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Ruby Rides Alone Towards “The Question”

Let’s be honest, we all knew what “The Question” would end with. Part of being a Steven Universe fan is seeing leaks in between the ridiculous hiatuses and going into story arcs with a general idea of what to expect. A merchandise leak let us know well ahead of time where the Ruby and Sapphire split was heading. Did that affect anyone’s enjoyment in any way? Of course not. This bomb has so far been defined by its adorableness, and this one as the most adorable yet.

the question ruby amethyst horse

Recap

Continuing the pattern of previous episodes, this one picked up exactly where the previous one left of. “Heart of the Crystal Gems” has worked basically as a Steven Universe movie. Steven and Amethyst approach Greg and Ruby to find both are pretty okay. Turns out Ruby told Greg about Pink Diamond and is okay with it. Of course he is.

Ruby is also doing well on her own. She’s discovering independence for the first time and enjoying it. The idea of being on her own appeals to her and excites her. Steven protests briefly until Greg says it’s not his choice whether Ruby and Sapphire will be together. They need to want to be Garnet.

With the world before her, Ruby thinks about what to do with her life. All it takes is a comic book for Ruby decides…she wants to be a cowboy!

Greg drives them out to the wilderness, where Ruby emerges in full cowboy gear. And also talks in a cowboy accent. It’s literally perfect. Amethyst shapeshifts into her horse and they’re off! Ruby sings a song about life away from Sapphire and how she’s enjoying it. If you want some idea of how good it is, I HATE country music but I loved Ruby’s song.

Later that night, Steven wakes up to find Ruby awake and apologizes for wanting to push her and Sapphire back together. Then Ruby confesses that her song was a lie. She thought about Sapphire the whole time and how much more fun she would have had if they were together. Ruby throws a bit of a fit because she wanted to stop for once. Stephen explains how that’s okay. It doesn’t change Ruby’s interests or independence just because she also misses Sapphire.

Ruby wants to be with Sapphire but worries they’ll fall back into the same pattern. She wants to find a way to make it different. Steven makes a suggestion that excites Ruby, and they return home!

You know where this is going. Ruby goes extra and plays up the cowboy persona before proposing to Sapphire in the most adorable way imaginable. Sapphire accepts and it’s one. We’re getting the gay wedding of the century.

Delightful Little Gems

  • Horsin’ Around, Amethyst? What is this, a crossover episode?
  • Party Guy returned! He was no match for Ruby Rider, though.
  • That beautiful string version of “Stronger than You” during the proposal was perfect.
  • Peridot and Lapis created a lesbian farming commune. The Crystal Gems as a whole were pirates at some point. Now Ruby became a cowboy. All the gems gravitate to historically queer professions, over and over. It’s amazing.
  • I guess from now on the 4th of July celebrates the Rupphire wedding. A surprise, but a welcome one.

Lingering Questions

  • Based on foreshadowing, will the next ten episodes be about describing the Rupphire wedding cake?
  • Did Steven just confess to eating raw sugar and flour?
  • Is Greg the great guitar teacher of all time? He taught a five-year old Steven how to play and write his own songs, and taught Ruby how to play in like ten minutes.
  • Amethyst held that horse form a long time, right? Interesting considering how hard the Jasper form was on here. I suppose she simply may have transformed back and forth without needing to show us.

Review

I suppose it speaks to how defiantly and insistently queer Steven Universe has always been that the idea of Ruby and Sapphire marrying each other didn’t immediately feel like some groundbreaking moment. We’ve seen Ruby and Sapphire together forever. Their love is nothing new or unexpected in the slightest. This entire bomb centers on it. Two adorable tiny lesbians might feel like a huge deal on other shows, but not here.

But really, that just speaks to how committed Rebecca Sugar is to portraying the beauty of all healthy, consensual love. Steven Universe has never been scared to champion LGBTQ rights. For all the (in my opinion) misguided talk about the toxicity of Ruby and Sapphire’s dependence on each other, they have been important symbols since the moment “Jail Break” aired.

And now they’re getting married. Cartoon Network will air an episode (or maybe two) where two women marry each other. This matters. This is awesome.

In so many other shows, a wedding like this would be a source of anxiety for a fandom. What’s going to go wrong? How will it be stopped? What tragedy will come of this in the end? Yeah, we know what will eventually come in this bomb. Thing is, I don’t expect for a second that this will impact the…well, impact of the wedding. Whatever may come, we know Steven Universe won’t shy away from the importance of this wedding. Whatever chaos the Diamonds cause, we have no reason to fear them stealing the happiness of Ruby and Sapphire away from us.

It almost feels wrong to take this kind of representation and happiness for granted, to the point that I barely thought about the larger implications of the wedding. But that speaks volumes towards the trust Steven Universe has developed. It also says a lot about how effectively the Crewniverse has made us care about Ruby, Sapphire, and Garnet.

Let’s be honest; we wouldn’t care about this wedding if we didn’t care about them. Even in children’s media, we’re well past the point where we accept any queer content and call it a blessing, regardless of whether the characters are any good. You have to make people care. I can find gay characters, bi characters, ace characters, pansexual characters, or whatever you like if I want to. Thankfully Steven Universe figured this lesson out a long time ago. You know, basically from the beginning.

Rebecca Sugar mentioned that they’ve worked on the episodes compromising “Heart of the Crystal Gems” for years, and I can believe it.

“The Question” was exhibit A for why Ruby and Sapphire are such fan favorites. This was the most we’ve ever seen of Ruby by herself, and she was absolutely precious. I had so much fun watching this adorable little cowboy try to find herself outside of Sapphire. She is such a well-defined character for her limited appearances. Why would she be a cowboy? Because she’s impulsive and adventurous, and the idea of wandering Earth on horseback is 100% something Ruby would do.

(It also helps when the art direction is so freaking exceptional. Steven Universe fans have their share of complaints about scale consistency and such but this episode was beautiful.)

Think about how much we know about Ruby and Sapphire despite their limited time unfused? We know Ruby is impulsive and short-sighted. She’s incredibly loyal and has low self-worth due to the commonness of Rubies. She’s also pretty romantic; the amount of extra she put into her proposal fit her perfectly. Sapphire, as a gem blessed with future vision, has trouble with living in the present and acknowledging how emotions matter in the present. She struggles with all the potential futures she sees. However, she’s also a quick thinker. Where Ruby is the romantic one, Sapphire can come across as the more fun-loving, flirty side of the relationship.

And we all know this based on, what, five episodes?

I’ve seen a considerable number of fans who want Ruby and Sapphire to spend more time unfused. And I totally get it. Who doesn’t want more episodes like this? It was funny, beautiful to look at, and had solid character work. It was important for Ruby to think on her relationship with Sapphire and come to the conclusion that she wanted to continue it. She needed to decide whether it was something she did because someone told her to or because she truly wanted Sapphire to share her life with.

Because really, Ruby didn’t know what an independent life felt like. I’m so glad this episode brought that up. Ruby was one of many Rubies when she served Homeworld. The moment she broke away from Homeworld, she became Garnet and stayed Garnet for thousands of years. Ruby has arguably never gotten a chance to understand who she actually is. What does she like? What does she want? Where does she want to be? None of this mattered because she functioned as part of some greater whole. She always had someone to depend on.

Now she has her answers, and it may lead to more episodes with Garnet unfused. They have found a sense of independence that only deepens the love Garnet represents.

We care about Ruby and Sapphire because we know who they are and how they complement each other to make Garnet the best version of themselves. Sapphire’s foresight balances out Ruby’s impulsiveness. Ruby’s easy emotion balances out Sapphire’s tendency to unhealthily bury her feelings. And of course it works vice-versa. They will balance each other out even more now.

This marriage is more than an important cultural moment for a children’s show that has always been important culturally. It represents something greater for both characters. Like Ruby said, they are making this choice for themselves. Ideally, marriage is supposed to be representative of the greater bond between two individuals. You could argue that Ruby and Sapphire have been more bond and less individuals. I would never, ever have called their relationship toxic, but it often does feel like they had no idea who they are outside of Garnet. And you know, they loved each other so much that it was okay. They had a beautiful relationship.

Now they’ll have something more. Something beautiful and meaningful. Their relationship is exactly what we all hope a marriage will be like. I can’t wait to see it go down. Steven Universe gives us these gifts over and over.


Images courtesy of Cartoon Network

 

Author

  • Bo

    Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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