We haven't got long to go until the epic five-episode Steven Universe event. There's plenty to look forward to, from Alexandrite battling Malachite to Lapis Lazuli's return. Above all, In Too Deep will probably see the Crystal Gems reach the Cluster, which is what the latest episodes have built up to. But what will happen when they reach the horrifying super-weapon?
So far, the focus of the Crystal Gems' mission has been to merely get to the Cluster, with the assumption being that when they get there they'll find a way to destroy it. After all, the fate of Earth itself depends on the Cluster's destruction. However, there were some hints in the In Too Deep trailer which suggests that this mission might not quite go as planned.
There are two things that tip us off about this. Firstly, only Steven and Peridot seem to be present in the drill when it burrows down to the Cluster. It's not like the Crystal Gems to send Peridot (still a bit of a risk, albeit an expert on the Cluster) and Steven (a child) on such a dangerous mission. And then there's this line from Steven:
"Something doesn't feel right about this."
Which could imply that something's not as they expected, or Steven could be having reservations about destroying the Cluster itself. So is there another option?
What Is The Cluster?
Just to recap: The Cluster is an enormous multi-fusion of thousands (possibly millions) of gem shards. We caught a glimpse at how truly horrific it is in 'Keeping It Together' (honestly, I'm still recovering from this scene).
The Cluster was created sometime near the end of the Gem War, when the Diamonds decided to write Earth off as a lost cause for colonization. This was thanks to Rose's Rebellion — along with Pearl and Garnet, Rose Quartz battled Homeworld's forces, driving them off Earth. But the Diamonds weren't done with Earth yet, and created the Cluster.
In 'When It Rains,' Peridot explained how the Cluster was intended to be a giant 'Gem geo-weapon' that Homeworld could use in battle. But in 'Keeping It Together,' Garnet expressed her concern that the Cluster was really intended as a punishment for the Rebellion, and different gem-type fusions.
Naturally, the logical solution to this problem would be to destroy the Cluster, but there is a possibility that these forced-fusion cluster gems could still retain some of their personality or sentience. After all, when the immense cluster gem that Garnet fights in 'Keeping It Together' first forms, we see the silhouettes of several gems and hear them screaming. So does the Cluster have to be destroyed in order to be defeated?
Healing The Cluster
There's already a lot of hints that instead of destroying the Cluster, the Crystal Gems will find a way to heal it. Or more specifically, that Steven will heal the gem shards forced to fuse together.
We've already seen how Steven can empathize with, and even communicate with corrupted gem monsters, in the episode 'Monster Buddies.' Although it was back in Season 1, it's possible that the conclusion of this episode was meant as foreshadowing for Steven's eventual destiny to heal the Cluster. While Garnet explains how Rose Quartz tried to heal these monsters too, but she never achieved this, Pearl suggests that Steven may one day succeed where Rose failed.
"Who knows. Maybe when you have better control of your powers, you might be able to help them in ways even your mother couldn't."
Without knowing exactly how gem biology (or rather, geology) works, it's difficult to theorize exactly how the Cluster could be helped rather than destroyed. But it's certainly possible that failing to heal the Cluster, Steven might be able to communicate with it and befriend it, as he did with Centipeetle. Considering how the Cluster was considered a punishment for Rose's Rebellion, it would be very poetic and narratively satisfying for Steven not to destroy these mutated gem shards, but help them find life again.