To begin with, Season 4 starts with something we haven’t had before – a plot that is not driven by character development. A full-blown rollicking action adventure, as we learn of “The Cluster” at the center of the Earth which is about to destroy the planet.
Which is not to say that there is no character development, just that the plot itself is as much classic sci-fi with gadgets and robots as it is character development. We get our very first glimpse of a real Diamond, (Yellow Diamond, voiced perfectly by Patti Lupone, swoon, I always do fall for the nasty ones). Peridot is put on the gangplank and her reaction…is not what we might expect. But Steven has a surprising effect on people and Gems.
Having saved the Earth again, we are rewarded by the most absurd handwave in cartooning – a character being so rich that money is never an object. Hey, if it works for Batman, why not?
And yet, nothing that you’d expect happens with this handwave. I know that if I were to come in to 10 million dollars, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life at the moment. I’d travel more often – and first class – but that’s about it. So, while this handwave might affect everything…it actually affects very little. I appreciated that. But it does make the rest of the season possible.
Because, what follows are two of the most amazing cartoon episodes ever. In “Mr. Greg,” wrapped in a facile and silly musical episode, Pearl – thinking she’s alone – sings a heart-rending ode to the loss of her love, Rose. She uncovers the seed of her resentment for Greg and in doing so is able, finally, to let it go.
The season could rest there, but no. In what has to be one of the most extraordinary episodes ever (throughout which I kept saying “holy crap,” over and over) the story takes on the tangled web of Lapis Lazuli’s history of a forced fusion and an abusive relationship with Jasper. “Alone At Sea” deserves an Emmy.
Once again, having uncovered pain, the plot can move forward. And so, we turn once again (as we have over and over) to Connie and Steven who are now fighting in tandem and becoming stronger. So much so, that Amethyst’s low-self-esteem becomes an issue…again. By the time the season ends, we can see that Amethyst isn’t the only one who feels inadequate to the task. Steven is keenly aware that he’ll never be Rose Quartz. And Jasper is still out there and will have to be dealt with.
Art – 8
Characters – 10
Service – 3 Pearl in a tux is definitely a kind of service
Yuri – 9
Overall – 10
You should be watching this cartoon.