Steven keeps looking for ways to be helpful and it is adorable.
That said, I’m not entirely sure if he just wants to help save the day, spend more time with his cool magical guardians, or a little bit of both – and I doubt he even knows himself.
Steven: This is obviously important Gem business.
Pearl: Yes, so you should let us take care of it.
Steven: What? I’m a Gem!
Pearl: But you’ve still got a lot to learn.
Amethyst: So let him come! It’ll be educational.
I’ve got to say, this format just can’t do justice to the comic timing of the animation. And even the stupid unfunny jokes (like most of the stuff with Mr. Queasy) lend their own sort of charm, probably because they seem like jokes an actual kid might make.
Anyhow, this episode introduces a recurring episodic formula that I’ll call the Mission Episode. Generally, the gang warps to a location with a specific goal in mind and does their best to achieve it. It actually tends to work surprisingly well in this show, partly because this isn’t the only formula they have, and partly because the missions are often small enough in scope that they don’t necessarily have to succeed, and there are occasions when they fail! Like this one.
It also helps that the settings in this show are frequently GORGEOUS. Seriously, the background artists have won awards for their work on Steven Universe.
This particular mission is to save the Lunar Sea Spire, a ruin that was once an “oasis for Gems on Earth”. Pearl is particularly keen on saving it – ostensibly for Steven (as she seems to do an awful lot of things “for Steven”), but evidently she has fond memories of it in its heyday, and in reminiscing she casually reveals herself to be at least 100 years old.
Pearl: Steven! This place is your heritage. I want you to stay and help, but I need you to take this seriously!
This episode has a particularly video-gamey feel, which isn’t actually a bad thing! The first season in general reminds me a lot of Undertale, and that is legitimately a compliment in my book. Part of it is the frequent use of electronic music, combined with the relatively simple backgrounds. This episode in particular features a series of puzzle-ish tasks that I could easily see as video game scenarios, with Steven holding the inventory in the form of his cheeseburger backpack.
Pearl: Don’t ever do that again!
Pearl: But…it was pretty cool.
It’s fun to see the Gems (mainly Pearl) go from seeing Steven as a nuisance that needs to be protected to seeing him as a helpful resource (or at least the inventory), actually looking to him for ideas.
But it turns out he was a little too resourceful for his own good.
Amethyst: What’s the holdup?
Steven: I don’t have it. I must’ve left it on the bed!
In his excitement to be part of the mission, he neglected to pack the magic statue which was supposed to fix the Spire, the reason he offered to use his backpack in the first place. And then the tower collapses into the sea.
Steven: This is all my fault…I broke it!
Pearl: No, Steven, the Spire was falling apart when we got here. You handled everything well under pressure. You did great.
Amethyst: Yeah! Two out of four of your ideas worked.
This episode is full of weird off-model deformity and I kind of love it.
Until next time…