I really want to thank you for taking a neutral stance on certain topics of dispute in Steven Universe (your analyses of Lapis and Jasper, in particular). Also, I'd like to ask (whether or not you use the site TV Tropes): their recap page for Log Date 7 15 2 placed Garnet's attempt to teach Peridot fusion under the trope "Out-of-Character Moment". I'm really confused about that and wondered, with your more analytical mind, could you possibly decipher if that is true or not?
Oh wow, these are more kind words than I could ever hope to deserve in life. Thank you for your faith in me, but I’m not purporting to be a super analytical robot or anything, I’m just as prone to human error as anyone else! As I’ve written before, a lot of my writing comes from the idea of art mirroring life’s being messy, blurry, and de-compartmentalised. It’s not a perfectly neutral stance, but I’d like to think it helps. (But again, more compliments than I could ever hope to deserve, thank you!!!)
As for your ask, the short answer is that I don’t think it’s an out-of-character (OOC) moment in the slightest.
Reasons I think people would classify it as such:
- Garnet is opening up, making jokes, laughing (basically, fun Garnet)
- Garnet warming up to Peridot as a former enemy
- “It’s fusion, Sapphire!”
So here’s the long answer!
1. Garnet is totally fun
For me, the first is by far the most common reason that might be given as to why all her interactions with Peridot in Log Date 7 15 2 are OOC. But here’s the thing, we’ve seen Garnet do these things loads of times before. In the opening theme, it’s Garnet who ruffles Steven’s hair, and reacted the most ecstatically when she first met Stevonnie. Garnet let’s Steven explain what he thought she did all day in Garnet’s Universe and let’s him do this:
Tiny hands, my only weakness
It’s adorable and we let these things slide. But Garnet is a gem who believes actions speak louder than words. It’s Garnet who tells Amethyst “You’re a Crystal Gem, and you’re expected to act like one.” Her components are fun; their relationship is fun. And because actions speak louder than words, she shows it.
In Future Vision, Garnet pulls the, “Your middle name is cutie pie!” with Steven. In When it Rains, Garnet is the only gem at that point in time we’ve seen tell Steven she loves him.
Source: SU Wiki
It isn’t limited to Steven either. When Amethyst wants to play Steven tag, Garnet shape shifts and joins in on the fun. And in Secret Team, Garnet plays along with the secret meetings and the Pizza coupons.
Aside from the cited examples, we know that Garnet’s incredibly expressive when it comes to interacting with those she cares about. But we have to understand that in many episodes of the show, she’s in moments of stress. Corrupted gems, threats to the planet, Homeworld forces. What the other CGs expect of her is to be the leader, whether she wants to be or not. It’s a burden that is taxing because they’re counting on her to make important decisions in the moment.
But on her free days, Garnet is there joking around with everyone else. In Hit the Diamond, as she reforms, she’s laughing giddily. It’s the same thing after she appears in Jail Break. These are pretty serious moments as well, but it doesn’t stop the fun in her personality from shining through.
What I think Garnet understands, though, is that there are appropriate times to be serious. Going back to what she told Amethyst in Tiger Millionaire, she has an ideal of what a Crystal Gem should be. So when she’s a Crystal Gem, with the responsibility of someone who has to save the world, of course she’d be serious and rather stoic. But we’re starting to see her in more relaxed and safe contexts, and that makes it easier for her to show parts of her personality that deviate from that ideal. Because the lesson she learns at the end of Tiger Millionaire is that you can’t always be that formal and professional person. She apologises to Amethyst for that, then goes along with the fake wrestling match and even puts up a persona for it. It’s a great moment, and that leads me to the second idea.
2. Garnet doesn’t force herself into the past.
She’s the type of person whom we’ve seen is willing to try new things and is open to new information. In Cat Fingers, Pearl returns at the end of the episode panicking about Steven’s fingers. Garnet reminds her that the moral was to trust Steven, in the same way she trusted him with knowledge of her future vision later in Future Vision and Winter Forecast. Between Garnet and Pearl, the first CG we hear talk about the war being harmful for both sides is Garnet, admitting that many lives, CG and Homeworld were lost.
What we see in Log Date may be a function of this trait of hers. In Joy Ride, Garnet was terrifying. When Steven is in the escape pod, he gets a glimpse of how it feels being on the other side of her gauntlets. She was angry and definitely ready to punch Peridot into tomorrow. But Garnet keeps herself open. She takes note that patting Peridot on the back in Message Received causes Peridot to feel incredibly uncomfortable (this probably having something to do with squeezing her to death from behind).
And by Log Date 7 15 2, which we know takes place the morning after, she makes sure not to touch Peridot there again.
Source: SU Wiki
It’s to Garnet’s credit that she doesn’t overtly point these things out. Again, she’s a gem of action. It means more to her that she actually does what she says she will. Why is it that Garnet didn’t care at first that Peridot was uncomfortable with her being a fusion? Because Peridot was taking what she knew to be true (fusions are just war machines) and applying it to Garnet without context. It’s discriminating and demeaning. And someone like Garnet, with her history in The Answer, is showing clear signs of someone who’s been hurt in a particular way and will not stand for it any more. It wasn’t right to punish Peridot without an explanation, but from Garnet’s context, she’s hurting and she feels dehumanised (with a lot of memories of The Answer coming back).
So by the time the teaching fusion sequence rolled around, which we know occurs before Log Date and It Could’ve Been Great, something changed between the two of them. In Garnet’s own words:
Garnet: That’s fine! Peridot, I’m proud of you.
Garnet: Because you made an effort to understand me.
Source: SU Wiki
And that’s the difference. Garnet now feels like Peridot is approaching her with the respect every individual should be given. Peridot isn’t just a walking pile of prejudice to her any more (though again, no one tried explaining this in the earlier days). The dynamic between them has changed, and as we know, Garnet isn’t against asking people to fuse with her. The times Sugilite and Sardonyx form, it’s Garnet asking Amethyst or Pearl to fuse with her. And this leads me to the last point.
3. Garnet likes sharing the fusion experience with those she loves
I think one way people take Ruby and Sapphire’s treatment of Pearl after the events in Cry For Help is “Fusion is sacred to Garnet.“ It’s true. It is. But Garnet also views fusion as an experience (Alone Together) and it’s a fun one. So we’ve established Garnet is fun. And we’ve established Garnet asks people to fuse with her. Now let’s look at why.
Now go have fun!
Source: SU Wiki
Garnet knows how happy it makes Amethyst and Pearl when she asks them to fuse with her. Even though she doesn’t know the specifics, she knows that it means a lot to them when they fuse.
And the times they fuse, they’re taking down the same communications tower. As Pearl pointed out, they don’t necessarily have to fuse. They could slowly take down the tower. But the experience was a lot more fun because they did. Garnet does think fusion is sacred, because it shows how much you trust someone. The reason she reacted so violently in Cry For Help was Pearl violated that trust. But “sacred” to her doesn’t mean you lock it up in a box no one can reach. It means that for her to ask to fuse, you mean a lot to her. She loves you dearly and wants to share the experience with you.
When she asked Peridot if the latter wanted to fuse, it wasn’t just, “Let’s fuse for the sake of it!” The reason the two didn’t get along at first was Peridot’s aversion to her as a perma-fusion. Garnet’s action (again, back to actions) speaks volumes of her letting Peridot understand that’s behind her. Because Peridot tried to understand her, despite all those things she felt uncomfortable with. Fusion is by far the one that leaves her most confused and uncomfortable. But Garnet trusts her enough to fuse with her and it’s because we’ve seen Garnet cares about Peridot now. Fusion is a wonderful experience and sharing it with her serves a twofold purpose of teaching Peridot something she doesn’t understand.
And at her core, that’s what Garnet does. She believes in something and she doesn’t waste a minute talking about her going to do something. She goes right out and does it. It’s very sincere and it’s very Garnet, and it’s why, for me, she’s such a relatable character (but more on that in the future).