Steven Universe Episode 'Sworn To The Sword' Recap: Yes! More Of Pearl's Epic Love Story With Rose Quartz

10
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
2013-11-04
Steven Universe 01
Steven Universe. (c) Cartoon Network

Steven Universe has officially come off of hiatus, and today’s episode, “Sworn to the Sword,” is the first of a planned #StevenBomb with five new episodes in a row. As we’ve done before, please enjoy this Steven Universe episode recap/review.

In “Sworn to the Sword,” Pearl gives sword lessons to the intrepid young Connie Maheswaran, object of Steven’s affection and his best friend. We’ve seen Steven’s relationship with Connie explored before, notably in “Alone Together” and “Open Book.” This time the episode gives Connie some focus. Connie’s said before that she wants to be a part of Steven’s world, and “Sworn to the Sword” gives Connie some time to shine inside Steven’s universe.

“Sworn to the Sword” also gives us more insight into what the war did to Pearl, and how all-consuming her devotion to Rose Quartz was. It’s romantic in the most classic of senses, buoyed by service and sacrifice, and also just frankly romantic. It’s really impossible for me not to believe that Pearl both passionately loved and was urgently in love with Rose Quartz, a love that obviously endures to the current episode.

The episode opens with Connie and Steven singing together, Steven on his ukelele and Connie on her violin. The two “jam buds” lay down some sweet light tunes about strawberry preserves. As they’re about to enjoy some jam and biscuits, birds swarm them. Steven cringes back, but Connie uses her violin bow to swing the birds out of their way. Seeing Connie’s dexterity and grace, Steven has an idea.

Stars in his eyes, Steven begs Pearl to teach Connie how to sword fight, appealing to Connie’s history of great work with swinging things. Connie also begs to learn, blushing as she breathlessly explains how she wants to fight by Steven’s side and help protect Earth, which is her home, too. (If it’s easy to accept Connie’s blush as her admittance of feelings for Steven, then there’s really no way to deny that all of Pearl’s pretty blue blushes come as an admittance of her feelings for Rose.)

Overwhelmed with feeling by Connie’s passionate speech, Pearl is immediately convinced and Connie travels with Steven and Pearl to a special training grounds -- an ancient sky arena, where some of the first battles on Earth took place. The sky arena is where Pearl first became familiar with the concept of a knight: being brave, selfless, and loyal in service of a person and cause. The familiar setting may explain why Pearl increasingly conflates Steven with Pearl’s beloved Rose, for whom Pearl gladly sacrificed and fought, as the episode progresses.

Pearl and Connie’s training sessions are shown as a montage, with the repeated chorus of “Do it for her -- that is, do it for him.” It’s heartbreaking to see how, even now after Rose is indisputably gone, her memory summons up intense, ferocious determination in Pearl. She encourages Connie almost ruthlessly, asking her intently, “Don’t you want him to live?” and chiding her with, “Everything you are, everything you have, you’ve got to give.”

Connie soaks up Pearl’s tutelage like a sponge, returning intensity for intensity and clearly carried away with Pearl’s powerful, evocative language of nobility and sacrifice. Pearl even projects her own memories of an ancient battlefield, with her leaping in front of Rose Quartz to take a blow meant for Rose from the mighty and monstrous Jasper. Coloring with feeling, Pearl repeats, “You’ll do it for her. That is, you’ll do it for him.”

Connie and Pearl appear to be on the same, increasingly kind of creepy wavelength that involves complete erasure of their own selves in service to their goal/cause/liege. But by the end of their song, Steven is unsettled and overwhelmed. He wants to talk to Connie, but Pearl calls her off for training and Connie follows with the determination of a student behind her sensei.

Left standing alone, Steven is clearly pensive when Amethyst and Garnet swing back into the house. Amethyst takes one look at him and hollers, “Why are you standing there so sad like that?!” in a moment of hilarity that helps break some of the episode’s tension.

When Steven explains his concerns, Garnet simply responds that Pearl’s attitude makes sense. Pearl’s words aren’t merely platitudes; Garnet explains that Pearl put Rose Quartz over everything, including her safety, any consequences, and ultimately, her own life.

Now fully terrified, Steven charges forward into the sky arena. His terror turns to horror when he hears Connie repeating the mantra, “I don’t matter” as Pearl explains, “only Steven matters.”

A thick training fog obscures everything, but Steven runs into it anyway. Just as a holo Pearl is about to strike him down for being an unregistered combatant, Connie appears. She’s utterly carried away by Pearl’s rhetoric starts explaining that Steven is everything, the one with a destiny and a legacy, and while she is nothing, she can at least give him her service and protect him.

“If you’re the one protecting me, then who’s the one protecting you?!” Steven cries. Steven wants to share with Connie and fight together with her, rather than stay safe and far away and unable to help his best friend. He summons his rose shield as they come under attack from a group of holo-Pearls. “This is much easier,” Connie admits as she hides under Steven’s rose shield. “That’s the idea,” Steven says with a smile. “No matter what comes, we’ll do this together!”

When Pearl interrupts them with irritation, they reply, “She’s the strawberry, and he’s the biscuit, and that makes us: JAM BUDS!”

Both of them combine to take on Pearl, against Pearl’s insistence that Connie fight her alone. Pearl puts them both down and cries out, “No! In a real battle, Steven won’t be there to save you!” Steven is too important to risk on the battlefield, Pearl struggles to explain, rapidly losing her composure. But Steven fights her on this point. If there’s a battlefield, he will be on it, and he will protect Connie while he’s on it, too.

“Why won’t you just let me do this for you, Rose?!” Pearl finally screams, revealing the root of her resistance. And it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah as the two children stand silent and shocked at Pearl’s outburst. “That’s enough for today,” Pearl says quietly, and sits on the edge of the cliff.

Steven apologizes, explaining that he was just worried about all that “I’m nothing” stuff, and Connie asks hesitantly if Rose Quartz made Pearl feel like she was nothing. Tears in her eyes, Pearl says, “She made me feel like I was everything.”

It takes just that, and Pearl composes herself. She hugs both kids close and starts chattering about how if they’ll be training together, then Steven has a lot of catching up to do, because Connie’s quite an advanced student now. The episode ends with Pearl explaining almost giddily all the different types of training they’ll undergo.

“Sworn to the Sword” is the perfect episode to come back from hiatus with. It’s really meaty, covers some juicy character ground in its fifteen minutes, and establishes both where Pearl is coming from, and where Steven (and little human Connie) have had an effect on her and forced her to diverge from a rather dangerous and lonely path.

Connie, whose romantic streak we’ve seen before, was extremely susceptible to the creed Pearl lived by. But there’s no question that Rose Quartz, who made Pearl feel like everything, would have been as horrified as Steven was to hear Pearl say such things about herself. Connie learning sword work is important, but it’s equally as important that she learns team work, with a Steven who fights not because he wants to but because his loved ones are his everything. It’s a healthier way for Pearl to think, and to live -- and I’m sure Rose would agree.

Pearl switches gears suspiciously quickly at the end, and she definitely still has a lot of baggage from the Gem wars to work through. Hopefully, the lesson Steven and Connie gave her will be as enduring as her swordwork and as critical in someday saving the day.

To check out past recaps, just click here for all of our previous Steven Universe coverage. Find out more details about the episodes after hiatus here (they all air at 6 PM EST). See you tomorrow for more new Steven Universe!

 
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