonds, and tried to kill both Rose and Steven for getting in her way. Additionally, these same forgiving fans seem to conveniently forget that Peridot and Lapis would almost certainly be on the list of Gems Bismuth would want to shatter—and with her apparent "all Homeworld Gems are evil" mentality, it's unlikely that Steven or the other Crystal Gems would be able to talk her out of it.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Bismuth may be willing to kill any Homeworld supporter she sees and is willing to attack her friends or kill a child if they get in her way, but she was clearly traumatized by her experience as a slave and then Rose appearing to betray her by preventing her from showing off a weapon that would end the war, and then lying about not knowing where she was. She actually cries when Steven promises to tell the other Gems what happened, and says Steven is a better person than Rose was.
  • Obvious Judas: An old friend of the Crystal Gems who pops out of nowhere, that has been kept away from them for apparently no reason, showcases bloodthirsty tendencies, and is an Ultimate Blacksmith capable of putting the heroes on even ground with Homeworld provided she stays with them... Eh, she seems trustworthy.
  • Narm: Bismuth screaming "JUST! DO IT!" when she tries to force Steven to Mercy Kill her should sound devastating. Instead, it brings to mind Shia LaBeouf.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • Your heroes are just as imperfect as you are. Rose may have bubbled Bismuth in self-defense when she realized she was Right for the Wrong Reasons, but worrying the other Gems by lying to them that she went MIA was still wrong. The last thing Bismuth tells Steven before she poofs is that he's better than his own mother for promising to tell the Gems the truth, even if he was the one who poofed her.
    • Sometimes, you have no choice but to fight back in self-defense.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Even with twice the usual episode length to work with, there's not a single acknowledgement of how Bismuth is clearly the one who poofed Lapis and caused her to be trapped in the mirror—though it's never been stated if it was officially this Bismuth as it could've been another one (see also how the Ruby that makes up Garnet looks very similar to the other, loyal Homeworld Rubies encountered over the course of the series).
  • The Un-Twist: The advertisements on Cartoon Network made Bismuth out to be a potential permanent new member of the Crystal Gems in celebration of the show's 100th episode. Savvy fans suspected something amiss given that Bismuth had been bubbled and left in Lion's mane inaccessible to the rest of the team instead of being stored in the temple like normal. And virtually everyone guessed she wouldn't be permanent, simply because she was listed as a guest anyway.

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