Steven Universe Recap: Historical Friction

The second-to-last episode of this bomb is over.  Spoilers ahead.

The quick summary:  Steven helps Jamie put on a play written and funded by mayor Dewey about his ancestor who founded Beach City.  Pearl, who saw the events in person, does some last-minute rewrites.

These filler episodes are sort of just placebos for the ones revolving around the main cast.  I certainly saw Steven Universe, but I didn’t feel the emotional payoff I’ve come to expect from the show.  This episode is a touch more satisfying than the onion-heavy salad we got last time mostly because we get a cardboard badly-acted view into the activity of the gems two hundred years ago.

Steven’s lack of understanding regarding the subtleties of art is as obvious as ever.  When Jamie mentions that the mayor’s ancestor William Dewey doesn’t make for a compelling character, Steven ‘helpfully’ points out that the script says the character is good at everything.  Remember, this is the same kid who shipped Connie’s favorite book character with her falcon familiar.  Unfortunately this trait never comes off this endearing in real life.

The play’s production value is predictably funny.  Steven’s old-timey costume is composed of a business casual sweater, a tricorn hat, and his usual sandals.  Jamie winds up playing all of the crystal gems except Amethyst, who is represented as a mop.  It’s a little funny to note that she often tends to turn into normally inanimate objects anyway.

While mayor Dewey was under the impression that his ancestor saved his doomed ship by turning into a fifty foot giant, like the ‘big man’ folk heroes of that time period, the giant in question was actually a gem fusion.  I’ve long theorized that the gem’s temple is a representation of all five of them fused, but the shadow seen in the play only has four arms compared to the temple’s six.  Alexandrite has six as well, so I’m not sure what fusion is being represented or if the play just didn’t quite nail that detail.

This is one of the few episodes where I feel the eleven minute length did the story a disservice.  So much time is spent setting up the play and showing its ending that I wonder if it would simply have been better to open with the play’s opening.  The inevitable comparison here is to Avatar’s ‘Ember Island Players’, another theater-focused animated episode.  Avatar handles the angle in a much better way, using the play to let the characters reflect and see how the world interprets them.  A similar approach with much of Beach City acting as the cast probably would have been better.

Imagine how much fun it would be to have Buck Dewy play his ancestor and a few other side characters playing the gems with similar body types but very different personalities.  Picture Sadie as Amethyst, Sour Cream as Pearl, and one of the pizza teens as Garnet.  Ronaldo can wear the monster suit.  And not say anything.

As a final note, you can spot Jamie replacing the ‘a’ in his name with a star when he’s signing autographs, because of course he does.

He’res hoping the Steven bomb actually ends with a bang.  Until next time.

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