“I like the way human beings play. I like playing along.”

“And you are not a Gem.”

I don’t think the Gems, particularly Rose and Pearl, have ever felt as alien to me as they did in this episode.

Whenever we’re reminded of how different the Gem’s behavior and morals are from humans, it’s often played for laughs, with the Gems not fitting into everyday human culture and socially acceptable behavior, resulting in funny situations.

This entire episode, however, addresses it in a rather serious tone, and through Greg’s eyes we, the audience, get to experience just how alienated he is from the Gems, and how he has to struggle to try developing his relationship with Rose into something more than just “play mates”.

Rose doesn’t do it with any intentional malice. She likes Greg, but she likes him because she loves humans, and he’s a particularly cute one. That’s really all there is to it at this point, and that’s what hurts Greg. Rose’s early affection for him, and view on humans in general, can really only be compared with a dog person saying how much they love dogs. Rose treats Greg like a pet, affectionately but very lightheartedly, and there’s implications that he’s not the first human she’s done this with either. Greg gets upset, Rose laughs, and is then genuinely confused over how this is inappropriate. And it’s not because Rose is somehow incapable of having serious talks, as we know she had a very serious one with Pearl right before the war. But she has never spoken with or treated humans like they were Gems. She doesn’t mean to hurt Greg, and in the end she does listen and try to figure things out with him.

Pearl, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. She’s extremely spiteful of Greg, and fully intentional in showing him just how different he is from them, and how different her relationship with Rose is from his. I’ve only heard people talk about one aspect of this, that being how Pearl wants to showcase to Greg how close and romantic she and Rose can be, and that’s definitely a large part of it. But to me, it also gave off such a strong vibe of being an act of dominance towards Greg as a human. Pearl is sending out a clear message to Greg that the Gems are not like him. They are not human, and they most certainly are not his new band buddies that he can act so casually around. They’re an alien warrior race who live for thousands of years and have powers beyond his imagination. He is not her equal, and he is definitely not Rose’s equal, and he cannot hope to compete with them and what they have.