*This article contains massive spoilers for Steven Universe!*
From her brief appearance in Message Received, it seems we had the measure of Yellow Diamond. A massive, calculating alien overlord whom all gems look to with a mixture of respect and fear. A being so engrossed in various plans for galactic conquest that the Earth is a mere afterthought. However, the moment Patti Lupone sings, the way we viewed the diamonds completely changed. Rebecca Sugar explains the song is intended to show the diamonds when they don’t know they’re being watched. Yellow speaks not as a superior but as an equal (perhaps even a sister) to Blue. In the process, it seems Yellow lets her mask slip.
Initially, the song is a bland melody provided by blue and yellow pearl. However, Yellow begins to open up about the loss of Pink Diamond and how it has affected her. While Blue dedicates most of her time to grieving by holding onto everything which reminds her of Pink, Yellow advocates moving on. However, it seems Yellow is less interested in moving past the mourning process than skipping it entirely. She urges Blue to push her mourning aside and resume her duties as a Diamond. It seems the destruction of Earth comes less from a desire for vengeance than a compulsion to deny the traumas of the past completely. This is seen in the final lines of the song, as she repeats “what’s the use of feeling?” repeatedly until lapsing into humming opening melody as if trying to reassure herself that emotion can be pushed aside.
Lupone is alternately dismissive, reassuring, frustrated, vengeful and even downright agonized through the course of the song. Deedee Magno-Hall deserves recognition for this scene, voicing both the snotty Yellow Pearl and the withdrawn Blue Pearl as they providing backing vocals. Within the space of a song, Yellow Diamond ceases to be the bland tyrant who spoke to Peridot, but becomes a far more complex character. A grieving sister in denial, refusing to acknowledge the deep impact that her loss has had upon her and determined to push forward and play the villain. Based on the reaction of Yellow Pearl as her diamond nearly loses control, we can deduce the scary side of Yellow isn’t her cold, Supreme Leader Snoke-esque facade, but the maelstrom of emotions beneath threatening to break the surface.