After several Steven Bombs focused on the potential annihilation of Earth at the many hands of a giant multi-colored Cloverfield monster, it’s nice to have a break during this "Summer of Steven" with several episodes focused on Steven helping out the Beach City denizens with their daily mishaps.
Here’s a look at the episodes for the first week of the Summer of Steven:
Steven jumps so high, he reaches the sky, and doesn’t come back until later in July. That’s pretty much the entire episode. Steven jumps really high and takes a long time coming down. That’s it.
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a bad Steven Universe episode, but there are plenty of weak ones, and this episode is one of the weak ones. All it does is show off Steven’s new power. Again, that’s about it.
I admit that I loved the overall setup of the episode. I especially loved the beginning when Steven is fawning over everything in his house upon returning to it. It reminds me of when I would come back home from college on break. Everything seems so new and yet familiar at the same time having been away for such a long time.
Oh, and the close-up of Sadie’s lip upon speaking, “fresh!”, is priceless!
Amethyst: Uh oh, that cake go bad?
Steven: That was a cake!?
Drop Beat Dad
After seeing him in flashbacks, we finally get to see Greg’s old manager, Marty, live and in the flesh—or rather, barely alive and in the bones. Seriously, the guy looks like a cross between Mr. Burns and The Grinch. The MoFo is as ugly as his own soul!
The plot is a familiar one with a twist most of us saw coming a mile away. Of course we know that Marty hasn’t changed a bit since he and Greg split up years ago, but I guess it takes Sour Cream experiencing the sheer underhandedness of his own estranged father to realize that. And believe me, seeing Sour Cream tell off Marty in Yellow Tail’s language was priceless!
Also, am I the only one who thinks that an avocado-flavored soft drink seems plausible? There are plenty of premium craft soft drinks out there with weird flavors such as bacon and pizza. So a guacamole-flavored soda doesn’t seem all that weird. Though I doubt it would taste good, even on chips!
Ronaldo: Ugh! It's not even good on chips!
This was a charming episode. We’ve heard plenty of songs in the show before, but this is the first musical episode ever, and it’s as good as you would expect it to be. The whole episode had a very old-timey Broadway musical vibe to it, all the more accentuated by the New York setting. It even had a musical hotel staff like most old-timey movies.
And this was a great episode to cement, once and for all, for all the doubters, that, yes, Pearl did have romantic feelings for Rose that weren’t merely platonic, and, yes, those feelings did spark jealously between her and Greg when he started dating Rose, jealously that she still kept bottled up all those years even up until now. So it was nice to see her and Greg at least come to terms with one another on the matter.
Initially, I wondered why Steven only invited Pearl and not also Garnet and Amethyst. Had he at least asked those two, only for them to turn down his offer for other obligations, I could understand him only having Pearl tag along. Of course, the other two could have easily come along and only remained in the background with the main focus on Greg and Pearl and this episode still would have worked.
When I mentioned this to a friend of time, she theorized that Steven probably only asked Pearl to come along on purpose because of her rocky relationship with Greg. That would certainly make Steven a genius!
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Too Short To Ride
This episode stars Peridot. That alone makes it one of the best episodes. More so because we get to see her explore the world at large. In past episodes, she’s been restricted to the temple or to the barn. This is the first time we see her walking about in Beach City. The many interactions she has there, from her obsessing over her new tablet (and I wouldn’t be surprised if such an armband existed!) to her falling in love and dying for her own alien plushie, are priceless, especially because of her social awkwardness.
Of course, the entire episode’s scenario does a perfect job of exposing her insecurities as a gem who doesn’t have the same powers and abilities as the others. It really does expose her true character and shows us a side of her that we only get to see in moments like this. It’s akin to seeing Spock convey emotions. It’s nice to know that the most cold reasoning character can have the feels, more so when we see Amethyst nearly toss away her most prized possession, only for Peridot to save it with her new found powers.
Peridot: Look at this being! Its large head, swollen with thoughts! Those compassionate eyes. It understands. I need it. NOW!
The New Lars
How pitiful is it that the worst character in the show can only be good when he’s being possessed by Steven? Heck, even Lars admits this near the end.
As you can tell, Lars is one of my least favorite characters in the show, which makes him being the unwillful guinea pig for Steven’s new mind-swapping powers all the more hilarious. We’ve seen Steven take control of other lifeforms before in the shape of the Melon Stevens, but now we know her can mind swap with humans as well. And seeing Steven inside Lars body certainly makes for a hilarious episode.
From Steven’s inception to Lars’ body, we have an indirect look into Lars’ immediate relationship with others, from him normally abusive relationship towards his parents, to his reluctance to associate with the cooler kids, and to his rather bipolar relationship with Sadie.
Of course, I’m hardly surprised that Sadie believed Steven when he admitted that he had taken over Lars' body. Then again, considering the strange things that happen in this town thanks to him and the Crystal Gems, it’s hardly unbelievable. (Plus Sadie does point out that Steven Lars was acting out of character through Lars for him to be the real Lars!)
Lars (Steven): I'm....Steven. I just woke up this morning with my mind in Lars' body. Ugh! I didn't mean to hurt your feelings like this. I'm sorry.
Sadie: Okay. Maybe you are Steven. Lars would never apologize to me. Wait. So does this mean Lars' mind is inside your body?
Beach City Drift
We had to wait an entire season, but we finally get to see Stevonnie again. And it’s in an episode parodying The Fast and the Furious. (Which I would probably care more about if I actually watched the movie.) Though, in my opinion, Ronaldo had the best set of wheels!
One thing that I loved about this episode, other than seeing the return of Stevonnie, was how it subverted the whole “big race” trope. Most episodes have the protagonist win the big race against the big baddie, despite all odds. This episode acknowledges that two pre-teens who never drove a car before don’t stand a chance, so, it pretty much says, “eh, who cares?”
As such, this episode provided a good message about not letting others tear you down and get the best of you. Most people like Kevin get a kick out of seeing other people humiliated in utter defeat, so the only way to truly defeat them is to not give them the satisfaction of seeing you bothered. Jerks like him only have so much control over you if you let them, so the secret is to not let them bother you to begin with. (Of course, did I mention it was awesome to see Stevonnie again?)
Stevonnie: Second place isn't so bad... for my first time driving a car.