Coming off the heels of Gem Drill, one of the best episodes in the whole series, Same Old World has a lot to live up to. While it doesn’t match the quality of its predecessor, it manages to deliver another high quality episode. Ignoring more directly antagonistic gems like Jasper, Lapis Lazuli is the gem whose received the least amount of screen-time and insight so it’s a pleasure to see the series rectify that here. This episodes acts as a cathartic piece for Lapis, as they’ve constantly placed her in a position of turmoil. It’s about time that the healing process begins.
The episode starts with Peridot enthusiastically recapping the events of last episode before relinquishing that duty to Steven. As adorable as that sequence is however Steven’s concern for his friend Lapis carry him away from the conversation and back to the barn. Unfortunately Lapis is still unconscious and it’s not until later that night that she wakes up, which garners the attention of a currently sleeping Steven. This leads to one of the best scenes so far from season three, Steven and Lapis’s goodbye. The level of maturity Steven showcases here is worthy of admiration and while it doesn’t last, the impact of the goodbye still lands, in part to how expressive the eyes here are.
The following morning, the series prepares to move the series main location back to the Temple with only Peridot and Steven remaining behind. Peridot doesn’t wish to resume occupying the same space where Steven does his business, while Steven, now sporting his hot dog duffel bag (now with no goo either, Steven should’ve done a video on how easy it was to wash too), plans to hitch a ride on Lion instead of traveling in the van. Lion being Lion, doesn’t appear for the rest of the episode.
Throughout Steven’s search, he discovers that Lapis never left and decides to show her the different locales the Earth features, to help her quest to find a new home. Lapis flies Steven around and the two quickly visit several landscapes and cities, with Steven explaining everyone to her. Including Empire City, where all the bazzzillionaires roam (spoiler warnings for a not yet aired Steven Universe episode, I’m too hyped not to include it) and Jersey, which gets some well lobbied shots thrown it’s way. This portion of the episode is filled with great jokes and continuity nods to their relationships, whether it be Steven’s penchant for rhyming names or their shared flatulence humor sensibility, it really does feel like you’re watching two friends interact. If there’s one way to rehabilitate after a stressful relationship, spending time with those who understand you and make you happy is probably the best method. But there is more to the healing process than simply having fun and this episodes knows it.
The duo’s fun is shortly ended when their travels bring them to the Galaxy Warp. As it’s revealed, this was where she was abandoned during her time as a mirror and it doesn’t take long before she tells Steven the story. There’s a lot of interesting moments in this brief recounting but there are still some vague details that I’m hopeful will be expanded on in this upcoming Steven of Summer. In particular, whether or not Rose was aware of Lapis and if so, why didn’t she heal Lapis’s gem? It always seemed odd to me that Lapis would remain in that condition if the seemingly altruistic Rose had the healing capabilities she’s been heralded to have. Is it possible that Pearl kept it a secret from her or was Rose wary about where her allegiance lied? I can understand not removing her gem from the mirror since that required a transmutation circle to do but leaving it cracked seems a bit too callous. Though maybe they saw it as too much of a risk or counter-productive if they were planning on utilizing her as a tool. Perhaps, if Rose did know that is, it was viewed as a lost caused, like the Gem Monsters. The Crystal Gems were certainly surprised/horrified to see how sentient Lapis was in the mirror back during Mirror Gem. But I digress, this tangent is better suited for a later day.
The more important take-away here, in my opinion, is that Lapis is finally able to vent. As Pearl learned during the week of Sardoynx, you can’t just ignore a problem or try a roundabout method to fix it, you need to directly deal with the issue if you want resolution. Lapis can’t just distract herself with new sites and Steven instead she needs to be able to deal with the trauma she been dealt. The option to openly grieve your history is often a big help in of itself but it’s also a way to extend your hand out to someone. Here it’s Steven and being the empathetic kid he is, Steven grabs on and pulls her out of caged mindset she displays. After being prompted by Lapis’s concern that she’s still trapped, Steven jumps in to assure her that’s no longer the case. Steven’s speech at the end, and the brief conversation with Lapis that follows, is the true highlight of the episode. It’s delivered with a perfect balance of comedy, avoiding the message becoming too saccharine, and emotion, allowing it to stick the landing with the most effect.
The episode quickly segues from this revelation to the conflict of the next episode, the strained relationship between Peridot and Lapis. Steven Universe has been doing a really good job setting-up the next episode in the last few minutes making the recent batch of episodes flow in a way they almost never did in previous seasons. It’s likely the episode will continue Lapis on the healing process, this time targeting that relationships that can be mended. After all, as Steven said, everything is constantly changing on the Earth. Like the leaves changing color with the passing of the seasons, Lapis doesn’t have to remain blue.