Steven Universe: Steven's Birthday
January 5, 2016 2:56 PM - Season 2, Episode 26 - Subscribe

Steven's unusual hybrid biology causes him some problems when Connie visits him at the barn for his birthday.
posted by Small Dollar (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hm, so Greg was 22 when he met Rose.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:01 PM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I thought Steven would be in his 20's... Now we have more of a timeline.
Greg met rose when he was 22, Steven is 14, so Greg is at least 36, likely older. (Was gestation time stated in a previous episode?)

Steven shows clear romantic interest towards Connie, and Steven gets a new shirt.

Who's (N?)ELLA and why does Garnet not want Greg to play her music?
posted by FallowKing at 4:07 PM on January 5, 2016


This raises so many questions. Poor Connie. She clearly liked More Mature Steven but also cared about him regardless of size/maturity. That's a hell of a relationship test, I guess?

I can't help but think the defibrillator plus all the other safety equipment she was forced to bring might come in handy as part of the drill/part of a fight. I hope so!

Kudos to Zach Callison for aging his voice up and down for each size/age change.

The question, though, is that if he aged up to 10ish or so, why did he stop there? How could he age from baby-toddler-adolescent and not keep aging?

The record was ESTELLE, voice of Garnet!
posted by emjaybee at 4:09 PM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


The question, though, is that if he aged up to 10ish or so, why did he stop there? How could he age from baby-toddler-adolescent and not keep aging?

It's possible he's just a late bloomer. The facial hair suggests either that he is aging, or maybe that now he feels like a real adolescent so he's going to go through puberty regardless.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:59 PM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's the album cover that's being parodied.

I wasn't too happy when I heard that Steven was turning fourteen... he's clearly younger than that and I wanted him to stay a sweet little boy. But this episode revealed that his age in years is pretty much meaningless, so all is OK again.
posted by painquale at 5:01 PM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm curious why birthdays 4-7 didn't seem to have photographs. What happened during those years?
posted by mrjohnmuller at 5:37 PM on January 5, 2016


Ronaldo is very timely with BIRTHDAYS: THE ANNUAL DANGER.

This song preview from tomorrow's episode is going to give you feels.
posted by emjaybee at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2016


Yeah it seems like Steven's age is entirely dependent on his mindset, as in the previous birthday episode. He reached adolescence and just sort of fell in a rut. Presumably as he matures mentally he will mature physically as well. I don't think Steven can poof and retreat into his gem, so changing his form will have to be a long, gradual process like aging.

At least, I hope Steven will be able to grow up. The hero of the story never being able to grow up sounds like a noble sacrifice waiting to happen.

I wasn't familiar with the album cover but I figured it was an Estelle reference.

And... I was kind of hoping they would kiss in that last scene. ("They're two kids!" screams Kevin) YES I AM A BAD PERSON I KNOW.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:49 PM on January 5, 2016


It's interesting how Steven's hybrid body usually leads to "who knows what's going to happen!" plots with respect to his Gem-ness, like his ability to shapeshift, summon Rose's shield, or fuse, but the same questions about his ability to be human are quiet, drawn-out and seem to be a bigger source of insecurity for him. Steven also seems to get a lot more encouragement in terms of working on expressing his gem powers, whereas it's just sort of assumed that he's naturally going to human as much as he can human.

Steven's flirted with rejecting his human side before in "Full Disclosure" and I can't believe we won't see that come up again, especially if Connie ever makes other friends or otherwise makes Steven feel like she could be happy without him. Maybe that's too soapy for a 12-minute children's show, but "Cry For Help" showed that the Crewniverse is willing to produce bummer episodes in the name of character development.

Even though this episode ends with everybody feeling okay and committed to each other, I couldn't help but feel like this is the most melancholy episode of SU we've seen in a while because it has characters reckoning with their own mortality in a way that all the bad-ass sword training in the world won't help. A blushing Connie admitting that she's happy to grow up with Steven, but then later resolving that she wants to "be there for Steven" feels like a recognition on her part that fighting side by side with Steven might ultimately still leave her needing to "grow up with" somebody else.

* The giant over-elaborate bow Pearl is tying in the Happy Birthday banner at the beginning of the episode is the same as the bow she ties with police tape in "Lars and the Cool Kids"
* Connie and Greg talking about Steven's health while sitting next to a defibrillator is perfect.
* Estelle gives a fantastic line reading for Garnet's "wow" at newly-tall Steven.
* Garnet's choice of a slow jam for Steven & Connie's song made me wonder if we were going to see Stevonnie put in another appearance. But their little box-step is so awkward (and Steven is so stressed out) that nothing even comes close to happening. What a weird situation: if you want to dance together and not accidentally undergo a magical transformation you have to dance badly.
* Of course Connie knows the word zygote. Ask your parents, kids.
* "Is there more where that came from?" aaaand Amethyst with another double-entendre button (Connie is notably absent for this line).
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:08 PM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


"What will I do when Connie is President?!" Loved this.
posted by glass origami robot at 8:41 PM on January 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


I can't help but think the defibrillator plus all the other safety equipment she was forced to bring might come in handy as part of the drill/part of a fight. I hope so!

Chekhov's defibrillator!

Hm, so Greg was 22 when he met Rose

Okay:
Greg was 22 when he met Rose. Sour Cream wasn't born yet. If we guess that SC was conceived in the van that day, that would mean about 19 years from then to now, if SC is 18. That would make Greg 41 now, and it means he had known Rose for about 8 years before Steven was born. If SC hadn't been conceived that night, or is older than that, then that would have given Greg and Rose more time to be together. If Sour Cream is younger than 18, then less time.
posted by JHarris at 9:10 PM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


So Connie is 12?

(Vote Maheshwaran 2040!)
posted by ocherdraco at 1:43 AM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Nicest moment in the episode, I think is Greg's photo album of Steven's birthdays.

Check the backgrounds in these photos. The first has Christmas lights strung up. The second has balloons. The third seems to be in the back of the van facing forward. When he's 8 going forward the location seems indeterminate, but the same location each time. Even when he's 13 it seems to be the same place, and it seems that he must have been staying with the Gems by this point.

Also, Greg loses his hair between Steven's 1st and 3rd year. Maybe it was the stress of being a single father?
posted by JHarris at 3:07 AM on January 6, 2016


Thinking about Steven's age: in the very early episodes, it was a lot more plausible that Steven was 13. He wasn't drawn quite so cutesy and small with a huge head, and he acted a lot more like a dumb older kid than a naive younger kid.

I think that as the creators discovered and refined Steven's character, they gave him traits that seemed to age him down. I really didn't like Steven's character in those early episodes; making him a cute little kid that is young enough to be carried around by his dad fixed his character a lot. But I guess the creators didn't want to rewrite their internal timeline about his age, maybe because it's important to the eventual plot. So to sort everything out, we get this weird episode trying to iron over all these inconsistencies.
posted by painquale at 7:32 AM on January 6, 2016


Yeah, Frybo especially touched on the melancholy of growing older. It's a bit interesting that as Steven matures into a useful member of the crystal gems his apparent human age seems to stagnate. Perhaps it's some unconcious influence of the (mostly) unchanging CGs. If Steven spent more time around ordinary humans he'd probably have aged more normally. I guess not sending him to school was a mistake?

I feel like this episode is a refutation of the common fan theory that Steven will grow to be a towering Quartz-like brute, since it's pretty clear that gems in general have very strict limits on how big they can make themselves. His form seems to have settled on "runt" and it may never advance beyond that.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2016


I think it's just as likely that he feels so weak and inexperienced next to the nearly-immortal, incredibly-powerful beings that he lives with that he might as well be a little kid. When he was with a human dad, he didn't feel that way and so aged normally.

I think they will have to age him up somewhat eventually; he and Connie's relationship is moving pretty fast, and she was clearly smitten with him in more-mature form. I have a hard time believing the writers would just break her heart by never letting that happen for good. (I mean, yes, she is a good person and would never abandon him, but girl is growing up and has normal human drives). The show has so far positioned them as destined for each other. Connie is further along maturity wise, which is normal for girls. And Steven looks the same as he did at 9, but he doesn't act like a 9-year-old all the time; he shows a lot of insight that your average 9-year-old wouldn't.

On top of that, their world is jam-packed with a million magical gadgets, creatures and situations, any one of which could have unknown effects on his physical form/mental state.
posted by emjaybee at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2016


I think the form that currently feels natural to Steven is pretty consistent with his place in his Gem and Human family: he usually listens to his dad and Gem's advice, and has enough independence to go off on his own, but enough dependence to still come to them for help and ask to hear bedtime stories. Connie's a lot closer to adolescence, really, rolling her eyes at the defibrillator. I don't think he'll completely stagnate, since even the Gems, millenia old, have a "natural form" that changes over time.

But even though part of him wants to be older, his spirit is still that of a pre-teen. How many people in this world have bodies that don't suit their sprits? How many people work hard to remake themselves to please their partners? As always with SU, a lot of heavier stuff to chew on in the middle of a relatively silly story.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:44 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed all the insights you guys have said. I agree, too, that it did make me ponder about the ability to change myself. First thing: no more acne!

It was so sweet when Connie said she would take care of baby Stephen; if I had a daughter I wish she would turn out just like that.
posted by numaner at 10:38 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


This tumblr post from Joe Johnston (Storyboard Artist and Supervising Director on Steven Universe) seems to agree with JHarris' math.
posted by t3h933k at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2016


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