With half the season gone, there’s half the season to go. The second half begins on Saturday with the first of three episodes where Rarity takes or shares center stage. With that in mind, let’s do a brief recap of the first half and rank the episodes from 12th to 1st. This also brings a change to how I review episodes going forward (and yes, this will include Steven Universe and Littlest Pet Shop reviews as well). I’ll be giving episodes grades from A+ to F- since I tend to score like a teacher. The lowest I gave this season so far was a 7/10 which is about a C in my book, so might as well grade things like Entertainment Weekly to have consistency. So with that, on with the review!
After nearly two months, Steven Universe returned with a new episode. As a reminder, since the episodes are usually 11-minutes in length, they are scored on a scale of 0 to 5. It seems like Steven and Gravity Falls are secretly competing to determine who can do more with disclosing secrets. More on that later.
The episode begins with Steven and Connie coming back from sword practice. Steven gives Connie his mother’s sword to practice with at home. However, Connie’s mom comes in and won’t have any of it and confiscates the sword. However, the discussion and use of an abacus to calculate how grounded Connie will be is interrupted as Dr. Maheswaran is called to the hospital to take care of a patient.
Connie and Steven follow to retrieve the sword. The patient that Dr. M is treating is quite peculiar specimen that has no heartbeat despite motions and groans, but it is not cheap hospital equipment that can’t determine a heartbeat as we soon find out. There is another peculiar patient that Steven determines as a mutant gem and so it turns out the patient in the room.
Now while I and some other internet savvy fans have already seen the episode in July, which was made available as part of the ‘Watch Wander Over Yonder Season One for Free on the Disney XD App’, upon second viewing ‘The Big Day’ is still as good since the last time I saw it.
Just when Lord Hater confesses and laments about his self-destructive obsession with Wander Over Yonder to his Watch Dog army in preparation for another galactic conquest, who shows up during that very moment? Wander of course! Knowing he can’t be seen destroying his most hated enemy in public, especially Commander Peepers, Hater elects to destroy Wander and Sylvia in secret. At least, initially anyway. Obviously Wander and Sylvia begin to mess with Hater’s mind, causing Hater to panic about how best to destroy them. And somehow, what started as a behind closed doors attempt at their destruction transpires into a Wedding-sized event in front of hundreds.
Years ago when Craig McCracken approached Disney after CN refused to renew their contract with him, the Disney Corporation took a chance on Craig McCracken; more specifically on an insanely bizarre sci-fi cartoon pitch called Wander Over Yonder, which turned out to be a hit on the Disney Channel alongside Gravity Falls. It was visually stunning, technically and creatively. The adventures were action-packed and a blast to watch. And most of all, there was always this colorful optimism in the show that left me and others with a beaming smile even after the credits were over.
It’s been about 9 months since we last saw the endearing cast of characters and all that time, I’ve been curious to see what Craig and his team (minus Lauren Faust) have come up with this time; and having now finally seen The Greater Hater, the Season 2 premiere… I’m unfortunately still curious and waiting to see it.
SU Review: Historical Friction
Jamie arrives and is producing a play called “Beach City or Bust,” written by Mayor Dewey. It’s the story of the Mayor’s great-great-great-great grandfather William Dewey. Steven auditions and gets the role of William by default. Jamie is going to play everyone else. Initially, William Dewey is a great person with no flaws—which make him unbelievable. Steven takes the script to Pearl, still guilt ridden from the events of “Cry for Help.”
Steven tells Pearl about how William Dewey is portrayed as flawless (making him boring) and Pearl wishes she could be flawless. Steven says that it is impossible to be flawless and people make mistakes and there is satisfaction in accomplishment after struggle that makes a character and experience great. With that, Pearl takes a look at the script says it’s historically inaccurate. So she makes changes that Jamie approves of.
At the night of the play, Steven and Jamie apply the changes with Steven as William and Jamie as everyone else—including the Gems. The play is a success much to the relief of the Mayor and the enjoyment of the town. Jamie becomes the lead director of the Beach City Community Theater and Pearl is thanked by the Mayor for preserving his legacy. And the political banner at the end was Steven’s idea.
This was a pretty good episode and one that Pearl needed to build her self-confidence back up. Steven is great as always (bad accent aside). We get some nice backstory about the town. This was a good breather episode as we approach the end of Steven Bomb 3. There was really nothing wrong with this episode.
Pluses and Minuses:
+ Gives Pearl a chance to rebuild self-confidence
+ Steven and Jamie
+ Fun play
SU Review: Friend Ship
Well, it finally happened. There was one order of business left for Steven Bomb 3, and that was for Garnet and Pearl to talk things over. It took them getting trapped in a crushing pit, but it happened. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Gems confront Peridot, but Pearl tries to hard to capture her and she escapes. Through the use of Peridot’s escape pod, the Gems track her to an old Gem ship, where Peridot traps them.
OK, fast forward to Garnet and Pearl in the pit. Pearl confesses that she needs direction from someone and someone at present is Garnet since she’s the strongest. Garnet counters that even she can get weak sometimes like we saw in “Keystone Motel” and that Pearl needs to be her own gem. That will restore Garnet’s trust in Pearl. So they fuse into Sardonyx to escape the pit. They confront Peridot one more time, and make progress by getting one of her feet.
Pearl needed an episode like “Historical Friction” to prove that she can contribute to something positive. She also needed this episode as a reality check that the only thing she can do to regain Garnet’s trust is being herself and that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship and that no one is flawless.
On a side, the action scenes were great as everyone got a part to play. Peridot is becoming quite the antagonist and one wonders what her plans are in the future, though we could’ve done without the taunting from both sides. I am going to look past that, though.
Overall, it’s nice conclusion to the Steven Bomb and we shall wait until Season Two comes back.
Pluses and Minuses:
+ Development for Garnet and Pearl
+ Action sequences
+ Nice conclusion to five-episode arc.
+ Peridot as a villain
Review: Onion Friend
So we get to meet Onion again (taking Steven’s chips) and we see his Mom, Vidalia (who likes to make portraits of Amethyst). It turns out Vidalia and Amethyst are old friends and manage to share how each one’s lives have been stressful lately. Oh, Sour Cream is there, too. It turn’s out he’s Marty’s biological son. He still likes to DJ much to the chagrin of his stepdad Yellowtail which accounts for some of the stress at Onion’s household.
Onion takes Steven to his room where it’s creepy. He feeds a mouse to his pet snake (or so we’re led to believe) and shows a video of himself being born. He does take Steven to a secret compartment where he shows him his collection of G.U.Y.S. (Guys Under Your Supervision) and G.A.L.S. and that makes the visit to Onion’s house somewhat worthwhile.
This was more of a cool down episode at least for Amethyst, who is given a way to talk about how she’s feeling ‘trapped’ with what’s going on between Garnet and Pearl. Meanwhile Vidalia is given a chance to see an old friend whom she feels ‘inspired’ by because no matter what, she could always go with the flow. Amethyst says it was Vidalia who could go with the flow and that she was just a ‘dumb sponge’ following her around.
I guess Onion really means well when he shows Steven around his house, creepy as it is most of the time. Good thing Onion showed Steven his collection of G.U.Y.S and G.A.L.S. Most things are explained well in this episode, though it’s kind of sad that both Amethyst and Vidalia are experiencing such troubles at their respective houses at the moment.
Pluses and Minuses:
+ Nice cool down episode for Amethyst
+ Vidalia (when not with a shotgun)
+ Humor (albeit dark and creepy at times)
– Creepiness goes to extremes at times.
Review: Keystone Motel
Garnet is still not talking to Pearl. Greg comes in and suggests a road trip to Steven to “The State of Keystone” and to a motel (with free ice!). Greg is talking to “an Internet person” about a tunnel brush. Okaaay. Garnet decides to go with them and Steven is excited. The joy is short-lived though when Garnet splits into Ruby and Sapphire in conflict over whether or not to forgive Pearl. Sapphire wants to, but Ruby is in red rage over what she perceives was a cheap excuse to fuse on Pearl’s spot. Ruby’s so hot that she steams the pool Sapphire is convinced that Ruby will not stay angry forever via future vision and freezes the room, essentially forcing Steven outside and to square pizza with Greg.
Greg is convinced things will blow over in the morning while Steven suggests that Ruby and Sapphire talk to each other. Well, the former doesn’t happen when they go to a diner. In fact, Ruby is agitated to the point where she destroys the booth. That was the last straw for Steven who walks off in disgust. He was excited that Garnet came along, but then all the bad feelings from home followed him on the road trip and now starts to wonder if it’s his fault. Ruby and Sapphire finally come around, the former realizing she’s been to preoccupied with just being mad and not finding a solution and the latter to preoccupied with future vision that disregarded what was going on in the present. They make up and fuse back into Garnet and return home, where Garnet at least spoke to Pearl (“Not now.”).
A couple of call backs here that are important. First, we see how strongly Garnet (or Ruby in particular) feels about fusion like in “Keeping It Together” and the conflict is mostly with herself after Pearl arguably used it for cheap victories. There’s also a call back to “Joy Ride” where Steven is again wondering if things are his fault. Steven does not want to see conflict in the slightest between the people/Gems he knows; whether it’s between the Gems, Sadie and Lars, or whomever. It has to take him to put his foot down to get Ruby and Sapphire to even take into account his feelings. The only bad thing about this episode was it appeared mostly to find a resolution to “Cry for Help” and a reminder that there is still a kid in the room who doesn’t like seeing his friends fight in front of him because he’s going to wonder if it’s his fault.
Pluses and Minuses:
+ Steven putting his foot down on Ruby and Sapphire’s argument
+ Steven’s attitude toward conflict is natural
– Episode mostly exists to serve as resolution to previous episode.
Welcome to Steven Bomb 3. As a reminder, since the episodes are normally 11 minutes in length, they will be scored based on a scale of 0 to 5.
The episode begins with Steven and Amethyst watching “Crying Breakfast Friends” when Peridot interrupts the feed calling for help from Yellow Diamond. Peridot has rebuilt the communications hub from “Coach Steven.” Sugilite (Garnet/Amethyst fusion) destroyed it last time, but Garnet decides to bench her because they could get carried away. So Garnet fuses with Pearl, who couldn’t be more excited, and create Sardonyx to destroy the hub. And there was much rejoicing except for Amethyst. To be honest, Sardonyx turns out to be quite the personality.
However, the interference returns the next day and so does Sardonyx. Amethyst sings her first solo (“Better Off With Her”) expressing her sadness that she can’t be with Garnet because fusing with her makes her stronger. When interference occurs for a third time, Steven and Amethyst try to take care of things themselves. They see a green flash thinking it may be Peridot, but are shocked to find out it’s Pearl rebuilding the hub using Peridot’s escape pod. She’s only doing it so she be with Sardonyx with Garnet.
When Pearl is forced to confess this after what Garnet thinks is interference for the fourth time, absent her future vision, Garnet is furious. She accuses Pearl of distracting the team for selfish needs by rebuilding the hub so they could destroy for “victories.” Sugilite returns to destroy the tower. Back at the house, Garnet is giving Pearl the silent treatment while Amethyst ends with the quote, “Man, it sure would be nice if things worked out the way they do in cartoons,” to which Steven agrees.
Once again, this episode leaves us with more questions. What has gotten into Pearl? She appeared so obsessed with being with Rose and now with Garnet? In truth, both Pearl’s and Amethyst’s reason for wanting to fuse with Garnet is to feel powerful.
Outside of that, this episode runs the gamut of emotions and all in 11 minutes, but it’s confusion that the viewer will leave with and hopefully more will be explained as the Steven Bomb goes forward. I don’t have a problem with the downer ending, but how it got there leaves questions to be asked.
Pluses and Minuses:
+ Sardonyx is lively
+ Amethyst song
– Pearl’s motives are confusing
By the way, the Ratings Report for Steven Bomb 3 will not occur until all five episodes have aired, so the report will come a week from Tuesday.