“Change Your Mind” is, to put it lightly, a big episode of Steven Universe, to the point where talking about it any detail at all feels like a spoiler. So if you haven’t caught the four-part conclusion to Battle of Heart and Mind...
[Ed. note: the rest of this story contains spoilers for Steven Universe, through the most recent episodes.]
In the fifth season finale, Steven wins over Yellow and Blue Diamond, then, after a grueling battle, convinces White Diamond to come over to his side, suggesting the potential for a lasting peace after thousands of years of warfare.
Also, Steven has seemingly taken a huge step toward resolving his identity crisis with Pink Diamond — which only happens after White rips the Gem out of his body.
Beyond those, “Change Your Mind” is full of the best kind of fan service, delivering conclusions to long-running arcs, careful twists, and answers to questions that had been part of Steven Universe since the beginning. Here are a few of the biggest payoffs:
One of Chekhov’s many unfired guns in Steven Universe has been the identities of the various fusion permutations of the Crystal Gems. We’d seen Pearl and Amethyst (Opal), Pearl and Garnet (Sardonyx), Amethyst and Garnet (Sugilite), Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet (Alexandrite), and Steven and Amethyst (Smoky Quartz).
In just this one hour, Steven fuses with Pearl to create a new form of Rainbow Quartz, the Pearl-Rose Quartz fusion briefly glimpsed back in the flashback episode “We Need To Talk;” Garnet, to create the fast-talking, meta-fictionally-aware Sunstone; and Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, to create Obsidian, an enormous titan who still only comes to the foot of White Diamond’s robot. Obsidian, fans may note, is the enormous Gem whose form makes up the backbone of the Gem Temple back on Earth.
The Gems deal in advanced technology, much of which is devoted to enhancing limbs or adding limbs or making bigger versions of limbs. In “Back To The Barn,” Pearl and Peridot each built robots and forced them to compete in a decathlon of sorts. And the introduction of the arm-shaped ships used by Yellow and Blue Diamond, as well as the leg-shaped ship used by Pink Diamond, suggested the existence of a sort of Gem Voltron.
Lo and behold, White Diamond’s massive robot head, which turns out to be its own ship, takes control of Steven’s legs in order to take on the Crystal Gems and the other two Diamonds. Eventually, Yellow and Blue’s ships arrive from Earth as reinforcements, leading to a classic “Why are you hitting yourself?” moment.
Steven loses his gem
Since the beginning of Steven Universe, fans have asked: What would happen if someone tore Steven’s Gem out of his body? (Steven has even wondered aloud about this at one point.) The answer, it turns out, is that he would need to reform: Once White Diamond pulls out his Gem in an effort to revive Pink Diamond, Steven is left deadly ill, while the Gem goes through the stages of its own evolution from Pink to Rose Quartz to Steven.
The Gem form is and isn’t Steven, sort of in the way that Sapphire both is and isn’t Garnet. Though it’s highly unlikely Steven will ever unfuse this way again — or at least, let’s hope not — it’s still interesting to know that he is, in fact, a kind of fusion.
Lars and Sadie
Finally! An entire season after Lars was kidnapped by Homeworld Gems and killed, then revived as a sort of human Lion all the way back in “Lars’ Head,” he’s reunited with Sadie —perhaps the most anticipated moment of the series in the non-Steven category. Steven and the Diamonds land on Earth as Sadie Killer and The Suspects play their second big show at Beach City, and Lars lands the Sun Incinerator just a few moments later. Both Lars and Sadie have evolved into their final forms, so to speak, as a space pirate and killer rock star, and though they’re both pretty awkward, it seems like they’re going to get along just fine. (Also, the Off Colors meet the Diamonds.)
The corrupted Gems
Steven gathers the Diamonds around his mother’s healing pool and tosses in all of the corrupted, bubbled Gems, who are then healed back to their normal selves. Centipeetle becomes Nephrite again, the Crystal Gems are reunited with previously lost team members like Biggs, and even Jasper makes a brief appearance; ready to go to war before realizing what’s happened. It’s a classic “everybody lives” ending.
In “Legs From Here To Homeworld,” Steven Universe introduced White Diamond’s unsettling Pearl, who happened to speak with Christine Ebersole’s voice. Once White let go of her hold on the other Gems, it becomes clear that the Pearl was under her control as well — and, in fact, had originally been a Pink Pearl. (Presumably, the wound to her eye came either at the hands of White Diamond or at some point during the Gem War.) We don’t know if that was Pink Diamond’s original Pearl before the Pearl we’ve come to know and love, but that might be a topic for a future episode.
Peridot and Lapis are back
The “Diamond Days” arc has been a little disappointing for anyone who wanted more of Peridot and Lapis in the mix — the two additions to the Crystal Gems were poofed by the Diamonds during the fight at Garnet’s wedding, and remained in hibernation when Steven, Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Connie took off to Homeworld. Bismuth, meanwhile, remained behind, preferring not to engage in Diamond politics. But after Steven’s comical distress cry from “Escapism,” she shows up with Lapis and Peridot in Yellow and Blue Diamond’s ships, leading to a stimulating, visual sequence in which Peridot whizzes around on her garbage can lid platform while carrying Connie.
Oh, Bismuth made Connie a new sword
Rose’s sword was one of the many casualties of “Reunited,” and it was almost easy to forget that Connie wouldn’t have a sword going into the big battle this episode. But when Bismuth arrives with Peridot and Lapis, she comes bearing a new sword, forged especially for Connie. No longer will the young girl need to fight using leftover weapons from Steven’s family — she has her own tools now.
Everyone gets new outfits
The poofing of the other Gems at the ball in “Together Alone” gave the Steven Universe team an opportunity to give everyone cool new outfits. Pearl now has a jacket with shoulder pads, Amethyst has something of a wrestling uniform, Garnet has a flashy new visor. Peridot and Lapis also have new looks after being poofed back at Garnet’s wedding, which means a new angular visor for Peridot and an almost athleisure-like look for Lapis, who is presumably going to become a yoga instructor. (OK, aqua aerobics.)
Now that everyone has fresh new looks, that might mean a change in title sequence for the upcoming Steven Universe movie...
Eric Thurm is the founder, host, and overall doofus behind Drunk Education, which started as a party at his house that several people had to be tricked into attending. He is also a writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club, and other publications, and the author of a book on board games forthcoming from NYU Press in 2019.