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  1. #1
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    Thread Titles Are Hard: The Foose Watches Steven Universe Story

    hi. do you like steven universe? you probably do, since you're a smart progressive denizen of the nohomers discord chat and it's companion forum. well good news, your Fourth Favorite Discorder is about to get all analytical and obnoxious on it, hopefully long term, hopefully longest term as in every stinkin' episode. stuff like this is hard to commit to but with SU i feel like there are a few intrinsic benefits. there's a larger group of folks reading this right off the bat as SU fans are probably more numerous than say, star trek fans on this board. also SU clearly has a relevance, a significance, and a depth worth actually exploring and writing about. this wont just be an exercise in good natured swearing - the simpsons reviews will still be a home for that - i actually wanna do this show justice the best i can. i can't guarantee i'm gonna nail everything but i promise to try, and if i miss the mark on anything well SU fanbois and goils feel free to correct me. i considered putting these in the already created SU thread but i think my reviews are more of a detached analysis than a springboard for conversation on the board. i'm all for talk post-writing in discord but i don't wanna clutter the su discussion thread with huge reviews that i don't intend to really follow up. the intent is write the sucker and move on to the next sucker. so here we are, and i hope you jerks enjoy the content. without further adieu, let's begin our journey the only place that makes sense: the weird looking pilot!

    PILOT
    - i've seen this pilot twice before: first when it was released amongst other cn pilots of the time by various at/rs folks and then before i began watching the proper series for about 25 episodes in i wanna say 2014? maybe 2015? lemme tell you, as a once avid adventure time fan you didn't need to explain to me why rebecca sugar getting her own series was a big deal. based on the episodes she boarded, it was easy to tell she was something special, she was fervently passionate about the ideas she set forth to talk about and illustrate and her style was unmatched on the show. the romance stuff on adventure time didn't always land for me but i always enjoyed how sugar stuck to her guns on stuff like that and you could tell she was a driving force behind pushing that show beyond being just the adventure of the week series. she was boarding alongside the guy who now runs the show and has for about four years now after all.

    after all that was said and done, hearing she had her own pilot was exciting, i wondered how all that passion and striving for progress in childrens animation would translate into her creating on her own terms. i knew it would be a big deal and yet even now i can barely believe the behemoth it's become. but let's not get ahead of myself. so, the pilot. back then, i liked it. didn't love it but i saw the potential, enjoyed the artstyle - more on that later! - and there were a few things that poked out as having an indescribable magic. she had definitely begun drafting a potentially deep and thriving world of intricate characters and expansive lore, from the getgo the potential swells through. it took me awhile to catch on but the world basically wouldn't allow that i'd forget. so how does it hold up?

    - WELL i can say this: one of my main issues with the early episodes was that alot of it sorta relied on the same dynamic: steven wants to be part of adventures, pearl discourages him as he's inexperienced, amethyst irresponsibly coaxes him or shows him Cool Magical Shit. that's fine and all cuz it's early series and i know it evolves well beyond that, perhaps they were playing it a bit safe at first, toying with variations on a theme of sorts before really taking the training wheels off. nonetheless, as it stands especially with the context of most of s1a somewhat vibrant in my memory this definitely feels as piloty as a pilot could pilot.

    - the best part of the pilot was is and always will be - and for me was from the very start that aforementioned moment of inexplicable magic - steven's song, which of course the majority of becomes the theme. i like the idea of the gems adopting the song, and theres some nice touches as steven's playing like garnet clapping in the background. its a great moment for a few reasons: first i feel it immediately shows the musical sensiblity of the series, knowing there are plenty of songs to come, i've always loved a good memorable tune so thats a plus. also the more you hear that theme with the association of the adventures of the series the more weight it begins to hold, and i just love origins of things and hearing the main character of a show play what becomes its theme song..i dunno theres something very goosebumps inducing about that. plus on a character level it just says alot about steven right off the bat, his passion for being a gem, he wants to join them on adventures and fight bad guys, he aspires to their ability and that's immediately endearing. steven in these early episodes can be a bumbler but he's always well-meaning so it's hard to dislike him, and you feel for him, you want him to have that dream realized, and you know its only a matter of time so when you see the Literal Stars In His Eyes you feel the world thats about to unfold, for you and for steven. it's the core of the pilot for me, and its all that needs to be said to know who steven is and where his journey begins and is meant to go.

    - so anyway the story: amethyst gives steven the Magical Thing Of The Week which allows him to leap back in time and own lars, among other things. this whole sequence with steven getting back at lars is pretty good, with steven getting his hands on his first magical item but of course not really giving any immediate gravity to it because we have to realistically depict how steven would use such a thing, and how else but to drop mad owns on the jackass at the donut shop?

    - before i get to the BIG SCARY DIAMOND EYES SKULL THING let's address the big ugly elephant in the room: the fuckin pilot's art style eugh. when i first saw it i liked it, because i was interested in how dimensional it was, and when i saw they had simplified and flattened it i was disappointed because it seemed to take away from the sense of depth visually. in hindsight though, thank god they did because goodness gracious look at all this. now in some cases it might just be what we're used to, like garnets hair being down doesn't have to be a bad idea it just seems odd cuz it's abnormal but in alot of instances there's just too much detail. the characters are so busy with clothing and the drawings just seems a bit clunky with all the doodads and details, why does amethyst have a fanny pack? and the less said about pearl's design the better, really i just don't think these designs even totally fit their personalities either, the way they were refined did wonders for properly reflecting who they are. also steven looks quite a bit chubbier and more squatty, he's a weird shape. overall i think they pretty naturally just tried to do a bit too much with the pilot, and slowly learned how to do alot with a little, and learned WHEN to detail and when not to, instead of making the show seem a bit..well frankly grotesque. there's alot of hideous drawings in this episode, alot of mangled hands and over-detailed mouths and shit and it's not quite right. maybe i wouldn't be saying that if theyd stuck with this style and just fixed it up, most cartoon pilots have their issues and of course they aren't even as noticeable until you see how things can be improved, so who can say for sure? all i know is im very glad it was changed. now then:

    - SCARY DIAMOND EYES SKULL THING!!! steven's fantastic ownage has caused holes in the fabric of time and the fucking skull thing found them. we see the gems reveal their weapons for the first time, all seems pretty consistent with the show, but of course steven can't get his to do shit. everyone gets their asses kicked so steven has to use the Comeback Hourglass to save them by leapin back to garnet calling him a buttface. then they murder the skull with a giant donut. do we ever see this type of creature again? i suppose there must be a wide range of crazy shit for them to fight so

    - so steven saves the day through being, as they well put it, a clown. this works well to reaffirm that regardless of how he bumbles through it, steven does wanna save the day, so even if its through silly shit like comebacks, he finds a way, though then he re-bumbles it and reverses time but then smartly smashes the thing. its a pretty good ending because it doesn't matter if the gems see him as a hero just yet, all that matters here is that steven knows it, and someday that'll mean something.

    SO YEAH pretty good pilot all in all. there isn't alot to say about it that i haven't already, the art is bleh but the story is good, in a sweet 7 minutes we get to know each character just well enough, steven with the most depth and complexity because he's growing while the gems all sorta fit into templates at the moment as addressed. the fight scene isn't much to speak of but it serves its purpose as a first fight, a quick monster of the week ordeal where steven can prove himself and then somehow still fuck up but through that fuck up sorta kinda prevent the bad thing so sorta still save the day sorta kinda sorta??? really this one's alot less cringey than a few of the upcoming legit episodes. i guess ill divulge on that when i come to it but for now, i think this does a fine job of showing us alot of potential of what is to come. things are only gonna get way bigger from here. i'm ready for the ride.

    B -


  2. #2
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Gonna give the pilto a watch soon, it has been a long time. Right off the bat I agree blegh the designs.
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  3. #3
    No, money down! Traviud's Avatar
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    Steven is so fuckin fat in this episode my GOD

    The dog-nut is way more dangerous to his health than the Diamonds
    Last edited by Traviud; 07-09-2017 at 12:32 AM.

  4. #4
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    GEM GLOW

    THOUGHTS
    - i warn you, these are gonna get a @Tad broken record-y at times in this early stretch, i suppose that shouldn't be a shock given the familiar themes and character dynamics but yeah just get ready to read me repeating myself a bit.

    - ahhh it looks so much better. the more vibrant, softer colors definitely do wonders but the designs are perfectly suited to the characters now too, allowing for detail without letting it overwhelm the designs and make them grotesque. there are shows where deformed off-model drawings can be great but this show, well at the very least it needs to be time-and-place. everything now pops, that opening establishing shot is gorgeous, fantastic palette and all.

    - steven sounds like callison is trying to make him sound a bit younger, and a bit less well how shall i put it gently...tubby. less tubby. he sounds less Fat. i decided not to put it gently. there is definitely a subtle shift there, but so much so i'm not even sure if it was conscious. he sounds a bit whiny too but that's no surprise.

    - i'm gonna do my best to avoid just telling you the plot with these reviews. i can't stand when reviews are largely filler exposition especially when its a show so relevant that those reading surely know all this stuff already - the only reason i do it with the new simpsons ones is cuz i find them innately absurd, and the very existence of it just the same. so i wont go rambling through every detail, so to truncate: this episode is an oddball in terms of plot because while i think it maybe climbs to a higher climax than the last one - more on that when we reach it - steven seems perhaps even more immature and less connected to any magic outright. the pilot opens with him eagerly awaiting their return but in this episode he's immediately fixated on the loss of his precious snack. the way the Cookie Cats offer magical properties seems, well frankly kinda bs but there's no real reason to dive into that it's just an excuse to give steven a taste of his powers, not the best one but thats where things do progress a smidgen. steven is ultimately the hero in the pilot but through a magical item offered to him by one of the other gems, whereas here he actually taps into his own potential, so thats an incremental movement and merits the episode. is it enough though to make this one work more in a vacuum?

    - well we get a new monster in the centipeedles (sp?), which look pretty cool and spit acid and shit. also we get the first mention of The Temple unless i totally blanked on a line in the pilot but im thinking so. ALSO since everything has been redesigned we can Glimps at their home and get an understanding of everyting around us, its more about drawing ones own conclusion at this point but the details are there. alot of this is tertiary to the rather silly main plot granted so i can't go giving major points for it and while its important to establish lore in the corners nice and early so you can start digging into it just because this is where it first appears doesn't mean this is where it's most important obviously, so its hard to gauge on that front just how much credit to give the first episode just for being well, the first. so okay the Silly Main Plot!

    - well it's not all silly. like i said the dynamic doesn't shift dramatically yet but there is some important context. in the pilot all we can really gather is steven "just isn't ready" for battling with the gems but here we know concretely that it all relies on him being able to control his own powers. immediately we have a sense of the first goal for steven, there is actually a way for him to be like the other gems as he aspires, the dream becomes more tangible. so that's great, but we have a cringey rap to get to!

    - legitimately impossible not to wince at this. im not even sure what to say about it. it's just...hmm no? no. like i think on it's own its pretty squirm inducing but like imagine trying to sell this show to people and in the first episode about three minutes in This happens and you have to be like "no no please stick with it it gets good in ...twenty six episodes? wait come back!". obviously thats an exagerration - there a few i remember bein great in this early group - but hoo boy i didn't need steven doing an amateur rap with lots of Gangsta Hand Movements over a flimsy 8-bit beat complete with reverbed chorus. yeah let's forget this ever happened? let's.

    - the best sequence of this episode is definitely where the gems are trying to teach steven how to summon his weapon, each with their own methods well beyond his understanding at this juncture. of course the complexity of the goal largely lies within the disparity of the gem's tactics, again at this point the gems are pretty rooted in certain characteristics that are somewhat rigid moreso for the purpose of offering a context to steven's growth because this early on the show needs to focus more on that - though of course again that does begin to vary. garnet's approach to summoning one's weapon however, yes well beyond his understanding. i do think its a great moment tho, its funny but also intriguing, it gives you a sense of just how much steven can grow, just how deep one can find themselves in that spiritual connection in search of becoming a great gem. it's a moment of inspiration, but for the moment its just a good way to show how far off steven is from that moment, and it works both ways.

    - can i just say the music in this Fight Scene is so good. really all the music so far - except that one song - is pretty good though as expected, and im looking forward to fawning over alot more of it.

    - now this is more of a episode finale battle. looking back already i feel like the skull from the pilot seemed a bit flimsy to be so daunting to the gems but this mother centipeedle (sp?) is more like it, huge imposing disgusting dripping acid spewing beast. of course the show backpedals the notion that steven's powers are summoned by ice cream, duh. it does beg the question what exactly in that moment did cause them to come to him, if it was thought out beyond that. perhaps it just plays to the convenience of having to find Some Way to find his powers but i trust this show more than that. who knows, all thats certain is once again steven saves the day but by Slinging a Tiny Freezer At A Hellbeast. sure okay i guess. why not. at least they don't just stop at that and let the gems kick some ass, all they needed was to not get Killt With Acid really, this is clearly a low level enemy. hell they don't even show a fight, the gems race at it and POOF. gone! then they catch it in a Pokeball or something oboy more mysterious lore that egg missed lol what a loser.

    - steven vomit


    so yeah, pretty decent little opening for the series. i do feel like maybe steven is a biiit too focused on the ice cream but at least they give it some illusion of importance to merit that moreso when shit hits the fan. i do still think the pilot did a better job of inadvertently sending steven into magical mayhem whereas here the plot isn't directly created by steven, its more about him trying to figure himself out while we run the clock to the inevitable centipeedle (i do think that has to be the right spelling) boss battle. and hey, that's totally fine, its already a variation on the initial theme, we're focusing more on the character, not separate from magical influence but not sending the story's events into chaos through his own doing, because this episode isn't about steven having a huge effect, its actually the opposite of that, steven isn't to the point that he can bust up the badguys, he can help in his Own Steveny Way and perhaps is crucial to their success in the big battle, but steven feels more like he's tagging along for the inevitable. it's like pearl's petal dance, all being calculated in real time. at this point, steven is just learning how to dance, and until he does maybe it does make more sense that he doesn't have the great impact on the plot he did in the pilot. so while there could be an argument against steven in terms of him sort of bumbling through portions of the plot here, or focusing as much on the cookie cat stuff, it makes sense considering where we are. as danger approaches, steven wants to be part of saving the day and the only answer he can find is the cookie cats. the best way to look at it as it becomes plot relevant is he has no clue where else to turn or how else to tap into his own potential. not yet anyway.

    B -

  5. #5
    Your Neighborhood Average Joe Purpleberries's Avatar
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    Oh boy, your watch is gonna be a ride. It gets pretty good by season 2 then season 4 will probably disappoint you.
    Simpsons Season 30 Ratings: Bart's Not Dead: 3/5(B-) Heartbreak Hotel: N/A My Way or the Highway to Heaven: 3.5/5(B) THOH XXIX: 2.5/5(C+) Baby You Can't Drive My Car: 3.25/5(B/B-) From Russia with Love: 4/5(B+) Werking Mom: 3.5/5(B) Krusty the Clown: 3.5/5(B) Daddicus Finch: 5/5(A) Mad About the Toy: 3.5/5(B)


  6. #6
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    I'm glad this thread exists because man it gives me something productive to do during down time

    Got a chance to rewatch Pilot today. Some thoughts as I go along:

    - The character models are blegh for the most part, mainly Pearl and Steven's creepy face, but I do like the background art work. It's a different style -- a bit rougher and more detailed, less of a "cleanly rendered" feeling. I much prefer what we have now, but I can appreciate the work put into those settings. However, as @kaos noted, the details are kinda scary when it comes to the characters because the amount of detail put in is so stylized and exaggerated at points that it's just straight up scary and uncomfortable when you're used to the current designs. It's like they really tried hard on the anime influence at first since that's what it mainly reminds me of. The art nowadays still kind of evokes that old school 70s-80s/early 90s soft anime look, though. But it ends up reminding more of the scary ass animation in stuff like Aeon Flux. It is cool, though, to see characters like Lars in their original design where he looks a lot more Filipino just via a palette swap.

    - The characters themselves aren't hugely different. Steven is the starry-eyed boy wanting to join in on the fun. Pearl is Bird Mom. Garnet is still calm and cool (and not-so-Square Mom) and usually the first to casually humor Steven like clapping through his song. She almost always out-Moms Pearl and Amethyst as far as decisions go and this is still present in Pilot.

    - Big Donut being RIGHT THERE lol

    - Sadie's fkn face after that severe burn

    - The humor is still fairly intact. I mean it's not a lols every minute show but they do a great job with small moments of humor, like Steven's reaction to the hourglass glowing after he thinks up another come back, and his reaction as he materializes again ready to fucking own Lars. SMALL moments that make me smile all add up to a relatively enjoyable experience.

    - Garnet calling him a buttface to foreshadow her powers -- niiiiiiiiiiice, I like.

    - Honestly that donut should've fallen on Lars and Sadie.

    - The music moments sound so Magical Girl lovely at times.

    - Pearl dgaf he wrecked that hourglass haha


    I will agree with you that apart from the creepy art this ep actually has less to cringe at than some early canon eps. We don't see any more Electric Skull creatures again but we definitely see some weird gem creatures later.

  7. #7
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #2: LASER LIGHT CANNON

    THOUGHTS
    - steven's love of fry bits is extremely relatable, whenever i go to fast food seafood places the best part is always the little crispy parts under the rest of the food, i just want a whole basket of that. have to assume someone on staff inspired this, smart savvy fooders like myself no doubt.

    - amethyst is probably my favorite gem besides steven at this early juncture, alot of that probably due to the fact that she mirrors steven quite a bit. she still has a pretty firm space in the dynamic of the episodes but she compliments his immaturity with a similarly loose approach to life, amethyst is still clearly finding herself ,though im sure they all are, she just has this very transparent teenage vibe to her that plays well alongside steven, giving him someone on his level. plus she's just fun, she's the one you'd wanna hang around and just chill and eat shit. tha life.

    - so the villain of this episode is the Red Eye, which is immediately described as a significant danger for the denizens of beach city. i like how the show is incorporating an enemy of such great power so early, i always think thats a smart idea early in a show to create a sense of disparity, to really show steven what he's up against and see that his mere abilities could do nothing against it, not even the other gems can damage it, no matter how many times they catapult amethyst into it. we're leaping in danger from random baddies to a genuine doombringer looming over the entire episode, it sets a tone. like yes obviously the town won't be anywhere near crushed in episode two but the very idea that it could is imposing, and plus it feels less contrived like we aren't just flipping through a notebook of Low Level Enemies until the obligatory big boss struts along come season-end, right here right now something so frightening it daunts the gems and leaves them with no initial solution is casting a grim shadow overhead. so clearly, it's time for the big guns. gun. single gun. cannon. a cannon is a gun, i think? i'd say it is.

    - another significant element is the first mention of steven's mom, rose quartz. with that we get a bit more of an idea of why steven could be so important but also the legacy he's living up to. not only does he have to live up the ability of the other gems if he wants to go on world-saving adventures, but inevitably he's gonna have to realize that as the son of the clearly revered rose quartz he has alot to learn and aspire to. baby steps though, for now steven just needs to rummage through his dad's junk to find the light cannon.

    - greg is instantly a pretty great character, i enjoy how despite the less-than-favorable perception of him by the other gems, rose did of course entrust him with the cannon because well she clearly saw something in him they can't what with the Love And All. greg being just a regular tubby bum of a guy sleepin in a van could have made him pretty easily an annoyance or a roadblock, a character merely goin around all AGH MAGICAL STUFF WAAAA but no he manages to strike a pretty solid balance, clearly expositing his ignorance in magic stuff but not to the point of being unhelpful, he does his best to understand and assist, obviously he knows rose would find this stuff important and knows steven does as well. really his only trepidation is founded upon feeling inadequately equipped to help deal with it, not wanting to deal with the eyeball because the gems told him not to interfere, and that makes sense on both sides, maybe for his safety or just because they wanna make sure things are done right. they dont even take steven out on adventures yet why would they trust some balding dude with saving the world?

    - the scene of steven plundering the storage unit looks great, all the detailed knick-knacks and some solid lightning that makes it feel like all the items are piled to the ceiling around him as he crawls through Dad Stuff. i do think steven thinking golf clubs and a bongo are cannons is a bit dumb, though i like the bit where steven walks off only to hop back to smack the bongo. if you can resist smackin any given drum you walk by you're a stronger person than me.

    - i suppose there are better ways to give us the greg/rose story than just him literally spouting it at his kid who for sure knows it already - and even says as much - but i think its a sweet story, and also greg probably considers that a pretty important part of his life even all this time after she gave up her physical form. also as someone with a dad goddamn do dads repeat shit alot.

    - i'm never certain what seemingly throwaway lines will end up essential or at least further explored later but i sure hope to see more of greg's band days. i know this is very musical show and flashbacks seem outright inevitable considering everything we don't know at this juncture so yes please. also "let me drive my van (into your heart) is absolutely charming so i demand more!

    - stellar pallette of glimmering reds in the climactic scene on the beach, really emphasizes the immensity of the eye, and pairs well with the slightly more vibrant and lighter pink cannon. these sorts of artistic decisions really help specific scenes stand out and i hope to see alot more of that. also the music continues to set the scene perfectly, they really know how to amp up the intensity and makes things feel genuinely uneasy and uncertain even when they are obviously gonna be okay.

    - if i had to pick a favorite single image for the show to this point its definitely the shot of all four gems holding the cannon up. this feels like the first moment where steven is helping in a way that is directly related to him being a gem, he's starting to become one of them and help in a much bigger way, he's right there along with them as they blow the eye to smithereens.

    - of course the reveal that greg's silly hot dogs phrase was the activation code for the cannon reinforces just how much rose seemed to value greg. i really do look forward to seeing more about their relationship in the future, but even now you get the sense that come this episode's end, everyone else sees at least a smidgen of what rose saw in greg.

    another good one, the best one so far in fact. no cringey bits and steven is extremely bearable and even likeable throughout, he's never a blockade and is actively the catalyst for saving the day in just the right way, through his connection to his mom, and through the earnest assistance of his dad. its a vaguely familial episode, it isn't explict and the entire family isn't here but it feels like all the characters coming together, rose saving the day through steven, steven holding up the cannon with the others, greg being able to help steven find the cannon and impressing the gems. it all comes together and makes these characters feel like a family who mean alot to each other and will continue to do so. as for on a more surface level, this is the prettiest and most intense episode yet, all the while definitely still feeling like child's play in comparison with whats surely to come. its a good call to do an episode like this so early, making sure to get right into some important lore but moreso, really start to establish the character's ties in a way that transcends how they affect the individual stories. something resonates brightly through this one that i think is gonna stick around, and i'd say its just the beginning of something bigger and greater.

    B

  8. Thumbs Up To This Post by: kupomog

  9. #8
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Your reaction to Let Me Drive My Van Into Your Heart is so much more pleasant than a certain unborn chicken's reaction

  10. #9
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #3: CHEESE BURGER BACKPACK

    THOUGHTS
    - gonna start singing steven's postman song, except my postperson is a postwoman so the extra syllable is gonna fuck up the song so i guess i wont do that. there just aren't enough songs about postmen tho.

    - there is something off about the design of the postman, i can't quite put my finger on it but he doesn't look like he fits in this show, he looks like a design out of some no-name pbs kids show or something to me. he's got weird mega man feet too. his appendages are all fucky in general.

    - i do like steven's little back-and-forth with the postman, lotta cute lines and moments like steven adding stars to his signature - not that there's any fucking way you could make legible stars on one of those things - and the Bread Mail which can you do that? gonna try this.

    - lotta really distorted steven faces right off the bat in this episode. i do love early episode facial experimentation in cartoons, even though the more you watch onward the more they start to look rather unsightly. i suppose its the same issue the pilot has in retrospect but a smaller version of it. in one scene where pearl is talking to him he has serious bulging bug eyes though like damn tone it down a notch. unless steven is secretly a bug and this is my first hint! lore!!

    - so the PLOT, truncated: as aforementioned these early episodes are all variations of steven trying his best to help save the day. first he tried to activate his gem, then used to familial ties to get ahold of a great weapon. this time? *points to title*. indeed steven is so intent to assist in the adventure that he's resorted to buying a weird backpack because...i guess ya gotta carry shit? as will be divulged upon as this episode goes, its difficult to work out whether or not this episode expresses steven's resourcefulness or is just act after act of dumb luck. i suppose the latter is believable, just because steven wants to help doesn't mean he's gonna have the answers, more or less even when he succeeds he's eventually bound to bumble because he's not there yet. so in a sense either way you slice it the plot does what its supposed to, serves as steven's first foray into the wild unknown, where he opts to prove himself in the only way he can seem to think of. i'm not sure why a backpack really, thats the part that always sorta puzzles me about this one, what's his thought process here?

    - with this episode we get a taste of the history of the gems, regarding the sea spire where gems used to reside on earth before it was abandoned. it doesn't tell us much but im always deeply intrigued in locales that drip with history and imply great mysterious and eventful pasts, dilapidated ruins of a once lively place, if these walls could talk and so on and so forth. its just the right type of tease, to see the show peer into some of the more ancient history without going much further, just giving a glimpse. i like that, and it is quite a magnificently designed place.

    - regardless of how much a clueless dork steven is, its nice to see amethyst talk some sense against pearl not wanting steven to come because of how much he has to learn because well, how else is he gonna learn? keeps the show from getting too contrived with "steven isn't ready for adventure yet" plots, better we send him into uncharted territory quickly to show what he's up against. still, why the backpack? seriously, sure in this instance he does actually have things to carry but it does feel a bit too convenient in the way its structured, to make steven's random dopey idea of helping somehow valid. its a bit clumsy honestly, but more on that as we get to the details.

    - oooooouughhh i gotta medical condition

    - steven is actually probably more of a liability and irritance initially in this episode than any of the others preceding so that sorta just compounds upon the sorta frustrating overt convenience of steven randomly packing things that just happen to save them - though to their credit they do try to buy this back by not having just every madcap idea work to their advantage. when pearl's trying to get through to him about how important this mission is and he just responds with a Full House Quote and a Funni Face its hard to buy. regardless of how much of a doofus steven is here he clearly takes this seriously, hell its basically all he's wanted this entire time so i dunno it rings a bit false to me. whatever though, on with the dumb luck!

    - on the other hand, i can appreciate the puzzley, problem solvery of the episode, i always like watching toon where the characters are figuring out various tasks and puzzles because well it feels like watching a video game which is neat, its cool to see how video games influence media - this was alot of the charm of really early adventure time, watching them smite baddies and figure out weird puzzles and go through insane dungeons and the like. so removing the context a bit of what happens in the episode, there is a general fun to watching them work out each problem as they ascend the spire. i'm also just a huge fan of problem solving in shows and movies, im not sure why, it's not even necessarily to feel like part of the action i just enjoy a concrete task being set forth and watching the writers worm out of a corner in as natural a way as possible, so stuff like this always entertains me.

    - so yeah, two of three of steven's plans end up working, which is...faaaairly believable? him tossing sandwiches at the crystal shrimp is definitely the most farfetched, but the other two are at least logical, he shows himself to be resourceful with the shirts and even has a downright sensible (as pearl herself puts it) solution to the waterfall gap with a raft, but underthinks it as it careens off the side. the episode inversely does a nice job of showing the other gem's abilities in contrast. there's a certain whimsy to the way steven just nabs random objects from his backpack which suits his fledgling approach to the adventure, as opposed to garnet's sheer power knocking down the column or pearl's calculation to bypass the crystal shrimp before steven tosses bagels. it is interesting the way the episode doesn't cheat too hard, just as the gems begin to rely on stevens Magic BackPac he flubs his next attempt to save the day. which makes sense as up to now it has all pretty much been dumb luck, but i guess thats to be expected, its the way they handle it that manages to keep it from being kinda annoying, having steven succeed despite being equipped with little more than camping equpiment in a food shaped bookbag. instead we halt things just right i think, showing steven having a bit of hidden talent without making it feel too convenient. a fair balance.

    - of course the true flub is steven forgetting the statue that is required to maintain the structural integrity of the spire. it creates this interesting arc where you aren't exactly sure what the episode is trying to say but ultimately i think it paints a fascinating and rather complete picture of steven. he is earnest and strives to do the right thing, and has a glimmer of genuine heroics in him as he MacGyvers a few random items to lead them to victory, but not all of his techniques work which is fine until we find that ultimately it was for naught because he forgot the fucking statue. this ends his arc with a realization that perhaps steven was so eager to help he lost the focus of what he was actually doing. so excited to go on this adventure the key to the whole thing was left behind, and he and later the other gems begin to forget this as they focus on his backpack and all his neat doodads that are helping climb the spire. its a tough lesson that results in the spire falling to pieces in the end, because for all of steven's good intentions hes still not the hero he wants to be yet and for all his good ideas he still has alot to learn to make those ideas matter. but hey the raft came back! so thats like...a 2.5/4? that's not bad! that's like what the average movie gets on dish network ratings, and those usually end up being alright. mhm.

    i feel like theres little else to say that wasn't summarized in the above but this is definitely a very steven episode, where literally everything that happens revolves around his desires as well as his inate flaws. we get a taste of what he's capable of in terms of somewhat critical thinking but whats more important is the way that these things take the place of the actually important item, the way he expresses an immaturity as a hero not by any individual failures of his silly problem solving but by the greater mistake made in trying to do the right thing. its a neat way to have steven fail but not entirely, to show the mistakes he is capable of making, the real consequences of not taking things seriously enough, or focusing on the wrong things. trying so hard to be a good gem that he overlooks what was really important, and not cheating in the end with his mr queasy doll either, another moment of the episode staring into the abyss of stupidity but smartly taking a step back and letting nature take course as steven realizes he's responsible for this, regardless of what pearl says. its an interesting bittersweet ending that says alot without saying it out loud, and it says alot about how far steven has to go, hopefully without causing any more damage.

    B

  11. #10
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Rewatching Gem Glow for the hell of it. So many moments that make me smh yet so much foreshadowing to enjoy once you have some context.

    The rap is so cringe but having to hear it on the SU OST makes it less annoying. The music beat is actually neat devoid of rap.

    There's also cute moments of humor peppered around which is what eventually made me really enjoy watching the show.

    "We went out and stole a bunch!!"
    ​"sigh I went back and paid for them..."

    Early on in the show I was pretty gung-ho for Pearl because of her elegant fighting and total Mom personality that made me laugh. Then I quickly latched on to Amethyst because she was, well, a clown and hilarious. Then Garnet would just be Calm & Cool and lay out these solid lines. I took to all three gems so much faster than Steven himself.

  12. #11
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #4: TOGETHER BREAKFAST

    THOUGHTS
    - so steven is at home alone again, naturally. probably because he fuckin destroyed an ancient spire the dipshit. luckily he has one surefire tool in his toolbelt, the one great ability of all fat kids: making absurd foodstacks. so first the pressing question on all...two? three? of your minds: would i eat this! well i wouldn't put the popcorn ill tell ya that, that has to be a reference to a real life thing from one of the members of the show crew because far as i know that's not a normal waffle ingredient. have never ever seen it before this, and the breakfast isnt absurd enough to assume any one ingredient is meant to be ridiculous on its own. nonetheless, a fine looking breakfast and yes i would eat it.

    - this episode operates on two levels: the first is more or less re-establishing and elaborating upon what we already know about the characters and their relationships but in newer contexts. the second and more significant is the way it begins to dive deeper into the temple and individual rooms of each gem and all the wild passageways steven is barrelling through just to get these fools to eat some waffles. it's silly but it maintains that smart balance, we get to take a peek at these gorgeously designed rooms and halls without necessarily needing them to be too relevant until the end and only through the context of steven's desperate chase, he's enitrely focused on the breakfast and togetherness required. in a way i feel like this aspect contexualizes his behavior in the last episode too, sure steven wants to be a good hero but he also just wants to be a gem, and in a general sense that just means being part of a family and spending time together and doing things, feeling included. that desire naturally persists here and sends us spiraling into wilder depths.

    - inversely to steven's focus on the breakfast the gems seem entirely focused on their own plots. i like the way they imply much more interesting and important stories and such and you might think Well Why Not Show Us That and id say hey egg you idiot do you not understand thats the point of the slow build while still giving us little breadcrumbs you stupid stupid kid from new york. hypothetically. its really neat to see those implications, that weird creepy scroll garnet was holding especially. the fuck is that! i want one. would look rad in my den. i don't have a den but if i did that's where id put a creepy scroll.

    - the long sequence in pearl's room with the cascading waterfalls and the lively jazz music is just fantastic, really upbeat and hectic, love the way steven tries to paddle back up but the angle of the fall keeps bending more and more into incomprhensible angles, it looks really surreal and vast especially upon that crystalline background. also beyond that pearl's room is very fitting, all elegant and symmetrical, not a sword hilt outta place.

    - juxtaposed with that we have amethyst's spectacular junkyard of an abode. im always wondering if there's purpose behind seemingly inconsequential aspects of the show like how pearls waterfall lands directly in amethysts room. it has to be something right? if not its still a pretty funny bit where their rooms get connected and all her junk keeps falling down there, perfect for pearl who would hate to lose anything and perfect for amethyst who cant seem to toss anything. pearl and amethysts sheer disparity has lead to some pretty great little moments thus far - including their little spat about the sword where pearl very motherly forgives amethyst to her annoyance - so im looking forward to more of that. also this episode spends a little more time splitting the gems up and giving them time with steven. before this the only real content with steven and one gem at a time we had were the sequences when they were trying to help him activate him gem but here we get them in their more natural habitat, really amplifies the behind the scenes nature of the episode as steven treads where he shouldn't.

    - steven straight up went underwater those waffles aint edible run the fuckin credits

    - another great sequence with amethyst chasing steven, some lovely backgrounds and spacey rock hopping and some fucking jamming horns and bass, really compliments the acceleration in action as steven traverses the mysterious paths thru the temple. it really begs the question why it all has this specific architecture, what these rooms signify, are those veins or arteries what the fuck, oh theres a heart why does this building have a heart question mark exclamation mark, all the while providing a surprisingly thrilling adventure via a plot that should have no right to ignite such a solid collection of fun scenes. also lol that bit as steven reaches the end of the path before the floating platforms and it cuts to amethyst ravenously running as the background is sort of swallowing itself in the background, looks great and really warped, kinda reflective too.

    - so its time for the fan to meet the shit. i really love the consistent sorta motif of forward propulsion through this episode, alot of sequences of vertical or horizontal movement at a great pace, a lull and then another, really helps us move through the temple in a snappy way and gives us the imagery without resting on it too long, giving ya some freeze frame fun in a few spots and just overall looking really nice as steven's simple goal quickly sends him careening down a pit hanging on to part of the crystal heart. as he reaches the bottom we get more intriguing mysterious imagery, with garnet burning the creepy scroll and trying to contain the Creature From Lost within. sadly the Creature From Lost gets free. i really like how vague this episodes monster is, like what is it, whats with the scroll. as powerful as the red eye was steven pretty immediately had the answer there, but here, this is well beyond his understanding and it really starts to portray just how deep and crazy shit is gonna get, and whats already happening unbeknownst to steven who obviously shouldnt be here. again, an earnest well meaning kid bumbling his way to causing damage.

    - the creature becoming a breakfast monster is fuckin silly but it does offer implication of their ability to take over organic matter. i have to assume this is not the last time i'll see whatever these things are so, guess it makes sense to start a bit more comical with their presence. ultimately steven summons inexplicable strength and vanquishes the thing, and they order a pizza. FIN

    yknow i've talked mostly in this review about the scenery and the relationshps between the gems, but i havent talked alot about steven's specific place in the episode. i said the episode sort of reinforces and recontexualizes alot of what the last episiode said, but in its way i feel like despite yet again being a catalyst for disaster it says alot about steven. sure it all falls to the context of having breakfast with the gems, but his sheer determination, his bravery in the face of the breakfast beast, his unwillingness to let this goal fall to pieces for one reason or the other and his ability to head through the temple and face various fears but not let that shake him, i dunno in a weird way i think it says alot about how he can potentially be a good hero. sure his goal was silly - earnest and good but silly and myopic to the bigger picture like last episode - but it was less about the goal and more about his unwavering focus to achieving it. those are good general qualities and its easy to see that if steven can care that much about just having breakfast with the gems, imagine what he can tap into when higher stakes arise. each episode thus far has found new ways to poke and prod at the potential of the future but this one more than any other, to me, said alot about steven's potential. through one of his silliest goals comes his wildest adventure and he braves it relatively well. maybe he's not ready to know the deep details of everything in this episode and others but he shows promise here in an interesting way, a way that like everything else in this episode, is portrayed yet smartly unspoken.

    B+

  13. Thumbs Up To This Post by: kupomog

  14. #12
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #5: FRYBO

    THOUGHTS
    - steven nude. very upsetting.

    - hey look some Shards. crystal shards! what is this kirby 64 am i right i'm not right no of course not look at it and also im not holding a controller what is this hooplah coming out of me. anyway yes Shards those look important but i don't know what they are and steven is too busy phasing pearl's explanation out to consider the location of his pants, the real conflict indeed. i'm noticing more and more that we the viewer are explicitly within the pov of steven and have the level of knowledge that he does, and thank god right, if the show let us in on all the cool details and then occasionally let a dweeby kid poke his head in and fuck all that up it would just be frustrating, but since we have about the degree of understanding of steven we're taking the adventure with him and it makes it easier to relate to him even in his more annoying moments. that's less about this episode and more about the show as a whole at this point though.

    - steven chases his pants to some catchy turntable jazz. i love steven's "THATS UNUSUAL!" as he sees the pants, the delivery and him pointing is great. of course pants dont move on their own, twas that there shard thingy. another instance much like the breakfast monster of using a quirky framework to introduce an important element or deal with a heavier concept without diving in too quickly and making the tone all wobbly. one of the few parts of pearl's speech with clarity addresses that the shards have a "partial consciousness" so i suppose thats why the shard responds to steven telling it to stop smacking him in his face.

    - so the main thrust of this episode though. i gotta say it, this episode...is filler. yeah the shard stuff is important but i'd argue heavily that its pretty interchangable and if anything is only there to make it not totally expendable. though let's be fair here, does every single episode of the show need to feel relevant to its most important ideas, can we not spend some time with the denizens of beach city, slow down and humanize a bit? well humanize would be nice but instead steven uses the shard to create a fucking monstrosity with french fry legs and a horrifying unmoving happy face like some five nights at freddys shit.

    - okay so humanzing, well we do get one pretty potent and actually very different scene. i think the reality is we'll find over time that there are many valuable things this show can do with its world and while alot of it may fall back to the gems theres no reason we cant also do some simpler down-to-earth stuff like a poor kid who feels having a job early has sucked away his childhood and given him a gloomy disposition, really only accentuated by steven's inability to understand it. the music and framing of the scene is great. i also think the scene does well to show that steven is a rather sheltered kid in a way, he's generally shown to be happier and more blissfully unaware of the hardships of reality but that can play its own role on the reality he seeks to protect by fighting monsters and such. steven feels grateful to do what he does and doesn't see any stress or long-term mental deterioration from the job, maybe its a matter of perspective or maybe its just not being connected to reality but nonethteless the juxtaposition is stark. i especially like peedee's line "cash that can't buy back what the job takes" cuz uh yeah thats something i personally fear, all the cash in the world cant make you happy if you don't have the time or the healthy mind to appreciate it. of course an instance like this especially is damaging working at a young age and all that. yeah this scene definitely feels a bit abrupt but i think its a nice small excerpt of whats to come later with regards to peering on the human lives of beach city, learning about the people we're saving. it's nice to see they're not just cardboard folks who need to avoid being turned into dust, they're real people with real problems. i wouldn't expect any less but its nice to see even an episode like this one make a real point. i remembered not liking this episode but i had forgotten this scene and i think honestly itll stick with me, it feels like a shift in tone and a new perspective for steven to experience. part of his growth is understanding magic but as a young fella part of it is also understanding the world around him. this is that dose of reality. but anyway, the weird shit!

    - im sure there are reasons explained later on for why the fryman went evil and has all these fuckin veins and shit, on its own tho yeah its just weird. i do like the eerie dark ambient during the scene, sounds like some earthbound boss music. but i dunno, seems a bit dark for the sake of it, weird for the sake of it, and even a bit like the last episode again with the breakfast monster. but there the breakfast had a direct point and we got to see the journey that lead to that. here we have steven fucking up AGAIN but there's not alot of concrete context that makes it enticing, it doesn't say anything about his character either that we don't already know, its just general incompetence and all the fry costume does is help Some Kid and yes steven should want to help the denizens of beach city but its difficult to care about the supposed gravity of this situation when it just doesn't feel all that important but treats it like this fuckin fry costume is the scariest thing the show has revealed yet. it just feels a bit off to me, but im sure that again context later on will help and i can't blame the show for continuing down a similar road as it had been on what with revealing big shit in quirky or weird ways.

    - *watches clothing defeat clothin* ysee here's that abyss of stupidity i was talking about and this time we just kinda nosedived directly in. i guess you could argue hey steven continues to be resourceful in times of danger he finds it in himself to do the right thing and yeah sure sure its just well all this episode does is reinforce what we already know but less successfully and signficantly less intelligently. also um steven the shard is what made the costume evil don't use MORE of them when you don't know just what they can do????

    - water burial for a stinkin costume

    these reviews are always in-the-moment so it can be hard to take in the totality of an episode structually but there's no denying this one beyond the individual flaws is just difficult to summarize. it introduces another vital component but without much point to the utilization of it, it has a pretty powerful and human scene but its rather brief and feels like they were a bit timid dipping their toes into such theme and makes it feel a bit jarring as we go into and leave the scene, the episode barely feels its length because really not much happens in it. its hard to summarize, it feel redundant despite new information because i don't feel ive learned much and where they could have toyed more with stevens relationship with townspeople they didn't quite commit yet. it's a bit of a non-committal affair on all ends and that makes it the weakest episode yet, while still not as bad as my brain vaguely remembered. i wont forget that scene with peedee and steven and im excited to learn more about the shards, so ill take what i can get, but it feels almost unfair to judge an episode on the way it expresses ideas on training wheels, on its own merits the episode barely stays afloat, like that gross costume as it was sent across the water. its a rather naked episode, much like steven at the end of the episode. never do that again btw.

    C+


  15. #13
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #6: CAT FINGERS

    THOUGHTS
    - let's shapeshift! i'm not sure how the writers decided what powers to give the gems, i'm not entirely sure just how much sugar and co. thought ahead with regards to what practical use each ability would have or if in some instances they just thought "yeah uh shapeshifting is fucking cool they should do that *smokes weed probably*". regardless of what later application it may have, it's a cool ability. naturally amethyst uses it to prank steven and greg or to mock pearl, other such goofabouts like when she became that police officer with the water gun a few episodes ago.

    - joel hodgson is not a good voice actor - or uh actor at all that wasn't/isn't really his appeal - but its lovely to see him in cartoons cuz man i certainly wouldn't have seen it coming. very curious what WILD ADVENTURES we'll be seeing from mayor dewey in the future. for now time to get his annoying siren as my ringtone and ruin get-togethers.

    - but yes, shapeshifting. so if we're still working out variations on a theme what's different this time in steven's earnest bufoonery? well this time he's actually active chasing a specific goal related to a gem ability, so its something of a retread of the initial conceit of an ep like gem glow, but this episode kinda spirals from that springboard into well, madness. sure steven manages to get a glimpse of his abilites like gem glow, but whereas that episode seemed to be him trying and failing to ignite one of his abilities, this one is a meager success that snowballs more for the sake of a crazy story. that's all well and good but i suppose it puts this one in a similar league to frybo in terms of being filler with a nugget of importance, except instead of waving magic in your face as a tease it takes things in a different direction. in any case i do think the episode does a good job of showing steven why the powers are so cool, i mean not that you need to convince a kid that turning into shit is rad af. amethyst is the perfect way to show steven what fun it can be, turning into all sorts of animals and hey is that her wrestler thing from later? pretty sneaky sis

    - there's a quick bit where amethyst becomes a bird in steven's hair and goes "uhhh chill it DUUDE!" and i can't say for certain but i'd bet money its a regular show shout, the design is very close to mordecai and the voice sounds like something of an approximation of jg's voice, also the first two storyboarder names on this episode are regular show alumni, kat morris and hilary florido. it is possible i'm reaching but it sounds right to me?

    - WOMP WOMP

    - so the shapeshifting abilities do seem rather detailed from the jump, we know some of the limits of their capablities, we know any gem can shapeshift and into objects as well as other people or animals, etc. however just through steven's first attempt we see that they can also change parts individually as opposed to just becoming a singular object. whether this would have any practical application or is just a matter of not having the skills down yet is hard to ascertain but if steven can turn appendages into cats, instead of you know just managing a single normal cat's finger, it does make me wonder if that could be honed for purposeful use and not just dabbling in the beginner stage of shapeshiftery.

    - so, madness. this isn't an easy episode to review because it's a bit difficult to convincingly dissect. we know what it's introducing and the value in the concept its exploring and we know its the shapeshifting version of steven trying to be like the other gems and finding himself clearly not ready, etc. but goddamn. after a few scenes of steven just having a good time showing off the cat finger(s), things begin to get disturbing. this episode feels like something maybe adventure time would have done, weird for the sake of it etc. however if we're continuing down the path of the real consquences steven faces in not being responsible as a gem, this definitely brings the point home. it's not as potentaly bittersweet as cheeseburger backpack, instead going straight for a bit of body horror, having steven lose control of his abilities and become a nightmarish cat creature. they really commit to making this seem as real as possible, like the hideous noises they make as they morph on his body especially in the scene where greg sprays him, the dramatic eerie piano music and the general night setting really sets the scene. it would be so easy to make "character becomes deformed amorphous cat blob" just into some zany thing and sure it's funny, and adorable, but consider it from the perspective of steven. all he wants his to learn to shapeshift like the gems, and once again his earnest attempts to be a gem backfire, going too far. this time it affects him directly, distorting his body and turning him into an Adorable Monster. its not about how his immaturity or desire to rush into being just like the other gems affects the outside world this time, its not about him causing some monster to follow them back and fuck them up until he saves the day, it's about him. he is the monster, he turns himself into a monster. it drives a point home to me, and truth be told its about all there is to really dissect in the episode. in this regard it's the polar opposite to frybo, it totally commits and focuses on an idea and drives it to an extreme that directly affects steven.

    - yet, i dunno. i don't really think this is a particularly great episode, it makes a great example out of steven in the end but the journey is just a bit of a plod through already well-trodden exercises in steven fuck-aroundery. points for the cute ass cats, points for amethyst's pearl shapeshifting, points for greg being the one to save the day instead of needing the other gems to do it, also for their Fighting An Island thing keeping cool shit occuring in the background. it's a little moments episode over big picture, which is fine but i always get the nagging feeling that these maiden voyage episode for cool concepts will be rendered redundant in terms of where their material goes later on. i guess the big thing is what happens to steven is notable but the journey up to it isn't so much, it just reinforces similar ideas. we don't learn much more about steven, its an episode that feels like a lesson learned by the end but its importance won't come into play until later or at least won't be implied as such.

    - yet then i second guess myself, does a story have to tell me something brand new to have value? can't it just be a nice fun piece of frivolous filler? so then the core of it comes down to well its kinda sorta not? its a cool concept and a cool acceleration of said concept but it barely registers as eleven minutes. the best stuff is the beginning where steven is trying to learn shapeshifting and the crazy end, all the in-between stuff is just steven goin LOOK I GOT CATS FOR FINGERS. again though, details. i do think it makes sense the way this plays out in some regards, indeed the reason steven's transformations do spiral is probably because he had amethyst as a teacher and her "teachings" are just Shake It Out. never listen to amethyst indeed, even though it seems fun and i probably still would. though also steven does manage to save himself in a rather natural way thanks to the water hose, he doesn't need the other gems to save him, again expressing some semblance of resourcefulness in a time of crisis, even if self-inflicted.

    - steven's character in the episode at that is pretty reasonable. he isn't just carelessly stumbling through this, he listens to amethyst and starts small, he doesn't try to turn into anything bigger or more specific or change his whole body, he just gets carried away with the cat fingers, and then that kinda becomes the middle chunk of the episode.

    somehow this one's been a bit of a puzzler to encapsulate but i think i can summarize it in this: most of the episodes so far have been about the journey towards a goal, this one hits the goal and then pushes beyond the goal. it's a clever subversion in summation but its a bit of a stumble in terms of entertaining on its own. i don't feel like i can make a convincing argument outside of that, but yeah alot of why steven can be compelling is him trying to achieve something and seeing what happens, where his missteps get him and what the journey to the goal says. as soon as steven gets his way he's just gotta bounce through town acting like a doofus with cat fingers until the episode decides to get screwy, and by then once the point is being made the arc is hard to trace back. steven wants to transform, then just in a way, does. then more stuff happens. its weird, but at least it doesn't hold back.

    C+

  16. #14
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #7: BUBBLE BUDDIES

    THOUGHTS
    - in this episode steven lives out my dream of being in a big ol' human hamster ball, and my other dream of talking to a lady. he can also ride a bike. man fuck this kid with all his talents and shit.

    - the episode wastes no time injecting magic and eerie shit into the story, first with the "earthquakes" beginning immediately and then with the bubble that acts as the primary conflict as well as a way to tie steven and connie together. we continue to learn more and more about steven's inexperienced with tapping into his magic, this time around through no fault of his own. even if he's just trying to do something as simple (ahem, "simple") as talking to a gal, his unpredictable and unwieldy secret abilties continue to show themselves at the worst times. poor steven can't catch a break, though i suppose there are worse mishaps than being trapped in a bubble with a nice lass. i do think maybe steven should have a little more sense than to assume the bubble could be busted by any human objects like chairs or even harpoons.

    - the relationship between steven and connie at the outset is fittingly lowkey, they get along pretty automatically because there's no reason for them not to. steven is a generally genial fellow and connie clearly has had a shortage of friends due to moving back and forth, so really their friendship isn't based on much of anything initially, but of course the bubble sorta makes it happen, or rather steven saving her from falling chunks of rock first, then the bubble. steven seems pretty capable of talking with anyone but clearly intent to impress connie and mortified when he stumbles off his bike right in front of her, he seems a little more anxious at first, though once their in the bubble they get along so quickly there isn't much conflict there. that isn't really an issue because its more about the two getting to know each other and they aren't so different really, kinda separated from the rest of the world, kinda different and always traveling around.

    - the bubble idea is a neat one because it plays a little more into the idea of steven's abilities revolving around defense much like his weapon being a shield. i do wonder just how much this will play into his future abilities as they evolve and if he'll be consciously meant to have a role of that nature as a gem. also we get to have lars licking the bubble and that's pretty good too.

    - aside from them trying to burst the bubble the episode is largely connie and steven learning tidbits about each other. it's cute and informative even though by the very nature of such a concept we are hearing things we already know about steven, but its more about him spilling all this to a regular human. of course i'm sure plenty of denizens of beach city are well enough aware but this is all new to connie, yet she doesn't particularly budge to the information in a way that says she's shocked or anything. i guess if its less boring than learning types of boats then fuck it right lets go along for this ride! not that you have a choice when you're stuck in the bubble, but she never loses her cool or gets irrational, its not that kind of episode. i suppose you could argue there isn't much of a conflict even with the bubble, they're trying to break it but there's not a rush and the two characters get along, this isn't some "two people who are polar opposites must band together to solve a problem" situation, and that might make it less capable of finding a problem to solve but it also removes any tropes to make it a very casual and pleasant affair full of nice little writing tidbits and good visuals of shit hitting the bubble.

    - it's onion. i hate onion. i can't remember why but i'm confident of this. i do like him doing the thumbs up as he sinks another ship into the ocean when the harpoon richochets back though. another good tidbit between connie and steven with the different ways they try to describe the harpoon gun, steven going for crude visuals and connie rationally just y'know writing it with Letters.

    - rip troller. troller? truller? i dunno i don't speak boat

    - the hot dog place at funland is called Wiener In Hand. tsk tsk you guys. i won't be giving my business to this filthy establishment, i'm gonna go get me some Hawt Karn instead.

    - i suppose steven's big character arc of this episode that relates to his immaturity is just his confidence in being able to burst the bubble on his own using resources around him. it makes some sense, steven has proven to be able to solve magical problems in unlikely ways without the aid of the other gems so why not this issue? still once a few human items hit the bubble maybe just give up and let the others take care of it. ah but then we wouldn't have an episode now would we? such is television, sometimes you gotta stretch the unreasonable just a @Tad, plus maybe steven wants to solve the problem on his own, sure that he can because he has before. it's that dedication to achieving goals himself cropping up again, or stubbornness you pick. i don't think either one is wrong. it helps that connie isn't particularly vocal and so she just sorta tags along for the ride for a spell instead of trying to insist they return to the other gems, she passive but also hardly well versed in Magic Bubbles so it manages to make the trajectory of the episode feel reasonably natural. of course she does protest a bit when she's sure steven's gonna fucking kill them both on a roller coaster track, considering his inability to consider the moment after they're free from the bubble.

    - when connie does finally retort to steven's perpetual optimism/denial toward solving the compounding problems around them its extremely reasonable. like i said earlier this episode is largely steven showing connie what we already know, the difference is we can't talk to the characters because it's a cartoon you see and we're people mostly. so we haven't had a regular person deal with steven's misfires and confront him about it. the gems try to be easy with steven but when push comes to shove all connie can manage is "you don't know what you're doing!". which again, something we already knew, but steven sure didn't or at least refused to accept it but in this moment after everything connie's endured through the episode we see the effect steven's mistakes can have on a person, bringing connie to tears at the idea of disappearing without having made any friends. it's a very well done moment, great acting and great animation, and it feels like the first important lesson steven can learn from her. he has good intentions trying to stay optimistic but ultimately he's just feeding a denial that he has the answers when perhaps he's merely gotten lucky so far when he's found himself out of a jam or saved the day - and even then not always, rip spire. there isn't much steven can do to save them it seems but at least he can extend a hand - and her old bracelet!- and try to make her feel better. steven doesn't have all the answers but he has a good heart so if he can do anything its that. its a really touching and #relatable moment.

    - so steven and connie have a nice moment but then the water pressure Literally Bursts Their Bubble. they swim to the surface. no longer relatable. oh yeah and then there's a big scary worm that eats bracelets, gotta have a monster after all! it's cool looking with the translucent skin and all, not sure why this dumb worm wants to eat All Bright Things but i like the idea that there's just insane shit lurking underwater too. nowhere is safe. move imo.

    - good final moment with pearl being an agonizing Mom figure and amethyst being a pesky big sis type, and garnet being well garnet and saving him from embarassment, well almost. don't say funky flow. a message from your pal kaos.


    what begins as a cute casual episode does well to ramp up the drama and give us one cool action scene that manages to play well into the episode with connie's bracelet. one could make an argument that alot of this episode is just steven doing what steven do but the context of him doing so in search of trying to make things okay and only making things worse for a regular human girl he just met makes it interesting, and of course this is merely the beginning of what we're gonna learn from the relationship between these two. connie despite almost being killed is glad to have steven's friendship and his magic doesn't make him a freak or anything, or if it does well they're both freaks so no big deal. does well to assemble a few building blocks for future endeavors and give us a taste of the consequences of steven's reckless behavior from yet another new perspective, while still honing how to make steven more likeable even as he's fucking things up instead of making him intentionally dopey, and overall the little moments peppered through this one make it a delight even when you know what's gonna happen next, little things that differentiate steven and connie, some amusing set pieces and some honest sweet emotion as things ramp up. an episode that has a little bit of everything and keeps things generally light.

    B


  17. #15
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Briefly touching on your Frybo review, I think it's fun that you like the "That's unusual!" line. I like it now, but when this was first airing I sorta rolled my eyes at it because I heard it sooooo much in the show's preview. Certain phrases like that one, the hot dog line, and I SUMMON MY POWERS BY EATING ICE CREAM made me think "ok is this another one of those hyperactive ass fucking shows?" but it ended up being so much more calmer and INTERESTING than what I expected, especially since no, he doesn't summon powers by eating ice cream, he's just that much of a kid and it works because it's pretty relatable. At first it was annoying but then his innocent, child-like nature became something I missed...

    And that first scene with Peedee made me roll my eyes a bit on first watch but now I'm impressed they just went with it. Like, wow, just JUMPING into this kid's drama llama...I don't care about you THAT much yet!!! But everything Peedee was saying hit home, too.

    Cat Fingers was not stellar yeah but now that I've got my, uh, ROSE colored glasses on, I do appreciate the bodyhorror of cat morphs overtaking a kid who don't know what he's doing. That was a little darker than I expected with the music and Greg's reaction. I just kinda love that the Gems really just have shit to do and oh well, sorry, be back later to check you if you're not dead, Steven! This kid is so lucky he's not a giant ball of cats right now. He's definitely a resourceful boy!

    Steven made me cringe so haaard in the beginning of Bubble Buddies (which now is more of a snicker with head shake) but it ended up being such a sweet episode. Connie. It's very relatable to see Steven try so hard with good intentions to fix things but only further digs the bubble hole they are in. Sometimes a person really can just try, try, try with unfortunate results.

    Also, it is "trawler," sir! RIP indeed (but that bad idea is so lolsville)

  18. Thumbs Up To This Post by: tyler

  19. #16
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #8: SERIOUS STEVEN

    THOUGHTS
    - at last after a bevy of disasters, steven realizes he may just be in over his head with rushing into these really dangerous adventures. even so he does manage to save the day yet again. i must admit i am kinda hoping at some point steven just totally doesn't have the answers because destined to be a hero or otherwise he's still not really adept enough a gem to always have the solution. let's not nitpick how believable steven's realization come the episode's twist is though, let's just enjoy how fucking cool this episode is. i've spent alot of time talking about characters and intentions and story and stuff but let's take a breather and just admire a really fun romp through a crazy inverted pyramid temple.

    - first though, i really admire the way this episode opens. we see steven awaken to a disaster he caused at funland, surely the episode will be about the events leading to this catastrophe? NOPE two weeks LATER fuck you! it does manage to circle back around to have steven's familiar nausea within the temple help him correlate it with the teacups, that and pearl bringing it up which psyches him out later. it's a bit silly but i think it manages to work and i really do like the way it plays against your expectations with the chyron, THEN eventually showing you the actual events when they're relevant.

    - like man the visuals throughout. the insane traps giving steven the willies, great animation like garnet walljumping the cubes above the flames and the rapidly rotating platforms underneath the central room's floor. it's a dazzling episode with alot of really well designed rooms and traps and seems well conceived to screw with the gems but also test them, put them in danger to prove their might.

    - i like that steven has the ukulele for no ultimate purpose, just totes it around because he loves it. fair enough. i mean he does get a dorky little song in at the end but it has no story purpose, even though at one point he starts tuning it while garnet is holding up spikes which um, don't do that?

    - the episode is largely fueled by garnet and steven's relationship which i've found extremely endearing from the jump so more of that is great. it makes perfect sense for the episode to put steven with an indisputable badass that can get him out of any jam - except the strawberry jam from earlier - but garnet's general tendency to encourage steven's quirks and his own way of being a gem is really sweet too and manages to say alot about why steven may still be the way he is, for better and worse. he still fumbles a few things but i'd like to see you traverse a room full of swinging blades and rush through hallways with descending spikes. largely steven's serious side doesn't make any less mistakes but he is able to largely maintain his confidence thanks to garnet. maybe steven's way of doing things isn't always the best way but hell it's helped alot thus far so why wouldn't garnet trust him, plus its better to encourage him anyway. serious steven can mostly be defined as someone who wants to do the right thing but he's still prone to getting carried away or being overwhelmed by terrifying shit. reasonable. makes sense that much like many of other crazier things occuring in the show this early we don't actually get to see them traverse the most insane trap room. tease tease tease!

    - this episode really does feel like everything else was leading up to it, all that we've learned so far about steven culminating in an adventure that seems like steven's first opportunity to prove himself despite past errors. ultimately steven doesn't do a whole lot at first but manages to find the big secret of the temple so his presence becomes valuable.

    - but yeah alot of this one is just good old fashioned action, fun set piece after fun set piece designed to show just how precarious and intense the gem's missions can get for steven, all the while just providing a nice adventurous episode full of puzzles and traps. there are some great comedy moments too, pearl not getting the teacups ride, amethyst frantically running through all the rotating rooms ignoring pearl trying to understand the logic of the rooms. beyond that i'm also really into the general pallette and architecture, all the ancient gem carvings and what have you and this very earthy color scheme that keeps things feeling very worn and aged in just the right way, and the triangular motif throughout (don't touch the triangles tho!). the way the darker colors juxtapose things like the room full of glowing tiles or the area with the rotating platforms. great lighting too from the torches in the center room. alot of little touches that make this one extremely easy on the eyes along with it being really fun.

    - the rotating rooms thing is really clever, it really speaks to just how tricky and weird things can potentially get and it actually gives logic to the idea of a maze type temple, and man the area itself with all the platforms looks great, again juxtaposes against the rest of the episodes palette with these brighter colors, its hard to describe the patterns but its very...Rhombus. IT'S VERY rhombus, which also feels different from all the triangles earlier.

    - as usual there are unknowns throughout this. why do they need this gem? why did the temple explode? what's going on here? does steven even know? probably not. why did they trust him after he Murdered a spire? nonetheless its a neat taste of crazy adventures to come and shows just what wild things the show has up its sleeve, a mere sneak peek, another episode that sticks closely to similar motifs and ideas as other, steven bumbling his way to victory and all that, but why not? really if anything it reinforces that steven, serious or otherwise, will both make mistakes and find solutions, its just the nature of his immature but dedicated self.

    a really fun and well designed adventure top-to-bottom with just enough character moments to keep it from every feeling too straight-faced, giving the right amount of context to the adventure to make it feel like another piece of incremental growth for steven in his long goal towards proving himself. perhaps it says in the end what with garnet claiming "i prefer regular steven" that steven's gateway to being a great gem isn't trying to put on a serious face. as to what the long-term answer is, maybe there isn't just one, or maybe he has to find his serious side more naturally. who knows, all that can be said for sure, for now, is he's not good with butterflies.

    B+


  20. #17
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #9: TIGER MILLIONARE

    THOUGHTS
    - so, amethyst. i've said before that her character is the closest to steven's among the main cast due to a general immaturity and rebellious streak, but whereas steven usually falls off the path because he's just a bit of a dope, amethyst defies the path due to the lack of control in her own destiny. she's more like a teenager, trying to grapple with the reality that she's a gem when maybe she doesn't wanna be? it's hard to say for sure yet, but there's definitely a sense that while he has found her niche with her powers and ways to gain that control and be in a world she enjoys, her nature as a gem isn't something she's totally accepted or even understood. you could paint her as mischevious but its clear shes running from something, even if that something is merely the exhuastive rigidity of pearl and garnet's rules and regulations towards being a responsible gem.

    - the gems, especially pearl and amethyst, are definitely all on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their behavior which leads to plenty of drama, but one thing i enjoy about this episode is the way it really gets to the core of that, in that well nobody is really wrong or right, in my opinion. you see why pearl continues to be so anxious as she's being protective of steven and she doesn't want anything to disrupt their missions, anything at all. even so through her thoughtless mothering she drives amethyst further into escapist tactics to find some sense of control, and in that amethyst is right to want to find that sense of self but even so it'd be hard to stand up for all of her actions. everyone is in the wrong here and more or less it seems to be in an unwillingness to see the other side of the story, and everyone is in the right because their intentions are pure enough and all they want is what's best, for themselves or for others but whatever makes them feel like everything is ok. they could all use some toning down but they could all also use some better understanding of one another instead of trying to fit everything their own box or cast them aside.

    - of course this leads us to steven who is caught in the middle. steven and amethyst's similarities really shine as he openly relates with her struggles deailng with the other gems, calling it stifling. i especially love his garnet impression as he pushes his hair over his eyes, and naturally through this amethyst and steven find a bond. even so, until steven actually proves himself she's just focused on fighting on her own unconcerned with what he does, because this is still all about her entering and maintaining that zone where she has ultimate control and power over the situation, unable to be moved or beaten, able to achieve catharsis through playful violence, suitably so.

    -it is interesting to see how amethyst enjoys being the hated wrestler because this is a context in which the hate is something she can control. she doesn't seem to want to be the good guy in the situation which is curious, i don't think it says that she wants to be evil, but perhaps it says that she's unable to detach from a sense of being a nuisance or troublemaker, a force of nature chockful of mischief. it makes sense that she'd have that perception of herself given the way she's treated often, but in this context she gets to be the bad guy but she can do something about it. it directly puts her in the fantasy of being how shes portrayed and finding a way out of that by beating up the people who don't like her.

    - beyond the characterization themes, the wrestling stuff is alot of good fun. oh sure alot of these tropes are reasonably dated but they don't hammer them too hard and instead just get right to the action, along with some fun runners like lars not recognizing steven. big fan of the announcer being Pantsless too. some great freeze frame shots with comic book-like designs and minimal color palettes sticking to muted blues and reds which looks quite cool. of course alot of this episode is just steven learning the ropes (heh ropes, wrestling humor) and playing by the No Rules of wrestling, becoming a...heel i think is the term? i've heard "heel" before, someone who knows wrestling educate my ass. so its alot of steven playfully playing the villain, it could have easily been silly and fillery but the context of everything thats happening was snappily laid down so it all works pretty well, and it helps that the fights are pretty well animated and have pretty solid littles jokes throughout. steven's giant cell phone is pretty great for example, as well as the line "looks like this tiger's gotta turn cheetah".

    - it seems unclear exactly why steven would embrace the idea of being a heel(?) aside from just playing by the rules or lack thereof to have some fun and escape along with amethyst, but the episode isn't really about him. even when he pushes too far and upsets lars, its just a catalyst for amethyst to offer some telling advice about not letting people tell you you're garbage, followed by "i only feel how i wanna feel". this along with the aforementioned nature of her being the bad guy in the ring is interesting, it says to me that amethyst isnt interested in being better, she's only interested in knocking down those who wanna change her. she chooses to feel the hatred of the crowd because it fuels the feelings that get the violence out of her and again, allows her to control the scenario. maybe her actions aren't the right ones but she clearly wants to not feel like garbage, she wants to be able to manipulate those feelings in a way that appeals to how she wants to view them instead of feeling victimized for being who she is. whether she's right or wrong - she's both - isn't the point really.

    - the climax is great but there isn't much to say about it that doesn' t just reinforce the points of the episode, what with pearl's motherly drama, though it does do well to point out that yeah maybe amethyst shouldn't be using her gem powers to fight humans, regardless of it being an outlet. ultimately steven's speech sums it all up pretty well but again i said all the stuff earlier so uh well i like that the "monster-of-the-week" even if only for a moment is indeed amethyst as she lashes out at garnet, then they seal things up nicely with a fake fight in true wrestling fashion.

    - i love you tiger millionare

    yeah a decent fun episode that manages to combine its familiar tropes with enough characterization to push things along a bit and play very believably with amethyst, really digging into her loose and perhaps irresponsible behavior but making sure to not just make her seem like some rebellious brat. each side has their points and their missteps, and im sure this will not be the last time we get into the bad blood between the gems, clearly there are things i dont know and after all, a puma can't change its spots. pumas probably have spots. i'm good at Zoo.

    B -

  21. #18
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Tiger Millionaire

    Somehow that was the ep that won me over. It sold me on Amethyst who I was already amused by, and it hooked me with the caring relationship the gems have between each other deep down. Steven and Amethyst make a fun little pair of smol friends and I love when they interact. All the gems encourage Steven in their ways but Amethyst also cares about him as a family member just as much despite how alienated and immature she comes off.

    I enjoy Mr. Smiley's presence in the background of the ep with his commentary and Lars reaction to TM. And also Sadie's reaction to Lars actually vocally loving something. The Beach City characters fill in the eps fairly nicely a lot of the time.

    Also I don't know why but everything to do with Pearl and the tea cups ("Steven already figured that out") tickled me in Serious Steven. Him tuning the ukulele pissed me off.

  22. #19
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #10: STEVEN'S LION

    THOUGHTS
    - steven, titular character of cartoon network animated series steven universe, obtains a lion, proud feline predator of the wild known for general eviscerating and hanging out with warthogs and meerkats. this review is gonna be short, and perhaps barely a review at all. i'm sorry in advance but hoo boy this one stumped me.

    - if i can't say something about a piece of art is the fault in the art or on me? not to warp this review immediately into a meta commentary on critique but i've found myself nearly absent for words of profundity for this one. i find it nearly impossible to review, like let me boil it down: steven and the Gang are wandering a desert when steven happens upon a lion, he dicks around with the lion for awhile then it does some bad stuff but then it turns out it was trying to help them then they keep lion then it ends. that is both a pathetic simplification and a breaking of my golden rule of not explaining the plot because you're not a fucking child, but no matter how much i try to glean something greater from this one i just struggle. is it a mark against an episode with little to offer (obviously lion like most things the show introduces will have some importance later, but i can't rate episode on that context, at least not entirely), or is it more a mark against my shortcomings with regards to trying to write about it? what should i be paying attention to here, perhaps if i dont have a character arc to latch onto or a concrete theme i lose the ability to graft a plausible analysis. even then i argue with myself over and over again is the episode shallow or am i. sorry for making you read all that, but you gotta understand that kinda is the arc of the episode for me. if what im good at writing about is arcs and themes, then the only theme i could find is a lack thereof. but let me attempt to go deeper.

    - okay let's try to phase out the notion of what i look for intrinsically and listen just to exactly what the episode is telling me. what can be said about lion? well...he(?) is a lion, no doubt. he's alot more dog-like in mannerisms which makes sense considering he is essentially presented as steven's pet and it gives them a boy-and-his-dog dynamic which is basic but cute enough. we don't really learn anything about him here, it feels like he must have some ties to the gems but they react with initial panic when they see it with steven and pearl outright says "what is that?!". we know he tries to protect him from that sand pillow thing im sure they said the name of it but just let me be lazy and not have to go zoomin thru the ep again to find it, obviously that thing does cause danger and begins to envelop everything in sand so lion could just be protecting them because he likes steven and is loyal to him yknow dog logic or maybe its something deeper yknow actual logic. the episode doesn't give me alot to work with so it only makes sense to pin it as a story about a boy and his new pet that becomes inevitably tied to the important setup earlier in the episode. just how isolated these elements are isnt (and never is) clear, but if we take it on its own yeah theres hardly much else to it. steven goes around with lion, plays catch, tries to show lion to others to no avail, then shit meets the fan. again telling you the plot but im more telling myself because i need to make sure im not disregarding this just for not letting me pick at it in the way im most comfortable, and that it is actually just kinda insubstantial.

    - let's say that's the case, its just a cute fun harmless adventure with some good visuals especially near the end with the sandstorm with the nice palette and cool design to all the growing sand structures. that's fine. then are we done here? largely this episode just feels like a first part to a franchise where said first part feels like an elongated trailer, setting up the pieces for the more important events to come. the problem is you could plausibly assert that about alot of episodes so far but they've always compensated in greater ways. okay not always but usually. there isn't really any character arc in this episode, nor is there any grand adventure, there's chunks but that doesn't really sell it for me. the element it introduces is just...here's a lion. it sure is a lion. the actual events that take place feel a bit interchangable - i could be proven wrong on that of course - and while the relationship between lion and steven is well exactly what you'd think it would be, there's just nothing to go on. the thing is i feel like this episode is kinda exactly what it should be, why wouldn't it be an eager steven going around trying to show his lion to townspeople, why wouldn't he wanna play catch with lion? then once lion seems dangerous, it makes sense to mislead a bit, who is lion we don't know nor does steven, he turns out good so yay but he's an animal who can't speak so you can't know his intentions - except well he basically says the word "yeah" later when steven realizes his real intentions but i can't be thinking any more about this episode than i have im gonna give myself a headache. it's not interesting writing but its logical and believable. boy what a fucking conundrum. sometimes you just gotta take something for what it is i guess. what this is is steven gets a lion. i said that already.


    steven got a lion.


    C

  23. #20
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    "Steven got a Lion" is pretty much the point, sadly. Designed to make you ask questions that will be answered later...over time. One of those introductory eps that pays off often later on. Why is it pink? Why and how does it do the things it does? Who else in this Universe (lulz) luvs 2 pink? I think you will come to enjoy Lion.

    My coworker actually sat and watched this ep with me the other day. He cracked up at Steven being all "OK I'M GONNA JUMP. I'M GONNA DIIIIEEEE."

  24. #21
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #11: ARCADE MANIA

    THOUGHTS
    - Steven and the gang go to the arcade. boring!!!!!!!!!!

    - the sequences in the arcade are an interesting experiment in exposing the gems to frivolous human activities with amusing results. it plays around with our pre-concieved understanding of the gems in scenarios that allow them to finally play the fool as opposed to steven, fish out of water trying to humor steven's idea of a good time with varying results. though really the episode isn't so much about that in a general sense as it is the combination of their lack of familiarity with said activities paired with their usual tendencies, pearls overt politeness leading to a misunderstanding a racing game meant for carnage ("which one of these buttons is my turn signal?"), garnet taking a fighting game quite literally by pulverizing the game's screen - love the anti-drug disclaimer before the game btw -, and amethyst..well cheating ("IMA WIN A AIRPLANE!"), because if anyone here is gonna get arcades in any capacity it would be her.

    it's all quite fun and amusing, a nice way to not need to establish any intrinsic heft but still make things fresh and a way to get to humanize the gems a bit. alot of our most casual situations so far have all been steven off on his own while the gems handle important work, but this episode gets the action out of the way really quick to subvert this, and steven is the one who is most natural and lacking of a conflict or misunderstanding, at least until later. sidebar, the grand arcade prize being a fuckin moped is spot on. i've seen that like tons of times and im so sure nobody has ever actually won one. if so, just like consider how much you actually spent on that. then cry.

    - barring this sequence the only real theme is that of addressing garnet's role as the "boss" of the gems via her heightened perception that guides them to new objectives. like everything else in the episode it does so in a somewhat silly way with Meat Beat Mania (nice btw), though i couldn't tell you exactly what's going on with her third eye there, why it was hypnotized by the game like that. i'm sure there's a way to tie it together. nonetheless without garnet the rest of the gems deal with an ambush of....starfish...dart..pointy things. i'm gonna need to find the names of these creatures ahead of time or something, provided there are names.

    - i like this episode but it wouldn't be unfair to say that the reason i immediately pointed to the scenes in the arcade is that alot of the episode feels a bit throwaway. not BAD just not essential. the mission that opens the episode seems intriguing at first in that its supposed to specifically be a stealth mission but steven's stupid windbreaker dilutes that immediately, so its more just about garnet saving the day and bein' a badass, which helps refer back to the theme of the episode in a way but the mission itself is more a means to an end than anything worth picking apart. it looks nice? i like the ambient humming and dripping noises too.

    - actually more than posit garnet's position as the leader of the gems, it practically questions the necessity of the others with regards to missions and battles. of course garnet even if she could do it by herself would be the one to encourage the rest of them but both bookending battle sequences entirely require garnet for success, and the first by herself might would suggest they need only her. i suppose this doesn't extremely matter but i thought it was an interesting observation and it says to me alot about how garnet operates. perhaps the only reason the other gems couldn't handle these creatures was a lack of preparation. again, it doesn't really matter, this is all hypothetical stuff. the episode's little back-and-forth between pearl and amethyst does perhaps beg the question if pearl would have some insecurities tucked away about the notion of garnet being seen as the boss, or of anyone being seen as the boss, but thats conjecture as well.

    - Meat Beat Mania was made by a company called Meato. you're really limiting your prospective output with a name like that. just meat based gaming for you then? suit yourself.

    - so what's steven's purpose in this episode? he does sorta sit back until he's needed at the end, there is a part of me that would think that if there's anything he'd be more of a natural at it would be video games so shouldn't he beat garnet at meat beat mania? or maybe not. either way dam is he Skrong the way he rips part of the machine off. other than that he instructs them on the games, shoves his face in milk - this is a bit too stupid frankly - and detects quarters with a fuckin fantastic metal detector with a dog face. he's more of less the catalyst for the conflict of the episode through dumb Unluck, but he does also end up showing the game to garnet which leads to the real issue. so i suppose his purpose is..to fuck things up again. but at least this time it wasn't intentional! baby steps steven. steven is just trying to show the gems a good fun time, but i suppose it can be hard to exactly calculate the consequences of even the simplest activities when you're dealing with them. seems you have to exercise caution in nearly any scenario. all i wanna know is were the coins he found on the beach supposed to be what he used in the arcade machine, because earlier he had like a fuckton in his windbreaker. irrelevant! there isn't much to say about the final scene where they're playing the game. looks good, music's cool. uhhhh. i do generally like the callback to quintessential arcade games though. i'm not sure just how prominent the arcade is in america as a whole but around here they've definitely gotten more rare, but i still fondly remember silly rhythm games, ridiculous racing titles with tha wheel, those punchin games where you punch a real fella, all that good stuff that just feels like being young and being pissed off that you spent all that money and for what a fucking sticky hand that you're accidentally gonna drop once and then oops it has all the world's filth stuck to it forever and no soap in the galaxy will remove that shit and if by some miracle you can clean it uhoh its not adhesive anymore so its pretty well worthless. ahem.

    i'm sure when i think back to this episode i will mostly be thinking to the arcade scenes than any of the connective tissue that lead to the conflict but those scenes are fun enough that they pretty much make the episode, and the rest is still serviceable and compliments the idea of the episode surrounding garnet well enough. its a nice nostalgia trip with some fun jokes playing on the gems experiencing what for them is something of an outside world. more fun than you can shake a Drumstick at. meat humor.

    B


  25. #22
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #12: GIANT WOMAN

    giant woman is a document on the dynamic of the two most disparate gems and their inability to comingle to an extent that it nearly gets steven murdered by a giant bird. its also a fine representation of what steven's place in the group is, a beacon of harmony, a youthful endearing and excited presence who just wants to see these two get along, mostly so they can become a cool ass fusion, not even for any real purpose as steven makes up basically any reason he can to see the fusion take place. it captures a solid duality between the idea of these characters and their differences and how steven can mend that, be it through purer heart or youthful impulse, as well as toys with new and exciting attributes that further develop the gem's capabilities. the episode mostly mirrors something like cheeseburger backpack as far as the journey goes what with ascending a spire and traversing a few minor puzzles before reaching the top where things are not as they seem. the episode continues a similar path to the last few in that steven is no longer the catalyst to disaster and manages to save the day by having a clearer head in the context of tense situations, its as though we've reached the point that steven can poke his head into what was previously merely the background. id say this started somewhat with serious steven while that episode still had him as the crucial focus with regards to character arc, but the two following as well as this one seem to be jostling the dynamic in delicate and appropriate ways to see how things fall into place when we pull back the curtain on the frailties of the other gems and see what it is steven can offer even at this early juncture.

    the episode wastes no time getting into amethyst and pearl's bickering. this is nothing new but it serves a greater purpose here, seeing how their inability to get along could cost them some of their greater ablities and moreso, their missions, and MORESO, steven's life when he's totally murdered by a giant bird. in a plainer context it would feel like variations on things we've seen before, though the moments still work. they don't skimp on fully illustrating these difference, from their problem solving to their fusion dance to their language and logic and everything. the way the episode proceeds you definitely get the sense that if steven wasn't there they wouldn't have even gotten nearly as far as they did. really steven is the glue, as garnet says to him before they leave, "keep the harmony". if steven's faults are in his lack of experience and growth, somehow his positives seem to lie on similar ground. the episode adds little touches dialogue-wise that raise questions, specifically amethyst's "you're no fun anymore". anymore. the history just that little addition can infer is curious for sure, and it makes me wonder what changed, but it also informs to me why steven is able to keep that cool head and be the beacon of positivity and harmony. he's just not in that deep yet, and who knows maybe he'll survive all that's coming to him in the future without being emotionally scathed.

    aside from the solid writing, this episode is beautiful is most regards. the landscapes are pretty breathtaking, and the gross insides of the bird full of jewel encrusted ulcers or whatever are an interesting setting. the way the area they begin in looks just like grassy mountaintops and then slowly as they make their way we find the much more Magical looking temple areas is neat too. oh and then of course there's the heaven beetle's little house. i like the cactus. where'd he get a cactus that tiny! the questions they keep coming. of course i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the titular song. there isn't too much to say about it but ever since his passionate singing of the now opening theme in the pilot its pretty impossible not to glean the sheer inspiration in anything steven sings. i won't pretend i don't think show is gonna kill whatever microscopic goodwill i have left for the ukulele (it's not even the show's fault its just man i've had enough the dam uke), but the song is a nice light and breezy number with some...well not GOOD singing but characteristically fitting singing, and there are a few good touches like when callison leaps into a falsetto for a moment. nice moment when opal actually brings it back up to prove she recognizes steven too.

    and ah yes, opal. the sequence with opal's reveal is really well done, we don't see amethyst and pearl make up but its obviously implied they have to unless they want steven to be digested, so the reveal via the multiple arms piercing through the birds insides is a pretty impactful image. really all the imagery in this scene is great, with the giant bird exploding into crystals that then transform into...uhh. things with wings. they look nasty and they look like they'd leave a mark. can't have that so blow those fuckers away! the cut from the zoomed out shot as opal hits the water to her on land holding steven against a white background was especially noticeable, very good direction to capture the sense of mass of the character. while the sequence is exciting and well earned on its own what really becomes exciting is wondering all about future combinations. who will fuse next! what will they look like! what will they be named! so on and so forth.

    of course in the end for all their steven saving and epic disentigrating of Things With Wings it's steven who finds the heaven beetle because of his lack of getting caught up in petty rivalry. when in the earlier episode pearl expressed such doubt in steven going on big dangerous missions it isn't as though she was wrong but as we go along it becomes clear that said episodes were much more selective in merely showing steven's errors and showing very little from the other gems, which makes sense as groundwork for improvement for steven, and allows for us to have alot of unveil with regards to what makes the other gems far more fragile than they may let on. ultimately steven saves the day yet again but this one feels 100% earned in my book. sure it was still pretty much dumb luck and i guess you could argue that steven wouldn't have actually found the beetle had he not been eaten by the bird due to their very bickering, and to that i say: shut up! but really even if amethyst or pearl had been swallowed by that bird they'd have been too busy yelling at each other to spot the damn beetle. but as i said earlier, its a great depiction of the flaws of the seemingly perfect in steven's eyes, and the great qualities of a kid who has shown in many ways how he may not be ready, but in others how he might have a leg up on those who have too much baggage. oh yeah and there was a goat.

    B+


  26. #23
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #13: SO MANY BIRTHDAYS

    "a boy on the cusp of manhood can't spend the whole day whackering"

    disagree, steven. disagree.

    anyway, uh....uhhhhhhhhhhhhh....hmmmm. this uh...this one. yeah. hoo boy. i could string you along and put all the pieces together before coming to my conclusion but i think i'll just come out and say it: i don't really like this episode. basically every bad or predictable tendency of the series' early growing pains met with very little of what helps balance or reasonably contextualize that makes for one of most confounding episodes so far, ramping up in an intensity i can't help but feel it barely even tries to earn. it's not worthless, the small moments are there but while jokes like the gems not getting clowns - which they're right about clowns are horribly unfunny - as well as the bits where they do get into certain festivities, mainly amethyst when destruction of some variety is promised, are good enough fun, they feel a bit like we're going in circle on their own. so the episode kind of has to provide a greater point, and the crux of the episode, that of the gem's age not being a factor at all, is a fine one to make some sort of point.

    i even think they could have made this one great, steven dealing with being only half-gem and thus potentially facing mortality and the notion of someday leaving the others behind could have been interesting existential territory, but i feel like as far as we get is steven is sad that he's not a kid anymore, which isn't even really the same as the gems not aging because with the info that their bodies are an illusion one would have to assume they've always had those exact forms at those exact looks. so steven's issues with aging aren't really a gem issue at all, which renders the former part of the episode irrelevant.

    now steven dreading the nature of growing up could also work, the idea of leaving behind the sense of innocence of being young, it could tie very well into the nature of him beginning to become an official gem, facing a world that reveals itself to be cruel and unpredictable. but no its just kinda him moping that he can't enjoy arcade games anymore and then eventually nearly turning to dust. its alot of stale and well-trodden generational stereotypes for the sake of easy jokes that barely feels like its making a point and in a last-ditch effort to save itself goes so insanely dark that it tries to uproot meaning from the sadness the gems feel. there are some great line deliveries in that grim climactic scene, i love garnet huffing desperately at one point, to get a smidge of emotion pulled out of the most usually collected gem is a nice thing but why in this episode? i dunno having steven near death could be potent, having steven causing his own demise could be interesting - they already did this once, and it was flawed there but at least it felt like the point was clear with one's responsibility towards their powers.

    if there's anything this episode does, if i can throw it a bone, i suppose it would be the way it tells us that, no matter what, no matter if steven isn't really getting caught up in some wild impulsive scenario, somehow his existence as a gem is going to be unpredictable and at times disturbing. the sheer random nature of how his gem can potentially affect him, in ways he couldn't possibly plan for. steven isn't really in the wrong in this episode, he's a dope at first but with good intentions and dreading one's age is reasonable, i'm just not sure the show did anything new here. in fact i'm pretty sure they didn't. tie it to magical properties all you want the jokes are still the same and climax just doesn't really feel earned to me. feels a bit needlessly dark even if i can appreciate the implications, just about anything the episode does right could have been presented with more grace in a much more plausible scenario.

    i suppose it's possible i'm being totally unfair and overlooking a nugget of profundity. i'm kinda refusing steven a right to a crisis that directly relates to his human side. i just feel like the two halves are so disconnected its hard to appreciate them and the later escelation. feel free to give me intense tails of losing one's youth but commit to it. feel free to indulge in the nature of immortality in the gems against steven's Probably mortality. that'd be cool. i guess ultimately the risk is when you do a human story as a show that often times steps beyond the parameters, its wise to remember how you usually operate. there's nothing wrong with a little harsh honesty, and there's nothing wrong with a little break from the ridiculous. at the very least, it's a mildly interesting way to represent one's adolescent anxiety of exiting the innocent years of your life, taken to an extreme by showing what those emotions can do to someone whos every behavior seems to be potentially affecting. there isn't really a sense of reason or context behind the events of this episode, because the way emotions can ravage you isnt rational. i keep imagining all the different paths this episode could have taken to really deliver on this idea, but i feel like somehow we just got lost.

    anyway, which way to the baby war?

    C -


  27. #24
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Yah Birthdays is not a particularly good ep, it it honestly just makes me laugh so, so hard that I guess I do like it. It's so damned bizarre. I get the feeling though that it only got to that point because spoiler spoiler spoiler that I won't get into but will try to remember to circle around to later when appropriate

    also: "it makes me feel... important."

  28. #25
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    ALSO Aimee Mann's delivery of "IDONTHAVEIT." kills me.

  29. Thumbs Up To This Post by: John95

  30. #26
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #14: LARS AND THE COOL KIDS

    the world of steven universe is something of an idealistic one, one where the bullies and the losers of sorts manage to find ways to get along and band together in the face of trouble for a common goal, where the kid who always gets picked on finally confronts the bully when he takes it that step too far and when said bully is proven to be far more than just his mere insults. obviously alot of these elements are well-trodden tropes as is but steven universe takes it a step further in the way it dips into the other "cool kids" in the episode. they exhibit rebellious streaks and youthful curiosity but their characters aren't the traditional cool kids. this is a fresh change of pace as so many shows have done these stories where the supposed "cool" character finds themselves revealing alot of their behavior is due to their own insecurities, but this time around the insecurities are incredibly unfounded. this IS an idealistic perspective of such a situation, but i think it helps to not take it extremely literally. it could be projection on my part - wouldn't be the first time - but what this episode does to me, at some level, is present the dichotomy of one's anxieties towards expectations of disaster and a reality that makes such fears seem impossible in retrospect.

    this isn't always the case, both the scenarios presented above are plausible, the only real disparity is that the story su is choosing to tell the less taken path, of likeable friendly chill characters with endearing and believable quirks and behaviors and only seem frightening to lars because he's so intent to putting on a tough and cool front that he's unable to lower his guard enough to see that he doesn't have to be that. really, that might be the reality far moreso. oh sure there are situations where your fears of not fitting in are well-founded but what do you think all those "cool" kids are doing? do you think they're being themselves? or perhaps are they all putting on a front for each other and buying it because thats what they're supposed to do. the behavior on the surface of this episode could be labeled as unbelievable, but the truth behind it is pretty clear to me. you get things like Sour Cream outright stating he was lying about his arcade scores to be cool, for example. that's obviously not something someone would say but it breaks apart these facades of coolness in an interesting way that toys with lars' expectations.

    in any case, an episode delving into the relationship between lars and steven is bound to enthrall me. for reasons that might be too goddamn real to handle, i always get warm fuzzies from stories where a character and said character's bully find a way to connect and get along, and you realize the root of alot of that shitty behavior that's been exhibited. lars is clearly just trying to be who he thinks he's supposed to be, and the gradual transformation of characters like that, allowing them to escape societal expectations that turn them into jerks, thats the kinda stuff im really excited to see. alot of the episode is more just about steven's honesty and kindness finding him getting along with the cool kids more than lars who keeps trying to find the right thing to say. again, yes this is a bit far-fetched and convenient in structure but lets say the cool kids are only there to make a point. maybe lars being honest to himself instead of trying to cultivate a persona is a better way to live, theres no guarantee it will work in every instance though. nonetheless it is a valuable lesson from steven, even if alot of the episode does rely on lars being wrong regardless.

    the actual cool kids in question are interesting characters, one of them nicknamed sour cream for unspecificed reasons, intent to rave at a moment's notice, one the son of the mayor who Doesn't Like Nasty Stuff, etc. again, all quirky folks, each with some pretty solid lines and moments. but the episode isn't really about them, they're just catalysts for the disaster that ensues. that's when we get to the most important part of the episode, where lars blames steven's "weird mom" and steven lashes out at him. actually its from here that the episode makes a pretty poignant connection to steven himself. steven throughout the episode is able to confidently and effortlessly chat with these new kids because he doesn't fear them, because he's not too busy trying to be something he's not. in a sense it is like his mom seeing the beauty in everything, being optimistic and genuine and not trying to be something he's not because he knows the beauty of his natural self and he even knows the value of lars even if he still thinks hes a jerk especially in this moment. in the end of course rose's love of the strange magic moss proves to be right with the gorgeous shot of the entire town and all the blossoms cascading, and the raving. steven didn't get to meet his mom but he definitely carries a piece of her within him in a great sense, and lars definitely could learn alot from that.

    also i had nowhere to fit this in the review but pearl's sequence where she makes police tape appear is fuckin great.

    B

  31. #27
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #15: ONION TRADE

    generally speaking, this show rises above the average kid's show - and im confident it will far more in the future - but sometimes a kid's show has to just...be that. so understanding that i'm not gonna waste my time dissecting much of anything here because there isn't much of anything to dissect, and i'm far past interested in doing any angry critic schtick or whatever, pretending to have any genuine emotional distress over a child's program like some lunatic or swedish person. if there is any critique i can offer up for this one regarding it clearly being a children's cartoon i do kinda wish the scenes where we first see onion getting the burger and meeting his dad had way less of steven narrating over it and explaining, it felt a bit much even for a kid's show because i was being reminded of shit that would aim for an even lower age range, like i'm bein' talked down to!!! it almost seemed like they would have wanted to do a scene like that with less spoonfeeding and let the visuals speak for themselves but maybe for some reason couldn't or weren't sure? but then again i could be overthinking these scenes featuring fuckin Onion, but then agaaaaain it is an episode about onion so if im gonna overthink anything it should be that right?

    anyway i dont care about anything in this episode so instead of trying to pretend i do to stretch this out i'm gonna just say everything i can possibly say and duck out because the next one's actually really cool and exciting and this one is Steven Tryna Get A Dam Toy From The Show's Most Annoying Character. oh yeah and there's magic wand stuff oooo MAGICK!! feels like filler personified and sure fine sometimes you gotta take it easy and write something less involved and deep, almost all of these eps so far have had SOMETHING to say, so whatever do a thing where steven's adventure is kinda just a meaningless thing revolving around a fixation on some weird little toys. just wish it wasn't onion. i dunno why but i dont like onion, characters like him who just don't talk and leave the other characters frustrated and trying to figure things out, bugs me! dunno why but it does, though it doesn't help that he's just kinda awful beyond that. kid missing his dad his no good reason to destroy the town with toys and steal steven's toy. what a dick! steven isn't much better giving the fucking wand away for a toy like dude surely you'd have a little more sense that that by now considering the insane shit you've had happen when you consciously and recklessly toy with magical properties with no foresight. a real waste of a cool element too, replicator wand yes please but its just onion making a bunch of stupid toys flood the town like Ok Sure?

    there are some good visuals in this one, if you divorce them from how silly they are (or accept the silliness within). both onion behind the wall of flames and him atop the Daveguys for example, looks pretty cool. such a bizarre conflict tho, steven's folly this time is...he wanted a toy, and he just happened to have to deal with onion for it. its both their faults to be sure but still, fuck onion. also all that stuff about the toy being about memories and shit nah no it wasnt nice try tho

    D

  32. #28
    Pin Pal John95's Avatar
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    Onion gets better later (or at least more tolerable). But for now, yeah screw him.
    Family Guy Season 17 Ratings - Married... with Cancer: .5/5 Dead Dog Walking: .5/5 Pal Stewie: 3/5 Big Trouble in Little Quahog: 3.5/5 Regarding Carter: 1.5/5 Stand by Meg: 2/5 Griffin Winter Games: 2.5/5 Con Heiress: 0/5 Pawtucket Pete: 2.5/5 Hefty Shades of Gray: .5/5 Trump Guy: .5/5 Bri, Robot: .5/5 Trans-Fat: 2/5 Family Guy Lite: 1.5/5 No Giggity, No Doubt: 1.5/5 You Can't Handle the Booth: 1/5 Island Adventure: 4/5 Throw It Away: 2/5 Girl, Internetted: 1.5/5 Adam West High: 1.5/5
    American Dad! Season 15 Ratings - Fantasy Baseball: 1.5/5 I Am the Jeans: The Gina Lavetti Story: 0/5 Stan & Francine & Connie & Ted: 0/5 Rabbit Ears: 1.5/5 Jeff and the Dank Ass Weed Factory: 1/5 Lost Boys: 0/5 Shark?!: 1/5 The Long March: 2/5 The Hall Monitor and the Lunch Lady: 0/5 Wild Women Do: 2/5 An Irish Goodbye: TBD Stompe le Monde: TBD Mom Sauce: TBD

  33. #29
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Onion can be so unpopular but I generally like (~Sour Cream~ &) Onion

    I had that EGGORY feeling of "do I want or need to really care about Lars or the cool kids" when the ep initially aired but by the end I was like yes, I did. These kids ARE cool and they are so into humor in Steven sometimes it's a level of squee cute for me. It only benefits me to care about the inhabitants of Beach City as much as Steven does. It ups the stakes appropriately when the city is yet again under danger. Those three teens can be very amusing to me and not at all like I'd expect them to act based on assumptions alone. Like Jenny is the rowdier Pizza twin but she still treats Steven with the same level of care Kiki would. I like that Steven has a relationship with just about everybody and awwww that chest hand.

  34. #30
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #16: STEVEN THE SWORD FIGHTER

    parry! parry! thrust!

    there's an impressive level of deceit to this episode, at the outset its a familiar and comfortable motif, its fitting that pearl's innate poise and composure would lend itself to adept skills in swordfighting, and theres definitely a grace to her technique. inversely steven just wants to throw a sword and have it come back to him like in the anime movie he just watched. yet just when the episode seems as though its going to be explicitly about steven ambling his way through solving each individual technique to become a good swordsman - and really theres no reason this couldn't have been the episode provided they found a thorough way to portray this without just repeating past motions- the episodes swiftly does a 180 and Kills Pearl Forever. rip. her fight scenes do look fantastic though, and sound fantastic like man major props to the composers for all the absolutely illuminating piano work throughout this show, alot of material worth returning to.

    then just as quickly as we leap frantically from a relatively casual vibe to an intense shift, the episode flips again into the mundane, again in a rather clever manner. the very hologram of pearl that stabs her and leaves her to regenerate is who steven decides to try and bond with and integrate into daily goings-on. you'd half-expect the episode to stay in this tonal shift, maybe having steven immediately trying to get rid of the hologram at the very least to prevent such ordeals in the future. it is defintely dubious that he would so quickly decide to trust this faulty thing that just fucked up pearl's body. still i like this turn, the episode keeps making you guess where its gonna go and while you can ponder the plausibility largely it makes for an interesting ride. also steven's meme sonic doll is just...just very good.

    ah but yes the plausibility. there is none. yeah steven misses pearl but if you want be to outright that steven would repeatedly and cluelessly trust this creepy hologram that constantly slices things, maybe at least make the regeneration time lapse larger than two weeks? in any case what the episode does become is a pretty interesting, i guess perhaps "horror" affair, definitely in tone, what with the dreary greenish-grey skies and the pouring rain, even in lighter siller moments like amethyst floating away the episode carries a more bleak color scheme, as though the absence of pearl is resonating through the entire episode. hell even the title card had this darker scheme and it helps establish that we're in for a different ride. by and large, it works. for all the sketchy tidbits with internal logic, the actual action and tension of the scenes where steven is finally confronting the holopearl, while still kinda stupid (YOURE NOTHING LIKE PEARL yes correct its the thing that Ended her!), acts as a nice way to have him confronting pretty real visceral danger.

    in a way it shouldn't even be that frightening, steven has taken on far greater monsters and otherworldly beings before, but there is something just so...well horror movie about being chased by a mindless drone seeking to end whatever has challenged it with a sword. its a different take, its a comical take, but its still a suitably spooky take, and it sustains the creepy atmosphere very well especially as steven is clearly Not a sword fighter at all. he isn't prepared for this battle and one has to wonder how he could even squirm his way out of this mess.

    the answer is, naturally, he gets lucky. well not entirely, while he didn't really get to internalize any concrete technique if there's anyting he's gonna remember, its the traumatic memory of pearl telling him to wait for the perfect moment when the enemy is open, just as she fails to heed her own advice. so in a way, if theres anything he's gonna be able to harness, its that instinct of the perfect moment, whatever that may be, to shut this nightmare down. yet, he was being told other steps, you'd think maybe he was half-listening and would be able to muster in a moment of desperation a bit more technique? perhaps it is more believable this way, only when cornered and faced with the gut feeling that recalls the one most important part does steven know how to react.

    if there's any real kernel of truth in this episode however, it's pearl's last line: "i can't leave you guys alone for a second". with this and the arcade episode, it does seem as though each gem contributes to some unspoken harmony, though if you wanna look at it with less complexity you could just say that without someone like pearl to establish a little order insane shit starts happening. also true. nonetheless, however you wanna look at it removing a gem from the episode toys with the dynamic in an interesting way, and the episode makes use of that by trying out an entirely new mood and visual scape. it has alot of fun with its new techniques and gives steven an enemy thats so simple, and so uncomfortably familiar, that it subverts the monster-of-the-week idea. this ones all about subversions, and unless you were really aching to see steven become a great sword fighter right here right now, i imagine you'd probably leave with some level of satisfaction with the ride. we learned a little along the way too, what with the regeneration elements, pearl's design alterations and, of course, amethyst's new Balloon form. i got hit by a airplane.

    B




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