Sugilite: What was Sapphire’s deal?
For a long time since the reveal of Ruby and Sapphire, I’ve been seeing posts that (jokingly or not) suggest that Sugilite’s behavior, as a Fusion of Ruby, Sapphire, and Amethyst, was the result of the rambunctious Ruby and Amethyst dragging Sapphire along for the ride.
I kinda get why people say that, because obviously both Amethyst and Ruby are prone to anger and sometimes lack filters and coping mechanisms. Meanwhile, Sapphire seems so calm and in control. Surely Sugilite was mostly Amethyst and Ruby getting carried away.
But y’all have seen “Keystone Motel.”
“This will pass. She’ll eventually just burn herself out.”
Sapphire, when she’s upset, pretends to be above it all, ignores others’ emotions while denying the effects of her own, and even resorts to shaming those she loves when she’s not happy with their behavior.
She can be callous. Cold.
Sapphire is just as responsible for everything that went on with Sugilite as Ruby and Amethyst were.
Now here’s the thing. Fusions can feel like they’re one being–especially when they get used to being fused–and though they’re “a conversation” and “a relationship,” they’re also capable of functioning like a single consciousness despite that they technically can never quite be “individuals.” So I do hesitate to pick apart “what comes from which Gem” when examining Fusions’ behavior. However, much like you can analyze the traits of a child and surmise which parent they “get it from,” you can sort of do that with Fusions. But there’s another element you have to keep in mind when you do this.
A manifestation of the fusers’ influence on each other.
Guide to the Crystal Gems is the source of this tidbit–a canon source authored by Rebecca Sugar. You don’t really see the “influence” aspect discussed explicitly in the show, but this implies that Fusions aren’t just what their components are, but what they inspire in each other. What they think of each other, what they expect from each other, what they want to be together. What they bring out in each other, regardless of whether that element is usually part of the individuals.
Look at Smoky Quartz. Before they appeared, Steven and Amethyst had just had an arc with a competitive and self-deprecating tone which led directly to forming Smoky for the first time. They literally fought each other over who was the worst, had a discussion of not living up to what they were supposed to be, and aired their grievances over the proper path to improvement.
“Us worst Gems stick together, right?” “That’s why we’re the best.”
Amethyst and Steven literally formed their collective identity based on their low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. They play it like a big joke, of course, cracking puns and offering distractions, but when Sardonyx presses them during their second appearance in “Know Your Fusion,” Smoky heaps on the self-abuse.
“I guess zero plus zero equals zero. They say two wrongs don’t make a right–I guess I’m living proof that that’s true! I’m just one big super-wrong good-for-nothing dud with a yo-yo!”
Delivered with a smile.
Supposedly it’s a common trait of youngest children to be the comedian of the family–if you’ve spent your whole life feeling like those who came before you have won all the awards, done it all before you, and met stratospheric goals before you even found your feet, you might feel like there’s no point in performing well, so you joke about it and poke fun at everything, including yourself. Amethyst and Steven have both spent a lot of their lives feeling like the youngest child who’s a bit of a screw-up with whom everyone must be patient. Smoky doubles that feeling, and when they start to feel inadequate, out come the self-deprecating jokes.
Sugilite is more complicated because she’s a three-Gem Fusion, but I’d like to first refer to my “How Fusion Relationships Work” post and assert that Sugilite is far more a relationship of Amethyst and Garnet than she is a relationship of Amethyst, Ruby, and Sapphire. If Sugilite were to internally argue with herself the way Alexandrite did in “Fusion Cuisine,” you’d probably hear Amethyst’s and Garnet’s voices, not Ruby’s or Sapphire’s. I could be wrong, but I think Sugilite is better understood as Garnet and Amethyst’s Fusion. Therefore, to find out what comes from Sapphire and what comes from Ruby in Sugilite, it makes more sense to pick apart where their traits feed into Garnet first.
Sardonyx and Sugilite are both Garnet Fusions. And Sardonyx and Sugilite have both shown an incredible capacity for showing off for Steven. We know Pearl loves to perform, but Sardonyx seeks to impress through grace and precision, while Sugilite is about power. That is likely a strong Amethyst trait–she REALLY wants to be strong, and she thinks Garnet is this incredible pillar of strength. Amethyst’s beliefs about Garnet and desire to be strong would feed into making Sugilite the powerhouse she is.
And Amethyst also has abandonment issues.
“What about ME, huh? I had someone who was always there for ME until she started hanging out with YOU!”
What was Sugilite’s apparent main complaint?
“You left me behind!”
She was left alone with no one to perform for, no one to encourage her or make her feel cool for being strong enough to take out all those pillars.
This seems like an awful lot of Amethyst, but what about Garnet?
“We don’t need to be careful. We just need to be huge.”
Get the job done, Garnet. Who cares about Pearl’s feelings? Who cares if there might be some speed bumps? It’ll turn out with the result we need, and that’s all that really matters.
Well, that’s some Sapphire there.
That’s probably exacerbated further when all the frustration and feeling of being left out was amplified by Amethyst’s perspective, and it’s all directed at Pearl. What might Sugilite be thinking about Pearl? “She’s to blame! She took Steven away and abandoned me! She called me ‘too much’ because she’s just too little! And now she wants me to unfuse just when I’m enjoying myself! She’s probably just jealous Garnet didn’t pick her instead!”
There’s a ton of feeling in there and not a whole lot of thinking. And feeling is something Ruby does extremely well. Meaning she does a lot of it, and she doesn’t think about the past or the future. Now is all she can think about, and her incredibly important, long history with Pearl and any future consequences are beside the point in the face of all that emotion. Sugilite feels hurt and angry and vengeful now. And she has a ton of power that this little Gem Pearl wants to take from her. She won’t let it happen.
But here’s something complicated. Ruby is emotional, but she isn’t selfish. She’s almost entirely selfless. I mean that literally, too–at the beginning of her life with Sapphire, she expressed that it didn’t matter if she was broken because there are tons of her. Even more recently in her life, in “Jailbreak,” she cared about what happened to Sapphire but had no thoughts for herself.
“Did they hurt you?” “WHO CARES??”
And if you listen to her rant about Blue Diamond in “Gem Heist,” Ruby still offers an onslaught of anger that has almost nothing to do with slights against her.
“She’s a shatterer! She yelled at Sapphire, she hates fusion and love!”
Hear that? Blue Diamond had specifically threatened to shatter Ruby, but she doesn’t say “she threatened to shatter me.” She just uses general terms about her being “a shatterer” before launching right into how Blue Diamond mistreated Sapphire and hates their union. And, going back to “Keystone Motel,” it’s more of the same from Ruby: she’s angry not because Pearl personally hurt her, but because Pearl disrespected fusion. Disrespected Garnet.
“It’s FUSION, Sapphire! What’s more personal to us than fusion?”
She’s so, so angry, but it’s on behalf of their relationship, not on her own behalf. She’s not mad at Sapphire for wronging her. She’s mad at Sapphire because this is about fusion. Without fusion, Ruby doesn’t even think of herself as worth something to be mad about. But the fusion she’s contributing to? Wow, nobody better EVER say anything against THAT, or insult it for ANY reason!
So, no doubt this is magnified in Sugilite.
“I AM myself, and I’m SICK of being split up!”
Amethyst’s respect for power, Ruby’s respect for fusion partnerships, and Sapphire’s respect for outcome over process all contribute to Sugilite’s motives. But Amethyst’s sullenness over abandonment, Ruby’s single-minded emotion, and Sapphire’s callousness make those motives manifest in a destructive way.
When Garnet is just Garnet, she has effective coping mechanisms most of the time, at least when it comes to losing control. But Ruby’s EXPLOSIVE emotion is very present in Garnet–we repeatedly see her punch first and ask questions later, or break things just because she’s pissed off. Sapphire’s soft-spokenness and withdrawal from full engagement are also very present in Garnet, and we see her withholding emotion or letting her overconfidence make her stubborn. But she’s balanced, and she carries leadership without cracking, and she rarely makes her problems into other people’s problems.
But when Garnet is part of Sugilite, emotion is streaming in from Amethyst AND Ruby, and neither of those Gems likes to think outside the present. If you said Sapphire’s future vision and composure is “drowned out” by such passionate energy, you wouldn’t be far off, but I think it’s more nuanced than that: Sapphire’s traits manifest differently. Amethyst respects the heck out of Garnet, and Ruby feels like Sapphire matters far more than she does. Sapphire holds a good deal of the self-respect in Sugilite–the part of her that thinks she deserves attention, dignity, and honor. There’s still some aristocrat in her. In Sugilite, that respect is up against an overwhelming amount of self-directed belittling and inadequacy. So you get someone who knows she should be respected but feels that she doesn’t deserve it.
Ruby and Amethyst may be the source of Sugilite’s fury and pain, but without Sapphire’s cold indifference, she wouldn’t have ever posed such a threat. Some of the most brutal aspects of Sugilite may have their roots in Sapphire.