Steven Universe Episode Mini Reviews Part 2 (August 8-12)

Welcome back for another round of Steven Universe episode reviews. Unfortunately this will be the last set of reviews in this format as the Summer of Steven (a.k.a. Stevennuke) has come to an end. I’ll certainly be reviewing the weekly episodes that come out over the next month, but I likely won’t go back to review the rest of the episodes from the Summer of Steven (unless there’s high demand).

I apologize for the delays in my review schedule. I’ve been mostly preoccupied with watching my boys in blue losing at TI6, being a moron by not buying a Linken’s Sphere, and chugging my way through Ready Player One. I know that I only share this with a limited audience, but I want to maintain a consistent schedule for my own sake. So without further ado, here are my impressions of the Steven Universe episodes from the week of August 8th.

Beta/Earthlings

Another two part episode provides the second straight burst of development to Steven Universe’s storyline. As much as this episode was about Steven and Amethyst’s fusion (which I’ll get to later), it’s mainly a worldbuilding episode that centers around Peridot. Peridot seems to return to her slightly obnoxious, overconfident self after obtaining metalbending powers in “Too Short to Ride.” Her odd couple interactions with Lapis Lazuli are a treat I’d never thought to see in this show. Who would have thought that this gif would have existed back in season 2? Her attempts at “modern” art are hilarious, and yet I don’t think it’s meant to be condescending towards the medium, but rather an example of contrast of how Steven and Amethyst see the world. Steven is nearly always optimistic and sees the best in others (except Kevin), while Amethyst sees the art only as what it is with no deeper motivations.

When they finally encounter Jasper, the fight starts off as expected; Amethyst gets wrecked despite all her training. Fusion between Steven and Amethyst was not on my radar and was a pleasant surprise. I figured that Steven would eventually learn to fuse with the other gems, but I didn’t think Amethyst would be the first one. I love the design of fusions in general. They manage to capture the essence of both characters and yet create their own personality, down to the voice and mannerisms. The show also highlighted the difference between a willing and unwilling fusion and how fusion is not simply a device of power, which Jasper fails to understand until the end. Smokey Quartz is one of my favorite fusions yet, and certainly implies that Steven will fuse with the other crystal gems in the future (perhaps leading to a fusion of all of them into… Voltron?). Last thing to say about this episode is that I felt sorry for Peridot’s limited contribution as the limits of her metalbending were quite evident. I wanted her to feel useful, but I’m glad that the Crewniverse put pretty strict limits on her powers. Metalbending can be OP.

Back to the Moon

The Rubies are the show’s comic relief. They’re hilariously incompetent, they all have goofy distinct personalities, and they exist to be outfoxed by the main cast. Eyeball is determined to not be outwitted after spending most of season 3 searching the solar system for Jasper (after the events of “Hit the Diamond,” one of the most gratuitous baseball episodes since episode 4 of Charlotte). Yet she’s still fooled by Amethyst’s paper thin disguise as Jasper (which leaves me wondering if the Rubies are colorblind/see everything in shades of red, unable to differentiate gems based on their color, and/or complete morons). Once again the limitations of gem powers are emphasized as Amethyst can only “hold her form” for so long.

While the episode was mostly played for laughs, there was a critical reveal from this episode, that Rose Quartz was responsible for shattering Pink Diamond. I think this puts the final nail in the coffin of the Rose Quartz = PD theory (although I’m sure that fans will try to work around canon for their fanfics and whatnot). It also seems to reveal that different gems work under different diamonds and that therefore homeworld might not be as united as once perceived. It was certainly surprising considering what we know about Rose, but I speculate that this will set up another opportunity for Steven to come into his own, find the mercy button, and do what even his mother couldn’t do, find a peaceful solution to the show’s ultimate conflict. Of course, first he’ll need to get back from outer space…

Bubbled

Better cinematography than Gravity, a better love story than Interstellar, and more scientifically accurate than The Martian, Rebecca Sugar delivers a modern classic short film about a boy trapped in a bubble with a rock… who’s trying to kill him. In all seriousness, Bubbled is a good episode, but it’s not quite the dramafest that it seemed to be going for at times. It’s still Steven and a Ruby in space. Eyeball is still an incompetent gem. You knew Steven was never in any real danger (I mean, season 4 confirmed right?).

Steven Universe has tried many different types of episodes, much like Adventure Time where Rebecca Sugar honed her craft. However, in order for certain types of episodes to work, they need to have the right set of characters. Steven in a bubble with an incompetent Ruby isn’t really good drama. Steven with Jasper? Steven with Lapis? Steven with Connie? Oh wait, that’s been done already. Those pairings would have made for greater drama. Even Steven alone in the bubble with the gems back on the ship trying to find him would have made for a more dramatic episode in my opinion. But putting Steven with a comic relief character that we barely care about for an entire episode just seemed like a missed opportunity for this setup. I still enjoyed the episode, but it could have been better.

Kindergarden Kid

I really don’t want to talk about this episode. After the drama and crying of the season 3 finale, the Crewniverse seemed to need to lighten things up with a purely comic episode. This was straight out of Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner, down to the setting and the gags. I know I just mentioned in the previous episode that I commend Steven Universe for making a variety of episode types, but this one was just far too derivative and pointless. This was on the level of the baseball episode “Hit the Diamond.” Just because this script has been done in cartoons before doesn’t mean you need to do it! It doesn’t add to the story or characters and consisted of gags that were overused by the 1950s! I’m just going to pretend that this episode didn’t happen. It’s the worst non-Onion related episode in the show so far in my opinion (perhaps next to Onion Trade for worst episode ever, but that’s another story).

Know Your Fusion

Whereas I questioned why Kindergarden Kid was made beyond filler and trying to perk up the audience after a depressing season 3 finale, I’m glad that Know Your Fusion was written so that we could learn more about the nature of Smokey Quartz. It didn’t force a battle or anything like that to draw Smokey out (or to SMOKE her out amirite?). It was literally Sardonyx asking what the audience wanted to know, “What is the nature of this new fusion?” With Stevonie, the character got an entire episode dedicated to their development, and Smokey Quartz being a unique character and the first time Steven has fused with a pure gem, this episode was certainly justified. Again I want to mention how much I adore the character designs of fusions. Sardonyx has Pearl’s inquisitive and local mind, Ruby’s energy and enthusiasm, and Saphire’s calm control as well as Garnet’s authoritative aura. Smokey Quartz is self proclaimed to be the combination of the two “worst gems,” but that self deprecating humor of Amethyst fit with the compassion of Steven. She reminds me of Cake from Adventure Time, but maybe that’s just the voice.

As a purely character episode, there isn’t much else to say beyond that I liked seeing more of Smokey Quartz. I certainly look forward to when Steven fuses with other crystal gems and the challenges that lie ahead.

 

That took way longer than I wanted it to take. Regardless, this is the end of my Summer of Steven reviews. My next Steven Universe blog post will review the Steven Universe from Friday. I’ll likely change up the format so that it can be of justifiable length. However, my next blog post will be a proper review of Ready Player One. Catch you later!

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