Steven Universe Vlogs: Episode 71 – Back to the Barn

It’s Pearl vs Paridot as robot battles robot. A pretty cool setup to say the least. Doug takes a look at the metal fighters.

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. I feel like these episodes are so much better when it’s just Doug talking about his thoughts and opinions on the episode alone instead of him trying to get in with other people and make jokes with them and recap things and struggle to get across a point and stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rob, he’s entertaining and usually has good stuff to say, but it seems like when it’s just Doug alone he can just make a much more interesting point than he can when he’s, for lack of a better word, sort-of distracted with trying to get the conversation with his brother to the place it seems like he wants to take it or distracted with Rob getting them off topic.

    Anyways, we’re almost to the most recent Stevenbomb, guys! Just one more episode to go. Also, let the shipping commence!!!

    • Interesting! I found theses episode boring and short without Rob to bounce of ideas and pointing out stuff that Doug would have miss without him.

  2. Neo-stalgia Fan 1

    Get ready for the next one, I know how much you like Amethyst stuff. X3

  3. Nothing about the episode’s crowning moment?

    I. Am. A. Pearl!


  4. littlewillie610

    “That’s right! I am a pearl!”

    I think this one was far from being a time wasting episode. It didn’t do much to further the story with the Cluster, but it did provide some very good character development for both Pearl and Peridot, and where they stand in Homeworld’s hierarchy. Although Pearl has her issues, this episode shows elements of her character that really make a good role model in certain respects. I also enjoyed how appalled Steven was at the notion of robots fighting.


  6. Pretty good episode. Pearl isint that annoying here. I also the fact we keep learing about how the gem system works and how pearls are at the bottom of the foodchain.

    • Oddworld Inhabitant

      Pearls seem to act as maids/secretaries to high-caste Gems. They’re certainly low-caste, but I don’t think they’re on the exactly bottom of the food chain; I doubt powerful Gems would like it if other, lower-caste Gems could just bully their servants about too.

      • Going by what we have seen it sure feels like they are at the bottom. Especially when peridot says “your a pearl” in that way of like your nothing. lower then low and meant to serve. Also going by how gems have been shown up to now I doubt if a high level gem would care a pearl was bullied or hell even broken. They would just get another. At least by home world gem standards.

        • Oddworld Inhabitant

          Maybe. I personally read Peridot’s outburst as her aggravation at a pearl (i.e. a servant caste) trying to outperform her at peridot-assigned tasks (i.e. engineering/technical planning). Peridot, by my reading, was primarily angered that Pearl wasn’t acting like a pearl, and was trying to outperform her at her peridot-inherent caste duties, which seemed, from Peridot’s perspective, like a threat to her very identity. I base this mainly on the fact that before they started arguing, Peridot seemed to find it humorous that a peridot (presumably a mostly laborer-class Gem) would be working with a pearl, who apparently usually only directly interact with the highest levels of Gem society, and that, in an admittedly horrifically objectifying and rude way, Peridot seemed to be unsure of how to interact with Pearl even as a pearl. If pearls really were at the bottom of the totem pole, I imagine Peridot would have had no problem just bullying Pearl around from the very start.

          Admittedly, however, my reading mainly relies on my having drawn a mental analogy of pearls sort of being the House slaves of Homeworld society; horribly mistreated, yes, but kept slightly above the laborers if only to preserve the dignity of their owners. It is entirely possible that coming episodes will prove me wrong and you right.

  7. I thought this episode was interesting because it got me to re-think how I understood Rose’s and Pearl’s relationship. I thought they had a romantic relationship sort of like Ruby and Sapphire but then I re-watched Rose’s Scabbard and I began to think that the conversation between the two and I began to see it as some one freeing slave and not as two people in love.

    • littlewillie610

      For Pearl, it was definitely love.

      • Yes Pearl may have been in love, but it doesn’t mean that Rose’s feelings were on the same level. She very well may have viewed Pearl as a good and trusted friend and didn’t want to own her any more.

        • My understanding of the implications they’ve put forward is that Pearl wanted a romantic relationship that Rose wouldn’t fully reciprocate because of the inherent inequality that Pearl could never let herself get over. In other words, even after Rose “freed” her Pearl still acted subservient and deferential to Rose in all situations to the point where an equal relationship would’ve been unsustainable.

          • Pearl is not Rose Pearl! (Slight spoiler) All pearls match there owner gem placement. Which make sense since they are made to order and Gem can’t change there gem placement. Rose gem is on her belly not her forehead. Pearl is most likely White diamond Pearl. White Diamond has her gem on her forehead. The Diamond Authority we see is represented by diamond with the top half is white and the middle is yellow and blue while Pink make the bottom. These would match there gem placement. Yellow and Blue Diamond have there gem in there chest. We can infer that just like Rose has her gem on her belly so does Pink Diamond. So it would make sense that White diamond that is on top would have her own gem on her forehead like Pearl.

    • It does make Rose’s line in the flashback, “My pearl.” have a bit of a different implication than we thought.

    • It definitely puts a new spin on her line, “Rose made me feel like everything.” The first Gem in thousands of years who told her she wasn’t just an accessory, but could do anything she wished. I would probably idolize someone like that too, were I in Pearl’s situation.

  8. Oddworld Inhabitant

    This episode reveals a lot about Pearl, both in terms of why she gravitated so much to her near-worship of of Rose (as a Gem literally created to serve in what basically is a maid caste, even as a rebel it makes some sense for her to gravitate to that mindset); why she, as Doug mentioned, has a need to compensate for the weakness that her race/caste is viewed with by training hard, search out ways to prove to herself that she has strength, and by asserting herself in ways that a pearl (lowercase) might not be intended to; and her obsession with knights as a way to compensate her desire to reject caste norms by becoming a warrior with her inherent desire to serve an authority figure. (Please note at this point that I don’t buy into phrenological some-races-want-to-be-slaves stuff; however, Gems being created rather than born probably makes their preprogrammed mindset harder to break, and Pearl in particular seems to have internalized the caste views of Homeworld and struggles to break them.) Indeed, a particularly sad moment in this episode is when Peridot speculates that Pearl’s sash indicates she is the servant to a high-caste Gem; the sash is something chose to wear (well, manifest) on her own, but to someone from Homeworld, all her actions can only be seen through the lens of pearls=servants. No wonder so many people love the moment where Pearl punches Peridot, and, thus, symbolically punches the racism and ingrained self-deprecation that ensures Pearl stays so neurotic.

    However, I’m going to take a step back and offer a meager defense for Peridot’s actions, unforgivable as many might see them. After all, Peridot isn’t exactly Calvin Candy; her own words establish that Homeworld peridots are considered equal or lower caste to pearls (basically they’re an engineering/technician caste). Peridot is so unfamiliar with how to even interact with pearls that she only really knows surface-level details about them, and even views the fact that she is working with one as a slightly rebellious act in of itself. Given this highly caste-based way of thinking, the possibility that a pearl, who mainly serve a domestic role, is as good and technical stuff as she, Peridot, a Gem created exclusively to do just that, is both deeply insulting and, from her highly biased perspective, an insinuation that she is utterly worthless at her job and thus a defective peridot. No wonder, then, that she’s so high strung. However, the fact that Peridot grows a grudging respect for Pearl (and, keep in mind, this show isn’t afraid of letting rivalries linger, so having the issue somewhat resolved by the end was a creative choice) suggests that the caste perspective is not so ingrained in her that she can’t let it be challenged or overcome. Whether she know it or not, Peridot is learning and allowing her Homeworld views to be challenged, which allows her to evolve as a character without taking Pearl out of what is in-essence a Pearl episode.

    • Eh, I think it’s kinda weird to see Pearl mostly through the lens of what she is ‘supposed’ to be like that. Like, why not assume she is captivated by stuff for the same reason many people are? Same for her admiration of Rose and her need for order.

      Like, Pearl defies her role in some ways because she wants to but not in others. And just because she’s not going against what a Pearl is supposed to do, doesn’t mean she is ‘stuck’ to her programming and neither does her doing something different means she is overly set on ‘defying’ it – it may be how she is as much as Amethyst’s love of wrestling is.

      Like, I think Pearl genuinelly likes rules and order because it’s her. I think she genuinelly found knights admirable with their code of bravery and devotion because she sees value in those qualities like many people. And I think she genuinelly likes doing chores. It’s as much a part of her as anyone. It’s kinda wrong to define everything Pearl does and likes in terms of what she is expected to be.

      • Oddworld Inhabitant

        Actually, one could make the argument based on later episodes that Amethyst’s fondness for wrestling is a byproduct of her inherent nature as an amethyst, but I see your point. I may well have made the same mistake Peridot made; I viewed Pearl too much through the lens of her being a pearl, and not as an individual. It’s entirely possible that Pearl’s loyalty, cleanliness, and passion for organization are purely her own personality traits, and not a byproduct of her being a pearl. Still, as this is the episode that introduces us to the notion of Homeworld pearls and how Pearl is both similar too and differs from them, I thought it was a good time to bring up this particular reading of the character.

  9. Funny. I would never have thought of Pearl’s need to control things to have come from not being able to as a lowly servant. Rather, I sort of assumed her neurotic personality was a direct leftover from her being a servant, someone who would have had to make sure to always get everything right and never slip, so as to never get punished/fdismissed/who knows what. Someone that high-strung has long term anxiousness built up to where it’s become part of her personality.

    I would imagine that her defying the natural role of a pearl, especially to serve someone she hugely admired and cared for (Rose), would then double down on that need to be perfect, to never give anyone a reason to find fault with her. Since Amethyst and Steven (and every other human) are younger than her, it has also fallen to her to be responsible for them, and I expect that her “need to control” isn’t a rebellion from her servant days but an extension of her desperate need to make everything go right and not fail in her present duties, which now include caring for and keeping tabs on those in her charge. Hence why you never see her ordering Garnet around; instead she defers to Garnet almost always, because Garnet is more powerful and more stable, and easily Pearl’s equal or better.

    My theory, anyway.

    • Oddworld Inhabitant

      I don’t necessarily view the two as mutually exclusive. Homeworld pears appear to be analogous to maids/secretaries (as opposed to, say, waitresses/baristas), so naturally a desire for perfection and precision in their duties would be ingrained from their creation. However, it’s worth noting that Pearl is able to show the same level of dedication, if not more, to duties and hobbies that are outside of her role as a Crystal Gem and those that are assigned to her by Garnet. This level of devotion to personal desires is a highly rebellious act, at least from my perspective, for a caste/race that is supposed to have no motivation beyond serving their assigned master. In other words, while neuroticism may be an inherent trait to pearls that is considered an extension of their service role, Pearl has subverted it into a rebellious act against the notion that she has no will of her own. At the same time, her desire to admired by those around is both the result of her ingrained desire to be admired for her work as a servant and a fear that she is unable to rid herself of a Homeworld mindset, and thus is unworthy of being a Crystal Gem.

      All that said, while she doesn’t usually give orders to Garnet nor contested the leadership position with her after Rose’s quasi-death, it’s still worth remembering that in episodes like “Cheeseburger Backpack” she isn’t afraid to give Garnet instructions, which implies that the pearl mindset is certainly not so ingrained that she views herself as Garnet’s servant.

  10. I am sad Rob missed all of these episodes.

  11. I always felt this episode wasn’t really about the anti-prejudice message. As much as giving us a look at home world society. Which I really like as the slowly developing gem lore is easily one of my favourite parts of the show.

    I still remember how popular the ‘Home world has a caste system’ theory was. And how happy so many people were that this episode finally confirmed it.

    Personally Peridot reminds me more off Invader zim than Marvin the Martian. Although I’m not sayings it’s a poor comparison.

  12. Talking about being reminded of characters, if anyone else watched Red Dwarf the crystal gems are rather similar in ways: Pearl = Rimmer, Amethyst = Lister, Garnet = Mix of Cat and Kryten…

  13. Pearls are Maids or Secretaries

  14. It’s worth mentioning that you missed the episode Sadie’s Song (episode 69). Just a reminder.

  15. you’re going to see a couple more Pearls soon. It isn’t just that Pearls are second class citizens, it’s that they are literally BRED (or grown depending on how you see it) to be a servant class. They can be anywhere from secretaries to literally just eye candy made to sit there like Princess Leia in Jabba’s palace. Pearl becoming a warrior is like a maid suddenly commanding an army. Actually you’re about to find out how each of the crystal jems would be considered an outcast or pariah on the Gem home world.

  16. Follow up comment to come when I’ve seen this episode. From what you said about the episode, it seems like a world building episode in an odd way.

  17. Sock puppet Cluster.
    Giant robots shouldn’t fight!
    Where did the trucks land?

    This was a great episode for an unrepentant Pearl fan like myself. As much as I liked it, the Sardonyx arc can be hard to watch, just from the fact that your favorite character is at their most loathsome. During their fight, Peridot was throwing some of Pearl’s confessed insecurities right in her face, almost word for word. She responded not by breaking down, but by powering through and delivering one of the most satisfying single punches since “Let’s see you grit those teeth!”. It’s gratifying to see such hard-won characterization followed up on and respected.

    Before this episode I was under the impression that Pearls were a technician caste and she was considered defective for wanting to become a soldier. Peridot’s description of Pearls seems to cast them more like living decorations, accessories for high-ranking Gems with no discernible talent. It really makes our Pearl even more impressive for having learned not only how to fight, but how to be an engineer as well. Her fastidiousness and detail orientation is a product of her having to work all the harder to excel at something for which she has no natural predilection. Plus, it’s just great to see her being confident and self-assured without coming into conflict with a character we’re supposed to like (don’t worry Peridot, your time will come).

  18. That was a fun episode despite the serious-ish subject matter. ^.^ Also, I see that the credits have changed once again.

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