Steven Universe: Serious Steven   Rewatch 
January 1, 2015 6:12 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Steven and the Crystal Gems get stuck in a trap-filled Gem artifact. How can he survive it when he can't handle the Tea Cup ride at Funland?

Written and storyboarded by Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu.
posted by JHarris (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
  • After three Beach City episodes in a row it's time for another mission.
  • "Unbelievable! This was once a Gem battlefield, now it's wild strawberries as far as the eye can see! Oh, that's what I love about the Earth!" Pearl fills us in on a little history, and also implies that the Gems are extraterrestrial. What were they fighting? Each other...? Anyway, those strawberries seem to be freakishly large....
  • Blink and you'll miss it: in the shot of the four entering the inverted-pyramid artifact, you get a brief glimpse of its top; there are strawberries growing up there too.
  • Here is an important detail you might not catch on a first watching. There is a huge carving on the ceiling in the temple they visit, a huge depiction of Rose Quartz (you can tell from the navel star) facing off against some entity with a triangle on its chest. The first time you see it, you might not get that it's Rose up there, because you've only seen her navel in the painting above the door of Steven's Room. Anyway, that carving is some pretty heavy foreshadowing. It also lends greater significance to Rose's past exploits. We haven't seen any huge carvings of Garnet, Amethyst or Pearl, after all. Other episodes show that Rose has her own shrine, a training cavern, and a fountain that runs with her tears. She seems to have had greater power, and maybe a longer history on Earth, than the three Gems we know.
  • The sight of young Steven looking all around him at the interior of the ancient monument, soaked with unknown history... it's a viewer's first hint that this is a lot more than a simple cartoon show, that Steven Universe hides deep secrets.
  • Check out the look on Pearl's face when Garnet says "Steven goes with me." There's a bit of shock. Pearl also seems a bit subdued after. Is there something there we don't yet know about? Of the three's relationships with Steven, cautious Pearl is like a mother, enthusiastic Amethyst is his buddy, and reserved Garnet is Steven's trainer. This scene demonstrates all three: Pearl wants to wait in the center chamber with Steven safely, Amethyst wants to romp through with him, but Garnet pushes him to do something he might be unprepared for. In any case, she seems to be the driving force behind the Gems' missions.
  • "Serious Steven -- Pearl, could you put me down? I have to be standing or it doesn't work. Serious Steven, activate!"
  • "Ooooh, we're on a magic treasure hunt, for some magic treasure junk! Something, something, magic something!"
  • The whole place is of course a giant impractical obstacle course of traps and dangers like out of Indiana Jones, only with glowy bits of Gem tech scattered around too. How did they make all this stuff? The remaining Gems we know don't seem like they can create things like this. Is it lost tech? But the Gems are really old. Did they exist when it all was made? Do they know how it works, on a nuts-and-bolts level?
  • After running through the glowing panel room, Steven does a goofy little dance. I will call it the Monkey Dance. I name it because it shows up again at the iris-out of So Many Birthdays.
  • The room filled with spikes, floating platforms and scything blades, spilling lava, crushers and roaring flames. The Tick would say, "It's all in the timing, chum!"
  • Again, Steven's lateral thinking saves the day. That's actually a very clever bit of reasoning at the end, figuring out that the temple's trap rooms rotate. I don't think I recall seeing that one used in a D&D adventure, although considering that portals are within the abilities of Gem technology (remember the door to the Gem Temple?), the rooms don't actually have to be physically rotated to produce the effect Steven and Pearl describe. The existence of the rotating rooms is actually telegraphed. Those moments when someone goes through or approaches a door, the room shakes -- that's the room rotating. (The room shaking is what causes Steven to lose his footing in the glowing floor tile area.)
  • "Garnet, I need to get off the ride now." What follows is the first legitimate action move Steven pulls off. The kid is learning.
  • When Steven pulls out the gem, notice: the pillar rotates and displays a smiling face. I guess the whole thing was a test? Considering that the structure has some significance to Rose, could it have recognized Steven's gem?
  • Pearl is the one who bubbles the artifact this time. So: Garnet bubbles gem monsters, and Pearl bubbles gem tech artifacts? Garnet's bubbles go to Garnet's Room, but we don't see any bubbles in Pearl's Room....
  • Finally.... It is easy, in these early episodes, to see young Steven as THE LOAD, a character who tags along specifically to weigh the others down and provide "dramatic tension" when doing so, whose life will be in danger so the other, awesome people will have to waste time and energy saving his sorry hide. The Gems are all pretty capable, especially Garnet, so why bring Steven at all? I've been noticing that his lateral thinking skills offset this a bit, because when he does tag along he does usually notice something that the others have trouble with, so he does pull his weight in that way. But even setting that aside... from the beginning, the Gems have always made it clear that Steven will be accompanying them on their missions, he's just not old experienced enough yet. (Gem understanding of age is different than humans.) And preparing him for this appears to be Garnet's role in Steven's guardianship. An ordinary kid could get by with a friend and a mother, but a Gem also needs a trainer. Which might be why it was Garnet that suggested Steven ride the Tea Cups in the first place. But note that, at the end, Garnet prefers regular Steven to serious Steven, and hands him his ukelele back. Awww.

posted by JHarris at 6:29 AM on January 1, 2015

(I say it was Garnet that suggested the Tea Cups, but that's really an assumption.)
posted by JHarris at 6:49 AM on January 1, 2015

The storyboard for Serious Steven.
posted by JHarris at 11:18 PM on January 24, 2015

It's worth noting, in that, that the background mural containing Rose has a different character in place of her in the storyboard (page 74).
posted by JHarris at 11:36 PM on January 24, 2015

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