Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s possible for characters vs. what the audience sees. (This might feel really obvious or redundant to talk about, but I just need to get the words out of my system)
In Steven Universe, when a character can’t do something, it’s a bit of a big deal. They struggle with it, they fixate on it, entire episodes may be dedicated to this thing they’re unable to do. When a character can do something, but doesn’t, it’s never focused on or called out. But when it does finally happen, it underscores a huge moment for that character.
As early as episode 10, it’s confirmed that Amethyst is able to bubble Gems. The action itself is not a big deal for her. Maybe she’s done it lots of times offscreen, where the audience hasn’t seen it. But since it’s our first time seeing her do this, it underscores her growth in this character arc, as she sends her tormentor and kindred spirit away.
On the other end of things, Garnet’s refusal to ask questions in the present ends up being a highlight for her backstory–she’s only shown asking questions in the far, far past, to highlight her very first moments of being in comparison to how firm and completely certain she is of herself now.
One can assume that Greg has always had some manner of social life outside of Steven and the Gems, but it has never once been mentioned who his friends are or what he does when he’s not working or hanging out with Steven. To wait until after he’s reconciled with Pearl to mention any sort of social action underscores how much he was letting the past get in the way of his friendships before this point. Considering this same episode is about Pearl doing the same for her social life highlights that further.
No one ever calls out these actions, or lackthereof, within the show. Things that aren’t happening lay in wait, to emphasize important moments in a character’s development.
All this is to say…
boy howdy they must be saving up Pearl shapeshifting for an absolute doozy.