Plus: Creator Rebecca Sugar talks the show's core
Credit: Cartoon Network

The Crystal Gems are officially back in action after a lengthy hiatus, and they aren’t wasting any time in tackling some of Steven Universe‘s big issues.

The five-episode “In Too Deep” event kicked off May 12 with the intergalactic gemstone warriors taking care of the powerful fusion Malachite and the daunting “cluster” that threatened to detroy Earth. So what’s next for our heroes? Thanks to an exclusive clip and some intel from show creator Rebecca Sugar, EW has learned that this Thursday’s new episode is going to focus on the character of Lapis Lazuli, who is newly freed from her problematic fusion with Jasper.

“This next episode will let you know a lot more of [Lapis’] story,” Sugar told EW. She also shared a sneak peak of the episode “Same Old World,” which shows Lapis flying Steven over the fictional metropolis of Empire City while he explains its wonders to a doubtful Lapis.

While the first two episodes of the “In Too Deep” event have concentrated on major and thrilling storylines, Sugar says that it’s really “the light, goofy, human, down to Earth part of the show [that] is the core of it.” We talked to Sugar about geology, Steven Universe‘s take on sexuality, and the transformation of Peridot’s character. Check out the full interview below.

Entertainment Weekly: Were you interested in geology before this show? What inspired basing this whole superhuman alien race on gemstones?

Rebecca Sugar: I’ve learned a lot more about geology since I started the show. Early on, I was mostly interested in gems aesthetically, the smoothness of a pearl vs. the roughness of raw amethyst, vs. the mysterious deep color in a garnet. But I also loved the mythology and science tied to gems. I found it all very inspiring, especially as I started learning more about it. The deeper I got into the show, the more I looked to actual gems for inspiration.

For a kid’s show, Steven Universe manages to talk about some pretty adult topics. Thanks to metaphors like gem fusion and social status of Pearls, you’ve been able to comment on sexuality and classism/racism in a way that is engaging for older viewers but still palatable for children. Was it always your intention to tackle these large and complex areas with a children’s show or did it just evolve into that naturally?

It was definitely a goal early on, but it also evolved very naturally. As a crew, we’re always working toward making the show we wanted as children. And a lot of us on the crew are not straight and are not white, and these topics don’t seem like adult topics to us, because they were part of our experience growing up. The more I work on this show, the more incredible it seems to me that these topics are not usually discussed in media for kids. Kids not only get it, many of them are experiencing it themselves, sometimes with no context to tell them their experience makes sense, and almost always without a fun sci-fi fantasy take on that experience featuring wacky cartoon aliens. I’d really like to rectify that.

Steven Universe has its big battles and action, but between that is very light and goofy, and many episodes deal with human stories rather than intergalactic battles. How do you transition from writing a cute episode about the people of Beach City to writing a large superhero battle?

For me, the light, goofy, human, down-to-earth part of the show is the core of it. It’s really written right into the premise of the show, given that Rose Quartz and the Crystal Gems strongly believed that those light, goofy, human ideas should take precedent over intergalactic conquest. When it come to transitioning from the huge scope of the sci-fi elements in the show to the sweet, small, interpersonal moments in the show, that’s what I always try to remember. Those small moments inform the big and flashy stories in the show, and at the end of the day it’s humanity, and the small stories, that the Crystal Gems are fighting for.

Peridot went from a cold and calculating villain to a pretty comic character in this season. Can you describe your thoughts behind that character’s transformation?

There’s a principle that the psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced that I find really interesting — this idea of “enantiodromia,” that a superabundance of a force will inevitably produce it’s opposite. I think of that with Peridot. It’s her obsession with rules and regulations, her belief that things can be one way and one way only, and her unquestioning obedience toward Yellow Diamond that eventually rockets her into becoming a rebel and anarchist when she realizes Yellow Diamond is capable of being wrong. How can you believe in what makes sense when what makes sense doesn’t make sense anymore? She’s excited by the infinite potential of everything, and fascinated by her own capacity to care, because those things had been a total blind spot for her.

The new episode of Steven Universe will air Thursday on Cartoon Network. Get your first look at it in the exclusive clip above.

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