Steven continues to be the only one who really cares about the Crystal Gems’ PR (not that I can really blame them).
Steven: What is this?
Amethyst: Pearl got lonely, so she made herself a robot friend.
Pearl: It’s not a robot friend, it’s a robot disruptor! It should produce a localized energy blast, so when Peridot shows up to…meet with us, we’ll have something that can knock out all her robonoids!
Pearl’s contraption doesn’t seem to have any affect on the robonoids, but it does knock out the power grid in Beach City!
I really appreciated how this episode manages to capture a child’s perspective, both visually and metaphorically. Like, I totally climbed up on the counter like that when I was little! And also bumped into the microwave door! And I’m pretty sure everyone who ever experienced a power outage has briefly forgotten the power was out in the morning and tried to use their electronic devices like normal.
Then the Mayor comes knocking, looking for answers.
Mayor Dewey: Hello, there, young Universe, any of your…sisters home?
Steven: My sisters?
Mayor Dewey: Your caretakers, you know? The tall one, the purple one, the hot one…look. The power’s out, and I’ve been mayor long enough to know they had something to do with it.
The Gems are even less helpful than usual, which is understandable considering Impending Doom, but Pearl’s dismissal of “man lived without electricity for millennia, go hunt or something” and their general lack of focus on getting the power back isn’t wont to inspire confidence in their human neighbors.
Steven: Mayor Dewey, this is our responsibility. We’ll help you clean up this mess!
Garnet: No we won’t.
Steven: I’ll help you clean up this mess!
So Steven is dragged into helping the mayor reassure the citizens of Beach City that the power will come back soon (even though he knows it’s possible the power may never come back on).
Steven: So everything is going to be okay?
Mayor Dewey: What? No.
Steven: You lied to them?
Mayor Dewey: Look, Steven. It’s not lying when you’re the mayor. It’s politics. […] Let me tell you something. When you work for the government, you can’t control what happens in the world, but you can control how people feel about it. That’s the real weight I carry: Making the people of Beach City feel better, safer, more secure.
Mayor Dewey: What’s my other option? Let the people panic and riot?
It’s fascinating to see this show comment on politics in the pre-Trump epoch, and I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves after 2016 (the first season aired in 2014-15). This isn’t the first time the show has discussed why leaders lie to their people, either. Dewey is framed as essentially well-meaning, but misguided, telling them that they’ll get the power back by sundown more because that’s what he hopes for than any basis in reality or realistic expectations.
With the citizens of Beach City all expecting to get the power back before dark, Steven heads home (possibly with the same hope, if far more tempered by reality), and catches the Crystal Gems arguing about Peridot and generally trying to figure out what to do about their situation while Steven is busy elsewhere. He even spies some laser cannons under a tarp…but of course they change the subject once they become aware of his presence.
Amethyst: What are you doing here, buddy?
Steven: …I live here? Is everything okay?
Pearl: Of course.
Garnet: In fact, we were just about to play…cards.
Pearl: Of course! Cards.
Amethyst: Wanna play War? I mean…Peace?
Steven: Yeah, but how are we gonna play cards in the dark?
Garnet: We can light a fire in the fireplace.
Personally, I grew up in an area that had semifrequent power outages in the summer, but we kept numerous candles and oil lamps which could actually light up a room with a mirror quite well. The main issue was cooking (and keeping stuff in the fridge/freezer sufficiently cold), although there were also plenty of people around who had their own generators for such occasions.
Anyhow, Steven is still frustrated with the Gems for refusing to actually talk to him about what’s going on, and since the sun has set with no sign of the power returning, he decides to help the Mayor with a little more damage control.
Steven: Everyone, please! The power might not be back on tonight. It might not be back on for even a year! But I know that you’re all going to be okay, because I know each and every one of you. You’re smart, and you’re tough, and you’re resourceful, and you all care about each other more than you care about microwave dinners or video games or being able to see in the dark. I know it’ll hurt your businesses, I know it’ll hurt your lives, but are we really going to hurt each other? Of course not! We’ll face the night together, and we’ll survive, because we are the light of Beach City!
Mayor Dewey: Yes, thank you Steven. I couldn’t have said it better.
Nanefua: Don’t try to worm your way out of this!
Steven: It’s okay, it’s okay! Mayor Dewey was hiding things from you, but he did it because he didn’t want you to worry. He was just sheltering you from the truth, because he…he loves you.
And thus Steven learns the thing that’s applicable to his own life, namely that sometimes authority figures can be overprotective to an unhealthy degree, and a good antidote to that is a dose of realism, not to mention being open about your own feelings of frustration, but always remembering that they’re doing it because they care about you.
Steven: I don’t want to play cards. I want to talk about Peridot.
Pearl: Oh, well, yes, everything is fine!
Steven: No it’s not! I know it’s not. I know you just don’t want me to be scared, but just tell me the truth.
Garnet: Peridot is coming, and we don’t know who or what she’ll be coming with. She’s a modern Gem with modern Gem technology that’s bound to overpower us. Steven, the truth is, we’re scared.
Steven: But we’ve been scared before, right? None of us knows what’s going to happen, but that’s okay. We can figure things out, together.
Turns out Steven can be pretty level-headed in a crisis, too, even if he still isn’t much use on the battlefield. The Crystal Gems were all pretty tense and quarrelsome while they were trying to hide it, but now that they’ve let him in, they already seem stronger. And then the lights come back on.
Until next time…