The Heart of the Crystal Gems

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Somehow it took me until today to piece together what’s going on with the Crystal Temple. Granted, this is a topic the show has studiously avoided returning to since it was introduced way back in episode four. We get some of its effects—its “metaphysical constructs,” as the Gems describe them—but no more mention of the Heart itself. I’d always felt like this was a big, weird loose end; it’s a concept someone had put a bunch of time into early on, then dropped.

Only now, it strikes me. Explicitly, the Heart is portrayed as advanced Gem technology. And Gem technology, morbidly, tends to run on actual living Gems. Obviously the shifting interior, it’s all light constructs, generated by the Crystal Heart—a powerful Gem, that’s been harnessed to do this massive projection task. This would follow the same horrific logic where Gems are integrated into objects and buildings on Homeworld, and how the CGs didn’t think twice about the cracked Gem-powered mirror they found by the Galaxy Warp all those thousands of years ago.

Heck, the job that the Crystal Heart does, it’s basically the same as Lapis’ mirror—both in regard to materializing images of things that had or might exist (albeit three-dimensional ones, compared to Lapis’ flat lens), and in responding to voice command. It’s just that it’s a huge, elaborate installation piece, compared to Lapis’ more modest, portable portal.

That latter bit, about the commands, is especially unnerving as far as what it suggests about a lingering consciousness.

Who did the Temple use to be, I wonder.

The Temple interior… it’s physically safe for the most part—as presumably it’s all, or mostly, light projection in there—but psychologically, it’s always been “off.” Rose’s room in particular, it’s never been a place where you really want to spend more time than you need to.

Requesting things from it, configuring new constructs, it’s like making wishes on a magic lamp. The genie does what it wants to, no matter how carefully you phrase your command, and it’s not going to go well in the end. The Crystal Heart, it’s willful. Full of seeming resentment. It’s not altogether malicious, but it’s not happy, and it seems to lash out passive aggressively every opportunity that it can.

A Gem powerful enough to project a glitch-terror version of all of Beach City at once, it’s… gotta be pretty high up the hierarchy. And if Lapis has had problems adjusting over the course of five seasons, I imagine a Gem that powerful, if set free, would be… trouble.

Lapis is powerful. She’s almost certainly the strongest Gem we’ve seen outside of a Diamond, and she may even rival them if she stops holding back out of fear of herself. Whoever the Crystal Heart used to be, assuming I’m reading this right, must be like a minor god.

Someone who could harness the reality-shifting powers of the Crystal Temple, and focus them outward—I can see how it might take all four Diamonds to control it, and them not even really being enough. This is a person you’d really rather have on your side than not, ideally.

It—I’m not saying it is, but I wonder if… you know… the expanding team, needing its own space… they try to reconfigure the Temple interior, and…

Just shoving a pin in this. It’s… well, it feels like something I would do at this point. Especially given what it would mean, dismantling the Crystal Gems’ sanctuary. If you want to spell the end of an era, that’s not a bad route to go.