Steven Universe: Warp Tour
January 9, 2015 10:57 AM - Season 1, Episode 36 - Subscribe

Steven sees something in the warp stream, but the other Crystal Gems don't believe him.
posted by Small Dollar (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Crystal Gems really don't want anyone from the Gem Homeworld on Earth, and I can see why. They probably ARE refugees of an interstellar war if the prospect of more Gems coming over gets them so scared.

Steven continues to show compassion towards basically anything, unlike the other Crystal Gems and especially the non-Crystal Gems. He apologized for hitting the repair robot, but Peridot didn't even respect them enough as tools to repair or properly dispose of them.
posted by Small Dollar at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2015

Sometimes one can almost feel the writers working around the things they're not supposed to reveal early. In Space Race, when Pearl is enthusing about going to see other planets again, she talks about just going to see what's happening then turning around. Even in the midst of her mania, she doesn't want them to know about her, but she doesn't say why out loud, where the audience can hear her.

Some other points (not a full geeklist, still doing those in episode order):

Is this a result of Lapis Lazuli making it off-world? How long would it take her to wing it through space? How would that even work?

The disdain Peridot showed for the injured robot-thing (she named what they were in her report but I didn't catch it), when it appeared to be approaching her for aid, is interesting. The writers specifically made sure to have Steven note that the 'bots were gathering near her like children towards a mother. I think that wasn't just to illustrate Steven's empathy, but also to show that there's something living about the robots. Note that Peridot disabled all the robots before she warped out, and the camera gave us a view to make sure we know they were out. Can they maybe be repaired? Is this related to Lapis Lazuli's anger as being used as a tool? Notice, back in Mirror Gem: Pearl found the mirror near the Galaxy Warp, and had apparently never used it before herself. Maybe the Earth Crystal Gems are self-imposed exiles, aghast at the treatment of their fellow Gems? Or maybe something more complicated is going on.

It was unusually distressing to see Steven and Pearl arguing like that -- even Amethyst was caught off-guard by it. Fortunately they seem to have made up by the end.

Notice: Garnet was able to see Steven out in the warp.
posted by JHarris at 2:46 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

JHarris: I don't think this is the result of Lapis connecting with the Gem homeworld. Peridot calls it a "maintenance check" and doesn't know to look for the gems.

I liked that by the end of the episode the gem's intransigence about what Steven had seen was a little more understandable. It could either be deep denial, with them insisting that nothing could possibly be out there. It could also just be fear. If Steven can see something else, then something may be able to see him. Given it's Steven's nature to go looking for this sort of thing, it could cause a problem and explaining why that's bad may involve some rather uncomfortable truths and history.

There are three things I noticed about Peridot: First, she's cut off in the middle of "Preparing to locate and manually reactivate kinderg-" which is potentially ominous given how she treated the robots. Next is how in contrast to all of the other gems, including Lapis, Peridot robotic. Each of her body parts appears to be a distinct segment there are shots where her elbows appear to have ball joints. She even moves with whirring motor sounds and crashing footsteps. Finally Peridot is almost as paranoid coming to earth as the gems are about her coming to earth. A crying waffle sticker is enough for her to destroy her own repair bots and GTFO.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:19 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

When the camera is focused on Stephen and the CGs it was hard for me to hear what Peridot was saying. Her mechanical aspects are interesting, yes. Did you notice that her hand is just four stick-like fingers, floating in the air? Or that four of them formed a viewscreen that she manipulated with her thumb (that remained)?
posted by JHarris at 4:33 PM on January 9, 2015

Also: why did they give Amethyst all of Steven's cookies?? Seems like a fairly BS punishment for waking up a sleep-deprived kid holding a water gun resting against a door.
posted by JHarris at 4:37 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

JHarris: Well Garnet and Pearl don't really get humans on an intuitive level, and Amethyst, glorious id-driven slattern that she is most of the time, (eating powdered macaroni cheese?!) doesn't care.

I noticed the screen thing as well. It does seem like the conflict they're setting up between the earth gems is going to be one of Rose (and Steven's) caring and naturalism vs. what's looking like a mechanical utilitarianism from the Gems. (see also) Peridot's expression when crushing the life out of her little sphere thing is annoyance shading to anger; the sort of feeling and frustration people express when they find a gadget or tool no longer works; compare and contrast with the Watermelon Stevens. Which does make me wonder about the ultimate fate of Lapis, given her water powers, build and general demeanour would seem to have far more in common with the main CGs than Peridot.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:01 PM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

That was classic Amethyst.

Sometimes you can see moments of Gem utilitarianism in the CGs (Lapis Lazuli had a point -- Pearl didn't think to check if someone alive was in that mirror), but it seems tempered, like they were maybe changed by their time with Rose, and now with Steven. Why do they care about protecting humanity? I can't help but think it's because of her/him. I also can't help but notice, most of things the Crystal Gems protect humanity from have been of Gem origin.

And I agree, I don't think Lapis is going to receive a warm welcome back home.
posted by JHarris at 6:16 PM on January 9, 2015

Well Garnet and Pearl don't really get humans on an intuitive level,

"Connie and Steven are playing swords. I'm sorry, I mean playing with swords. Oh no, they are bleeding! They are dead. Don't call back."
posted by JHarris at 6:20 PM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

Finally sat down and watched this whole show over the past week. This episode stuff gets REAL. I mean, it's been steadily getting realer, but this was interesting on a lot of developmental levels that they hadn't touched on yet.

You get Steven and Pearl fighting in a way that makes it clear how much growing Steven has done. He's steadily entering teenager stage, which is dangerous for the most mundane person, let alone... Steven. And I have to assume that a Gem, being functionally immortal, basically doesn't conceptualize adolescence, period. Rose, whatever she was doing, seems to have determined that the Gems were stuck being what they were, and the only way to shake it up (or fix... something) was to bring in the whole host of humanity's ugly necessaries. I love that the show isn't shying away from these. We've got all the eating/sleeping/gross things but also the uglier petty short-sighted emotions as exemplified by Sadie and Lars. Steven's been pretty solid considering everything that's on his shoulders, so I'm really glad he's rounding out and including the harsher things about his humanity, and not just his empathy.

I loved the moment when Garnet pulls Steven back into the stream. I think it shows how much he's changed them, especially since we shortly see Peridot's inhumanity. The idea that Garnet was crying was surprisingly shocking to me. Did she use her third eye to find Steven? If she's crying, does it mess up her sight?

And it shows how quick Steven is to learn his lesson. There are moments when you think he's obtuse as hell, like, why isn't he constantly asking questions and demanding backstory, but then he uses something he learned before and you realize they're writing him so smartly. Both in the sense that his ignorance allows the viewer to be gradually pulled into the world without ever feeling bogged down, but also that Steven is just very smart. He notices everything and files it away because at some point he'll be able to use it. Probably not in the way it was intended, but that's kind of his thing. He's not always demanding backstory because he's always just paying attention to the current story.

The little robots were interesting from a worldbuilding angle. Previously it seemed pretty clear that most of the weird stuff on Earth was shards and corruptions of Gems - and at some point, I think Pearl? alludes to the Gems possessing various planets. So it makes sense that they would have massively advanced technology but more importantly really crazy high-level bureaucracy. Imagine the paperwork! But I hadn't thought about it until this episode. This show isn't Sailor Moon with handwavy allusions to kingdoms with representative avatars, although it of course draws heavily from it. There's a concerted effort to show how the weird magical things work, if only with more weird magical things. These robots aren't extensions of Peridot's self. The Crystal Gem's temple, for example, appears to be a physical extension of all four of them (Rose included). And the robots also aren't like Lapis. They're tools with personalities but they don't seem to be something more trapped inside an object. What does that mean for the morality and world view of the Gems that haven't had to live among humans for umpteenmillion years? If you knew that you could be broken up into shards and corrupted into monsters, and all your tools had wants and needs, and you yourself are probably seen as an object by other Gems, what would you think about non-Gems?
posted by Mizu at 1:48 AM on January 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

The idea that Garnet was crying was surprisingly shocking to me. Did she use her third eye to find Steven? If she's crying, does it mess up her sight?

Wait, was she? I remember that she was in So Many Birthdays. I haven't freeze-framed through this one yet though.

and at some point, I think Pearl? alludes to the Gems possessing various planets.

She mentions both the Gem homeworld and "Gem-controlled planets" all over the universe in Space Race.

We've got all the eating/sleeping/gross things but also the uglier petty short-sighted emotions as exemplified by Sadie and Lars.

Well I think Sadie's emotions are presented as positive, even if they result in occasional things like (SPOILERS for other episodes) fire salt pranks or week-long strandings on desert islands....

This show isn't Sailor Moon with handwavy allusions to kingdoms with representative avatars, although it of course draws heavily from it. There's a concerted effort to show how the weird magical things work, if only with more weird magical things.

This is one of my favorite things about the show. For example, they subtly set up how the sphere robots think maternally about Peridot. Not only does the damaged one huddle up to her, but one rides on her shoulder. Considering what we've seen sometimes happen with Gem artifacts whose sentience isn't being recognized (re: Frybo, Lapis), I wonder if maybe this isn't a recurring theme in Gem history.
posted by JHarris at 8:32 AM on January 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Garnet rubs under her shades with a finger while Steven is clinging to her and her voice sounds a little choked up. I noticed mostly because it's so rare for her to have an emotion that isn't "general bemusement".

So as is tradition with mahou shoujo, the main character (Steven) learns different aspects of life through all the side characters, and those aspects will later be used to saved the day with the help of those side characters, and thus friendship is increased. We've seen Steven do this a few times (probably most blatantly in Space Race) but there's not yet been a situation where the uglier parts of humanity have been what saves the day, but my pet theory is that this is going to be key.

I think Sadie and Lars are extremely important for Steven to learn about relationships that aren't hunky-dory. The only other ones he knows about that aren't for-him-fictional are what he has with the Crystal Gems, his dad's misty-eyed memories with his mom, and his friendship with Connie, who also causes him trouble. And those all revolve around him. Steven, essentially, is a Lars/Sadie shipper. So we see the junk Sadie does with a positive angle because Steven wants to see it that way. The more he's there for the messy stuff, the more he learns about how sometimes things don't work out the way you assume they will. (But maybe they'll work out in a different way that's better!) That you can be fallible. On a human scale, a teenager's scale, and not on a Gem's scale.

Basically, the limited nature of Steven's humanity combined with the incredible possibilities of Gem powers brings out his lateral thinking. (See: Cheeseburger Backpack.) But he can't save the galaxy without understanding the smallness of people's hearts. That's where Sadie comes in, I think. She's modeling something for him he doesn't inherently understand. I'm really interested to see what Connie becomes, for similar reasons.
posted by Mizu at 6:47 PM on January 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

GUYS DID YOU SEE THIS PIECE ON NEWSARAMA. It's an interview they did with Steven, Greg and Pearl. With help from the show's writers. There's actually a bit of continuity there!
posted by JHarris at 12:06 PM on January 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is it just me or is Steven's voice starting to change? It seems a bit deeper this episode!
posted by isthmus at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did see that Newsrama piece! I love that we have semi-canonical confirmation that Rose was their leader.
posted by Mizu at 10:17 PM on January 11, 2015

Rose also seems to have been of a higher level of power than the other gems. I mean, she has a shrine devoted to her, and a fountain that runs with her healing tears, and a big mural of her on the ceiling of an ancient temple, she can command plants, while the other Crystal Gems are more general superhero types.

On Steven's voice changing, I've noticed it trending towards deeper for a little while.
posted by JHarris at 8:12 AM on January 12, 2015

OMG that screenshot! I'm pretty sure that's Rose and it definitely could be Peridot. I agree with Mizu that Connie and Sadie are going to be somehow key in Steven's future, and I think that Rose was a pretty big deal with the Gems.
posted by sleeping bear at 3:33 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Y'all've covered most of what I'd say about this episode, so I'll just note that Peridot noticed Steven's sticker on the warp pad. Will she put two and two together?
posted by ob1quixote at 12:11 PM on January 13, 2015

(Peridot at home watching "Crying Breakfast Friends" on TV.)

"Why do kids watch this? Aren't Earth cartoons supposed to be cool?"
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on January 13, 2015

Crying Breakfast Friends is destined to doom the entire planet! If only they'd known!
posted by Mizu at 12:59 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The new episode is super weird and amazing and fun. The look on Garnet's face.
posted by JHarris at 8:01 PM on January 15, 2015

And if you haven't gone there yet, there are two prominent blogs related to the show.

Keep Beach City Weird is in-universe, the blog of Ronaldo Fryman that catalogs the various weird happenings in Beach City*. It's great. Great, I tell you!

Steven Crewniverse is the official production blog of the show, where sketched title cards are put up, backgrounds, music and characters shown off, and other tidbits passed out to the fans.

* Fun fact: in Steven Universe's alternate universe version of Earth, Delmarva appears like it may be its own state, distinct from Delaware. Source: interviews with production staff, Keep Beach City Weird blog.
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2015

The Delmarva statehood has been confirmed in a couple of places, the biggest:
- The notice in Big Donut's window that this location is Beach City, DV.
- On Keep Beach City Weird I think there's a photo of Ronaldo's driver's license which lists Delmarva as a state.

Ronaldo also mentions Delmarva as a place casually, but it's a place in our world too, just not a state.
posted by JHarris at 11:22 PM on February 5, 2015

Something not yet touched on here: at the beginning of the episode, Amethyst and Pearl are being very complimentary to each other—almost flirtatious.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:51 AM on May 23, 2015

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