Steven Universe Recap: We Need to Talk

This week’s cascade of episodes just keeps getting better!  Beware the spoilers!

The quick breakdown: Connie and Steven accidentally fuse in front of Greg, he takes it pretty well, and then he explains his failed (depending on your definition of the process) attempts to fuse with Rose.

So Greg basically caught little Steven making out with his girlfriend and decides to give him the humans/gems/birds/bees routine to the best of his ability.  He even mentions how he thought he wouldn’t have to give the talk until Steven was a little older, like most parents.

He transitions into the story by showing a VHS music video he made with the gems.  Just over the course of the song we get a lot of insight into the various characters.  Rose sings that she loves the way humans play and loves to ‘play along’.  She doesn’t understand yet what actually motivates intelligent mortal lives.  So far, the best she can do is ‘play along’.

Obviously jealous, Pearl fuses with Rose on stage under the pretense of livening up the video, which creates Rainbow Quartz.  Her design is interesting, with one pair of eyes looking like shadows or make-up compared to the other pair.  One pair seems to glance at Greg in the hope that he’s impressed while the other pair looks at him with leering sly contempt.  What do you think of this? the Pearl eyes ask.  It’s perfect.  You could even read it as a way of visualizing how somebody in a relationship can be of two minds about how they see the other person.  Are you trying to impress them to demonstrate your affection, or to convince them they need you?  Any of a host of relationship dichotomies could be poured into those four eyes.  On top of that, consider the amazing touch of having Rose holding the microphone pre-fusion and Pearl dropping it post-fusion.  She expertly maneuvered the agent of Greg and Rose’s bonding (his music) out of her hands and then put a stop to it.

After that (and Pearl cruelly calling Greg a ‘phase’ and saying without fusion he’s nothing to Rose but a novelty) Greg hangs out on the beach for a while trying to nail the fusion dance.  While he’s resting, Amethyst and Garnet approach.  Amethyst asks if he’s dead, which is funny when you consider that Amethyst has probably seen a number of humans fall and several of them have probably actually been dead.  Greg ends up taking Garnet’s advice about fusing his own way and sets up a dance floor.

While the dancing goes well, poor old human Greg just can’t get it going.  He even ends up telling Steven that fusing wasn’t as important as talking anyway, which is a nice way of saying that not every relationship needs to be based on sex or even feature sex at all.  He and Rose share a few horrified moments of confusion before realizing they can at least bond over their social trailblazing.  Garnet watches, satisfied that she has created what she deems to be a successful fusion.  (Garnet is that pair of couple friends who’s always trying to set everybody up, except once again she makes this dynamic seem cool rather than irritating)

Greg tells the kids everything that they’re doing is pretty new and that he trusts them to figure it out for themselves before offering to talk with Connie in case she ever needs advice about gems.  The show is very much aware that young people, and the world at large, are dealing with a whole host of new romantic possibilities now that the lines of gender and orientation are becoming more openly blurry.  You’ve got to love this show!

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