The Impossible Bloom
Do you ever think about the fact that Lars is associated with moss, which in real life can never ever bloom?
Even on the show itself, there is no indication from the Crystal Gems that the moss can bloom. In fact, it is strongly implied that the moss has never bloomed before. Otherwise Rose wouldn’t have been able to raise and tend it on the hill as the whole thing would’ve blown away as blossoms, and the other gems would’ve remembered the moss becoming something beautiful.
Garnet: It’s the moss that Rose Quartz raised on the hill.
Steven: My mom planted this stuff?
Pearl: Rose Quartz used to climb that hill every spring and tend to the moss at the top. *shows projection of Rose tending to the moss* But now that Rose is… gone, the moss is on the move!
Steven: *makes a disappointed face* It’s lost.
Amethyst: It’s not lost. It’s gross.
Pearl: Yes, but Rose loved it anyway. She saw the beauty in everything, no matter how gross.
Pearl is in total agreement with Amethyst here, but her attitude toward the moss is completely different after it blooms, as shown in “Keep Beach City Weird”:
Pearl: Aww, it’s the flowers from Rose’s moss.
Both botanical reality and the narrative treat the magic moss blooming like an impossibility.
The moss blooming is pretty much agreed to be foreshadowing for Lars’ eventual character development from a “useless stupid coward,” which he (and sadly much of the fandom) believed impossible until “Off Colors.” However, I think this might not be a hundred percent accurate interpretation.
Not just because it ignores this “impossible” subtext entirely, but because the moss couldn’t do anything without Steven and Lars’ help. The hill was too far away and the boys had to carry it all the way there. The moss itself was just a nuisance.
Unlike the moss, Lars has a lot of agency in his own character development for the most part. Steven and Sadie can’t and don’t carry Lars through his character development. In fact, a major recurring theme in Lars’ episodes is that they can’t carry Lars through. Any growth and change Lars goes through as a person is ultimately up to him. Even in Wanted, Lars’ growth, for the most part, ultimately comes through his own choices and desire for change rather than Steven spoon feeding character growth to him.
A recurring lesson in Lars’ episodes before Wanted seems to be “you can’t change someone. Period.” Even if they want to change, it’s up to them, not you. Any attempt to change them is liable to cause more harm than good and won’t make anyone happy. This is such an important lesson for kids to learn.
Sadly, many fans have misinterpreted the lesson from Lars’ episodes prior to Wanted as “you can’t change someone unless they want to change,” mistaking Lars’ slow growth and frustration at Steven’s shenanigans as a desire not to grow and change as a person, instead of the result of a tragic internalized belief that growth and change is impossible and pointless to pursue, something hinted throughout the series and later confirmed in Wanted.
“Why do you think I’m capable of anything?! You think I can do all this stuff, but I can’t! I can’t because… I’m a wuss, Steven.”
I think it makes more sense to equate the moss to Lars’ hopeless mindset, his belief in his own worthlessness and incapability to grow, and the moment the moss bloomed to his epiphany in “Off Colors” that allowed him to mature. The moss was “trying to bloom,” wanted to bloom (an impossibility), but it was lost in a dark place and needed help finding the light.
Lars had to realize he can be better than he thought he could and to hear it’s okay to be scared, that being afraid doesn’t mean broken and incapable. He needed to “see the light.”