Spoiler Warning – This post covers Pearl’s character changes through the first 4 seasons of Steven Universe.
Steven Universe is know for complex lore, and powerful emotions. I’m writing about just one facet of the animation – Pearl’s relationships, and changing character. This post is a summary of Pearl’s relationship and ongoing feelings for Rose Quartz. I also have a short comment on how Pearl’s story is relevant to reality.
When Pearl first appears alongside the other characters, what is clear from her design is she may not have power, but she has knowledge and grace under pressure. In her name, and a few other references, she is tied to water – fountains and beaches often appear associated with her character. Fluidity and change follow as a key part of her character, just as water n motion constantly changes.
Water also has still depths, however.
Subconsciously, Pearl carries a rarely expressed deep love for her now gone friend, mentor, and revolutionary leader Rose Quartz. She talks about Rose, but not often about her and Rose together.
Season 2, episode 9 – We Need To Talk – contains a flashback. It’s when the audience seems primary information about Rose and Pearl. They had a close relationship.
Spoilers – half Rose’s life force went to her son Steven Universe. Rose and Pearl used to fuse their mind and body together to form Rainbow Quartz, a whole new character. Fusion in Steven Universe is a metaphor for consensual, trusting relationships.
Season 2, episode 10 – Chille Tid – the audience has a glimpse into Pearl’s subconscious as she dreams.
Coincidentally, this episode also concerns the ocean depths, as a character hiding deep in the ocean appears. She dreams of time spent with Rose, which is horrendously interrupted by Steven’s father, jolting Pearl awake. This is when we learn that Pearl clearly harbors strong animosity to Steven’s Father – Rose’s Partner – Greg Universe.
Season 3, episode 8 – Mr. Greg – takes Pearl away from water to a penthouse hotel room. Pearl unleashes a powerful lament.
She sings a song called “It’s Over, isn’t it?” in a dramatic highpoint that is the peak of Pearl’s ongoing, denied feelings for Rose clashing with reality. It is in this episode that she resolves her animosity for Greg Universe. The two bond with Steven, commiserating Rose’s obstinate but powerful personality.
Finally, in season 4 episode 6 – Last One Out of Beach City – We see Pearl again away from water, trying to connect with a new woman she meets, despite her anxiety, and feelings of vulnerability.
There are other episodes where we see Pearl’s connection to Rose interfere with her judgement (Season 2, Episode 6 – Sworn To The Sword), but her arc is clear in this list.
In Last One Out of Beach City, Pearl’s behaviour is a great model for reality. She feels vulnerable, but is direct when asking out someone new that she likes. I recently experienced a similar situation. I asked out someone that I liked, they were not interested, but I was direct, and was confident in the moment.
I wasn’t consciously thinking of Pearl at the time, but her example definitely contributed to my confidence. Despite being turned down, Steven Universe reminded me that love and relationships are sometimes difficult, but that’s okay, because the difficult emotions have answers, which we can see an example of in Pearl’s story arc.
Steven Universe returns on January 30 with the Steven Universe: Out of This World event, with new episodes at 7:00pm EST.