Barn Mates - One Year On
Barn Mates was first aired exactly a year ago today… and what a monumental episode it was for both Lapis and Peridot!
For those of us who were already shipping Lapidot, it was a dream come true – and for some of those who weren’t, it opened their eyes to a whole new (and now completely canonically viable) ship.
I’ve written about this episode a few times in the past, but it feels fitting to look back on it again today; for day one of Lapidot Anniversary Week!
So, without further ado…
The episode opens with Peridot wistfully speaking into her tape recorder about sharing her new home with Lapis. Only a couple of episodes prior to this point, Peridot had made the decision to stay at the barn by herself whilst the other Crystal Gems returned to the temple. The fact that she now so enthusiastically wants to share her home with Lapis (as opposed to going back with the other Gems or staying by herself in the barn) just shows that she already has some level of admiration for Lapis.
“Why don’t we watch the sun come up and figure out what we’re going to do with all this time, eh Lazuli?”
Watching the sun rise with someone is an old romantic tradition/cliché, so the fact that Peridot specifically mentions wanting to do this with Lapis certainly speaks some volumes. And it also transpires…
…that this line was foreshadowing a scene that came later in the show – in Room For Ruby, not only are they watching the sun rise together (just as Peridot wanted to do), they’ve actually been sat together all night stargazing prior to this point, which is another activity that has obvious romantic connotations.
After Peridot has finished speaking into the tape recorder in Barn Mates, Lapis expresses her desire to live in the barn all on her own. Steven suggests that the barn be split down the middle, with each of the two Gems having their own “side”, which leads to a very interesting shot of the pair of them:
Notice how they’re effectively framing a picture that’s behind them. This picture is of the barn’s previous owners – Greg’s aunt and uncle, who Greg described back in Space Race as follows:
“My aunt and uncle had a great love for aviation, and each other. They cherished the years they spent together, and they held on to every belonging they ever owned.”
It’s interesting, then, that a picture of a happy couple has been placed directly in-between Lapis and Peridot in this shot. This becomes something of a trend as the show progresses, with the picture being placed in-shot with Peridot and Lapis on occasion in a fair few other episodes, such as these:
This could well be foreshadowing a romantic relationship between Lapis and Peridot. The fact that Greg mentions “aviation” is also something interesting to think about, considering that Lapis can fly and Peridot was the pilot of the Hand Ship back in Jailbreak.
Lapis isn’t keen on the idea of splitting the barn, telling Steven that Peridot is the problem:
“I can’t stand the thought of looking at her everyday!”
This statement is now somewhat ironic because, in the episodes since Barn Mates, Lapis almost always has her eyes on Peridot – and gives her some extremely suggestive looks, too!
Peridot and Steven both try to assure Lapis that Peridot has changed, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Steven thinks it’s “sweet” that Peridot wants Lapis to see how much she’s changed since their last encounter, and he helps her to make an apology card which has a very interesting picture drawn on the front of it:
Steven may well have the intent of getting Peridot and Lapis to be friends, but he’s drawn them looking like an actual couple here; they’re even holding hands.
Eventually, after some persuasion from Steven, Lapis joins them – and a beaming Peridot hands over the card. This still fails to win-over an unimpressed Lapis, much to Peridot’s disdain.
“It took me over an hour to compose [the message in the card], and I was the most sincere as per Steven’s instructions!”
The fact that Peridot put so much time into her apology message gives us an indication of how highly Peridot thinks of Lapis – and how much she wants to make her feel better. She then spends some time deliberating what she could give to Lapis as a gift (upon Steven’s suggestion), and they come up with an idea…
“H-2-Oh my GOSH!” … “It’s a gift for you! You know, ‘cause water’s your thing.”
Peridot’s mannerisms and tone of voice here are very flirtatious. However, given Lapis’ previous traumatic experience of being trapped on the bottom of the ocean, this is another idea that falls completely flat.
And what does Peridot do?
“A pool?! What a cloddy idea! Of course she wouldn’t like that!”
She actually blames herself for the mistake. This is very uncharacteristic of Peridot, who normally has a very lofty opinion of herself and her intellectual capacity – which, again, shows how highly she must think of Lapis. She even uses the word “cloddy” to describe her own idea; with “clod” being an insult that she usually only ever levels at other people when she’s at her most angry.
She then decides to make a very grand gesture…
…and offers her most prized possession – the tape recorder – to Lapis as a gift.
She’s very flirtatious in doing so here, as well. With a wink and a smile, she tells Lapis:
“See, the ribbon is even blue. I got yo’ number!”
Peridot has offended all of the other Gems at some point in the past, but she’s never been seen to perform as grand a gesture as this one in order to win them over.
Peridot is, in a lot of ways, incredibly materialistic - she has been shown on more than one occasion to hold her very few possessions really closely to her. By Peridot’s standards, handing the tape recorder over is essentially the biggest thing she could do for someone, which is a very clear indication of her feelings towards Lapis.
This gesture is completely lost on Lapis, however, who proceeds to crush the tape recorder in her hand.
Usually in these situations, Peridot would be distraught that one of her possessions had been destroyed (see, for example, Peridot on her knees begging Amethyst not to throw away her beloved tablet in Too Short To Ride). However, this time, she actually seems to be upset by the fact that she’s managed to upset Lapis once again, exclaiming:
“What, were you trapped in a tape recorder too?!”
Peridot is exasperated by this point, and gives a very heartfelt speech which, I believe, really gets to the root of one of the key reasons why a relationship between Lapis and Peridot just makes perfect sense:
“Look, I get it, you know? You’re confused! You can never go back to Homeworld. This place doesn’t exactly feel like home yet. You’re alone, no one could possibly know what that feels like! Oh wait, I do! We’re the same, except… you don’t have to be alone.”
She and Lapis are going through the exact same thing at basically the same time; namely, being stranded on earth with no way of returning to Homeworld. There’s literally no-one else who they could bond with over this, except for each other – it’s a common ground that they share with each other and only each other. It’s logical and sensible storytelling, therefore, to have these two characters stick together and share the experience with each other. It puts them on equal ground, gives them both an acute understanding of each other, and enables them to both support one another as they adjust to life on earth.
At this point in Barn Mates, however, Lapis still isn’t having any of it. Peridot, clearly at her wits end, asks what Lapis wants from her. Lapis angrily tells Peridot that she wants her to leave… and that’s exactly what Peridot does. She wants Lapis to be happy so much that she’s even willing to give up her home so that Lapis can live there instead.
As she walks away, Steven reprimands Lapis for treating Peridot so badly. As he’s talking, Lapis folds her arms and shifts on the spot, her gaze meeting the crushed tape recorder on the floor. Everything about her body language in this scene exudes guilt.
Peridot comes screaming back towards them moments later, however – being pursued by a Roaming Eye that she’s convinced is after her.
The trio flee from the ship, but eventually come face-to-face with it, which causes Peridot to cower behind Steven in fear.
…Lapis steps forward, and glances back at a wide-eyed Peridot.
This scene is very important because it’s the first time we ever get to see that Lapis does actually care about Peridot, despite the pair of them getting off to a very turbulent start. She steps up to defend the helpless Peridot from the Roaming Eye, and makes sure to specifically ask Peridot if she’s ok after the threat has been neutralised – proving that she didn’t only have Steven’s interests at heart when she took out the Roaming Eye.
What happens next needs no introduction…
Peridot has still, to this day, never looked at anyone else with such love. The way that her hands are clasped to her chest makes it the typical “cartoon character looking at their love interest” pose. That smile on her face is literally the biggest one that she’s ever given. And Lapis’ deep blush, that she actually turns her head away from Peridot in an attempt to hide, is also a reaction from her that’s unique to this scene – and very much implies that the apparent feeling of attraction is mutual. There appears to be some symbolism behind the sun coming out as Peridot smiles, too. This could well be an indication that Lapis is warming up to Peridot and seeing her in a new light. It also has a somewhat poetic quality to it, with the storm clouds (both literal and metaphorical) dissipating at this very moment.
Steven picks up on what’s going on, giggling to himself as he looks at Lapis. It’s also very interesting that Peridot’s loving look is still lingering even after the camera angle has changed – this is no fleeting “micro expression”, it’s a very prolonged and deliberate look…
…which was the first of very, very many that the pair of
them have since gone on to give each other (the above images being a small handful of examples).
All in all, Barn Mates was the start of a very beautiful relationship between these two Gems, which has well and truly endured throughout the past twelve months – and has gotten ever stronger with each episode that they’ve appeared in together.