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  1. #91
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #47: SHIRT CLUB
    abrams/jo

    WELCOME TO BENCH CITY

    i liked this episode, but even the gems know it wasn't important. hey this show's pretty funny. i don't talk about the comedy enough. let's do that. you know what's funny is the CGs not understanding rock poster design and garnet thinking instead of lightning bolts they should literally be Rocks around him because he Rocks. i love the little jokes like that that reveal that despite their time on earth theres still alot they're clueless to because they don't alot of time indulging actual earth culture, giving us fun little moments like this. figure amethyst would understand something like this tho. some good comedic bits in the coffee shop too, like on the sign an order of 8 donuts is called a breakup. i also enjoy the fact that there's a sign that says WE ONLY SELL DONUTS but buck still orders a dam salad. aside but jesus do the Animated donuts in this show make me hungry. the icing on the Donut here though is lars going so far to please those he deems cool as to go into the back to somehow attempt to make a salad for this guy. more broadly i enjoy the episode's analyzation of ironic comedy culture amongst Millenials and such, its not groundbreaking but against the always earnest steven its a interesting contrast that takes his love and admiration for his dad and makes it seem like a big joke which treats it like a betrayal. the poster has his dad all ripped and cool looking which works as steven augmented view of his dad and a great silly hyperbolic design for the city's teens to flaunt to one another in ironic glee as the next fad sweeps over them. then we have mayor dewey who is innately absurd and overblown because joel is not a voice actor - he's not an actor at all thats not what makes him great, though in this instance it kinda is. the way he huffs and puffs mayor dewey's lines and assumes the role of the dorky dad and the pandering mayor all the same with his attempt at youthful lingo. thing is this episode also gets the closest to getting emotional with dewey which is unexpected cuz id always figured him the most overtly detached for the sake of his unrelenting focus on his mayoral duties and what have you, so its a nice touch to give the episode a little sweetness amongst characters we wouldn't have time for in more important episodes. back to the jokes! peace in the middle east holmes! building more on the idea of how This Generation of peeps works the way they t-shirt cannon the shirts down to unsuspecting denizens feels like a good way to shortcut the idea of how this sort of memey culture works. alot of it just lands at our feet and there we are left to react. in a world where we are begging for the next silly thing why not be excited when a doofy shirt comes near you. some Non Jokes here like ronaldo bein all IT MUST BE AN ALIEN SHIRT because thats all his character is. some better stuff like lars' initial confusion turned the first whiff of ironic amusement when he sees it was buck. lars' appreciation of the shirt of course seems more built on following the crowd even tho he begins the idea, which is a nice way to make the irony of it all seems less obvious as a whole at first, even if it is still pretty clear. also there's sour cream making WOM WOM noises. why's this funny? posehn noises are funny, sometimes its that simple. inverse to all this fad stuff greg's utter cluelessness through the duration is adorable, he's trying to play along and stays good natured as always but all he can figure is people will come back and take lessons later and just wanted to check out the place. poor guy.

    what the episode itself finds funny is steven's sincerity but of course the ultimate butt of the joke is buck himself as his poking fun at steven's poster comes back to bite him with a cutesy poster made shirt of his own. the lives of today's youngins are encased in more layers of irony than we know what to do with, so steven quite literally firing his own sincerity back at him to break those layers is pretty great, its a steven solution for sure even though the scene of him firing from atop the building as every panics is a little uh..well its definitely easy to mirror to Real Snipery Shit? thats where my brain went anyway. the secret servicey guys totally wussing out and letting dewey get hit was a great moment too, as was dewey's pose as though he'd been Slain upon the bench, all good stuff before the Big Moment and the Dam Tear. i mentioned it earlier but before the sniper scene is the great scene where steven runs back to the gems, some good bits like garnet using typical garnet wisdom more like a bypass for this particular ordeal and the other gems retreating to agreeing with it, as well as amethyst succinct "it's not a problem we can Punch". this scene summarizes a not useless but obviously not crucial episode where the gems realize this is not an issue thats really important. they frame it ways that sound Important and then hearing steven say it aloud puts it all into perspective. its not really an excuse for a boring episode though, not at all. this a funny episode, but it also uses the idea of humor well in its storyline, what we find funny and how our humor can betray us, and how that itself can be kinda funny cuz yknow tragedy comedy time etc. as humor gets more ironic and eye-rolly and hard to define by our genuine emotions, what can pierce through that facade? none other than the pure sincerity of a boy like steven. maybe this'll teach someone like buck to be a little more real, he clearly ends up respecting steven for it. its a nice mirroring of the kinda stuff we see with lars. its a world of good and well meaning people who may not always be true to themselves and may be swamped in the goings-on familiar to real world Whippersnappers that begin to define them, a life defined by external forces even silly ass fad ones, and steven is quite the antithesis to that. if nothing else, its a fun creative experiment.

    B

  2. #92
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #48: STORY FOR STEVEN
    johnston/liu

    my favorite television trope? why it's the flashback episode! origin stories, characters when they were younger, a world the state we know it in, characters left behind through a fate that didnt need them, it's all so fascinating and ripe for potential. the times before the series, as a general concept, are almost always enough to branch off into an entire spin-off, and with this show, that's especially true. it stands to reason then, that this feels like the first episode of a different branching flashback saga that will crop up when need be to give us the fragments of the past to patch together and help better understand and appreciate our world and characters. it's a tease to be sure, a sequence of events that feels like it's own Pilot, it's own pitch for an exciting world to blossom. it also like so many early episodes of the series just merely toys with character ideas instead of diving all the way in. we get very little idea of how these characters work together here because more the point is their introduction at all. plus this episode does alot more toying with tropes for the sake of breaking away from them to get to where we will later be going with greg and the CGs when these stories come around again - and im sure they will plenty. here we have two songs, TWO in the span of eleven minutes. practically a musical! also stands to reason what with music being greg's form of transcendence. the romanticism is obviously rooted in this little story from the jump but specifically i appreciate the way the music and greg's freeing expression of that is what endears him to rose immediately, while as much he loves the music he doesn't need to chase it as his single source of transcendence once he finds her, its utilization as a tool transfers to her exclusively. fitting when she was the only one in the crowd of course, but still sweet.

    the songs themselves are among my favorites so far, especially the thunderous stadium open I'm A Comet. i appreciate the immediate juxtaposition from a settled down Greg Universe with his acoustic in his van to the man upon the stage, embodying his dreams in larger-than-life fashion. this transition alone says alot about how the music and what it does for him has shifted dramatically due to its necessity shifting, but theres no doubt this scene does well to show off that passion as it once lived in the vein of becoming the archetype rockstar. honestly i love everything about this first song, sure the lyrics are corny but greg was always more for earnesty than anything else, and maybe that meant he was never meant for this lifestyle after all, though on the other hand it's a corny genre so who can say. he pictures himself in grandiose music video fashion and frankly the song suits it, plenty of nifty visual tricks as these soaring glam metal crunches and scharpling surprisingly captivating vocal take center stage, i'd have no issue believing greg was actually playing to millions. the lightning and colors are minimal to really help you focus while still being very starry-eyed and inspired, excellent contrast of the purple tinting to his colors against the blooming radiant oranges and reds, then turning to the luminous array of blues pouring down on him in such a way that he becomes a glimmering pure white, standing against the background as his name lights up behind him, a nice trick revealing literally everything including the potentially real stage tricks to be a farce in his head. greg's passion for the music against the predictable but still deafening Almost silence of an Almost absent crowd is saddening after the performance, though I suppose that's probably the attitude you wanna have. after all they say dance like no one's watching and boy did he dance. of course one person was watching and offering the encouragement she could.

    thing is i think greg's song is great but i don't even really think that matters to rose. what the fantastic presentation of the song's visuals and the impassioned performance offer are of more note, human expression, human love and desire to put themselves out there, to create and defy the notion that we are all just meant to live by some pre designated guidelines. an amazement at him just as a representation of that joyous fearless ability to put one's self out there on the stage and be themselves, be human, let loose all you have. also she think he's awfully cute. so there's that too. after a few times watching the music video segment i began seeing greg as steven in that sense though, being yourself. being whatever you are and finding that that's the best thing you can do, it's such an obvious answer but few crack it and execute it, greg and then steven are beacons of not defying one's selves. greg in the present is such a chill character and i think that's earned by not building up too many insecurities or worries about the world around you. he got to do what he wanted and be with who he wanted to be with, and all he had to do was be greg. its a success story to admire. he doesn't even seem to have any disdain about the lack of people at his show, there's no bitterness or anything. he takes the one person for what it is, that positivity maintaining. when he's asked by his Lizard manager how the show went his "it was great" is absent of any sarcasm or anything, he seems genuinely jazzed anyone showed up. of course it also helps when greg and rose begin talking and there's immediately an intangible spark. her naivety is adorable with regards to his rock metaphors, though her taking issue with his metaphorical "never coming back" to earth is worth noting as well. an innocence again comparable to steven in a way. when greg mentioned he needed to get a Bigger shirt for rose i worried for a moment it was dipping into awkward stuttery UH NOT TO SAY THAT YOU'RE FAT OR ANYTHING UHH UHH territory cuz even tho i know this show is better than such awkward cliches i'm too used to it. that they avoided it and made nary an issue of it was nice. i mean she's objectively massive in some way after all. 8 feet tall he said. goddamn. wonder how much of that is the hair.

    back to the fuckin Snake Man, yeah he sure is...a Villain. probably the weakest part of the episode for me just in that he's not really got a smidge of subtlety. he's a transparently scummy douchebag manager type who wants all the debaucherous perks of being in the vicinity of a potential star, while still treating said star like garbage and objectifying women all around him and just being a slimesack. he mostly works as a way to give greg more humanity, i really like his quick "women are people" after some of his weird fantasies, its such a small line and maybe its not a line to commend cuz Um Duh, but it gives this feeling that even in greg's most Rock Star idealizing phase he was grounded and a good person. he loved the music but alot that came with it became increasingly not worth it. indeed Marty makes greg's decision quite simple in the end even if chasing rose wasn't obviously an impuslve he couldn't resist as is, the reality is without rose greg may have just been too nice to ever show backbone against a guy like this. as happenstance as it is it works fine enough to toss this sleazelord on his ass. as much as he's kinda a boring character with his Look How Evil This Guy Is posturing but the fucked up dismantling Captain Beefheart landfill jazz tumbling behind his scenes is a very intriguing musical decision that helps him starkly stand out in the episode, so there is that.

    origin episodes like these always tuck in little questions but fascinates me is the inquiry of where exactly in the timeline we are here. okay so amethyst is wayyy younger but i'm also unsure if gems age like humans, or wait why would they age at all? do only kindergarten gems age? well they all look younger so that doesn't seem right but their appearance doesn't necessarily mirror their age either but then why did it change except just for the purpose of showing said progression? other curiosities are the fence between beach city and the temple. it makes me wonder why they'd want to separate themselves from the humans at this point, surely it's reasonable knowing that many gems would harm them but they protected them, they have amethyst so i assume the battles have taken place and are probably done at this point? we see pearl show some affection in the form of jealousy for rose so clearly they've been together at the temple for awhile, we don't know where amethyst exactly comes in, but i suppose the times before that will not concern us for these particular flashback episodes. there is a sign saying ELECT MAYOR BUCK DEWEY so it can be assumed its not thaaat many years ago unless perhaps its another buck dewey, there's already at least two after all. of course the ultimate indicator of the time is greg himself who looks to be in his i'd guess mid 20s here whereas now is probably pushing mid 40s, but granted these are only guesses. that'd line up reasonably well however. the characters aren't tooo different here, any hopes to immediately start getting context that answers questions offered by the most rose-centric emotional episodes of the season are ignored for now. amethyst despite being way younger and being prone to running around like a dog is basically the same, picking on people and using her shapeshifting to amuse herself and confuse others. pearl still seems cautious and anxious and all that, though that anxiety is transposed from her present watchful eye over steven and worry about the homeworld gems and more a worry about humans themselves. she seems surprised that greg spoke to amethyst, which would suggest they have in fact had very little contact with humans at this time. perhaps the actual contact with humans has been restricted to rose so far? maybe despite protecting the planet they dont feel comfortable associating with them in some way. dig pearl's jazzercise getup btw. lotta Personality in that design and the slightly more Floofed up hair. there's something different garnet too but i can't quick figure it out without a comparison. she looks like her build may be smaller but it could merely be her actual outfit. even she's surprised by the human though, all calm and cool garnet having a bit of a moment of shock of something so small. interesting. stop teasing me! or keep doin it it's fun, i get to do this detective work stuff.

    actually by rose's response to pearl it seems like maybe this was an exception even for her. for all her love of humans and humanity there's definitely some rules in place for some reason and i highly doubt rose would jeopardize things if they were important enough, though this is sort exactly doing that, but it's clearly an exception for a valuable reason. another great bit with pearl just laughing at greg's flimsy space gimmick too, i hope to get more into her petty jealousy because thats a great inverse of what we're used to with pearl. mostly the CGs here are similar but have a few differences via context and in some cases are just less refined. pearl seems vaguely less poised and concentrated, she's still antsy and worrywarty but also seems a bit more prone to baser instincts and what have you. makes sense, if the timeline here is after all the war madness she's a bit more at ease against the present where shit is hitting the fan often. still they had jobs right? well maybe not, i'm not sure when the various gem creatures started going Fucky either, maybe they literally were mostly relaxed. maybe, though garnet does come through the warp with Something, but she went alone. i'd chalk it up ultimately to pearl being amethyst's babysitter of sorts and little else but thats all conjecture.

    anyway greg says FUCK YOUR FENCE BITCH and goes to be with rose. i do love a happy Cliffhanger. his second song is not nearly as strong as the first but it makes sense as a more downplayed in-the-works sort of deal, this is clearly coming to him from the inspiration of meeting her and he's just letting it out in the moment without really thinking about it. the melodies are sloppy and the cadences are rushed, but that's the point. its just kinda feeilng out the mood and letting out his feelings. it's fascinating to see greg barge into the temple with little to no reservation or discomfort, it was fascinating to see him with the gems and treating them like people. he's a nice exception to the rule that maybe presents a reason for that fence to come down, he's a great representation of a father who could have a kid who would be the ultimate harmonizer between the two sides, who could love both and love being both. in a way greg does this, greg treats rose just like an amazing person, she's fantastical to be sure but he's not intimidated by that. it's hard to piece together love as alot of time its this vague weird chemical goosebumpy thing Or So I've Heard but greg's larger-than-life desires didn't really change, they just transferred from music to rose. as for why rose likes greg well maybe because he treats her human and she loves humans, maybe because he's honest and genuine and expressive and represents the best of humanity. its not like she was looking for a prospective mate but greg represents that best of humanity she believes in so hell why not? her reasons for denying him initially ring very true, her respect for humanity to the point that she doesn't want to rip someone she admires away from his dreams and desires. it's too late though, greg's dreams and desires changed irreversably, because rose is the tangible version of what he's been chasing. something larger than life - literally hahaha can i get a high five not from her though i can't reach that high ahahaha killing it killing it - something surreal and magical and out there, but still kind and beautiful and real. still that's putting reasons on something that is more felt than spoken. in the end alot of questions remain but it feels clearer than ever how this beautiful math equation makes someone like steven. you can see him in both their eyes, you can see him in their love and their worry and their greivances and their resignations. this episode is great for many reasons but it paves a way for steven ultimately, not just literally but through the sense of encouraging a world to grow more harmonious for him to embrace and only make better, and repair when it tears apart. it's hard not to root extremely hard for these two, and i can't wait to see more of how it all came together and what it all lead to.

    A -


  3. #93
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    Man I love this episode. Such a sweet self-contained love story that just litters hints everywhere and raises questions about everything. Lizard Man is definitely kinda generic as a villain but given how the story needed to be succinct enough to allow breathing room to explore the flashback, I can't really blame them for not setting up Marty to be this deep flawed character. There isn't any guarantee that this is how he actually is either - keep in mind we're hearing this story from Greg's perspective, so of course he's gonna think of his Mortal Enemy who nearly cost him the love of his life as an ugly poopyhead who doesn't respect women.

    For an episode that introduces so many new settings and characters, Joe and Jeff sure didn't bother to post any boards. Boooo. However we do have the character models for the flashback characters if you feel like putting those up side-by-side with their present designs. There's also the backgrounds from the ep - in particular, the temple without the wooden house addition is pretty rad.

    As for actual storyboards, all we have are some Roses drawn by (who else) Rebecca and a single frame of Greg and Steven having a jam session. oh well.

    AND now for the main event of this post. It's the music. The music in this ep is great. Jeff Liu contributes this acoustic version of Rose's theme which is very pleasant. Jeff also co-writes Destiny with Rebecca. This one's super underrated to me - I love the way the guitar transitions from plain strumming to syncopation and finally to broken-up chords. Shame it's so short.

    AND NOW for the main event of the main event of this post. It's Comet. Comet is great. If it sounds very late 80s to you, it's because it actually is - the guitar riff comes from JADE, an old glam metal band that animation director Nick DeMayo was a member of. Nick then repurposed the riff into the song you hear in the ep. There's almost nothing about this band online, but earlier this year Nick actually released part of the original song that Comet is based on, as well as part of his demo for it. (I would NOT recommend goin any further into this video cause it's quite spoilerific. Because obviously.) They sneak this backstory into the ep too, because Greg's guitar is a JADER. Now that's metal af.

  4. Thumbs Up To This Post by: kupomog, tyler

  5. #94
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #49: THE MESSAGE
    abrams/jo

    mY mInD iS tHe InTeRnEt I kNoW eVeRy CoNtInUiTy MiStAkE eVeR mAdE oN tElEvIsIoN

    things have been reasonably quiet for beach city and the gems for a small spell, never a good sign. don't trust any peace, any silence, any relaxation. still, as time passes and things begin to intensify you want to embrace those silences, especially in the face of futility. of course it helps that even now steven doesn't yet grasp the gravity of whats unfurling in front of him, and hell i don't even understand it, but i have a feeling we soon both will. the majority of the episode feels disconnected from the first two leading towards it, and that makes sense. warp tour into marble madness was very fluid to a point that they reinforce and contexualize each other heavily, with minor contradictions, but how marble madness left us was in a state of no resolve, and no clear answer for said resolve. the CGs are spotted by peridot, her plans let loose unto them as pearl retorts with a mission statement as proud as it is foolish. in this act it's hard to imagine Homeworld isn't way more aware of what is taking place on earth now, their plans now given a significant blockade in the form of traitors who have proven themselves destructive towards their goals in the past. its no surprise the looming prospect of their return to earth hangs heavy in the air, but what can they do? now i'd think myself foolish if i were to believe the CGs have no plan, nothing whatsoever up their collective sleeves to do their best fending off that which they've had on their minds far too long not to cobble something together, but i imagine that scene as when they're cornered, swallowed up by the mouth of an oppressive swarm, fighting back until it overwhelms them. what do they do Now? granted i'm no writer but i'd say they....wait. they wait, they worry, they think, they worry, they wait. the plan of maintaining an obscurity is shot, not that it'd work for long with Homeworld gems on the surface anyway, so let's destroy the warps! oh but they found another way to communicate and maneuver anyway. it's this increasing lurching sensation of not having the answer, nobody knows what to do. so let's wait.

    steven naturally handles this better than others in his state of having less of an intimate awareness of what Homeworld gems can or will do. so it's a night of jamming with dad and the dad jokes that entails. the inspiration? lapis lazuli, one of the most enduring mysteries twinkling in the distance in this series. who is she, where does she stand and how does she align? our perspective of homeworld gems, or more broadly just anyone who isn't our core group, contains a reasonable trepidation. lapis was our "main" villain last season, but also not really. you could volley back-and-forth discerning where she fits in, but its no mystery to steven. upon this fittingly cool blue night in the energy of the music, he conjures a tale that feel as suited to the steven perspective as it did the night he saved the town. that enduring loving embrace of who in the perspective of the episode seemed like the ultimate bad guy, the destruction in her wake, the fear of the town, the intense battles on the ground around her. for steven though, fighting is, at most, a necessity navigating the pathway to the heart. his perspective is as pure as it is potentially damaging. how far can steven's love pilot him into increasingly murky and enemy littered skies? time will tell. for now, its a nice reflection upon the important values of steven that keep him grounded and leave him vital, while looping around in the right way at the right time. even the lyrics of his lovely minimal guitar musing which i suppose is titled "lapis lazuli" but i'm always worried i'm getting these wrong, even there there's a bit of a divide. his positivity is admirable and even inspiring but "her friendship comes through subliminal?" maybe, maybe if friendship isn't quite the right word, maybe in realizing her dangerous actions were a desperate soul thrashing to find peace, but steven's outright disregard for her actions regardless of intent or meaning are a @Tad worrying. not necessarily in her case, just maybe steven needs to understand when he tries to peer into someone's heart, eventually he will find nothing. i aspire to that purity, that childlike belief in people that is uncharacterized by a world that is too honest with you, but at some point listening to the world around you is valuable, and at some point being childlike leans from purity into irresponsibility. steven's way has worked for him a little too much, his unflinching optimism and belief against divisive figures didn't stop at lapis after all. this is how we got where we are. still he believes what he believes, and its hard to root against him.

    all this comes to a screeching halt as soon as the wailing stone sets off, like an alarm clock snapping them out of the respite. it's incessant blare another in a long line of reminders of their futility in the face of the future, their dwindling solutions to unfamiliar problems, feeling powerless. what can they do? guess let's try greg? it is about time greg is able to present his worth as an asset more vital to the team, he's clearly intimidated by gem stuff but still wants to assist in any way he can. he's provided assistance in the past, transportation for example, but all in his earnest effort and despite his proximity and familiarity to the gems he's never had a chance to shine in this context. if i see a character in this show, especially frequently within steven's gravitational pull, i expect them to eventually kick ass or achieve amazing feats that provide unlikely solutions. plus we get greg in the musican chair in a different capacity, directing that old passion into helping those connected to his later passion. i love the initial sequence of greg messing with the stone's signal, perhaps just as a lover of sound manipulation, hearing it go through all these filters, warbling and screeching, slowly becoming more musical. i think it's also a love of the, i guess its a trope, of alien transmissions, garbled signals and the problem solving and human ingenuity used to meet them halfway and find some way of producing tones recognizable to the human ear. of course in this case everyone speaks Hooman English and the aliens aren't so alien after all but its still cool, any sort of mystery around warped audio that needs to be deciphered is just a neat concept to me. it also just produces this great tone in the episode, that while you could hazard safe guesses of what this is - themes and all - it still feels positively alien, this storm of noise settling into an eerie vast energy swirling around them, bubbling and moaning. it soundtracks this moment in this disturbed serenity, upon this beach where lapis first appeared, it feels so perfect to the moment, where the clearer it becomes, it only sounds more ominous and tense, like a signal you don't want, but sadly need. of course just in the moment of clarity greg's plan crumbles, a tinge of a discernable vocal pattern snapped as the setup short circuits.

    greg finding inspiration in lapis lazuli and the events of ocean gem seem to say he has just as much desire to be a part of this journey as i have for him. he's been a pretty chill and passive figure through the series, a nice change of pace when gem antics get them so high strung and tangled in chaos that you need a human perspective that is always concerned but still on the outside. as nice as that juxtaposition its clear it isn't enough for greg, for all his aversion to gem stuff, maybe it was a fear of disappointing others and himself. there's no reason to assume he wouldn't want to help, but in his time with the gems it wouldn't be hard to believe he would be so overwhelmed and fear he couldn't stack up. as tensions escalate he wants to be there too though, and the last time they did they provided him inspiration. maybe these crazy events excite him but more than he'd like to admit due to these mometns when he fails them. what seem more painful than the failure is the expectation of failure, as though when greg fails its a foregone conclusion, a mere roadblock to an actual solution. everyone has been failing lately, but everyone has been given many opportunities to right those wrongs. greg's effort isn't given that same consideration and the idea of future efforts seems unwanted. in his song he laments his own failures but also acknowledges that that failure shouldn't be such a finalizing representation of his abilities. especially now when there haven't been alot of valid solutions tossed around he should be seen more fairly for sure, though inversely you'd see why the CGs would find each failure another detriment in such times all the same. perhaps a general aversion in that fear has only exacerbated said fear, and his efforts to not help to not screw up, he's given no time to prove himself and doing it just when things get difficult well, perhaps its too little too late. or is it!

    now we see where steven gets his Dumb Luck Gene as they both help each other happen up the realization of the nature of the transmission. it's hard to corral this episode into a neat thematic bundle, its an array of character examinations in the calm before the fucking meteor storm, i think there's alot of value in these 'where do we stand" stories. a night particularly attached to important past events already in many ways, linked to the wailing stone, lapis, infinite potential occurences between greg and the CGs that could have influenced how they view each other, its very floaty, very tentative, another acknowledgment of whats been done and whats to come. it's only attached to the previous peridot episodes via existing at all, in a narrative pointing towards the abyss of the inevitable, it follows no real path at first, existing in such a natural space it feels innate to use that give the characters a meditative space, before erasing it as usual. even as tensions rise with the wailing stone its still a matter of mystery, of confused desperate inaction. the thread from warp tour to marble madness is obvious, and while this episode is obvious to us, the viewer, internally it could be anything. though perhaps the reality is not wanting the answer, they spend all this time trying to unravel the transmission but even they know something isn't right and they shouldn't be receiving a transmission at all. the clues exist in knowing the terrifying inevitable after all, despite not knowing how it will happen. the reason they give up on greg may be because they dont believe in him to some degree, but it may just as easily be that they don't want to hear that message, as though ignoring it erases it. garnet's final shaking moment says it all to me, good work team we got the message, and that's all we were doing. of all the people with no answers, the least acceptable is the one trying to pilot this ship, trying to avoid the choppy waters. there's a reason this tenuous feeling pervades this one, like the arc is detaching from itself. this narrative can't continue, this narrative cannot continue. but it will. end transmission.

    B+


  6. #95
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #50: POLITICAL POWER
    florido/mitroff

    things are bad. no shit right? i didn't mention lapis' transmission's specific details in the last review because i felt it was important to let it simmer, it felt fitting with the way the episode refused its own tension in a way that felt necessary to maintain the sanity needed to get anything done, but it's no wonder the CGs have been doing everything in their power to restructure the narrative, be it by physical avoidance or even mental avoidance. if season 1a's power was in holding back a world of surprises and depth that would all come to an explosive climax in ocean gem, s1b's potency seems to be in a more conscious emotional supression on the part of the characters who we now know all too intimately, better than they know themselves perhaps, or better than they're willing to admit anyway. when we were just like steven in s1a, precocious and curious, it felt like we grew with him, ocean gem was rewarding because we felt like we were there, and when there was only one set of footprints in the beach city sands that's when steven was carrying us, as he learned to begin leading the way. i guess more generally the theme is change. ocean gem's true impact is standing upon the threshold of all the knowledge the CGs have been equipped with now becoming steven's burden to bear, and showing how his growth presents how he deals with that. however now that growth is pushing all of them well beyond that threshold, and their responses are indicative of how they've taken this growth. steven has been eager to learn, to grow, to discover and stay open and faithful to the journey, so he has taken change very naturally, he has been changing the entire time, its all just part of the process for steven, even when things get prospectively grim. you get the feeling however that it ain't really the same for the rest of the CGs who simply haven't had to change like this in awhile, their necessity for growth seemed to disipate, all they needed was to stay at the point they were at to whack gem monsters and plunder ancient temples and shit, there was a comforting stasis that allowed everything they learned to be everything they needed, at least physically. the reality is this stasis reflects everything about the gems barring steven, a stasis in their preparedness for engaging an onslaught of old foes just as much as a stasis of their beliefs and feelings and attitudes, and the dynamic they present with everything around them. the incredible ocean gem is a curtain lifting that leaves steven swelling with growth and a punctuation to his change, but his change left him more intimate with a world that hasn't changed much at all. it's as though the narrative is constructed in the CG's minds as steven's place in ocean gem being the finish line.

    it stands to reason that for all of the changes, and for all of their mistakes that they've insisted upon changing, change has been hard. garnet expressed a shame for disregarding that steven is a crystal gem, but here we have her just as anyone else obscuring the uncomfortable truth from him. the test showed us they wanted steven to be happy, to be confident, his gem powers need to be embraced via giving hims a steadfast confidence, but in their aim they shot down his own sense of ability. the ending to that episode is a bit conflicting because of the way steven refuses to acknowledge this, but it's also extremely indicative of who he is and his growth. steven's being is an avatar of the embrace of harmony, between human and gem, between humans and other humans and between himself and the other gems. he knew he was being lied to, he knew that despite the fact that his own efforts lead them to the knowledge of peridots return to at least give them a fighting chance he was being sheltered from that very danger. sure he got a little overzealous with these feelings in marble madness and showed that while he has the tool to fix the world he may not always know how to apply them, or perhaps rose's love for all of its importance and the way it looms over the series isn't enough. steven isn't just some well-meaning doofy child trying to following along with the Big Bois But Girls Tho #Femmismsinsm, he is boldly ready to face the darkness with them. he's known this throughout the season, his ability to transcend the pattern and trajectory of growth the others felt necessary has been it's own concern, in how he is to be respected as a gem, and in how he is to be given unfiltered honesty, to be appreciated, to be seen unequivocally as having earned that trust and being ready and willing to be a gem, whatever that may entail. nobody else was ready though, and steven didn't like that, but if the test wasn't going to be the moment he felt conflicted if not outright betrayed, of course he wouldn't say anything about this where its clear their intentions are his protection. other than the test this has only blown up in their faces though. pearl's intent to protect steven from the idea of the kindergarten in on the run only sought to provide amethyst's emotions most connected to that horror a way to unleash, putting steven in between the two of them. it isn't that they don't know either. they trust him to some capacity, but the missions they allow him still remain small, tentative explorations of future vision in winter forecast and teaching him fusion for alone together, its all still like school for them. yet when that order falls apart, when they dont get to designate the paths, panic sets in. of course they also know all too well he harnesses something special, if rose's scabbard doesn't make clear that pearl Knows whats going on nothing will. they know, they just don't want to accept it. the supression of reality is for their own sake and sanity, but it's also for steven.

    the way in which this reality begins to enroach to suffocating degrees, as before, is when it begins to infest beach city as a whole. this is an episode filled with representations that nobody is as clueless as they'd appear, if even mayor dewey knows something is up with the CGs and by extension this town is susceptible to madness, it's time to wake up. yet dewey's own break from usual ambiguity and tropes to give him some humanity is the light that sparks inspiration in steven to embrace his position as a potential guiding force in the darkness. dewey has always been hard to crack because that's the facade of the archetypal political figurehead he assumes, he isn't meant to be readable really, but once steven finally gets in the car with him, once you get past the glowsticks and pins his sentiment is a familiar one: you lie to protect the ones you care about. indeed, and in that steven realizes why the CGs have done what they've done for so long, really since the beginning, but steven knows more than he probably even realizes, and is far more wise to these goings-on than he was, so the stagnation of how they approach dealing with him in heavy scenarios remains. its all relative really, steven was coddled greatly even on test missions and simple Monster Of The Week Scenarios back in 1a but while the adventures have become more legitimate and less seemingly Scheduled he's basically in the same position. steven is put on exactly the level of comfort they see him in, and its hard for them not to project such a trajectory or lack thereof on him when it so easily reflects what we see of them. still, their intent was protection, to make sure steven wasn't hurt but maybe more importantly that the boundless love he contains isn't shattered somehow, that that innocence isn't damaged, that he isn't exposed to what shook them to the point that they can't seem to face it because they have no answers. steven has been privy to evading the narrative this entire time, and while it changed from a boy who couldn't follow direction to a boy who knew there was more than the rigid guidance of those he respected but saw didn't always have the answers, this consistency means that maybe steven's decisions have all been relative too. sure he's done amazing things and grown alot but it all seems pretty parallel with where he stands. so while you can take the CGs dishonesty as disrespect the scenarios we've seen him in suggest a preparedness for exactly where he's at in terms of growth, the moments of reaching beyond the comfort zone are mild, and even they've shown to be volatile such as future vision. it's no wonder trepidation would set in a bit, but even the unfounded fear is just love turned into a shielding mechanism. what is the right thing to do in this situation?

    seeing the gems lie to steven even up to the point that when he's adamant he wants to talk about peridot, their first response is old thinly veiled routine. the condescending big sister noogieing of amethyst and garnet just wanting to play cards, its all a little frustrating because it treats him like a child who hasn't achieved all these feats. yet, steven knows how to look beyond this. in his most betrayed moments he was able to maintain a disposition that kept the peace, and maybe his focus on peace makes him seem even more incongruent with war, but steven knows what matters is the truth, all your good intentions wont protect you when your lies make people feel hurt. dewey does his best to mask the reality of the interminable blackout, but he knows all too well that he doesn't want the town to know what he knows. he doesn't know exactly what happens but his immediate ability to point out the CGs as responsible makes it hard to disconnect from the feeling that he's doing exactly what the CGs are doing, he just wants order, but order doesn't equal harmony. things are bad. we know this, steven knows this, and yet they won't just admit it. it seems harsh or even unfair or even isolating, but steven never truly seems to bear any spite for it, because all it seems to be a misdirected understanding of love. oh sure he thinks the gems will have a plan, but even when they don't he knows they're together, he knows they can try, he has some semblance of faith that their fear seems to have obscured. dewey says you can't control what happens in the world but you can control how people feel about it. that's the entire steven narrative so far, he's been controlled, but its always been out of love, but that love may not feel like love forever. being told things are okay when you're plunged into darkness isn't sweet or nice, it's insulting. steven doesn't want to be told things are okay, he wants to know things are not okay, and somehow, that's okay. he speaks to beach city knowing that things aren't okay for them, but they're smart and genuine and wonderful people who can accept this and work to push beyond it. they're the same people in the light as they are in the dark, they are the light itself. if the gems wont tell steven they're in the dark, how can he be the guiding light they may need. in the moment he truly understands why they did what they did, he's no longer conflicted about confronting it, he needs them to know now is not the time to protect him, now is the time for them to protect each other. steven's sentiment to the town resonates deeply to confronting this beast that's lurched the entire time: if you only shine your light in the bright moments, what good is it? let's face the night together.

    A -

  7. #96
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #51: THE RETURN
    molisee/villeco

    as a politican, pointing fingers make me very nervous!

    the inevitable, the oncoming terror, the prospective nightmare, whatever array of synonyms ive haphazardly cobbled together to assemble some evocation of a nebulous doom, a ticking clock to an apocalypse shaped to unfamiliar sillhouettes, all that seemed almost unbearably heavy hanging enters the present tense, and goddamn is it ever Tense. an immense glistening hand in the sky pointing it's finger as if in a judgement of the planet as a whole, a targeting mechanism that leaves turning away from the darkness no longer an option. no time is wasted, if a plan was made we dont know it, if steven's words were taken to heart its not immediately clear. the pregnant pause is the negative space between political power and the return, and as quickly as before, the deceptive calm is shattered. beach city doesn't respond well. so much for being the light in the darkness. yet, that seems consistent with the episode. how dark can it get before you forget you have the light to traverse said dark? sure, the townspeople felt that inspiration against a blackout, but they had to be Told to calm down and not riot like lunatics in that moment, because they'd lost the sight of what was important. you can easily forgive them for immediately betraying those sentiments when the circumstances are alot more...surreal? to choose neutral terminology, sure. surreal. if one's ideals don't hold up in the circumstances that challenge them it questions their legitimacy in the first place, but it also speaks to how terrifying this is, to the town, to the gems. to everyone, appropriately. the townspeople look on in fear and panic but don't riot at dewey in his earnest effort to get them to evacuate, a modicum of improvement, but naturally if dewey couldn't handle a blackout alone, he can't handle this. so if that parallels evenly, does it stand to reason steven could guide them out of this much more dense fog? steven's abilities extend far and wide, but the truth is his potential for fighting a problem through unity has always been his most consistent. this is an asset that gives him a power that is unique and inspiring, to everyone, to beach city, to the other gems, to his father. steven is a reflection of the values that kept the CGs here fighting and defending the values of rose that have transferred to him, from her, and from them. what he reinforces is why they fight in the first place, despite their fight oftentimes doing more to push away from an answer than find it. in reality, they don't treat him like a crystal gem, they treat him as more than that, a unifying figure that binds the world in its most frail times, protecting the people of this planet in times of crisis just as rose did. still, it still seems like they're trying to protect him instead of letting him take on the burden he dedicated himself to just as they did. they want to show him that respect, treat him as a gem, and they do so by representing the unique way in which he is valued, they didn't want him privy to all these nasty realities for many reasons surely, but ultimately they know earth needs him more than them, he is more valued and more inspiring and can mend a world in disrepair, somehow. sadly, for a boy who is more than a gem, more than a human, protecting one side and leaving one behind isn't enough.


    steven is all that he is told he is though. call it purity, call it innocence, call it a certain form of wisdom, or a dangerous naivety, but whatever it is it hopes for an ideal world in the face of pure dread. steven leaping up and talking to peridot in marble madness was moronic sure, but he believes in everyone. steven has fought but he's never wanted to hurt anyone, and always manages to find his own answers. he believes in seeing things through, in facing the dark and not only knowing he can light the way, but that the darkness itself already contained a dim flicker of light that can be fanned and awakened. is he right? it's hard to say. rose's sentiments toward loving humanity only work in an ideal world, expanding that into classifying beings that defy human classification may be risky or even stupid. that doesn't make them any less hopeful, you Want to believe steven even if you don't. greg's heartwearming smile and "you're just like your mother" after steven muses on the possibility of peridot recognizing how nice earth is says it all, but its immediately dashed by the harsh truth. perhaps this is why steven is a better voice than a figure on the battlefield, he is inspiring, he is a beautiful beacon for how things Should be. sadly, should isn't always enough. the scene between greg and steven in his van is striking, getting this grim reality of the homeworld gems from a perspective that lacks the experience and nuance of their disparity to the CGs but harbors an understanding that what steven knows differs greatly from this. the connectivity of human and gem is essential to this show's resonance, steven being the core of the show makes that impossible to avoid. these words have to come from greg, and maybe their honesty only would. greg fears that steven isn't ready for all of this either, and he has the option. steven could easily be a human child, if he's half human half gem the opportunity to be either is there. greg knows thats a futile idea though, and ultimately it would be a squandering of who he is. still, expositing the bleakness of the situation from his mouth really punctuates the scenario. this is not okay, but whats more is it maybe can't be Okay in the way steven wants. its heartbreaking, but its unavoidable.

    greg's perspective illuminates the resistant behavior of the gems too. if you're to remove steven from their intentions a bit, as in don't think of their denial or avoidance or sugarcoating as Just making steven feel better and consider why they'd do this for reasons more inwardly focused, it tracks with what he says. the gems are Aliebs who came to love a planet they were supposed to do Bad Shit to, they defied orders and ideas by homeworld gems to defend a planet full of people who they came to see and realize the magic within, this spinning blue ball full of culture and curiosity bounding through space was more than another on a checklist, the perspective on the ground became different. they changed, but the past haunted their present. thematically the entire season has had these sorts of stories, ignoring the past or embracing an idealized form of the past to refuse to stare directly at it. amethyst and greg and their silly tv show, rose dealing with steven's increasing knowledge and similarity to rose, these both stare away from the truth by existing in a bubble of an idealized form of times passed, until they realize something hasn't been resolved. in other times they've tried to obscure the past from themselves, pretend and rewrite the narrative. pearl's optimistic description of the war and their victory in rose's scabbard is Very methinxthoudothprotesttoomuch?? boiled down, its an attempt to be greater than that ugly part of themselves, not wanting to engage honestly because They have to be honest unconditionally, not just in showing steven a world they're scared will hurt him, but in revisiting a world that festers in them. it's been a season of avoiding this abyss, an abyss that only steven is willing to face, and the truth is no matter how dark the abyss may be when you stare it in the face you are separating yourself from it, but when you avoid it or try to reframe it, it becomes you only more. the phrase "when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back" probably had originally cynical intentions - nietzsche after all - but i think you can take that term to mean something more inspiring: when you look death in the face, you don't become it, you merely see it for what it is. if you acknowledge how dark it is, you know what you need to do to begin lighting the way. if the abyss stares back, its not you then is it? yet, if you stare away from the abyss, that doesn't mean it isn't still looking, and eventually you will turn around and see it, and forget it isn't you. granted steven doesn't have a dark core to face, he can only understand the external darkness. in the end here, its no wonder they want to protect him from what they are, in many facets.

    alas, that isn't the steven narrative. of course he knows the sacrifice they made is more than enough to make up for whatever sketchy past they may have with the other gems, but whats important right now is facing the darkness he sees with them. its a testament to steven: he knows now that for all her good intentions, rose couldn't maintain harmony completely. lives were lost, gem and human. blood was shed and rose couldn't save that many. the world thrives today despite this - or seems to, we haven't seen much of it actually. oh god the gears are turning oh fuck - but while rose's intent was always pure, defending one's convictions is often a nasty battle. steven is the avatar of that purity personified, and the more he's been kept away from the grimy details, the more of a shock it will become. im sure its difficult to accept, im sure at some point he will feel some sense of betrayal, some sense of reservation at how much rose stuck to her mission statement, those values that he follows, did she even follow them the best she could? all these thoughts must be swirling in his brain, but it doesn't matter. not right now. the CGs are still his family and he must protect them, the details can wait, because steven sees them for what they are, faces them, acknowledges them and accepts them as part of the picture, and it may not always be pretty. it may be hard accepting details as they continue to challenge rose's affirmations. its not like the anecdote paints rose as anything but Probably doing her best, but steven knows that for all his intentions, he may not get to paint a pretty picture. so for now, let's face the ugliness.

    now is the time to cast aside all those feelings and abstract ideas, for now. amidst a gorgeous glistening emerald palette, the battle we've awaited and dreaded. Giant Woman Arrows have about as much effect on the ship as the light cannons - which is to say none which by the way Duh but i get last ditch efforts and all. its interesting the way this situation escalates, at first it almost feels like interstellar tattle tailing by peridot to this Jasper, who seems more perturbed by her wasting her time than anything. of course with this annoyance she's just fine with wasting the CGs with the ships cannon and moving along. jasper doesn't even seem particularly interested in peridot's mission, she just wants to fuck shit up, namely rose. it could be assumed up to this point, jasper is the anti-rose. a being interesting only in pure destruction, the art of disarray and marked superiority over all around her. the idealization of herself as the greatest single being among the ants. it isn't until steven steps in however that her ideas begin to change from mere Destroy Them to an interest in destroying that which rose left behind with a specific agenda. the gems try to get steven to leave even now, the world needs him after all, but he needs them, and he's a crystal gem too. garnet who admitted this before anyone else is urging him to leave, but steven wont let this happen again, and he makes his call. no turning back, he's a gem and he's going to stand with them, fight with them, if need be die with them. of course without steven they'd all be space dust, but as said before, maybe steven can't paint as pretty a picture as he'd like. for all his effort, for his dedication to protecting everyone, he couldn't. garnet's...well obviously not Death but For Now Death is stunning, its very powerful seeing one of our central characters, in a moment of living up to those values steven inspires in them, in a moment of protecting him after he protected them, fall apart and explode into dust leaving her Two Gems Behind Two Gems Two Gems There's Two Of Them What. what's perhaps most heartbreaking is taking garnet being the one to do this into consideration. she has both been the most encouraging of steven being steven and embracing him being the hero in the way he deserves, and lately the most adamant that he not be there in these dire moments. because the worlds needs him? maybe, but maybe also because she knew things wouldn't end well but she tried anyway. maybe she saw this, knew it was coming, knew she was going and that steven was going to do what steven was going to do. thats all speculative, but garnet's sacrifice speaks volumes nonetheless, and the way she urges steven to run last minute, its as though she doesn't want him to see this, but she knows already. jasper's perspective makes it hard to see this as anything but dire. the characters we love merely amount now to two remaining gems comparatively ancient in weaponry, rushing in desperation, and a boy who has done all he can to no avail. just as we're trying to collect ourselves and figure out what just happened, what can be done, how to proceed, BAM. lights out.

    A

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  9. #97
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #52: JAILBREAK
    johnston/liu/sugar

    love. it's not always an easy path, but its the right one. you may somehow hurt the ones you love by loving them too much, you may find that your love will not always spread to those around you, you may love someone so much you forget to treat them as they wanted to be treated, love over respect, love over honesty itself. love isn't even always pretty. at the end of s1a steven's love saved beach city, but here, it's so much more, but while this episode feels like a lightning strike of passion and love fueled defiance against that which desires to dismantle it, its the road to this point that speaks volumes. not even just through steven's actions, but through the CG's, through rose's, through everything that set in motion their initiative that put them in this situation. it's a testament to what Rose's Gems are, and why it can't be destroyed. all the fear that charged this season came from a place that seemed to not realize just how powerful they were in unity, or perhaps it took being cornered to the point of having no choice to but to face this with steven that they find that strength and momentum to assert their true power upon jasper and peridot, and create a statement against homeworld's ideals as a whole. if rose's ideals were given a bit of a question mark last episode, at least to the point of saying it may not have been as peaceful as an avatar of peace might would want, here they fire through the heart of evil, proving as the season did that the path isn't always clean nor is it always clear, but the heart never wavered. love can make you hurt, even hurt the ones you love, but its always out of love, and in the end that shines. love can make you afraid of disappointing the ones you love, and so you disappoint them anyway, but if the love is there then the love will find a way through the maze created by ones internal fears. love is faith and trust and hope even when its dark, love is staring death in the face. in a season so full of love being a shield, in this episode, love is an arrow, fierce and proud.

    the arrow couldn't be sharpened and targeted without steven of course. steven's love has long been equal parts amazing and concerning to those around him, contradicting the ways in which they desire to protect him and often seeing that blow up in their faces. it stands to reason that yet again without him they'd be doomed, but while you could see it as humorous irony, its the inevitable. no matter what the other CGs did surely they knew, wherever this went steven would find his way there. steven's Human Side being what saves him is excellent. i feel like in one way you could almost see the diminished strength against perceived terror of jasper, and of homeworld gems and their technology in general could be seen as anticlimactic, but i think that's actually very effective towards the point. the homeworld gems, and especially jasper seem to have this intent toward power, strength, being the best and toughest on their own merits with the amazing gadgets and weaponry of the gems, but steven and co. defy this. gem tech doesn't work so well on our half-gem, this whole prison system is conceived around trapping gems, and jasper just sees rose as a puny boy, underestimating the harmony that gives him strength. harmony. there's the other word i spit out alot in these reviews but gosh does it ever keep feeling appropriate. this time however, it's not about steven's harmony. oh sure he manages to get the anxious and fervently focused ruby and more spiritually calm sapphire back together, without him and his own affront to gem tech who's to say if victory was promised at all, but this is garnet's story. garnet has always had the most appreciation for who steven is. she's always had this sense of admiration for his precocious nature, encouraging his silliness and nurturing his gem ability equally. she's always been the most mysterious in that she's never had many notable emotional caveats, her biggest flaws are when she miscalculates a certain situation with steven, its only when her control is seemingly slipping that some sort of internal panic sets in. garnet didn't know what she was to face when this warship arrived, yet all it is is some big hunk of angry gem seeking to exert her power unto her to prove her strength. its hard to know what garnet expected, maybe her renewed confidence is in realizing steven's adamant focus to engage this with her makes her reflect upon her own harmony, or maybe its in realizing that though she may not have the evolved technology of this batch of homeworld gems, she has something that can't wither and need an upgrade. she, the conversation, has this balance and focus because she is living breathing (maybe not breathing i dont think rocks breathe) equillibrium, a perpetual flawless tightrope act, a meditation in movement. her flaws are all intertwined into her flawlessness, seeing her halves is telling though especially ruby. it seems as though sapphire tames those anxieties but its too early to tell with that.

    she is harmony, she is love, oh excuse me i meant to say lo-o-o-o-o-ove. okay this song. jesus oh my god this song. its a reaffirmation of the mission statement, but not from who you expect. if you needed proof that rose and by extension steven's inspiration of love being a foundation that can truly overcome anything has fueled garnet, here's your answer. "i am their fury, i am their patience" indeed, as garnet exhibits more grace and precision than ever before, in an unshakable confidence that feels as though remembering what it feels like to be together taps into that core sentiment that has driven them and that lead to them to be who they are, and what that is is stronger than "strength", its stronger than the idea of being strong because its more than an idea. jasper is a hulking mass and a force of nature but she has no style, she has no grace, zipping around the ship all sonic the hedgehog-like to no avail, getting pummelled because all her confidence is founded upon herself, her desire to win isn't enough because its based on nothing, resonates nowhere. garnet is protecting her friends, her planet, she's fighting for everything she's ever fought for, and she won then, and she'll win now. even if she was fighting for no planet, for no other gems, she, they, fight for each other. never alone, knowing more intimately than anyone else that feeling of love and its power, harmony and its strength, and its stronger than you! whats with all the like undertale shit with this song? thats not related to anything i know but seriously huh. oh and i didn't even talk about the song Structure but man its easily my favorite su song so far. estelle is great, expressive along this stellar and fluid animation, garnet shining with a confidence that seems as though failure was impossible, against an increasingly frustrated jasper. she's powerful, sassy, bold and stylish, against proud declarative synth stabs and swooning strings swirling the atmosphere, the track has a frenzied jitter but it stays composed, fitting to nature of depicting the art of fusion's perfection, the love that fusion is creating a combination of intensity and calm, grace and passion, fury and patience. im not really good at talking up the animation but garnet's Moves in this are great, someone better than me at this particular field of analysis has probably deconstructed it, her spin kicks and sassy finger wags, her quick dodges, climbing on jasper's arm, aaaa its so good its so well drawn fucking massive props to the animators on this one.

    so commences the return home, gem weapons proving to be a joke against steven, jasper proving to be no match for garnet, pearl proving to really enjoy sticking her hands in that ship console thingy, amethyst proving to be good at tying up peridot. ultimately here we see things change, it begs a question of how can the homeworld gems even defeat the CGs and take earth. all this time, stewing in fear, the CGs forgot to consider that the homeworld gems may be unbelievably strong, but only on their own terms, but they are far more. as soon as steven lept into the way of the ship's laser, there was no going back, the momentum was forward, so lets not just stare darkness in the face, lets swallow it in light. all this time they've had this love, but didn't know how to use it. here as it obliterates the darkness, its a reminder of what steven has known all this time, and thank god he did. the last ditch effort by jasper to fuse seems an imposing one at first, but its just more mass, more bark than bite, and even the bite probably wouldn't be enough. it doesn't matter though, the resonance of steven's love pays off harder than ever as his freeing of lapis allows her to finally let herself loose from the shackles of homeworld. she thought she wanted to escape earth but found nothing better. she was trapped by the CGs in the mirror, but they were just doing their job, protecting, loving, even if they didn't always do it right. regardless she saves them, doing whats right despite what it means for her, because she knows that feeling that saved her, and shes not letting herself be shackled again. if that isn't a declaration of the power of steven's love alone i dont know what is. love isn't always the easy path, but it's the right one. even steven has made mistakes in trying to express his trust and faith in mending what's broken or corrupted, but refusing to waver from that path, refusing to let himself not live up to those ideals in the face of terror, made terror seem like nothing. the only thing to fear is fear itself or some such generic shit. still, its hard to be intimidated when you realize when the fear becomes concrete there isn't much to it. the sacrifice of lapis, the confidence of garnet, the totality of this seemingly impossible mission becoming a forward thrust bound only by the trust that it will be seen through to the end. we began this journey with steven learning and following, then he began to learn and grow and eventually would being to carve his own path or lead the way and shift the dynamic, things began to fall into a strange disarray that was hard to track because its change seemed like it wasn't embraced. that embrace at last seems to internalize and come together, but its not in steven becoming the lead force, the change is not inversing what we know, the scales had to tilt awhile before settling. in s1a steven was the beacon for guiding them the right way, but they are all crystal gems, they fight together, they are the collective beacon and it is brighter than any darkness can hope to snuff out. it's love, it's harmony. it's meaning boundless, it's power immeasurable. i feel bad for anyone daring to defy that.

    A

    thanks to anyone reading so far. stay tuned we have a ways to go.


  10. #98
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    I said it after Ocean Gem, I said it after Lion 3, but this time I get to quote Rebecca Sugar:

    To me, this is where the show starts. We catch him up with himself but now he’s going on an adventure with the Gems in real time where they don’t really know what’s going on either. That is truly different and I feel at this point we’re writing a very different show about him as an equal member of the team whereas there was this other show about him becoming an equal member of the team and that’s what’s exciting about it from me.
    I've tried so many times to start this post but to no avail, so I guess I'll just say this - Jail Break is everything. It's an end for one stage of the show and a beginning for another. It's a colossal disaster that a lot of season 2 (and beyond???) will be spent fixing, but it's also a resounding victory for Garnet and for love. It's a massive plot and lore bomb, but it also takes huge strides in setting up character arcs to come. There's so much to take in and yet it's all very digestible even with just a single watch. Other episodes might do some of these things better, but Jail Break does all of them, and that's no small feat.

    It must have been agony to have worked on the Ruby and Sapphire reveal and been forced to keep quiet about it for almost a year, as evidenced by pretty much every Crewniverse member unleashing Ruby and Sapphire doodles the instant the episode aired:
    Lamar Abrams
    Hilary Florido
    Katie Mitroff
    Joe Johnston
    Colin Howard

    Here are some of the amazing backgrounds from The Return and especially Jail Break. The warm-colored sunset directly contrasting with the eerie green glow of the gem ship is particularly stunning.

    There's a tragic lack of storyboards for both episodes, which is especially disappointing because Jail Break has some absolutely masterful scenes (Ruby dragging Steven across the ship and the cinematic pans throughout all of Stronger Than You come to mind). However, we do have Rebecca's rough pass boards for Garnet's reformation scene, and a GIF of the scene in action from Ian Jones-Quartey. It's evident how important this scene in the context of the entire show - I wouldn't be surprised if the specifics of this scene were planned since the very beginning of the show.

    There's also model sheets for all the new characters from Jail Break. Garnet gets a redesign in this ep when she reforms! Colorist Tiffany Ford shares some concept art for deciding the new color palette on Garnet. Personally I think it looks a lot better than season 1's Garnet but hey ymmv. (and here's a redesign side-by-side by request) There's also some early concept art for Jasper, from Rebecca Sugar and character designer and future storyboarder Colin Howard. Frankly it's downright impressive how consistent Jasper looks in her debut appearance, especially given her relatively complicated design and some really unconventional shots (her face head-on comes to mind). Storyboard revisionist and also future storyboarder Lauren Zuke also posted a few Jasper doodles, although I doubt they were part of the character design process. They look nice tho.

    Okay you've waited long enough I'll babble about the song now. But first a quick excursion to The Return for an instrumental during the evacuation of Beach City titled Night Drive 2. First off, fittingly enough, Night Drive 1 was a cue from the journey across the ocean in Ocean Gem. Anyway, the warped version of Rose's Theme at the end of this really helps hammer home how ominous this episode is. And speaking of callbacks to previous episodes, there's some neat parallels to Laser Light Cannon throughout all of The Return - I'll leave it to this handy infographic to elaborate.

    Alright for reals now - Stronger Than You. The 52-episode wait for Garnet's first song all makes sense now. A demo of this by Rebecca and Jeff Liu does exist, but I gotta say, the arrangement (this is a remastered version without the sound effects!!) makes this one. I think Rebecca sums up the vibe of this song best - the arrangement should, and does, sound like "there's no way she could lose." The roaring bassline and and the syncopated synth punches inject an triumphant groove into the song, and the strings at the end are beautiful. The scene where the strings swell as we cut to Lapis accepting her fate of possible death is still my favorite scene from the entire episode. ALSO if you thought Peridot was about to lay down the sickest rap of all time when she said "don't touch that!" to the beat of the song, you aren't alone.

    And finally, it's Hand Ship Cake

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  12. #99
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    PART 2: In which I realize I've forgotten to mention things and also feel like elaborating on some things pointed out by foose

    I was leaning toward doing an in-depth look at the animation during Stronger Than You and now that you mentioned it I suppose I may as well. Just looking at fight scene quality pound-for-pound, I think Steven the Sword Fighter comes very close to (maybe even bests) Jail Break, but the choreography of Stronger Than You pretty much secures its place as season 1's most impressive animation to me.

    The whole fight makes ample use of unconventional camera angles that prevent the fight from ever stagnating into the same old backgrounds. The transitions between these are really fluid too - I think the best example here is when the camera follows the action from Garnet on the floor as she gets back up and kicks the destablizer away. Then the camera follows the destablizer through the air until Garnet catches it, before quickly panning back down to Garnet again. The most impressive cut of camera work is probably this particular exchange of punches, where the camera does a full 360 around the characters in a matter of seconds.

    In that same scene, if you pay attention or framestep a bit you can see several of the impact frames used throughout the fights - in this case, they're just flashes of white when a particularly nasty hit lands, but they're really effective nonetheless. There's also generous usage of solid-color backgrounds to squarely place the focus on the the character's movement.

    Shoutout to the effects artists here too - the smoke and debris effects strike a great balance between realism and the show's trademark style of avoiding gradients.

    And lastly, as good as Jeff and Joe storyboarded this, you gotta hand it to Sunmin Animation for the incredibly fluid and consistent in-betweens here. It's rare to have such a long fight scene where there isn't a single awkward in-between frame, but I think this one nails it.

    ok that's it from me for season 1. I might try to do every episode in season 2 idk

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  14. #100
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #53: FULL DISCLOSURE
    molisee/villeco

    *reverse star wipe* welcome back!

    my my, what a mess we've made. it's impossible to calculate the rippling effect of jail break's events at the outset of s2 but knowing this series one can safely assume we'll be feeling them for awhile. after all we still have one Bad Gem unaccounted for! beyond that massive honkin' chunks of hand ship lay strewn across the city, still largely abandoned from before, business remaining empty, windows shattered. it sets a good scene for steven's difficult ruminations in this episode. i didn't know what this episode would be because s1's ideas seem like they hit their finish line, we have our collective four crystal gems, we have future conflicts set in motion and spinning around us but right now is the time for the gems to get their bearings and plan for the future ahead. in this space we aren't still toying with questions of where steven belongs or if he's "ready" for the nightmare that may ensue, ready or not here they come. the homeworld gems are aware of steven, and one of them got away with that info! shit man, no turning back now. so if we don't need to worry about expanding that narrative, if we're upon new territory, how do we express steven's position without it forcing a derivatve story and without the assistance of homeworld gem tension? well, steven's maturity was the foundation for s1, generally speaking. throughout the season we saw him learn and grow and inspire and lead the way and eventually find his place alongside the other gems, face-to-face with a threat none of them could forsee defeating but lo and behold they did. he is intimately associated with the feeling he has chased now, but that comes with emotional repercussions. if there is indeed a rippling effect already visibly shimering through to the surface it's an emotional one. steven has stared the true villain in the face, he has seen malevolent and imposing figures target him directly and knows himself to be an objective to them now. he is in the line of fire, and he doesn't want his friends and family caught in the crossfire. if steven's maturity has any first step, its a stark almost haunting realization of the destruction and madness around him, whereas before he's always kept things light hearted as they escalate there is a clarity that he's smack dab in the middle of something dangerous.

    it's hard not to understand his position. greg and connie work great as our catalysts here, greg's emotional reunion with steven for starters, excellent performance by sharpling who delivers his outright terror and relief simultaneously, on the verge of breaking into tears as he realizes steven is indeed okay after seeing that ship explode. you just have to consider the moment from his perspective, like space race but 1000x worse. in this moment steven still seems oblivious which i think works, he's still feeling this jittery aftershock of the moment and is just being his normal self, he is post-victory and shaking that off to resume life. what begins to seep in is that he can't merely resume life, wandering the fragile broken down ghost town of beach city still sans citizens. at first he seems just as though he doesn't want to worry connie, but the more he bears witness to the aftermath of his adventure, the more it seems to sink in: the gems are affecting the humans, and steven realizing this is a harsh moment for him. it's not immediately clear because Ronaldo Stuff boy these smart writers sure trot out this character alot? When he wanders away to look at the hand shards, we resume said inner turmoil. steven is the bridge between humans and gems, self-perceived and otherwise, but more simply he just cares about the humans around him, and knows, intimately and with the soul of his mother, that human life is precious and it doesn't last. he doesn't want to endanger that, so despite a desire to keep that connection with the people of the city, the fear of hurting them in the process seeps in. steven's goal is what it has been, protection. by any means necessary, the humans have to be safe. it's a bittersweet motive at best because it creates an invisible barrier between steven and people he cares about it, in steven trying to be a good gem he loses that humanity for just a spell.

    his song is fantastic, probably my second favorite so far. its such a clear moment of steven coming to a powerful and painful realization. thinking about this compared to those early s1a eps when he would bumble through serious moments using comic relief to carry himself is a real indicator and how much he's endured, yet for so long he endured only internally it seems. he never seemed to consider just how dangerous it was, especially to the world. its fair, mostly gem and human stuff has been split apart, only our finales gave us a taste of swirling their danger together, but while ocean gem ended with him being carried in reverence, his is a victory of silence and self-reflection here, closer to real danger, if anything he got lucky to escape and had the help of the other CGs. here looking down on beach city his brain is pregant with an unflinching sense of guilt of producing a future where he keeps hurting those around him just by being around them because he's reached a point where the reality of being a gem, especially being steven, is impossible to turn away from. what's the saddest is there seems to be no perfect answer, and thats why its such an ordeal. nonetheless steven's selfless remorse for worrying greg and connie is powerful. it's easily the most complex steven we've seen so far. the song itself is full of great touches like his ringtone syncing with the backing track, and man zach's singing is better than ever which may be because his steven voice is starting to approximate a cracking teen voice a smidge more, though i think it also does well to show steven singing with a serious introspection, not just a dopey or fun ukulele tune, these are his difficult emotions spilling out, better make it sound nice! montaging a bit of jailbreak coouuuld have felt uncessary since we just saw it and it was literally a day apart air schedule wise but it does nail the point home. i didn't speak on it much there but jailbreak is such a fish out of water episode, it puts steven in a new perspective to the point that it actually seems impossible that it wouldn't affect him, it's a 100% gem situation followed by a 100% human situation for a gem/human. plus you see all this action and you feel the same thing rose felt for greg way back as illustrated in story for steven: human lives are precious and short, you can't let them be wasted draining away on gem stuff, let them be who they are and live their lives. what if living is only living for them with steven though?

    with greg this is easy enough, and they even manage to show him relieving all his anxieties over time. im sure we will deal with them again later, but steven and connie is what's really impactful here. at first steven is in a brooding position where he opts to ostracize himself from humanity. its a bit extreme but understandably so, as a gem/human trying to reconcile both while separating both for their protection what can you do? if you're new to dealing with such feelings - and as the first ever, yes, he would be - you may immediately swing the pendulum all the way into the extreme gem side, opting to split humans and gems away from one another entirely, protect them but keep it impersonal. is this possible? well pearl does mention their old fence, perhaps that was because the gems wanted to protect earth but they didn't want to associate, even though rose loves humans enough to have a penchant for going on and observing their behavior. perhaps thats for safety though the CGs also clearly have a seeming disinterest in human culture besides amethyst for the sake of self-indulgence, and steven. its fascinating too as seeing steven dip into the sort of anxieties that fueled pearl earlier on - and well now but less so - and that was a gem protecting another gem who was merely inexperienced, but dealing with the fear of other humans getting hurt in the crossfire of joining steven on missions, well its just too much for him to bear and so he pushes them away. this can only work for so long though, his plan isn't much of a plan, obviously connie isn't just going to give up. after catching him escaping terribly, they run through a piece of the handship which really helps to illustrate that connie was going to notice all of this. there are pieces of shit everywhere steven. he's clearly serious about his intentions though, leading to our big climactic scene of trying to break ties with connie for good. this scene. fucking. hurts. like ow ow ow owww. its painful enough as it is as steven realizes that his intent to obscure the terrifying truth that could emotionally ravage connie is only doing its own damage by avoiding her and leaving her confused. there's no winning here, but he's desparate. then comes the text. aaaaaaa fuck ow jesus christ stop my heart my eyes my everything. i cant help but think back to bubble buddies and connie's believed-to-be last moments thinking she's never going to make a friend, then here dealing with the idea of having no friends again, and not even knowing why. aaaagh goddamn. it hurts. it's a moment where i didn't quite know how far the show would take it. oh sure they'd eventually reconcile but can steven do this now? would he stick to his guns for the sake of what he believed to be protecting her? thing is, even though connie is a human girl she clearly doesn't need protecting to that degree, she'll worry about steven but she will always be part of his adventures, its seemingly all she wants. that moment of seeing everything fall apart is crushing, but her quick instinct to challenge him and refuse for him to just text his way out of it is ultimately the right call. steven wants to protect everyone but he has no idea where the risks lie, even coming in contact with them might endanger them, who knows maybe a homeworld gem ship has a laser targeted on him right now? can't risk that right? she won't have it though, and ultimately when i genuinely did kinda think steven would stand for this idea and create this relationship cliffhanger, his snotty weepy distorted face reveals way more. after all, he was clearly hurting her far more like this, but furthermore he doesn't want to lose his friends. its a nice touch too when he says he wants to protect her and she finds it almost condescending. his intent is noble as always but its clear he's had no idea how to do what he's trying to. their reconciliation at last is so goddamn heartwarming and yo steven universe quit Activating My Seeing Hole Glands. after all this its still not a finalizing answer but its an honest one where the dangers will be faced together. its steven learning the lesson he had to teach the gems a few episodes back. now perhaps he understands where they were coming from, and wow now everyone really is on pretty equal footing. it's so inspiring and important to have shows this ultimately positive and open and inviting, deepening the idea of harmony and love by showing that sometimes being loving is letting someone else make the decision, listening instead of acting, and also letting people listen when they want to. the encouraging togetherness of the show keeps it bright and wonderful in a world that needs it, and its hard to not want along with everyone else to, as connie succinctly puts it, be part of your universe.

    A


  15. #101
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    The only downside to Full Disclosure existing and being so damn good is how bad it makes House Guest look in comparison. Like, wow, this is how you pull off a comedown episode after the biggest ep in the show yet. Also, going by Rebecca's assertion that Jail Break turns Steven Universe into an entirely different show, this would be its first episode, and a fitting one at that. The immediate continuity from the events of Jail Break are a good example of how this "new" show gets to experiment a lot more with extended storylines and long-term threats now that the characters are fleshed-out enough to handle bigger and bigger consequences. Suddenly we don't need to spend time on exposition ("hey, did you know Amethyst and Greg used to watch sitcoms together?" "how do we start from a regular day in Beach City to revealing the Kindergarten?"), because it's all already there. Peridot's whereabouts are unknown. Jasper and Lapis are fused at the bottom of the ocean. There's no more comfortable status quo we can start every episode on. Strap in. Then strap out for Say Uncle then strap the Fuk back in after that.

    It's kinda interesting that Raven and Paul got to board this relatively technically simple episode, seeing as usually they're assigned to episodes that require more exaggerated boards (deformed characters, body horror, that kinda stuff, especially more prevalent in season 2 and beyond). Like it or not, they really make it their own with some really exaggerated boards to convey Steven's mixed emotions. I'd argue it works really well to heighten the tension in an episode that doesn't have a ton of action (not that it should). Anyway I'm just babbling because neither of them actually posted any boards from this ep.

    Something interesting that the cut from Jail Break to Full Disclosure does let us see, though, is a direct comparison between how different storyboarders draw the characters. Joe Johnston draws the last scene in Jail Break, then Raven Molisee draws the exact same scene to open Full Disclosure. Here's a comparison.

    The wrecked ship makes a great backdrop for Steven and Connie's interactions - here are some of those backgrounds. Kinda interesting how they take on a different kind of eerieness when deserted and stripped of its green glow in favor of blinding sunlight.

    And lastly, as promised, aww yea it's Crocodile Amethyst, baby

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  17. #102
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #54: JOY RIDE
    florido/mitroff

    i only want to see you laughing...in the pizza rain.

    let the cleanup commence! the togetherness i discussed in the last review was punctuated well seeing the other townspeople resume their lives also begin cleaning up - besides lars of course lars aint cleanin shit! - and it felt like life resuming as it should but also fixing whatever mess is set it front of them. clearly there's still extensive work to be done though. if an episode of a show starts with the mission merely being cleaning up the last mission, yeah, you know you've caused some shit. it's gotta be alot on steven's plate, he's clearly got some deep-seated trauma already from the homeworld ship events that nearly cost him his most valuable friendship and his relationship with humans in general. balancing his two sides must be a heck of a burden especially when they begin fiercly colliding with contrasting objectives yanking him back and forth and every which way. With the previous stressing himself about how his Gemliness may come in dangerous contact with the human denizens of beach city, its only natural that through relaxing that he finds a sort of solace in them instead. steven's time with the humans is his interlude between madness, a necessity to be sure in these heavy times especially as he knows Any Fucking Moment someone may be coming after him to tear his world to pieces. steven's status amongst the townspeople being what it is helps too, even the Cool Kids appreciate him as a juxtaposition to their inescapable teenage trappings, its refreshing seeing characters who know they're kinda cynical and maybe even slightly stereotypes but still have an awareness of that, a sense that their diatribes in the car could be yanked from many, many coming-of-age films but then again there's a reason those films resonate, but whats important is their woes are never self indulgent because they invite steven in as the ray of sunshine to accentuate their escapism and make them feel brigher. i also just love idealistic friendships between different "groups", breaking all the high school drama cliches for some well needed honesty.

    all this is fine and dandy, but for it's neat and tidy resolution it's hard to say steven isn't still at fault to a degree here. his regaling of the recent goings-on and current looming fears in the cool kids' car is more than mere exposition: like the previous episode it serves a point of really illustrating these events in a greater context, first in steven's perspective of these events with regards to the humans around him who know whats going on to Some Degree, and then as a stark contrast to emphasize the intensity against the perspective of the most casual peeps in the city whose teen drama is dwarfed in an instant. i can't fully remember if these guys have beared much witness to steven in action, i wanna say they have to some degree, but even then it was in service of an isolated event, back in the monster-of-the-week mindset. here steven explicitly spills his guts and creates a concrete connectivity between his gem drama and human drama, and the reciprocation and admiration from the others is great, their cynicism tied to a world that they feel still a bit unfit in as far as expectations and goals and such but never driven to a point of unpleasantness. it all seems reasonable and they seem inspired to be greater than themselves, something putting steven at the core of these little human tales tends to excel it, no exception here. buuuuut what steven did even in the event of well, events such as these while dissectable and explanable is still pretty insane. his conscious understanding of what he Should be doing is indeed a step in the right direction but intentions dont equal actions etc etc. this is in no way a slight against the episode however, a character's actions being "good" or "bad" don't determine anything in and of themselves, the question is, is it believable? what i know is steven understand the gravity of his situation to the degree that going near peridot's pod seems like an immediate no-no, he should be worried that she has indeed landed on earth and is SOMEWHERE ON EARTH RIGHT NOW STEVEN. he is clearly a sucker for the peer pressure however, he doesn't want to disappoint, and not for the lars "dont wanna look like a loser" reasons, but more because its always been in his nature to keep everyone happy if possible. if the gems dont find out about him meddling with the pod no harm no foul right? plus steven clearly wants to maintain his ties to humans, and in something of a reactionary way to the last episode you could see it as an inverse, he goes from trying to ostracize out of fear to finding escapism in their simple pleasures and abandon.

    beyond that there's clearly more going on than even we've seen. steven feels guilt for being, at all. for not being rose, for rose being gone. after rose's scabbard especially it's not unreasonable to assume there are still some uncomfortable reservations to work though, though it seems they are actively healing. really though the details aren't so important, if steven's brain is swimming with an amalgam of jailbreak trama and anxieties about where he stands as a gem, this deepending consciousness of being the embodiment of rose in all the ways, good and bad, especially the abstract ways that leave steven looking like a rose-shaped hole in the cosmos. well goddamn kid fair enough release your inhibitions, feel the pizza rain on your skin. this episode is another testament too to the unavoidable reality that gem and human worlds are going to continue clashing, cant build a fence big enough to prevent that, and with that steven's emotions with regards to both will clash, and they seem to want very different things. the actual pod stuff is really interesting, seeing the teens come in such close contact to such a story important element is telling of how much these lines are blurring, though of course they just treat it like a cool doodad and take selfies with it. wouldn't have any other way really. as usual the intense green glow permeating the night scenes and growing stronger as they reach the source act as an effective boost of tone and feels like peridot is already everywhere, looming as before, things have changed but the anticipation lingers again. so yes maaaybe in this moment of steven stepping into some proverbial belly of the emotional traumatic beast he'd want to try and turn that into something lighter and more freeing, give himself agency in the context of the situation. the situation does end up biting him in the ass, after doing some Sick Flipz ending up trapped inside the pod, clearly in over his head with dealing with this technology, getting too confident in being able to move it at all. the other gems showing up and nearly beating the tar outta him does well to accentuate their own intent and focus on ridding the earth of peridot and also puts steven in a position of being antagonized by the gems. you could say all of this is punishment enough but what ends up rubbing me a bit the wrong way is how the episode doesn't seem to illustrate the necessity for a lesson on steven's part, when its clear this irresponsiblity and tug-and-pull is a continual issue, and while he's more reserved and tries to do the right thing, he still falls short of that. true, the teens are correct in taking the blame and steven clearly needed a vacation from his emotions and worries but the slippery slope from that to a carelessness that can once again threaten earth is just way too precariously close. though also the gems have definitely given him quite a burden to bear and thats been stressed extensively, nevermind the stuff he can't yet handle confronting them about. overall buck summarizes it well: he's just a kid. the gem and human in him may clash and create trouble, but those surrounding perspectives also do wonders to make sense of things when one side can't figure out an issue from the other. so let him be a kid sometimes, but maybe not like this! steven being ungrounded from tv does give him a hobby thats non-threatening and addresses his own need for a relaxer though, i'll miss the jokes but all eras must end. single tear. an intriguing ep in that its another example to me of steven exhibiting great growth, while still at square one. the mind and body and heart grow but the temptations linger. JUST LET HIM BE A DJ!!

    B+

  18. #103
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Fuuuuuuuuuck I'm so far behind and my PC BALEETED my notes and argh I'm just gonna run thru with unnecessary and old thoughts aaaa


    #34: WATERMELON STEVEN
    Centipeedle was hard enough. Baby Melon's death was really where I started feeling like Sugar might enjoy making us really sad and tearful!

    And it really is a silly concept but the implication of the possibilites, wow. Steven can not only heal things, he can create weirdo plant-based life! Without needing gem shards! Nnnnneat.

    I don't actually have a ton to say about this one whoooops.


    #35: LION 3: STRAIGHT TO VIDEO
    I love Lion. I love that he acts like an aloof pet even when he seems to have goals that need to be taken care of. How can I possibly NOT LOVE THIS HUGE FUCKING LION FACE AAAAAA



    The pocket mane dimension is so dream-like and beautiful. Yet Steven can't breath in there, weird. I wonder if this place always existed and Rose figured out how to access, or if Rose somehow created it herself being all pink and junk? There's something dark and hilarious about the idea of Rose creating a pocket dimension just to store a buncha shit near a pretty tree. I guess Greg's storage was full...

    The ending made my heart skip a little when Rose starts talking to Steven. Best believe there was tearing up. Lar's reaction to everything was perf, too.


    #36: WARP TOUR
    Warp Tour is properly tense at times. Like I obviously know the main character will not get offed for quite a long time, but the danger still feels pretty stressful for him in those moments. And Garnet crushing the warp pad at the end was a very "oh shit things are getting real" moment.

    He has had enough with the hiding of information and it really shows. The gems want so badly to protect him but it could potentially make things worse by not allowing him to understand. I love the little things that happen at home because of his paranoia, with Pearl getting sprayed and Garnet denying cookies. I love the reappearance of Steven Jr and his new babies (yay Grandpa Steven).

    Pearl's attitude when they check on the warp pads and she's all like OOH LOOK HERE'S YOUR SAD STICKER both made me angry and killed me. Pearl is always so "good" at being offended and aggravated. Makes it depressingly satisfying for Steven to feel so right about things when he's slowly suffocated alone in space. And leave it to Garnet to mom it up during the rescue

    Peridot, man. I wonder if she feels bad about crushing that little Flask Robonoid. Her first appearance is quite memorable.



    #37: ALONE TOGETHER
    THE REACTS. Pearl, Amethyst...but ESPECIALLY GARNET aaaa. Steven and Connie are so adorable and you're slightly torn between "OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING " and "omg what is happening D:" just by nature of what fusion is and the fact that, for me, Connie is a human! Is that ok for her to do! It seems like it is, thankfully. No odd after effects or anything, phew. And yeah like you said wow everyone got the damn weirdo hots for Stevonnie (an actual latent power?) and things get pretty weird later for them at the dance.

    So many "experiences" I have start out fun until they get too real. I feel for those kids. It makes sense that while they didn't truly do much with Kevin on the dance floor, he would stick out as a sore spot and a reminder of trauma of some sort for the kids. He might not necessarily be at the center of their reason for disconnection and de-fusing, but he is a big part of it and he got under Stevonnie's skin at a time where they desperately wished they weren't enduring it "alone." I suppose it feels almost like a long distance relationship in a way. You may be talking to them right there on the phone, but they still aren't actually there with you.

    Have seen people complain that they don't get why Kevin is such a big deal to these kids, why Steven gets so mad. Things eat at people in different ways. I feel like I understand. Especially since this is their first time as Stevonnie, it's an Experience, it's not as smooth a fusion as can be as far as their mind-synchronization go. Lots of self-doubt and worry flying around after the initial WOW THIS IS AMAZING settles down and Kevin didn't help. Or maybe he did and maybe Stevonnie needed to get their aggression and confusion out somehow. But he made them massively uncomfortable with his words and actions in a moment of vulnerability and that is valid enough.



    #38: THE TEST
    First off, Kitchen Calamity is a game I fucking need. Second, I was slightly surprised they'd bring up the Sea Spire again because I had honestly already forgotten about it by then. I appreciated the callback and continuity as I would find I often do with this show. I love Pearl (and the Gems in general) being bad at :clam:'ing up about things. Steven gets rightfully frustrated at this "test" which is so wonderfully video gamey in its obstacles. Steven does surprisingly well until the moment of truth. Can I really blame the gems? I can see both sides -- I wouldn't want to be deceived and babied by people I'm supposed to team up with to save the world, but yo Steven can be a fucking childish dope and he would potentially risk killing himself just to prove an unnecessary point..

    It is a treat seeing each individually crafted test per Gem, and that makes it especially feel more like a video game level. Steven's reactions to all the nonsense is great, though. His increasing frustration is felt (and makes me giggle) with that culmination of him just walking entirely out of the arena into stunning calmness and realization of wtf just happened. And the eventual march right back to the end to that DANG TUNE is sikkk. You feel the fire behind Steven and then...BAM unexpexted Evangelion ref. CONGRATULATIONS *clap clap*

    You kinda want Steven to lay it on the Gems but it is So Very Steven for him to understand they meant well. In the end, they all actually DO help each other even if it is with deceit on both ends. One of those little white lies that you can just hopefully let go of and learn from and move on. I mean he really DID do well until Garnet's out of nowhere spike ceiling trap.



    #39: FUTURE VISION
    Come on...I'm a...large man now. Garnet + Steven together make me so squeeeeee it is unbelievable. If only all parents were this loving and playful, tho. That exercising is silly, reminds me of Animal Crossing even though I know it's not the ref being made. And the way she just busts that boom box in the end, lol.

    Steven is a little annoying with his paranoia in this (though that's a bit tropey and expected) but I enjoyed his delusions, particularly the one with Cookie Cat. Future vision both works how it should and how it shouldn't, it seems. Garnet could foresee this and do something about it and she did technically, it just wasn't quite the correct choice to make based on what she could see on the time. It was a risk that she needed to take otherwise, since it seems like being in imminent danger is one of the few ways Steven freakin' learns.

    It was a very honest and true moment for Garnet and one that tells you future vision isn't perfect and can't solve everything. As in FFS people out there please stop asking WHY DIDN'T GARNET JUST.... whenever literally anything surprising happens.
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    #55: SAY UNCLE
    johnston/liu

































































































































































































































































    .

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    wouldnt it be funny if that was the last one

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    (this is for Joy Ride in case you couldn't tell)

    Full Disclosure starts season 2 with an explicit reminder that hey, we're not gonna just forget about everything that happened in the last Steven Bomb, but Joy Ride hammers that point home. Even after the obligatory comedown ep, the effects of Jail Break are still looming over everyone's heads, and even as we transition back into regular Beach City life, there's no more ignoring that these big overarching plots exist.

    tbh there isn't a lot posted about this episode - all I can dig up are these backgrounds of the eerie green glow surrounding Peridot's pod. Oh well at least we'll always have Pizza Rain.

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    i guess

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    #56: LOVE LETTERS
    abrams/jo

    *rises from ocean* oh yeah steven universe, and the reviews and such. oops!

    OK so we know kansas still exists. adding that shit to the headcanon, kansas will for sure be important in the future. i'm not even sure if i'm joking, how can you tell with this show? if the finale ends up an intense battle in Kansas i wouldn't even feign shock. kansas is the key to all of this. ah but enough about plot important square states, what have ye for me today on my return su? ah...an episode about The Mailman. ok. i guess? like ill play along y'know i trust you but...well does every character need an episode? i love me some human tales in this show but...well okay lets start from the top. jamie has appeared, i believe Once before giving steven a package, but here he has returned from Actoring and clearly has absorbed all the theatric pomposity that entails. he's not a particularly deep character, his love for garnet itself is a surface level affair that seems less like love and more like love of the idea of love which itself is an incredibly theatrical interpretation of the notion itself. with that there isn't a whole lot to say about his """conflict""" as its hard to take very seriously. moreso i appreciate getting a steven/connie episode again so quickly after the dramatic events of full disclosure, seeing them once again trying to work together to help out to some degree but not yet with more intense gem problems. barring the mention of lapis and jasper from garnet and her generally underwater excavation for the two offscreen this may be the least story-centric episode in awhile, though again you can never really tell either. as it stands this just seems to be another cooldown before shit gets real, and considering how early it is thats both exciting and Scary, but the interruptions of daily life's peaceful mundanities get closer in proximity every time, so let's enjoy the silence while we can shall we?

    so, jamie. what's there to say? he's a mailman, or he was. he was a mailman, now the mailWoman is...is that sadie's mom? looks like it would be, though it could be a coincidence of similar character design i'd be shocked if this character weren't somehow related to sadie. i assume we will see more of her too, but for now yes, jamie. the caricature of the lovedrunk moron jamie plays in this episode is none too flattering nor should it be, its a nice reptutation of how bullshit corny romance stories can be and how they almost create this sense of self-indulgent entitlement in the idea of love and how if you Pine for someone they will Pine for you. yet i love those stupid fake stories because watching people fall in love realistic or not makes me Happy, so im part of the problem, oh well! garnet is pretty great here, just pretty much entirely uninterested in this dude's gooey bullshit, and you can't blame her. we already know that she literally Is a relationship but also she's doing important gem shit she's tryna find the dam Villain no time for this biz but here it comes strolling up to her doorstep with the shakespeare poses and goofy soliloquys. the gems basically never have time to deal with meager human nonsense barring steven who they basically entrust them to because he's the only one who can get on their level, and this is just a whole nother level of that, about the dumbest issue to stroll onto garnet's doorstep and she just wants to firmly say NO and move on with the actual important shit. alas connie and steven must use a gentler hand so we circumvent the truth for a bit, also cuz its 11 minutes and you gotta fill that time much like i gotta fill this review with enough content to not feel i'm skimpin' you but also not just pack it with random shit like i'm doing right now uhhhh. it is a cute episode with them working together, connie's knowledge of "torrid soap operas" and steven's...stevenness. he's steven this is what he does. you know that. nice touch with connie's glasses being clipped to her shirt instead of her wearing them, finally publically letting go of that facade of embracing more what steven did for her but still keeping them on hand probably for when she returns home because well for all the honesty in the world sometimes unreasonable parents are just that. steven's best bit of the episode is actually not plot-centric but rather just his mail all being sea pals he purchased just to Free into the actual sea.

    jamie though, what is he if anything besides a catalyst to a valuable point? does he have to be more? maybe not but many of our characters work on their own, but the cartoonish nature of jamie seems only hyperbole in service of garnet's final speech, which is fine and all but it hardly makes me interested in seeing this character again. the ongoing mundane struggles and emotional complexes of beach city's denizens keep them richly detailed, relatable and alive. when you create a character just for them to be in love with someone isn't that kinda boring? then again, isn't that kinda the reductive way alot of women are portrayed in media since Fucking Forever, as a love interest and nothing more? then AGAIN valid as that may be encapsulated in a single outing it still serves more as a point than a character. is it okay to create a character thats intently shallow for the sake of a point about shallow characters? well why wouldn't it be? the problem is more just the expectation built upon other humans of the series, the character jamie most reminds me of is *squirms* kevin. not because they're both equally gross, kevin is rather predatory whereas jamie is just a bit too caught in his feelings to have any sense to understand how that looks and feels from another perspective, in most cases he would have been shot down hard he's lucky someone who could help him in some capacity was his ultimate target. still, he just seems here as an Example of a type of person rather than a person himself. i guess that makes sense, and now that he's not the mailman i don't expect we will be seeing him alot more from here on out but who knows. in any case this is all about that final speech, words anyone who thinks their love is the most important thing in the world oughta take note of though they're so deep they've probably fooled themselves well past such logic. still, its important, though it also shows garnet taking after steven a bit. all this episode they've tried to figure out a way to let him down gently but garnet manages to find the best way to use who he is as a way to reject him but still give him some encouragement. garnet said back in the return that steven is a greater inspiration than he realizes, and while this is certainly a miniscule evidence for that in the grand scheme of gem business its almost more impressive seeing that steven's, and indeed rose's, intent to keep the peace with humans in any capacity has bound to rub off to some degree on the other gems. garnet isn't really into dealing with people in this capacity but she knows steven cares and she cares about steven so she puts in the effort and voila! as an episode this one feels like an inconvenience or even a nuisance but thats a surefire way to know how garnet feels. now let's get back to business.

    B -

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    #57: REFORMED
    molisee/villeco

    oh! *pulls skull out of mask* there's a prize inside!

    final episode before the new intro - which i've seen before on tv and is just...ah its so good. there's not really a place for discussing it cleanly in these reviews in my opinion but yeah it's excellent and i'll likely be watching it in full way more than the first one which was cute but definitely just reminds me of the show's humble and bumbling beginnings. but yes, last stop before that point so, let's regenerate amethyst! the regenerations so far have had minimal but effective redesign choices for the gems that have made them more aesthetically appealing and seem just to flow better with the animation, garnet seems sleeker especially and her colors have a bit more flair. these changes help further simplify for the sake of immediate appeal of the character designs but also helps them pop more in ways alot more focused. i can't help but think about the pilot character designs and all their fucking superfluous details coating the characters head to toe. an increasingly cleaner look befits this show, so using the regenerations to do this feels right. what it means for them as gems and why they choose these forms seems hard to nail, garnet herself basically sums it up in that it is literally self-expression to a degree that can't be interpreted exactly. through that is amethyst's conflict in this episode, a familiar one and in fact a relatively mild one for her character, but it all serves the purpose of showing that amethyst basically embodies her caged emotions more than anyone else in the show does. s1b had everyone experiencing these emotions, inner turmoil they didn't know how to express and escapism that came back to bite them, but this isn't really just a seasonal arc for amethyst, she lives on this island. so redundant in places as this episode can't help but be it's hardly inaccurate.

    this episode's other conflict - the damned Slinker! - is also a bit of a cooldown from what we've come to know in recent times, also with good reason. i'd been wondering exactly how the show would carry itself through a season with seemingly unlimited potential for blossoming a story emotively and villain-wise, we know peridot's on earth but we can't just reveal her immediately, we know its only a matter of time before Something happens with lapis and jasper and i'm sure other homeworld gems have gotten a whiff of whats going on with the CGs and earth and all as well, if they do indeed care, and i think they would yellow diamond and all, whatever THAT is! all that provided a new beginning and alot of empty space to fill, 1b largely concluded its emotional arcs and got everyone on equal ground ready to take on the enemy in whatever form it takes. with all that settled, what do you do at first? well with the big lingering worry of this particular season set in stone with peridot's pod found in joy ride, what can be done? its at this point you are made to remember, oh yeah the gems do have like a general job with corrupted gems and shit. we haven't seen it alot lately cuz it didn't really matter as much but surely it was still happening, 1b had a bit of it - though usually somewhat clumsily applied like horror club - but by and large it was not necessary to keep returning to that well through a season so intent to set up the Next pieces. well the pieces are set so a throwbackish s1a style adventure is a nice way to break things up, maybe not personally preferred if i'm being entirely honest however. i do feel like this episode had to happen due to its endgame but it is one of those situations where i know it could have been done better but i'm not a good enough Story writer to make the call as to how. su does sometimes have the habit of creating a decent if somewhat interchangable episode that acts merely as a carrying case for its lore-based material or crucial continuity points. that's all well and good, it is a kids show after all, and amethyst would hate me for it but i can't help but compare this to pearl's significantly better regeneration episode - to say nothing of garnet's cuz well, that's not even fair. steven the sword fighter wasn't really super plot-important but as an adventure that knew it was a bit stagnated it had more conceptual fun with a creepy antagonist and a weird eerie tone, it was comical and disturbed. here...well this is just kinda another Adventure In The Temple akin to secret team, which this is marginally better than.

    it's very much a feeling of "where are we now?" without a totally definitive answer. where we are it seems, is a position where amethyst has been unable, or unwilling, to grow as much as she would like to, and its not like theres a clean answer here either, nor should there be. if the episode tells us anything its that just because you stare your darkest self in the face and conquer it in a defining moment doesn't mean it just goes away. sure after on the run this feels a liiiittle redundant in terms of offering information but sometimes restating information works on the level of providing the reality that yeah this is still going on, its still a burden and its not so easy to crush. actually maybe the lighter load of it says that amethysts absolute deepest fears and insecurities have loosened but her general frustrations less so. sure her and pearl came to some form of understanding emotionally but they still bicker and dont see totally eye-to-eye and have alot of baggage, so while amethyst doesn't think pearl sees her still as some horrid monster or mistake, she's still plenty jealous and frustrated with her. more or less though it all amounts to an outlet of amethyst being unsure how to please the others in general, especially because she doesn't even want to be honest about her own feelings. she wants to thrash about and whine and deflect and do whatever she can to remain in her emotional bubble, so naturally regeneration would be an issue for her. that all makes fine sense, and the adventure around it is generally fun, a nice simplified run through the temple chasing a vague creepy thing that just happens to have expert amethyst killing abilities. the episode also uses steven's silly tv show quiz as a platform for expositing without being too obvious, getting into amethyst's complex emotions, having her respond in ways that are yes predictable but speak to her inability to be entirely honest or self-aware, and eventually beginning to fuck up the quiz by answering As Pearl. in terms of character consistency this is all right at home but i do sorta feel like it works a bit better on paper just due to the extreme familiarity of it.

    its really all about what you zero in on though. if i'm back to comparing to steven the sword fighter obviously this is better character wise because..it has character. it actually deals with the characters in any capacity. as an adventure its much less contextualized, almost deceptively plain - familiar thing this show does that - and more or less putting everyone in a situation so familiar it has to make the emotional content stand out in stark contrast. if thats entirely the point it does realign my focus in the right way but i definitely think they could have done both. as a "where are we now" episode it shows us steven and garnet dealing with a problem from the exact same perspective, steven isn't being pushed away or meant to not experience a certain potential disastrous emotional pattern, he is exactlly as privy as garnet is and faces the issue as a gem. much like the last episode gave steven and connie a small goal as their first moment after their biggest conflict, this gives the CGs a small adventure together within the idea of them being on equal footing to present that. its less dynamic in nature that way however so you have to shake something up, so it stands to reason amethyst not playing along would make a seemingly normal adventure still turn on its head at least a bit.in the end amethyst reforms Normally, and what do you know its another good simpilfied redesign. everyone in their new designs and all group hugging in the end, to amethyst's chagrin - and secret joy - it all feels like the adjustments have been made to really sell the point that this big evolution has found a sort of finish line. of course amethyst's own emotional reservation before her great big Raven smile at the end says all you need to have said to provide evidence that its nowhere near closure and probably just the beginning of more frustrations for amethyst in search of being able to express herself purely, but as a team anyway these four feel stronger and more solidified than ever, and be it fights with other beings or themselves they've found their way through so far. you could call this episode regressive or redundant but while it wont be one of my favs i appreciate it, taking things back to move things forward, and see whats changed. its stark contrasts and remaining issues say alot about exactly where we are, and where we can go. in its deceptive stagnation at first glance it begins to lay more concrete emotional paths to later traverse. also its really worth it for that final amethyst face, seriously. worth the price of admission. which was free. y'know sometimes its hard to end these.

    B -

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    #58: SWORN TO THE SWORD
    johnston/liu

    this was a toughie. a frustrating yet enlightening tug-and-pull that toys with that eternal crucial component in su, say it with me kids: HARMONY! no really though this one more than ever really shows how the frailities these characters are involved in come from a misperception of these position in the scheme of things thus reassigning where they fit, be it by feeling too small and trying to compensate or trying to reassign someone else or reinterpet their expression of self to your own idea of their worth which ironically leads the dynamic to a disruption of the harmony gained when not fixating on these pedestals and power structures. the last episode was the former, this is the latter, and it really says alot about how SU avoids being too tv showy in its persistance upon explored emotional territory. i've made the mistake of identifying episode wraps as closure in this series because for all my preference for arcs to indeed be less convenient more natural, a struggle if they need to be, i just don't usually expect it from kid's shows even one as sophisticated and genuine as this. yet here we are, and it shouldn't really be a surprise. in many senses, this is a sequel to rose's scabbard, and it explores alot of the same territory as that one, but while the lesson isn't new, the impact is notable in how it threatens to damage a dynamic it intends to help build. in retrospect this shouldn't be surprising, i treated the ending of rose's scabbard as being a silent triumph of sorts where pearl was given an emotional foot in the door to a present where she can reconcile steven and rose and accept that she's wanted and that's that, doesn't mean there's zero conflict on these terms but i figured it was a big step forward. yet, thats not how life works alot of the time, those big teachable moments are important and help you progress and give you tools but sometimes they're more isolated than we'd like, this isn't just some hollywood production, you can't fix years - thousands in this case, surely - of damage with a hug, as nice as it is for the moment. in the final shot of that episode, thinking back, pearl isn't even really in a content display, she's in this thousand-yard-stare daze like she knows what she's just experienced, feels inspired by steven and wants to be the best her, but from where is she taking what he said? in this moment she's still unable to look directly at steven, she's staring off like this experience is still something she's having a hard time reconciling with regards to the two people she sees when she looks at him. this kinda thing doesn't just go away, and really while she pushed steven away to her regret, perhaps for pearl to really realize the impact of her mistakes clinging to perceptions rooted in a past where she feels purpose, she needs to do damage that feels strictly in the present. that's where connie comes in.

    connie's desires through the series have indeed evolved but it's been clear since around lion 2 that she's had a desire to help, whether or not she felt she had the capability.events eventually escalated, her privy to an extent to an erupting danger and that leaving steven in shambles over dealing with it, to the point that even he himself began to give into the idea of importance, though more the idea of the importance of the humans he cared about but nonetheless a mindset that creates a disparity that disrupts the harmony by setting guidelines that defy the agency of the characters, well all that just wasn't how connie was gonna take this, she refused to let this fall away from her, because she cares about steven, because she knows what she wants. of course that scene in full disclosure is about alot of things and instantly impacts because of a wonderful friendship hanging in the balance, but connie sees through the moment pretty quickly, perhaps in denial of going back to a friendless reality, but also because she's come so far here in how this has helped her leap out of her shell. this boy has shown her a crazy world she loves and that creates a stark contrast to the almost oppresive sheltering of her famliy life, also he made her Less Blind that's pretty damn good too. inversely to the worry full disclosure creates, this episode opens with an adorable song about Jam and Jamming from the two, showing them just goofing off being friends and playing instruments. this is what these characters really are, they're equals, they're way different and the burden steven has held up to now connie has only been observing from the passenger seat at most but he never saw it like that, and again even when he did begin to see a difference it wasn't in his importance being inflated but in her importance being so valuable to him that he forgot to figure out what She wanted. the reality has always been that she pretty unconditionally wants to be part of this, as things get more dangerous she only gets more dedicated and intent to help and not be a burden, as the danger moves she stays moving too. this again plays into the idea of harmony, not letting the impending evil overwhelm you or let you hit a wall, steven perceived a wall where she only saw an opportunity to prove herself, so when he stepped aside and embraced her offer to help in any capacity and be there for him, thats where their harmony shines yet again, be it while singing a silly song and just having fun both as Buds, or protecting each other on the battlefield both as Warriors, in any context they can be what they need to be because their desires match up without needing to define each other, and its in that harmony that the gems, and now clearly also humans, can embrace an exponentiailly increasing unity that has an unforseen strength with inevitable victory at hand.

    its inspiring and freeing and exhilarating stuff, we've toyed with human characters finding their way into the gravitational pull of the gems and their wild adventures and i'm sure we will see a ton of it, but this is the first time we've seen a human character request direct training from a gem, because yes, this is her planet too and she wants to help, she wants to be who she feels she's meant to be. there's a real excitement to these early moments in watching the show beginning to involve her more in the adventure, it was a long time coming for sure, and it makes me think of both intros: the original with a curious and wide eyed bookish girl looking on as greg's van passes, to now chasing gleefully sword in hand, appearing on the beach with everyone else at the end. she's part of this in a big way, and she deserves it. its a great sense of growth, and the very victory of being able to directly take part in this great journey whatever it may encompass is infectious, when connie leaps out of the sky arena warp with an almost drunken joy its just adorable, as are the moments of her and steven goofing about a bit at the beginning as they race each other and do the obligatory bows with added chuckles at the ritual. of course all this wonder and majesty with which she engages the world is how is should be, but not while pearl's around. it's immediately clear that pearl intensely projects throughout this entire ordeal, they make her blatantly transparent while still trying to be coy and maintain a professional demeanor. this brings us to "do it for her", that is to say, "do it for him". this song's great, as a song but also as a succinct storytelling device, a montage that offers its own high quality soundtrack material. connie displays an immediate focus and catches on to the basics quickly, which makes sense as she's shown before to be very intelligent, very observant and hell she seems good at Books and junk so she learns and follows instructions with ease, plus she's dedicated to this and it shows. meanwhile between revealing her Dam feelings pearl teaches in the way only pearl could. the basics are all sound but the tidbits tucked between are what become troubling. pearl is a character with a frankly unhealthy manner of conducting herself to teach and observe life only through choices that seem linked to, of course, rose. like its all rose aint it. its hard not to be so constantly affixed to this behavior when you're tasked with taking care of and teaching steven who she dedicates herself to with the same passion as she did rose, then watching him exceed his expectations and remind you so much of rose but without as much the sense of a goal to serve rose anymore, rose becoming so useful that pearl has nothing she can do. so lucky pearl when she gains a resource to protect rose yet again in a way that is providing her skills to a new generation, making her feel useful twofold, and it all comes back to serving the one she felt to be most important. it should be a good thing, but what should be that triumphant hopeful growth fucks up the harmony quite simpy because pearl is doing it based on her own projections.

    of course, steven doesn't see things this way. steven is a the proverbial bridge between the humans and gems for good reasons, which is why when you see him dancing along and strumming a guitar with connie or you see him fighting a great battle with the gems, oooorr you see him singing a wistful tune with amethyst or fighting spooky clones in open book with connie, it always seems to make sense, because steven's perception never but once has viewed these things as irregular, and he would have no reason to, because he sees everyone including himself as Everything anyway. so surely that should be the answer, its in that equillibrium created by self expression that the characters find their greatest triumphs and its when they question themselves and each other that they falter. its complicated though, pearl's self expression is innately one that affects her view of the importance of steven, its not that she sees connie as merely cannon fodder, its that she sees the idea of being the soldier putting her self in front of steven/rose is the most valuable position you could have. when pearl tells connie "remember you are nothing", it sounds harsh, but i think what it means it not You Are Useless, but you and your worth is tied directly to steven and rose. its a stunning moment when dissected to realize that thats pearls problem, shes like a vein intent to pump blood to steven or rose forever, so when she has nobody to service she's just a bloodline to nowhere, with no sense of purpose and no one to help. pearl's sense of worth is tied to her accomplishments with regards to steven and rose, so shes the sense of accomplishment of a soldier with similar desires to be the same. thankfully steven can't have that, especially when he almost made the same mistake, or well the opposite. pearl thinks steven is too important, and steven thought connie was too important. both genuine and understandable sentiments but ultimately selfish ones that have to know when to let go and welcome in the agency that will allow them to be whoever they are. connie only blindly goes along with pearl's word because well why would she doubt it? she wants to help steven, and she even gives into his little destiny spiel from full disclosure, which is an excellent full circle moment where we see steven's own regret and the stark realization that this assigning of importance inevitably leaves everyone on troublesome footing. steven is not that important, but if he isn't what is pearl? if steven isn't important, if rose isn't important, how can pearl be important, how can pearl do anything for steven/rose if they wont let her and then what does she do? the reality is who pearl is as a gem and why shes a great gem still has alot of evolution required, because now she's doing external damage. with everything connie's dealt with and faced lately, she quickly gave in to pearl's teachings because she believed it to be the right way to do things, it only makes sense she would. pearl provides greater proof than ever that these unhealthy perceptions are a gateway to a spread of these ideas in a way that will continue to disrupt the harmony that gives the group, whoever it may entail, their strength. still, you can't blame her for them or for teaching the way she does. its two times now she's had these disturbing outbursts with regards to steven and rose and the inability to know who shes talking to or who shes serving or how she can accept the change or who she Is after the change and so on and so on. the answer still isn't clear but in a moment of realizing those internal struggles consumed her to affect the outside, put connie in jeopardy and put steven in an uncomfortable position, maybe its a start. maybe she doesn't know where she fits in now but if steven can feel that he's not that important on his own despite that being all she can see, maybe she can eventually see that if nobody's particularly important, then they're all important, equally, in their own ways and however they express themselves, without needing to be a lifeline for someone else they can express themselves and be and fight, together. then again if shes not fighting for the universes most important being directly, how can she indeed feel like shes Everything. i wont look for closure here, for now ill just be excited for the future, because hey connie's still a badass swordfighter now, and i get to see her and steven whipping ass together. awesome, but only if i also get an even helping of doofy songs and fun down-to-earth adventures. after all, connie wants to help her planet but you wouldn't want it at the risk of her humanity.

    A-


  30. #111
    No, money down! Traviud's Avatar
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    Sworn to the Sword is, on most days, my favorite episode of SU and was the moment I started to love Pearl.

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    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    ah here come my responses right on time.



    Man that is almost certainly the most thought anyone's ever given to Love Letters. That's an interesting theory about how the episode allows the Crewniverse to break down cliched love stories though - in that regard I'd categorize it with Keep Beach City Weird, where Ronaldo is used to reflect an overeager fanbase with loads of conspiracy theories. There's several more eps that fit into this concept of the Crewniverse using townies to make a meta statement about the nature of the show as unique as this one - full disclosure, they're not all that popular with fans, but eh I think they're interesting. don't skip em.

    Yeah other than that there isn't much from the Crewniverse for this ep - there are some backgrounds though and they look nice as always. It's a little weird that things go back to normal so suddenly after Full Disclosure and Joy Ride did such a great job with carrying over the ramifications of Jail Break, but I suppose you can't wallow in the aftermath of that forever. Plot's gotta keep moving yo.

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    Speaking of moving plot, Reformed. It's certainly not a leap forward in Amethyst's character arc the way On the Run was, but it's an important reminder that as cathartic as On the Run is, thousands of years of tension between Pearl and Amethyst aren't gonna go away with a single confrontation. Looking at it in terms of the show's prolonged arcs (because you've pretty much nailed all the specifics about this particular ep), Reformed is a quintessential example of how this show has started to perfect the ebb and flow between its huge plot bomb finales and its slower townie episodes. At this point in season 1, 5 episodes removed from the high of Ocean Gem, we are at Keep Beach City Weird. Sure Ocean Gem's effects were starting to ripple, but the show was still mostly confined by exposition and worldbuilding it had to finish up before dropping huge plot bombs. Whereas here, although we're not directly feeling the effects of Jail Break plot-wise, even a routine trip through the temple can expose deep rifts between characters. As the world keeps expanding and the plot bombs get increasingly intense, it naturally gets harder for the follow-up episodes to feel compelling or important, but I'd argue Reformed is an example of when it's successful. (There are also gonna be some examples where it's less successful, but we don't need to think about those now.)

    Okay so I rambled again because there isn't much to share for this ep either - I guess you can check out the model sheets for all of Amethyst's regenerations if that's your thing. Raven and Paul are definitely the boarders best-equipped to breathe life into all these wacky designs - they have some weird boards here and there but this kind of deformation is their wheelhouse.

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    There isn't a lot thematically I get to say about this ep because once again, you've pretty much hit all the big points. Pearl still reconciling Steven and Rose's identities, Connie's desire to get involved from Full Disclosure getting payoff surprisingly quickly, the parallels between how the gems treated Steven in season 1 and how Steven now treats Connie. But at the same time, this episode manages to drop quite a big lore bomb on us - there's still some unsolved mysteries about what we see in this ep and how it fits into the info we have!!

    We've seen the gem arena before but Jail Break brings a new relevance to much of this setting (background art of the arena here and here). What are all those runes on the pillars? What's with the diamond- and hexagon-shaped symbols? How come those hexagonal compartments look similar to the ones that trapped Steven and the CGs in Jail Break? Some of these get answered later on, others still haven't been answered yet. Stay tuned.......

    Oh yeah this episode has not one, but two songs in it. Surely that's the most they could ever fit into 11 minutes right?? We have remastered versions of both: The Jam Song is as pleasant as ever, but the remaster of Do It For Her really lets Pearl's piano part shine. Worth a listen for sure.

    And as a final note, give it up to Joe and Jeff yet again for some rock-solid fight scenes. They're not quite as ambitious as in Jail Break (which tbf is a high bar), but the flow of the storyboarding feels really organic and fluid. The fight between Steven/Connie and Pearl in particular is really well-framed throughout - a minor gripe is the awkward slow pan in between two cuts with intensely quick camera work, but I suppose that's what happens when you outsource. Ah well, still great work from the most technically capable boarding team.

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    hell yea I don't have to get bothered to write these again cause the next one is a Ronaldo ep and no one wants to watch those

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    #59: RISING TIDES, CRASHING SKIES
    abrams/jo

    ronaldo. oh boy oh boy oh jesus oh lord ronaldo. thing is, if i'm being objective i think ronaldo is a reasonably well written character, the way he continues to desperately seek out gateways to feed his ego to feel central to the conflicts he so fancies himself to be the harbinger of. ronaldo doesn't like weird shit because of a genuine fascination, it would seem, he's just in it for the self-satisfaction and recognition, but he needs to be the core of the story. in keep beach city weird his greatest quandary was realizing the weirdness had nothing to do with him or his data, and he layed adjacent to the actual goings-on that had been erupting, all due to the gems. of course the answer here is target the gems directly and present a hypothesis that puts him as the solver of the great problem. OF COURSE THEN the problems are all gone and he has nothing to solve and no more spotlight to take - not that he had a shot anyway. a character with intent to fuel his own pride by reshaping the narratives in front of him to suit his own needs, without realizing that to full convenience he eliminates that which fuels him, in theory. ronaldo is a character with no sufficient ultimatum, no for-sure goal except to keep digging and presenting the weird as He sees it. that's all well and good but because his goal never ceases and never alters his apperances can become quickly exasperating, comedically. its alot of the same jokes here really, we know ronaldo's an overzealous and self-obsessed doof who idealizes his own theories and fancies himself a great documentarian when he's nothing of the sort, all the poor editing jokes are pretty easy and obvious and well-trodden. there are some minor details i like, right off the bat his "company" logo of a sillhouette with a lens flare is definitely the work of a guy who reads pages of movie tropes without actually seeing movies. *cough*. pretty sure his logo uses comic sans too, a bit easy but ill always have a chuckle at comic sans because It's Comic Sans Look At It. still, it's alot of the same attitude and behavior, and i can see it grating. ronaldo seems to have no real ethics, if its a means to the end of his own gratification its legitimate. he hugs his brother in a segment of the docu but it all seems in service of the REAL LIFE DRAMA box ticking. in general, steven considers ronaldo a friend and while ronaldo will play along with this it always seems to have a motive - ok i guess not horror club but that whole episode is fucking bizarre and he tries to murder lars so uhh points off there too? yeah. ronaldo just isn't likeable at all so you don't root for him, he's a big antithesis to steven, a character by nature self-contained and framing things to suit his needs and narrative, a total lack of embrace for others would insinuate he acknowledges others in any capacity beyond how they compliment or deter from his plans.

    of course "negative" traits dont make a bad character and if the world were all sunshine and lollipops well that'd be dandy and i hope we get as close in proximity as possible by the end of this wild journey but idealism is what it is and you need some bad apples, and no they don't spoil the bunch thats a stupid phrase. ronaldo is a "good" character in his cyclical and fervent persistence toward his goals because its been well established its all he is, you could see it as surface level but its rather a one-trick pony that runs deep on its own terms. so with that the development of the character is in realizing his own endless loop and finding no answers, which is fun like watching a hamster run in his wheel going nowhere, but only about that fun for about as long as this episode. for a moment whoever lets do the right thing and stop giving ronaldo all the attention. there isn't much to learn from the various interviews in this episode but they are fun, seeing the town in their natural and often awkward habitat, getting a little taste of how they recall the crazy events of the return arc and the arrival of the gem hand ship. none of this is what i'd call enlightening or even necessary but its nice, its a little recap of sorts that doesn't need to force the gems into frame and just lets the Hoomans bask a bit in the crazy memories. its neat to see the aftermath as the ship crashes down from the perspective of the fryman family vehicle, to think about how that crash may have looked, to get a taste of the characters own perception of their reactions, what they thought was happening - sadie seems to have the most clue, i'd say naturally - and just have a little fun with this documentary concept as the characters are put on the spot. they also get to offer their tossed off thoughts on the gems in general, regaling crazy encounters and monsters and the like, nothing we don't know but its neat to get a feel for how/if these things affected the characters. there's also a clear sense of the still present separation between gems and humans barring steven, sadie emphasizing the way they keep to themselves and presenting the fact that she still has little idea of their powers and what have you. its these little tidbits that always excite me to see that gap slowly close in bigger ways, someting sworn to the sword began doing. i'd expect sadie to soon follow this trend but who knows. really ronaldo is the one who seems to have the most understanding of the gems, not intimately who they are but enough that he's not just settled in a vague understanding of their missions and duties, naturally because he chases the non-human and examines it fervently. its a little odd even that he does interview all the people like he'll get much that's juicy. he basically takes their smallest inferences and magnifies them, fittingly so.

    however as i think back to his insane declarations in keep beach city weird still with a curiosity of how close it sits to the truth, i have to ask myself: like him or hate him does ronaldo have a point in the end here? specifically, is he wrong that the gems being on earth to protect it is what creates the disasters that endanger it? well..no not really, he sorta can't be especially now, especially with the homeworld gems and all. peridot is on earth because of them, jasper is in the Dang ocean because of them, other gems for sure know of their presence and are watching them, but even in the case of the smaller monster-of-the-week types it sometimes seems like they're actively luring them, that crab monster in this episode appears on the actual beach after all, usually they have to go find these damaged creatures but this one seems to have found them, and their base in such close proximity to beach city. perhaps this distance from the humans is how they intended to protect them, but the distance is more emotional than literal and that almost two-fold fails. of course Now if they weren't on earth it would be heavily screwed one way or the other but the largest dangers are all targetting steven, so wherever he goes they go, so that sure doesn't help right? yeeeeeeet peridot was coming to earth to restart the kindergarten anyway so they definitely should be here, if they hadn't been that would have probably gone off with nary a hitch already. it's alot of what if to figure out what maaaay ultimately be miniscule variables in terms of human endangerment but its a valid question indeed. however as we have discussed, ronaldo doesn't actually care about any of this. oh he should, because in his points he arises a reality that when your heroes are targets on your planet it may be harder to have faith in your protection, but our boy is just here for the hot headline in the end, and its here his own quandary is made evident. ronaldo knows the story is the gems so he has to attach himself to the story of the gems or else he can't be part of its revelations and is left without the purpose he's assigned himself, but getting rid of them would eliminate the opportunity for a future of maintaining his presence and purpose. if he finds a finish line to his goal his goal disappears, because its not even about success, its about the thrill of the chase, the confidence that THIS will be the big breaking story, because in many instances the anticipation of a story gets eyes glued to the screen, but solving a mystery takes away..well, the mystery. ronaldo has to have a core to inflate to create the stories that he can deflate, but if he deflates them then what has he got? a character all about tiptoeing to the point of revelation then having to leap back for the sake of continuing to have a point. he's only as important as his case. no wonder he doesn't grow, his stories are about him in a very fan-fiction way, a self-insert in a reality that has no real place for him. sad. now stop making episodes about him. at least for awhile.

    B

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    Yup that's pretty much a spot-on breakdown of Ronaldo - a character purposely written in a way that makes you hate him, which causes fans to actually hate him. Guess the Crewniverse is good at writing for their characters, who woulda known?

    The only aspect of Ronaldo you didn't cover as much is his more meta role as a representation of the fandom. Much like Ronaldo, we overanalyze every scene as foreshadowing, demand that every episode is a giant plot/lore bomb, and come up with increasingly crazy theories. Hell when the title of this ep was first unveiled, people immediately assumed Malachite episode. To be certain, this isn't an integral part of Ronaldo's character, but it does give the Ronaldo episodes a bit of a double meaning as a mirror that reflects fan reaction to the show.

    To the surprise of nobody, neither storyboarder cared enough to upload any behind-the-scenes footage from this episode. However, this is notable for being Hellen Jo's final episode. Probably a very talented artist, but I really don't think you'll be missing her boards from here on out. Especially since we get literal shitposter and just very good storyboarder in general Lauren Zuke as a replacement.

    Although we don't have anything behind-the-scenes irl, we do for some reason have this five-part promo from the real-life Keep Beach City Weird blog. Literally nobody asked for this. Also the rest of the blog is spoiler city so yknow if for some strange reason you feel like perusing it maybe hold off for a few eps.

    And lastly, I don't like to drop spoilers but I will reveal that this is the final Ronaldo appearance for all of season 2 so get back on daily episodes you bum


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    #60: KEEPING IT TOGETHER
    molisee/villeco

    which side of the gems exhibits their true nature? it can be infered what rose and by extension the crystal gems did was a great defiance of the directives set by homeworld, whatever exactly they may be. alot of this comes from a growing attachment to humanity, a greater sense of apprecation, of empathy, of love and of realization that these creatures exist, day to day, and they are important. it has been inferred also that some died for this cause, surely the band of rebellious gems to countered their primary goals was far greater and the small group now is an indication of the damage done. they exist as a testament to a conscious love and embrace of the planet they decided to forever protect at whatever cost. its a beautiful sentiment and mission statement, but it seems to fly in the face of the natural order of the gems as the homeworld gems clearly have not this empathy or concern. thats the big idea, the dichotomy of our protagonists to homeworld is not love vs. hate, hate is too conscious and targeted and frankly would feel a bit redundant in its villainy anyway. the two sides seem to be concern and love, and void where nothing of the sort can grow. look at peridot. she follows firmly and stoicly her prime directives and not even getting shot out of the damned sky is gonna shake her in her boots for a moment to the point of fully disrupting her mission, whatever exactly it is. there's a telling vagueness to peridot, there doesn't seem to be a sufficiently summarizable endgame for her, no discernable reward or personal plight, she's just doing it because it's what is supposed to be done. so is that nature, and if so what does that mean for the nature of nature, within the show or otherwise? i consider myself to generally be an optimist, it hasn't always been that way but i find its just a healthier position to reside in, but i also don't really think of it as lying to myself. we are all capable of good and i think ultimately if we open ourselves up to our own potential and to the potential of others thats where we find harmony and peace and genuine progress. you don't succeed by closing yourself off, not in a way thats not monetary anyway. is that nature though? is an active search for one's deeper self nature? it does seem like making these correct decisions helps one to find themselves alot easier, it lets the path feel less rickety and zig-zaggy and all of a sudden sense begins to show it's face, but nature isn't based on your own set of rules, its based on what feels right as is. whats weird about humans is the best and worst decisions can feel equally right, so who can really truly say what is and isn't our nature. all this to say, on its own the decisions of the gems to defy what could be perceived as the "nature" of the homeworld gems seems like a perversion of the natural state, that directives were defied and a concern and focus on something irrelevant to their survival became the important factor. nature seems intent toward survival first and foremost, the crystal gems decisions entirely counter self-preservation. so is it the nature of the gems to do what the CGs did?

    the answer lies in the key storyline component here: fusion. you could argue what is and isn't the way gems naturally were, if they're naturally evil, selfish, territorial, power hungry aliens bent on destruction or takeover, based on the very idea that our heroes seemed to act as an antithesis to whatever their ideals exist as, but here that line of thinking is shattered. truly, fusion is the most precious and delicate practice of the gems, and thats proven here as we see it perverted and twisted and mangled, producing nightmarish hellspawn creatures that should not be. for what purpose, who knows. probably you, probably you reading this. its a moment where the trust in the show pays off, i can't just on a visceral level sense why this is so disturbing, sure its eerie with the glitching and creepy music and all but i'm mostly taking garnet's emotions for what they are. of all the gems she represents best that harmony, that space of a mutual embrace, she exists as a result of that, of unity through mutual embrace of independence, an enduring vital code the show lives by, and here her sense of inner turmoil is all i need to understand what is taking place, even if its not concrete. the episode is intense from the jump though, leaping immediately back into the kindergarten after a little time away. in the context of these mistakes of gem nature the kindergarten only resonates as even creepier, another indication of the void where concern can't sustain itself. su makes earth feel so important in its protection and the growing love and unity of the humans with the gems to defend it fervently, but for the homeworld gems it just happens to be the place with the kindergarten that they need to reactivate or perhaps the place with old gems they need to experiment with. its all coincidental, important battles did take place here and all but even still theres a sense of them carving this planet apart and changing its makeup and breeding monsters just because..that's what they're supposed to do. a sense of no sense, which is always the most frightening. the homeworld gems have, in their way, reinvented their nature, changed what can be perceived as the natural order. its impossible to see the mission statement held by someone like peridot who seems to have no firm attachment to what she's doing other than its her job and not consider it as some form of mass brainwashing in a microcosm. all that reinvented nature can't hide the real ugliness inside however, for all the sense of doing what should be done the fusion experiments reveal nothing of the sort.

    it's a betrayal of what really is, not just because its unpleasant or because it defies the nice ideas the CGs embody and encourage, because lovely sentiments are often times built in defiance of the cruelty of nature. no, here its clearly the chemistry that is failing the homeworld vision, or maybe this is what they want. in any case it makes it very clear where they stand, fearsome because they've thrown away all indication of what they are and the meaning behind that, the importance behind that, discarding and disregarding nature for whatever better serves them, whoever them may be. this is all amateur conjecture after all. with all this set in front of us, we have a clear indication of our foe, less brutalist - well jasper is leaning that direction sure - and more just..clueless. its ripe ground for evolving them, opening their eyes and pulling them away from their directives as they stand. a chance for redemption that doesn't paint things as black and white. the idea of outright evil is kinda boring anyway, not that i think this show is going to avoid the matter of having a pure villain forever - again, jasper embodies this already, a search for power and dominance, but even that links to soooomething. regardless, the damage thats been done is telling but it doesn't have to be permanent, and even as grim as these circumstances appear, what they say to garnet and about the homeworld gem's nebulous goals, peridot doesn't ever come off as this ruthless being, quite the opposite. beyond even the minor tidbits that i know of characters reforming and all it seems very transparent, in the right way, that peridot's pendulum could swing the other direction with a little swaying. for now its not so much about her understanding or intentions, but just stopping her, tempering the problem before it gets any worse or perpetuates. after a small break in the proceedings here the intensity revved up again all at once, diving unflinchingly into perhaps the darkest depths yet of the effects they can have on earth, and realizing all that importance the gems and we the viewer sense in these effects are the very thing they seem to abandon for the sake of their mission. there can be no doubt about the dichotomy anymore though, thinking back to jail break and the powerful statement it presented, on gem potential, on consent, on embrace and love and concern for making sure this meaningful ritual is bound by a mutual understanding of the circumstances, all that is inverted here to brilliant disturbing effect. it just appears as some gems stuck together, some hands and legs and malformed weird ass monsters, but its not about the flesh, it never really was. garnet stands tall as a great testament to what fusion is meant to be, as a striking visual representation of becoming something greater than the some of its parts, as an intellect, as a powerhouse, but its all harmonious and natural, to the point you'd never notice it. with the largest haphazardous fusion monster here there would be no doubt, misshapen and tortured and seemingly without a sense of consciousness, zombified and in a seeming anguish. if that's what its like on the outside, imagine the inside, the implications. it betrays something far deeper than creating a beautiful body, it betrays the bodies themselves, eschewing consent and concern. initially garnets discuss doesn't register but fusion as a metaphor for the relationship - an easy but complex one - makes it very clear, and it says alot about the other side in the end. stands to reason a group so fueled by ambivalence would reject themselves.

    B+

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    Not sure if you didn't elaborate because it's pretty self-evident, but I think it's at least worth stressing a bit more that this is Garnet we're seeing break down. So far the show (which reminder, is from Steven's perspective) has been very clear in establishing Garnet as the fearless stoic leader. Even at her lowest point in Jail Break, Steven (and the audience) sees Garnet beating down Jasper like it's nothing. So for us to witness Garnet of all people breaking apart here, it's pretty clear this episode is a big statement.

    Also no Peridot doesn't come off like a ruthless gem cause she comes off as a loser office worker Homeworld gem. "Go to Earth they said, it would be easy they said......" (not that she isn't a genuine threat though!!)

    Neither Raven nor Paul posted any storyboards for this, but it's worth noting that the body horror vibes on this ep make it a perfect fit for their boarding style. (Full disclosure: storyboards dry up a bit from this point onward. makes you question why I even decided to start doing posts for every episode huh.) With the possible exception of Say Uncle which is frankly too fun to care about, the storyboard teams really start to dig into their niche genres in season 2, and combined with storyboarders just being a lot more comfortable with drawing the characters, most season 2 episodes look in top form.

    Shoutout to composers aivi & surasshu by the way for the unsettling soundtrack throughout a lot of this episode's second half. And here's some of the gem shard designs and backgrounds of the kindergarten for further perusal. s'all there is this time though. See you after the holidays for two all-time great arcs...

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    #61: WE NEED TO TALK
    florido/mitroff/sugar

    crests a hill hey dudes.

    boy we sure are talking about fusion alot lately, the element of the show i continually feel the least qualified to talk about, perhaps as a cis male or perhaps as someone in general who has never had to second guess their identity, or maybe its just the malleable nature of the subject or hell its possible it completely boils down to having never been in a relationship and not knowing those dynamics intimately. that's fine, because maybe it doesn't matter at all. oh fusion is super important obviously, as the last review (remember that one?) suggested, it was one of the great representations of the gems' true nature, their true purity, the representation of their kind as innately embracing unity via the independence of the individual. y'know, as it should be, as everything should be. yet with that logic, if love is the embrace of any and all forms of embracing one's pathway to fusion, you'd also have to embrace the lack thereof. i wasn't expecting another flashback episode so very soon but i was very welcoming to the idea, it's another way the pacing never feels too obvious, any episode can still be any episode and that's extremely exciting, though you also need to help expand the scope of the story without forcing oneself to rush back into the intensity of peridot's arc and the Spoopy fusions. i'm a sucker for watching the human denizens of beach city become privy to their shock to new gem stuff so seeing a jawdropped greg watch stevonnie come to life is utterly satisfying. obviously greg isn't going to be a blockade to such a thing what with his very love being a representation of what brought the Immaculate Conception of steven into the world in the first place. steven and connie's quick dance sequence is adorable and so very carefree that the fusion seems a total accident, forgetting that well you can't just dance anymore? yikes. nonetheless it quickly kickstarts greg's own tale of fusion, and of failure, and of embracing one's differences to find one's connection to another. i've said it before and i'll say it again, you never know what a steven universe episode is going to ultimately be about until the end, and while i was preeeeetty sure rose and greg had not fused i was still interested in seeing how they get past that.

    first though, the song. aaaaaah this song is great. i really dig the jagged guitar sound it's quite different than anything we've heard from a steven universe song so far, this distorted slightly swampy love ballad, a bit beatles-y with the accentuating chirps. it's also just great to leap to a duet between rose and greg, get a sense of their chemistry but also their disconnect, something they don't even totally realize, greg is just so overwhelmed by her presence that he doesn't think too much about what their relationship means yet and rose well she just likes humans, many of them, all of them, who is to say how many she's been in love with in the past. i don't wanna say she treats their relationship like a game but i think there's this degree of subconscious grandiosity to her that makes it almost impossible for her to get on his level immediately. i mean, look at her. consider just the few tales we know so far of her immense bravery, the way she turned the tides to protect this very planet, the way even fellow gems worship her but she doesn't ever seem to abuse that. she's humble in her way but she's still rose, her appreciation for humans is something i've always seen as pure but this is the first time that i see it as well, a bit condescending. not to a degree that can't be fixed of course, but at this juncture her love of humans is like she gets to spend all day in a zoo, and occasionally she will make out with one of the animals. sounds great to me, but the local zoo didn't seem to agree with me. nonetheless. it does seem like a game, she says "i like the way human beings play". she's not trying to toy with anyone's emotions though, she just doesn't seem to know any better, she finds humans fun and entertaining and that may be a fair perspective from who she is. she clearly has a respect for human life and wants to preserve it but maybe she doesn't need a better reason than that, though its also not like she only wants to preserve them for her entertainment, but she preserves them because hey they're alive and they love and they sing and they play instruments and they have cool hair and a sick bus! they're really interesting, but perhaps as a science experiment, but one where you acknowledge to some degree the worth of the specimen all the same. the way greg kicks into a solo and then rose chuckles, there's alot in that chuckle. she doesn't really consider why this silly man wants to play guitar, she just likes the way he plays, the way he sounds. maybe that's enough. or maybe not. that's not really even up to me.

    pearl doesn't seem to think so. more and more it becomes clear that pearl had no dog in the fight for humanity, she just did what rose wanted. she would follow rose anywhere and stand by her side defending her beliefs as they are her beliefs. they are intertwined to a degree that just may be unhealthy COUGHROSESSCABBARDCOUGHSWORNTOTHESWORDCOUGHPROBABLYMOREEPISO DESLATERLETSBEHONEST, but not really enough that she can disguise her own jealousy. you could say that's all it is but the very presence of other humans seems to perturb her as shown in the previous flashback episode, hell even in the present she isn't really sure how to deal with them, the closest she's gotten to working with a human was a connie and even then she funnelled her own selfish emotions into her. pearl is bad at human, but her intial point isn't necessarily a bad one, in fact it springboards the necessary conversation of the episode. her and rose's fusion dance is pretty great though especially as rainbow quartz's two pairs of eyes reflect both characters, rose's still looking on in admiration at greg while pearl has this mischevious glare. it's another great moment of reflecting a sense of rose not being able to consider the emotions of greg either, though ultimately she doesn't really understand pearl's either? maybe its more than a disconnect of human and gem. rose has a similar thing to steven OBVIOUSLY where she seems to see the good intent in every action and never consider that it could do harm emotionally, embracing everyone's intent may eventually lead to y'know hurting someone because their intent opposes the other's feeling and you don't realize that because you're too busy accomodating everyone. it's tricky, individual embrace is key but understand how that embrace affects everyone else matters too. for now its a minor point though so moving on. pearl's words after the number are harsh but not necessarily outright unfair. i mean saying greg is a phase is harsh but illuminates a solid point that well...there's not really a depth to what is happening here. i loved the last flashback episode but im a sucker for the format and i thought they wrote the characters extremely well to set up for future touches on the relationship of these characters, i knew rose and greg fell in love but at the end of the beginning all we had was the romanticized depiction of greg running back to rose leaving his old life behind, very film, very tv. which is fine to start off, but while you'd maybe like to think of rose and greg's relationship as pure and wonderful and the blockades are just those who can't buy a human/gem relationship, the realization is that what each of them Love initially may be pure, but its not particularly deep. SU seems concerned in not continuing the baffling myth of love at first sight, love can be magic but it takes work, love can spark quickly but that spark will not last forever with no coaxing. it's not that i dont think there was an immediate connection between the two but it takes mutual effort to maintain and understand that connection. love at first sight is shallow but maybe our eyes can tell us more than we realize, its just up to us to follow that to find out what they're saying. love letters went through all of this before and its just as important as it was then: there is something wonderful about seeing and believing in a pure relationship, but if a relationship isn't somehow conditioned eventually its going to stop meaning anything.

    the episode intently sort of stomps on its own delusions. rose has fallen in love with humans before, greg isn't necessarily special or at least he's not the first one to be special. the one you end up with is obviously, or id hope, the one you Want to end up with, but that doesn't its some insane magical love beyond the potential of any other partner. steven universe is a magical show but it knows to keep its relationships grounded. it supports a notion i find is incredibly useful in finding your way through life: don't always look for the Most, the Greatest. just embrace each nice thing for what it is, and eventually without even understanding, the certain flavors and innerworkings of nice things will hit you harder, stick with you without you understanding, and change you. greg isn't like the greatest human being ever, nor does he have to be, because whatever it is they have, it's important and they both realize that. what's most meaningful of course is, well as i said, you never know where a steven universe episode will go until the end, and i knew pretty much rose and greg weren't gonna fuse, but i appreciate how the episode lets us know that yes fusion is important to gems but embracing someone you love means accepting where they may falter in comparison to your idea of love. pearl's idea isn't wrong in terms of just how gems behave, their nature, but nature, purity, all these things are great and representative of what gems are capable of and their innate connection to the imbrace of the individual, but if thats the code they live by how would it look if they shunned those who couldn't? it begins to look less like fusion is even the mark of a great gem, and rather its just that nebulous embrace. among gems it only needed to be this one meaningful ritual, but beyond that context, its something more. pearl seems to know how to be a great gem, but only in the context of other gems, its something she lacks that rose seems to not even need to think about. rose and greg's talk is great, it's simple but it lays the groundwork for an acceptance of their differences. rose realizes that she maybe doesn't always take greg's emotions seriously, she's been having fun and thought he was too but didn't think beyond that. she's confused by his Wordering, taking the term "torture" for love quite literally, she groups him with All Humans when addressing why she likes greg, she laughs off his serious confessions. it never seems anything but a bit clueless though, it seems humanity has never challenged to look at humanity within its own agency, its always been her examining it how she sees fit, and well why would that be a problem? there is a sense of a big question here that...does rose like greg specifically? is he interchangable? it's really curious, but once greg actually demands they take some time and talk it actually shifts the mood. garnet was right of course that greg COULD fuse if he danced like greg. when it doesn't work, i dont think greg is the reason. for all these great declarations of what gems are and their beliefs and feelings this is all still based on gem experience, they dont know how to deal with humans. so rose kinda has no idea how to embrace greg for all that he is, because she wasn't thinking about him as greg, she was thinking about him as A Human. she doesn't wanna hurt anyone though, she's just..well she's used to being a gem. she loves and wants to better understand and experience humanity though, so if the way things are does indeed begin to hurt greg, that's enough. plus it really presents the obvious truth that, they're very very different. so it's time to embrace that. the embrace of not knowing each other at all really, and even that's okay, because there is SOMETHING underneath. maybe it is magic after all.

    A -

  45. Thumbs Up To This Post by: kupomog



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