Ingrid and I are watching the entire Steven Universe series for the third time, and since we’ve been spending so much talking about it the first two times, I thought I’d blog some of my observations about it. Please note: I’m not writing these Steven Universe posts as a series summary or recap. I’m just writing down some of my observations and reactions (not necessarily coherently), both to the show as a whole and to the individual episodes. These posts will probably make more sense to people who are already watching/ have already watched the show, but I hope they inspire the rest of you to check out the show, as it really is one of the richest and most emotionally intense things I’ve seen on TV. Note: This post may contain spoilers about Steven Universe: the show as a whole, and/or about Episode 3: Cheeseburger Backback.
“Everything’s a pocket! Even the cheese is a pocket!” I have totally bought purses for this exact reason.
This episode begins to touch on a theme that comes up over and over again throughout the show: a particular paradox of relationships between adults and children. On the one hand: Adults really do know more than children, and generally have better judgment. On the other hand: Children are people, with ideas and observations of their own — and sometimes, they come up with ideas and make observations that adults miss. So when kids have ideas that adults think are ridiculous, or see things that adults don’t see — when should adults take children’s contributions seriously, and when should they say, “We’re the adults, we know better, and we’re going to make the decisions, based on our own knowledge and judgment”?
And when should adults let kids have responsibility for important things? If kids never get to have responsibility, they’ll never learn how to handle it. But if they’re given responsibility for important things too early, they can make big mistakes with serious consequences. (Also, if they’re given too much responsibility too early, they don’t get a chance to be children.)
In this episode, the gems make both mistakes. They don’t trust Steven to have good ideas that will contribute to the mission (at least, not at first). At the same time, they let Steven have too much responsibility — they let him be responsible for the moon goddess statue, the single most important element of the mission. It’s a difficult balance to get right, and no adult is ever going to get it perfect, or even close to perfect.
I love Mr. Queasy. The Steven-verse has the weirdest kids’ stuff. The Mr. Queasy toy; the Crying Breakfast Friends TV show… it’s weird and inexplicable, in exactly the way that kids’ stuff is often weird and inexplicable.
I love Pearl fretting about the water damage to the Lunar Sea Spire.
“I just want everyone to know — my plan would have also worked.” Pearl is so — Pearl. Over-achieving and competitive, even with a small child. Again — a theme that comes up again later in the show, in more serious ways.
Ingrid commentary: What are “goddesses” in this world? The temple they live in is a statue of a goddess, there’s a statue of the moon goddess… is this a religion? Or are the goddesses just gems? They sometimes refer to their gem powers as “magic” — is it supernatural, or is that just a shorthand that makes it easier to talk about their powers with humans? (Greta’s commentary on Ingrid’s commentary: I’m reminded of the Arthur C. Clark quote, about how any sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic.)
Ingrid also is noticing how young Steven’s voice is in this episode, compared to later episodes. He really does grow and mature as the show progresses.
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.