Hey guys! It’s my 900th blog entry!!!
Over 5 years ago, I started this blog to talk about…well, whatever the hell I wanted to, really. And in those five years, I’d like to think I’ve expanded my horizons a bit. I started buying comics, I gave different video game series a chance, and I’ve watched whole new TV shows. And one of those shows is the subject of today: Steven Universe. Around two months or so ago, Emmybomber got me into the series, and I’ve been watching it a LOT ever since, as it’s quickly become my new favourite cartoon series. But which episodes are my favourites? Now, keep in mind, I still have not watched EVERY episode yet, so this list is subject to change over time. Also, given that my two favourite characters in the show are Pearl and Connie, any episode with both is naturally gonna have more than a little bit of bias with me, so don’t be surprised or bothered if my list is different from your own, which you’re more than welcome to share. Heck, this was originally supposed to be a Favourite 5 list, but I extended it to 10 since, otherwise, this would be a list of ONLY Pearl and Connie episodes. And, as always with my Favourite 5 lists, these are not in any specific order. That said, let’s start off with probably the first one that really made me realize exactly why this show was so worth my attention.
OH GOD, THE FEELS! Every single fan who loves Pearl who has not seen this one, I command you to do so! Here’s the set-up: Greg, after having just gotten a check from his ex-manager for a crap-ton of money, is convinced by Steven to take a trip to Empire City, and to bring Pearl along for the ride. Once they’re there, though, Pearl reflects on her past with Rose and her dismay at not only losing Rose to Greg, but now having to be there for her son. The result? Well, I don’t wanna spoil it, but it’s both heart-wrenching and uplifting. Oh, and did I mention that this is a musical episode? And I honestly can’t think of a single song in the episode I would call bad, even the burger jingle. And yeah, I can totally see Rose loving that. lol Really, the one complaint I have is that there isn’t enough going on in the time between songs, but then, that’s what happens when you have a musical episode of a show that runs for only 11 minutes, so it’s easy to forgive that. It’s deep, it’s funny, it’s just the right combination of depressing and optimistic, it’s pretty much Steven Universe in a nutshell.
Three words best sum up this episode: Oh. My. Stars. Although ironically, Peridot STILL has not put a star anywhere on her clothes. What, is she waiting until she has to regenerate or something? Anyway, this episode is equal parts heartfelt and hilarious, giving new perspective on the past few episodes wherein Peridot had recently joined the group, as well as showing how she’s slowly but surely gelling into the group. What I love most about Peridot’s inclusion to the good guys’ roster is that, while several episodes DID wind up featuring her predominantly, she doesn’t really come at the expense of the others. She’s an addition to a formula that already works pretty damned well, and only serves to give new ways for the formula to be awesome without really changing what already works about it. That said, it probably IS a good thing that episodes featuring her have become a bit more distanced out from one another as of late. But this is still a really great episode, the highlight of which being her interactions with Garnet. The thing is, fusion has always, at least where Garnet is involved, had a bit of a sexual tone to it. Specifically, fusion is oftentimes used as a metaphor for sex, with Garnet being the one who most gives evidence to that in how she treats it. As such, when Peridot tries to fuse at first, then decides she can’t, and Garnet is proud of her for the choice she made, it can be seen as a metaphor for when someone in a couple decides they aren’t quite ready to go “all the way”, but the other remains loving and supportive regardless. And that’s a really heartwarming thing to see. Also, I have a question: If Peridot is the first of her race to ship two characters in a fictional show, does that mean she invented shipping for Gemkind? o.O
So, I mentioned that Connie and Pearl are my favourite characters, and…well, this episode is probably a great explanation as to why that is. First off, with Connie, she’s the ordinary girl being pulled into extraordinary situations, and is managing to hold her own despite that. Her love for Steven and for his universe (pun intended) pushes her into becoming his knight, and she does a hell of a job at it despite not having any kind of powers on her own. With Pearl…well, let’s just call a spade a spade. She’s incredibly messed up in the head. I think Rob Walker once mentioned in a vlog that he could write a book about Pearl and all the ways she’s screwed up. It’s always interesting to watch her actions and try to gauge how much she’s doing what she does for the sake of Steven and the mission, and how much she’s doing for Rose. And, in episodes like this, we see that even she sometimes messes up which is really which. Naturally, with an episode focused on these two, it can only end n a way that is somehow simultaneously depressing and heartwarming. How this show does that so often and so well, I have no idea, but whatever. lol
…Again, I’m with Rob Walker: If Frybo was a person, this episode would be rated NC-17 for some of the stuff that happens here. Holy crap, this episode got incredibly dark and violent near the end, and yet maintains a hilarious tone throughout despite that. I mean, it ends with a battle between a living restaurant mascot costume and Steven’s clothes, along with a naked Steven. That’s funny enough, and then they go one better by having a Viking funeral for Frybo. I just LOST IT at that point. By then, I’d been hit with waves of ludicrous bullcrap and I could take no more, and I had a REALLY good laugh. But yeah, the fight itself, and some of the stuff Frybo does in the episode, are really violent and would be incredibly gruesome if Frybo was a person, which in turn makes the episode all the more ridiculous. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out, and hopefully, you can still look at french fries the same again. That said, I should make a mental note to do another Steven Universe list in the future talking about the more horrific moments of this show, ‘cuz there’s a surprisingly large amount.
Admittedly, it’s not so much this episode on its own that makes it a favourite of mine. Rather, it’s all the implications it raises. Basically, we have it finally put out in the open that Pearls are, as TV Tropes puts it, “decorative made-to-order servants, created specifically to use as status symbols”. Now, we don’t yet know, as of the time of this article being typed up, who Pearl was made for, be it Rose or someone else. However, at some point, she came into Rose’s service and became a Crystal Gem. So, why is this important? Well, for one thing, this means that every single thing we’ve seen Pearl do, from field combat to working with technology, both Gem and human-made, as again pointed out by TV Tropes, “she had to teach herself from scratch“. It shows everything she’s done, every choice she’s made, every single scene in the show involving her up until that point, in a whole new perspective. That said, what’s interesting to me is that this may give implication as to why Rose eventually rejected her in favour of Greg, that perhaps she wanted Pearl to be her own person. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it’s certainly an interesting theory. Still, for now, it’s just a theory…A GEM THEORY!… … … …If I do that again, you all have permission to smack me up the side of the head. XP Regardless, taking this episode on its own merits, it DOES do a great job of making you feel proud of Pearl and all she’s accomplished. Plus, giant robot competition. Can’t go wrong with that.
This can kind of be seen as an unofficial sequel episode to Mr. Greg in a lot of ways. Amethyst wants to go to a rock show with Greg, but he can’t go, so instead, Pearl suggests she and Steven take her. Throughout this episode, Pearl talks about wanting to move on from her past and live in the now, going to the rock show, talking with humans, even wearing ‘bad girl’ clothes and drinking juice. However, when she sees a tall woman with pink hair…well, let’s just say it kinda alters plans a bit. What results is a hilarious and heartwarming (getting sick of that word yet? lol) story where Amethyst and Steven try to cheer the awkward Pearl on in talking to the girl. And yes, I’d be negligent if I didn’t point out…well, just how incredibly gay Pearl is being in this episode. And I don’t even mean that in any sort of negative sense, either. In fact, I find it AWESOME. Like, we are officially at super gay levels with this episode, and I love every single minute of it. And if you don’t believe my words…well, I do have a rather embarrassing reaction to the end of the episode up that might back them up… … … …I can get kinda overemotional about certain shows. ^^”
Remember how I said that Garnet’s treatment of fusion furthers the theory that it’s supposed to be a metaphor for sex? Well, in this episode, she (and by extension, Ruby and Sapphire) more or less behaves like someone who just had sex under some sort of false pretense and is trying to sort out her emotions over that. Basically, in the previous episode, Pearl had tricked her into fusing for reasons that you should really watch Friend Ship to fully understand, and now she’s trying to deal. But because Ruby and Sapphire can’t agree on a means of doing so, she comes apart, and we get a great look at how the two (and by extension, Garnet) function. Here’s the jist of it: Ruby is instinctive, impulsive, and emotional, so she just wants to be angry and rage over what happened. Sapphire is calm, rational, and has the ability to see into the future where all is eventually forgiven, so she just wants to get that over with despite her own silent fuming…or freezing, as it were. lol Anyway, the two aren’t able to see eye-to-eye on the subject (which I can’t decide would be easier or harder when one of them only has one eye), until Steven finally breaks down and wonders if he’s responsible for all the bad seemingly following them, much like how a child might blame themselves when their parents argue. And considering we’ve ALL been there at some point in our lives…yeah, it’s really gut-wrenching seeing him hit that point. Eventually, Ruby and Sapphire make up…in a semi-racy way, and while everything isn’t settled with Pearl just yet, it ends on a happy enough note for everyone to enjoy. On top of that, though, it just adds to the already fascinating study of how Garnet operates and who she is. She simultaneously is and is not Ruby and Sapphire, being a combination of the two and yet being her own separate entity. That said, if you watch this episode, you’re pretty much required to watch the next one on this list…
Hey, did you know Rebecca Sugar is bisexual? If you didn’t, I’ll say it right here: Rebecca Sugar is bisexual, and she’s admitted that a lot of the LGBT themes present in Steven Universe are largely based on her own life experience as a bisexual woman. Also, I don’t care if the Gems are technically genderless or not. They use female gender pronouns, they have an inherently feminine design to them, and they are voiced by women, so I’m still gonna consider them female regardless of if they have the ‘parts’ required or not…Still, that makes me wonder how in the hell Greg and Rose conceived Steven. Did she morph her body so that… … …And I’m getting into icky territory. The point is, the LGBT themes people have picked up on with this show are intentional. And nowhere is that, as well as the evidence that fusion is a metaphor for sex, more solid than in this episode. Basically, it’s the tale of how Garnet came to be, as well as how she became a Crystal Gem, and it’s adorable and awesome. And again, it’s interesting to watch Ruby and Sapphire’s interactions and then compare to how Garnet behaves to see how she both is and is not the two of them. We get a bit of that sort of thing with Stevonnie, too, but not quite as much. I kind of wish we’d learned even more about the two from before they became Garnet, and of how Gem society viewed fusion, but that’s this show for you: It gives you just enough information in one episode that you know more than you did going into it, but that you’re also left wanting to learn more.
…What, you honestly thought the WRESTLING episode wasn’t gonna make it on here? HA! That said, Mr. Smiley has some rather odd theories about how wrestling works if he thinks anything goes at all times. Also, Steven, I get feeling bad about doing something to wrong a person who considered themselves your fan, but you were playing the heel. The heel is SUPPOSED to do whatever they can to get booed by the audience. Speaking of, Steven’s antics while playing a villain wrestler are just hilarious. Really, though, this episode, at its heart, is about Amethyst and how she feels like she doesn’t really fit in as well as she could with the other Crystal Gems. There are episodes that handle this subject better, mind you, it’s just…well, it’s the wrestling episode. What do you want from me? I will say, though, that while the ending was wonderful to me watching the episode in its entirety, you kinda gotta look at it from the perspective of the fans watching the wrestling shows and think “Wow, that babyface turn came right the crap outta nowhere”. XD
There’s a LOT to love about this episode. First of all, it actually does a really great job at playing with expectations. You go into this thinking it’s a Connie centric episode, but then it turns out it’s actually about Connie AND Steven, with the incident that sets up the plot being used as a means to get someone close to something that’s been bugging poor Steven for a while now. But, on top of all that, there’s…the song. OH GOD, that song. I think this might be my favourite musical sequence in the entire show. Despite the song being…well, a little repetitive, it’s still well thought out, and the visuals that accompany it are wonderful. Hell, we even get some great insight on the characters of Ruby and Sapphire during it, and they don’t say a single word that we can hear, and yet their actions convey so much. And the episode has a really great message to it: Sometimes, bad stuff can pile up, and all you wanna do is put the pile aside and not deal with it, but ignoring it isn’t the solution. You have to confront your thoughts and feelings and let yourself go through the motions. And it doesn’t hurt to have a friend who you can talk to about it all. In fact, if you’ll allow me to get on my soap box for a moment, a lot of people choose to push others away when they’re dealing with a problem, since they either don’t want to burden them with it, or they feel it won’t solve anything. I see this all the time, and it really annoys me when it happens, since I honestly think that’s the last thing you should do. It’s one thing to pile this onto someone who has enough on their plates and wants to get through that before having more to deal with. I get that. But when someone is actively trying to help you, or you know that they’re the type who would if they knew what was bothering you, you’ve gotta let them in. And if you think that’s the childish thing to do…well…
So, that’s my list of my favourite Steven Universe episodes. Feel free to post your own lists of favourite episodes below, and keeping believing in Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl and Steven. Play us out, kiddo. ^_^