Like any kids show — or any show, really — Steven Universe often falls victim to repeat plots. Tonight's episode feels like a retread, only swapping out one Gem for another. But that character change is significant and helps to enliven an otherwise familiar plot.
Lapis and Peridot don't make for the best "Barn Mates"
The premise of "Barn Mates" might remind viewers of several episodes back, when Peridot first ended up in the Crystal Gems' camp. Lapis Lazuli, after last week's events, finds herself sharing a bunk with the tiny green Gem, much to her chagrin.
Peridot doesn't feel the same way, though. She opens the episode by detailing how excited she is to make amends with Lapis; more specifically, she can't wait to prove to her new roommate how cool she is, especially now that she's with the good guys.
But neither Steven nor Peridot anticipate Lapis' cool reaction. When Lapis hints that the roommate situation won't quite work, Steven proposes some alternatives — they can split the barn they're sharing in half, or ...
"She's the one who dragged me back to Earth," Lapis snarls about Peridot, cutting short any further conversation about getting the two to live together in peace. When all Lapis wanted to do for centuries was to escape her prison and leave Earth for Homeworld, Peridot was the one who dragged her back to Earth — where she immediately and voluntarily imprisoned herself in order to incapacitate Jasper.
But Peridot has changed, she argues. We know this, having watched her evolve from a bratty pipsqueak to a far more loving ... well, she's still tiny. That hasn't changed. The plot is immediately reminiscent of Peridot's own growth several episodes back, when she would constantly get into it with Garnet and Pearl.
Peridot's growing — emotionally, at least
That's what makes this fun to watch, as opposed to just a retread. Peridot is still learning the ropes of empathy and civility herself, so her attempts to befriend Lapis are amusing. Peridot offers a variety of olive branches to the disinterested outsider, but none of them take; a lake Peridot makes for her reminds Lapis of the "endless, crushing darkness" of the underwater tomb from which she just escaped, and Lapis rejects Peridot's cherished tape recorder.
The only thing that will win Lapis over, she says, is Peridot fleeing the coop. And so she does — briefly, anyway. Fighting brings everyone together on Steven Universe, sometimes literally. Lapis and Peridot don't fuse to take down the giant eyeball monster that crops up to attack their barnyard dorm out of nowhere, but Lapis does a good job protecting her roommate, whose immediate response is to run away in the opposite direction.
At the episode's end, we're not too much farther from where we started, but Lapis is at least willing to admit that she's concerned for Peridot's safety. And with good reason, too: Homeworld still has it out for her, Steven notes, and the episode's final moment is a major dramatic tease. Where did this random, menacing Ruby come from all of a sudden?
- Favorite Peridot line: While giving Lapis a gift, she says, "The ribbon is even blue! I got your number!" She is so sassy and also the definitive best. (Lapis is a great counterbalance to Peridot, too; she's the internal to Peridot's external.)
- Remember when she was the Crystal Gems' biggest threat, though? Man, have times changed.
- We haven't spent much time with Pearl, Garnet and Amethyst lately. It's not that I don't miss them, but I love that the show is willing to put the time in to build up our relationships to other characters, too.
- This episode definitely feels like a rest stop, a calm before the storm. That abrupt ending is some tease, alright.