Garnet: the burden of leadership, self-restraint, and longing for connection
post-“Jail Break”, a lot of us rather inevitably and understandably started using its ‘Garnet is a fusion of Ruby and Sapphire’ revelation to both interpret Garnet in subsequent episodes and to recontextualize her admittedly stoic, withdrawn behavior throughout Season 1.
this sort of ‘recontextualization effect’ encouraged some funny fandom trends–like figuring out what Ruby and Sapphire were feeling/thinking during moments like Garnet’s infamous telephone conversation with Dr. Maheswaran in “Fusion Cuisine” or the duration of Garnet’s fusion with Amethyst in “Coach Steven”. and those were mostly harmless, but allowing Ruby and Sapphire’s love to determine our understanding of Garnet as a wholly happy, healthy relationship–even over behavior that suggested something deeper and different–really does Garnet a huge disservice.
Garnet isn’t just Ruby and Sapphire in a trench coat, or Ruby and Sapphire copiloting Garnet’s body.
Garnet embodies Ruby and Sapphire’s love, and she’s a gestalt–her own, distinct person, with her own personality and experiences, who’s quite literally greater than the sum of her parts.
during The Week of Sardonyx, a lot of us–including myself–noted that, because she embodies Ruby and Sapphire’s loving relationship, Garnet couldn’t really comprehend the depths of Amethyst’s and Pearl’s loneliness, insecurity, self-loathing, and lack of self-esteem…
…and while there’s definitely more to it than I originally understood before my Garnet-targeted canon rewatch, I still believe that point has a little merit. while Amethyst and Pearl once had Rose to help them work through their issues and remind them that they were valued and loved, Rose ultimately abandoned her physical form to have Steven–and even before that, it was impossible for Rose to always be there for Amethyst and Pearl in the same way that Ruby and Sapphire are for one another, because they’re “always together”. like Pearl, it’s very likely that Ruby and Sapphire experienced marginalization and oppression on Homeworld…but by fusing out of love, they’re able to lend each other constant, unconditional support and achieve a transcendent sense of togetherness.
that unconditional love, constant support, and transcendent togetherness of Ruby and Sapphire’s fusion are the foundation of Garnet’s very being. in her own words, Garnet has told Steven on two separate occasions that being a fusion makes her feel like she’s never alone…
…and the relative emotional stability and security she feels because of that–along with her unique abilities and amplified strength as a fusion–are probably the qualities that made her the best candidate to step up as the Crystal Gems’ new leader after Rose gave up her physical form.
but–and I cannot stress this enough–none of those qualities preclude Garnet from longing for significant connections with others, experiencing loneliness, or having her own insecurities. Ruby and Sapphire may always be together, but Garnet is her own person with her own feelings, thoughts, emotional needs, and relationships with the others. Garnet’s needs are different than Amethyst’s and Pearl’s, but hers are just as valid as theirs.
in fact, Garnet’s behavior and interactions with the other Crystal Gems throughout the series establish that she wants connection keenly…but deliberately distances and holds herself back from her teammates emotionally, hence her ‘stoic’ and ‘put together’ exterior.