The fourth episode of season three of Steven Universe, “Barn Mates,” has been long anticipated. Ever since Cartoon Network accidentally aired the promotional advert for this episode months in advance, fans have eagerly been awaiting the inevitable conflict between Lapis Lazuli and Peridot. Luckily for fans, the episode aired in France on the 21st of May, which was earlier than its scheduled airing in the US for the 26th.
The episode entails Lapis and Peridot coming to heads with one another. Peridot is willing and eager to put their past aside and become friends. Lapis does not, and cannot, hold the same sentiments as she still sees Peridot as a threat. Steven and Peridot work together to attempt to win over Lapis to no real avail. First, Steven draws a card for Lapis and asks Peridot to write a heartfelt message in it. She apologises in the message and attempts to compliment Lapis by saying she was “full of useful information.” Naturally, Lapis does not take it well. Steven then suggests that they use the hole left by the drill to make a small lake for her as a peace-offering. Lapis does not take kindly to this either as it only serves as a reminder of the months she spent trapped under the ocean in a fusion with Jasper.
Peridot then decides to give Lapis her tape recorder as a present as it originally had helped her come to terms with being trapped on Earth. However, Lapis rejects this gift too, crumpling the recorder in her hand and calling it garbage. Peridot attempts to explain to her that she understands how Lapis feels. She too is trapped on Earth and never able to go back to Homeworld. She expresses frustration that Lapis won’t accept her attempts at reconciliation. When Peridot asks what Lapis wants her to do, Lapis tells her to leave. Peridot briefly respects these wishes until a Homeworld ship arrives. When the ship appears to be an imminent threat to Peridot, however, Lapis unexpectedly steps in to save her, showing that they have reached a truce, if not an entirely amicable one.
There was a noteworthy pop culture homage to Dragon Ball Z at the end of this Steven Universe episode. When the space ship crashes, the gems only have a few moments to recover before the hatch opens, revealing a Ruby with her gem placement over her left eye. This is a reference to a scene in Dragon Ball Z where one of the antagonists, Vegeta, also leaves a crashed space ship. He has a device covering his left eye, similar in both placement and colour to Ruby’s gem.
This episode was also the last episode that Ian Jones-Quarterly worked on as supervising director on Steven Universe. He was the supervising director on the show from its very first pilot and stepped down in June 2015. His reason for stepping aside were to work on another project. This was later revealed to be K.O! / Lakewood Plaza Turbo. The animated pilot short for Lakewood Plaza Turbo was officially released February 1, 2016 after being leaked back in 2013.
However it’s the clash of views between Peridot and Lapis is what makes this latest Steven Universe episode so interesting. Peridot is undoubtedly a changed gem from her first appearance. With Steven, she has learned to appreciate Earth and its inhabitants. She has even betrayed her loyalty to Yellow Diamond. However Peridot is also desperate for validation and attention. From cries of “Praise me!” to continuously repeating things she thinks Amethyst will find funny, this is clear. She needs Lapis to know that she has changed and grown since they last met and not only does she need her to acknowledge it but she also needs her to be impressed by it. She imagines an entire conversation where Lapis will be awed by her newfound empathy and wish to be her friend. Peridot is simply unable to understand why Lapis can’t put the past behind her like she already has.
Lapis’ view on the situation is completely different however. She had her freedom taken away for thousands of years and is just becoming accustomed to her newfound liberties. She is still suffering after being trapped in a mirror for millennia, not to mention being trapped as Malachite. The fact that Peridot’s circumstances and opinions have changed is irrelevant to Lapis. She wasn’t there to see Peridot growing. The last time she saw her was when she was trapped as an informant on Peridot’s ship. Lapis has no reason to trust someone who “used (her) just like everyone else did.” Steven is right when he says that he trusts Peridot because he knows her but getting to know Peridot is easier said than done given that Lapis has been used by people not unlike Peridot for a large portion of her life. It will take more than gifts and apologies to endear Peridot to Lapis. But more than likely Peridot is not going to get the validation she wants from Lapis any time soon.
Fans still hope that Lapis and Peridot’s relationship will become more amicable in later episodes of Steven Universe. Their similarities may help rather than hinder Lapis with coming to terms with life on Earth. However, we can only wait and find out.
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