Steven Universe: Cat Fingers   Rewatch 
December 30, 2014 12:59 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Steven tries out his shapeshifting powers. Hilarious, adorably freakish havoc ensues.

Written and storyboarded by Kat Morris, Hilary Florido, Ian Jones-Quartey, and Rebecca Sugar.
posted by JHarris (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this is the first five-star episode of Steven Universe. Steven's so proud of his trick, but the other residents are hilariously disturbed by it. Things get dark later on though....

Of interest:
  • It's another Beach City episode, and Greg's back too! And now we meet Mayor Dewey for the first time. MAY-or DEW-ey....
  • Other than the easily-forgotten appearance of Steven's shield in the first episode, this is the first story in which he definitely exhibits magic powers. It's an interesting direction to take the show. If it was just about a normal boy who got to hang out with awesome people who for some reason cared about him, well that's cool and all, but it's been done many times. Really it's just another twist on what Jonny Quest did back in the 60s, and what Venture Bros. mocks so effectively today. And then we have the unfortunate case of Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog. But the thing is, Steven isn't a normal boy. He just looks and acts like one....
  • Greg: "Woah, magic stuff! Should I get out of here? Is there gonna be an explosion?" 'Magic' in Steven Universe is actually more like hyper-advanced technology, not at all like Merlin, Doug Henning or Alexander Crowley. We get the sense that Greg's been -- ahem -- burned by it before.
  • This episode establishes the Gems' shapeshifting powers. Amethyst uses them frequently, Garnet once in a while, and we've yet to see Pearl do any. Amethyst teases her with different forms, but Pearl refuses to rise to the bait.
  • All of Amethyst's forms here have her gem on her chest, except one: when she copies Pearl, her gem disappears. One of her forms is of the wrestler persona she adopts in Tiger Millionaire....
  • When Steven tries to turn into a cat, nothing seems to happen, then there's a meow sound and he lifts his finger to find a kittycat on the end of it, and with the expression on his and Amethyst's faces, it's like a perfect moment. Just looking at that image, you immediately know: NO GOOD WILL COME OF THIS. Amethyst: "You should show your Dad. He's gonna FREAK OUT!" Well I expect he would!
  • What follows is a succession of scenes of Steven showing off his new trick to the residents of Beach City, and they're all great. Sadie & Lars. The Frymans. Steven: "I shapeshifted my finger into a cat!" Greg: "Wooooah! Heh-eugh... is that a thing you can do now? That's pretty... cool?"
  • At Big Donut, we get to see the cat finger purr. But then trouble starts to multiply.
  • Peedee shows up for his second time, unfortunately he's not been seen much since. "Okay Steven here are your... BITS." His dad: "I can't look away...."
  • It's our formal introduction to Peedee's older brother, Ronaldo the conspiracy theorist, who takes a picture of Steven encattened for his Tumblr, Keep Beach City Weird. YES YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THAT LINK. Ronaldo is the star of the later episode called, natch, Keep Beach City Weird.
  • We see the Gem Sloop for the first (and as of this writing only) time. Up until now the Gems have used Warp Pads to go everywhere. About those pads.... On a couple of occasions in episodes we've seen to date (one is Cheeseburger Backpack), they've left via Warp Pad but returned by conventional means. Generally, it seems that Pads lead to places near to the Gem Temple and Beach City. It "only" took three hours of paddling to get back from the former site of the Lunar Sea Spire. But in Space Race, we find a room of Warp Pads that (when operational) lead off-planet.
  • The third act is amazingly dark for a kid's show. Poor Steven gets to looking like a monster Doctor Who might fight.
  • Fortunately, Steven recovers by the time the Gems get back. Unfortunately for them, he uses the time to think up a bunch of cat puns. The Gems have a weird relationship with humor, which we'll see in the first act of So Many Birthdays.

posted by JHarris at 1:04 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but... the "living island" the Gems leave to fight, could that be a reference to H.P Pufinstuf? Or is that too much of a stretch?
posted by JHarris at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2015

Storyboards for Cat Fingers.
posted by JHarris at 6:51 PM on January 24, 2015

My partner could not deal with Cat-Steven. "This is worse than Cronenberg," were his words, I believe.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:42 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think this is the first five-star episode of Steven Universe.

I agree! This was the first episode where something (besides the theme song) started to feel awesome to me, and so far, its my go-to synopsis when trying to get other people excited about the show.
posted by redsparkler at 8:29 AM on July 11, 2015

Haha! Yeah, proper body horror ocherdraco!
posted by comealongpole at 5:36 PM on August 22, 2016

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