The Answer is one of the LGBT-themed episodes of Steven Universe. The episode was viewed by 1.384 million viewers.
The episode takes place at midnight on Steven's birthday. During that time, Garnet tells him the story of how Ruby and Sapphire met each other, formed their romantic relationship, and eventually joined the Crystal Gems. The episode received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Short-format Animation, and was adapted as a best-selling children's book.
The episode begins with Steven sleeping on the back of a pickup truck in the family barn. Garnet appears and wakes Steven up at midnight, celebrating his birthday. Even though Garnet's plan of telling Steven that she is a fusion is ruined by the events of "Jail Break", she instead begins to tell the tale of how Ruby and Sapphire met and became a Crystal Gem, which excites Steven.
Homeworld was in the process of colonizing the Earth, but a group of rebels were delaying the progress. As a result, a team of diplomats were sent to Earth to investigate the current crisis, including Sapphire and her team of three Ruby bodyguards. Sapphire was summoned by Blue Diamond to give her a report of the outcomes surrounding the rebellion in the future, and along the way, the Rubies discuss how they will fight the rebels, punching each other in the process. One Ruby is shoved into Sapphire and apologizes, but Sapphire excuses her, explaining that she knew it would happen thanks to her future vision. As Ruby attempts to make herself look dutiful, Sapphire approaches Blue Diamond and informs her of the future - the rebels will attack the Cloud Arena, destroying the physical forms of seven Gems in the process - including Sapphire herself and two of her Ruby bodyguards. Despite this, the rebels will be captured, ending the rebellion and winning the war.
The rebels appear immediately afterward, revealing themselves to be Rose Quartz and Pearl, the original two Crystal Gems. They urge Blue Diamond to abandon Earth and begin attacking the Homeworld Gems. The attack proceeds exactly as how Sapphire had foreseen it, with Pearl defeating two Quartzes and Sapphire's Ruby guards facing Rose. The trio fuses into a giant-sized version of themselves, but Rose easily defeats them, poofing two Rubies in the process. As Pearl approaches Sapphire, the latter thanks the remaining Ruby for her efforts - Ruby realizes that Sapphire had accepted her fate, having seen this outcome through her visions. However, Ruby refuses to accept this outcome - she jumps towards Sapphire, knocking her out of the path of Pearl's blade. In the process, however, the two Gems fuse together into Garnet, but with a much more chaotic-looking outfit than her present-day self. The new Gem is utterly confused as to what happened - meanwhile, Rose stops Pearl from attacking Garnet, and they flee the arena.
Garnet immediately unfuses as the crowd surrounds Ruby and Sapphire, murmuring in anger and disgust. Blue Diamond is disappointed that Sapphire's visions proved imperfect, but Ruby intervenes by taking the blame. For this, and the "crime" of fusing with a member of her court, Blue Diamond sentences Ruby to be broken - however, Sapphire grabs Ruby and escapes, jumping down to land. Ruby is furious that she failed to protect Sapphire, and Sapphire was surprised, because of Ruby's impulsive nature, it changed the course of fate which she previously foresaw. Ruby accompanies Sapphire to shelter, and they hold out during the rain. Ruby expresses her frustration about failing her mission for saving Sapphire, but Sapphire calmly tells her that she already saved her. They discuss their feelings of when they were fused as Garnet, along with the strange new properties they inherited from each other. They sing together, exchanging thoughts of love and caring for each other, and end with a fusion dance, bringing back Garnet once more.
Garnet was beginning to get used to her new form as she continued sustaining her fusion, she suddenly trips and stumbles into Pearl, and Rose. Against Garnet's plea for mercy, Rose urges her to stay fused. Garnet is concerned that she may be upsetting Rose, but she insists that the most important thing of all is how Garnet herself feels as a fusion. She admits feeling lost and scared, but also happy. Rose welcomes her to Earth, presumably titling her as a new Crystal Gem. Garnet asks Rose many questions about Ruby, Sapphire, and their fusion, but she stops Garnet and tells her that she already is the answer to all the questions she seeks. Steven asks Garnet what the answer was, to which she replies with "Love." Steven says he knew it all along, and Garnet agrees.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Short Form Animated Program category.
- The way Homeworld Gems viewed the fusion of two different types of gems as disgusting is similar to how society used to view people of different races being together instead of separate, as well as people of different castes in Hindu culture intermingling (i.e. intercaste marriage).
- The whole episode shows signs of being a metaphor for queer people coming out, coming to terms with their sexuality/gender identification and starting their first relationship as someone queer. The way Ruby and Sapphire's fusion is viewed by Blue Diamond and the rest of the Homeworld Gems is also similar to how society views queer relationships today. It has also been confirmed that Ruby and Sapphire are in a same-sex relationship (although Gems are technically genderless).
A children's book adaptation of the episode was released on September 6, 2016. It was published by Cartoon Network Books and written by Rebecca Sugar, with art by Elle Michalka and Tiffany Ford. The book reached no. 7 of the New York Times Best Seller List for Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover books on October 2, 2016.
Fusion praised the book as "a subversive fairy tale that both upends and queers the storybook canon". Like Fusion, PBS's report described the book as "part of a larger, changing story about how cartoons portray LGBTQ characters for kids."