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  1. #121
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    Aww yea the Crewniverse posted a lot for this ep so I don't have to rely on my own thoughts. The production values on this one in general are abnormally good so I'll at least point those out as I go along dumping links.



    In the near future we have fan favorite Lauren Zuke's debut as a storyboarder and the third Stevenbomb which actually goes through a five-part arc. so yeah hype for those.


  2. #122
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #62: CHILLE TID
    abrams/zuke

    i'm sleeping now. i'm sleeping.

    a dreamscape of introspection, whimsy, and futility. on some twin peaks shit - i just started watching twin peaks so im gonna reference it and be a totally fuckin smart guy who knows shit about tv cool? cool - steven wanders his dreams to get to lapis. this outing is an amalgam of familiar elements to be sure, some jokes about the CGs lack of familiarity with human customs, goofy steven fixations like dogcopter, sitcom parodies though thank god there's nothing of the mr. butler sort here so i'll take it. its all rather comfort food territory, and that works. dreams tend to take us through the spaces we know best, just never in the order we expect, little more than a series of vignettes. most of steven's dreams are more silly than anything which makes sense, it's gleeful nonsense, does chille tid mean anything? who knows but it sounds nice. as a framework this i think is a nice way to try and find lapis and jasper. otherwise we would just be watching the team scoping the ocean for episodes on end, but it also threatens an ultimate hopelessness to the journey. there's a consistent cluelessness amplified by the inanity of dreams by nature, where even what makes sense is just a a bit out of grasp, clarity blurs in an instant. we gain a connection to lapis, but it toys with whether or not steven and the CGs have the best interests they think. they caused this, in a way, after all, and lapis just wants to do her duty. at the end she says "just let me do this for you!", which reminded me of pearl saying basically the same in sword fighter, but whereas there pearl projected her interests as steven's/rose's, here it shown to be the opposite. steven wants to help lapis, but what can he really do now but make things worse by appearing and shaking her focus?

    but let's take a breather and appreciate the framing of this episode, the tone. the quiet peaceful, too peaceful nitetime scenery cut by wacky unpredictable dream scenarios, toying with wackiness through conventions that don't force it. steven universe takes frequent glee in deceptive happiness, but that becomes all the more blurry and deceptive when literally everything onscreen, especially the happiest or silliest moments, prove to be fundamental nonsense. these scenes operate well on their own as well as provide context to the greater feel of the episode, the silliness becomes almost creepy as it is a path to the truth, and the juxtapositions of dream scenarios and lapis breaking through are potent, especially the surprise of the first one as a crying lapis appears at the door on steven's dream sitcom, thats a very creepypasta moment almost. through these scenes we get to see steven be wacky in a context that isn't deterring the plot, hes not goofing about in times of crisis or trivializing anything, he's dreaming, and heck he's proceeding into said dreams increasingly with a sense of purpose that merely welcomes initial invite into whimsy. it's a smart device for steven, and keeps the episode unpredictable in a pretty new way. now granted the dream scenarios aren't too out there, the second one is a little more vague with the giant pearl head and amethyst on the whale - i especially enjoy steven believing he's achieved lucid dream only to fail to retrieve the right item from his pocket to a resigned "hmm" - its all eccentric in a somewhat disturbed way especially in context.

    it's also pretty funny. pearl's initial inability to sleep (compared to both amethyst and later garnet's immediate snuzzing), pearl's insanely embarassing dream, various dreamscape visuals and moments, the small touches in the sitcom bit like amethyst going BUNGACOWA and garnet's more Animeish eyes, also the way the set is literally one little area of a home so both pearl and amethyst run entirely off the set into Space. i do feel like maaaaybe the dream stuff should have gone a little more out of whack than it did but ultimately thats a minor complaint as it serves it purpose. the sitcom dream works as being reasonably normal and just a format shift, to lull and amuse you so it can drop lapis on you outta nowhere, then it becoming floatier gives a greater sense of steven navigating his brainspace. i'm also a fan of steven's explanation of why dreams aren't interesting even though its not necessarily a new observation, it works the way he puts himself to sleep trying to explain the nonsensical mundanity of his usual dreams. there's also small tonal things i like that add to the atmosphere, like when steven wakes up to pearl dreaming, the little flicker of her dream projecting and amethyst chuckling. little bits like that make the episode feel very natural even as something deeper is unfolding. the thing about this episode is its kind of about nothing, but thats not really an issue. its not a character episode because its entirely bound to a goal, its not about worldbuilding because none of its occurences manifest in reality, its technically plot focused but its largely about steven's inability to do anything, its another episode leaving us where we started. the only big question is why can steven even do this? what makes steven's dreams connect him to lapis, is this something he will have to wrangle and get under control because it seems not to be the will of either force being pulled toward each other in these dream scenarios. sure he does eventually start to chase lapis but why does lapis initially find him if she wants him to go away? hard to say, but while i think it could theoretically be fair to judge this episode for its aggressively tentative nature, i think it works. its in a sort of plot purgatory, it leans into certain truths with no certainty, it peers over the edge toward clarity before being pushed back. its a valiant effort, its a search through nonsense for truth, and the one place it finds that most vividly gives steven no more answers than he had, all he knows is jasper did not forget him, and lapis has little control left. so what now? let's sleep on it.

    B+


  3. #123
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #63: CRY FOR HELP
    johnston/liu

    more fusion! will kaos find new things to say? uh lets find out shall we.

    well first off having seen the demented mistakes of gem nature in keeping it together we have a clear antithesis to what fusion should be, yet before that we got a taste of fusion's potential disaster in sugilite, who this episode immediately addresses and strikes down. its a fascinating notion now, sugilite is a combination of tendencies in garnet and amethyst that in totality become an unchained force with little ability for them to control it, yet its still a result that feels natural, a sum of parts. so what exactly dictates an outright wrong fusion? is it whomst is fusing, or Howst the fusing is taking place? curiouser and curiouser. one would have to assume that since fusion is something that takes a certain emotional trust that you wouldn't rush into it unless you felt there was some compatibility but even then its had drawbacks and disasters, i suppose because the way fusion operates even if two (or more?) gems are compatible there is still a substantial disparity between them being able to become one, and the one they become. there is a certain difference to the behaviors of the fusions of the experienced gems who do seem to entirely change their internal structure and become new, than stevonnie where there was still a discernible sense of two kids floating in the void of that which they've just created, trying to nail the chemistry still. i suppose when it works you shouldn't be able to see the compounds used. if you mix red and blue together, you get purple, you dont see red and blue anymore nor should you. yet its still a conversation, just one so intimate that its almost like a "where do i end and you begin" feeling, and also an entirely new being. also garnet is a fusion who fuses so can fusions made of fusions fuse with other fusions aaaaaaaaaaaaaa god help. its still not entirely clear how much of sugilite is a disaster from its foundation, but amethyst outright does admit here that to some degree she fed on the power it presented her. amethyst's emotional insecurities have consistently been an important arc, but here i suppose i dont totally understand her angle. it doesn't seem to be an attempt at being greater than anyone else, just greater than herself, but all of amethyst's stories have been fueled by both simultaneously, a desire to assume the right role and please everyone due to her deep seated feeling of not quite belonging. reformed was great at depicting this as a still sensitive area where she wanted to be..whatever they want her to be. yet to what degree does her desire to be a giant woman affect anything? so maybe it runs deeper than insecurities, maybe its important to look at this just as her appreciation of what garnet gives her much as the way pearl feels. sure, but i guess i dont totally get that.

    i'll get back to that in a moment though, first: sardonyx! now she's a joy, love the design down to the little bowtie suit vest ensemble, she's very sassy and expressive and theatrical, love the curtains that burst behind her as she appears. the juxtaposition of sardonyx's nimble movements and jenga-like dismantling of the tower with her big honkin' hammer to sugilite's brutality is notable, it does definitely seem like in-fusion, they are a much better pair, another instance where you cant see the colors that got us here, just the beautiful mixture they create. the elegance and articulation are certainly pearl i spose, and i guess peppering a bit more freewheeling silliness could be something inside garnet that would yank away pearl's necessity for outright grace but that seems hard to pinpoint in garnet. she's a jokester and very chill but thats different to sardonyx self satisfied spotlight snatchery. if i have any issue with her its the fact that her scenes feel a bit disconnected from the proceedings, she's just tossed into the playground to be tested out, just an opportunity to have fun with a new character, but who sardonyx is has little bearing on the plot besides her being antithetical to sugilite's volatile behavior, her composure is all thats really immediately relevant and the rest is just for show. still she's a joy and makes her scenes, and hell its no wonder pearl wants to badly to become her, though i guess again its more just about being with garnet. see this is where i have a hard time trying to nail intentions to the analogy of fusion as love or affection or what have you. it seems almost excessive to me, the twist of this episode. to back up a @Tad, seeing peridot up front was a good way to say OK BACK INTO THE FRAY BACK INTO THE ARC, and sure pulling the rug out from under the viewer on that is clever, but for the first time im actually a bit annoyed by the almost contrived delay in the proceedings for the sake of an internal struggle w the cgs that amounts to very little in my estimation. let's try to parse this out though. pearl is a character known for devolving into lunacy in the face of her desires, taking risks and having emotional outbursts. fine, but so far all of this has been tied to rose, and we have understood where she was coming from, she lashes out as steven because she sees rose, she defends steven because she sees rose, her value is infused with her association with rose, and that attachment, that codependence is a foundation of alot of her emotions. so on one hand it would stand to reason that she would try to transfer those feelings to someone else, someone who makes her feel as needed and as strong as rose did, so garnet would perhaps do that for her. i can buy that i suppose, her fusion with garnet gives her that same feeling of importance but in a new place. fair.

    then we have amethyst who has constantly been trying to prove her worth to the rest of them. her desire to fuse with garnet seems to have less to do with her value in the fusion rather than her failing to find that composure in the fusion, her tendency to lose control. she fails garnet in her eyes and thats why she's rejected for a fusion, so it stands to reason she would feel inadequate about the scenario. i did find it refreshing that when the episode begins to show amethyst brooding we dont just get a total rehash of her more dramatic episodes, instead showing her more crestfallen than angry, turning the blame on herself in a more muted way. this is refreshing but her song leaves alot to be desired. its thematically one of the more interesting springboards in the episode but musically eh there's not alot to say, id argue it sounds unfinished. still it works to set up the Draminos for later. really when laid out all of this makes sense. it feels almost obnoxious to say but despite this, its just narratively all that interesting, not on its own. i understand this show operates in arcs but that doesn't really to me excuse an episode for not performing well on its own because its rarely a massive issue. the characterizations are consistent but pearl going to crazy lengths to please garnet resonates way less at the core than rose, and amethyst's stories are alot better when they're about a more profound sense of self acceptance turned into deep insecurity, again an episode like reformed showed her wanting to desperately reshape herself to their liking, literally. pearl and amethyst needing garnet has barely been touched on before this in a meaningful way, i mean there were episodes like secret team but uhhh. this show is a masterclass of the slowburn, trickling info before bursting the doors open on their implications, so alot of this feels a bit..sudden to me in how it relates to garnet directly. still fine ok the beginning of a bigger story let's tryyyy to accept that and take it for what it is i can do that. what i cannot do is accept pearl's downright insane actions here. rebuilding the communication tower seems extreeeemly irresponsible and thoughtless. before this pearl's actions even when emotionally excessive, always were based in responding directly to dealing with steven/rose, or connie by extension. she would get a bit lost in her own overzealous dedication and brainwash connie but her intent at the core in her own action was protecting steven. she would lash out at steven but at the core her action was just an emotional outburst, impulsive and reactionary. here she effortedly takes action to take peridot's escape pod to REBUILD THE TOWER MULTIPLE TIMES just to have some fusion time. she wastes everyone's times, deliberately creates a huge risk by enabling communications and goes to measured extremes that cannot be excused by one's reactionary emotions. it is reaaaallly hard to just bypass this behavior especially when it seems far more excessive in the face of what compared to rose feels like a lesser relationship. how can she know that wasn't in some way a hugely detrimental choice where the tower could somehow be used by peridot if her signal didnt get through the first time? its probably more likely that her lack of presence after the first time insinuates it was not necessary but pearl didnt know that. so yes i will give the show a chance but im not gonna lie, i have a hard time thinking this is something you can easily explain away. unlike so many times before this is such a weird combo of sudden and extreme that im going in a biiit arms folded. still, maybe ill warm on this as the arc progresses, and if i do i will be sure to let you know. for now, :colbert:!

    C+


  4. #124
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #64: KEYSTONE MOTEL
    molisee/villeco/sugar

    alright now to figure out why pearl did what she did?

    no?

    oh.

    ok.

    alright alright, let's put the "why" on the backburner and deal with the emotional chasm as it currently presents itself. regardless if pearl's actions are in some way excusable, they left a mark. ususally when we leap to the next episode in the same tension its caused by antagonistic forces so its telling where we find ourselves from the jump here, pearl still shuddering with anxiety about her actions and facing garnet, and for good reason. there'd be no reason for garnet to merely disregard this yet, it was a personal betrayal, a trivialization of serious events and dealing with peridot, a waste of time. also hypocritical as shit as she's frivolously using the escape pod how steven did in joy ride. garnet is steamed, as she should be, but it grows deeper than that. jail break was a representation of why garnet in totality is both such a badass and so calculated and composed, she is a conversation and when it flows it becomes this impervious otherwordly force that is a best of two worlds. yet, what about when communcations falter? here we see garnet's very greatest asset literally break her apart because the conversation hits a snag. we've seen garnet nearly forced apart in keeping it together, another moment where her inner voices were volleying contradicting statementse in an attempt to get a grasp on the reality, a valuable sneak peek into what we get here. before i get deeper into that can i say, i love the setting of this episode. its actual Point is so fucking well hidden until the end but even if there were little to no point i just find dealing with these emotional quandaries in the cozy but claustrophobic world of low-rent escapism that is a motel is just kinda perfect. the little touches are quite accurate, greg talking up the benefits, the shitty tv, the kidney bean pool, parking next to the room, and so on. there is something about a motel to me that when you're at one, its all there is. you can look out on the street and see the real world, but for now, you're in motel world. its perfect to take this problem out of the normal parameters and see how it reacts and how steven's idealized good times are disrupted. also greg implying he may get murdered by an internet man. very good.

    so yes, our hot head and cold shoulder. garnet is the embodiment of opposites attract, and i suppose that has natural hurdles and drawbacks no matter what. you can look at the story and dynamic here on many levels, the degrees of fusion can make it a bit tricky to form an analogy directly, or they do for me, but i tend to think of it like ruby and sapphire at all times as indeed, one person, the struggling contradictions of oneself dealing with the emotional distress caused by another. the need or even desire to forgive someone who has done you wrong versus the indignation righteously seeded in you by the event, VERSUS the feeling that managing the situation for a perspective of emotional responsiblity will best find a resolution. what makes this more complex and loses the potential single entity analogy is the disconnect of intent clarity, where ruby's visible vitriol versus sapphires reservation creates a dichotomy so intense that perhaps they assume the worst of each other or cannot see eye to eye (or eyes to eye hehe). garnet is so used to being a fusion that barely needs to ask what the equation was to get the solution so when the two halves are at such odds it really highlights and examines the struggle endured by facing such a deep uncertainty in themselves and each other. and again, i really disagree with neither perspective. ruby's rage i've been though, bitterness, ranting, pacing back and forth ahh especially pacing back and forth though not underwater that would kill me am no a fish boi. yet ive also been the more meditative position sapphire finds herself in, almost by necessity as an ocd man who has to learn to go with the flow and grab a nearby pole when the tsunami comes in. of course its clear her festering emotions are doing way more damage than ruby's mere hot feet, so while sapphire's decision isn't a bad one by default it shows issue by it being forced perhaps as the responsible decision. still all of this could be valid response to what happened, but despite so often being together in this moment of utter emotional disconnect they seem to disregard each other. id agree with sapphire that its best to try and be as zenlike as possible to rectify the issue and focus on the real bigger problems at hand re: peridot etc, but ruby makes the valid counterpoint that they're always the bigger gem, so shouldn't it be time they have a little opportunity to be rightfully stewing in their anger and stop pretending its ok? gosh when im so busy darting back and forth between agreeing with the two, it says alot about how well the show paints these two different viewpoints starkly, why the two split up but also how it can be repaired.

    it does make one think about how garnet carries herself in general, if she feels guilty sometimes about being almost required to be the cool, level headed gem but also be the great big hero. sure shes plenty capable of it but how often does it interally clash when her emotions aren't so straightforward on an issue? in any case, this is definitely as intense as its gotten to our knowledge so far, to the point that there seems to be no answer, no solution, until steven has had enough. as a viewer this issue is both extremely important and very frivolous in the way it disregards the actual plot lingering, not in such a way that it deters the episode at all but rather because the events themselves are objectively, in a comparative sense, rather meaningless. that's our emotions though, mountains of molehills, and in this little humble abode of humanity garnet splits apart into two microcosms of her most human feelings and flaws and we witness them clash. it seems important, it even is important, but the level of importance they present it leaves an eye of the impact they're leaving on steven. this episode is pretty great from the jump but it became one of my favorites for its last ruby and sapphire and steven scene. the keystone motel isnt just a fun locale, it was indeed steven's escapism, from the wall-to-wall madness and horror of his life reforming into something new and unpleasant, a moment away from all the peridot and lapis and jasper, a moment away from responsiblity, but alas even the gems he knows and loves and trusts are clashing, so he turns the problem inward. this is a powerful moment, steven ever since full disclosure has displayed that in his burgeoning maturity he bears alot of weight of the events around him, he is an important component to all thats going on, and maybe he interprets that as everything awful around him somehow being his fault. is it rational, perhaps not, but in such a situation of being the epicenter to so much insanity it may be hard to feel like you are anything but the catalyst of your own misery. its a powerful moment when he barges out of the diner and then lashes out at ruby and sapphire. in that moment everything that actually matters snaps back into place, and after an outright adorable sequence of the two rekindling and finding their chemistry again, steven is just happy to see garnet. steven always seems so eager to see ruby and sapphire, but what they represent here just made it too much for him. still man their final scene is wonderful, getting down to the root of how future vision really helps sapphire and by extension garnet keep their composure but also showing how that can rob sapphire of her emotions and create the misinterpretation between her and ruby, another solid example of showing an intrinsic positive of her as a fusion as a negative in this specific situation. its such a crazy distinction seeing them feel so distant when they first split to indeed feeling very much one right before the actual fusion. its very telling of what is lost in the disconnect, and that the connection is way more than the fusion itself. i do appreciate that this show took to addressing the very nature of forgiveness before actually addressing what happened concretely. its hard to forgive people, you want to be right, you want to be angry, you want to be the bigger person but perhaps with less than altruism more with a stubborn pride that demands the objectionable action in question is apologized for in desperate grovels at your feet. its not always easy nor does it always feel right to forgive someone, i still dont think pearl should be forgiven what she did was insane. its not up to me though, and it sure shouldn't be. i always hope this show can keep being better than me, so i can do my best to catch up.

    A


  5. #125
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #65: ONION FRIEND
    abrams/mitroff

    i like how this episode begins sort of mirroring together breakfast with steven's weirdo concoction and the intent to share it with amethyst, with that being immediately struck down in her depression, along the lack of awareness of where pearl and garnet are. it really hits home where we currently stand, frayed relationships leaving silly adventures like that impossible due to the connections currently struggling, no longer is steven the dynamic force in a world of confident constants, disarray follows everyone and its deeper than can be immediately mended. while we're comparing though, here we have a document of amethyst that definitely picks up where maximum capacity left off, albeit not directly, just thematically. amethyst definitely seems to bask in limited chunks, flickering ephemeral bubbles of time that gave her meaning and importance. unlike pearl, she doesn't have that importance in one drug-like high of a relationship, rather in many in smaller doses, but with seemingly less definition. she has alot of places to go, but none of them seem obvious, and the world is growing without her. the change in her normal life pushes her out of the way and leaves her lost, but the worlds that comfort her barely exist outside of her idealized brain. her times with greg watching a stupid sitcom were nice, but they can't cycle forever, and her catching up with an old friend is nostalgic and calming, but its still an aside to reality. eventually what is, will pop back up again. you can't run away from the present, because eventually you're gonna feel it chasing you, you just make yourself the victim and your feelings the antagonist. still it makes sense, amethyst wants things to be a way that makes her fit in, and how can that happen when nobody is getting along at all, when everything is in emotional shambles.

    i do think this is a great indication of incremental growth however, amethyst is not found emotionally manipulating the one she needs in this episode, unlike greg before there's no feverish desperate controlling to keep an ideal situation from slipping out of place. she's just hanging out with an old pal, reminiscing about good ol' days, but also gaining the perspective of someone who undeniably respects her. vidalia is a sweet and lovely character with alot of charm in her mix of motherliness and used-to-be rebellious type. you can still feel it in her slightly dry and crass sense of humor, balanced with her wholesome embrace of her kid's talents, and her genuine talks with amethyst. i tend to worry deeeeply when onion in on screen because he's usually just an excuse for irritating gags and little else, but at least in this episode they serve something a purpose. scenes of steven generally suffering through onion antics are as amusing as they ever were (very little), but in the end steven does it as a small sacrifice. he knows that amethyst treasures and values these moments, but she's also gained some maturity and control not to betray the moment, so its up to steven to endure whatever he has to to make sure she gets the time she deserves with her friend. that's alot of what it is really. there's not a big hassle deconstructing this one because its deliberately a step away from IMPORTANCE, or a step away from narrative weight. these things are mundane but valuable to amethyst, so they become valuable to us. she's amazed how everyone has grown, look how big sour cream is, look who vidalia is married to now, wheres Farty Marty also who ah but who cares. we get the details we are meant to, we are meant to know vidalia being married to yellowtail is a big deal without even seeing him at all. its especially telling how amethyst shrugs off her own life, her undeniably wild and exciting life, as boring. who is to say she wants any of what she deals with, shes the gal to idealize infinite sitcom reruns, shes a simpleton, in a sense. yet of course its also masking the reality of what she's been experiencing and how it seems to yank her out of the narrative. she's intrigued in a world thats very pure and down-to-earth, but perhaps partially because its a world that didn't leave her behind, vidalia has grown and her sons are doing things one's a dj she got married to a new guy etc etc, but she hasn't forgotten amethyst, there's still a slot for her, and in fact she left a bigger mark than she even realized. it's really sweet and pleasant, and its valuable and important for a character who needs somewhere she belongs when it feels like at home, nobody belongs right now.


    but yes lets discuss the stuff im less fond of: the onion stuff. the fucking onion stuff. again, at least it has a point here, but i'm still hard pressed to care. this episode sells itself on an endearing humanity so its jarring to say the least to shoehorn in sequences of steven suffering this weird kid's baffling habits, making him try to feed a poor creature to a larger creature, smashing potatoes shaped like him into his face after having after spit up potatos onto the table. its very clear that vidalia's Cool Liberal Momness has lead to a child so expressive that he's a bit of a loose cannon of unmoderated bad behavior. i guess thats lore, if you want onion lore. you could say all of this even ends up with a pleasant ending with onion showing him his GUYS AND GALS collection but reminding me of the worst episode of the series hardly makes me feel like giving any real points, and i dont really care about steven's toy obsession shruggy shrug. onion has always been a way to annoy and terrorize steven which to me just is neither funny nor fitting, far too cringe comedy for my tastes and very jarring considering the kinds of tones this show tends to aim for, especially in an episode like this it is just unbelievably jarring. thankfully, its really quite brief, and it doesn't really..matter. which you could see a bad a thing but thats the thing, its really quite a conflict free episode, because aside from a few naturally bizarre onion things, its the episode that keystone motel couldn't be, narratively. a nice moment away from the chaos, truly actually a break from it all. that's nice, and necessary, twofold id say. its good to have that moment away for amethyst, who needs space to think, and a perspective that can take time to attend to her feelings and not be so self-indulgent or concerned with the actual plot and what have you. yet i also think it adds weight to the story. time away from a struggle can be useful or even mandatory, a deep breath before diving back in, but sometimes when you stare away the bleakness at your shoulder just gets stronger, you give strength by showcasing your fear first and foremost. the conflict with garnet and pearl seems, compared to alot of what we have dealt with, frivolous. who am i to say though, it certainly isn't for amethyst, this is two episodes in a row that have found their own ways of attempting to deal with events that clearly carry more weight than i as a viewer can currently realize. peace is always cruelly short around here after all. time to pop the bubble and careen back into the present. i think? we'll see.

    B+

  6. #126
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    Now that Hellen Jo is gone and forgotten about we can focus our attention to new storyboarder Lauren Zuke. Their later eps have some of the most striking artistic choices of the show, but for now I suppose we'll just dive into their stuff from this ep. Not a lot of links so I suppose here are a couple of their storyboards. woo.

    So yeah Lauren wastes absolutely no time slapping meme faces all over the episode. The first in a very....very long series of them in their episodes. That's not to say that Zuke is just the meme boarder though - their dream sequence with Lapis and Malachite stacks up to a lot of the show's other intense moments animation-wise. I don't really get to show this with stills but the dream setting gives Lamar & Lauren a lot of room to try out more ambitious spacial placement, which is pretty neat.

    The next Zuke ep (which incidentally is your next wow I'm slow) is the first Lauren/Hilary ep, which remains the favorite boarding team for a lot of people. So at least you can get hyped for that despite the weird excursion from the arc at hand.

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  8. #127
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    The Sardonyx arc probably isn't anyone's favorite arc in this show, but as one of the first well-defined major arcs of the show (thanks Stevenbomb format), it immediately shows off what this show is capable of now that season 1 has more or less fleshed out our main characters and set their character arcs in motion. As the opener, Cry for Help is admittedly a bit scattershot in order to establish where Steven and all three CGs stand in the conflict while going through the plot progression that actually kicks off the arc. It's quite a bit to cram into 11 minutes, especially with the Peridot cameo raising more questions and the introduction of Sardonyx. The next few episodes really start digging deep into the character rifts and that's really where this arc gets to shine (as you've already seen in Keystone Motel god I'm slow), but for now I suppose I'll start nerding out over this ep. Bear with me cause this is arguably one of the best animated episodes of the whole show.

    Joe Johnston does most of the episode's first half and it's packed with wildly expressive character animation and striking framed shots that help visually emphasize each character's motivations. And this is all before the Sardonyx fusion dance, for which we have Joe's timed storyboards. They're synced to a K-pop temp track because of course they are Rebecca you Friccin weeb.

    The second half is largely Jeff Liu (here are some of his boards), this time marked with significantly more serious character acting across the board. The Sugilite bit is short but intense, again marked with some really striking staging.

    Oh yeah this ep has a song. It's short and written by Jeff Liu - his demo is here, the remastered version here. Someday Amethyst will get a full blown musical number. I hope.

    I dunno where else to put this so here's Colin Howard, character designer and Jeff Liu's second boarding partner starting season 3, tweaking Sardonyx's design. I guess if you're nerdy enough to read this you'll also be interested in watching character design evolve so there ya go.

    And finally and by far most importantly here's a deleted scene from Jeff: snacks

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    In my very last post *gestures above* I noted that the Sardonyx arc takes full advantage of the character arcs that season 1 kicked off. I should note the caveat here though, and that's Garnet - largely a stoic mysterious character for most of season 1, her only real major development happens with the fusion reveal in Jail Break. So in that regard, Keystone Motel is advancing Garnet's character in a way we haven't seen yet - still taking advantage of season 1 laying out the relationships between the three CGs and Steven, but showing for the first time where Ruby and Sapphire fit into these relationships.

    The modest setting of the motel is indeed very nice and cozy (backgrounds here) and pretty much the exact opposite of the huge, visually striking backgrounds in Cry for Help. It's a great setpiece for Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco, the show's go-to team for wildly exaggerated character movements, to really go all-out with ANGERY Ruby. The diner scene where Ruby smashes shit up pretty much has Raven written all over it. Rebecca also does a bunch of wild Rubies, including the ones in the reconciliation scene - Rebecca generally has the most detailed Rubies and they're especially expressive in these scenes.

    The soundtrack behind Ruby and Sapphire reconciling is uh...well it's Reconciliation. The melody sure sounds awfully familiar......

    And finally and by far most importantly I can finally post this shitpost from storyboard revisionist Mira W: sugilite

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    #66: HISTORICAL FRICTION
    florido/zuke

    alright, let's take a leap back from the narrative and look at where we stand right now. season 2 has been good. at times, great. it's had a few of my absolute favorite episodes so far, and alot of creative new concepts to keep the series fresh, it continues to blossom and evolve and present new details that promise the show has plenty of fuel left to travel new trajectories, unknown territories, to continue to surprise and excite. yet i'm realizing something: folowing the events following the catastrophes of jail break, i felt a distinct excitement at the sheer potential of what it all meant. where could this go? what will result from this? we are out of the comfort zone entirely, the gems are all being targeted by homeworld, peridot is still on earth, lapis is holding jasper down in one of earth's oceans. more than ever where the plot left us hung in the balance with alot of great curiosity, because the goalposts were unclear. sure they need to find peridot, but they can't just...do that willy nilly. you have to have an entire season of tv here. it was very exciting, but i'm realizing now that the plot practically begs for padding. now i've said i dont much believe in filler in a show where the individual pieces can still contribute if not to the main story, then in incremental values that accentuate the characters, the sideplots, the relationships and dynamics that add electricity to the machine that keeps the momentum in check towards the main goal when focus is regained. my issues right now, especially with the good but a bit difficult sardonyx arc, are twofold: a continuous, almost inorganic swerve away from focus, and the supplementary storytelling being of less substance than before. in s1b these stories worked in the same ways they falter here, that is to say, they were the story. in the calm of the homeworld gem storm, the gems were the story. how they behaved, how they revealed their frailities, that was 100% the important thing, it said alot about how the past defined their present and how it slaps an imposing question mark on their future, and alongside that gave us alot of internal turbulence to chew on as viewers, alot of details of the relationships of the gems that tears away the fragile veil presented by the perspective of steven in s1a, that painted them as pristine, and perfect, and rigid, and heroic and nothing more. s1b took a wrecking ball to the idol and reassembled the pieces into something wholly, unspectacularly, fantastic. something real. it was a jarring shift and it was a large part of steven experiencing being on the inside, of sorts, for the first time.

    s2 has had some amazing character development, but largely its been for steven, and for garnet, with slight tweaks for amethyst. as a whole though its been very good, and i dont wanna disparage it just because i cant compartmentalize it, but i definitely cant help but feel like even at its best - keystone motel is up there with my favs, if not my #1 ep right now - the themes we are circling haven't changed alot. in a sense thats organic, but in a sense its delaying a main plot that in reality, didnt seem to have enough preconsideration. the anticipation of infinite possibilities is after all the result of looking at an empty room and wondering what could fill it, but that doesn't mean anything will at all. that sounds harsh, and it isn't to say i even think they failed at this peridot plot and tried to mask it or anything. i dont think its a case of failure, though i do think this is new for them, putting a big villain on the planet and dealing with that, having the main enemy For Now on the planet the entire season. thats different, thats a new task to deal with, and at times it feels like they're darting away from it. maybe thats wrong, maybe all of this is far more useful than i think. all i can really say is right now, this particular arc is presenting me alot of evidence of a season keen on productive storytelling, but avoidant storytelling, and the issue lies in that incremental growth based thematic storytelling. yes tell these stories, but are they worth the spotlight? maybe. i do enjoy them. its tricky, maybe its a volume thing. maybe its unfair to judge an arc that pretty immediately lets you know its not really about peridot, for not being about peridot, if i enjoy episodes like keystone and onion friend so much whats the problem? im still trying to figure that out myself. once more let me make it clear, im not shitting on s2, not at all. i just feel like there's some lacking efficiency here, or that these stories, while great, are not as illuminating as they want to feel, keystone motel excluded. alot of this is updating what we already know and painting it as some massive arc because WOW THE GEMS ARE FIGHTING AND AREN'T HAPPY yeah this isn't new though really, its interesting sure but does this need to be an arc in place of progressing plot but kaos you LIKED the last episodes quite a bit in fact yes i did and i wouldn't want to change them..i think it all just goes back to cry for help. i still dunno that i think that episode is redeemed by what follows, its events dont seem like they have to be what they are to make those episodes what they are. this arc doesn't have to be this arc to reach those episodes. lots of great episodes, a few all time highs, but as a total package? something is not quite sparking the same way as s1b yet, or maybe sparking in too similar a way to 1b. i think. anyway, historical friction.

    i don't like this episode. i don't believe that is a controversial statement. really, what am i supposed to like? the worst character this side of ronaldo gets brought back for an episode that is almost entirely dedicated to a play about mayor dewey's father, full of goofups and bad scenery and bad costuming. it's cute but nothing i've not seen before. plays as allegories hit their peak with the avatar the last airbender pseudo clip show anyway, you are not doing better than that, so dont really bother. i dont like when my reactionary take is "i don't care". that's not constructive, that's not helpful, and it isn't really fair. sure it has nothing to do with the main plot really - or i dont think, shit you can never fully tell with this show - but i'm not the guy who throws a tantrum when the main characters aren't onscreen or when the plot isn't being forwarded or when its just an island vacation or all they did was talk about dreams and so on and so on. i love risks, i love challenges, i love weird episode ideas and motifs. MOST of this episode is a play, based on non-fiction events of a long time ago in this world, not crucial events, but events. it involves the crystal gems and dewey's father, and it speaks to how long they've been around defiantly Heroing. yet...i don't care. i think the framework is a failure, i think the jokes are mostly redundant (though jamie's callback to the moment where garnet rises from the ocean is fucking good), i dont feel like im given anything to digest, im meant to care about jamie's acting career and his plays..but i don't. not a smidge. not an iota. i wish i did, or at least i wish i knew why i didn't. i dont want to be the guy going IT WAS BORING BECAUSE IT HAD THINGS THAT I CONSIDERED BORING, i want to extrapolate whenever possible. here though... i can't seem to. the weirdest thing though is the one bit that worked. i said earlier that i loved many episodes this season, but not so much for how they come together but for individual efforts, and this arc especially has felt like that. the ruby/sapphire story found a great way to happen, but it didn't have to be this i dont think. the amethyst story could have been slotted just about anywhere as long as it concerned s2's conscious fatigue with the world around the gems and the endless drama from one side or another. they are valuable episodes for their characters and speak to certain important themes, but im still unsure they make up for pearl's stupid stupid ass mistake, or explain it. here though, steven has a moment of lucidity fueled by all that he has experienced as a gem. i haven't talked in awhile about steven's growth as a gem because its been less prevalent, but its undeniable he has found a maturity and awareness, and in his scene with pearl that is encapsulated in the best explanation for her shitty actions yet: because we are failures. we are humans, or gems, or whatever, and we are real, and sometimes we suck, and sometimes we fail, and sometimes we make episodes like this, and what defines us is not when we fall down but when we get back up. what makes us heroes is not our quantity of good deeds vs bad, but the moment when we decide what happens next when the bad deeds happen. it is not a sophisticated answer, nor is it a specific one, but in a sea of complex, intertwined characterizations, sometimes depth can be substituted for something simpler: humanity isn't a script after all. maybe i've been too hard on s2. i do love it, and i am excited for what happens next. i consider this episode a failure so

    D

    but thats okay. because our individual failures are part of our success, and what makes you a hero is never stopping despite that. this arc has been messy, but it has unquestionably been an effort, and it has had some beautiful results in the mess. its hard to always get things right, whether you slip and make a mistake or you try something new and you fail or whatever. s2 feels less defined by what it is narratively, and more the efforts in the real world, by the real people, to find it themselves. its that same feeling of how to feel the empty room, the potential and the anticipation. maybe they wont find a season like s1b, for my money anyway, but i don't want to ever make it seem like i think they aren't trying. our individual successes may not always have a poetic totality, maybe they're just what they appear to be: moments, efforts, attempts, thoughts, feelings, actions. i love writing, i love arranging and crafting reviews and tying things together, putting a big bow on top at the end that kinda thing, making it feel very arranged, and organized and pretty. but shit aint always arranged, life doesn't always have patterns, there isn't always one big fat point leaping out at you and sometimes things repeat because things repeat because things repeat because things repeat, and sometimes there is no big bow on top ending line that sounds really nice and makes you sound poetic.


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    Smack in the middle of the first major sustained rift between the CGs, we literally get an Onion ep. It's a surprisingly bold move in its willingness to explore how the primary Garnet/Pearl thing is affecting everyone else too by diving into the new norm as if it were the status quo and things don't need repairing. Onion antics are still bafflingly unfunny as usual, but the fact that they're even here really shows that even while Pearl and Garnet are bickering, we're still seeing the show through Steven's eyes, and for Steven, life still goes on.

    With Onion Friend, we get another storyboarder shuffle, introducing the B-team of Lamar Abrams and Katie Mitroff who will stick around until at least season 4. They're the B-team not because of their storyboarding skills, which are pretty damn consistent, but mostly because with the high-action technically-complex episodes going to Joe/Jeff, the body horror episodes going to Raven/Paul, and the character-heavy slice-of-life episodes going to Hilary/Lauren, Lamar and Katie don't always get the chance to steal the spotlight on huge episodes. There's a few exceptions of course, including their next next episode which is easily one of the show's best-looking episodes, but for the most part they unfortunately show up when everyone else is busy with other eps. I guess I feel kinda bad that this analysis will end up being nothing but a dig at Lamar and Katie but hey I get to nut all over The Answer in a short bit so look forward to that.

    The background artists continue to work overtime for this arc, putting together Onion's house which is the third new setting in 3 episodes.

    lol I have to write about Historical Friction next.

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    #67: FRIEND SHIP
    johnston/liu

    for an arc ender, i'm really not sure i have alot to say about this one. to be fair, this arc has been adamantly about its asides, taking a few vacations from the tense relationships it existed around, tiptoeing the revelation and solution to the scenario, perhaps because well there's not that much to it. still, pearl's irresponsible actions created powerful ripple effect that lead the arc in unpredictable and often interesting directions, continuing to keep the core dynamic hanging in the balance. there isn't alot new to what pearl does except the context of it happening to garnet, but this episode does present how a few emotional quibbles and distrust can throw a wrench into the gears of the well oiled machine of the crystal gems, leaving them graceless and stumbling, looking like idiots in front of peridot, though mostly pearl. we have dealt with character's deep seated insecurities and frailties in pretty sophisticated ways plenty of times so far, throwing each and every gem under the microscope when need be. here, much like the rest of the portions of this arc that focused on the events and blowback of cry for help, it feels a bit underwhelming. this is basically a s1a style gem adventure with the added blemish of an overzealous pearl eagerly attempting to be the hero of the day so she can make up for her misdeeds, but in turn making it all way worse. the adventure itself is...fine. we have pretty much hit all these beats before, they catch peridot, but they fuck up and she gets away, then they catch her again but then she gets away anyway. there's traps and holograms and lasers and SPIIIIIIIIIKES what have you. the only big difference is pearl kinda fucking things up, which makes sense but i dunno that its really enough to augment this sorta typical locale to make for an engaging episode. it is pretty though, dig that first shot when they arrive at the abandoned ship, the scope of it, the moss crawling up the exterior. peyrin will take care of the rest of the animation talk though. back to complaining! hoo eee do i love complaining! ok but one small touch i admire here is how much it seems steven is carrying this mission on his back, though shouts to amethyst for saving a few butts too. generally though theres a sense that steven is taking the hardest hit from this scenario. together the CGs are formidable, but in disarray the cracks begin to show, and while more mature and adept, steven is still a novice compared to everyone else and cannot vanquish the baddies all on his own. sure him whipping out shields like its nothing says alot about us coming so far in him being an official gem thats its barely worth speaking of anymore, but its not doing his heart and soul good to have to carry that weight.

    luckily, and not to sound like egg here but well here goes, things finally happen in the last few minutes and these two drama queens (three drama queens?) finally patch things up. so here we are at the end and the test i set forth for cry for help to redeem itself comes into play: does pearl's reason for doing what she did feel validated? well..kinda. im now realizing thats not even the whole issue, from the ground up i cant help but feel like they overestimated the value of this particular story. not that it doesn't matter, but they've told more resonating stories in single episodes, and done abstract character examinations of greater depth without ever lifting the foot from the Plot Progression Pedal. here i kinda feel like even with all the peridot in the bookends, they screeched alot to a halt to tell a story that was not as demanding a spotlight as perceived. still, lets take it for what it is. pearl's reason is not a shock per se, but when articulated from her mouth you get the full sense of how the thoughtless usage of peridot's ship to rebuild the communication tower fell fully in line with her rose obsession. it seems smaller and less significant, because it is, and her decisions seem of greater desperation despite a smaller scenario. because that is exactly what is happening. pearl has to come to terms with the fact that rose is gone, steven is steven, and she has to have her own purpose unattached to them, but she couldn't. she admires garnet, perhaps not to the same extent, but she accepts her as a consolation prize. she doesn't do an even more absurd thing because garnet is more valuable to her than rose, but because its garnet or nothing. it does actually make sense, in the end. just, yeah didnt need to usurp the momentum. in any case, garnet and pearl's encounter is an effective curtain close for this arc. garnet outright admitting her splitting in keystone motel is a good touch, a moment of brutal honesty that reveals her own frailties, that her perceived togetherness is just a matter of perception, that garnet can be the strongest because she believes in her ability to keep trying despite her moments of weakness. pearl is used to being codependent, having someone to have that relationship with, to define her, to give her meaning, to fill her sillhouette with color and make her feel like more than a shadow, so in her seemingly last ditch effort she tried to capture that. the truth is, of course, thats all on the surface. pearl is many things on her own, but strength is not something she exudes much, but not because she can't, but because she doesn't know she can. this scene actually did manage one thing greater, in that it closed two books seemingly: that of this sardonyx arc, and of pearl's intense desire to be validated by those she looks up to, to be guided. perhaps the start is someone you admire telling you to be your own compass. the final sequence with all the gems back together tethered in desperation trying to pull down peridot is a nice visual representation of everything linking back into place. hopefully now we can redirect our focus on the task at hand. ill probably be volleying back and forth on my overall thoughts on this arc for a long time. i have been notably less kind to it than alot of the show, yet for all of its flaws theres some part of me that feels it is what it should be, or for its mistakes the work it gets done, the ideas it presents, the progress it makes and the fun it is, is enough. maybe.

    B -

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    This episode feels...necessary. Even halfway through season 5 we haven't seen the full significance of the exposition dump here but knowing Rebecca they will probably pop up somewhere insane down the line. I guess it's just a shame they use Jamie who 0 people care about to do the exposition'ing here - season 4's Buddy Book does the flashback gimmick a lot better for sure. And the importance of that one will be much more immediate than this one, which is nice. Ah good job me I wrote about a different episode because of how little there is to say about this.

    Anyway we've finally arrived at Lauren & Hilary's first episode. They replace Katie & Hilary as the go-to boarding team for slice-of-life, character acting-heavy episodes. And even with an episode as mUnDaNe as Historical Friction you can see how pleasant their character models look - hey maybe you can't take these models into a complicated fight or squash and stretch them, but they just look plain nice. This is of course pretty subjective but I'm always right on behind the scenes matters so you can trust me on this. Lauren & Hilary also complement each other really really well for these kinds of episodes - outside of a few obvious tells (*cough* Lauren drawing Amethyst hair like she's an untamed cat), it's usually pretty tough to distinguish their boards. As opposed to, say, Raven & Paul, who are piss easy to distinguish if you pay any sort of attention to it. (not that that's a bad thing of course.)

    Meanwhile, the background artists have a bit of an easier time this time, but there's still some impressive background art in this ep. And then they go all out for the finish but that's for another post.

    But I suppose the greatest legacy of Historical Friction is THE CRYSTAL JAMIES. there is perhaps an unreasonable number of these.

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    #68: NIGHTMARE HOSPITAL
    molisee/villeco

    yo dawg i heard you liked horror club so we put horror club in your horror club so you can horror club while you horror club.

    nah i've been somewhat harsh lately so let's cut all potential for snark and get right to a point: this was a great episode. all fears of horror club repetition are dashed in context, and the development here was genuinely new, valuable, and smartly self-contained. there was a part of me that felt like we'd kinda keep spinning the wheels on the relationship between connie and her folks, her busted glasses, her swordplay, her everything, keep the magic stuff all under wraps because her family is all just too damn normal to accept it and mrs maheswaran especially is an archetype controlling parental figure who would clip her daughter's wings if she thought it jeopardized her safety. we've never really gotten a look at her as a doctor before now, and while its sparse here it does say a bit about how she can see the worst case scenarios, the after effects of terrible things that can happen to reckless people. she's often seen as a wet blanket and a blockade, one of those hopelessly human characters who has to be dodged to get to the fun stuff, but steven universe is smarter than to let its blockades stay that way forever, and it knows the value of invovling the entire world its created in its affairs, no matter the potential risk. first though, wow is this episode cool tonally. i definitely worried about this falling into the horror club category, because this show last handled horror with a clumsy hand that felt ill fitting to the series, forced sloppy backstory, and gave us a particularly absurd gem monster of the day tale that felt a bit arbitrary and just more an excuse to do a horror spoof. not like you cant do spoofs in su, but often i feel the show doesn't need to pastiche when it has the tools to induce these feelings on its own. i said "last time" with regards to horror club but yeah thats a lie because jesus goodness me keeping it together was spooky eh? the hospital setting is a great sparse and innately creepy zone to unleash terrors, long expanding empty hallways, that unsettling buzz that eminates the corridors, bodies wriggling under white sheets, dimly lit areas everywhere. a hospital at night is perfect horror locale material, but it all could have fallen to pieces under tonal window dressing if it didnt have the core that mattered: organic horror, or rather entirely inorganic because yeah, hello again gem horrors! i feel like i knew as soon as the bedsheet began moving under the gurgled noise and uncontrollable writhing of the first being that thats what we'd be dealing with, steven does also bring them up as one of the possible foes earlier in the episode, signaling their return. the enemy isnt some arbitrary self contained thing, its some fucked up shit that steven has disturbingly witnessed, and its finding him when he doesn't expect it. its a bit like those s1a monster eps but given legs, given scary mangled legs, a feeling of a consistent menace cropping up, something extremely relevant to the disturbing actions of peridot and all she works for. its very important and thematic, and it adds to the terror.

    it also begs some neat questions. namely, why the HELL are there gem experiments in this hospital? the hospital is dimly lit but its also worth noting the corridors have the dreary emerald coloring of all locations that seem to involve the presence of peridot. did peridot use this hospital for some reason? or have the monsters traveled here? we really dont know how they got to the hospital, but i like to think maybe its some inner anguish dragging them to the potential to being relieved of that agony, like zombies who hunger for brains but have a flicker of humanity trying to peek out, desperately wanting to amble into their death to relieve the very pain of being what they now are. it seems to me that the false chemistry of the gem experiments would merit such natural agony, things that should not be, feeling it intimately themselves. while they are monsters, they are not innately evil, just tragic experiments. thing is alot of whats intimidating about them is merely their context. the only reason garnet couldn't vanquish them back in keeping it together was because she was stricken with the horror of what she faced, what it meant, how it represented fusion, how it betrayed it. as actual foes though, they're pretty flimsy. when connie finally gets her sword back and gets to deal some damage, its over in seconds flat, because well she's trained and her and steven are seasoned at this, these guys may be creepy when your defenses are down, but in battle stance they're tissue paper. ah but yes connie's dillema. the episode is a great way to send connie and steven into the very same horror as mrs maheswaran, plunge them into the same terror before showing how they differ in handling the situation when given the chance. when mrs maheswaran is running from these baddies with connie, she fully assumes they are doing all they can, no way connie would know how to handle this sword why would she? her helicopter parenting seems to suggest she wouldn't be capable of missing anything, so surely she would know where connie has been and what she's been doing all this time. even when steven asserts the truth she strikes it down as impossible, until connie finally takes charge. she seems stubborn to be sure, but whats telling as the episode passes is she doesn't mean to be. i mean first off she's her mother, its reasonable to be protective and anxious about her safety, its alot like how pearl treated steven when he was just a doof, no way this kid can be great, but he has to be. but connie didn't have to be, despite her weird magic friend, shes just a girl with a weird magic friend right? she also reveals to not really realize the extent of her coddling and controlling, doing her best to be a good parent. i love when connie finally reveals her lensless glasses, a good representation of mrs maheswaran being attentive, but not. being watchful, but missing a whole whole lot. it was also nice to just put all of this meandering around the issue of connie keeping secrets from her parents to bed. su seems to enjoy shattering its stereotypes by yanking the most stubborn or most archetypal characters into the most frightening elements of their narrative that demand they be human. you'd think for a moment that when mrs maheswaran sees connie with a sword fighting evil creatures, thats when she'd put her foot down harder than ever. yet, its there she sees whats really happening, who her daughter is, that shes grown, and shes gotta grow with her. again we get that feeling of ever expanding unity of every figure in this world, gravitating into the orbit of its events. in that, in seeing connie isn't the same girl, mrs maheswaran isnt the same mom. seeing the development in front of her begs her to change too, and humanizes all her intent. of course she always wanted to be a good mom, but it was hard to see her as a character as more than that plot blockade, even early on in this episode, and i think thats because she just wasn't where everyone else was, not up to speed, still living in a mindset built on earlier characterizations, intently but with some loss of that natural fluidity that makes these people, people. its so so so very rewarding to have that moment here, to have connie no longer hiding all of this, to sense that support, even if mrs maheswaran doesn't entirely understand this, she knows it matters and realizes maybe connie knows more than she thinks and its time to trust her. all this punctuated by a great ending of steven witnessing an all encompassing embrace of people being who they are, supporting each other, and looking down at rose's sword. he's all too familiar with that sensation of being trusted as all he knows he can be, and to see that spread to someone he cares about, someone human but just as capable of greatness, must be so wonderful.

    A-

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaos View Post
    these things are mundane but valuable to amethyst, so they become valuable to us. she's amazed how everyone has grown, look how big sour cream is, look who vidalia is married to now, wheres Farty Marty also who ah but who cares. we get the details we are meant to, we are meant to know vidalia being married to yellowtail is a big deal without even seeing him at all. its especially telling how amethyst shrugs off her own life, her undeniably wild and exciting life, as boring. who is to say she wants any of what she deals with, shes the gal to idealize infinite sitcom reruns, shes a simpleton, in a sense. yet of course its also masking the reality of what she's been experiencing and how it seems to yank her out of the narrative. she's intrigued in a world thats very pure and down-to-earth, but perhaps partially because its a world that didn't leave her behind, vidalia has grown and her sons are doing things one's a dj she got married to a new guy etc etc, but she hasn't forgotten amethyst, there's still a slot for her, and in fact she left a bigger mark than she even realized. it's really sweet and pleasant, and its valuable and important for a character who needs somewhere she belongs when it feels like at home, nobody belongs right now.
    I am so late to this but I am up to Onion Friend in my back-log of reading and THIS RIGHT FKN HERE VERY YES
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    #69: SADIE'S SONG
    molisee/villeco

    isn't it great when i don't do one of these for like two weeks then i return to an episode where i really don't have that much to say? yes i agree that is great, i agree with what you said. with what i said. i said that. i love sadie, i think she's sweet and adorable and i root for her, but i am probably more interested in her continued romantic quandaries with lars than her being too nervous to sing a song, or being pressured by her overeager mom. i do think this episode has a valuable lesson in that though, id like to think somewhere a mom has watched this show with their kid, this episode, and gotten something from that message, to not let their own enthusiams for their kids success be projected onto them to a degree of making them associate impulses of fun with misery. it is not necessarily new territories for kids shows to tackle however, it more functions through directly mirroring steven and sadie's mom, both of them fueling each other's unbound enthusiasm for sadie's big moment, making it really their big moment. for steven this is nothing new, just him so strongly wanting the best and greatest from everyone around him that his idealism sometimes gets in the way of their feelings, he doesn't always know how to step aside and let people be who they are because she so strongly believes in their greatest self that he doesn't let them reach that conclusion on their own and drags them around to their chagrin. this is one of plenty of examples of this happening but its basically the epicenter here so it seemed a good opportunity to encapsulate that. plus thats the ultimate truth about the episode: it's about steven. steven gawks with amazement at the gorgeous blue dress sadie pulls out, steven is more preoccupied with the right makeup, nailing the dance moves, perfecting the routines and all that to make it a great performance. of course steven being steven the assumption is always that he thinks this is what She wants because she wants to do what will make him happy and also what may be fun or creative for her, if done with some semblance of self control to the circumstances.

    one component that i do think was crucial to selling this episode was nailing the perfect, cheesy but irresistible feel good pop song that will suit each character who has to sing it and that will capture the slight theatrics of the final performance. whatever this song is called im dubbing it "hot pink limosuine", and lemme tell you boy it gets the job done. those summery jangley guitars, i am made to think of miley's party in the usa myself, a bright hopeful carefree sensation, the sorta sunglasses donned hollywood bliss only a cocktail of monetary freedom and white privilege could afford. thats the shit right there, that happiness we all we wanna dip our toes into in some way. a song about being loved, being respected, being noticed, being so famous and so adored that you cant help but give into it and milk it a bit. does this reflect sadie directly? i would say no, in fact what the episode suggests is that if she wants the sensation of this song, to live vicariously in that space for a modicum of time, she already found her way to do so. she doesn't want the lifestyle of the song, she just wants the song to add a bit of color to her lifestyle, a little spice while she's stocking boxes and all. it is a totally catchy song with some lines that are definitely gonna get lodged in my brain, it has significant appearance Three times in the episode and im not even mad, as its probably the most i guess you'd say Important part of the episode? its the heart of this little tale, how this song makes both sadie and steven feel. sadie loves it as she sings it by herself, while steven thinks she'd sound great singing it to the town, but thats because its what he wants. the episode is about sadie being stopped in her tracks chasing goals due to a mom pressuring her, but its almost more about steven reflecting that. i do have to wonder like hey would sadie just be working a menial donut shop job if she had gotten to apply herself untethered to her other passions but we don't go that deep in that direction, its moreso just fascinating to see steven go that same direction, to present how from steven it may often be endearing but at some point its the same behavior thats so believed to be positive the person loses sight of how they may actually be discouraging or frustrating the people they wish to nurture. its interesting, seeing steven so acutely realize his manner of pushing his desires on others, earnestly but overzealously, in such a small instance, but it totally works, it tracks with his character and gives us a dazzling finale. steven leaping on stage in the hot pink heels and the blue dress he loved, dolled up and bursting with personality, its a great moment where well, he gets what he wants and she gets what she wants. its a smart subversion in a tiny story, a tale that says victory or success or glory isn't always in the spotlight because its not always where we wanna go, and sometimes young people are dragged into these worlds kicking and screaming because they dared have a dream for a moment. steven gets to have fun, dance around and sing his heart out, because from the moment he heard the song he realized it needed to happen, he just didn't know who needed to. the episodes coda is a perfect antithesis, steven playing ukulele as sadie softly sings. steven got to experience that fun magical moment he felt in the song but more importantly, sadie keeps her song in her way.

    B-

  21. #136
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #70: CATCH AND RELEASE
    florido/zuke

    goodnight, ominous triangle at the foot of my bed.

    i've been fascinated with steven's shall we say, overt friendliness with peridot. after the events of marble madness it does strike me as odd that steven would continue to take opportunities to be a bit too cordial with the enemy. yet its proven to have its advantages, right or wrong steven's unending kindness and optimism may have well helped begin effort to save the earth from whatever the Hec the cluster is. scarey. i do love episodes like this that leap right into the action, because it plays around more with the unconventional nature of the story pacing, from long stretches away from peridot to leaping right back in, you're never sure exactly what you'll get but a new arc could snap into action at any moment. the scene where the cgs mirrors id assume quite intentionally the disaster of the opening fight a few episodes ago, all gems in equal standing again, emotional wounds healing and focus retained, quickly taking peridot down and bubbling her. of course inversely you have a whimpering panicked peridot so that helps. i also do always enjoy that such desperation in this show, that seems like a weird statement but its usually what forces character dynamics to adapt, to reshape to fit the way the mold is changing. we've been heading for this moment for awhile, the moment where peridot is cornered. of course i had been wondering if peridot was using her time on earth to hatch new schemes, call in reinforcements, all that good stuff. seems though she just wants off this rock forsaken rock before shit goes sideways. she can't fiendishly escape the gem's grips like a typical cartoon villain going ILL GET YOU NEXT TIME MY PRETTIES *WITCH LAUGH* or what have you any longer, because like it or not she needs steven. this is where i knew oh man at least we're gonna start yanking peridot closer toward that all powerful gravitational pull of the gems, of steven, of the series sense of unifying everyone. what i did not expect: peridot is fuckin SMOL. she's always had an impish demeanor, a sense of perhaps overcompensation in her hotheadedness and name calling, but beneath that shes a glorified grunt, its a wonder she is given such importance in the first place but of course thats because shes just an important key to preventing greater disasters, a moving breadcrumb trail that leads to nightmares like the gem experiments, a tiny microcosm of the IDEALS of the homeworld gems, the goals of the homeworld gems, and the mindsets of the homeworld gems. that she can be imposing at all in the grand scheme is the statement, but it couldn't last. this i think suits her better anyway, shed all the enhancements and you see the real peridot: a skittering scampish spidery goofball fumbling through the temple to futily escape the grips of the cgs only by holing herself up in the bathroom. yeah that's more like it.

    i appreciate how this episode doesn't make too big a deal of the disparity of steven's tactics vs the other gems' usual haste, as we've been down that road quite a bit and it could've pumped the brakes too much. instead we get to the point pretty quickly, peridot trusts steven moreso than the others for sure whether she will admit it or not and steven's tactics are the only way theyre gonna get any info on the cluster which they lack an emotional response to cuz well, they don't know what it is. i do still feel like its hard to know if i should trust steven's instincts to the degree he does unless the story dictates its okay. like this worked out but why did it have to, and should i excuse disasters like marble madness because they lead to this? that bit seems a smiiidge contrived but ill leave it alone for now as there isn't alot else to say about it. its not like its actually difficult to see where it comes from of course, it has been fun watching steven attempt to bond with and humanize (crystalize?) someone who is clearly out for at best their own interests, and has little concern for earthlings. as a Fierce Leftist i dont intrinsically buy into the whole BE NICE TO THE BAD FOLKS AND THEY WILL BECOME GOOD idea but hey stevens an idealistic character in an often idealistic world and its a cartoon jesus shut up kaos. yeah tho i do i find it neat, steven trying to use the same tactics he did on lapis, still believing he can tap into something. to be fair here he is appealing to peridot's own fear. fact is, peridot doesn't really need alliances at this point, we still dont have alot of idea of why she would do what she does. so if for nothing else than to save her ass from certain annihilation, she could at least reform out of an apprecation for that. who knows, maybe steven's humanity and love for the Existing is the great antidote to the soulless tactics of individual homeworld gems, it seems far too early to say. in this case however its hard not to see it as a great start. let's just talk about this episode for a moment in not thematic terms though because its a joy. watching peridot continue to attempt being threatening at this point to zero success is greatly amusing. she keeps trying to be the same imposing force but nothin doin, shes just too adorable and doofy. shes more of a pest if anything, a lime green rodent taking shelter to avoid a pummelling, lobbing out insults and curling up in the corner. i love her little moment of dominance with her slapping steven silly too, and when she fails to quite understand his HOOMAN practical joke ("whats your shirt?").

    here in the advent of peridot's reformation, it does seem increasingly obvious to me what has fueled her: fear. without her fancy enhancements there isn't much to her, so she must have needed all these doodads to feel capable of getting the job done. whats interesting though is she seems afraid even of steven still. her pointing out everything in the bathroom as a potential weapon is funny, but its also telling. first of all, that maybe she looks at the humans, or the earth gems or what have you as dangerous to her as much as she would be dangerous to them, oftentimes its easy to see yourself as the good guy regardless. further down that line of thought though, its possible shes too accomodated to violence. she is quick to burst, quick to slap, quick to retaliate and always seems to have her guard up. her bark is clearly worse than her bite, but for awhile that bark was enough. the season has done a really good job making her seem...important. like an always lurking force, casting environments in intense emerald shades to signify her presence or very recent absence. yet really her importance is only relative, she could do damage because of connections, she could be part of despicable operations, but its all being part of a big scary food chain. when you break peridot away from the homeworld directives and the big boots and floaty fingers, shes just another gem, and a gem with little to defend herself. shes almost like a child, sent into the army to do her duty, drafted and a bit brainwashed, untrusting of anyone, even the kindest fellow on the goddamn planet and probably in the solar system. theres something to the conflict-freeness of this episode i love. it tiptoes into dramatic moments, stevens waking peridot, the different tactics of the gems and of course the cluster, but it doesn't really make any grand leaps because that isn't the point. in great unconventional pacing fashion, the episode ends just as it seems its really beginning but to me thats the purpose, taking a moment to see whats going on, and thats especially necessary when a stray cat leaps into your house and starts growling in the corner. steven's light touch is necessary, and the tone needs to match that light touch, because in this moment as we regroup the characters and begin to get the situation laid out, its important to be in that place of emotional center. its a neat kind of lowkey episode, important in every event but treated so delicately, and in that context it ends especially lowkey on a piece of amusing Literal toilet humor. its the kind of bow on top of a pleasant little outing that for this show can only mean shit is about to fucking go the fuck down dammit ass ass butts poop fart doodie

    A-

  22. #137
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #71: WHEN IT RAINS
    abrams/mitroff

    hypothesis confirmed: fueled by fear. it's really quite a sight, peridot gone from elusive s2 main antagonist to helpless antihero in the flick of a switch, or the bubble of a gem as it were. stripped of her augmentations, left with no other options, we see her for who she really is. its illuminating, getting a deeper sense of her potent lack of anything resembling humanity: not just in her general emotional intensity or jargon speak, her defensive nature and outbursts, but also in her i guess you'd say innocence, or more broadly naivety. she doesn't even know what rain is, and she's so terrified of it, and the booming thunderclaps that announce its ominous presence. of course if you didn't know what rain is maybe you'd be spooked by it too, but peridot is always on-guard, always frightened by new things around each corner, always scared to trust anyone. she's a neat antithesis to steven, a character who doesn't so much have a disdain for humans or humanity or earth, its just all her knowledge, all her work, is strictly homeworld based. as such, for all her dirty deeds she's hard to dislike. this episode doesn't try to shelter the reality that to some degree she is responsible for the potential atrocity lurking beneath the earth. she didn't get to take part in the main experiments due to the nebulous time tables but she's still tasked with keeping an eye on things and getting the experiment back running, and she's more than willing to oblige, until it jeopardizes her own survival. she is indeed at best an antihero at this point, but she fits that role like a glove. its not just because she's too harmless now to do anything, but the sensation that she seemed like she HAD to be powerful to survive, she is a representation of the homeworld gem mindset and conditioning, existing in that world and surviving in that world. just our small glimpse up to this point says alot about how that may emotionally shackle you, make you trust nothing and noone and leave you afraid to be useless. it doesn't hurt that she is useless though, watching the impression of her leap from a fiend who seemed impossible to capture to a meek little grunt unable to even remove a panel that steven could, and is literally too short to reach the controls. love thinking of her leg enhancements as just straight up being a way to be tall enough to accomplish basic parts of her tasks. shes only been as strong as she has to be, and she certainly didnt get there on her own, so outside of her own control, of course she'd reveal her true fear and worry. doesn't hurt the earth is totally fucked of course.

    so the cluster. yipes. gotta love this show keeping a few different threats brewing at once so you never feel too safe. we got peridot rangled to the good guys and gals side for now, but we still got the whole lapis and jasper thing to deal with, we still have to assume homeworld is aware of steven's presence on earth now, and also theres a humungoloid Hell Gem growing beneath the earth that will someday erupt from its crust and tear it completely apart. that would be less than ideal, innit. millions of artificial gem shards stuck together. imagine that shit. im imagining that shit. its nuts yo. shame we wont get to see it probably because y'know thats the end of the world and all. im sure they'll find a way. worth noting the episode doesn't actually get into what the cluster is For. its a big scary geoweapon but..why? is this a EVIL FOR EVILS SAKE TAKE OVER THE WORLD kinda dealie? id have to assume its more nuanced than that. i guess we will find out. in any case don't worry because peridot assures steven itll all be okay because...rain? uh oh. refer back to sheer cluelessness, of earth, of earthings, of the grand disparity between knowledge of weather and stopping a massive gem weapon. its fun to crack open peridot's reasoning through this episode: the scene where steven actually shows her what rain is is quite illuminating in multiple ways. it shows her someone who will be honest with her, teach her about earth, help her embrace the idiosyncracies of earth, the smallest insignificant things and what they mean. steven shows her something she could not conceive of, something alien to an alien. it also may be the beginning of that true reformation. a character so rooted in fear that they're afraid of liquid pouring from the sky, literally braving the storm to find its just a nice downpour of cool water, a nice relaxing thing, something...pleasant. it seems foreign to her, but in a nice way. steven gives her a moment of realizing an alternative life, so maybe its not so absurd to see him almost like some wizard who has all the answers from her perspective. steven's own explanation of his learning from his family is also telling, we dont get a sense that peridot has any familial ties, any real warmth or relationships. a product of a kindergarten and maybe little else. her goals have never seemed bound by emotional reasons, its pretty much why the more we get a sense of who she is it doesn't line up with what she's been doing. she didn't do it for an agenda but because..thats what you do. thats who you is. do the gem shit. or bad shit will probably happen to you? so yeah her emotional compass is almost entirely fear bound by just being a homeworld gem. its a nice furthering of the soulless act of the artifical fusions, the power hungry jasper, the directive slinging peridot herself, they operate very differently and that misunderstanding, intentional or otherwise, is an interesting core to the conflict. its nothing particularly new, all wars are swamped in demonizing the opposition before humanizing them, but it still works well here.

    steven and peridot are a great combo and they make this a delightful episode. important things are definitely revealed in this episode but its mostly the journey, back-and-forths, them getting to know each other. peridot grows to trust him more, but still comes off reticent the truth is though, despite radically different circumstances, they're quite similar. they're both young naive gems doing their best to serve their planets, and the results present themselves very clearly. so peridot may have alot to learn and alot of shifting to do, but its clearly possible. its an episode where we learn some big uncomfortable truths, but its more about these two learning about each others, steven in close quarters with a homeworld gem to a degree of being their friend, learning about their being and their behavior and their knowledge and their blindspots, watching her react in confusion to mundane things and misunderstand small things like his hatred of the kindergarten, or what a Dad is. of course we had to get all of this out now because this is last opportunity before that great gravitational pull makes our gem mainstay count rise to 5. their relationship succeeeds through the charm of its unlikelihood, but her trust in steven is quite real, and despite a reasonable stubbornness, they did bubble her after all whereas steven freed her, and why would she trust any gems let alone the ones trying to stop her work, she finally cracks. after all if the one single person she trusts trusts them, maybe its ok to trust them too, despite everything. this episode ends practically the same as the last, preparing for the moment of revealing vital information albeit info we the viewer now have, but stopping just short. however unlike that episodes lowkey pleasures, this one is down to earth in a very unique way. down to earth with a character learning what that means. learning what it means to be on earth, to talk to an earthling, to embrace earth like behaviors, to embrace what steven knows as the greatness of his mom's love of earth and his dads well regular Guyness. an episode this deceptively simple can only work if its tinkering with the dynamics, and this one gives a full display of a character dynamic we hadn't gotten to see fleshed out yet, so it doesn't need to do alot else. its less about antics than the last one, less about the initial moment of bringing a stray cat into your house, and more about learning that cat's mannerisms, and that cat learning yours. you're both weird in your own ways, and thats really neat, and its fun to put a magnifying glass to both forms of weirdness from a perspective thats learning what has become normalcy for each to the point that they didn't have to think about it. its as peridot has just learned to call it, "cool".

    A -

  23. #138
    d=(^_^)z kupomog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaos View Post
    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.
    The moment you see the two pairs of eyes giving off different glances at Greg is one of my favorite small few seconds. It really makes you want to dive further into Rose and Pearl's relationship because as you said, despite being fused and one with Pearl in that instance she doesn't seem to gather how much Pearl wants Greg to disappear. Rose is such a growing enigma painted as a picture of purity and perfection only that have that put into question slowly when you see how she almost views things as something to play with and just experience for the hell of it and perhaps nothing more despite her message of peace n love y'all. Everyone just starts to wonder, was she really that oblivious? Did she fully understand at some point in the future but choose to just not deal with it? Did she feel the same way Pearl does, or did she consciously turn Pearl DOWN but Pearl can't get over it? etc etc Did she, after slowly understanding Greg, know she was also hurting Pearl so much? I need more Rose.

  24. #139
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #72: BACK TO THE BARN
    johnston/liu

    *clear throat*

    *taps mic*

    STEVEN UNIVERSE REVIEWS!

    when i last entered a two month stupor of procrastination and emotional instability and avoidance of the things i love because they intimidate me and make me afraid that ill lose the feeling of loving it, peridot through steven's coaxing and friendliness finally decided to entrust her knowledge of what's to come to the crystal gems. the cluster. bwaaaaaa. will the gems find a way to construct a gem drill to dig the center of the earth and somehow destroy the cluster and save the planet before it's too late? who gives a fuck, we're building robots now! having peridot added to the familial dynamic is immediately a joy, we knew she operated very differently through her relationship with steven but that largely was a way to depict her internal frailties due to her skewed perception, but here through her naivety we get a taste of what we don't know as well, a taste of how one planet's sophistication re: individualist behaviors is also an erasure of another planet's gem roles, such as pearl being one of many, and pearls being natural servants. boy doesn't that add up, when peridot confusedly asks pearl "what are you for", you can sense the sting of the question as residue from alot of previous conflicts swirls through the brain, but peridot is just genuinely confused as to how a pearl could be independent. it's funny, but its also telling of why pearl actually is the way she is. its more than just a rose thing, its a pearl thing. but again, fuck all of that, GIANT ROBOTS! honestly this sequence could be a total of nothing and i'd still be hyped because you just threw giant robots into the mix as a possible part of the equation at any given time, and why would i ever say no to giant robots? the giant robot montage is nothing short of stupendously silly, granted. its mostly a success due to visual dazzle and good natural doofiness, as these massive robots compete in rock paper scissors and painting amethyst, visuals that serve as no real purpose other than "what dumbass things can we make these characters do in giant robots?". what do i know though, maybe accurate painting is key to eliminating the cluster!! ah but after all this isn't really plot-specific (i am now remembering how often this show likes to tease me, and i still feel as contentious about it as ever, but i will take what i am fed and not complain!), its just a way to shove these two into robots and do stuff with robots. again, who complains about giant robots? especially when we get ourselves a solid giant robot rumble between the two as peridot refuses to accept pearl as her equal.

    peridot is a bullheaded twerp in this episode but i mean how can you blame her? look we've been through HECK and back with the heroes of this show butting heads on their insecurities and comparing themselves to one another and making really stupid mistakes. these are earnest, well-meaning gems in the active search of good and they still wind up the villains of certain moments because they're not heroes because they don't make mistakes but because they eventually dig their way out and do the right things. peridot isn't even a hero yet, she's an anti-hero at best, and her understanding is not earthly, she's up to her neck in a quicksand of homeworld gem perception and the only way she can lunge her way out is by doing what she believes she is meant to do, be the strongest and take leadership over the lesser gems. she understands power structures and order, and yes she abuses it but she derives from a survival of the fittest culture. we didn't get a clear understanding of her perception of other gems when she was hanging out with steven because well, steven is a steven. he's hard to classify, he's not familiar to peridot, he's a He! lotta elements here that her data doesn't account for, so when he turns out to help her and talk to her and be her friend, the trust seems to come from a lack of data. peridot runs like an old faulty program just trying to make the right choices based on firmly rooted neural pathways. no matter how much of a megalomaniacal jerk she is, its hard to be angry at her because she's just doing what she's been taught will keep her from being stepped on, and even when she relegates pearl to a certain state of worthlessness or beneath her in general, it may seem cruel but its what peridot knows. peridot's line of thinking isn't personal, its general and it says alot about how gem culture existed before the crystal gems began to embrace something more individualist as denizens of earth. whats inversely fantastic about this is how it allows pearl to embrace something inside of herself. pearl was a great catalyst for this attending to the theory of gem hierarchy because she has long relegated herself to the position of a humble servant or bodyguard to those she values as opposed to an independent soul, always capable but never fully embracing it.

    yet she has come a long way and she's grown through powerful repetitive mistakes in regards of helping to the degree of hurting, a selfish selflessness. its at this moment as she Tries and fails to whip peridot that that comes out. pearl has always valued herself in her ability to do her duty, but here, her duty, simple and silly as it may be, is abjectly resigned to failure as her bot is smashed, but instead of hanging her head in shame she gets the encouragement of the other gems, and steven's words of assurance that she is something so much greater and more extraordinary than other pearls. this is the most stark representation so far of what our pearl is, it took a gem with a concrete understanding of what pearls are to help pearl realize she can be, and has been so much more, and it has nothing to do with her success, or her worth as a pearl, she isn't a pearl, she's pearl. i love the way this leaves peridot dumbfounded, capped with a classic garnet moment of a shrug and then the line "welcome to earth". it's a great moment where peridot is witness to feelings expressed by steven to her but that really compute a little better externally: she is witness to failure, responded to with empathy. she sees a person beaten into the ground given thumbs up and praise and love because their value isn't based on their strength, or what kind of gem they are. its alot deeper, alot more individual. im looking so forward to seeing how peridot becomes that individual as well, and i think this was an excellent start. we may not be any steps further toward dismantling the cluster, but as we've learned over time, if our team isn't working well together, the gears dont turn, but when everyone is on equal footing and the stars align, the gems wield a power incomprehensible. all i can say is im really excited to see more, and fuck i missed this show.


  25. #140
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #73: TOO FAR
    florido/zuke

    *puts touch stumps on keyboard* Hello. Please aim your vision spheres towards the screen to intake my Analytical Content for Entertainment Purposes on this Deceased Cartoon Forum. Or as The Amethyst would likely classify them, my "Nerd Notes". I am confident you will find them informative and comical, as I am a trained expert in the field of Language Composition. Log Date 5.4.18, The Cluster remains a persistant threat for The Earth and it's many denizens, so the Gems of this planet must successfully assemble a gem drill to eliminate it. While The Pearl works in solitary, The Steven and The Amethyst and The Peridot must procure an Injector Drill Head from the Kindergarten. Amidst the interpersonal conflicts of this quests are persisting inquiries on the concept of Earth Gem Power Structures, and the Permafusion nature of The Garnet, who she perceives as befuddling, persisting to be fused outside of battle situations. Smaller grievances revolve around the annoying treatment of The Peridot by the Earth Gems, incessantly poking and prodding at her for her unique behavioral traits. Interestingly however, developments in this particular category suggest a budding associative intrigue by The Peridot towards telling "jokes", she is found to be receptive to the amusement of The Amethyst to her outbursts. Coaxed thoroughly, she continues to analyze the Earth Gems and make humorous quips, such as discussing the Steven's amusing necessity for a whole room specifically dedicated to the act of Expelling. However, quite troublingly these musings quickly turn to The Peridot in turn attempting to coax The Amethyst to adhere to her own perception of Gem Order, due to the hybridized or fusion nature (or pearl nature) of the other Earth Gems, The Peridot insists thats The Amethyst is actually the only rightful leader of the Crystal Gems, being a pure gem. Furthermore down this problematic line of archaic homeworld gem thought, The Peridot begins to pinpoint the shortcomings (literally, *snicker*) of The Amethyst in comparison to how Quartz Gems are supposed to come out, triggering a previously noted inferiority complex in The Amethyst. This is, to put it mildly, an incredible troubling report. Previous conflicts showed a dramatic increase in aggression and emotional instability in The Amethyst when met with similar insecurities due to perceptions of being "wrong", and now The Peridot is encouraging these feelings through her own perception of what constitutes a complete gem.

    Thankfully, as time as passed, the Amethyst is less prone to anger induced outbursts and is more likely to internalize her emotions thus leaving the potential for collateral damage at a much lower likelihood than previous incidents. However, The Peridot fails to realize the damage she has done as a result, only intending to be "funny" as The Amethyst claimed she was. The Peridot is an interesting specimen, clearly very knowledgeable in her own field but ostensibly back to square one in terms of learning and associating with those around her now that she is ambushed on The Earth. She exhibits many tendencies easily considered eccentric to Earth Gems, such as esoteric terminologies and misunderstanding of earthly emotional patterns. In these discrepancies between The Peridot and The Earth Gems behaviors there have been repeated issues and disconnects, and now The Peridot has through her own incalculable folly, brought shame and derision upon her favorite of the Earth Gems. The Steven uses his noted empathy and vocal desire to maintain Gem Relationships in an effort to mend these frail partnerships in these dire times, making clear the misdeeds of The Peridot so she can atone for her mistakes. However, intitally she is reticent to this line of thinking, initially insisting her behavior was appropriate as it was aligned with her previous "Jokes" and when she is assured this is not the case she resigns to tantrumming and rejection of Earthly feelings. The Peridot's attempts to assimilate with human and Earth Gem mannerisms seems to have laser-focused in on the notion of being "cool", and The Amethyst's approval of her humor presented an opportunity to forge a relationship with one of them based on those disparities and her desire for growth. Later this same day, when The Peridot's attempts to work on the Drill Head lead to it going haywire and sending it hurtling towards The Amethyst, she exhibits a newfound worry, a reactionary panic that someone else is in danger.

    Upon narrowly saving The Amethyst from certain doom at the hands of the ruthless and upsettingly antiquated technology of the Drill Head, The Peridot decides to finally make amends. She has exhibited many misunderstandings of the stark disparity between Homeworld Gem hierachies and the lack thereof within this small group of Earth Gems, and in her misunderstanding has caused alot of unintended grief. In an effort to assuage these sour feelings, she finally decides to apologize. Her attempt is certainly characteristic of her own still miniscule capacity for empathy and emotional connection, but depicts her own perception of the situation in a very telling manner. The Peridot concludes that the totality of Earth Gems are defective, but that she is now to be included in that group for her own abject failures with regards to her mission and now working with what she describes as the "enemy", and even in that context failing to live up to her own expectations, or perhaps to the expectations of a higher power. Context aside, this display is a relieving resolution, it is clear that despite many past mistakes and issues, The Peridot is more receptive to adapting to alien cultures than previously implied, perhaps accepting this last resort situation as an opportunity to grow and understand and better herself. Regardless of the details, this encounter further ensures a comraderie between Crystal Gems and The Peridot for the foreseeable future, a key factor in aiding the destruction of the Cluster and assuring the safety of The Earth. The potential for further conflicts is duly noted, likewise the acknowledgement of The Peridot's infancy with regards to capacity for empathy. These elements will be crucial to analyze and uphold to guarantee the success of the mission. Short once again a drill head but in good standings, the situation is uncertain, but with regrouping and critical thought to the conflict, hopeful. End log.

  26. #141
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #74: THE ANSWER
    abrams/mitroff

    flashbaaaaaaaaaaacks! i've said it before and ill say it a million times over, i adore flashback episodes. character backstories, our beloved fictional world years before we knew it, filling in the blanks we barely get to think about to better contextualize our future. i'm not picky either, ill take the fucking history of ronaldo *remembers horror club* OKAY MAYBE im a little picky but you get what i mean, i love knowing more because it just adds so much depth to the art in question, and flashback stories are a great way to gain this sorta insight. indeed im not picky, but the su gods (or storyboarders, i always get those two confused) have decided to bless me and specifically me with not just any flashback tale, but a ruby and sapphire origin story! "b-but kaos slash foose!" i hear you hypothetically bellow, "this is getting in the way of crucial story development yet again! what about the cluster and peridot?!" fuck you, FLASHBACKS!! keystone motel may well be my favorite episode of the series to far so lets just say expectations for dealing more with this duo's fascinating and adorable dichtomoy were not low. garnet's first words as the camera pans upward into the past say it all for me. "the earth, Five Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Years Ago". it would be enough to just get a cute romantic origin tale in a bubble, but a story about the formation of garnet simply cannot ignore the world around it. naw son, we goin back to Crucial Backstory Times, learning about the original gem plans on earth. the first immediately striking visual is a Pair of Rubies. its weird writing that as Rubies. pluralizing and effectively grouping gems plays against the individualism i've come to understand from the focal gems of the series, when i think Ruby i think Ruby, so at the very least i'm tempted to type Rubys for the plural because it more implies three of that character than a collective of mere gem types. does that make sense? it is a jarring but intriguing visual, seeing three rubys/rubies, all with that similar behavioral pattern, its an excellent way to better characterize the thought processes of a gem like peridot used to traditional gem behavior and a lack of individualism in exchange for specified rigid roles. i like the first scene of sapphire talking to one of the rubys/rubies, its a small moment but it singles out one ruby to make them seem like the Important one. its fascinating, you'd have to assume there's indeed plenty of sapphires as well, plenty of every gem. it doesn't register though. maybe it should. its a curious thing, i speak of the positivity of this individualism but would my mind be able to allow two rubys of the same design to exist simultaneously and differentiate them? its easy to speak to individualism when there's quite literally but one of each type of gem around at any given time, so i like how this challenges that in a few ways, it makes you think about the gems as a type or a group, and for me anyway the question does linger, how easy is the whole individual thing when you're seeing more than the literal individual?

    we also see a diamond for the first time, blue diamond who bears an uncanny resemblance to pearl. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. speaking of whomst hey look its her and rose! its cool to see this battles to a certain degree but i dig the sly artistic obscurity of the way they portray the homeworld gems here as flat sort of cutout style depictions. mere sillhouettes implying what we may see in more detail later. i think its a smart way to not give everything away and also lend focus to ruby and sapphire. which brings me to them, as once two of the rubies are swiftly disposed of with little thought, that is indeed all we are left with. ruby is now, Ruby. i do hope the show gets deeper into how it deals with multiples of the same gem, but for now, ruby and sapphires story. its illuminating seeing how fusion of two types of gems was unheard of previously, especially after the Mega Ruby we see a bit earlier. of course it goes deeper, it toys in class systems as ruby is clearly a much lower gem, and one who went against the very calculated operations of the higher gems that she was merely ment to be cannon fodder for. its great how the impuslive gesture of ruby is a catalyst here, its a new way of thinking for a gem who has known her every move through future vision and has clearly been a trusted servant of her higher-ups. but now she must make decisions beyond that, beyond calculation and more in the realm of feeling, the way she takes ruby off to keep her from being broken, she mimicks ruby's own uniquely instinctive nature, making decisions not from the perspective of a role and its designated options but from outside the parameters that label them a certain kind of gem. these are the sort of things that make a ruby Ruby. the way they talk about fusion is telling too, how it describes the aforemention multi ruby fusion more like a mechanism of war than anything else, a physical augmentation that makes each ruby feel like the biggest ruby. i definitely wonder if there is a conscious suppression of different gems fusing by these homeworld leaders because of the way it awakens something in them, the way it shows them what fusion really is when its gems complimenting one another, if that is indeed the case. on the other hand if there are a milion of every gem what makes a compliment, and is it a coincidence that is romanticized by the choices of gems, much like how a ruby can be seen not as a gem but as a friend, a partner, a part of an equation, just because its a perception doesnt make it wrong, but it begs the question of if there even is a wrong, beyond the nature of using fusion strictly as a means to fight rather than to love. theres certainly meant to be something different about it, what with how sapphire describes the sensation of just disappearing into the fusion. does that mean the multi ruby is wrong because it doesnt end up a new result? if fusion is chemistry then a multi ruby is just alot of one chemical in a flask, and thats not gonna get a reaction, theres no change, it just is a greater sum. so if we think about it like that it makes sense.

    anyway, song time! this song is nice and pleasant and mostly goes over the stuff ive been extrapolating with regards to fusion changing them into something entirely different and unfamiliar. the best part is the nuances of nervousness as they converse, the "oh"s and "um"s that slip out, literally turning a conversation into song keeping all those natural moments. i love the blush of sapphire's face as she assures she's never fused before. its interesting, its easy to just think of this as "these are the gems that became garnet" but these are also the gems that defied well set rules and discovered something magical they didn't know existed, a feeling and a perception of being something brand new. its sweet and telling how ruby perceives her being stranded against sapphire's merely based on the type of gem she sees herself as, the way these rules have made this seem like a mistake on ruby's head. even in this moment she's still stirring with guilt because as a seemingly Lowly Ruby Gem she has gotten a Trusted Sapphire Gem lost from the others and there's no chance of going back because they'll both be in deep. as a love story it sort of writes itself? alot of the context that gets us where we need to go is implied in the pre conceived status of these characters, its sort of impossible to get substantial wiggle room for who they are, because they don't really know. in a way thats whats so powerful, this ruby and this sapphire know a very different world than what they've ended up in, but they don't seem to mind in the end. there's no concrete explanation, concrete explanation is what they're escaping, is what they're defying. love is chemistry after all, and finding something deeper in them as an equation speaks louder than much else needs to. sure id still love to learn more about these characters together as well, characters, but before i can learn more about they are as characters than as role assigned gems, they have to themselves, and this is more the bridge to that. it's inspiring, but dont take my word for it, why else would garnet be where she is today? who else would see the beauty in that embrace of love than rose. in this particular story we dont know alot of why rose is radicalized against the other gems, but we know she found a love and fondness for people, for their way of being, for embracing something deeper. however im trying to start analyzing rose as less, well, altruistic? rose is the beacon that shines a light upon the entire series in her values becoming the guide to our heroes but just because your heroes say some shit that puts light in you doesn't mean they were 100% pure. sometimes i wonder, im sure rose had great intentions but theres alot of missing pieces. i do think she embraces garnet in a way similar to the way she embraces humans. she's fascinated by them they're great specimen. its also like how she treated greg. maybe its her way of loving, and its not necessarily all there is to her, but in a way what can be seen as a wholistic embrace of the everything, as a collective and as people, can be seen as self-indulgence, where it involves her own personal glee in taking part in it as an observer. i got my eye on you rose! all that said, her words remain valid and powerful: ruby and sapphire dont know how garnet came to be the right thing to do, how defying what they know made more sense, how ignoring some rules or rigid ideas feels so good. they've run on logic, they've been built on ideas and goals and roles, but rose knows. rose of course knows, because thats the feeling of being on earth, thats the feeling of..well, feeling. welcome to earth, indeed.

  27. #142
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #75: STEVEN'S BIRTHDAY
    abrams/mitroff

    oh hey callison can do his regular voice for an episode. lucky him eh? also this is not really relevant to the rest but gosh there are alot of Massive heads in this episode, just chibi bodies galore. is that an abrams and or mitroff thing i've been missing? help me out, @peyrin. also hello @peyrin. its me foose. im doing su reviews again! anyway, this is a weird one, but a nice one. i'll say it again, i love how you never know where su episodes are going. steven's birthday eh? could be anything, could be a sillery fillery episode to add a chasm between the now and the tension of the last few of the season, i was definitely expecting something more lowkey. yet its actually a sorta-kinda meditation of the nature of gem's physical growth patterns or lack thereof, met with challenges toward connie and steven's relationship. its a little tricky to break down honestly without just Saying What Happens, but i respect you people more than to pour exposition onto your faces like psuedo-analytical waterboarding so ill do my best. so, steven and maturity. s2 has been on and off toying with points set forth in s1b regarding steven's growth as a gem and as a person. its a mutual thing, the gears of both turn simultaneously because well, he is both. we know he's a more mature person, though he still retains many of his childlike tendencies, but he's grown into a good gem and often presents himself as more capable than before. this side of things has sort of been muted for awhile however to make way for more direct story development, more peridot and cluster and the like. that's all fine, but its nice to dive back into those familiar themes and explore new facets. we know steven has emotionally matured, but this is a cartoon. we dont really think about characters Literally developing. i see pearl and garnet and amethyst and barring storyboard choices i know they'll look the same, but i consider that as a cartoon convention before i consider the stagnation of gem appearance. for that reason i didn't even think about steven's age or appearance until i was made to. it didnt really matter, why couldn't this plucky kid be the savior of the world? my suspension of disbelief is strong. i appreciate however that it isn't enough really for the crewniverse. there's something to explore here. i also like how until the end of the episode it is quite up in the air. steven could easily stop aging around where he is, look how amethyst went from visibly kid like in story for steven to her current form, which has been maintained for quite awhile, nevermind the much older pearl and garnet, who one episode ago displayed extremely similar physical appearances, over five thousand years ago. its a neat question to ask when given a character who may or may not defy the typical growth pattern of a gem, a unique conundrum only steven could endure.

    steven wouldn't care about his physical maturity on his own terms i'd figure, why would it matter? hes a childlike good natured doof and at his age and stature he's already kicking butt and doin his gem thing. of course its not just about him. im not sure what the precise word is to describe the way the characterization is handled here, but i was Surprised by just how much this episode got into the connie/steven shall we say, shipping? of course its pretty clear they Like Like each other, but the show has always been a little more graceful with it, allowing them to explore it via fusion and such. here its pretty point blank, and it could have easily been cloying, but they manage to make the on-the-nose emotions work as an emotional maze for connie, to figure out how to accept the worst case scenario. through this we sort of Have to have her admit she loves steven at least to the extent that she wants to grow up with him in some capacity - i love steven's perspective of this saying shes gonna be the President, while he, ungrowing, is First Boy. its a neat look into how connie sees steven, does she see a gem, does she see a human? i tend to think she accepts him as both, but she definitely thinks ultimately in human terms when it comes to well, growing up. connie can obviously understand the human side more. it makes me wonder, could connie have loved a full gem? someone who doesn't share those human traits but still has the love for humans one like steven does? i think the answer is yes, but there would certainly be some hurdles, like well this one. thats the thing though, its not really about human and gem in big picture but this one specific problem, so i doubt it'd make a huge difference. in a way steven's hairbrained scheme is a bit ridiculous, like its very cartoon from the barely lowered voice to him wearing his same outfit the entire time, awkwardly lanky and all. it also operates under some suspension of disbelief narratively as it requires him to desperately just ignore amethyst's warning. like i get yr human pal but i think the resident shapeshifter has an idea on how shaping your body willy nilly will do some damage! nonetheless it never gets too silly because his actions remain noble, he just wants to make connie happy.

    its a neat thing to explore. these kids haven't really had to think about these labels, they've accepted each other for each other, for steven and connie before anything else. here though we get a specific blockade that forces them to consider these disparities. steven's gemliness genuinely has potential to change the way these characters grow together. the episode focuses more starkly than ever on these two's relationship as more than just a friendship, as something more long term and meaningful. in seeing steven grow and getting a glimpse of that future connie expresses something deeper for him. however while i do think this episode's hypothesis was a neat one i didn't really have much doubt that there would be a clean answer to this dillema by the end. i largely expected that yes indeed, steven will grow and these two will be happy together. however i figured the way in which connie would be overall tested would be just to see steven's ruse and try to accept the Possibilty that it may be the closest to a real thing as can exist. those su folks though, they know how to crank it up when the time is right. motherfuckin' baby steven! now im not sure how stretching one's body turns you back into a baby, though i haven't done any tests myself. nonetheless, this is where connie's anxieties really find a creative and emotionally powerful resolution. it would have been easy enough to just have steven hurt himself in some less tangibly transformative way and have connie appreciate his effort and accept him and all that, but it isn't enough to accept that he's just a boy. she has to accept him unconditionally, in any form. when she realizes that she could, where she offers to help babysit a little steven if there's no way to revert him, as she extends her finger and baby steven grabs onto it, ah man what a great tearjerker moment. i love this, so very much. connie is in panic that she wont be able to grow with steven, but in the unforseen true worst case scenario, she realizes she would still be with him, and even though it wouldn't be the relationship she envisioned, it would still be with him. most shows, kids shows especially, wouldn't push this far to challenge its characters in such a scenario i dont think. its not just a challenge though, its a case of presenting the agency to connie entirely. if it did stop at steven trying to look older and her finding out, it would be a nice if somewhat generic little reconciliation where she would appreciate more his noble effort and reach the conclusion that she would gladly take him however even if they cant grow together, but what they choose to do takes steven's actions out of it. this isn't a choice she makes based on him doing something for her, this isn't a choice based on this moment or this dillema, this is a choice she makes based on everything they have, and how steven means something to her much more than just the relationship she idealizes. its a really strong moment that characterizes the entire episode and emphasizes the strength of their friendship. as an episode it goes beyond good enough by refusing a "good enough" style ending. it makes connie answer "what if all of what you want from this disappears, what will you do?". can you build something out of that? clearly she can. this episode is ultimately a mutual display, each character sacrificing for the other which emboldens their relationship onward as things do work out, but its much more a testament to connie. steven wanted to grow with connie as she wanted, but connie proved there was no stopping that from happening anyway, that there's way more to growing together than literally growing together.

  28. #143
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #76: IT COULD'VE BEEN GREAT
    johnston/liu

    sometimes i feel like it's really hard or even impossible to succinctly handle both the objective and subjective matters in writing. that is to say, i may write a review that comprehensively explains why the characters work in an episode, but does that necessarily say what i think, or just what i feel works on a level of the show's effort, and the success therein. sometimes i'll just talk about why i love a character instead, get into how i relate to them or what have you, but in that you risk missing the nitty gritty, the internal details that make them work in a specific episode. its not that you can't do these things together, but i find it surprisingly difficult. i'm trying to eschew handicaps and shortcuts, i dont just want to say "i like this, i like this", nor do i want to rely on the crutch of a rating at the end. if my words dont say it, i'm not doing my job. however at some point, sticking to writing objectively, analyzing the success of an effort rather than one's own personal tastes, can lead to a certain detachment in how i feel i make my own perception come across. part of this is i like to give benefit of the doubt to each scenario and find the path that allows it to make the most sense within the fabric of the series, i try not to judge things because i dont get them, i first try to get them, or see the perspective that isn't mine. in a way my reviews aren't even 100% my thoughts, they're my attempt to get to the root of the Right path of thought for each episode, and generally my goal is to try to get to come as close to my own feelings and feel like my own feelings are being expressed along the way instead of me merely analyzing like some robot putting pieces together without consideration for the feeling inside when they snap together. i think sometimes i either fail at this or fail at least to integrate the two. so let's try to rectify some of that right now. i must admit s2 has been a difficult one for me to crack. im a bit too obsessed with cleanly distilling a product, and s1a and s1b allow for specific arcs and characterization themes that help me write about them, and help them resonate from episode to episode. s2 however has left its arcs quite separate and how they define the later events seem well...vague. in a way its been alot more backstory, all welcome and enjoyed, but less integrated. i never want to blame a product for my output, but ive often said the quality of my writing is usually bound by a product being so great, so inspiring that the words just spill out of me without much thought. its true inspiration. s2 has been very good, but i dont think it has been great. maybe it couldn't have been. maybe it simply has too much on its plate to attain the sheer dynamic memorability of s1b, or maybe its merely preference. if its world building you seek s2 has been no slouch, and its not like they've gotten worse at writing the characters, they just haven't taken the same bold strides, and the arc that attempted as much only had sporadic successes in these terms. the season hasn't really looked for a groove, but all that said it has definitely had a glue. yes. peridot.

    here's one of those "saying what i think" moments that i don't feel like ive bluntly enough done. i've talked plenty about why peridot works, as an antihero, as a comic relief, as a foil, as a microcosm of backstory we can barely conceive at this juncture. she's great in terms of how she's written, but alot of what i said has just fit under that plotting device umbrella. it makes sense, when a character is so important, they have to carry the bulk of the important plot development and thus you have to focus more on that. peridot is hard to write about as a character because she isn't really given alot of time to rest, and when you do get sillier moments they mostly build on what we already know. then i watched this episode. again, sometimes the art helps the words. i dont know that im gonna PEN A MASTERPIECE here thats up to you, im just doing my best. what i do know however is what inspired me to bring this up in the first place was the realization of something that had been missing for awhile. indeed, that sense of integration crept back in, and it centered on peridot, and it definitely acted as another great work of objectively interesting and well detailed writing, but it also worked to show me how vital peridot has been to this season. not just in the "duh" sense of she's literally essential to the story. for me, she has been vital. if there's any constant in s2 it's her. the season is all over the place, it sorta has to be, its a season that exists in between one looming terror and another looming terror, and to fill that space we have to experiment a bit. flashbacks, ronaldo documentaries, dream traveling, seeing old friends, putting on stupid plays, spookie ghosties in the hospital. its a slapdash season in alot of ways, but it makes sense. s2 doesn't seem like it really intended to tell some profound singular story, it adds to the overall patchwork of the series in ways that will better defin later events. when shit hits the fan, all that ruby and sapphire backstory, all that pearl going loony training connie, maybe even the shit in the play episode, itll matter. be it upfront or floating in the increasingly detailed background. its a season that lingers on you, where everything lingers, and thats punctuated by peridot, who first lingers in the opening half of the season herself as an offscreen danger and implication of whats to come, and then assists with an external lingering danger in the back end of the season. s1b did this too, but its danger presented specific anxieties for characters at odds with how they should treat the danger, but now they're ready, they're prepared, so you can't force the conflicts of character differences. we already know the gems are a great power together, a force to be reckoned with, so theres no need for the all consuming panic of s1b's last arc. instead when danger looms they face it. so the danger has to come from somewhere else. yeah. peridot.

    in a way its more conventional i suppose, but it also seems unavoidable. once steven has grown and matured and become accepted as a gem, for the time being anyway i dunno how they would replicate such character specific drama and conflict in the face of danger. i dont want to say the gems have become boring this season because thats definitely not true, rather their more interesting displays have again, happened and then just..lingered. the consistency in character behavior that actually affects the gems and affects their path and how things may turn out is handled by, say it with me folks, RONALDO! just kidding, PERIDOT! she is the glue, she makes this season make sense in a big way for me. when i ask what s2 is, the best answer i can get is sort of an analogy to asking the same of s1b. s1b treated homeworld like an impending all powerful hellish force that could devour the earth in one bite, and it put the fear of Gem God Or Whatever in the Gem Hearts Or Whatever of the crystal gems. its a season that has a power over the gems and so we focus on them deailng with that. once that power dissipates, what was this mysterious horrible force becomes something more tangible, more engageable. in a way, we learn with them through the end of s1b, they've been away for a long time too, they dont know what to expect. once they engage the unknown the context changes. so it makes sense that we have peridot as our tour guide through this world that we now need to get to know. alot of this just simply could not have happened in s1b. so while it may be something of a more typical dynamic with the whole antihero thing, it treats s1b like a necessary fending off of the demons that guarded the gates that lead to the knowledge that will get us to make actual progress. peridot is also a great encapsulation of this, seemingly fearsome and mighty, but soon to be seen as a rather clueless, hotheaded but bumbling grunt gem of sorts who only assembled her facade because she knew exactly how to embody that which homeworld and the diamond council represent. which brings me (finally) to this episode. if you're tired of me talking about peridot, too bad idiot because thats what the rest of this review is gonna be too! look peridot is important, and if it wasn't obvious before boy it is now. peridot being able to ever appear as a threat to the other gems, i think, derived from a few things. granted some of it was probably just the nature of a homeworld gem being on the planet at all, she was interchangable in that regard. i think part of it also though is the way peridot maintains this intense passion and conviction for what she does. she so firmly believes in her causes and is basically unstoppable for awhile. she may read as more of a pest as we jasper and such but being such a loud megaphone of those ideals and plans said enough. peridot was scary because she was just this twerp who bought in so hard into these ideas that she managed to cause a bit of stir all on her own. i feel like i knew this already, like we knew peridot was so entrenched in homeworld customs and ideas that earth shit just doesn't register to her. however thats largely how it works up to that point. we know she believes in her cause, but this episode really displays how deep she is.

    i called peridot a tour guide earlier, and this episode kinda embodies that. certainly she is an essential component to getting the story to this point anyway, but here her sheer enthusiasm breeds backstory in much the same way we learn about earth gem tech and such from the cgs. in general i must say i love storytelling conventions like this, placing little implications of whats going on in an episode but not really using them just yet. i'll use the word again, Lingering. this episode leaves more intriguing concepts lingering for the homeworld gems than ever before. im sure you could make an argument that this episode is mostly just adorning a locale with doodads that imply backstory and then pointing them out, but i dont really mind, maybe because it just happens so naturally. this doesn't read as the show spelling everything out to me, this reads like a giddy peridot going to a field trip to FORBIDDEN HALLOWED GEM GROUNDS and impulsively racing to pinpoint every nifty little thing she sees. through this we see peridot seems to especially worship yellow diamond, and we get to know some of their tech, which leads to learning about how exactly they turn planets into gem colonies. oh also parts of russia and africa are gone. probably important. had peridot not been here, would this episode even be possible? to a certain extent perhaps, you could still see the mysterious diamond murals and maybe they could fumble their way to managing the control panel. they'd have to learn how to activate the stairs though. of course this episode is more than just a chance to have peridot gawk to add some counterpoint to a typical gem moon adventure. this is the triggering of an internal tug of war. ultimately this is where peridot stops being the lingering factor that either directly acts as an opponent, or directly acts as a partner who changes their dynamic a bit. this seems to be where her allegiance is put into question. it makes sense. this is majorly why she can gush and point shit out and its never an issue, because more than anything else her enthusiasm reveals her own remaining adoration, which may not be going anywhere. in the beginning of the episode, steven helps show her the wonder of just..being. just relaxing on the beach, watching sunsets, and playing music. she seems to find an appreciation in it, and ultimately it feels like that would be enough, to find a new life, to find a new perspective, on its own. unfortunately putting her back in the face of everything she's potentially leaving behind rebirths the temptation to serve. she has made friends of sorts with at least steven, but still seems way more enthusiastic about what the earth could have been as a gem colony. she also seems to consider rose little more than a failure because she effectively caused the cluster by preventing the colony being built. in alot of ways it reflects what has always been the case with peridot, her perspective is very different and she doesn't see things the way the others do. even when trying she doesn't really understand where they're coming from, there's surely things she outright cant understand much as there's probably plenty about her experience that they can't understand. as such though, it isn't impossible to think she may betray them for her own cause which she believes to be the right one. its not like i'd be surprised if peridot was only working with them for her own means. while she may have enjoyed some moments of humanity's pleasures, it seems the voices that shaped her ring alot louder in her head. its fair to call it a tug of war, that there is something better, but its hard to call it an equal fight for the spotlight. she may reluctantly and pleasantly engage in song with the gems, but no art in this episode pleases her quite like a genocided, cratered earth.

  29. #144
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #77: MESSAGE RECEIVED
    molisee/villeco

    lol just remembered that this whole hollow out the earth shit was in fact revealed in fucking "keep beach city weird". this show is good.

    the best part of this episode is where amethyst becomes a helicopter because Amethyst Becomes A Fucking Helicopter Do You Need Anything Else? nevertheless let's extrapolate. let's polate, but extra. yeah i know. and this is only the 77th. imagine my wordplay by season 5. hoof im dreading it myself! anyway this one's a doozy, mostly because it sends you to and fro wondering where the season finale will leave us. at first i was like "ah ok peridot's bad and gonna cause some chaos that will ensue in the final episode of s2 and i was a fool to question her allegiances at all in the last episode review but hey gotta Write somethin'!" this episode is interesting because it toys with being a meditation on steven's own trust having potential to act as a burden but things work out so that's sorta shot down. i'm not gonna call this a flaw however because there will be more time to show the limits of steven's altruism and patience, and really it was enough to show him reflect for now, to have the doubts in the potential that his words couldn't get through. then again maybe seeing success in the end will give him a complex where he believes himself a Shepard of the wayward gems who need a happy home. that's a future endeavor to plan for. for now, what i most appreciate is how steven conditions this trust. he isn't trying to reform anyone to think Just like him. after all, steven has always been for everyone to embrace themselves, and has always found that doing so helps them find the right and noble path anyway. he's never met such a puzzle as peridot granted, but why would he think that this gem cant change too if those who taught him to be who he is are just the same, gems that changed their ways when they saw things differently. he isn't trying to force peridot to think a specific way, he is hoping that by being a good person, by being warm and caring and everything she's never experienced and only vaguely understands even now, that she will come to the conclusion she's meant to on her own. to break free from conditioning enough to see things for herself. its a belief that everyone is naturally good, that beneath that conditioning, a purer self does contain emotion, empathy, concern, love. the natural movement is towards positivity. thats a belief i personally hold very strongly, life is always moving towards positivity. doesn't mean it never hurts or you're always happy, but whats happening is whats supposed to be happening. life, if you dont deter it or find yourself bound to fear or avoidance, is leading towards the right thing. love, inspiration, not fear and struggle. steven has always represented this, and here we get to see his doubt more deeply than ever before.

    steven's frustration is understandable on many levels. even just beyond his own drive to help others not live in fear and live in love, care about them as he believes they would want so they learn what caring feels like and can care back, even without all that, peridot is just a stubborn bugger and a tough nut to crack. however, all of it really congeals here. again, this episode definitely throws you for a loop, but the writing never tricks you. peridot's allegiance to yellow diamond is found to be bound upon her objective perfection in comparison to they, the lowly gems. obviously peridot has shown to have little regard for pearls, but she has no real appreciation for herself either. she basically tosses their cluster drill plan out the window in the realization that they are nothing and can do nothing. peridot seems to be chalking up all of her failures through the season as this, shes just not meant to do this job, shes not good enough, shes not wise enough. she doesn't want to eliminate the earth because fuck earth or fuck humans or even power, but because in her brainwashed heart, she believes deeply and profoundly that the diamonds must know best, and what they do is built upon the greatest of reason. she sees steven's kindness not necessarily as terrible, but ultimately as a flaw because its an alternative for the behavior that she sees as the greatest. we already knew she was conditioned in nearly everything she's done, its what makes her what she is, but to the extent that she would potentially forgo all potential agency in the scenarioi speaks volumes. it paints her as a baddie, but it also addresses her as clueless. once she saw the majesty of the moon base again, it relit the fire in her that reminded her where she belonged. thats an interesting bit too. she seems to find solace in the idea of serving yellow diamond too, where she's gladly kowtowing to her will because it gives her a position where her purpose is clear. again, really familiar territory itself. peridot is scared, doesn't feel she has the answers, doesn't even feel like she Can have the answers. she's just..a peridot. this has been a season full of showing characters trying their damnedest not to fall down old paths with bad habits, sometimes failing or presenting a shadow of that. if our crystal gems cant always help that, we can't expect as much of peridot so quickly. so the episode does a good job making peridot the villain for a quick moment, but the rapid shift is telling of the pressure in her to make sense of all of this, and find an answer when overwhelmed, return to the comfort and safety of what she knows. or what she thinks she knows.

    like i said, this all trackst through this episode, there is no real cheat in how this plays out. peridot lays out very early that she adores yellow diamond because she's an objectively perfect being who's every word and order is correct and who is clearly perfect and brilliant. her idol worship informs her, but its also interesting to consider well, just how much has peridot really communicated with yellow diamond previously? i would wager not alot, considering how this one conversation goes. well she is a lowly gem in the actual hierarchy so maybe she rarely actually reported to yellow diamond herself, maybe she was more of a fable figure, a religious god-like figure that she knows at a distance. she certainly romanticized her. yet, because of this, peridot builds herself up for shock when yellow diamond does not do the perfect or "logical" thing. surely she does end up feeling a bit of guilt in her once she hears it herself, the cluster is going to destroy this planet, these people are going to die. this is no longer some schematic, this is happening, its real. still, peridot is a reason-based being, and while her emotions affect her words, her greivances with yellow diamond's own absence of logic are the true pivotal moment of disillusion. peridot's words about the planets useful organic life may be merely a cover-up, but the reactionary and destructive and selfish tendencies of yellow diamond in response are the real turning point. is this what a perfect being would do? is this a perfect being at all? does it logically make sense to be so rash and hasty and cold about this? moreover, now that she has had the earth experiences she's had, met who she's met, gotten a sense of something beyond the peridot she knows, despite returning idolization of yellow diamond, is this what she wants to idolize? like it or not, faced with this, peridot clearly has a change of heart, because for one reason or the other, this simply isn't the being she envisioned anymore. plus, for all that she has herself spoken or her comparative worthlessness, and her worth being in serving the diamonds, maybe in this moment of really experiencing it again, the dichotomy strikes to the core and leaves it blatantly, uncomfortably clear what she really was, and what she was empowering. its painful, and its clearly reactionary for her, but her moment of shouting down yellow diamond and calling her "clod!" is the point i've been waiting for. what can i say, i love it when the su gravitational pull of heroism and love pulls another in, and this is a big one, a genuine ex-homeworld soldier of recent times, found becoming a traitor because well, shit's changed. so looks like steven was right. well, mostly. see whats neat to me is yes, steven was right about peridot. but the other gems were right too, some cant be saved, some dont care, some have no love in them. that's yellow diamond. that's what we are facing. su is a powerfully positive show. any time we have been faced with a baddie there's always been a sense that they're more than pure evil. thats good because pure evil can often be boring, and its great to see characters reform and grow. however, in the face of this as a stark contrast, witnessing a cold, calculated, all powerful, consuming evil like yellow diamond, is actually effective. this is that which steven cannot merely change. this is beyond anything we have seen so far, because this isn't the world of gems thats been poisoned by a matriarchy. this is the poison.

  30. #145
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    #78: LOG DATE 7 15 2
    florido/zuke

    this show clearly wants me to talk about peridot some more. im running out of things to say! you're tryna FUCK ME UP su! i see you. i literally see you. i have to see you in order to review you. when the episode began i was fascinated by how much peridot already seemed to have been tweaked just enough to fit right in to the group. a sense of alot having happened to lead to this moment, so i was very happy this is what we got to wrap s2. this is an interesting season finale i must say, but i'm totally fine with it. last episode was our big moment but this feels like it just better contextualizes said moment. here we get to peridot's day-to-day, getting to know everyone, getting to know earth customs, getting to know a new life. i said this season was about peridot, so this is a really clever way to surmise the season without being too redundant. to make her disobeying her once great leader feel all the more powerful by understanding the little things that kept her tied to earth. all of this stuff is important because of the effect of its mundanity and how it forged stronger bonds with the characters around her, but this is a light-hearted silly little tale, so let's end a season on a light note eh? sure thing. gosh this episode is a joy. a documentary of peridot earnestly trying to figure out the planet. as it turns out, she's a fan. she laughs at dumb why'd-the-chicken-cross-the-road jokes, she obsesses over ahem, adult soap operas, she puts on undies, she pushes greg off a roof to see if he can fly. the usual. its great, obviously peridot this whole time has been kinda clueless and tough to rewire, but here we get to analyze that in the most endearing way so far, and with no plotting to mind it just becomes a solid chunk of development through her experience. some of it is more rooted in her own innate fascinations, enjoying the traits of various forms of life on earth (moreso than earth itself), enjoying the possibilty of fusion, and using her own familiarity with calculations to pinpoint the OTPs of the soap opera. i enjoy the pattern of reticence followed by curiosity leading some mild revelation. its that sense of wow how dumb and insigificant, yet it becomes special. oh okay paint cans for stilts thats dumb oops i like these. and it happens over and over. every time peridot thinks she's figured it out, something else comes around and surprises her. it shows how her take on the situation changes, developing a fondness for each character - its neat to see how shes quicker to warm up to amethyst considering how she humored her in "too far" - and also goes a little easier on pearl, though still sure to laugh off cleaning duty as a pearl's job. it keeps her from being totally nice, or as close as possible, as long as she has doubts. steven's nice, but what about amethyst, ok she's cool, but what about pearl! alright she's fine, but what about the Fusion!! every new blockade keeps her doubts in check because she's wired not to trust it. so for all the frivolities she falls for, that stuff is ultimately fleeting - though clearly meaningful in its silly way - unless she knows that the people are worth being around, if she can make a sense of that.

    this episode is also a great resonating testament to steven's core drive to love and help and care and try to invite people in. after all, it got them this far. so when they try to spend time with her, try to support her goof-ups, give her gifts, invite her to stargaze to see home to just feel a little more connection, shapeshift for her for fun, indulge her insane soap opera theories. whatever it takes. because embracing that connection, nurturing that embrace of whoever she chooses to be, while helping her embrace whatever that may be, is vital. peridot wouldn't have found all this on her own because she contains a deeply rooted way of being that defies all that she's experiencing, all of these frivolities, well thats what they would be to her merely episodes ago, because she was important, or so she imagined. nothing about her perceived life was mundane, so the mundane ends up looking worthless. yet it clearly resonates with her, on many levels. ultimately though the deal sealing moment is when she can finally make sense of garnet. partially through, hey, mundanity! thanks creepy soap operas! yeah though fusion, thats a big dang deal. garnet, who clearly understands fusion well so she would know now to fuse with someone randomly if it were a bad deal, offers that trust to her and commends her effort even in failure. its simple enough but thats why it works. peridot was the closest to an embodiment of a world of true evil that they'd experienced to the degree that they could be in close quarters with them. sure there's lapis but she never seemed bad, and jasper did but there wasnt enough time to make a clear assessment on them. still under the ocean and unhandled btw. keeping me in suspense i see! all this said though, its clear to me why ultimately, peridot despite some lingering guilt and uncertainty, is closer to ever to really embracing her situation. in this episode she gets to experience what the world around her really can be, she gets to experience the great positivity that makes the cgs such a powerful and meaningful force, she gets to experience what this show ultimately represents, and she gets to experience a reality where she is useful just because she is. she isn't a peridot. she is peridot. a crystal gem. s2 has been a crazy ride with alot of twists and turns for the sake of building the world more and playing around with elements that will come back much later, but what mattered most got the summary it deserved and helped summarize the season quite well. if s1b said that "look steven can be a crystal gem, he can be an equal", then s2 uses that to say "look, anyone can be a crystal gem. anyone can be an equal". peridot's enormous growth is a display that only further affirms that almost nobody is beyond help, and anyone can be a hero, and that trust, that embrace, creates a whole lot more than fear, and a group of cgs free of their old fear had the power to eliminate it from a gem far from their mindset at the outset. it may be early now, but that sharp piercing arrow that is the crystal gems in synchronicity? it just got sharper.


    lion the mood. lion the mood. see you in season 3. itll be faster. probably.

  31. #146
    Pin Pal MDB's Avatar
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    I miss the grades
    Soon Season 31

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  33. #147
    Administrator Sam's Avatar
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    yeah i dont wanna read the posts either

  34. #148
    No, money down! Traviud's Avatar
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    TL;DR BRING BACK THE GRADES

  35. #149
    hickory smoked dude tyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    I miss the grades
    i wish i could miss the grades but a wall of them hits my face everytime i scroll past your posts

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  37. #150
    nsfw pilcrow's Avatar
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    I don't really remember how I babbled about the Sardonyx arc the last time I wrote one of these so I'm just gonna start babbling about it again. At the end of the day it's not really a Pearl arc or a Garnet arc or a lore bomb arc as much as it is a status quo arc - when Jailbreak hits and lays down plot threads that will carry through the next major "act" of the show, it also inevitably requires the carving out of a new status quo for the characters to exist in. No more dopey tag-along Steven, no more know-it-all stoic Garnet, no more detached monster of the week romps (ok maybe Historical Friction disproves that last one but still!). The Pearl vs Garnet dynamic at the center of the arc is an important one to dive into to be sure, but even more important is how the arc starts to reconcile disputes and character interactions with the new reality the characters exist in. Peridot antics inescapably become part of the action. Hell even the baffling Onion antics have to exist alongside an Amethyst character study. It's a new reality that got studied in depth in some standout early S2 eps (Full Disclosure and Sworn to the Sword come to mind naturally) but takes a step back to become the new norm in this arc.

    As always, Joe and Jeff deliver A-games storyboards, and as always, Joe's creative framing and shadowing puts everyone else to shame. Perhaps more interestingly, Jeff Liu's idiosyncrasies are unusually obvious throughout this episode - bug-eyed characters, squash-and-stretch Amethyst, and dot-eyed distance models are all classic tells that Jeff is on boarding duty. It's a really dynamic style that doesn't get to come through as much during especially demanding action scenes or [serious] dramatic scenes, so it's nice that they got some screentime during the goofier parts of the chase scenes here. Case in point - Jeff's raw boards from the episode. Dude effortlessly goes from comically bug-eyed Pearl to intensely nuanced Pearl models during her confession scene. Season 3's Hit the Diamond similarly has some balls-to-the-wall Jeff storyboards so do get hyped for that one! and for me to write about it in like a month probably.

    And this is more of a curiosity, but Jeff also posted two of his first-pass boards here, so if you want to see Blob CGs vs fleshed out storyboards do click that link.

    As with pretty much every other episode of this arc, the background really outdid themselves. I dunno I wish I had more to say here but just look at them. And they made 5 sets of these for 5 episodes. Respect.



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