Steven Universe Episode Mini Reviews Part 1 (August 1-5)

In order to populate this blog with some sort of content, I’ve decided to try to make weekly mini reviews of the summer of Steven Episodes that aired for the week of August 1-5. I’ll try write a paragraph or two per episode with a focus on more candid reactions rather than structured analysis. Look forward to these 5 episode recaps every weekend(ish)!

Gem Hunt

Connie has been my favorite Steven Universe character since she was introduced in “Bubble Buddies.” I’ve always been drawn towards the introverted and bookish characters (see: Tsubasa Hanekawa, Makise Kurisu, and Yuki Nagato), but Connie has always seemed a little more “real” to me. Her relationship with her parents can almost eerily mirror my own at times, and her fierce loyalty and determination are qualities I hope to see in myself. In “Gem Hunt” we finally get to see Connie apply her knowledge on a mission, but despite all of her preparation, events don’t go as planned. When finally confronted with a “real” fight, she’s unable to act. Despite her disappointment, she’s able to quickly recover and move on to training harder for the next fight (in contrast to Amethyst, see below). Her development as a character over the series has been incredible, transforming from a scared crybaby with no friends to a confident companion to Steven who adds to the show’s quality immeasurably.

Crack the Whip

Two Connie episodes in a row? Best week of Summer of Steven yet! I’ll be the first to admit that Amethyst has always been my least favorite of the gems and with the introduction of so many new characters, possibly just barely staying in my top 10 favorite characters in the entire show. Therefore I find an episode for Amethyst’s character development more than justified, and this episode delivers. The contrasting personalities of the Crystal Gems makes them an interesting ensemble, and while I’m not a fan of Amethyst’s lackadaisical attitude towards nearly everything, her contribution towards the team is important. Furthermore, she shows in this episode that there is a time and place to “go with the flow.” But what was the most interesting part of this episode is the use of character development by means of tearing the character down. Character development always flows from a story’s conflict, but actually having a character lose in order for them to be brought back stronger makes for more dramatic changes. In Steven Universe it’s made obvious by the gems literally cracking and reforming.

Oh and Stevonie fighting is the most dope scene in the show so far. Enough said.

Steven vs. Amethyst

You know shit’s gonna go down when you have a title like this. I’m just happy that Amethyst didn’t stay depressed for too long as having to deal with an emo Amethyst for more than a few episodes would be tiresome. Pearl points are the new juiciest memes further solidifying her position as best gem (Kappa). After a few dramatic episodes, it was nice to have one that was laugh out loud funny. They could have gone a much more serious route with Steven and Amethyst’s battle, but it shows the tone of their underlying friendship how they take the fight “seriously but not seriously.” By the end, the status quo is basically reset, although Amethyst has a new look to show for it (with her insecurities being dragged into the open) and Pearl has to repair the ruins.

Bismuth

This episode provided nearly enough material for its own post, but I decided to include it in the weekly recap so that I don’t drag on too long.

In the words of Leo Toltsoy, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” While this quote has been debated in countless creative writing classes across the world, Bismuth supports Toltsoy’s idea by firmly falling into the “stranger comes to town” category. Of course, Steven Universe may be great, but it isn’t literature. Being in the “11s” format means that even with a double header episode, there is very little time to develop characters and establish story. The Steven Universe team, however, never fails to impress me with their ability to tell deep moving stories in such a short period of time. Everything from Bismuth’s voice to her visual design to her dialogue was instrumental in establishing her character. She served as a window into the past, a time capsule of sorts, but also as an analogue to a soldier who had woken up realizing she had lost everything. I love watching antagonists with different motivations, ones that can be slightly sympathetic or at least comprehensible. Pure villains who just do things “for the evulz” are usually the shallowest and least interesting. Enemies that were once friends are some of the most interesting and emotionally heartwrenching to watch in any story. I think Bismuth is an award worthy story, and if “The Answer” doesn’t win the Emmy this fall (which I think it will because LGBT issues are kind of a hot thing right now, even though the Hall of Egress might be the better episode, but that’s a story for another time), then Bismuth should give Steven Universe a chance next year.

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